X-POSITION: Mike Carey's 7-Year "Legacy"

A little over four years ago, X-POSITION began as a feature here at CBR. The main impetus behind this was a new direction for the X-books led off by an event called "Endangered Species," written by Mike Carey. It changed the X-Men's mission from one of acceptance to one of survival -- a theme that, in some ways, continues today.

At that point in time, Mike Carey had already been writing the X-Men for three years, yet from our first X-Position through the one I'm sharing today, he always has exhibited an amazing enthusiasm for what he does and the fans he's writing for. Carey is ending his seven year run with the X-Men this December, and -- as a matter of fact -- just finished his final script for "X-Men: Legacy" (issue #260) this week. He's here to close things out with us and is ready for your questions. Let's not keep him waiting...

Agent X is one of many who wrote in to say how much you'll be missed. He included a trio of inquiries to get us started:

Mr. Carey, I would just like to say how much I loved your run and your brilliant portrayal of Rogue over the last few years! She has always been one of my absolute favorite comic book characters and your run made being a fan of hers quite enjoyable, so thank you. Also, the addition of Frenzy has been both exhilarating and absolutely hilarious -- she's great! Here's what I'd like to know...

1) With Rogue being such an important character in your "X-Men: Legacy," why is it that Mystique never had a greater presence in your book? Her relationship with her daughter is so interesting and unique...

Thanks for the kind words, Agent X. Well, Mystique was a huge presence in the first year of my run, and then into "Messiah Complex" -- with a confrontation between her and Rogue built into the climax of that crossover event. After that, other writers (Jason Aaron springs to mind) took Mystique's story forward, while I took Professor X's -- and Rogue remained sort of in limbo for a year, or at least wasn't a main narrative focus in any of the books.

When she came back in (in the "Salvage" arc of 'Legacy'), she was still haunted by the "impression" of Mystique that had become imprinted on her mind when they touched at the end of "Messiah Complex," and there were several important conversations between them -- some of them flashbacks, some in present time. The climax of that arc had Mystique (or at least that version of Mystique) managing to fight down her own deepest instincts to do something that was purely unselfish and self-sacrificing for Rogue's sake. I felt that worked, and I didn't want to dilute it by going back to the same plot later.

2) What will come of Destiny's vague premonition to Blindfold about her brother? And do you think there's a possibility that Irene could return again? I was so excited that Irene had returned, albeit briefly, and her moments with Rogue were absolutely outstanding.

I loved the fact that Necrosha allowed us to do that -- and probably my favorite scene to write in that arc was the final conversation between Rogue and Irene. Could she come back? It's possible, but I'm not sure that it's necessary. They got to say their goodbyes.

As far as the Blindfold plot goes, it was one of the things -- like Gambit's other self -- that I kept trying to get back to, but I failed. It's not resolved by the end of my run, so after that it's up to other X-writers to decide if it's something they want to revisit.

3) Who is your favorite villain to write?

Probably Exodus, because he's in that great X-Men tradition of hugely intelligent and idealistic people who are villains by virtue of having a different philosophy and world view. I really enjoyed having him and Professor X face off three years back, in what was effectively the climax of the whole Xavier-centric phase of "X-Men: Legacy."

Speaking of the different "phases" of your writing, Renaldo has questions covering a few of the adventures you've given us:

Thanks for the great stories, Mike. We'll miss you a lot on the book! Godspeed...

1) I really got neck-deep into your run when the aftermath of "Messiah Complex" hit, and you've done a boss job on characters like Rogue and Magneto. Before you go, I must ask -- which was your favorite character to write and what's your favorite arc in your run?

I have to give the obvious answer, Renaldo -- Rogue is my favorite character to write, and that's why I kept coming back to her again and again over the space of seven years. I love her voice, her perspective, her powers, pretty much everything about her. Probably my favorite arc was "Age of X," because it grew into something so big and so different. I'm really proud of how it came out, and of what we did to Rogue's powers and relationships within that story.

2) You gave us "Age of X," and it was a fun ride in a different universe. Would you ever consider doing future stories that could spin off from "Age of X," as there's a plethora of arcs and seeds I'm sure you can eke out!

