"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper." - The Hollow Men, by T.S. Eliot

In light of the just-released "Endangered Species" one-shot, T.S. Eliot's quote has never seemed more prophetic. Those who purchased this book yesterday and read it will discover that the incident which kicks off numerous upcoming events in the X-Universe isn't something huge and earth-shattering, it's a single poignant moment that symbolizes all that mutants have been through recently and hints at what's to come.

In addition to this issue hitting stands, fans received a glimpse at the event everything is leading up to: "The Messiah Complex." Announced at the "Cup O' Joe" panel at Wizard World Philadelphia, this one-shot (written by Ed Brubaker with art by Marc Silvestri) will then lead into a thirteen-part crossover that goes through the four main X-books (for more on details, check out CBR's interview with editor Nick Lowe). And on top of all this news, the full creative teams were announced for the 17-part back-up story that spins out of "Endangered Species."

Feeling overjoyed and overwhelmed? It's a good thing X-POSITION is here to help get all of your questions answered!

Joining us this week is the writer of "X-Men" and the orchestrator of "Endangered Species," Mike Carey. Next week, X-Men Group Editor Axel Alonso will put himself in your crosshairs (lucky guy!). Lots has happened in the X-corner of the Marvel Universe this past week, so think up those questions and send them my way ASAP with the subject line "X-Position." And if you don't see your question answered during the week you sent it in, don't worry – it may appear in future installments.

So without further ado – the man who puts the "danger" in "endangered" – Mike Carey…

Hi Mike! Thanks for joining us today. Lewis Himelhoch is kicking things off for us with a practical question that other readers have echoed in their emails. "Is there a master list and count somewhere of how many powered mutants are actually left? Supposedly we started at 198, but between Pietro and M'Kraan crystals restoring powers and Nimrod and the Facility killing others, I've lost track."

Yeah, Lewis, there is a master list, and it functions in a very useful and flexible way. The X-office maintains a tally chart of all mutants confirmed dead, depowered or still active, so that creators' hands aren't tied, but they are in a position to know exactly what the state of play is as far as current continuity is concerned.

"Confirmed" dead? Knowing the X-Men's experiences with death, I'm betting that that part of the chart is somewhat, ahem, fluid. Okay, next!

Hi-Fi smartly began with some praise before diving into his questions. "First of all, I'd like to ask Mike to never leave the X-Books! Secondly I'd also like to know which characters from 'New X-Men,' 'Uncanny' and 'X-Factor' he's most looking forward to write during the crossover. And will he still keep a mix of old fan favorites and C-List characters in the roster coming out of the crossover?"

Thanks, Hi-Fi. I'm on board for as long as they'll have me. Nick and Axel will have to break my fingers and pry them off the keyboard one by one.

Who am I most looking forward to writing? Across the whole board, I'm going to have to say Beast. He's always been one of my favorite X-Men, and now that I've been writing him as the main protagonist in "Endangered Species," I'm having a real blast with him.

Still can't say a word about the post-crossover line-ups, because things will be so different I could inadvertently give away something huge. The "adjectiveless" team as we know it now will have been very comprehensively disassembled. It's a question both of what will follow them and of what their mission – their reason for being – will be.

Nifty! And speaking of the fuzzy blue guy, Beast (from the CBR Forums) and Tyler Rising brought up some interesting facts and questions about Dr. McCoy's research. "We can see hints of where Beast is willing to go on his computer (in the preview pages from the previous week). According to his log entry, he tried to get meetings with Dr. Doom and Arnim Zola. Will he also be looking for help from others, such as fellow Avenger Dr. Hank Pym and perhaps Reed Richards? Also, will Cable be featured in the story arc due to his knowledge of the future and his files on alternate realities?"

The first of those is a big "yes." Bear in mind, though, that we're seeing Beast already very far along with a process that has been exhausting, bitter and fruitless. When we first join him in "Endangered Species," he's tried all the rational, sane and safe options already, without much luck. Now he's beginning to think the unthinkable and try the more desperate remedies – including some that may be worse than the problem he's trying to solve.

That's an interesting point about Cable and his privileged knowledge. And in a way, yeah, that will come to be a relevant issue. Not in the way you suggest here, though, and I can't say more than that.

Gotta keep them coming back for more. Adding to the previous question, Ricky was wondering, "Could the 'Here Comes Tomorrow' story be indicative of how far Beast if willing to go in this upcoming storyline – where Beast wishes to recreate the world in a way similar to Wanda's changing it?"

Yeah, I think that's a good parallel to some extent. Hank is a driven man here, increasingly so as the story continues, and he's willing to entertain some scarily radical possibilities. Some of them you may anticipate, others I think may surprise and disturb you.

How disturbing? Does it involve Madrox and the ladies from "Deal or No Deal"? Um, forget I said that.

I'm not sure where Shawn Nitcher is getting his info from, but he wanted to know "With all the shake-ups that are going to happen, I want to know when X-Force will be returning and if the rumor that Professor X will be leading them is true?"

