X-POSITION: Spider-Man!?

What do Spider-Man and the X-Men have in common? Why, they're both mutants, of course!

Except, they're not both mutants.

As anyone familiar with Spidey's origin knows, Peter Parker gained his powers by way of the bite of a radioactive spider. But because the villains of the Marvel Universe aren't privy to this confidential information, it's understandable that they assume Spider-Man's a mutant. But we all know what happens when we assume, right?

In the case of the new "X-Men/Spider-Man" miniseries, that same assumption might be making "arses" out of Kraven the Hunter and Mr. Sinister. Or will it? Thankfully, writer Christos Gage is here to answer your questions about this Mario Alberti-illustrated adventure that spans from the heroes' past to present day. Plus, Gage was also kind enough to talk about his other Marvel books; namely "House of M: Civil War" and "Avengers: The Initiative." That's a lot of ground to cover, so let's get to it!

We begin things today with a handful of questions from Andre4000, who wanted to know more about the aforementioned wall-crawling, mutant miniseries:

1) How did the "X-Men/Spider-Man" miniseries come about?

I was at K-Mart buying a broom (ah, the glamorous life of a comic book writer) when I got a call from Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker and Andy Schmidt, who at the time was an editor in the X-office. They're both big fans of Italian artist Mario Alberti - who's been active in European comics for years, but has only done a couple of covers for U.S. publishers - and they were anxious to get him working on something for Marvel. They had the idea of a four-issue Spidey/X-Men miniseries, with each installment taking place at a different point in Marvel history. I thought that sounded great, and as soon as I saw Mario's art, I knew nothing would stop me from working with him. I came up with an outline that everybody liked and here we are, having the time of our lives. Hope you dig the results, Andre!

2) Why was it decided to tell the story in the past as opposed to the present?

The idea is actually for each issue to take place in a different era, beginning with the Silver Age and ending in the present. The purpose was to show how the characters have changed and evolved over the years, how they were affected by key events in their lives, and what they had and continue to have in common, as well as to give Mario a chance to draw the widest possible variety of X-Men, Spidey costumes, and villains we could think of!

3) Will the whole story be told in the past? And do the events of the miniseries have implications in the present?

The first issue occurs in the Silver Age. Issue #2 happens right after "Kraven's Last Hunt," towards the end of the "Mutant Massacre." Issue #3 is set during the Clone Saga/Wolverine with bone-claws era, with Ben Reilly active as Spider-Man. And our final issue will take place more or less in the present, but before the X-Men moved to San Francisco.

The events will definitely have implications for the present, but not in a "retcon" kind of way, like revealing that Uncle Ben was really Wolverine's brother or anything like that.

4) Will Gwen and Mary Jane be playing larger roles in the story?

No, it was a one-issue deal, but it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?

5) And how do you think the X-Men and Spider-Man of the past differ from their present incarnations?

That's actually one of the things I hope to examine over the course of the series. In #1, they're teenagers, and while their lives are by no means all wine and roses there's a certain sense of youthful optimism. By our second issue, things have gotten considerably darker in their lives; they've lost loved ones and been through painful and difficult times. Issue #3 occurs during a period of great uncertainty for all of them. By #4, you'll see them as they are now, and hopefully the whole picture will provide a kind of through-line illustrating how and why they've changed as people.

Shifting gears, Caleb Warren was curious about two other books that Gage writes, like "Avengers: The Initiative."

1) I'm really interested in some of the Initiative characters that haven't really been touched on yet - specifically, Telemetry and Spinner. Did you and Dan create these characters? Can you give us more information on how their powers work?

Glad you like them, Caleb! Dan created Spinner - she switches from one power to the next each day, at random, so it's kind of a "spin of the wheel," hence her name. Telemetry was originally going to be a telekinetic with a variety of gadgets at her disposal, but Steve Uy had the brainstorm to give her gadgets a digitized look, so now she creates them mentally. I think it's a really cool look that sets her apart from other characters (good job, Steve!). There are limits to the size of the objects she can create and their range.

2) How will the revelation that Hardball has been dealing under the table with Hydra affect his relationship with Komodo?

Some people react to having their hearts broken by crying, reaching out to others for support, or withdrawing and some seek revenge. See ["Avengers: The Initiative"] #20 for the beginning of the next chapter in the Hardball/Komodo saga!

3) Who would you say is your favorite character to write and why?

Ever? Hard to say...it changes. In "The Initiative," right now I love writing Taskmaster - villains are always fun because you can get away with a lot more. I also really enjoyed writing Butterball, and hope to do so again soon!

4) In "House of M: Civil War," will you touch on the Pride and their rule over California at all?

No, we're sticking to a large-scale view of Magneto's conquest. He's taking on armies as opposed to regional crime lords...but it's not a bad idea!

Did you hear that, Caleb? And the rest of you X-POSITION readers should keep those great ideas a-coming!

