X-POSITION: Week 25

Tue, November 13th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

"X-Factor" #25, on sale 11/14.
It's been just seven days since we've chatted here in X-POSITION, and the Marvel Universe seems as if it exploded. From revelations in "New Avengers: Illuminati" and "Annihilation: Conquest" to the announcement of the writers for the new "Cable" and "X-Force" series, things are hopping at the House of Ideas. Naturally, the part of the aforementioned news we are most curious about concerns the latter half: new X-writers!

The new "Cable" series - which will debut after the completion of "Messiah CompleX" - will be written by novelist Duane Swierczynski ("The Wheelman," "The Blonde") with art by Ariel Olivetti ("Punisher War Journal"). Premiering at about the same time, "X-Force" will be written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost (the team on "New X-Men") with art by Clayton Crain ("Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears").

Between this announcement and the current "Messiah CompleX" crossover, X-fans have several reasons to celebrate.

Obviously, there are questions about these new writers and books, so X-POSITION has gone straight to the source to get you some answers: the X-editors. Joining us today are Executive Editor Axel Alonso, Nick Lowe (editor of several X-books), and John Barber (who will be editing the new "X-Force"). Ready for some insight? Here we go…

Story continues below

Pages 1 & 2 from "X-Factor" #25.
To begin with, let's discuss how Duane Swierczynski ended up writing the new "Cable." What made you look to him for this book? And why do you feel he is well-suited for this particular comic?

Axel Alonso: Duane is a terrific writer who excels at writing characters facing impossible situations. "Cable" plays to those strengths; it will be an essential read for X-Men fans, but it's also unlike any X-book we've published. It's got the vibe of a spaghetti western, the aesthetic of a science fiction film, and undercurrents of a police procedural.

As Swierczynski is new to comic book writing, are there challenges in getting him used to this storytelling style?

AA: Duane transitioned easily to writing comics and if you read one his novels, it's easy to see why - his chapters are lean and mean. We just had to get him used to writing art direction for his artist, Ariel.

Moving on to "X-Force," Kyle and Yost have described the team almost as a task force - one that is pulled together when specific jobs need to get done. John, would you call this an accurate assessment?

John Barber: Yeah, that's a pretty accurate description. I'd say they're a black ops team; sort of the commandos of the mutant world. And after "Messiah CompleX," there's a lot of house-cleaning that needs to be done. Is Cyclops crossing a line when he sends these guys out? Maybe. He's acknowledging that sometimes Wolverine's way is the best way to get things done.

So does this mean that this is a team you won't see hanging around with each other unless there is a job to do? In other words, they wouldn't gather at a coffee shop for a chat. They do the job needed, and then go back to their "regular" teams (if those teams are still around after "Messiah CompleX").

JB: The team has the same sort of loyalties and rivalries that a "regular" team might have, but pushed to a far extreme. They all share this dark secret - this team they're on. They've all got their reasons for being there, and none of those reasons are happy ones. So, no, they're not going to play softball together or anything.

That makes sense (although I'd love to see Wolvie playing softball). With X-23 on the team, was it almost a foregone conclusion that Kyle and Yost would be writing the book? She does seem to be "their" character in many ways…

JB: Well, that combined with the fact that it was their idea to do this book. Yeah, they seemed like good choices….

Pages 3 & 4 from "X-Factor" #25.
As these two writers are also writing "New X-Men," I'm sure many fans are curious if that book will be around post-MC. Can you enlighten them at all? Or are we still in a wait-and-see mode?

Nick Lowe: We're definitely still in a wait-and-see mode, but I will say this - at least some of the kids are still around after the crossover.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for my favorite characters. Now, before we start chatting about "Messiah CompleX," it dawned on me that that there are still a few details from the "Endangered Species" back-up tale which may need some resolution (for a few X-fans, at least).

"Endangered Species" seemed to wrap up with no real mention of it in any of the X-books. Wouldn't Beast want the others to know, "This is what I did and this is what I discovered?"

NL: The main reason was just timing. Chapters 16 and 17 of ES were in "X-Men" #204, the last X-book before "Messiah CompleX," so there wasn't really a place to do it. We couldn't really do it there, because the last chapters followed the story.

Beast was only in "Messiah CompleX" #1 for a few panels before the baby's birth. For those, we tried to keep his mood and attitude as close to what it would be post-ES, but we didn't want to throw too much at the new reader. And after the baby was born, well, everything changed.

In the beginning of the ES tale, one of Beast's first stops was to the High Evolutionary who said he had had "another" visitor. Will we learn more about this other visitor soon (I'm just curious if it's the person who currently has the new baby)? Or was that other visitor Dark Beast and I'm just dense?

NL: That was the Dark Beast, and I prefer to refer to you as "intellectually challenged" and I love you for it.

D'oh! But it's nice to be loved.

Speaking of Dark Beast, Sean Andres wrote in with an interesting query. "Will we get to see more of the Guthrie family and their reactions to Dark Beast's and Beast's visit to the Guthrie home? And does this include Husk and Cannonball? Will they turn their backs on the X-Men or at least Beast for endangering their brother?"

