When you survive for thousands of years in the Marvel Universe, you learn the art of patience and develop the ability to think big. The immortal psychic vampire Selene was old before the rise of civilizations like Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt, and her current foes, the cast of "X-Force," have no idea just how big her latest villainous scheme is. They'll be the ones to confront Selene's master plan, but once it gets rolling her plot will become so large that it will spill over into the world of two other X-Men titles as well. This is the premise behind "Necrosha," a storyline which kicks off in October and runs through "X-Force," "X-Men: Legacy," and "New Mutants." CBR News spoke with writers Chris Yost, Craig Kyle, Mike Carey, and Zeb Wells about the storyline, announced today at Marvel Comics' X-Men panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
"Necrosha" may kick off in October, but the first seeds for the storyline were sown by Kyle and Yost in 2007's "New X-Men" #32, an issue which involved Selene and the mutant known as Wither. The next major chapter in the story came in "X-Force" #11, where the writers revealed the true identity of a character named Eli Bard, along with his connection to Selene. However, while those issues of the storyline may be pivotal chapters of the ongoing story in "X-Force," they're not necessary reads for those only interested in the "X-Men: Legacy" and "New Mutants" portions of "Necrosha." "It's not a traditional crossover in the way that 'Messiah War' [X-Force's recent crossover with 'Cable'] was," Chris Yost told CBR News. "You're not going to see 'To be continued’ in another book. It's more like the 'Morlock Massacre' storyline, where if you only read 'X-Force' you are going to get the full story."
Craig Kyle added, "We were so happy that people jumped on board when our book recently crossed over with 'Cable' and they bought an extra book that they weren't normally buying, and if you were buying 'Cable' and you weren't already buying 'X-Force,' we're thrilled you picked up our book as well. So we didn't want to hammer the fans with another story that asks them to buy other titles. The core story here is told in 'X-Force.' It's just so big that there was no way it wasn't going to touch other books. It involves such a major threat to mutantkind, that there's no way it doesn't reach out and affect other groups of characters and titles."
Kyle and Yost were very excited when they learned that Mike Carey and Zeb Wells wanted "Necrosha" to be part of the ongoing stories in their X-books. "Those guys are doing awesome jobs on their own books, and when they said they'd like to be part of the storyline, we would have been stupid to say no," Kyle remarked. "This is a major event that's going to bring a lot of much loved X-Men elements back into play, and having 'New Mutants' and 'Legacy' involved just enriches the whole experience."
Carey and Wells learned about the plans for "Necrosha" via a regular conference call that involves all of the X-Men editors and creators. "Craig Kyle and Chris Yost had already come up with the core story, but it was clear that it could be - arguably should be, enormous, spilling out from 'X-Force' to impact on other books and other characters beyond their core cast," Mike Carey explained. "There was a lot of enthusiasm from all quarters, and Craig and Chris effectively said 'Well, if anyone wants in, let us know what we can do for you.' And Zeb Wells and I both said yeah, we'd have a slice of that very scary and disturbing pie."
Zeb Wells added, "It’s just such a complex story with so many natural springboards for the 'New Mutants.' When I heard what it would allow us to accomplish in our book, I was on board."
Before the casts of "X-Force," "New Mutants" and "X-Men: Legacy" deal with the threat of "Necrosha," they must survive the current crop of dangers that are plaguing them. In "X-Force," that means dealing with the machinations of the Leper Queen, who is part of a larger conspiracy of humans infected with a techno organic virus out to exterminate mutants. They began to do this in "X-Force" #17, which is in stores now and kicked off a four part story arc titled "Not Forgotten." It’s an arc that promises to leave the team even more physically and emotionally battered than usual. "We've gotten through the portion of this series where we were planting seeds and getting stories started. Now, in this back fifteen, it's all payoff; time to find out what everything has been building towards," Craig Kyle said. "And 'Not Forgotten' is Hell on Earth. In the arc, X-Force comes back from 'Messiah War’, a mission they barely survived and a fight that wasn't theirs over a kid who may or may not be a mutant messiah. They never asked for that mission; it was forced upon them. Now they've got to get back to the mission they signed up to do.
"There are lives on the line and things are going to be relentless. Everything will be by the skin of their teeth," Kyle continued. "For 'Not Forgotten,' and really the next 11 issues after that, we'll deliver the pace, content, excitement, emotion, and humor that we spread throughout the first issues, but in a way that I think will be especially satisfying. Chris and I have worked really hard to deliver on the promises we made when we first started this book. So this is an exciting time for us."
Like previous issues of "X-Force," "Not Forgotten" will contain seeds and hints about "Necrosha." "In the second issue of 'Not Forgotten,' you'll see 'Necrosha' becoming a bigger and bigger threat," Kyle said. "As we march towards the storyline, there will be some key elements to look for, because they'll speak to how big things are quickly becoming and things will explode out of the one-shot that kicks off the story."
