Everyone has secrets. There are unspoken things people hide from co-workers, family, lovers, and friends. Some are kept to be petty or vindictive, while others are kept out of love or to protect someone from hurting. The question people who hold secrets have to ask themselves is: what happens when the secret gets out? Does holding onto it do more harm than exposing the truth and dealing with the consequences outright?
Wolverine and Professor X will soon be faced with this question themselves in Marvel's upcoming “X-Men: Original Sin.” The story begins this week in the “X-Men: Original Sin” one-shot and will continue in writer Daniel Way’s “Wolverine: Origins” #29-30 and writer Mike Carey’s “X-Men: Legacy” #217-218. What secrets are they hiding? How does it involve Wolverine’s son Daken and the Hellfire Club? And what is this Original Sin?
Luckily, both writers are here along with editor John Barber to answer these questions and many others asked by you in this week’s X-POSITION.
CBR: Our first set of questions comes from reader Andre4000, who kicks things off with a couple of questions about a race of people who have mastered the art of secrecy — the Skrulls — and what they’re planning in Mike Carey’s “X-Men: Secret Invasion” miniseries.
1) In “X-Men: Secret Invasion,” it doesn’t appear that any of the X-Men are Skrulls. Was there no attempt to infiltrate X-Men? Of course, if the Skrulls did have an agent with the X-Men, then they wouldn’t have been surprised by their presence in San Francisco, right? Anyway, are there more surprises to come in this series? Or just more fighting?
Mike Carey: I don't think we'll ever know the full answer to that one, Andre. It may be that at a crucial stage of the planning for the invasion, the Skrulls wrote off the X-Men because of their hapless state after the events of “House of M” — feeling that mutants were now a spent force. Or they may have regarded the mutants as potential allies (see issue #3, particularly).
Yeah, there are some surprises to come. I think the ending of issue #3 should give you a bit of a jolt, as Cyclops gets his secret weapon and H'Kurrek resorts to desperate measures to flush the X-Men out of hiding.
2) Also in “X-Men: Secret Invasion,” Nightcrawler is dealing with this religious orb-dealie. Why does his faith seem to be so shaken by this? Will repercussions of the orb be felt outside of SI?
MC:I don't think his faith is shaken very much at first. He strongly dislikes having this telepathic object harassing him inside his own head, and he's rattled because it knows so much about his own past, but he's not impressed by its arguments. In #3, though, the orb escalates, and Kurt faces what you might call his last temptation. That's where the orb sub-plot feeds back into the main plot — in a way that I hope people won't see coming — and that's the pay-off we've been building towards. So no, we won't see the orb again outside this context, although it belongs to a class of Skrull object that we may very well see again.
3) In “Wolverine: Origins” #28, we see Wolverine meeting Professor X for the first time…except they had already met before in the Korean War, right? Was Xavier just pretending not to know Logan? And does this mean the Weapon X experiments took place between the Korean War and Logan joining the X-Men?
Daniel Way: Wolverine wouldn’t have remembered that he met Professor X in Korea, due to the repeated and systematic brainwashings that he endured.
John Barber: Professor X lives his life not only seeing people, hearing them — maybe smelling them — but more importantly, he “thinks” them. He feels their thoughts and their minds, whenever he’s nearby. That’s as much a part of who somebody is to him as the way they look.
When Professor X met Wolverine at Department H in “Giant Size X-Men” #1 (and as retold in “Wolverine: Origins” #28), Logan’s mind had been manipulated so much — folded, spindled, mutilated — that he bore no resemblance to the man the Prof met in Korea. It wouldn’t have occurred to him that this was the same guy, any more that if you saw somebody that you hadn’t seen for thirty years and they looked completely different, and you’re in a totally different context, it wouldn’t occur to you that this was the same guy. Plus, Logan was wearing a mask.
Once the Prof started poking around Logan’s mind, I’m sure he figured things out.
DW: If anything, Professor X knows more about Logan than Logan does. And yes, the Weapon X series of experiments conducted on Wolverine took place sometime between the mid- to late-fifties and the late sixties, “Marvel time.”
JB: But the experiments where he got the Adamantium happened after the Korean War.
4) How would you say Wolverine views Xavier — as a mentor, a friend, a brother, or a father-figure (which would be weird, considering Wolverine is older than him)?
DW: All of the above, though I would add “-in-arms” to “brother.”
MC:I think it's a very complicated relationship by this point in their lives. My feeling is that Wolverine respects Professor X — and we know that Wolverine's respect is very hard won — but that he doesn't have the deference towards him that some of the X-Men have traditionally had. Respect and submission to authority isn't part of Wolverine's make-up, so a lot of his default options would be different from those of most other X-Men. He likes Xavier and has a healthy respect for Xavier's huge intellect, and credits Xavier for having faith in him at a crucial time in his life. That's the foundation of their friendship.
