With the release of "All-New X-Men" #9, all three X-Men team books have now stepped into the "Apocalypse Wars" fray. While Storm's team of "Extraordinary X-Men" grapple with a deadly new roster of Horsemen, Magneto and Psylocke have just started to unravel the mystery surrounding Warren Worthington and Archangel in "Uncanny X-Men." And on top of that, a couple of the teens in "All-New X-Men" have found themselves transported back to Ancient Egypt. Naturally, one of those kids is Genesis, the teenage clone of Apocalypse. And even more fitting, Genesis has come face to face with the actual teenage Apocalypse!
This week in X-POSITION, X-Men editors Daniel Ketchum and Chris Robinson join us and answer your questions about "Apocalypse Wars" and touch upon the state of the X-Men line and even the still mysterious "Death of X."
CBR News: Welcome back to X-POSITION, Daniel and Chris! Let me kick off this special "Apocalypse Wars" chat with a few Qs. First, how long has "Apocalypse Wars" been in the works? Was this specific event intended to be an early arc in each book's run from the initial planning stages?
Daniel Ketchum: Waaaay back when we first convened Jeff Lemire, Cullen Bunn and Dennis Hopeless to discuss the "X-Men" titles they'd be writing, someone floated the idea of doing an Apocalypse story in May 2016 -- for reasons I couldn't possibly even begin to hypothesize. And finding that each book had some natural tie to Apocalypse, we decided to make a "Fall of the Mutants"-style event of it, where the books thematically cross over.
Jeff Lemire and Cullen Bunn have ribbed each other about "fighting" for who gets to include Magik and other characters in their respective books. Were there similar "dibs" moments, either about characters or themes, between the creative teams when planning "Apocalypse Wars"?
Ketchum: Good question! I think the lines were pretty well drawn as to what the mission statement of each book was and what story would organically grow from that mission statement for "Apocalypse Wars." The books just naturally didn't overlap and each one got its own distinct set of characters and set-pieces to draw upon.
Are there any major differences in the editorial process when it comes to working on a tie-in event as opposed to other issues of the series? Is there more coordination, or other specific tasks that come into play?
Ketchum: Absolutely! The process wasn't that much more demanding than normal for "Apocalypse Wars," as the books aren't crossing over in the way that they did during "Second Coming" or "Battle of the Atom." But when you are doing a "Second Coming" or "Battle of the Atom," it requires so much more collaboration and coordination between the writers and artists and editors. Everyone has to be so much more aware of what everyone else is doing...right down to [hypothetically], "Oh, at the end of Chapter 4, Humberto [Ramos] drew Storm's left shoulder getting burned by a Sentinel blast, so we have to make sure that Greg [Land] gets the reference for it and draws it that way in Chapter 5." But the reward for orchestrating something like that is certainly greater...comics is a collaborative medium, and that's collaboration at its peak. When all the parts are moving in sync, it's a beautiful thing.
All three books really examine the breadth of Apocalypse's impact on the X-Men mythology, from his various Horsemen (past and future), followers, clones, etc. But we haven't actually seen modern-day Apocalypse himself yet. Is "Apocalypse Wars" meant to be a larger contemplation on what Apocalypse means to the line?
Ketchum: Well, each creative team set out as they always do, to tell an explosive story that was also personal to their cast of characters... these just involved Apocalypse. I can't say for sure if Cullen, Dennis and Jeff planned it that way, but an exciting byproduct of pursuing these stories was that we got to see Apocalypse from a bunch of different angles, and examine his influence on a number of different characters and the X-Men franchise overall. I'd say it all worked out... especially for Apocalypse. (You're right in saying that you haven't actually seen a modern-day Apocalypse YET.)
As opposed to events from the X-Men's past, each "Apocalypse Wars" arc feels like a natural continuation of what's come before as opposed to a total interruption of the ongoing's larger story. What steps were taken to make each arc feel like a natural progression of each book's story?
Ketchum: That's all Cullen, Jeff and Dennis. They took the idea of Apocalypse and personalized it to their books, finding those organic ties to their material. It was really cool seeing how each writer did it, and each one took a pretty different approach. Jeff Lemire takes the stakes of "Extraordinary X-Men," but projects them into a dystopian fantasy world ruled by Apocalypse. Cullen Bunn tells a mystery/horror story in "Uncanny X-Men" that's fueled by Psylocke's desire to help her longtime teammate/sometimes lover, Archangel. And Dennis Hopeless brings his book's mission statement of characters wanting to step out of the shadows of their predecessors to a head when he puts Genesis face-to-face with En Sabah Nur, the child who will one day become Apocalypse. They really did amazing work, marrying the idea of Apocalypse to what they were already doing in their titles.