X-POSITION: Paul Cornell

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for recent issues of “Captain Britain and MI:13.”

Can you imagine trying to write a Spider-Man comic if you’ve never been to New York? You might be able to do it, but to a true New Yorker, it would probably ring false. And how about writing “Alpha Flight” if you’ve never visited Canada?

There are things one can fake well or poorly when telling a tale, but there is no substitution for firsthand knowledge and experience. This is what writer Paul Cornell has brought to Marvel’s “Captain Britain and MI:13,” a book starring the British-born heroes of the Marvel Universe, dedicated to protecting the United Kingdom from supernatural threats -- which they also happened to set free. Whoops.

This is not to say that Paul Cornell has experience as a British spy, although the English writer has been immersed in sci-fi writing for most of his professional career. Cornell’s written several genre novels including “Something More” and “British Summertime,” was involved with the 2005 revival of “Doctor Who,” and he continues to keep busy with the “Robin Hood” BBC television series as well as the “Fantastic Four: True Stories” miniseries for Marvel.

Thankfully, Cornell was able to take some time out from his hectic schedule and join us for today’s X-POSITION to answer your many queries. Let’s get to it!

We start things off with a question sent in by several readers. I’ll allow RedRogue the honor of posing the query:

With Psylocke being Brian’s twin sister and rumored to be returning to the real 616 universe soon, is there any chance of her making a cameo in the title? What about Meggan? You’ve done a magnificent job with the cast of your title and I’d love to see your take on both characters.

Thanks very much, RedRogue. I'm a bit stymied by wanting to keep my surprises close to my chest, but let's just say that I love both characters (my wife loves to play Psylocke on that X-Men beat ‘em up game you find in arcades), and would love to write for either of them -- which doesn't mean they'll both be appearing!

On the topic of Psylocke, Jarrod had a thought, along with a few other questions.

1) The redefinition and clarification of Brian's power-set was much needed and appreciated, but I've always wondered about his (and Betsy's) hinted origins being more products of genetic engineering by their father and Merlyn. Any chance you'll ever delve into that? It does seem curious due to the sort of power fluctuations both have had over the years, especially since it was initially hinted that the twins might've been engineered to take Merlyn's place and rule together. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks very much, Jarrod. I think Merlin's plans change over time. He's not omniscient, though he'd often like us to think that. He's set up Brian now as he wants and needs him to be. I don't know if I'd like to get into the origin stuff, because I do like to move forward, though I can see the attraction. It rather feels like something for way down the line, after we've got lots of nice big story under our belts.

2) I love MI-13's cast but it does feel a little “mutant-lite” following Excalibur. Is there any chance we'll see a few more British mutants in the book, even if they’re not part of the permanent cast? Micromax was with MI-6 last I remember — how about him? Or Kylun, Alchemy, Shamrock, or possibly the return of Sage (who's half-Welsh, if you're wondering)?

We're going to try to include British heroes as we go, but naturally, as they'd come up. Micromax is, as you say, in a good position for that. All the others, possibly, unless they're thoroughly employed elsewhere. Sorry to be so vague, but I think perhaps the point of your question is to make sure these guys are on my shopping list, and yes, that's the case, but that doesn't mean we get there. Story first, as always.

Most importantly, could we see Tangerine finally introduced into the 616 proper? Mutants being in such short supply these days, it might make sense if the government started looking at the ones left as a resource, and there does seem to be a surprising amount in the UK who retained their abilities following M-Day.

I love Tangerine, and we did script a mention for a while, but then moved away from it just because of the shape of the page. I hope we'll be on for that soon. “Hell Comes to Birmingham” is a full-on combat situation, so let's get past that before we get into these waters.

3) The X-Books seem to be going “Hellfire-crazy” these days, so will the Hellfire Club figure at all into CB&MI-13? Two of your cast already have direct familial ties to the club, and there's a perfectly good unused London branch (which had strong occult ties, coincidentally) that seems to be going to waste.

I'm a huge fan of the Club, but as you say, they're being used (very well) elsewhere at the moment, so I may have to wait in line.

Next up, Kid Impulse wrote in with a couple of Brit-related musings. In addition, he sent me scrambling to the dictionary to look up “Mancunian.”

1) My first question is in regards to Union Jack, who, as you've said before, will be appearing in the next arc. As a Mancunian, I've always cringed when he's been written as a cockney by American writers who think we're all Dick Van Dyke circa Mary Poppins. As a British writer, will you be bringing a more realistic approach to my hometown hero, and what can we expect from him?

Mancunian speech habits, for a start, but also some new relationships within the group. That cameo isn't the last you'll see of him. I'm making sure he's called 'Joe' for a start, rather than 'Joey', because who in Britain calls themselves that?