5) Who committed this “Original Sin?” Does it belong to Wolverine or the Professor?
DW: That’s the big question, isn’t it? Maybe it’s both.
MC: I think the title refers most obviously to something that Professor X did very early on in the life of the GSXM #1 X-Men team. But in a wider sense, it refers to a lot of murky stuff that was done back in that time that has a toxic effect on the present lives of Xavier, Wolverine and Daken.
6) How central is Daken to the “Original Sin” story? Does he play a large part? Or is he just a plot device?
DW: Daken plays a central role.
MC:Two relationships are at the heart of the story: Professor Xavier's with Wolverine, and Wolverine's with Daken. This is a story that changes the status quo in both those relationships dramatically, and in the case of Wolverine/Daken it has direct and immediate plot implications.
Marcus Martin is up next and wants to know more about the cast of “Original Sin.”
1) Why chose the Hellfire Club as the villain in this event, instead of another X-Men foe? Why are they best suited?
MC:Well, for one reason, because they're insanely cool. I've always loved the Hellfire Club, and I brought Sebastian Shaw into “Legacy” mainly because I wanted at some point to tell a Hellfire Club story. What Shaw is doing, when we finally figure it out, makes a lot of sense and ties very effectively into the broader story of his plans for the club and his ongoing doctrinal clash with Professor X. It's a story about intrigues and power politics and double bluffs, and there's no X-villain who fits into that milieu better than Shaw.
DW: From my point of view, I see Shaw as one of few characters that would be canny enough to exploit the dire situations in which Professor X and Wolverine currently find themselves.
2) Does Wolverine hold the Professor any ill will given the secrets that the Professor kept from the X-Men?
DW: Possibly, but Wolverine should hardly be casting the first stone, you know?
MC:I think Wolverine is more of a pragmatist than many of the X-Men. He might be surprised by some of the choices that Professor X has made, but I doubt that he'd feel personally betrayed by them. Insofar as there's a covenant between Wolverine and Professor X, it's based on different events and it's never been breached. That's one of the things we explore in this book.
Speaking of the book, kroller was curious about its origin.
1) In “Original Sins,” it seems like we will be learning a secret — something Xavier did for Wolverine — before Logan joined the X-Men. Just curious, but who came up with this secret — Carey, Way, or someone else? Why was it decided that this would enhance Wolverine’s character? Will this be viewed as a retcon at all?
DW: How it will be viewed is really up to the viewer, isn’t it? I think I came up with the big secret, but I’m certain that Mike came up with the reasoning behind it. Mike?
MC:In any collaboration that works, it's difficult to tell afterwards who made what contribution at what time. The original idea for doing a crossover arose out of a conversation between X-editors Nick Lowe and John Barber, and they approached Daniel and me to see if we'd be interested. After that, the elaboration of the story beats came in a series of emails between the four of us and then in a series of draft outlines which Daniel and I took turns to write.
Is it a retcon? Not in the pejorative sense of that term. It's an explanation of how and why certain things happened, which I think makes perfect sense in terms of what we know about the personalities of Professor Xavier and Logan. I see it as the missing brick in a wall.
JB: Actually, how it really started is more organic than that. Awhile back, Daniel and I were talking out where to go with the next couple “Wolverine: Origins” arcs. Dan said he had this Professor X story in mind from day one; this was something he’d figured out back when “Origins” just started, when Axel Alonso was editing the book. So Dan suggested we do the Professor X story.
I was concerned about where Xavier would be in “X-Men: Legacy” at that time. I thought the X-Men would still have been under the impression that he was dead, which would shut us down from doing the ‘Origins’ story right then. So I walked down the hall and asked Nick Lowe, who edits “Legacy.”
Not only did Nick think it was a cool idea, but it turned out that, in “Legacy,” Xavier would have just revealed himself to Scott and Emma. So I talked to Nick about maybe actually doing a real crossover between the two books. It’s a funny crossover because it was entirely organic from the points of view of the two books. Dan loved the idea, and Mike seemed like he was really excited too.
2) I have a theoretical question (which this series may be dealing with, but I’ll ask anyway): if Wolverine had his mind wiped prior to “House of M” (like the Weapon X project did), would he now remember having his mind wiped, as all his memories have been restored?
DW: In the “Savior” arc of “Origins,” Logan remembers one of the methods (and a particular instance) of how he was brainwashed. It was in Dallas, Texas in 1963 and he had bone claws, so Andre4000 — if you’re still around — that would’ve been before Weapon X.
