When it comes to the X-Men, there's nobody more knowledgeable about the current and future direction of Marvel's Merry Mutants than Executive Editor Mike Marts. There are certainly a vast amount of shake-ups in store for the X-Men in particular -- whether it's the death of Wolverine, a pillar of the X-books for many years, or the upcoming "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" event that promises to invert a number of heroes and villains across the board, there are many changes coming.
In this week's X-POSITION, Marts discusses the challenge of balancing characters throughout the vast X-Men line, the exciting prospects "AXIS" brings to the X-Men for both story and character, how the fallout of Wolverine's death will affect the next generation of mutants and much more.
Mike, I know that every time we speak with you, the Generation X fans come out of the woodwork. When can those fans expect to find out more about the X-Office's plans for Gen X's 20th anniversary?
Mike Marts: Sometime in 2015 we plan on delivering some news on that, and it is something that we're still talking about quite a bit.
There was also a lot of concern for the panel time of characters across the board -- specifically, this week, there was an uprising of interest in Archangel and Emma Frost. Without getting into spoiler territory, can you tease anything in store for those characters? I know Emma had a role in "Original Sin," but we haven't seen much of Archangel in a while. On top of that, talk a bit about the challenge of balancing all these characters in these books as Managing Editor of the X-books.
Yeah, it definitely is a challenge -- even with 14 or 15 different titles dedicated to the X-Group, it's still a challenge to balance all the characters and make sure characters are getting their screen time and that the fans who have certain interests in a certain character can be satisfied. Sometimes, it's not an issue and it's pretty easy to roll characters out, and other times, we come up with long-term planning where perhaps the absence of a character where someone like Archangel or Dani Moonstar is all part of a larger plan. Sometimes, fans might think we're forgetting about these characters, but it's probably just that we have a longer plan in the works.
Before getting into specific reader questions, there was some interest in the future of "X-Men," currently written by Marc Guggenheim. What can you share about the X-Office's potential plans for the series after Marc's story is over?
We're super excited about the arc that's going on. Marc's bringing us into outer space and interacting with the Shi'ar, and Deathbird and Agent Brand -- it's just a real great classic space opera going on there. We will have news on what's coming next very soon, but it's a story by a familiar Marvel face and we're super excited about it.
First up, blanchett wants to know more about the coordination of artists in the modern era.
What is your take on rotating artists? I think back to some the great comic book runs and they tended to have a more consistent creative team throughout a larger span of issues. Nowadays artists change more frequently, sometimes within arcs. Sometimes it works as artists keep consistency with others but other times it's jarring. Can you explain how these decisions are made and why?
Well, every different book you put out and every different series has its own set of obstacles and its own challenges. Sometimes you have an artist who delivers 20 pages in four weeks and it's never an issue. Other guys may take a little bit longer, and because of that, we try to schedule the series and the rotation of artists around those pencilers or inkers who might need a little extra time. So, it's all in the planning stages, it's all in the scheduling stages where if we know that a certain artist is going to take a little bit longer, we try to rotate in other people, and if have someone that matches the original artist's style, it's all the better. In the case where we can't do that, we try to give the reader something interesting and different.
MrMcMuffin hopes for more information on solo books, especially given the vacuum that one particular title might leave.
I've really enjoyed the solo books coming from the X-offices this year, with Wolverine no longer taking up a space, will we see another one anytime soon? In particular I'd like to see another female solo.
It's funny you say that -- it's actually something that we're talking about. It may be too soon to talk about what it might be, but there are definite plans to do something like that in the next year.
Continuing the trend of Wolverine's death, Jackraow21 wants to know more about the upcoming inversions of "AXIS."
As bummed as I am about the Death of Wolverine (him being a favorite), I am kind of intrigued about some of the upcoming "inversions" and specifically for mutant characters like Sabretooth. Creed was awesome as a hero in the "Age of Apocalypse," but when they tried this in the '90s in this reality it didn't exactly work out. So will the X-Men really trust this inverted Sabretooth this time around?
That's all the beauty of the story. When we have characters that might have a shift of allegiances, or in the case of "AXIS" when they're inverted, it's the unknown -- and that's part of the fun in getting there. First of all, is the change permanent or is it going to be temporary? If it is permanent, will heroes respond to that by trusting them or will there be some amount of fighting involved? That's all part of the journey. I have to say that with a lot of the characters going through changes in "AXIS," we're getting a lot of great story out of it. We have exciting "AXIS" tie-ins coming up in "Amazing X-Men" #14, we have "Wolverine and the X-Men" #12 -- a bunch of different, exciting tie-ins all over the place.
Monet has a query about some of the criticism that the X-Men books can sometimes find themselves under.
The Internet is constantly abuzz with limitless fawning and endless criticism.Â What is one criticism that the X-Line gets that you really just don't understand and what is one that you as head honcho strikes as something to work on?