But in the meantime, Ramelito had a few additional queries about the current "House of M" adventures:

1) Will Magneto, Polaris, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver come together as a family in "House of M: Civil War?" And will we get to see Scarlet Witch's children?

They've already come together, Ramelito; they just don't realize they're a family yet! Well, Magneto does, but he's chosen not to share this information with his kids because he believes it would put them in greater danger if his enemies ever found out their true lineage. However, by the end of the miniseries we will absolutely see the moment when he reveals the truth to them...and the consequences that result.

We won't be seeing Wanda's children, because this miniseries ends before they would have been born. But if future House of M books come to pass, that's definitely an interesting aspect of the House of M to explore.

2) I don't know if you'll be covering this in "HOM:CW," but I was wondering about Bucky. If Captain America didn't die saving Bucky in the House of M universe, how did Bucky become the Winter Soldier?

Bucky didn't become the Winter Soldier per se, in that he was never captured and trained by the Russians or took that particular name. He survived WWII, grew up and became a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. But, in one of the ironic twists we often see in the House of M reality, he ended up very much like the Winter Soldier - a clandestine assassin, one of the deadliest people in the world. (We don't get into this in the book itself, but I thought it would be an interesting idea if - in the House of M reality - Bucky voluntarily replaced his arm with a robotic one to make himself more deadly; ending up with the same result as if Cap had failed to save him.)

I felt this was a natural extension of the way the character was portrayed in Ed Brubaker's House of M issue of "Captain America," where Bucky was depicted as growing more suspicious of and hostile toward mutants as time went by. He sees mutants and Magneto as another self-styled "master race" out to take over the world, and believes he has to stop them at any cost.

3) Who would you compare Magneto to? Malcom X? Martin Luther King? I know he refers to Graydon Creed as Hitler in the mini, but if Magneto does is willing to kill based on race, how does he see himself as better?

Magneto doesn't kill humans based on race; he kills them if they threaten the safety of mutants. He doesn't want to exterminate all humans, but he has come to believe that humans will only stop threatening mutants if they fear them enough, and if they understand that attacking mutants will draw equal or greater retaliation.

As for who I'd compare him to, I think Magneto is his own man. One could certainly draw some parallels to a variety of historical figures, including Malcolm X, but there's no direct comparison that works for me. He believes mutants are genetically superior to humans, which provides ample basis to call him a racist, but he isn't out to oppress or exterminate humans. He believes evolution will take care of that as they naturally become extinct.

4) I keep getting the feeling that "Secret Invasion" will put an end to the Hero Registration Act. If that's the case, will "The Initiative continue? I'm really enjoying the book and don't want it to end....

Fear not! Without giving away the end of "Secret Invasion," "Avengers: The Initiative" will definitely continue, and you won't want to miss an issue, as huge changes are coming to the Marvel Universe and we're right in the middle of it! The status quo for our characters may change - drastically - but the book isn't going anywhere!

Taimur wraps things up for us today with a few nice questions, plus a little adoration.

First, I love your work at Marvel and am glad that you will continue to write in "Avengers: The Initiative" solo after Dan Slott leaves.

Thanks, Taimur! I appreciate your support, and I promise I'll be doing all I can to justify it.

1) Will Mutant Zero, the 199th Mutant, finally be revealed before the end of the year in "Avengers: The Initiative?" Whoever she is, will she still be in the book or join the X-Men in San Francisco?

The true identity of Mutant Zero will absolutely, positively be revealed in issue #20. As for what happens to her next, what makes you think the X-Men would want her...?

2) Will you be introducing any new characters or State Initiative Teams in the next arc of "Initiative?"

Not in the next arc. We've got a full plate with the aftermath of "Secret Invasion," the aforementioned big changes, the thunderous return of Clor (the Thor clone from Civil War), and the surviving original New Warriors coming back. But as long as there are states without their own teams, there will be new teams introduced at some point! As for new characters, I really enjoy creating them, so signs point to yes.

3) Finally, you created one of the best new characters to appear in the Marvel U in 2008 - Emery Schaub, a.k.a. Butterball! Please bring him back ASAP! Please?

Taimur, you're preaching to the choir! First of all, thanks for the kind words. Issue #13, introducing Butterball, probably got the most positive reader reaction of any comic I've ever written. I love the character, and I absolutely want to bring him back, but I don't want to just shoehorn him in if it doesn't make sense for the story. But I can assure you that when the time's right, he will show his chubby face again!

Next week, prepare for some first-class fun as we discuss "Wolverine: First Class" with writer Fred Van Lente. And if you're really kind and enthusiastic, he may have time to answer questions about "X-Men Noir," "Marvel Zombies 3," and "Incredible Hercules." As you can see from this list of books, that Van Lente fella is one busy guy. So email your queries as soon as mutantly possible. "X-Position" in the subject line will ensure we notice your missive and slather it with love and attention. Hurry!

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