It's the end of the world as Marvel's mutants know it, and no one is feeling fine.

"X-Men" #200 hit the stands yesterday, and…I did not see that coming. We're spoiler-free here at X-Position, but if you haven't read the issue yet, run! Get thee to a comic book store and read, read, read.

In addition to containing a tale that is full of intriguing character appearances and actions, the book also included Part One of the 17-part "Endangered Species" back-up story that sees Beast searching for an answer to homo superiors' plight. And as announced at the "Cup O' Joe" panel at Wizard World Philadelphia, all of this craziness and excitement will culminate in "The Messiah Complex" one-shot (written by Ed Brubaker with art by Marc Silvestri) which is the first part of a thirteen-part crossover that goes through the four main X-books.

It sure sounds as though none of Marvel's merry mutants will be merry for much longer. Joining us to shed some light on all the X-events is the head X-honcho himself, X-Men Group Editor Axel Alonso. He sees all and knows all, so let's see what details we can get him to dish out in this week's Q&A.

Page from Chapter Three of "Endangered Species."

Axel, Adjectivelessly Faded emailed us a whole laundry list of questions. I try to limit the questions asked to just one or two, but dagnabit! I want to know the answers to these too. Hopefully, you can help us out…

1) Were there exactly 198 (or 199 if you take into account the 'Avengers: The Initiative' solicits) mutants left after Wanda Maximoff uttered those dreadful words? If there is, do characters like Apocalypse, Vulcan, and Darwin count towards the 198 since they emerged from places unknown after Wanda's spell?

One-hundred-and-ninety-eight isn't a hard number. After M-Day, official counts placed the mutant population at 198, but this didn't take into account mutants that were uncountable - either because they were indisposed, thought dead, never revealed as mutants initially, or hidden (either intentionally or otherwise). As such, the number became a common talking point. Kind of like the way the "Hundred Years' War" is never referred to as the "Hundred-and-Sixteen Years' War."

This doesn't mean that there are hundreds of mutants just waiting to be discovered, however. One-hundred-and-ninety-eight, as a count, is fairly accurate. But "198" as a symbol represents more than the number of survivors; it represents the plight of mutantkind.

2) Speaking of the Initiative, will the aforementioned solicits that spoke of a 199th mutant be involved in "Endangered Species?"

The mysterious 199th mutant doesn't appear in "Endangered Species." But check out "Avengers: The Initiative" to discover who this mutant is and exactly why he - or she - wasn't among those counted after M-Day.

3) Will X-Cell increase and still remain relevant after their arc in "X-Factor?"

The fate of the X-Cell is revealed in "X-Factor" #20. As for their future, could you ever really count out mutants as resourceful as them?

4) With fan-favorite "X-Force" artist Adam Pollina doing the "Archangel: Revelations" miniseries, will we get a chance to see him on another X-Book in the near future?

Possibly, yes. We haven't discussed anything yet, but we're certainly open to it.

5) Is there any significance in the characters who retained physical aspects of their mutation (Marrow, Polaris) versus those who lost their mutations completely (Beak, Fatale)?

In "Endangered Species," Beast is very interested in this very question - which mutants lost their powers and why? And he'll be busy chasing down all possible explanations.

6) Will Chris Bachalo be penciling the "X-Men" crossover issues?


7) Will any depowered mutants play significant roles in the "Messiah CompleX?"

Keep your eyes on Rictor.

8) Will any X-Books be ending post-crossover?


Well, there you go Adjectivelessly Faded - don't say we never did nuthin' for ya! And did you see how Axel knocked those questions down in rapid-fire succession? That's why he's the one in charge!

Let's follow up those great questions with an excellent query from O'Brian Tallent: "With everything building off of Wanda's alterations of reality, I'm surprised more hasn't been mention of her daughter (Nocturne) running with Excalibur. Also, with TJ (her real name) being from another dimension, how, if at all, was she affected by Wanda's spell? Likewise, how come Excalibur hasn't been involved in any of the crossovers yet?"

A mutant from an alternate dimension retains her powers? Hmmm, I wonder if she's an isolated case? I trust that Beast will get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

As for the Excalibur team, they have their hands full defending England from Albion and Shadow-X.

Erik Lehnsherr wanted to know more about the "happenings" of his favorite character, and who can blame him? "I notice that the last issue of the 'Search of Magneto' in 'Uncanny X-Men' kicks off the 'Messiah CompleX' crossover. Does Beast interact with Magneto in 'Endangered Species'? And are there any plans for Magneto and Lorna to finally address her revealed connection to him?"

Science makes for strange bedfellows, as Beast will find during his quest in "Endangered Species."

As for Magneto, watch and see. We have long-term plans for him. Can't say when.

That Magneto is one bad penny - I'm sure he's going to turn up somewhere.

Before Alex Quint gets to his question, he wanted to shower you with his adoration: "I recently returned to reading 'X-Men' after a five years hiatus. What brought me back? Seeing the Marauders and Gambit on the preview cover to 'X-Men' #200. So I went and read an issue by Mike Carey and I was blown away! Finally, the X-Men I love and missed are back! And then I read an issue by Brubaker, and loved it too!

"So first off, I want to ask the powers that be to keep these writers around for a long time. Second, I have a question: We saw Sebastian Shaw in the 'Endangered Species' book. Will he and the real Hellfire Club (Selene, Pierce, Frost) be part of the upcoming event?"

All I'll say is that the Hellfire Club had me at ballgag. They definitely have a place in the X-Men Universe.

"The Hellfire Club had me at ballgag" - that's a much better slogan than "Whose side are you on?"

