X-POSITION: Mike Carey on the "Age of X" Aftermath

When it comes to dealing with alternate realities, Marvel Comics' X-Men are professionals. From the days of "Days of Future Past" to "Age of Apocalypse" and now to "Age of X," the team has earned a Ph.D in "Wacky World-ology." And as the dust settles on the most recent makeover of the Marvel Universe, there's plenty of fallout for our merry mutants to deal with.

There are issues ranging from romance to redemption to renegade personalities (in Legion's case) that must be confronted with the X-Men's return to "regular" reality. The teammates of "X-Men: Legacy" have lots on their plate which, in turn, means writer Mike Carey is going to be busy for some time to come. Fortunately, the scribe has a plan. Will he give us a peek at his blueprints? Let's find out in today's X-POSITION!

Mike, our first email of the day comes from Xerox-Kitty. She sent in a list of questions as long as my arm. Let's see if you have answers up to my elbow:

1) "Age of X" was so much fun that I didn't want it to end! Legacy was obviously a lot like Rogue, but there were differences too. As Rogue didn't have her "Age of X" experiences telepathically removed, does this mean that Rogue is currently influenced by a lot of Legacy's thoughts and feelings? Is Rogue genuinely attracted to Magneto or is she reacting to how Legacy felt for her Commander?

That's a question she's probably asking herself, Xerox-Kitty. I'm sure those memories are still in the mix and I think it's for that reason that Magneto suddenly back-pedaled and tried to warn her off. It's similar to what happened in issue #234 when she kissed him under the influence of the psi-powers she'd borrowed from the Cuckoos. He refused to take advantage of the situation then, wanting her to come to him of her own free will and similarly, here, he does his best to remind her of what she might be getting into.

But taking all these things into account, Rogue is still very much her own woman and she made the decision that felt right to her. I think it's important to stress that. She might be experiencing psychic echoes, but her feelings are her own and her life is her own. So in answer to your second question, I'd say, emphatically, yes -- whatever else is going on in her mind, the attraction is genuine.

2) Are Tempo's "real world" memories also stored inside Rogue's mind? Or do they only exist as the rewritten "Age of X" memories?

My feeling? They're still in there. I wrote that as a genuine death scene and so the memories are genuine too. But Tempo's was the only genuine death at which Legacy officiated; the others that she remembers belong to the illusory past retrospectively created by Moira.

3) Aside from Frenzy, are there any other characters who will reap some benefit from the "Age of X?"

It's a dubious benefit, in Frenzy's case. She's been locked out of a relationship that's still real for her and that hurts and enrages her a lot. In issue #250, when Prof X tells her, "Jacob labored fourteen years for a wife," it's in that context. Her attempt to become an X-Man is an attempt to become again what she was in the "Age of X" bubble, but a lot of what she was there depended on her relationship with Cyclops/Basilisk.

So I'm going to sidestep the question slightly, or at least rephrase it: other people will be affected by what happened in "Age of X" (Hellion, Chamber and Legion are the obvious examples -- besides Frenzy and Rogue). You'll have to make your own mind up in each case about whether the effects are beneficial.

4) Blindfold seemed pretty angry at Legion for accidentally warping reality twice. Will we see Blindfold attempt to take retribution?

She did seem to take it to heart, didn't she? I think she saw the whole thing differently as a result of being the one person who was completely unchanged and witnessed it from the outside. Will she act on what she feels? I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

5) You've hinted at a story involving Blindfold's background. Are you planning on revealing who her mysterious brother is or what happened to her family?

It was always part of the plan to do that, and I still want to. We've got a story in mind that would tie Blindfold's past and family history to the past of another X-Man.

6) Rogue has a whole lifetime's worth of different memories in her head because she chose to honor Legacy's promise. Will these memories ultimately help (or hinder) her?

Both, I think. I've always thought that getting inside other people's heads like that increases Rogue's ability to empathize with others and also, probably, her skill in intuiting how other people are going to react in a given situation. But it's a burden, all the same. She talks in Chapter One of "Age of X" about the way it hits her, emotionally, to take on the whole weight of another person's life -- that lessens with time, but it doesn't go away.

BigBarda was also curious about Rogue and lasting effects of Legion's reality. Can you help her out?

Since the end of "Age of X," Rogue's behavior has been a little erratic and a little dishonest and selfish too (in how she's treated Gambit, at least). Although I love Rogue, I'm finding it hard to sympathize with her or understand her point of view at the moment. Could you elaborate a bit on what she's feeling?

