When Executive Editor and X-Men Group Editor Axel Alonsotook over as Marvel Comics' X-Men line in late 2006, he made it clear the X-books would have a clear purpose and role within the greater Marvel Universe. The mutants had already suffered much under "House of M: Decimation," in which the worldwide mutant population was reduced to about two hundred poor souls. Alonso was tasked with the question, "What next?"
The answer came in the form of "Endangered Species," which examined a race near the brink of extinction, which then lead to "Messiah CompleX," in which a new mutant baby was born, changing everything Earth's mutants thought they knew about their fate. That brings us to the state of the X-Universe today: "Divided We Stand," a new wide-line direction that sees each X-team reeling from the events of "Messiah CompleX" and struggling to find their way in an uncertain world.
The X-Men are characters searching for answers, which means the readers of X-books are probably scratching their heads a bit too. Thankfully, we have an assortment of X-minded PROFESSIONALS here to help us out. Joining CBR News for today's X-POSITION are Axel Alonso and his editing team of Nick Lowe, John Barber, and Aubrey Sitterson. Beware their editorial might!
As mentioned, when Axel took over the X-books, he wanted each book to have a clearly defined purpose and role within the X-Universe. Have we reached the point where that is now the case? And if so, can you briefly state the purpose of each book?
ALONSO: "Uncanny X-Men" is X-Men Central – the core X-Men title. Everything flows into – and out of – this book. While it will focus on a core cast, every X-Men character has a place here.
LOWE: "X-Men: Legacy" is where the heart and soul of the X-Men puts his mind back together. In "Messiah CompleX," Professor X's brain was damaged. Now he's trying to get his memories back while trying to break the cycle of pain and violence that's followed him since he was born.
ALONSO: "Astonishing X-Men" is a self-contained, widescreen adventure told by two uncommonly creative talents – Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi. It uses the current landscape as its launching pad, but it doesn't explicitly tie into the other titles.
"X-Force" chronicles the off-the-record missions of Cyclops' black bag unit. It's his reaction to the dangerous new world…and he's going to have to live with his decisions.
SITTERSON: "X-Factor" has always had more of a noir feel than the other X-books – they run a detective agency for crying out loud. But the book is also about finding your place in a hostile world. X-Factor is a detective agency for mutants, but mutants have dwindled down to an endangered species. They fancied themselves the protectors of Mutant Town, but there are barely any mutants left. While individual issues are about searching for the answers to a given case, the book itself is about searching for a role and a purpose.
LOWE: "Young X-Men" is where the child army of Cyclops is being built. When you're young and a mutant – living in a world that hates you – the fact that you were born different makes you a soldier. This book shows that crucible as children are thrust into a situation that they can't hope to handle when all they want is to be kids.
"Cable" is Phase Two of the war that began in "Messiah CompleX." The fate of the child – and the fate of mutantkind – is strapped to Cable's chest. Consider this title a satellite book at your own risk. It ties in explicitly with titles such as "Uncanny" and "X-Force."
BARBER: "Wolverine," right now, is going to be focusing on the future of Wolverine, with "Old Man Logan" by the "Civil War" team of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. Wolverine's the most popular comic book character to be created since the 1960s, and we're spending a few months looking at the end of his career – but this is definitely a story that will have ramifications on the present…
"Wolverine: Origins" is going to be tying in to the X-Universe in a big way now. We're going to be examining Wolverine's early days with the X-Men, his current relationship with the team, and all the changes that have occurred recently. This is a series that will reflect what past events have done – and continue to do – to Logan.
At Wizard World L.A., it was announced that Matt Fraction will be co-writing "Uncanny" with Ed Brubaker beginning with issue #500. Is he onboard for a specific arc? Or is he joining the book for the foreseeable future?
ALONSO: Matt is on board for the long haul. As "Immortal Iron Fist" proves, he and Ed work very well together. They've already mapped out stories for the coming year, and I'm very excited.
Fans have responded in a big way to Brubaker and Fraction's work together on "Iron Fist." What do you feel they will bring as a team to "Uncanny"?
ALONSO: Lots of the same creative energy. A little less kung fu. A lot more big action and soap opera.
In Greg Land's promo artwork for "Uncanny," he's drawn a picture of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Pixie. Is this a peek at the new "Uncanny" team? Or is he just having some fun?
LOWE: I think you're talking about the cover for the Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) X-Men story. That has a lot to do with "Uncanny," but, like Axel said before, anyone who's an X-Man can show up in "Uncanny." There's no particular "team."
Is there any possibility you can give us a tease about what's coming up in "Uncanny" #500?
ALONSO: "Uncanny X-Men" opens the book on a major new chapter in the life of the reassembled X-Men. You're looking at a new development in X-Men history – a radical change to their status quo that's never been attempted in their forty-plus year history.
Consider us teased! Time to let our readers have some fun now. Marc Tarazevits is up first…
1) When is Juggernaut going to show up in "X-Men: Legacy?"
LOWE: You'll see Cain show up in "X-Men Legacy" #211! In fact, he can't be stopped from showing up there.
