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X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims’ “X-Men ’92”

by  in Comic News Comment
X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims’ “X-Men ’92”

Everything awesome is rad again. With “X-Men ’92,” the wildly popular early ’90s era is alive and well where Marvel’s mutants are concerned. The costumes, attitude and energy present in bodacious cartoons and excellent comics is back in action in a new series from writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims and artist Alti Firmansyah. But trouble’s arrived for the X-Men, as the Upstarts, Alpha Red and Dracula — yes, Dracula — threaten to make sure this team doesn’t live to see 1993.

X-POSITION: Bowers & Sims X-Plore the New “X-Men ’92”-niverse

This week, “X-Men ’92” co-writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims return to X-POSITION and answer your questions about everything from the 92niverse’s Emma Frost and Chamber’s attitude to the Phoenix Force.

CBR News: Hello Chad and Chris, and welcome back to X-POSITION! Our first question from Patrick focuses on a character that a lotta people want to see.

I am loving this book…probably my favorite X-Book at the moment (along with Bunn’s “Uncanny”). One of the key reasons is how deftly you’ve managed to insert characters that weren’t necessarily there in the ’90s and do it so well and organically. This starving and thirsty fan’s gotta ask though… any chance that a certain Ms. Frost shows up in “’92” anytime soon?

Chad Bowers: Thanks, Patrick! Glad you’re digging “X-Men ’92 (and yeah, we love Cullen’s book, too)! Chris and I have talked more than a few times about working Emma into the series, and we just haven’t found the right story yet. We’re both fans of her as a character, especially Grant Morrison’s portrayal in “New X-Men,” but I don’t want to toss her into the mix without a good reason. And the Gen X kids at the school feels like a pretty good one, admittedly, so it’s likely Emma will turn up somewhere soon. We just want to make sure we do something cool and different with her when she does!

Chris Sims: Emma is one of the characters we have the most requests for, and weirdly enough, I think she’s probably the one major character that, until Chad brought it up and people started asking, that I never really considered for the book. I mean, she’s not on the Blue and Gold teams, and those tend to be the X-Men we’re focusing on, even if the Generation X kids and X-Statix have managed to sneak in there, too. But yeah, like Chad said, we like her a lot as a character, and while I can’t say whether she’ll show up soon, I will say that we’ve always wanted to put “Because you demanded it!” on a cover.

Next up, Emily has a question about “X-Men ’92’s” art team.

I’m really enjoying the series so far, especially the artwork. I really like Alti’s style; the characters are all so expressive! I noticed that she lives in Indonesia. Can you guys describe how you communicate while writing and the process of translating the script to artwork? Are there any challenges with Alti being so far away?

Bowers: Let’s ask Alti!

Alti Firmansyah: Since I live so far away from the team, we always communicate by emails and I keep them updated to every details of progress that I’ve made. I let the guys know that I got the script, and then I send batches of the sketch pages (or thumbnails) to get the team’s approval for later to get inked. Once they say “excellent!” or “sweet!” I consider it as a yes and I straightly send the high-res page to them.

Bowers: Chris and I write over email, and texts, and we call and talk almost every day, so sometimes I worry that our “twin talk” can be a little impossible to navigate, but Alti’s incredible, and we’re super lucky to have her working with us! With email, really, the distance hasn’t ever been an issue. Well, outside the fact that we’d love to meet face-to-face, or hang out and share a table at a con or something, but we’re working on that.

Sims: Working with Alti’s been great. Since we’re trying to capture the feel of an era that was defined largely by the visual style, Alti’s got most of the weight of pulling that off on her shoulders, and we try to help out by helping to find reference for any specifics that we need. She’s always up for whatever we throw at her, though — Alpha Red’s design was exactly what I had in my head when we came up with him, and just wait’ll you see her ’90s-style redesign for — wait, I don’t think I can talk about her yet. She won’t be around until #6!

Thanks for dropping by, Alti! Now we have a question about the book’s student body from NewMutant.

Why did you decide to use the X-Statix team as students at the school? The team is not ’90s and other students, like the original New Mutants or the New X-Men, would have made much more sense if you needed students beyond Generation X.

Bowers: Well, first reason is I’m a huge fan of Milligan and Allred’s “X-Force”/”X-Statix,” and thought it’d be fun to write Doop. But adding them to the mix really comes from the idea that our universe — the 92niverse — is a place where things happen differently. Despite the book’s title, we’re not just retelling stories we loved when we were 13. And you’re right, the X-Statix are not characters typically associated with the 90s. But had they been active, they would’ve be roughly contemporaries to Gen X kids — certainly closer in age than the New Mutants and the New X-Men casts. So when we decided to expand the school’s student body beyond the Gen X kids, they seemed like a perfect fit!

Sims: In the era that we’re trying to capture in our book, the New Mutants have already moved on from being students — we’ve already got an X-Force, after all. But yeah, for us, it felt more fun to see the X-Statix, who would’ve been in their mid-20s in the 2000s, as characters who would’ve been teenagers in the ’90s.

