X-POSITION: Week Thirty-Two

It seems Marvel managed to sneak in one more "comic ending of the year" before closing out 2007. If you read last week's "X-Men" #206, you know what I'm referring to; and if you didn't, hurry and get thee to a comic book shop!

What does this ending mean? How did this happen? Well, while he can't give us all the answers we're seeking yet, writer Mike Carey is here to ease some of our puzzlement. Let's give him the floor, so he can do the mutant mambo all over our queries.

SPOILERS abound. You've been warned…

Mike, I'm going to kick things off with a few questions of my own. A recent description of "X-Men: Legacy" indicated that the book would focus on Rogue and Gambit. Can you elaborate at all?

It's both true and misleading. The character at the center of the book is someone else entirely -- it's Professor X, in fact -- but Rogue and Gambit will appear in a way that moves their relationship and their personal journeys forward very significantly. As readers of adjectiveless "X-Men" will know, I've sent Rogue along a traumatic and life-changing path. We see the fruition of that in "Messiah CompleX," but the consequences are still to be played out and it's in "Legacy" first and foremost that we see this happen.

From the most recent issue of MC, we see that Madrox now bears the same "M" on his face as Bishop. Is he visiting Bishop's exact timeline? Is it another timeline that "marks" mutants? Or is it Bishop's timeline that has been changed by events?

It's always difficult to be precise with trans-temporal physics, but I think it's fair to say that this is either Bishop's timeline or one so close to it as to make no difference. The tattoo was meant to indicate that very clearly. So the question now is how that fact bears on current events -- and on Bishop's actions, particularly.

The last image of this chapter with Bishop and the baby leaves so many questions. Is Bishop acting alone? Has he been behind many of the X-Men's problems (the psychics being taken out, the nano-sentinels, etc.)?

That's a very good question. Certainly it shows us that he's been holding back information from Cyke and the other X-Men -- information about his own motivation and actions, and maybe information about the messiah-child, too. Remember in Chapter 5, when Cyclops chewed Bishop out for arriving late, and Bishop said he'd been busy shaking the tree on his own account and questioning potential informants? Well, we can be pretty sure that that wasn't all he was doing.

Agreed. Time for some reader questions, and cmoreno100 is here to echo some sentiments discussed last week regarding Professor X.

"I am concerned about the treatment that Xavier is getting in the story. I understand he has flaws and that it is time for the X-Men to stand on their own; however, the way this has been portrayed has been, in my opinion, disrespectful to the character's history and unnecessary (especially since the way Cyclops has been leading so far leaves a lot to be desired, I think). Will the "Xavier issue" be revisited before the end of MC, or in the 'Legacy' book?"

Both. Xavier still has a role to play in "Messiah CompleX" and "Legacy" will redefine Xavier's status in some very profound ways. I'd take issue with your "unnecessary" though, cmoreno. From Cyclops's point of view -- and many core X-Men would agree with him -- Xavier, his mentor and the man he trusted above all others, has betrayed that trust in an appalling way. Moreover, the betrayal goes right back to the start of their relationship. The coldness and even (arguably) cruelty we're seeing now is painful, but I think we can understand it.

Xavier stands accused of making absolutely crucial decisions about his students' lives without even referring those decisions back to them. Even if you feel that Xavier's stature and his achievements outweigh this (as I think you do -- and as I do), he's still done some things that are hard to forgive. The question, really, is whether the breach of trust is definitive and irrevocable, or whether it can be repaired.

Michael Watkins was curious about another relationship of the professor's and wrote in to ask, "Could Shortpack appear sometime in the near future in one of the X-books? His status wasn't given during 'Decimation' and he has significant ties to Xavier…"

It would be interesting to see what's happened to Shortpack. As you say, we don't even know if he still has his powers. As far as I know, though, nobody is planning to use him any time soon.

Speak of the professor, and he appears…sort of. ProfeZZor X had these questions to add to this week's gathering.

"1) Iceman has been a pivotal part of your adjectiveless group, and has grown tremendously with his powers and personality during your run. Will we see him take on more leadership roles in 'Legacy' or other books, seeing that Cyclops is showing confidence in him taking charge of some of the X-Men's recent situations?"

I'd like to think so, because I love the character. He'll have a cameo in "Legacy," but the way that "Legacy" is structured pulls Xavier away from the cast of the core books for a lot of the time. I suspect that in the immediate aftermath of "Messiah CompleX," Iceman may not be on a team roster. But I'm confident he'll be back soon. Like say, the next time I get to write an X-team.

"2) There are a plethora of villain characters both in limbo, dead, or otherwise. And seeing that some of those memorable villains have met their demise as a result of the X-Men's actions in years past, will those issues or characters resurface in 'X-Men: Legacy?'"

Yeah, some of them certainly will. Some of them will turn out to be central, in fact, especially in "Legacy's" second arc, starting with #211. In a sense, one of the themes of "Legacy" is how the past continues to affect us, especially where questions hanging over from the past have been left unanswered.

