X-POSITION: Marjorie Liu Says Farewell to "X-23," Hello "Astonishing X-Men"

When one door closes, another one opens -- which is fantastic news for fans of writer Marjorie Liu! When it was first announced "X-23," Liu's only ongoing Marvel series, was cancelled, many readers panicked. Fans were saddened that X-23 would no longer have a title of her own, but many more were worried about getting their monthly "fix" of Liu's prose.

Fortunately, it was soon announced that the scribe would be taking over "Astonishing X-Men" on an ongoing basis. This seemed to ease the sting of the "X-23" loss, and when Liu and series artist Mike Perkins's new team roster was revealed -- oh boy! If the emails I received for this week's X-POSITION are any indication, there was celebrating a-plenty. So let's get to those letters and see what Ms. Liu has to say about all these developments!

Our first email comes from Madroxdupe024, who sings your praises and offers a serious sign of commitment to your works.

1) Marjorie, I think you're my favorite writer ever! I've never followed a comic book just for the writer, so buying "Astonishing X-Men" is going to be a first. I guess my reluctance in the past was that it was one of those books that "dances between the rain drops" when it comes to continuity, but even if you were writing a "Maggot and Changeling" miniseries, I'd follow you. Can you speak how "in continuity" and "shared" your run on the book will be? Will it be serialized storytelling or jumping from one arc to the next?

Thank you for such incredibly kind words. As for "Astonishing," this book will definitely be in continuity with the rest of the X-verse. In fact, you can think of it as loosely linked to "Wolverine and the X-Men" -- as in, there's the school with its students, and then there are the adults, with adult problems and all the craziness that goes with that. The storytelling will be serialized -- in fact, this first arc bleeds directly into the next, forming a larger story that will test the bonds between these particular X-Men as they come together to work as a team.

2) I love the varied cast of characters you're working with. How did you choose? Or were those characters selected for you?

I started with a large list of characters, and then just crossed off the ones I didn't think would contribute to the story. For example, I considered Paige (a.k.a. Husk) for a time, but ultimately, she fell to the wayside in favor of Karma, who I thought was a much better "fit" for the team I was trying to build.

Troy is next, and he also swears to the "Marjorie Liu Pledge of Allegiance."

I've never purchased "Astonishing X-Men" before, but once I saw you were writing it, it has now become a guaranteed purchase -- especially since the Cajun will be front and center! I know you have set something up with Gambit and CeCe in "X-23," but will we see Gambit being more like his old self and not tied down to one character? It is set in NYC, so it would be cool to see him with ladies in the greater Marvel Universe like Black Cat or Hell Cat, given that he has had interactions with both before.

Thank you! Given how tightly plotted this first arc is, there won't be much of an opportunity for Gambit to flit about with the ladies -- but that doesn't mean he won't have opportunities later on. I want to show the more playful side of all these characters.

After all of these nice emails, it seems the Big G has a bone to pick with you, but he's still awfully generous in his comments, so we'll let it pass.

First off, congrats on getting the "Astonishing X-Men" gig (it was a bummer "X-23" got the axe -- sorry). Now, I wanted to see if I could address the 9-ton elephant in the room: the ending of "X-23" #19.

As a fan of both Julian and Laura, I've enjoyed watching their growth over the years so, naturally, I felt disappointed at the ending that was given. What Gambit said about people changing and how relationships change was true, but I feel it is odd that Laura's feelings for Julian -- which have been very strong in the past -- suddenly changed in a very short period of time. I realize that both characters each have their fair share of issues -- thus any form of romantic relationship between them now probably would be counter-productive in the long run -- but to have Laura end it so suddenly felt forced. I do understand that their story isn't finished though, but what are your thoughts on this ending? Was this planned from the beginning?

I know I probably rambled a bit, but thank you for your time. I have nothing but respect for you, Marjorie, as you're a great author who I know will continue to write great X-Men stories in the future!

I appreciate that. As for Julian and Laura, yes, that struck a nerve with some readers. I was thinking only of Laura, though, and her journey -- and from the point of view of a girl, woman, writer (and all of the above), that was not a relationship Laura needed at this point in her life. In fact, I think it would have been a setback to her characterization to involve her with Julian.

In real life, feelings change. When I was in high school, I had tremendous crushes on boys that I thought would never fade -- but they did. Laura, for the past year, has been on a transformative journey -- one that has opened a reflective window onto her sense of identity and individualism, and shown her what it means to love herself, and choose for herself, and be independent of all those cages (literal and figurative) that once surrounded her life.