2) With Fraction and Brubaker both writing and Land and Dodson on art, I'm hoping one day we may see "Uncanny X-Men" ship three times a month like "Amazing Spider-Man." But knowing that's a lot of hard work for you editors, I'd be happy just to have more than twelve issues of "Uncanny" a year ship. Is there any chance this will happen?
ALONSO: With "Uncanny X-Men," we're committed to maintaining the highest level of quality in the writing and the art. That said, we don't want anyone spread too thin or rushing to meet a deadline – that only dilutes the quality of the book. And as long as it's possible, we want an artist to complete the arc they've started. That said, our goal is to get more than twelve issues out a year.
3) Any hints as to some of the villains we may see pop up in Fraction and Brubaker's "Uncanny X-Men?"
ALONSO: Lots of crowd-pleasers on the horizon. Don't be surprised if you see the word "Hellfire." And don't be surprised if you see something ending in of "Evil Mutants" coming up.
4) Have we seen the last of Mr. Sinister? I know he died in "Messiah CompleX," but he has been dead before…
LOWE: You'll have to just wait and see. Nathan Essex is full of surprises.
And speaking of surprises, Andre4000 was curious about one that was recently mentioned at the Wizard World L.A. convention.
At WWLA, it was promised that Northstar and Firestar would return. Any hints as to when that might happen? And Dazzler's returning! Why now (and which costume – no headbands, please…)?
LOWE: I don't remember anyone promising that Firestar would be showing up in "X-Men." Northstar's next appearance is in "X-Men: Divided We Stand" #1 (check it out!) and we have been talking about him for future plans. As for Dazzler, what's wrong with headbands?
I guess it would depend if we're talking about Olivia Newton-John or Rambo.
James also wrote in requesting that a couple of characters appear in X-books. Maybe you could help him out…
Would it ever be possible for Submariner to join the X-Men? Submariner could be a great asset to the X-Men, as well as Namora. Could you ever see something like that happening?
ALONSO: Not really. I just don't see it fitting in with our plans.
No "Uncanny Invaders" for James, it seems. Next up is Uruguard, who had a couple of questions about recent events and solicitations.
1) The X-books have a lot of special one-shots coming out lately – two for "X-Factor" and one for "X-Force." As all of these are actually written by the writers for these teams anyway, how come you don't just include these stories in the ongoing titles?
ALONSO: The stories told in the one-shots are meant to complement the stories that take place in the regular series. Sometimes they'll focus on a specific character's solo adventures; sometimes they'll offer a look behind the curtain. Bottom line, we don't do one unless it really contributes to the line. As for talent, in some cases, we'll be tapping a member of the regular creative team, but for the most part we'll be working with writers and artists that just excite us.
2) In the most recent issue of "Legacy," Professor X returns. That was a pretty short death. Why was it so important to have him "die" if he was only going to come back a few months later? What storytelling purpose did it serve?
LOWE: We never tried to make a huge deal out of his death in "Messiah CompleX." We had always intended for him to be at the center of "Legacy," but we needed to do big things to shake him up. Exodus' amazing powers saved him from certain death, but it left him with a predicament: "Where do I go from here? Do I continue doing the same thing I've done my whole life? What has that gotten me?"
Podmark wrote in with a couple of quirky queries. Quool!
1) We've seen all of the main New X-Men being featured in stories like "Young X-Men" and "Divided We Stand." Where else should I look to see my favorite New X-Men again soon?
LOWE: A lot of them can be seen in "Young X-Men." Pixie can be seen in a pretty major role in "Uncanny." The rest will be seen around. Don't worry, they're some of our favorite characters, so we're not forgetting them.
2) Unless I'm mistaken, at least one of the hybrid sentinels escaped at the end of "Uncanny" #493. Will we be seeing it again in the future?
LOWE: Wouldn't that be cool?
Back to Podmark's first question, Blair R. Campbell was hoping for some specifics about the "New X-Men" situation…
Why was it decided to end "New X-Men" so abruptly? "Young X-Men" debuts in April. There were no "New X-Men" issues in February or March. Couldn't you have published two more issues of "New X-Men" in an attempt to give the title a proper send off?
I feel a little cheated that there was no proper final issue of "New X-Men" and it seems like you ended the title in the worst possible way. We know that some of the characters will be in "Young X-Men," but what about the rest of the team and the various unresolved plots?
ALONSO: The concept of the "New X-Men" ended with the events in "Messiah CompleX." As you'll see in coming months, the model for the "School for Gifted Youngsters" is – as a matter of necessity – undergoing a radical change.
The mutant kids in "Young X-Men" have more in common with a child soldier in Sierra Leone than a high school kid from the American heartland. The world within which they live is different. Their place in the hierarchy is different. Their priorities, hopes and prayers are different. That said, and as we mentioned before, they aren't disappearing.
And speaking of "Young X-Men," the first issue is in stores this week, April 2! You may want to give it a look as the book's writer, Marc Guggenheim (creator of TV's "Eli Stone"), will be joining us here at X-POSITION next week to answer your questions – like you needed an excuse to read this premiere issue!
Be sure to send your emails to us by noon this Friday with "X-Position" in the subject line. From questions received in the past, we know there are lots of readers out there with a passion for "New X-Men" characters, so here's your chance! We're waiting….
Now discuss this story in CBR's X-Men forum.