X-POSITION: Wood Wraps "Ultimate Comics X-Men," Enters "X-Men" in "Battle of the Atom"

Although he's wrapping up his run on "Ultimate Comics X-Men,", writer Brian Wood is far from done with the mutants of Marvel Comics. Indeed, Wood has contributed a massive run to "Ultimate Comics X-Men," culminating in his current "World War X" storyline, which brings years of planning and story to a massive conclusion. Meanwhile, in the Marvel Universe proper, Wood's fan-favorite and critically acclaimed "X-Men" title explores the adventures of the X-Men's most storied female members even as "Battle of the Atom" is set to shake things up following the series' first arc.
This week, Brian Wood joined X-Position to discuss all things X-Men -- both Ultimate and regular -- and the work that goes in to plotting both series, the possibility of expanding the cast of "X-Men," leaving "Ultimate Comics X-Men" and more.

Wolverine12 wants to know more about what sent Ultimate Jean Grey off the deep end and made her want to attack Utopia.

Hi Brian, First thank you for the awesomeness that is Ultimate X-Men. Two part question for you, why is Jean Grey so freaking crazy now and why do none of the remaining original X-Men call her out on it and tell her to chill?

I could sum it up with two words: power corrupts.  If you look at these two leaders, Jean and Kitty, each are running mutant enclaves but handle them very differently.  I suppose you can say that it's gone to Kitty's head as well, but with her the control is focused into a strict, possibly naive sort of pacifism, while Jean believes the hype and the superiority of Tian and acts accordingly.  I don't think that Jean's a villain, despite doing some seriously iffy things, but she's definitely a bit gone here.  As to why no one's calling her out...?  Well, this arc is called "World War X" for a reason.  You could say this entire arc is about nothing but peeps calling her out.

mr_infinite wants to know about bringing a new side to some beloved characters in "X-Men."

1) Seeing the friction between Rachel and Storm was somewhat unnerving, but in a good way. How do you hope to show different sides of the characters that we've never seen before, much like in the argument between Rachel and Storm?

That's a tall order, because how many sides of these characters have we seen over the years and decades?  The trick as a writer is to constantly search for something new to bring to these books, new perspectives or stories or challenges for the characters, and I'm doing my best.  In the case of Rachel and Storm, since this team is still sort of being formed and roles and lines being defined still, I felt it made sense if two of them sort of felt the role of leader fell to each of them.

Storm's a strong leader but I've always seen her as someone who is guided by her gut and her personal moral compass and isn't afraid to make tough calls if the goal is just.  Rachel's a bit more by the book, guided by what's best for the X-Men in a much stricter way.  They may not sound too far off on paper, but in the field this can make for profound differences.  The situation in issue #3 with Karima is the first of many clashes these two will have.

2) Having more overlooked characters get some time in the spotlight was also really awesome. I know that sometimes characters take on a life of their own once you start writing them -- has any minor character surprised you so far to the point where they've gotten an expanded role?

Bling has, weirdly -- she sort of won't go away!  I deliberately wrote her into the first issue, and yes, we will pick up on that incident with Mercury, and she's sort of stuck around as a pal to Jubilee.  In the "Ultimate" book, there's been a couple: Blackheath, Farbird (a new character, and there's a really great scene with him coming up), and to a little lesser degree Magma, who may not have much screen time but is pretty pivotal.

John wants to know more about Karima's future appearances.

1) Will we ever see Karima again in "X-Men?"

100%.  There was no way I was going to put her through what I did in "Primer" and then drop her from the book.  But that's not me saying she's on the team.  That's also not me saying she's not on the team.  I love a good double negative.

cora reef's sad about the end of Brian's "Ultimate Comics X-Men" run, and wants a few teasers for "World War X."

Dear Mr. Wood, I was sad to hear you'd be leaving "Ultimate Comics X-Men," because I've really been digging your run. You've had one of the longest runs on that book of all time. Does it feel somewhat bittersweet to leave?