I'd do it like a shot. Editor Daniel Ketchum and I talked about it a fair bit, and I may well pitch something further down the line. I love that world.

3) You teased romance with Rogue and Magneto, as well as Scott and Frenzy, so I'm curious -- which is your favorite romantic couple to write?

Writing the Frenzy/Basilisk beats in "Age of X" was very satisfying. Mind you, so was writing the Iceman/Psylocke beats, which is a whole lot more bizarre in some ways. I don't really have a favorite, but I do like going off in odd directions. The Rogue/Magneto kiss, and the build-up to it, was very enjoyable to write.

4) Apart from your X-books, what would be your dream title to write and dream artist to work with?

I have two favorite artists -- Peter Gross and Mike Perkins -- and I work with them both every chance I get. Dream artist who I've never worked with -- the French artist, David B. As to dream titles, well, a Doctor Strange mini would be great. And I'd love to write an arc for Grant Morrison's incarnation of the Doom Patrol, even if I had to get plastic surgery, go back in time, murder and then replace the real Grant Morrison in order to do it.

Grant Morrison better pray you never get your hands on a time machine.

And for those readers who are curious about the artists mentioned by Carey, you can find early collaborations with Mike Perkins in the books "Spellbinders" and "Carver Hale." And for those of you not reading Carey's current book "The Unwritten," you are sadly missing out on something great. And now, back to our regularly scheduled X-POSITION...

Justinian enjoys what he's read, but he's hoping for closure on an issue. What do you say?

I loved reading your run from the start to finish and am quite sad to see you go. I did have a question before you leave though -- Magneto promised Polaris in "X-Men: Legacy" #256 that he would answer her questions after they were safe (presumably, that means back on earth). Will he fulfill his promise to her in your run, or will that be something left for a future writer?

The latter, Justinian. I had space to pay off some, but not all, of the plot threads I'd left dangling. That was one I didn't manage to get to. I'd like to see it happen, but I couldn't make it work naturalistically in the space I had.

Derek also has an opinion on this matter -- one that might be somewhat polarizing...

A total highlight of your run for me was Magneto finally acknowledging Polaris on panel and the two meeting up. His characterization was spot-on during the reunion, but I have been genuinely confused by hers.

Magneto was heavily implicated in the murder of Lorna's mother, yet she didn't mention anything. You yourself even mentioned in a previous X-Position that her mother would be at the forefront of her mind when she and Magneto met up. So why is she behaving so favorably towards Magneto with the question of what happened to her mother (and his involvement) still unanswered?

Hmm. I'm surprised that people see that as a problem, frankly. That Lorna has unanswered questions is very natural. But when we last saw her, she was hugely proud of -- and hugely fixated by -- her proven family ties to Magneto.

I'd imagine (from what we saw of her behavior on Necrosha in "Uncanny X-Men" #430 and #431, for example) that she'd give him the benefit of every doubt. She wants to know the truth about her past, but she's expecting that what she finds will exonerate her father, not implicate him in murder.

Nathan S. has been a big fan of the heart you've brought to the book, and wants to know where the love is going to go:

1) The Rogue/Magneto/Gambit romance always seemed to be one-sided -- with hints and moments focused on Rogue and Magneto, yet nothing with Gambit. Why did you decide to concentrate on that pair? And will this triangle be resolved before you leave?

In some ways, Nathan, it was a way of pushing against what was felt to be expected and inevitable -- that Rogue would immediately return to Gambit once she was free to do so (forgetting the fact that he tried to murder her after the events of "Blood of Apocalypse"). I wanted to explore other possibilities first, and it seemed natural to go back to a mutual attraction between Rogue and Magneto that had been established a long time ago.

The people who dislike this seem to hate it with a passion, so I won't dwell on it for too long, except to say that I think both Rogue and Magneto have acted perfectly in character throughout -- so if there's a problem, it's with my perceptions of the characters. Will it be resolved? No. Gambit and Magneto make opposed decisions in response to the whole "Schism" crisis, but Rogue's choice isn't motivated primarily by staying close to either one of them. She's got her own take on the situation.