I've done so in a number of other places online, BigBarda, most notably on my Facebook page and also a bit on CBR's own forum. I'm reluctant in some ways to rehash this topic here because it's so huge and has already spawned such a mass of commentary. But the short-form answer is this: Rogue's hesitation in going back to Gambit puzzles both of them.

She's offered different explanations, none of them entirely satisfactory. But there's always a sense in which, in matters of romantic/sexual attraction, you're at a loss to articulate why something feels right or wrong at a given time -- why sometimes you'll act on your feelings and sometimes you won't.

She's been through terrible upheavals in recent years and come out of them changed, both for the better and for the worse. She has more conscious control over her powers now, which gives her a freedom she didn't have before. But both she and Gambit have, in the very recent past, been so far out of their right minds as to turn away from each other and even to act against each other. In the aftermath of his transformation by Apocalypse's machines, Gambit actually tried to kill Rogue and was only stopped because his powers were temporarily neutralized.

So for whatever reason, Rogue is uncertain of how she and Gambit should proceed. And because of that uncertainty, he takes the decision of pushing her away (in issue #248). That may or may not have been the right thing to do, but it was his decision -- and it fed directly into her decision, immediately afterwards, to spend one night with Magneto.

I could say a lot more about what was in her mind when she did this, but in the end, the story has to speak for itself.

The story not only speaks, it sings! And from Christopher's reaction, it's music to his ears:

1) I'm in full support of the recent change in Rogue's and Magneto's relationship -- very exciting! The two have much in common, what with sordid pasts, connections to terrorism and villainy, redemptive paths and extremely complicated family trees. My question is: can readers expect some disapproval from the rest of the X-Men? Or will these two be keeping the intimate side of their relationship under wraps for now?

I can't see them shouting it from the rooftops, Christopher, because it's not in either of their natures to do that. But if they stay together beyond that one liaison, then people will notice and people will react. And I'd envisage a wide range of reactions, with a certain amount of shock and disbelief definitely showing itself. But that's all predicated on an "if."

Rogue only offers Magneto one night, initially. Where it goes from there, we'll have to see.

2) Are you at liberty to explain the extent of what Rogue has retained from her time as Legacy/Reaper, in terms of her psychological and/or power-siphoning arsenal? Is it possible that we'll be seeing her slowing or speeding time, per the absorption of Miss Tempo? Or will such encounters simply fade away, as memories often do over time?

I'd say that she retains the memories and, along with that, the skills that she honed as Legacy. We see her using those skills when she sifts Rachel's memories in issue #250 and again when she combs through Legion's sub-personalities to identify the gaps. But as always (or almost always), the powers she borrows fade over time. There's a limit both to how many powers she can take and to how long she can retain them. What's changed is that she seems now to be able to extend that period (a little) with concentration, or voluntarily end it, as she did when she gave the Cuckoos their power back in #234.

3) And on the topic of "Age of X," will fans find themselves blessed with more stunning pencils from artist Clay Mann?

Damn straight!!!

And the internet roars with approval! Justinian wanted to express his gratitude and squeeze in a query as well.

I wanted to thank you for returning Polaris from space and tackling Lorna's reunion with her father, which is something I have been waiting many years for. Clearly Lorna and Magneto have a ton of issues to deal with. I was wondering, of the many issues of contention they have to deal with, which do you see as the most important?

Wow. Big question. I think for Lorna, the most pressing issue might be to find out what Magneto could tell her about her mother -- and her mother's death.

On the topic of death, Jason feels it's a fact that can't be brushed over.

Even though I like the addition of Frenzy to the "X-Men: Legacy" cast, how will the fact that she brutally murdered one of their friends and allies (Sharon Friedlander) in the name of Acolyte Genetic cleansing be explained? Will you explore this fact? Any chance we could see her interact with her old teammate Stinger as long as she's on Utopia?

I don't think we'll ever see a scene of the X-Men as a whole reacting to and assimilating her presence, Jason -- it happened in the past, presumably at the point when she arrived on Utopia, but it wasn't shown on-panel. That isn't to say that characters won't ever refer to it now; it just means that it won't be a central plot focus, any more than was Mystique's killing of Moira MacTaggert when she was brought into the fold in the Milligan era.

