X-POSITION: Peter David on X-Factor, "Schism" Fallout & More

Ever since Marvel Comics first announced the upcoming "Schism" in the X-Men Universe, characters (and fans) have been uttering a familiar phrase: "Whose side are you on?" Post-"Schism," fans will see the creation of two sets of X-Teams whose adventures and clashes with each other will be told in "Uncanny X-Men" and "Wolverine & the X-Men." Both teams will espouse differing philosophies about mutantkind's interaction with humanity, and both will display these beliefs in different ways.

For some mutants, the decision who to follow will seem fairly clear; others will likely struggle with the choice. And then there will be some who hope to steer clear of the whole mess. I'd wager X-Factor falls into this category; however, they may not have a choice in the matter. I can't answer this question with any kind of certainty, but there is someone who can -- "X-Factor" writer Peter David, and he's joining us for today's X-POSITION. We have loads to discuss, so let's get things rolling!

Regino wrote in and seems to be the observant type. Let's see if he's onto something:

1) I really like how you give each character his or her own voice, but Longshot and Shatterstar seem to have very similar voices in terms of speech and personality. Is this intentional? How would you distinguish their personalities?

I'm glad you noticed that, Regino. It was something that I intended to bring along gradually. Yes, the more time they spend in each other's presence, the more they start having the same cadences and rhythms to their delivery. Which is not to say that Longshot is suddenly going to start being interested in guys; that's not in the cards. Nor is Shatterstar suddenly going to begin having luck powers. But I'm gradually drawing increasing similarities between the two, and there's a definite reason for that. I wanted it to be one of those things where, when you look back on it, you go, "Ah, of course, it all makes sense now."

2) You've been giving us quite the history lesson with all of these mystical characters. It seems that you really enjoy these types of characters. What sources did you use to research these characters and are they all possibly related in some way?

Several books on mythology, my own knowledge, and Google. Mythology's always been a bit of a hobby of mine and, since Rahne became pregnant by a god and that's a very popular trope in mythic tales, I figured it might be fun to start bringing in beings from other mythologies. A sort of "When Worlds Collide" type of vibe.

I mean, you know how kids would always wonder what would happen if Superman squared off against Thor or Batman fought Spider-Man? When I was growing up, I wondered what it would be like if the various gods of different mythologies threw down, which is probably why that issue where Hercules showed up and started battling Thor was one of my favorites of the time. So I tapped into that childhood enthusiasm when it came to plotting this particular storyline. (Plus, eventually I got to participate in "Marvel vs. DC," so I've really had the best of both worlds.)

3) It seems like you've been giving us a lot of guest stars recently (Doom, Ruby, Thor, etc.). What do you like about using these kinds of characters? Is the plan to keep including these outsiders in the future?

Well, Ruby wasn't a guest star; she was a character I came up with in the course of the book. Nor do I consider any of them outsiders. Basically, the decision was made to try and have X-Factor be far more interactive with the rest of the Marvel Universe. To me, making use of other popular characters in the MU was simply a natural outgrowth of that editorial direction.

I intend for the future to be a continuation of what I've been doing, a mixture of already existing characters with original characters (for example, the "Scars" storyline that featured the new villains at the same time that I also had Jonah Jameson, the Black Cat and Spidey). If you have the best of both worlds available, why not make use of it?

Rory wrote in about her favorite mutant trio and all the changes coming their way soon:

1) Rictor regaining his powers in "Avengers: Children's Crusade" really caught me by surprise (although I assume it wasn't a surprise for you). Can you give us an idea what kind of impact this will have on future storylines in "X-Factor?" And how soon will we see a re-powered Rictor in the pages of your book? Will this have any effect on his relationship with Shatterstar? Personally, I preferred Rictor without his powers since he has still proven to be an asset to the team...

Look to issue #225, Rory; that's where the re-powered Rictor cuts loose. I deliberately delayed it because, although I had no particular reason to think "Children's Crusade" was going to run late, let's face it: delays happen and I didn't want to be in a position of having to drop ten yards and punt because Rictor was empowered in "X-Factor" before it actually occurred over in "Avenger's: Children's Crusade."