NL: You'll have to wait and see for this one, Sean. You're going to see a lot of shakeups in the next few months and the characters you mention aren't exempt.

Pages 5 & 15 from "X-Factor" #25.
More wait-and-see, but it sounds promising.

Also at the start of "Endangered Species," Beast made contact with Sinister and offered to "sell his soul" for help with the extinction problem. Why didn't Sinister take him up on it at the time? How are the two working on different paths?

NL: If you'll look at what Sinister and the Marauders were up to in "X-Men," you'll see that he had other things on his mind. I think he also preferred to have Beast (and thus, the X-Men) going down a dead end. He had a certain baby to expect.

Out of curiosity, how would you describe what it is that makes Sinister "evil" (aside from the name)? What is his endgame?

NL: I think it's because he exemplifies science without a conscience. And, actually, I think it goes further than that. "Science without conscience" almost implies that there's a goal. I think he is just curious - which is even sicker. As far as his endgame, it can be as simple as the fact that this baby could be the most powerful being on Earth and he wants to take it apart. Or it could be as complex (great word, right?) as he wants to make sure mutants don't die out, thus giving him less to study.

Continuing with the Sinister theme, let's move on to current events in "Messiah CompleX." The character definitely has a hidden agenda that somehow includes this new mutant babe.

Considering Sinister is such an enigma to the X-Men, what do you think they should fear most if he gets his hands on the baby? As he is a master geneticist and a mutant himself, wouldn't he just use the baby to perpetuate their race - something that Beast tried to do for quite some time?

NL: You have to remember that when this baby was born, it wrecked Cerebra. How many times have we seen Cerebra register a mutant? I know the last time it broke completely was when Vulcan was found, so you have to imagine that there is potential for this baby to be one of the most powerful beings on Earth.

The thought of an Omega-level mutant in the hands of Sinister is pretty scary for me. Whether he can find something in the baby to restart the mutant gene again or not is second fiddle to a guy whose name tells you he's evil with a genetic A-bomb.

Pages 5 & 14 from "New X-Men" #44
In last week's issue of "Uncanny," I chuckled aloud when Layla said, "We're going to see Forge...who's Forge?" However, this did raise some questions for me about her powers. I always saw her as someone who saw probabilities and affected them, with a touch of precognitive ability. Is this accurate? How does the X-office define Layla's abilities?

NL: The way we see it, the stuff Layla knows is not complete. What I mean is, she's not omniscient. She knows very particular things, and I don't think she herself understands how or why she knows them.

Regarding specific characters, Sean Andres was also wondering about a mutant who seems to be busy outside of all the "Messiah CompleX" events: "Are there plans for Psylocke in the core X-books after 'Exiles?' In that book, it seems like she's being set up to do something big, so will that play out outside of 'Exiles'?"

NL: Right now, Betsy's place is in "Exiles."

Along those lines, John Sage was curious about a few other mutants. "Assuming Marvel Girl, Polaris, and Havok make it back from their space jaunt alive, is there a place for them in any of the post-MC X-titles?"

NL: That's a bigger assumption that I'm willing to make, John. At least one of those characters will make it out of "Emperor Vulcan" alive. And I think it's safe to assume that they're big enough characters to have a future in the X-Books.

Page 17 from "New X-Men" #44
Before we say too much about life after the crossover, TJ had a question about a threat facing the mutants in the present. "Predator X seems to be playing a weird part in 'Messiah CompleX.' Does that thing actually think? Considering that it was so close to the mansion, why would it turn away because of the baby? Wouldn't it go for 'food' that's closer as opposed to running miles and miles away?"

NL: Harkening back to a previous answer, this is another thing that points to the importance of the baby. This baby's birth and mutancy is big enough to make Predator X turn away from the biggest gathering of mutants to go running after it. It's really important.

Wrapping things up, bbinko had a comment about the recent issue of "Uncanny." "The confrontation between Cyclops and Xavier was awesome! Cyclops is finally being the leader that everyone knows he should be. Are we moving to a new era where Cyclops will become the representative of the X-Men and the voice of mutants to the outside world?"

NL: Hell yeah! Cyclops rules, Xavier drools! Cyclops is stepping up in a big way. I might have messed with him before, but not now. Hell no.

I think we just touched a nerve - albeit an excitable one - with Nick.

That's it for this week, folks! Writer Peter David will be joining us next week to discuss the most recent "X-Factor" (in stores tomorrow) and his part in the "Messiah CompleX" crossover. Be sure to grab the issue and read up.

As usual, please send your questions to me by Thursday with "X-Position" in the subject line. I'll be waiting for them eagerly, so don't let me down!

Archives
X-POSITION Week 24: Ed Brubaker
X-POSITION Week 23: Axel Alonso & Nick Lowe
X-POSITION Week 22: Christopher Yost
X-POSITION Week 21: Peter David
X-POSITION: Week Twenty
X-POSITION: Week Nineteen
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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