2) Throughout past issues of "X-Men: Legacy," there has been a subplot regarding Gambit's difficulties with his "Horseman of Death" persona. Is this going to get a conclusion in 'Legacy,' as the death seed was recently destroyed over in "Uncanny X-Force?"

I really, really wish I'd been able to get to that story. It's not just about the fact that Gambit has been a Horseman -- there's something else going on, and the story is still one that could be brought back into focus and concluded. But whenever you leave an ongoing book, you're going to leave some balls still in the air. This was one of mine. So now I'm lacking a ball. Bad metaphor.

BigBarda has a question about some other "items" you're leaving in the air. Let's see where these land...

1) Rogue has been shown to have an unusually close connection to Hope since saving her life in "Messiah Complex." Is this something you plan to touch on in your final arc? And is that relationship one that will impact her choice of sides in "Schism?"

It's not referred to in my final arc, Barda -- or not explicitly, anyway. What Rogue finally says to Scott, in support of her choice, has direct relevance to her relationship with Hope, but it's not limited to Hope. You'll see what I mean when you read the issue. In a way, her closeness to Hope is a specific instance of something wider, and that something definitely does influence her decision.

2) Since Magneto joined the X-Men on Utopia, Rogue has yet to discuss with him the events of "Uncanny X-Men" #350 or the death of Joseph during the Magneto Wars -- two events which huge impacts on her. Is Rogue reluctant to bring these events up with him? Do you think they cross her mind when considering their relationship?

I'm sure they do, and I'm sure they have come up in conversations between the two. We haven't seen those conversations, obviously. I know that's been very frustrating and even infuriating for a part of Rogue's fan base. For me, now, because of those few extreme reactions, it's a discussion I don't want to get back into.

3) Rogue has been a major focus for you since you first wrote her in the adjectiveless "X-Men." Has the way you've written her changed since those early issues? How has your view of the character developed over the last six years?

I'd like to say that I've written her with the same voice and the same sensibility throughout. Obviously her status quo has changed very radically -- her power set, her relationships, her role in the X-Men. But I think she approaches all these chaotic and unstable situations with a consistent outlook. The proof of the pudding is in the stories, I guess.

In terms of how my view of her has developed, I always felt that she was one of the most vivid and sympathetic personalities in the X-Men's roster, and that she should be at the center of things both by virtue of her powers and by virtue of the kind of person she is. Insidiously and gradually and sometimes blatantly and obviously, I've worked to put her there.

Now it's my turn with one final "Behind the X" get-to-know-you question: If you could magically place any of your written works on every bookshelf in the world, which work would you pick and why?

"The Steel Seraglio," the novel I just co-wrote with my wife and daughter. It's not out until March, and we're counting the days. It's very different from anything that any of the three of us has written before, and we're very, very proud of it. It's written in an "Arabian Nights"-style, with free-standing stories that weave in and out of each other but ultimately become a coherent novel. Anyway, yeah, that. I was way out of my comfort zone, and I had the time of my life.

If I could just grab one last bit of column space, I wanted to say that I've loved writing the X-Men. These characters first came into my life when I was about seven, when the British publisher Fleetway IPC started to produce black-and-white reprints of Marvel books for the UK market. It's hard to describe the pleasure of adding chapters to a story you read and loved as a kid. I'll never forget this experience, the people I've worked with, the friendships I've made, or the fan encounters, which (Rogneto aside) have been overwhelmingly positive and rewarding. Cheers, everyone. It's been both real and hallucinatory for seven straight years. I'll miss you.

As will we, Mike. Come and visit anytime!

Feeling sad? Well, here's some cheery news: we'll be back in seven days with the all-powerful and all-knowing X-Editors. That's right, it's the folks who make X-magic and they're available to answer your questions about any and all X-books and X-characters. Just think of some wonderful wonder-ments, type them up, and send them my way ASAP. With an "X-Position" in the subject line, you'll go right to the front of the class. So don't delay -- I'm waiting...

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