X-POSITION: Peter David

Last week's "X-Factor" #39 contained a moment so shocking and so huge, words fail to capture its enormity -- which is fine with the book's writer, Peter David. As a matter of fact, he would prefer that no one discuss said moment online until all readers have had an opportunity to experience it for themselves. Sometimes known as PAD, the writer included in the issue a plea to readers, asking them to acquiesce to his request. David repeated the request on his website.

Naturally, we will honor PAD's wishes here at X-POSITION. But it sure does make things tricky. How does one ask a question about something one cannot mention? Well, we've done our best with your queries and Peter David responded with his best, which we think you'll enjoy.

For those who haven't been reading Marvel's "X-Factor," here's a quick summary: Theresa Cassidy (a.k.a. Siryn) is pregnant with the child of Jamie Madrox (a.k.a. Multiple Man), who leads X-Factor. This is of particular interest to many people as there haven't been any new mutant births (except for the Messiah child currently in "Cable") since the Scarlet Witch uttered the words, "No more mutants." In last week's "X-Factor," the baby's arrival is nigh.

Caught up now? Then let's roll...

CBR: Ramelito was the first to write in and ask about last week's "X-Factor" #39, so here he goes, and hey - no spoiler warnings needed!

I'm absolutely speechless after the events of issue #39. I can't see how the team will continue after this - at least not with Siryn and Jamie both on it. How long will the aftermath of this issue be carried out?

Peter David: There are people who seem to be under the impression that the conclusion of #39 was simply the end of one storyline. It's not. It's the beginning of a new one. And I think you're right; it seems impossible that both Siryn and Jamie could both be on the team. Logic would dictate that one of them has to go. Or perhaps they split into two teams. Or perhaps something else entirely. I can say this with confidence: it will not simply be business as usual.

Did you have this plan for the baby all along? Even before you got Siryn pregnant? If so, well, you've really been patient with letting this storyline "cook" - especially in light of all the online guesses about the baby's nature...

When I first conceived the storyline, I had several ways in my head that it could go. The advent of "Messiah CompleX" made things a bit more challenging: how to have the pregnancy develop and turn out in a way that wouldn't simply be a rehash of "MC." But yes, I came up with the denouement two years ago, during a San Diego Comic-Con.

And I got a kick out of all the online speculation because, for the most part, everyone was coming up with variations on things that had already been done. So I knew we were breaking new ground. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing, I leave to others to decide.

So, it seems that it was a dupe that slept with Siryn, not the actual Jamie. Does that mean Jamie really did sleep with Monet? Or did he not sleep with either of them? And if he did actually sleep with Monet, does that mean he "chose" her?

That's going to be addressed in #40.

I'm trying not to spoil things, but I have to ask: as Jamie can recall all the memories of his dupes, does he now recall all the memories of the "special" dupe he absorbed in issue #39? Because if he does...ick.

Not consciously, no. I can't go into more depth than that without being too spoilery, but there's specific reasons why he wouldn't.

Corwin is next, and his reaction to the recent issue goes from outrage to sheer pleasure.

Peter David! You cruel, insensitive, mean man. I just finished reading "X-Factor" #39 and I would like to thank you for giving me exactly what I didn't know I wanted. I won't spoil it for other readers, but can we look forward to other surprises like this in "X-Factor?" Are you having a difficult time getting things like this past your editors?

When I first pitched the concept to [editor] Andy Schmidt, his response was along the lines of, "Oh my God. Are you serious? Oh my God. (Pause) Okay. Go with it."

I was nervous when we changed editors (several times) because I was always worried the next editor would go, "Uh...no way." But they all stood behind it. Now the end to issue #40... that was a challenge to get past the editors. But I sold them on it and now they're 110% supportive. I guarantee you, you'll be blown away.

Our next set of questions comes from Captain Cavalier, who asked about everything from the topic of spoilers to TV guest stars in comics.

I was curious, how would you describe the relationship between Jamie and Val? Is it one of respect? Does Jamie dislike Val, or just what she represents? Is there a sexual tension there?

I think Val doesn't know Madrox as well as she thinks she does, but she knows him better than he'd care to admit. Val sees herself as someone who believes she really has his best interests at heart, and I think Madrox believes that she believes that, but that he doesn't agree with her definition of "best interests." And no, there's no sexual tension there. At least, I'm not writing it that way.

I know you've been very vocal about spoilers on issue #39, but some believe that spoilers help sell an issue. For example, if fans were told that Barack Obama shows up at the end of issue #40 and turns out to be a mutant, you would probably sell a ton of issues even though the surprise would be ruined. How do you, as a writer, personally balance the need to preserve the story's secrets against the need to sell your book?

Preserving the reader's ability to experience the story as I wanted to present it is, to me, of paramount importance. With comics costing what they do these days, you deserve to have the most bang possible for your buck. The conventional wisdom these days seems to be that the only way to sell a book is to have a ton of tie-ins and market the living hell out of every possible aspect of it. I aim to confound that wisdom.