Do you see the things one can learn here at X-POSITION? Sean had a character-related question as well. Can you help him out?
My question concerns Professor X and the direction of “X-Men: Legacy.” For awhile now, Marvel writers have put a great amount of effort into making Cyclops the leader of the X-Men, and it seems to me they’ve thoroughly desecrated Professor X in the process.
I've always been a big fan of the Professor, and I am a huge fan of the current X-writers, but for the life of me I cannot see how anything that has been done to the character in these last few years has benefited him. The current franchise seems dedicated to demonstrating how he's been a secret bastard for the entirety of the franchise. Now he's an outcast and everyone hates him, most especially Cyclops (their father-son bond was always one of my favorite things about the X-Men).
And the last issue was spent with Emma Frost — who was a villain worse than Xavier on his worst day — talking down to him. As someone who loves the character (and is a fan of the current writers), I honestly want to know what hope there is for the character — the real Xavier, the wise and benevolent (but not perfect) visionary?
MC:I'm really sorry you saw “Walkthrough” in that light, Sean — it's certainly not how I see the story. Emma's goal in going into Professor X's mind is to make sure he's free of Sinister's influence. Being Emma, and therefore having a certain arrogance and sense of entitlement (traits which the Professor has also shown in his time), she pauses while she's there to pass comment on his past actions. But in passing comment, she doesn't pass judgment.
As she explicitly says, there's no point: everyone's past includes mistakes and false steps, and every action has both intended and unintended consequences, so that even some of the things that Xavier is now regretting having done may, on balance, have had positive effects. Yes, there's a certain irony in having it be Emma who says these things to the Professor, but that was one reason for having Emma be the one to do it: you read what's said in the light of her past as well as his.
I love Professor X, too. One of my main goals in writing “Legacy” is to draw a through-line, taking in all his good and bad decisions and making them all sit within a realistic portrayal of his character. And I still see him as both wise and visionary, but I also endorse what Cyclops says about how idealists can do very questionable things in the pursuit of their ideals. Having a vision isn't the same as having a hotline to the ultimate truth, and even if you see the shining city on the top of the hill, you don't necessarily see a route map.
The bottom line is that I am bringing Professor X back in from the cold, but I'm doing it in a way that doesn't deny any of the character beats already defined for him.
DW: If I could jump in, Professor X — though he is a visionary — has also always been the kind of man that goes out and makes that vision happen. And, in doing so, he has gotten his hands dirty. To me, that makes him a very real character.
EC had a similar query that specifically pertains to the aforementioned “incident” in “Legacy.” It seems as though this was a topic of concern for several readers.
First, I just wanted to say that I adore your work, but there seems to be a rift over fans in the internet regarding “X-Men” Legacy” #216 and we were wondering if you could sort it out. Some users felt that Emma Frost came across as a hypocrite when she lectured/guided Xavier about ethics; others don't. What was your real intention? And what was Emma's point?
MC:See previous answer, EC. I don't think you can call Emma a hypocrite because she's not taking the moral high ground. If anything, she's arguing a position that you could call relativist. For example, she points out that even though on a personal level she's furious at Professor X for lying to and hurting Scott, she's well aware that the end result of what Xavier did may have been better for Scott than the alternative. If anything, I think what she's saying to Xavier is that this entire agonizing process of self-examination is a waste of effort.
He's not God, and therefore he can't expect to have been perfect and faultless in everything he did. He's going to find sins and virtues — good and bad — the same way any other human being would, and at the end of the day he's just going to have to learn from his mistakes and move on. There's no tribunal outside of his own mind that will ever convict or acquit him. And yeah, it's a reformed villain who's saying this — which for my money doesn't make her a hypocrite but an informed expert.
We bring things to a close this week with an email from Taimur Dar, who is hoping for a little tease…
Joe Quesada recently hinted at a future arc for “Wolverine: Origins” called "Weapon XI.” Is there anything about it you can discuss or reveal?
DW: I’m not sure if I can say anything. John?
JB: Well, I don’t want to give anything away, but we’ll be seeing some questions answered about the Weapon X and Weapon Plus programs, and getting a little new insight into Wolverine’s Weapon X days. And also, hopefully, clarifying some of what we do know. Also, we haven’t revealed all of the identities of the members of the Weapon Plus program…yet.
That wraps up our “Original Sin” confessional for the day, but we’ll be back next week with more secrets and conspiracies for your reading pleasure. As for our upcoming guests, well, who better to reveal secrets than the X-Editors themselves?
Send our way any question about any X-book and we’ll get it into the hands of the appropriate editor. The sooner I hear from you — and the better the question — the more likely it is to get passed on. And don’t forget to put “X-Position” in the subject line.