That's big. So big, I don't think a teenage crush could survive. Laura is not the same person she was a year ago. Her feelings toward Julian have changed, simple as that. Nor is Laura the type to soften the blow, outright lie, or psychoanalyze why it all happened. What she said to him is hurtful, yes. Then again, it always hurts when someone you care about breaks up with you.

Yes, I always knew they wouldn't end up together. At least, not in the story I was telling for Laura.

Poof! The elephant in the room is gone and it's time to move on. Marcus Martin helps us do just that with a couple of queries about his favorite ladies.

1) First off, I would like to thank you for your great writing on the "X-23" series. Together with her co-creators Chris Yost and Craig Kyle (along with the aid of the legendary Chris Claremont) you gave new life to what I dubbed the "Ben Reilly of the X-Men." So thank you for all you have done for the character. My question is...were there any other stories that you would like to tell about X-23 that you haven't told us yet?

That's very kind. I had so many stories I wanted to tell -- a Black Widow arc, for one, followed by a story that would have brought back the NYX kids.

2) In your upcoming "Astonishing X-Men" run, what role will Karma play?

A very big one. Small warning, though: you won't see much of her in #48, but hold on. Starting with #49, her involvement takes off.

Joe is also excited about one of your new cast members and hopes you might be willing to share a secret or two.

I'm super-excited to see Gambit in the new "Astonishing X-Men." The cast looks great and the early image of April's comic with him and Wolverine in the sewers looks awesome! Are you planning on exploring (or evolving) Gambit's powers in any way? Additionally, is there any chance we can see him use his "Hypnotic Charm?" It's been a while...

Just wait. Gambit (all the characters, really) will see some interesting developments.

Red Lotus has a wish for what one of those "developments" might be.

1) Will Gambit have a leadership role in 'Astonishing' when Wolverine isn't around?

Natural leaders rise to the top in difficult situations. And Gambit is good under pressure.

2) How long are you on Astonishing X-men?

Er, hopefully for a while?

Lots of folks have that hope, Marjorie. Meanwhile, Zaki wrote in with some thoughts Laura's "sorta" brother:

1) The conflict between Laura and Daken you've written is the best! How soon will we see more sibling rivalry between the two?

I can't even begin to guess, but thank you.

2) In regards to their clashing personalities, I love the yin-yang between the two. Laura's trying to find and redeem her humanity; Daken's embracing his own inhumanity. It also adds to the irony that one's a test-tube clone who's a bit more human than the "actual" flesh and blood of Wolverine. And speaking of Wolverine, do you suspect that Laura and Daken are like the "angel and devil" subconscious personalities of Logan?

I had never thought of it in that way, but I love your analysis.

Daniela also wrote in to inquire about a member of your 'Astonishing' team:

Marjorie, I loved your run with Daken and really missed your writing on it when you left. But I'd like to know what you think about Northstar as a character? What do you like or dislike about him? Is there anything that you would like to explore when it comes to him? And will we see Aurora?

Aurora, possibly, but not in this first arc. As for Northstar, there's very little that I dislike about his character. He's bold, arrogant, but deeply compassionate. And, he's in love. All these things will factor into his character growth within this first arc.

Speaking of love, Time_to_Zap hopes another teammate might find a little tenderness.

1) I'm so glad to see Karma on an X-team with stars like Wolverine and Gambit. I have noticed, however, that she's never really had a major love interest. If you get the chance, is giving Karma a girlfriend something you'd be interested in?

Wait and see!

2) How different is it to write a team book after writing a solo one like "X-23?" What is the most challenging part?

Giving everyone a chance to shine -- and knowing when to hold back on certain characters, as well. Warbird, for example, has less of a story in this first arc than Northstar or Karma -- but that will change when we start telling the second part of our story.

3) Is this 'Astonishing' team somewhat like Logan's answer to Scott's Extinction Team -- a way to get the average person to trust and accept mutants? A return to the old "protect a world that hates and fears us" creed?

Not exactly. These characters come together because they happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time -- but what happens as a consequence of their trials together will make them a team.

And now, it's my turn for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." Let's try something a little dangerous -- tell us something that you've wanted to do, but have always been too nervous to try...

I'm usually pretty good about working through my nerves to try new things, though I suppose skydiving is something that both terrifies and intrigues me. Hunting for extraterrestrials or ghosts would be another!

That's all for this week, but in seven days we'll be back with "New Mutants" writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. That's two writers for the price of one X-POSITION -- how can you pass that up? Just send me those questions as soon as you can. Put an "X-Position" in the subject line and I'll share my Superbowl hors d'oeuvres leftovers with you (the mayo in that dip should still be good, right?). Get busy and I'll see you soon!

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