Chris Yost added, "The villains are very well prepared, and X-Force has kind of a hint of what's going on. They know that Eli Bard robbed the graves of Warpath's tribe, but they really have no idea what's about to hit them."
Over in "New Mutants" the title characters have their hands full with the return of Legion, a powerful mutant with multiple personality disorder, and to make matters worse, many of those personalities are psychotic. "The fight with Legion will wrap up in 'New Mutants' #4, and 'New Mutants' #5 will deal with the fallout from 'Utopia' [The current crossover between "Uncanny X-Men" and "Dark Avengers"] and give the characters a breather to figure out a bit more what their team is going to be," Zeb wells stated. "It’s drawn by Zachary Baldus, and the pages I’ve seen are incredible. He’s an original artistic voice--just great."
When "Necrosha" hits "New Mutants," the title characters will be ready-- or so it might seem at first glance. "They’ll be flying high from their first mission, and just the idea that they’re all back together," Wells explained. "This will last for approximately 3 pages before everything goes to hell again."
"X-Men: Legacy" is currently following Rogue's adventures during the "Utopia" storyline. In the most recent issue, she did battle with two members of Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers: Ares and Moonstone, who is currently posing as Ms. Marvel. That storyline finishes in August, and September sees the release of "X-Men: Legacy Annual" #1, a story which officially makes Rogue the central character of "Legacy" and establishes a new direction for her as a liaison officer with the younger generation of X-Men. "The annual kicks off an arc called 'Devil at the Crossroads,' which isn't directly connected to the events in 'Necrosha,'" Mike Carey said. "There's a tangential connection, but it's very small, almost subliminal. Necrosha is going to come up on Rogue's blind side and hit her like a bullet train."
Recent issues of "Legacy" have seen Rogue overcome some very personal struggles like mastering control of her powers and regaining the ability to touch other people. As a result, she's become a stronger perso. However, that doesn't mean that she'll be ready for what awaits her in "Necrosha." "You could say that Rogue has faced down her inner demons, both in Australia and then in San Francisco. She's stronger and more together than she's been in a long time. We've seen her fight Ms. Marvel to a draw, and hold her own against a god," Carey remarked. "But what she's faced with in 'Necrosha' isn't like a regular enemy that can be fought: it hits her on a deeper level than that, and it compromises her in unexpected ways. It's like a haunting, in some respects: you can exorcise the ghost, if you're lucky, but you also have to ask yourself what it wanted with you."
"Necrosha: X-Force/New Mutants/X-Men: Legacy," is the title of the one-shot that launches "Necrosha." The book features three different stories, each starring the respective series' characters. The "X-Force" portion of the one-shot examines both Selene's history and her larger motivations. "You're going to see Selene's journey from birth to where she's currently headed," Chris Yost explained. "I think she has her endgame in mind, but before she goes to that place she wants a little payback. Throughout her history, from Roman times all the way to her affiliation with the modern Hellfire Club, she sees people as failing her, betraying her, and letting her down in her quest. These people might not even know they did, but she's going to extract a little revenge on the way to accomplishing her ultimate goal."
Kyle and Yost plan to continue their exploration of Selene as a character in the subsequent "X-Force" issues of Necrosha. "We always enjoyed Emma Frost from her Hellfire Club days, but when Grant Morrison brought her into the X-Men fold, we felt she really shined as a character. We've always looked at Selene as a character that had all that potential too," Craig Kyle said. "As Chris mentioned, people have failed her, betrayed her and stood in her way, and this is the time where you'll finally see her hit the heights of greatness that she was destined for. If we can get Selene anywhere near what Emma has become and show that's she's an equal and opposite to the White Queen, that will be the real success of the storyline, because the Hellfire Club has always been rich with great characters. Emma's proved that and now it's time for Selene to try and hit those same heights."
The title, "Necrosha," gives some hints as to what Selene's master plan is, and another hint was dropped in "X-Force" #11. "In that issue, we showed that Selene previously had a plan to sacrifice the entire population of Ancient Rome, reap their souls, take that power and use it to become a goddess. As she she's gone on in her life, she's found souls that are a little richer and have more power to them - those are mutants," Yost said. "So she's put two and two together, and when Eli Bard comes to her with the gift of techno-organic life, the wheels start to turn."
Thematically the "X-Force" installments of "Necrosha" will be similar to other storylines in that series. "Much like our entire run on 'X-Force,' this the X-Men's past coming back to bite them in the ass," Yost remarked. "This is all the old ghosts and all the things that were forgotten coming back. The past never stays dead. Issue #1 featured the return of the villain Bastion and the resurrection of the 'Humanati.’ This is really kind of a horrific continuation of all of that."