I want to increase sales simply by writing stories so compelling that not reading the book simply isn't an option. Think of it as a comic book field of dreams: if you write it, they will come. I'm happy to participate in marketing where I can, as far as I can. When Newsarama asked to interview me about upcoming issues, I wrote them a polite but firm email explaining why I wouldn't do it. They asked if they could run the email as, more or less, an interview. I said okay and the result was a spirited discussion of the rightness or wrongness of spoilers. I think that's great.

The notion that if you label something as having "spoilers" that people won't ruin a book for themselves is simply not true. Cigarette packs have big warnings on the side; doesn't stop people from ruining their lungs. Ultimately, though, I'm just hoping that writing really great stories will pull readers in. Plus Valentine's art is a huge draw (no pun intended.)

I am also a fan of your "Fallen Angel" book, so I'm hoping you won't mind answering a few questions about that. What happened to the book that caused this latest issue to be the "last" one? Is the book in any kind of sales danger?

We wrapped the current storyline and I felt it was a natural breaking point. We ended it there in order to avoid sales danger. Frank Miller doesn't feel any need to produce "Sin City" as an ongoing series; Mike Mignola isn't turning out a monthly "Hellboy" comic. So I'm not sure why I should turn out "Fallen Angel" continuously, especially in a marketplace where the usual reward for an ongoing series with an unchanging creative team is attrition. So in a few months we restart the series with a new chapter in the Fallen Angel's life and take advantage of the marketing opportunities such a relaunch offers.

I understand that you are relaunching the title. Are there major changes to the title that necessitate a new #1? Will it still have the same title?

You mean will it still be called "Fallen Angel?" Yeah. The "major changes" occurred at the end of the current series.

I'm excited about the team-up with Illyria (from the TV show "Angel") in "Fallen Angel." How did the idea for this come about?

Honestly, I was trying to come up with interesting guest stars who would actually work well within the context of the series. Illyria seemed a natural fit. I ran it pass Joss and he signed off on it.

Was it difficult getting permission to use Illyria? Did the fact that IDW also publishes the "Angel" comic make this much easier?

It didn't hurt, but ultimately it was Joss's call. It probably helped that I'd done the "Illyria" one-shot, so he had confidence that I would do right by the character.

You've written characters for the Whedonverse before, but have you ever had the opportunity to talk with Joss Whedon? Do you know if he reads your books? You two have similar styles, in my opinion - you both do a good job of mixing drama with comedy, and you both like a good pun.

I've chatted with him on occasion. We haven't gone out for drinks or anything, which is a shame, because then all these sexy girls would be coming over to me and saying, "Hi. Can you introduce me to Joss Whedon?" Or they'd be coming up to Joss and saying, "Hi. Can you ditch the bald guy and we can go somewhere?" As for if he reads my books...I dunno. I never asked.

Out of curiosity, what is your favorite Whedon series? And what about that particular series makes it rise above the others he's created?

"Firefly," because it featured Jewel Staite. I always thought it was fun that ten years ago, Bill Mumy and I cast Jewel as an engineering genius on a spaceship. And ten years later, Joss wound up casting her as an engineering genius on a spaceship. So I always felt a truly personal connection.

Robert Eddleman has a question about a dangling "X-Factor" plotline.

My question concerns the second dupe that Madrox sent into the future: will we be seeing him again anytime soon? Or is that more of a "slow-burn" subplot?

It depends what you mean by "anytime soon." If you mean within the next few months, no. But within the next fifteen months, yes.

Kevin also has a non-infant query, but it's one that will likely interest several readers...

Seeing as Jubilation Lee and Chamber are out of luck as "New Warriors" is ending, are there any plans for them to possibly get a starring role in "X-Factor?" They both have strong ties to Monet, and Jubilee is either familiar with or has worked with the other members of the team before. Please?

I'm not that big on Chamber, but I adore Jubilee. She's so much fun; it'd be great to bring her into a noir title like "X-Factor" and totally crush her spirit. So I'd love to bring her in. And of course, now all the Jubilee fans are going, "Oh my God, don't let David anywhere near her!" Be careful what you wish for.

Here's one last general question about the title, courtesy of Caleb Warren.

Peter, you've been telling us for awhile now that a former New X-Man was going to join the cast of "X-Factor". Is this still coming? If so, when? Can you say if the character will be female? "X-Factor" seems a little to male-dominated right now...

I was actually referring to Darwin. I don't think he's female. Then again, he does have the evolving thing going for him. It might be interesting to see what would happen if he were attacked by Hell's Belles or the Lady Liberators.

Next week, any and all X-related questions will be welcome as the X-Editors join us to answer your emails about the merry Marvel mutant universe. Just send us your queries as soon as homo-superiorly possible (along with "X-Position" in the subject line), and we'll pass them along with a wink and a smile. First come, first served, so don't delay!

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