Although I fully understand your feelings about Rictor being powerless, I'm always a big believer in things happening that will provide good drama. Because now Shatterstar is going to start to wonder whether Rictor became attached to him solely because he felt vulnerable without his powers, and now is Ric suddenly going to lose interest in him. And how will that impact Rahne who, believe me, is going to have her own problems.

Plus there's no reason to assume that just because he can shake things up again, he's automatically going to be less resourceful or stop displaying the traits we've seen from him since the get-go. Reed Richards was a genius before he acquired the ability to stretch; he didn't stop being a big brain just because he was a human slinky.

2) I am enjoying the story arc on Rahne's baby, largely because of the way both Shatterstar and Rictor seem to be caring so much for Rahne. However, will Rahne eventually prove to be the cause of future conflicts between Rictor and Shatterstar? Also, I may be asking too much, but is the kiss between Guido and Monet a sign of romantic things to come in future issues?

As mentioned above, yes, she will be involved in conflict. But it's not going to be anything she's seeking out; instead it's going to be as a result of changes in Rictor's life. In fact, she will have grown to like Shatterstar by this point and not want to get between them. So the dynamics are going to be dramatically shaken up. Remember, I promised that I would not kill either Shatterstar and Rictor, but that doesn't mean that their relationship will run smoothly. Why should it? No one else's does.

3) This is just wishful thinking on my part, but is there any chance that X-Factor will mix it up with Daken in the near future? I'm really curious as to how Shatterstar and Daken would react toward one another.

No immediate plans for Daken since he's pretty busy elsewhere, but it's something I've been kicking around in my head. If I can come up with what I think is the right story for it, then yes. I think it would be interesting.

Chesapeake has an interesting notion as well, and is curious how well mutants and magic mix?

I am interested in Layla Miller's powers as she looks for the right "complement" to her true powers. Why is Layla exploring mystical incantations? Is she truly interested in that kind of line of knowledge, or is it the direct result of the challenges of the job at hand?

Remember, she spent a year with Doc Doom, and Doom is no slouch when it comes to that sort of thing. We're not going to see Layla tossing around bolts of mystic energy, but I've been wanting to see X-Factor get more and more into things of a mystical and supernatural bent. It enables me to tell stories in which they're completely out of their depth.

I like the concept of X-Factor constantly struggling with the learning curve and having no freaking clue what their opponents are going to do. But if I'm doing supernatural threats, I want them more grounded than, say, the usual array of Doctor Strange bad guys. Plus you then have this interesting disparity of superheroes with science-based powers going head to head with these beings or creatures who are utterly arcane. Layla, thanks to her time with Doom and also her foreknowledge, manages to walk both these worlds simultaneously. Which is a long-winded way of saying that the answer to "is she truly interested" or is it because she knows of "the challenges of the job at hand" is yes to both.

Xerox-Kitty has questions about the past, present, and future, so let's do the time warp -- yeah!

1) Sorry that this is going back a few years, but what happened to the unresolved story of Siryn and M trying to save the singing Purity twins Molly & Wally (during the Isolationist story). Was the story dropped to make room for Messiah CompleX and it's aftermath? Or is this something that you're going to revisit in the future?

I resolved it as much as I was going to, Kitty, because X-Factor pushed it as far as they could within the boundaries of the law. Sometimes, as in real life, there's never going to be an easy answer, and that's what I was trying to put across there.

2) It's already been stated that Wolfsbane's pregnancy has been accelerated and correlates with lupine gestation periods. Will there be other wolf-related quirks to her pregnancy, such as carrying more than one cub?

I usually try to be as straightforward with these X-Positions as possible, but in this case I'm just going to have to play the "wait and see" card. The good news is, you won't have to wait much longer; Rahne gives birth the very next issue.