Mike Choi and Sandra Oback are providing the art for the current "Not Forgotten" arc in "X-Force," so the art duties for the "Necrosha" portion of the series will be handled by the other part of the book's rotating artistic team, Clayton Crain. "We've seen some of the covers he did for 'Necrosha.' We've been sitting on them for months now and it's been killing us," Kyle stated. "And we're so excited to see him bring that same kind of feel into the issues themselves. It's also great because we started this journey with Clayton [Crain drew "Angels and Demons," the first arc of "X-Force"], so to have him come in and do one of the biggest storylines in our run is just awesome. The guy is just so talented. What we've seen has been extraordinary, and we're desperate for fans to see it."
In the "New Mutants" portion of "Necrosha," Zeb Wells will haunt his protagonists with malevolent visions of their past. The writer also plans on touching on the relationship between Selene and team member Magma, AKA Amara Aquilla ."Selene and her relationship with Amara definitely drives the action, but they won’t be fighting her directly. We wanted to keep these stories self-contained, so we could all keep our focus on our characters and their reactions to 'Necrosha,'" Wells remarked."No one will feel ripped off when they see who the New Mutants’ adversaries are, though."
Horror will be a significant element in the tone of all the stories that make up "Necrosha," especially the portion featured in "New Mutants." "It’s going to take place over one terrifying night," Wells hinted. "It’s going to be intense on a personal level for each one of the characters, and it’s going to be disturbing enough to earn its October launch date."
Bringing to the life all the horror in Wells’s story is artist Diogenes Neves, who is currently collaborating with Wells on the opening arc of "New Mutants." "I can’t wait for him to start," Wells stated. "His pages for 'New Mutants’ #4 look amazing."
The "X-Men: Legacy" portion of "Necrosha" also deals with a haunting, a literal one in this case. "It's Rogue getting a message from beyond the grave, which sounds very cod-Gothic - but because of the message and the messenger, it's not at all like that," Mike Carey explained. "It's a story with a lot of different pay-offs and reveals."
"X-Men: Legacy Annual" #1 pits Rogue against the machinations of Emplate, but for "Necrosha," she'll be tangling with another villain. "You'd imagine Emplate would have come along if he was invited - it's his kind of show," Carey said. "Selene is the big adversary, but Rogue never faces her directly: what she's facing is someone whose agenda is kind of at right angles to Selene's, but who is able to leapfrog off the back of Selene's plan. I don't want to spoil who that might be, but let's just say that if Rogue were to ask 'Who goes there, friend or foe?' the answer would be 'Both.'"
Gambit, Danger, and some of the other core X-Men cast will play supporting roles in Carey's "Necrosha" story, as well as some of the kids she interacts with in her new role within the X-Men. "This will wrench her away from those duties. Some of the students she's been working with will try to intervene, but there's a limit to what they can do - and they have no idea of what the risks are," Carey said. "The tone is pretty dark, and the scope is both personal and vast: personal to Rogue, enormous in terms of the potential implications for the X-Men."
While the outcome of "Necrosha" is bound to have ripples throughout the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe, it’s up to fans to decide how much they want to invest in the storyline, and all the writers involved have enjoyed telling their stories with that idea in mind. "It's not a regular crossover, that's true - although having said that, I think the X-Men are constantly redefining what 'crossover’ means," Mike Carey said. "In 'Necrosha,' it's like Pandora's box has been opened and the consequences spread out like shockwaves: the New Mutants have their piece of it to deal with, and Rogue has hers, but it's all arising as a by-product of this one huge and terrifying thing that's happening in 'X-Force.' You could conceivably read the 'Legacy’ portion of the story without touching the others, but I'm guessing that people will want to know how this thing happened.
"It’s just a great piece of synergy, to use that over-burdened word. Kyle and Yost's story is crazy cool in itself, and opened up all kinds of windows of opportunity for the other X-books," Carey continued. "It's fantastic when that happens: when the momentum of one book gives a boost and a body spin to a bunch of others."
Craig Kyle added, "It’s not about book sales or numbers. It’s about the experience being so huge that it just takes more bodies to get it finished. I think that’s going to continue, and hopefully in a way that fans love and get excited about it. With our work on the X-Men, Chris I have always been about bringing back what was lost and awesome into play. We’ve done our fair share of killing, and we felt it was in the best interest of the X-books to do what we did. Now we’re bringing back the threats and the characters that we feel are crucial for the X-Men to be as awesome as they’ve ever been, and hopefully the fans will agree. I think the stories themselves and the beautiful artwork that’s going into 'Necrosha' will be worth heading to your shop and taking a look at. We’re just desperate for you guys and girls to see this stuff. The wait is killing us."