On the topic of mutant characters resurfacing, Carla DelaCruz was wondering about the status of several genetically-enhanced individuals.

"1) The Marauders went after Bishop on the orders of Sinister. Did they also go after the other mutants from his reality such as Fixx, Archer, and Mountjoy, and if so, did any of those other mutants survive or were they all killed?

We don't know for sure one way or another, Carla, but what I tried to suggest in "Blinded By the Light" was that Sinister was making a blanket attack on all characters and all artifacts that could possibly give the X-Men any information about future events. Some of the references (for example, the Momentary Princess) were of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety. My answer would be -- yeah, it's almost certain that the Marauders pursued those targets. Only time will tell what their hit-rate was.

"2) You once mentioned that you were interested in bringing back Maggott. Any chance of this happening?"

Not in "Legacy" –--or at least, not in the three arcs of "Legacy" that I've planned out in detail. If I'm still involved in the X-verse in 2009, this is still something I'd like to do.

"3) You also mentioned that you were interested in bringing back Kwannon. Since Psylocke was resurrected, it's only fair that her soul-sister Revanche be resurrected as well. And if and when you do, can she be in Betsy's body (the Legacy Virus was cured already anyway) to balance Betsy who came back in Kwannon's body?"

This is a longer-shot than Maggott, because Revanche polarizes opinion so sharply -- as I discovered the last time I mentioned her. For every X-fan who'd like to see her again, there's another who's adamant that she should never be brought back. I think there's a cool Psylocke/Revanche story to be told, but a lot of people feel that the amount of exposition you'd need to do to get people to understand the backstory would overbalance the narrative.

Faded helps us ring in the New Year with a bunch of questions fans might be curious about…

"1) Last week, Craig Kyle hinted some New X-Men may be graduating into an X-Team. Will any of the students be cast members in 'X-Men: Legacy?'"

I had big plans for one of them, Faded, and hope I can still bring her in. Not X-23, by the way, although she's a great character and I really enjoyed writing her. This is someone else. You can usually tell the characters I'm most interested in, because disastrous things start happening to them.

"2) So far, the two solicited issues of 'Legacy' have Scott Eaton, John Romita Jr., and Billy Tan attached to the project, with Eaton as the common denominator. Will Eaton be the regular artist or will the book have a rotating cast of artists?"

The plan is to have a rotating art team, and given who's on the carousel, I'm really not complaining!

It appears X-editor Nick Lowe wants a ride on the carousel as well…

NICK LOWE: I'll chime in, here! It all has to do with the structure of the book, but we can't get into that too much right now.

OK, back to Faded. "3) Speaking of artists, can you promise me Chris Bachalo will still be penciling an X-book after the crossover?"

I can promise you he'll still be penciling a regular Marvel book, but I honestly don't know which one it will be. I hope I can work with him again on an X-book, though. I absolutely love Chris's work, and it's been a real pleasure and privilege to collaborate with him.

"4) Who are some X-characters to look out for in 2008?"

For the sake of avoiding the obvious and being controversial, I'll say Sebastian Shaw. And Pixie.

If not for controversy, what would we discuss here? For example, Ann Nichols wants to stir up the pot a bit with this query on death (insert ominous music cue here).

"More mutants are being killed in 'Messiah CompleX,' even though mutant numbers have been drastically reduced. I am reminded of 'Star Trek: Voyager' which followed the 'Star Trek' tradition of killing a random crew member in many episodes, even though they didn't have a full crew (and couldn't ask Star Fleet to send some more 'red shirts'). Unless this crossover ends with more depowered mutants being repowered, shouldn't killing mutants be kept to a minimum?"

I think it has to depend on the demands and the logic of the story, Ann. You're right that the post-"House of M" situation makes it perilous for writers to indulge in the casual killing-off of minor characters for one-off reasons (like establishing how bad-ass a new villain is). But sometimes you find yourself writing a sequence of events and thinking "there's no way they can come out of that clean and unscathed. If they do, the story suffers."

We're re-watching the whole run of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with our kids at the moment, because the twins are finally old enough to deal with the content, and by coincidence we just showed them "Dirty Girls," the episode from season seven which has Buffy making a fatal mistake and getting two of the potentials killed. The boys were both upset at the deaths and outraged at Buffy's failure of leadership (they feel these things deeply), but I think most long-term fans would see the absolute necessity of those deaths in the larger narrative of Season Seven.

So, to answer your question, trivial and casual and lazy killing-off of character to achieve a local effect should always be kept to a minimum. If plot and character logic requires a death, sometimes you just have to do it and live with the consequences.

If the final panel of last week's "X-Men" was any indication, there may be some consequences forthcoming.

Thus concludes our first X-POSITION of the year. We hope you enjoyed it! Next week, we'll be back on schedule -- after all, we're all out of holidays -- and we'll have someone here to answer any "uncanny" questions you might have.

As always, send me your questions as quickly as possible. And don't forget to type "X-Position" in the subject line. May your New Year be merry and full of possibilities!

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