2) Secondly, “MI:13” garnered a lot of interest from the British press for it's inclusion of Gordon Brown. I read the article on The Mail's site and it was full of BIFF's and POW's. The writer had seemingly not had any exposure to superheroes since Adam West. Why do you think comics aren't as well respected in Britain as they are abroad, and is there anything that can be done to improve their image in the eyes of the public?

I was quite pleased that some of the other pieces treated us with a lot of intelligence. I think we're getting there. Just printing the frames I think showed we weren't in the business of Biff! and Pow!

Except, you know, when we are.

3) I'm also really enjoying “Fantastic Four: True Story.” Who else in Marvel's stable of characters would you like to take a crack at?

Thanks very much. Actually, I have a huge list. The Defenders probably isn't on the table now, but I'm really up for basically anyone! I'd love to dive in with some more of the “A” list, although I regard Cap and company as the first item on that list.

If we’re staying with an English-theme for this week’s Q&A, one might say this next email from Tracy Jackman presents a bit of a “sticky wicket.”

1) You have Faiza Hussain's religious mom hinting happily that Black Knight and Faiza could eventually get married. Are you aware that it is against Islam for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts first? (Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women without a problem, but the Shariah rules are different for women.)

Many secular Muslim women in Britain don't care about laws like that, but pretty much all headscarf-wearing ones do. I don’t believe her mom would ever talk like how you had her talking in #5. Do you have an explanation?

One of my Muslim advisor ladies suggested that angle. If you read the page, Dr. Hussain, who's the kind of arch-academic that no boy would like to be taken home to meet as the mother, was joking to wind Dane up, and then whispering to her daughter, also in a humorous way, neither of which mean that things wouldn't become more complicated if this actually became a possibility.

You seem to think that people all have to behave the same way; in effect, that they should conform to a stereotype and not be people. Do you have an explanation? (Do I sound a bit defensive? If so, sorry. You can imagine how much pressure there is on me about this stuff, from the audience and media.)

I'm determined that she and her family are going to stay in the comic, and stay being real people with a whole range of responses.

As an Anglican, theist, whatever I am, I'm aware myself that people expect me to behave in a certain way, and it irks me, and so I think it's important to keep it person first, belief system second. But I also emphasize that Faiza and her folk won't let anyone down. (So, you know, no pressure there.)

2) Will you have Faiza ever interact with fellow Muslim (and X-Man) Dust?

If we have a crossover, then sure.

Matt wrote in because he was curious about one of the major incidents from the series, and he managed to squeeze in a “Doctor Who” question at the same time.

I'd like to know the thought behind killing John the Skrull, as he was a very offbeat character with a lot to offer. He wasn't the guy I expected to be taken off the table so quickly.

And that's why. These guys are intelligence officers; they don't earn points towards staying alive by being good, charismatic or fun. More of that to come.

And — while I know this is off-topic — I’ve got to ask if you’re writing any of Series 5 of “Doctor Who.” You might dodge this question, but I have to ask. You’re one of my top two favorite writers of the new show, along with Moffat. Are you looking forward to Moffat's tenure as showrunner as well?

I'm hugely looking forward to it. It's far too early for me to know if I'm on the show.

Derek Metaltron has a dream — a dream that many Paul Cornell fans probably have. Any chance his dream will become a reality, Paul?

As a massive “Doctor Who” fan, is there any chance you could ever team up with IDW Publishing and do a Doctor Who/Captain Britain crossover? I'd love to see the results! The great vampire-hating Doctor meeting Spitfire and Blade? The Doctor meeting Alistaire Stuart and saying how he reminds him of a certain Brigadier? Martha Jones and Faiza Hussain? Or Jack Harkness and Black Knight? Anyway, thanks for listening — all us Brits are behind ye!

I'd love to see it as well, and thanks very much, but I don't think this is on the cards at the moment.

P.S. Robin Hood vs. Clint Barton vs. Kate Bishop in the ultimate archery contest! Who wins?

I really adore Kate, so if I'm writing it, her!

That concludes this week’s fun, but fear not — we have a double-dose of X-POSITION coming up for you within the next seven days. First, writer C.B. Cebulski will be swinging by to chat about “Manifest Destiny,” “X-Men: Return of Magik,” and “X-Infernus” (from a previously-solicited X-POSITION, so no questions needed).

Then, one week from today, both Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost will be here to discuss “X-Force.” If you’ve been reading the book, you know they’ve got some 'splainin to do. And if you haven’t been checking it out, issue #7 arrives in stores this week.

Read, write, and send us your “X-Force” questions as soon as you can. Putting “X-Position” in the subject line will put a tingle in our hearts (and increases the odds of getting your email read), so be sure to do that as well.

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