X-POSITION Week 19: Mike Carey

Thu, October 4th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

"X-Men" #204 on sale October 24
The birth of a child is a happy occasion -- or at least, it's supposed to be. In our recent, must-read interview with the writers of Marvel Comics' X-Men family of titles, it was revealed that the first new mutant since the "House of M" housecleaning appears in issue #1 of the forthcoming "Messiah CompleX."

What does this mean for Scarlet Witch's edict? You know, "No More Mutants?" As Ricky used to say to Lucy, someone's got some 'splaining to do.

Thankfully, writer Mike Carey is available to provide some answers for us. As the scribe of "X-Men" and "Endangered Species," Carey has been particularly busy thinking about the future of the mutant race and pondering what would happen should that people come to an end. Can you just imagine if that occurred? And if it did, what would we talk about here at X-POSITION? Save us, Mike!

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In the aforementioned interview, the proverbial cat was let out of the bag: a new mutant shows up in "Messiah CompleX." The words "mutant baby" and "mutant birth" were used in talking about its appearance; however, I thought most mutants don't develop their powers until puberty. Is this a changeling like Madrox? Can you say anything about its parents? Any teases at all?

You're absolutely right – most mutants wouldn't show up on any scans or be detectable as mutants at all until their powers manifest in their early teens. So yeah, we're obviously dealing with an individual who is something out of the ordinary. Not like Madrox, exactly, or at least, only like him in being an anomaly. And this baby is an anomaly in a lot of different ways.

As far as the parents go, bear in mind that most mutants are born to normal human parents. There are mutant lineages, but that doesn't have to be the way it works.

Page from "X-Men" #204
Editor Nick Lowe also said, "The implications of this new mutant baby attract the attention of not only the X-Men, but also Mr. Sinister and his Marauders, and the mutant-hating Purifier groups introduced in the pages of 'New X-Men.'" Can you give me some idea why each group wants the child?

As far as the Purifiers go, I don't think I need to draw you a picture. For these guys, the "Decimation" was a wholly good thing. More than that: it was proof – in their minds – that God is on their side and against the mutants. They're kind of like the fruitcakes who, when AIDS first appeared, thought that it only affected gay people and was part of God's plan. Or like the people who said that Katrina was God's wrath against New Orleans.

Yeah, right. That's how it works.

Sinister's agenda is harder to work out at first, but it's perfectly logical. This is a great scientific mind faced with a problem that's very simple, even if it's huge and intractable – no more mutants. But now there's one mutant who's bucked the trend. Where do you go from there? Do you just buy a nice gift for the baby shower, or do you do something a little more...radical.

I take it that Sinister isn't making the baby a quilt, then. In the pages of the "New X-Men" #42, the students were saying the youngest mutant in existence would be a target. Is this what they were referring to?

No, I think that was more a psychological thing. The youngest mutant would feel like they had a target painted on them because everyone would be watching them all the time, waiting for them to fall. They'd be like the kid in "Children of Men" (the last child ever born) whose death at the start of the movie triggers a wave of hysteria and mass suicides.

Let's talk "Endangered Species" for a sec – what the hell did you do to the Guthries? The scene with the "infected" Guthrie child hit me hard. Is their family becoming the "mutant-family poster child" in the X-Universe? And do you think Hank will realize he has crossed the line in his search for a cure?

I think it's fair to say that (episode 13) is a turning point for Hank. We wanted that shot of Dark Beast holding Lewis to hit very hard – to make us really aware of how close Hank has come to the unspeakable and the unforgivable.

It was sort of inevitable that he'd go to the Guthries, eventually. Ten children, and five mutants in one family at the last count. That even puts them ahead of the Summers family in terms of mutant genes coming out in the phenotype, so where better to go to look at the mechanism of how the X-gene expresses itself?

As for the "poster child" thing...you could see it happening, couldn't you? The media always look for the human-interest angle, and the Guthries would make a sensational story.

Page from "X-Men" #204
They definitely would – they could probably support their own X-book! And now I better let our readers get some questions in, as they sent me many emails for you.