Speaking of students, jubilees_bf wants to know what’s in store for one of the trainees.

Great series so far! It’s my favorite at Marvel. I’m a huge Jubilee fan… and was happy to pick this series up, since she initially was back to her pyrokinetic powers. Is her becoming a vampire a permanent thing in this series, too, or will she hopefully get her mutant powers back?

Bowers: Well, technically, she’s a vampire with mutant powers in “’92.” So best of both worlds, right? But I’ll simply say keep reading. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with where things go.

Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll be painfully disappointed, I don’t know. We just met, after all…

And here’s a question about another Gen Xer from jawbreaker.

My question is about Chamber. I’ve noticed that your version of Jono doesn’t seem as mopey and “gothy” as the original, angstier “Gen X” incarnation. He seems rather well adjusted for a kid who lost his mouth! Is that a choice made deliberately or is it just a case of him being a minor character in the cast along with the rest of the students, and not really having the spare panel time to really explore that more classic take on him?

Bowers: It’s a choice. I love original recipe Chamber, and genuinely think he was way ahead of his time. But our book’s not really about being mopey, so we like to think of that particular aspect of his personality as something he’d come to terms with during his stay at the Clear Mountain Project. He’s the poster boy for mutant resilience and overcoming the bad hand you get dealt sometimes. So in that way, for our book, he’s shifted slightly away from being the emo loner and stepped into the role of cheerleader.

Sims: I think what informed us on Chamber more than anything else was that we wanted to play up his relationship with Jubilee, and really, how can you be sad when Jubilee’s around?

Moving on from the students, MarvelMaster616 wants to know more about the book’s villains.

First off, you guys are doing a great job on this series. It’s the best X-book to come out in a long time. Please keep up the excellent work! Now, For my questions: Could you tell a bit more about the group the Von Struckers are working with (Fitzroy, Gamemaster, etc.)? What’s going on with them and what can we expect from them?

Sims: They’re a variation on the Upstarts, a team that was originally introduced in the Prime Marvel Continuity all the way back in “Uncanny X-Men” #281 in 1991. The basic idea is that they’ve been gathered by the Gamesmaster at the behest of an unknown “benefactor” as the players in a high-stakes game to determine who’s going to be the next “supreme mutant.” Their target is the X-Men, and the object is to put them through the worst trials and tribulations that they can — with plenty of bonus points if they manage to kill any of them.

As you’ve seen in the book, our roster of Upstarts includes Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker, Fabian Cortez, Shinobi Shaw, Trevor Fitzroy, and a secret character that we’ve yet to reveal. Feel free to guess, but as for who that sixth Upstart is — and the true identity of their mysterious benefactor — you’ll just have to keep reading!

And MarvelMaster616 has a question about erstwhile X-Men Cyclops and Jean Grey.

The solicit for “X-Men ’92” #5 showed Cyclops and Jean coming back into the picture. In Volume 0, we saw Jean tapping into some of her Phoenix Force potential. Is that still an ongoing plot? Will that be touched on again at some point?

Sims: Our version of Jean’s relationship to the Phoenix Force is a little different from what you’ve seen in the history of the Marvel Universe, and we’re definitely hoping to get into it again in detail at some point. In the meantime, though, the Phoenix is definitely an element of the story we’re telling when Scott and Jean come back in #5 — just maybe not in the way you expect!

Anduinel wonders if the book will include more meta commentary.

I’m a toonhead, so I truly adored you guys skewering Standard and Practices in the “Warzones” miniseries. Can we look forward to more meta in upcoming arcs?

Sims: Thanks, we’re glad to hear you liked it! Doing a “Secret Wars” miniseries and having our book set on Battleworld meant that we could play around with certain aspects of the X-Men in a really fun way, but for the ongoing, we wanted to shift our focus a little bit. That said, we love working those jokes in there — it’s one of the reasons we wanted to set our story in a world where the X-Men were as popular as superheroes as they were as comic book characters here in the real world — and I think you’ll be interested in seeing what happens in our third story arc.

We’ll start to wrap things up with a long shot of a request from Kabe.

The next “X-Men ’92” isn’t the only Fox Kids show getting a revival in comic form, and I was wondering if Marvel could work something out with BOOM! and Saban and make a “Power Rangers/X-Men ’92” crossover comic happen? I had both toys as a kid and made them meet up all the time — love to see that come to life.

Sims: You and me both!

Bowers: Yeah, we’d do that. I’m pretty sure we’ve already started writing it just based on your question.

And we’ll close things out with a request from Bensonmic.

For Chris Sims and Chad Bowers: Just three words — Death’s Head, yes?

Bowers: Two words — issue six!

Special thanks to Chad Bowers and Chris Sims — and special guest Alti Firmansyah — for taking on this week’s questions!

Next week, “All-New X-Men” writer Dennis Hopeless joins us here at X-POSITION. Have a question for Dennis? Go ahead and send ’em in via an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. But get ’em in quickly, because the deadline’s Friday! Make it happen!

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