3) There's a lot of excitement over the possibility that Havok & Polaris might return from their outer space adventures. If they do, what are the chances of an X-Factor reunion (even just a brief one)?

I think a reunion would be great for them and don't think it hasn't been discussed. Let's just say that their dance card is going to be pretty full for a while.

Really? Then Mr. Anderson is wondering if they'll be doing the "Schism" shuffle!

After "Schism" wraps up, will the X-Factor line-up remain the same or will the X-Men come recruiting?

Well Mr. Anderson (Anderson, that's him!), I feel comfortable enough in saying that there will be definitely blow back from "Schism" in "X-Factor," and if that's what you're interested in, then I strongly suggest that you go out and reserve, right now, your copy of "X-Factor" #230. Let's just say that a very high-profile player in "Schism" is going to be showing up for that issue and that the team is going to be presented with some very intriguing decisions.

Renaldo submitted a couple of quality queries to wrap up today's X-POSITION. Here's some awesome answers:

1) In the past, it felt like you allowed Siryn and Madrox take the core action/drama of the book, but then you swung it around to Rictor/Rahne/Shatterstar. Recently, your focus seems to be on Monet, Guido, Darwin, Rahne, Layla, and, surprisingly, Pip. How do you plot your arcs and balance the attention given to characters so well as it is a big ensemble cast (even without the cameos)?

It's not easy, Renaldo. One of the things I enjoy about "X-Factor" is that the sizable cast (although honestly, is the population of X-Factor really larger than the population of Utopia?) is that I have enough different types of characters, personalities and power sets that I can tell any type of story I want to and have it flow naturally from one or some of them. That way the team always has something personal at stake, which I think is vital to keeping the stories interesting.

2) There are gay issues that we see Rahne coming to terms with, as well as Monet/JJJ/Guido addressing the Muslim/religious/war/terrorist factor. How do you go about this without coming off as too political in your writings? Or is it even a concern?

It's not a concern to me. It seems more a concern to some other people who stridently protest if I have the characters taking any political position. What really cracked me up were the fans who complained about Jonah making a speech. He's the mayor of New York and former writer of editorials. Oh my God, a politician and long-standing voicer of opinions made a speech. Isn't that what politicians do? Isn't that what editorial writers do? So how in the world was that out of character? Because he said something that didn't match up with his actions in the past? Jonah's a hypocrite; stop the presses.

Ultimately, if the characters have something compelling to say about matters at hand, I have them say it. It's really no more involved than that.

That concludes the emails from our readers, so now it's my turn to get a little crazy and go "Behind the X!" Peter, if you wouldn't mind, could you share how the "Cowboys and Aliens" film is somewhat a "blast from the past" for you?

Yeah, I had a real sense of dejà vu when I read about "Cowboys and Aliens." Fifteen years ago, I was hired by Charlie Band of Full Moon to write two screenplays based on a concept he called "Oblivion," which really was cowboys and aliens. Except it was set on a far-off alien world and the cowboys and aliens just kind of co-existed.

I laced it with in-jokes on everything from "Star Trek" to comic books (including a tortured pun on "Man-Thing"). Although I will take no responsibility for the lousy "Star Trek" puns that George Takei said in the role of "Doc Valentine" -- those were all George's. We filmed "Oblivion" and "Oblivion 2: Backlash" back-to-back in Romania for three months. If people came out of "Cowboys and Aliens" griping that there was no sense of fun, then I would direct them to "Oblivion," which was recently re-released by Shout! It's insanely silly stuff, but fun? Most definitely. You can't go wrong with a western featuring Julie Newmar playing a character called "Miss Kitty."

Sounds like a perfect addition to my Netflix queue. Thanks, Peter!

In seven short days, Rick Remender -- the writer of "Uncanny X-Force" -- stops by to answer your questions about his unique team of mutant mercenaries. Sound like a bloody good time to you? Just type up those emails and send them to me as soon as you can. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, and you'll make me happier than a monkey in a bathtub of bananas. See you in seven!

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