B.B. from OKC is the first one up, and he was curious: "One of the potential ideas I was disappointed was not explored before Wanda wiped out the mutant population was the introduction of a middle-aged mutant to Xavier's school as a new student. As a guy in his 40s myself and following up on a previously aborted college education (along with a growing number of other older adults), I had hoped we would some day see how the younger generation of mutants interact with that old guy in class.

"That being said, what is the chance that one of the so-called '198' still hovering edge of mutant radar is a newbie my age? Or is that opportunity long gone now?"

I don't think the opportunity has disappeared, B.B. We still haven't given names and faces to all of the 198. It would create certain challenges though, and it would change the vibe of the "New X-Men" book a lot to have an older student in the mix.

Across the board, of course, older mutants are represented (I've always thought it was cool to see how Cable changed as he got maturity and gravitas) but the bias is towards the young and the cute for the same reason that it does in any popular entertainment. And a lot of the focus of "New X-Men" is on issues and problems and situations that arise directly out of the fact that these are young people learning who they are, just as teens in any walk of life have to do.

Faded is next, and she sent in her usual string of intriguing questions. Here's a handful:

1) You've mentioned that you will be working on a maxiseries after the crossover. Are there any other details you can give up right now, such as who the artist will be or a small glimpse at its tone?

No, sorry, Faded. I can't say anything until the book is officially approved and announced by Marvel. At the moment it's just a pitch that I've put in that Nick Lowe likes a lot. I'm hoping it will happen – and there's every reason to believe that it will – but it's "early days," creatively speaking.

Page from "X-Men" #204
2) Matt Landru's death in the "Endangered Species" one-shot has been a symbol of mutant extinction and we know nothing about him. Will we get to know who he was before he died or will be continue to by a mysterious, undefined figure for mutantkind, and particularly the New X-Men?

I think the story has more resonance if he remains a cipher. If we personalize him, he's just another one of the 198. In the story, he's more than that purely because he's a catalyst for so many different reactions. The moment in that story that I think works best is when Cyclops tells Wolverine that he interviewed Matt for Xavier's, but now remembers nothing about him.

The milk run was so crazy that year, so many new mutants were manifesting, that they all blurred together in his head. And you can see how Scott feels, comparing the present situation to that recent past. In a way, that works because we also know nothing about Matt. So my own preference would be to leave him as he is.

3) Are we going to see an interaction between the Marauders team and the Acolytes? Both teams are working for Sinister and have had their line-ups mixed in together on different covers, but will they be friends, foes, or none of the above in the coming crossover?

Yeah, good question. I think we've seen the first, very subtle hints of tensions in the ranks, and we will see more. These are people who've agreed to work together, but in some cases they've got very different agendas and even very different definitions of exactly what it is they're doing. It's not going to be a smooth ride for anyone. I've written a Sinister/Exodus scene in "X-Men" #204 that takes that idea a little further.

4) Speaking of the Marauders, I love how there is now a clear division between the 'classic' members (plus Sunfire) and Mystique's group. Would it be wise to assume an implosion is on the horizon for our new favorite mutant assassins?

Well, I couldn't possibly comment. There does seem to be a fault line growing there though, doesn't there?

5) Assuming you've gotten a couple of issues in on the crossover, who was your favorite character to write that you hadn't gotten a chance to write yet?

The Layla/Jamie interaction is a lot of fun. I'm really digging those scenes on a lot of levels, because of where they are and what they're having to do and their very different reactions to it.

Page from "X-Men" #204
In light of the events in the most recent issue of "X-Men," SGuthrie wanted some answers – particularly with regards to his namesake.

1) What will happen to Sam in "X-Men" as a result of Sinister's mind-wipe? I have to know if we'll eventually see my favorite character back in action in some incarnation. Is his mind too far gone to even see him return to X-Men duty eventually? Argh!

You'll get an answer to that very soon, SG – in #204, in fact. It basically boils down to a question of how far Sinister had gone before he made skin contact with Scrambler...

2) What role (if any) will the primary characters of your current book have during "Messiah CompleX" (Iceman, Cannonball, and Rogue)? I'd hate too see three such deep, detailed characters that you've brought fresh, new life to get tossed into the background again.