I hadn't even heard that latter rumour, and I'm fairly certain it's false. I'd heard the first one – that X-Force is coming back – and I do have some info on that score. Not enough to confirm or deny, and the X-office enforcers would probably materialize in my living room and shoot me with tasers if I tried. But there will be some news about the post-crossover X-teams soon that may answer your question at least partially.

Good enough – no tasers necessary! Ricardo Carone seems to need a little clarification on just how "endangered" the mutants are as a species. "I understand that 'there is no possibility for anyone to give birth to a homo superior,' but is there a possibility to a mutant to give birth to a human? Or are all mutants sterile now?"

Oh yeah, mutants can still give birth to unpowered children – children without a functioning X-gene. All we know here is that there hasn't been a single mutant birth or mutant activation since M-Day. Whatever Wanda's edict did to the fabric of reality, it wasn't just a depowering of existing mutants: it has lasting effects that are still in force and that are preventing any new mutants either from being born or from coming into their powers.

Looking for a manly man? So is Brian Moranor, who asks, "In the upcoming anniversary issue of 'X-Men' and the coming crossover, are we going to finally see Cyclops step back up and lead the entire X-Men? Do they still consider him the #1 in charge? Please tell me that he won't be taking orders from the old ball and chain, Emma Frost?"

Interesting question, Brian. I think you'll find that the crossover does very clearly and decisively define Cyclops's status within the X-verse for the foreseeable future.

Red Lotus returns this week with another intriguing query. "With Gambit's return will we get to see what Apocalypse meant when he talked about Gambit's heritage in the BOA arc?"

No, we won't be addressing that issue just yet. You will get an answer to that question in due course, though. Sorry, that sounds really glib and mealy-mouthed – strike out "in due course" and substitute "probably sometime in 2008."

Lots of intriguing questions have been pouring in. about past storylines that could tie into "Endangered Species." Jediwakko recalls an oldie-but-goodie in asking, "With no more mutant births out there, I was wondering if this crossover event will deal with the repercussions of the 'Warsong' miniseries where we found out that Emma is the 'mother' of the Cuckoos and she had to witness hundreds of her daughters die?"

I haven't referenced that sequence, but there's a moment in the one-off when Emma reminds us of some other bereavements she's had to bear – in typically barbed-and-belligerent Emma fashion.

And that's why we love her. X-Man wants to know about his namesake. "In previous interviews, it was said, 'Some other huge people we haven't seen in the X-Men universe in several years [show up] as well. One of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe who really isn't seen on planet earth, maybe even some from other dimensions.' This is X-Man, right?"

I cannot tell a lie. X-Man is referred to in an early "Endangered Species" chapter. Whether he appears in a "current continuity" kind of way is a different question, which I'm going to duck.

Nicely played, Mike. Marc Ravens asked about some of his favorites as well. "Any plans for a possible appearance or comeback by Stryfe? Will Bishop take on a bigger role either during or after the crossover?"

I had some Stryfe story ideas, but they're kind of on hold at the moment. I think there's a sense in the X-office that his back-story is so convoluted he's hard to use effectively. There's something coming up, though, that Stryfe might slot into very naturally, so I wouldn't be surprised if we do see him again before long, but not in one of the team books.

As for Bishop – yeah, he's right there in the crossover, taking a big part in events. We get a glimpse of him in "Endangered Species" too.

And speaking of character's getting bigger roles, ZerO points out, "Cannonball has been an X-Man for, like, ten years, but up until Mike Carey's run, he hasn't been shown as more than a rookie. He just always seems to be in the background, making comments that the others disregard. Is there any long-term plans for a Sam-centric storyline or even a limited series?"

I love Sam as a character, and I'd love to continue to use him. I've mentioned in other contexts that I'd like to have both him and his sister, Husk, on the same team. I can't say any more than that at the moment. Read "X-Men" #203 for some very Sam-centric action, and then stay tuned as the crossover develops.

We're staying tuned – that's why we're here at X-POSITION!

Someone with a name longer than my own – Ricardo Barandiaran Samanez – wrote in with the following: "Hello, my question is about Psylocke/Archangel and two writers who have expressed interest in them on some interviews, namely Carey and Brubaker. Are these two characters going to be used in future storylines?"

Well, I can answer the Psylocke part of that question: I still haven't managed to get my thieving paws on her.

I think many fellas want to get their paws on her, too! And last but not least, how about some praise and a question from Phillipe: "I love Mike Carey's 'X-Men,' especially what he has done to Rogue – bringing her back to her roots as more of a wildcard. Is there is any possibility that she will regain her super-strength, durability, etc.? It just seems that the Sunfire powers she has feel wrong. Part of her appeal, to me at least, was this vulnerable character emotionally that was also so powerful physically…"

Thanks, Philippe. I have to agree that the Sunfire powers as part of Rogue's armory never really thrilled me. Rogue will definitely be coming out of the crossover very much changed – in terms of powers, state of mind, relationships, everything. She's one of the people who are going to be most profoundly affected by it, in fact. Everything we've done with her in the past year reaches its resolution in the crossover...

Sounds like Rogue fans are in for a treat. That wraps up another session of X-Position. Remember to send in those questions for Axel Alonso – the sooner I get them, the more likely they'll be included.

See you next week – same X-time, same X-channel….


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