Cyclops offered sanctuary to surviving mutants. For those who took that offer, although questions might be asked about their pasts and the degree of trust and openness that was available to them must have varied enormously, a place was given to them on, at least, a probationary basis. Frenzy is far from alone in having very grave crimes to account for.

Concerning Stinger -- that would be fun to do if the opportunity crops up. Thanks for the suggestion.

Look at that -- X-POSITION-ites helping to shape stories to come. I love it!

Sandra has some questions about the nuts and bolts of "Age of X." Can you lend her a wrench to solve things?

There was some discussion on the boards about the reality of "Age of X." Some believe that three years of fake memories were implanted by Legion and only seven days of events actually occurred. Others feel that Legion, as a reality warper, actually warped time -- as well as space -- and the characters lived through those three years.

The latter makes more sense to me, especially given Rogue's decision to keep her memories of AoX because of Legacy's promises to the dead. Is Rogue keeping a fake promise to fake people? Or did she actually experience those events and those deaths over three years' worth of AoX time?

I think only the last seven days were real, Sandra, but those seven days included a real death: Tempo's. It's true that Legacy's promise was made in an illusory or imaginary context, but those memories are real and to some extent they bind her to the promise and validate her decision.

Renaldo brings up another alternate universe that I neglected to mention in my introduction. Personally, I'd love to see the X-Men visit a world where they're all crustaceans -- just for the heck of it!

With regards to "Age of X," what was your major inspiration in crafting this alternate universe? It seemed to resemble "House of M" a bit, especially when you look at the influences by parental forces in both cases. How did you set out to differentiate and make AoX stand apart from HoM?

Parent/child relationships are a recurring theme in my stories, Renaldo. It's at the very center of "Lucifer" and "The Unwritten," for example -- so it was sort of inevitable that I'd try to tell a Professor X/Legion story at some point in my run, if I got that far. So I wasn't consciously either imitating or pulling away from "House of M," I was just following my own instincts and the things that fascinated me about those characters and that relationship.

We've talked a lot about "Age of X," but it appears that Sean is ready move on to the next "big thing!"

How much will "Schism" affect your book? Will the team itself have a schism? Will it remain a team book and will it continue to go out around the world?

Tackling the easiest part of that question first, Sean, the going around the world stuff is just something I do when it feels like I've over-used Utopia as a setting. In the next arc, we go to Shi'ar space for similar reasons -- because we've over-used the Milky Way galaxy as a setting.

But yeah, "Schism" will affect "X-Men: Legacy" profoundly, as it will all of the core books. My team will miss some of the trigger events by reason of being many thousands of light years away, but once they're back and they've been brought up to speed, they'll all have some very tough decisions to make -- and, yes, that will impact on their continued existence as a team. Sorry, I know that's evasive, but it's all I can say right now.

Then let's move on to another topic, like today's "Behind the X" get-to-know-you question: as a writer, do you have any grammatical pet peeves that annoy you?

I'm mostly pretty relaxed about that stuff. I get more irritated by the people who rave about other people's grammar -- like the twonks who complained on message boards when I used the American construction "I could care less" in a recent issue instead of the longer-established (and arguably more logical) British version, "I couldn't care less."

"Ooh, he used to be an English teacher. He should know better than that!" Yeah, but usage trumps rulebooks and context trumps everything. That's what was wrong with Lynne Truss's book on punctuation -- she defends good punctuation on the grounds of clarity of expression, but then uses examples where clarity isn't an issue and where the imagined offense is just the transgression of a rule. Split infinitives are a great example: there's nothing wrong with "to boldly go" at all, and it's miles better than either of the alternatives -- "to go boldly" or "boldly to go." So if I'm zero tolerance on anything, it's that whole "zero tolerance" approach.

Thanks Mike. And how about this for a suggestion -- "Appearing in next month's "X-Men: Legacy," the mutant Zero Tolerance joins the team with the uncanny power of picking apart Rogue's grammar!"

That wraps up this week's fun, but be sure to return next week as we'll be initiating a new guest to X-POSITION -- "Daken: Dark Wolverine" writer Rob Williams! In addition to writing Logan's son, the scribe's name has appeared on several books throughout the Marvel Universe ("Deadpool Team-Up" and "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force," just to name a few).

So do your research, type up those wonderful words of wonder-ment and send them my way as soon as possible. And be sure to throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, otherwise I'll volunteer your name for the Stanley Cup clean-up crew in Vancouver. Get me those emails and I'll see you in seven!

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