They're involved in different ways. Sam isn't going to be going back into action soon, as you remarked above, but we do get to see what's happening with him. Bobby is recuperating from the damage he sustained in that fight, but still actively involved. And Rogue...well, there are some hugely important Rogue beats in the story. Rogue fans will be happy, I think, even though they're feeling Rogue's absence from these issues.

3) Will we be seeing any more of Lady Mastermind? I miss hearing her wry wit and sarcastic dialogue. Also, will we ever discover more of her origin?

Oh man, I hope we see more of her. I love writing her. And yeah, it would be cool to start filling in some of her – and Martinique's – past.

Matt Osborne was wondering about some other X-news that came to light and was hoping for details. "It's been a couple of weeks since the announcement of the return of Cable and X-Force (Hyperlink - http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=11793) – any chance you could shed some more light on their returns? Who will be writing these books? Will there be more characters on X-Force then the four shown in the promo piece?"

Expect some more announcements soon, Matt, but since the launch of "X-Force" is tied in so tightly with the events of "Messiah CompleX," it's difficult to tease at this stage without giving away some of the crucial story beats in the crossover. And Cable, well, who's to say when that takes place. I will say that those books will have their own very distinct dynamics, completely different from any previous incarnations of the characters and the titles. Expect to be surprised. Seriously.

Ooh, the anticipation! Josh Rosenfield had a question about upcoming events as well. "Can you hint at what kind of role Magneto will play in the crossover? Will he remain depowered? Will he and Xavier get along? Will he stand with the X-Men or against?"

Magneto is, frankly, peripheral in the whole "Messiah CompleX" schema, but he's coming back onto the stage in 2008 with some powerful scenes and some dramatic developments. Some of which I'm hoping to write. And his relationship to Xavier is one of the themes that will be explored.

Page from "Endangered Species" chapter 16
Kiko wrote in about the most recent issue of "X-Men" and asked, "Why did Mystique spare Bobby's life? Was it because of her respect to his power? Was it because she has feelings for him?"

I think you have to interpret that scene in your own way. It does seem surprising, on the face of it, that Mystique would swerve from her purpose that much for anyone, but I think she's a character who's most fun and most compelling when she's really opaque and hard to read. By the time you get to the end of "Messiah CompleX," I think you're in a better position to understand Mystique's actions from the Milligan run onwards, but I don't want to short-circuit that process by saying too much now.

And our final email comes from Frog, and he's concerned. "Much has been made over the promise of Sinister's role in the upcoming 'Messiah CompleX,' with some saying that he is next to impossible to defeat. So is Sinister truly immortal and invulnerable? How could he possibly be brought down by the X-Men, or is it a lost cause?"

He's not invulnerable, but it has to be said that his particular combination of powers makes him spectacularly difficult to defeat. And of course he's got more than a century of experience to call on, so it's not just the powers, it's the mind behind them. Is it a lost cause? Keep watching, Frog!

And after you're done watching, swing on by X-POSITION for the play-by-play on the field!

That about wraps everything up for this week, but be sure to pick up "Uncanny X-Men" (which arrived in shops yesterday) so we can talk about it – and "Messiah CompleX" – in seven days. We'll have a guest available who will try to answer any and all questions as best he can.

As always, be sure to get me your questions as soon as you can. How soon? If you want to be guaranteed for consideration, aim for Saturday by noon. Don't forget to include "X-Position" in the subject line. I'm waiting to hear from you!

Archives
X-POSITION: Week Eighteen
X-POSITION: Week Seventeen
X-POSITION: Week Sixteen
X-POSITION: "X-Force" & "Cable" Special Edition
X-POSITION: Week Fifteen
X-POSITION: Week Fourteen
X-POSITION: Week Thirteen
X-POSITION: Week Twelve
X-POSITION: Week Eleven
X-POSITION: Week Ten
X-POSITION: Week Nine
X-POSITION: Week Eight
X-POSITION: Week Seven
X-POSITION: Week Six
X-POSITION: Week Five
X-POSITION: Week Four
X-POSITION: Week Three
X-POSITION: Week Two
X-POSITION: The Beginning ...

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