A former X-Man gets gutted, a Sentinel goes bad and an X-character's death status is reversed -- a lot sure can happen in 22 pages. Last week's "X-Men" #205 by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo put Marvel Comics' merry mutants through the proverbial wringer, and we're only a third of the way through the 13-part "Messiah CompleX!"
To talk about these developments and impart some news about the future status of "X-Men," series writer Mike Carey joins us for this week's X-POSITION.
It should go without saying, but SPOILERS follow....
Mike, this is the first time we've had you back since the "Endangered Species" back-up story completed. Now that we can look at the tale as a whole, there are a few items I'm curious about. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and considering readers didn't have to pay for the extra story pages, there's really no reason to complain. That said, though, I was wondering what the significance of this story was in your mind. It didn't seem as if much changed by the end of "Endangered Species" -- Beast went to search for a "cure" and found there wasn't one. Why did the X-writers feel was it so important to tell "Endangered Species"?
You're right -- the status quo isn't ultimately changed by Hank's unsuccessful quest. What the story does, I think, is to re-establish what's at stake in "Messiah CompleX" and to make it clear that everything that could have been tried has been tried. We already know, or at least we have to assume, that the X-Men wouldn't have been sitting around passively bemoaning their fate in the aftermath of M-Day; that some of their number, at least, would have been exploring possible solutions to the problem.
Through Hank McCoy, we dramatize that process and anchor the events that are about to take place in the broader context of Marvel Universe continuity. These supremely capable minds -- Hank, and Reed Richards, and Tony Stark, and a great many others -- have brought their intellects to bear on the problem, and they've come up with nothing. There's no plainer way of showing how bad the situation is.
The other axis of the story, if you like, is the moral crisis that Hank faces. How do you know that if you push things just a little further, compromise your ethics just a tiny bit more, you might not hit on an answer? Where do you stop when the survival of your race is at stake? The temptation and Hank's response to it are important parts of the backdrop to "Messiah CompleX," where the potential solution arrives as a bolt from the blue, polarizing opinions and responses across the X-verse.
Do you feel that "Endangered Species" accomplished the goal you set?
Yes, I do. I think it's an airlock between "House of M" and "Messiah CompleX" -- a necessary staging post, reflective and even somber in its way, before the epic action kicks in.
Beast learns the change to the species is magic in nature and can't be undone. Would you say he has accepted the fact that mutants are an endangered species? And how will his opinion change in light of the baby in "Messiah CompleX"?
I think that fact is driven home to him. Does the baby change things? Potentially, it has to, because it's a new birth that's occurred in spite of Wanda's edict. But is it the first of a new generation or a one-off event? That's what Hank would want to know, first and foremost.
Moving on to the most recent issue of the crossover, "X-Men" #205, let's start with big reveal at the end. That may be a bit backwards, but Dromo (along with several other readers) are dying for some answers.
"So Cable has the baby...why? What is he going to do with it? And how did Cable not die? Did he teleport?"
You don't expect an answer to those first two questions, do you, Dromo? All I can say is, there's a reason why Cable has done this, and there's a reason why he's done it alone. Whether his reasons will satisfy the X-Men is something else again. We can see in Chapter 5 that Cyclops finds the news -- that Cable is alive and that he's been on silent running all this time -- fairly hard to take, to say the least.
How did Cable manage to survive the explosion? He was on his home ground, he had some of his TK power back, and he was in a fight he knew he couldn't win. You can fill in the dots yourself, and he'll fill in some of them for us, but that ought to do for now.
Speaking of someone who's trying to fill in the dots, Aspbros had a theory he wanted to share. "Some friends of mine were talking, and it seemed to us that there could be a few reasons Cable wants this baby:
1) The baby grows up to be someone important -- maybe even someone we know like Bishop or Rachel (although then Cyclops would've been involved in its birth...hm).
2) The baby is actually Cable, and he's trying to save himself.
3) Or the baby is from the future, and has come to the past to hide.
Do any of these seem plausible? Or do my friends and I need to expand our social circle?
Two of them sound plausible to me, Aspbros. For the baby to be Cable, a lot of very weird finagling and maneuvering would have to be brought to bear. But we know that knowledge of the future is involved somehow, because of Sinister's ruthless attempt to close off the X-Men's access to that knowledge, so I like your thinking -- without, of course, confirming or denying any of your hypotheses.
Renaldo Fuentes was thrilled by the most recent issue thanks to the appearance of a certain time-hopping character -- one without a cybernetic arm. "Bishop's back! Yay! Is he going to be sticking around? Also, it seems that Cable must have some special knowledge about this kid from the future if he wants the child so badly. Does Bishop have this same knowledge?"
Remember that Bishop and Cable are from very different times and possibly entirely different timelines, so what one knows the other might not. But does Bishop stick around? Yes. He's an X-Man and a valuable one in Cyclops' eyes (eye?).
Sounds like Renaldo will be doing his happy dance. Dustar, however, had a question about a "little" player in the X-Universe in regards to a specific event from issue #205. "What was it about Pixie's scream that alerted Emma? Why wasn't Emma alerted when Julien was sliced n' diced? How does that work exactly?"
I don't think we ever spell this out explicitly, but here's my explanation and it's why I played it the way I did. Psi-shield technology is pretty widely known about and available in the X-verse. It makes sense that the Purifiers would shield their bases against telepathic mutants -- and probably their key personnel, too. But when Pixie teleports away from the catacombs, she comes out from under that umbrella and Emma "hears" her scream because of the emotional intensity and the psychic attunement she already has for the students.
On the topic of intense moments, Manolinator wanted to know more about a confrontation that occurred between a certain Cajun and Canuck. "Wolverine gutted Gambit -- was that a fatal blow? And why is Gambit so loyal to Sinister? That's still not clear to me."