Interested in hidden conspiracies? Jediwakko has one for you. "Loved the emotion brought out by all of the characters in the 'Endangered Species' one-shot. But I do have a question with one of the panels that I saw. Was it me, or was Emma wearing a wedding band (page 15)? Am I missing something, or did I catch onto something you weren't meaning to give away? Or was it just an artistic faux pas?"

Uhm. Would you buy it was a "friendship ring"…?

It appears Lord Jason has been doing some heavy thinking. Maybe you could share some answers to help lighten his load. I'm sure he'd appreciate it! "Beast seems intent on reversing the (new) natural order of things. Why would he wish his own mutation on any child? Granted, mutants have pride in themselves and in who they are, but the mutant gene is so random in its manifestation that where few gain gifts, many are cursed. Why would Beast wish to ensure that more children might develop abilities akin to Rogue, Marrow, Chamber, Leech or even himself? Did he not once try to 'cure' his own mutation?"

It's a matter of perspective. Beast has come to realize the severity of the threat facing mutant-kind, and come to realize that it poses an issue larger than one man's existential crisis. And although he may have struggled with his own mutation in the past (I'd be willing to bet he's not the only one either), that doesn't mean Hank is, through his own inaction, willing to condemn his people to a slow death.

"The X-Men grew up as outcasts, hated and feared," Lord Jason continues. "They fought to protect humanity from the threats that mutants themselves posed, but more importantly, they fought to be accepted. But now they wish to recreate a template for genetic diversification. So rather than following Xavier's dream of full integration with humanity - where human and mutant could live together and accept each other without fear and suspicion - do the X-Men consider themselves and the rest of mutantkind as a separate species, the homo sapiens superior of Magneto's beliefs?"

Any distinctions being drawn between mutants and humans were initiated by the latter. Mutants have been forced into a reactive mode, forging different philosophies - Xavier and Magneto, and all the shades in between.

Also, acceptance doesn't necessarily demand assimilation. Mutants seeking to preserve their identity don't necessarily have to adhere to a segregationist message; it's possible to identify with a group, but still appreciate your place in the larger whole, much the same way one could identify oneself as, say, an Italian-American. Those are two loyalties - Italian and American - which, at first, wouldn't seem to mesh. Ultimately though, most Americans reconcile the idea that citizenship doesn't necessarily prevent you from identifying with your ancestry.

I'd argue that mutants would feel the same about their relationship to humanity. It's a subtle distinction, but it's the nuances of these characters that make them interesting.

I think we all agree that the X-characters are some of the most interesting characters around. Next, Omega Alpha (hey, two Canadian super-teams in one name!) wanted to know your thoughts about a certain follicley-challenged individual: "I've always felt that having Xavier around hurts the X-Men more than helps. A father-figure like him makes it impossible for Cyclops (or anyone who happens to be the leader) to really take control of the team, since the main authority figure is always there. Usually, the best stories of the X-Men happened when Xavier was not around (like the 'Outback Era' and the 'Mutant Massacre'). Will he stay with the X-Men after the crossover? Will he leave them and the institute for good? Will he die?"

Can't answer that question, of course, but you do make some very good points about Xavier - one of the first points I raised when I was brought in as Group Editor. The way I see it, Xavier's got some 'splainin' to do.

As long as we're talking about your feelings regarding certain characters, George T (no relation to me) wanted to know about another fan-favorite. "Fans keep asking about the possible return of Jean Grey, and thus far the answers have all been the same - 'No.' But there is a lot of story potential for Phoenix as well as ongoing subplots that have yet to be resolved (Jean's search for her missing pieces, etc). At such a time in the X-Universe, it seems the X-Men could use a cosmic character in its fold. In 'Warsong,' the Phoenix destroyed the cuckoo clones to protect mutantkind, but where is Jean now when the mutant race is facing extinction?"

Jean as a mutant savior? Hmmmm…

Okay, we've had a couple of heavy questions. Thankfully, Stacy's needs are much simpler. She asks, "Will the Starjammers be involved in 'Messiah CompleX?'"

No. They've got problems of their own, which you can read about in "Emperor Vulcan," a five-issue limited series by Christopher Yost ("X-23") and Paco Diaz.

Now that we've gotten those pesky X-related questions out of the way, two other readers wanted to know more about you - our guest this week.

Andy D. wanted to know a bit more about your job. "What would you say is the biggest difference between being an editor at the X-office versus working with Spidey, Marvel Knights, MAX, etc.? Is it the characters, the mythos, or no difference at all?"

Being Group Editor of the X-Men line is definitely different. The X-Men function against the tapestry of the Marvel Universe, but they also function in their universe. So many characters, so many teams. The core titles definitely drive the ship, but satellite titles (like, say, "X-23" or "X-Factor") give that universe texture.

Interesting point. And now, Frank seems to be looking for your mission statement. "Axel, what were your intentions in coming to the X-Men World, and will the 'Big Event' address that and the changes you wanted to make? Or will some of them come much later after the event?

My intentions? To pump up the excitement level of the X-Men line. The first step is "Endangered Species." The next step is the upcoming "Messiah CompleX" crossover, and what grows out of that story.

Coming in as Group Editor, I knew that I wanted to simplify the line, make the X-Men Universe to function as a cohesive whole. "Messiah CompleX" should put us into position to do just that. The battle-lines have never been simpler, the stakes never higher or easier to understand. This is an event that, much like "Civil War," forces people to take sides; forces people to be accountable and to accept a chain of command. New leaders will emerge, new teams will form, and, above all, there will be unity of purpose.

That's all for this week's X-POSITION. Thanks to Axel Alonso for stopping by this week. Next Thursday, writer Mike Carey returns to answer those queries and musings you have about this week's "X-Men" #200. Read it and write in as soon as you can. The earlier you email your question to me (with the subject line "X-Position"), the more likely it is that I'll include it. See you then!


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