Yeah, it does.  I mean, it was my choice and it was the right time and I felt that my run was good, it was also unconventional and it was probably time for the title to reorient itself into something a bit more classically "X-Men."  That said, I have no idea what Josh [Fialkov] and the others have planned for the title, but the way I leave the book it could be taken in any number of new ways.  I'm curious to see what happens next.  I love the Ultimate office, the editors, all the fantastic artists and colorists I worked with -- really great experience.

Including the Point One, I think I wrote 21 issues, which is a decent run and I hope we all get an omnibus out of it.

Speaking of "Ultimate X-Men," will we see any old familiar faces during "World War X?" I know spoilers are a thing, so if you can't answer that, was there anybody who was dead that you would have loved to have had access to for your run?

I think the big one is Colossus, he's back for this last arc, and again, I leave things in such a way that I hope he's prominent in whatever comes next.  The other I've already teased out there, and that's the creation and first appearance of Ultimate Pixie -- a small role, but man, readers love Pixie.

I don't think there were any dead characters I wanted. I had a huge cast and it was plenty for me.  I had a lot of personalities to work with.

Finally, what was your favorite moment during your run of "Ultimate Comics X-Men?" Which were you most proud of?

The Sentient Seed, and what it became.  Actually, all of Utopia, really, the whole reservation concept, especially once they turned it into a fortress and the Seed became fully realized.  In a more forgiving market, we could maybe have an Ultimate Utopia title just set there.

James wants to know a bit about Rachel's possible character interactions in "Battle of the Atom."

Since everyone's been asking about Rachel and Jean Grey, I have to ask if Rachel will interact with young and modern day Cyclops during and after "Battle of the Atom?"

The way these casts of characters collide in this event series, it's safe to say that everyone will be interacting with everyone else.  It's pretty nuts.

JimTheTroll is up next with questions about "X-Men" plotting and how "Battle of the Atom" affects the series moving forward.

Hi Brian! It was so cool to see you use Rogue in an interactive way with Psylocke's powers. Was figuring out new ways to use each of the team's abilities something that you struggled with during the plotting of the series?

I wouldn't say it was a struggle, but with Rogue as the muscle of the team and her need to power up from someone else, there's good opportunity there to do interesting things.  Look for something else like this in "BoTA."

If there's anything that's tricky, its Jubilee's vampire powers.  I'm writing this from my hotel room at Baltimore Comic Con, and today I was talking about this with a reader, and saying that it's a bit weird to integrate vampire powers into a superhero comic -- two different genres, as it were.  Takes a bit of thought.  But we'll get there shortly.

You kind of got thrown in to "Battle of the Atom" before you could do anything about a second arc. How will "Battle of the Atom" affect your team of X-Men moving forward? Any new members coming in as a result?

I think "Battle" affects it profoundly, and yes, there will be some shakeups across the books.  I can't say now, but any day now the Marvel Solicitations will hit and the cover of "X-Men" #8 will (partially) answer this.

Finally, ConternallyEfused wants to know more about how your creator-owned work helped your approach to "X-Men."

I'm also a really big fan of your series "The Massive," which features a small strike team of folks. It seems kind of similar to "X-Men" in a way. Was there anything that you learned from writing "The Massive" that specifically helped your approach to "X-Men?"

It's the other way around, probably.  Writing team books, or books with large casts was never my strong suit.  But with the Marvel work, and I suppose my "Star Wars" series, I've had to get used to it, and get better at it pronto.  That can only help "The Massive" and anything else I do.

But I was developing and starting to write "The Massive" around the same time I was starting up on last year's "X-Men," and there's some definite cross-pollination there -- the "X-Men" in a jet crisscrossing the globe?

Keeping in step with the previous question, here's this week's Behind-the-X: If you could take any location in the Marvel Universe and have the crew of the Kapital explore it post-Crash, which would it be and why?

Genosha, probably. Muir Island?  The fantastical part of me wants to say Asgard, but I think realism is in order here.

Thanks to Brian Wood for his excellent answers to this week's X-Position!

Next week, X-Position welcomes back "X-Factor" writer Peter David to answer all questions about the recent series finale and what the future might have in store. Have a question for Peter? Send your questions over via e-mail with the subject line "X-Position or in a 140 character question via Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!

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