It's not fatal in these circumstances. Gambit's resilient, Sinister is a genius biologist and Exodus has powerful telekinesis. Those things probably add up to Gambit surviving the blow. Is Gambit loyal to Sinister? You tell me. We've yet to hear from his own mouth why he came back to Sinister and why he's stayed.
Let's follow that up with a query from Regina about Gambit's loved one. "I hope we see Rogue again soon. Will she be more of an active participant in 'MC' soon?"
Not immediately, Regina; but there are going to be some major Rogue developments before "Messiah CompleX" finishes.
Obviously, there are X-Men comics, cartoons, and movies. Unfortunately, all of these different incarnations of characters have sent bbinko's spinning. Maybe you can help him out?
"I've always been confused about Lady Deathstrike -- is she or isn't she a mutant? Wasn't she a mutant in the X-Men movie? Was that a different character?"
My understanding is that she isn't a mutant, but don't quote me on that. Didn't she get her claws and body enhancements from Spiral? If so, there's presumably no genetic mutation or manipulation involved.
We might not be able to quote Mike Carey on this issue, but X-editor Nick Lowe was willing to assist with a confirmation.
Nick Lowe: She's not a mutant in the comics; she's just a technologically-augmented human. In the movie 'X2,' however, she was portrayed as a mutant, so that might be where you were confused.
Twrkr seems a bit tweaked about a recent development, so he wrote in to say, "A sentinel went bad -- gee, what a shocker. Is this going to spread to the other sentinels? Shouldn't O*N*E be prepared for this contingency?"
Depends what the contingency is, Twkr. Wait and see what's happening, and why it's happening. It's more than one sentinel, as we can see from that splash (which was one of my favorite pages from the whole issue) -- and what's happening to Slayton seems to be a lot more extreme than just his sentinel going rogue.
Another reader -- "Magneto," no less -- was rubbed the wrong way by a current event as well, and is seeking some clarification. "Exodus seemed so weak in 'Uncanny' #205. Nightcrawler got rid of him easy. Shouldn't someone as powerful as Exodus be more of a challenge?"
It was meant to be a take-out play, removing him from the battle before he had a chance to bring his powers to bear. Yeah, you're right. Exodus is one of the mutants Sinister had in mind when he said that some of his team could take out the X-Men single-handed. But remember that Kurt is psi-shielded by Emma, so Exodus's first instinct -- to fry his brains inside his skull -- wouldn't work. By the time he starts to go for Plan B, he's miles away.
'Tis the season for snow and frost, but for Dan Royer, it's all about the ice. "Iceman was a big part of your 'X-Men' run before 'Messiah CompleX.' Are we going to see Bobby continue to be at the forefront of things post-'MC?'"
Not immediately, Dan, because of the way the line changes in January/February. But you can't keep a guy like Bobby Drake down for long: look for him to show up in "X-Men: Legacy" and elsewhere.
Clint is batting clean-up for this week's X-POSITION readers, and sent in three fun questions for us to enjoy.
1) Why are there brand new Reavers rather than the originals from the '80s? The editors sure seemed to be hyping up the old team, yet we get new guys instead. Is there a reason for that?
I guess "Reavers" is more of a technical designation than anything else. But we don't know how many of the original team are present here -- behind new masks and with new body matrices.
2) Will Rogue be a prominent character in "X-Men: Legacy"? You're one of the first writers to really do her justice in awhile; it'd be a shame to see her go to someone else (or nobody at all!).
Thanks for the compliment. Yes, she'll play a very important role there -- not in the first arc, but very soon.
3) Lastly, should we start getting our hopes up at the reappearance of the Children of the Vault?
We'll have to see. I've got stories I want to tell there, and I'll get to them if Marvel gives me half a chance.
We'll keep our fingers crossed. Before you go, however, I have to ask about Marvel's solicitations for February. Instead of seeing the monthly "X-Men" series listed, we find "X-Men: Legacy" #208, written by you with art by Scot Eaton. I'd be a bad X-POSITION host if I didn't ask a few questions about this:
1) I notice the numbering picks up from your current "X-Men" run. Can we assume that this is a continuation of your series?
Yes and no. 'Legacy' #208 picks up immediately on the tale of "X-Men" #207, but in many senses it's not a direct continuation of events pre-#200. The situation has changed too much. But you can assume that there will be pay-offs for some things set up in "X-Men" prior to "Messiah CompleX."
2) Is that the actual title? Or is it a temporary title for "X-Men" to describe an arc you are doing?
It's the actual title, and it goes beyond a single arc.
3) Legacy could mean several things, from dealing with the X-Men legacy to the legacy virus. Any hints here?
I can tell you that it's nothing whatsoever to do with the legacy virus. It relates to the X-Men's past in a very broad sense, but it's set in present time.
4) The cover shows the original X-team. Is the book a look back at old X-Men stories, is it new tales involving the original team, or is it something different altogether?
It's something different, although looking back is certainly a part of what it is. I guess a lot depends on who's doing the looking, and why. I'm sorry to be so coy on this, but there are so many story beats in "Messiah CompleX" to come yet before this story can make any sense.
Your coyness is understood and to be expected. We look forward to those upcoming story beats!
That's all for this week. In seven days, we'll be back to talk more about Cable, sentinels, miracle babies, and other mutant mayhem. X-editor Nick Lowe will be present to answer all of your questions dealing with the next chapter of "Messiah CompleX" and beyond.
As always, get me those e-mails as quickly as you can -- Friday by 12:00pm (PST) at the latest in order to guarantee that I'll see them. Also, be sure to toss "X-Position" into the subject line (otherwise, my spam filter will eat it up). And if you're having trouble thinking up a few good questions, tomorrow's "Uncanny X-Men" #493 is a good place to start your research.