The one that always kind of surprises me are the constant rumor that the X-Men line might be going away, or they're trying to reduce the amount of titles. Listen, these are characters that people love, who people respond to. X-Men books have always sold well in comparison with the rest of the industry and that's the case now. It's the reason our X-Men line is 15 titles strong. We may go a little bit down or a little bit up over the years, but right now, we feel like we're giving everything we can give to the fans, and they seem to be responding to it well. That's the one that always surprises me.
As far as things I think we could be doing better, looking at the line as a whole, there may be a bit of repetition in some of the titles, maybe a little bit of redundancy in certain areas. That's something that I'd like to tackle and try to streamline a little bit more. Just because we have 400 characters to play with doesn't mean we necessarily have to play with each of them every single month. I'd rather take a look at who the core characters are, the focus characters, and zero in on them.
Next up, javi150190 wants to know more about then next generation of X-Men's decisions in life.
One thing I have noticed is that the conflict derivated from Schism seems to be only be discussed among the "grown ups" of the X-Men, while the younger ones seem to have no big view on the divide and what it means for their future. This is especially jarring considering the students are at that stage in which they are pondering what road to follow as adults, and the conflict of Cyclops and Wolverine seems like the perfect stepping stone for exploring that situation. With Logan [dying], is there going to be mayor change up in the student bodies like it happened at the beginning if Regenesis? Will some of them start to contemplate the options in front of them?
There's a few different areas of that question I'd like to tackle. Sure, Wolverine's death is going to have a big impact on the school, not only with his teammates and friends, but also the student body. We're going to see some of that fallout in "Wolverine and the X-Men" #10 and #11, which Jason Latour has written and did a fantastic job on. Both issues are jam issues and we have some amazing artists contributing to those issues -- people like Ian Bertram, James Harren and Vanessa R. Del Rey. We see individual reactions from many of the students and how they're dealing with the loss of their teacher and mentor Wolverine.
We continue with that line of thinking with the new series "Spider-Man and the X-Men," which debuts in December that we recently announced. Elliott Kalan is writing that, and Marco Failla is doing the artwork, and it's going to continue that whole storyline where we see how the student body is reacting and dealing with the death of Wolverine, and how they're also responding to the sudden introduction of a new teacher in the form of Spider-Man.
As a tangent, will you be working at all with the editors in the Spider-Office to help consolidate what's going on over there with what's going on in the X-Office?
Yeah, in a case like "Spider-Man and the X-Men," we generally send the story overviews and outlines to Nick Lowe, who is the senior editor in the Spider-Man group, and he gives his input on characters and story lines and what he thinks might work well or mesh well with the Spider-Man group. There's a good amount of collaboration that goes on.
Nick Simon wants to know more about the possible endgame for "All-New X-Men."
I'm really digging "Uncanny X-Men" and "All-New X-Men." I think Bendis is doing something great with both books. I was curious to know is there an end-game for "All New..."? If yes, is it starting to loom on the horizon?
I'll say this: with Brian [Michael Bendis], there's always an end game, and it's always what you'd least expect. A possible endgame is a far way away, but the characters in "All-New X-Men" will have many ups and downs before we get there. I've been talking a lot with Brian recently about where we're taking the book over the next year and year-plus. There are a lot of unexpected things coming up for all those characters. We're just having so much fun with those characters right now that it'd be silly to jettison them or send them back.
Finally, Matt has a question about an old friend of the X-Books coming back into the fold.
You have had a very fruitful working relationship with Grant Morrison over the years. Now that you're back, could we ever see him on an X-Book again?
You know, that would be amazing. Grant and I did so many books together, whether it was "New X-Men" here at Marvel or the Batman books at DC. I'd love to work with him again. He's at the point in his career that his schedule is so jam-packed with so many exciting projects. I know he wants to get back to comics and back to Marvel stuff, but we may have to wait a little bit until some of his other projects finish. Any time Grant wanted to come back, sure -- we'd welcome him with open arms and we'd be so excited.
Wrapping up, with New York Comic Con right around the corner, when can X-Fans expect to hear more about future announcements for the X-Office and the X-Men line?
Over the next few months, we will be announcing some exciting things -- probably after the turn of the year, but there are a few other things to get excited about. Not long after New York Comic Con, we'll see the new creative team on "Cyclops." I think it hits maybe two weeks after Comic Con. John Layman is writing it and then we've got Javier Garron on artwork. It's amazing. What Greg Rucka and Russell Dauterman did on the first five issues was amazing, but fans are going to love what they get from John and Javier.
Special thanks to Mike Marts for taking on this week's questions!
Get excited, X-Position, because next week's guest is big -- so big that we're splitting it into two different installments. That's right, "All-New X-Men" and "Uncanny X-Men" scribe Brian Michael Bendis is the next X-Position guest, and to celebrate, we'll be bringing back GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION: one focused on "All-New" and one on "Uncanny." Have a question for Brian? 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 Thursday morning! Do it to it!