SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus."
When the historians of the Marvel Universe look back on the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn, one thing will be clear, the Battle of San Francisco Bay will be recognized as a pivotal moment. The battle unfolded in the “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus” one-shot by writer Matt Fraction and artists Mike Deodato, Jr. and Terry Dodson, bringing to a close the six-part “Utopia” crossover between the two books.
In our final installment of EVOLUTION REVOLUTION, Matt Fraction joins CBR to offer insight and commentary on “Exodus” and discuss what the outcome of the Battle of the Bay means for Norman Osborn and the X-Men.
CBR: Warren, in his Archangel form, walks out to confront Bullseye. With his wings spread out, it's almost like you've got two angels of death facing off.
MATT FRACTION: As Warren says earlier in the issue, “You don't want me to take him out.” You fight fire with fire. You send a killer to stop a killer.
And considering all the people that Mike Deodato had to draw in this issue and all the complex staging and fight choreography, there are some amazing shots. This was one of those. I love that panel so much, it's an iconic moment. When I wrote this scene it was just a fight scene, but when Mike drew it, it became highlight material and that's all Mike being a stone cold genius.
Based on what he tells Cyclops here, it sounds like you can do a lot of things to Norman Osborn, but you do not make him look stupid?
Yeah, pride goeth before the fall and that's something we're going to see again in upcoming issues of “Invincible Iron Man” as well. Norman has used the media as his weapon of choice to take over the world. The right cameras at the right time have made him look like a good guy and he's really a guy who's barely in control of his own faculties from moment to moment. So I wanted to show Norman fraying under the pressure of having the cameras on you and not being able to control the message.
And I think that's something Scott knew from Norman's reaction to his suggestion that the Dark Avengers surrender in an earlier part of this story. When Norman puffed his chest and huffed and puffed, I think Scott saw Norman's pride as his big weak spot. He then proceeded to poke it as hard as possible.
It seems like that the soundtrack for Dani Moonstar's arrival here should be Wagner's “Flight of the Valkyries.”
Exactly. This was one of those story points by need of strategy. I was asking myself, “How do you beat Ares?” Then it was like, “We've got a Valkyrie on our side!” Only now after getting her powers directly from Hela she's like a Valkyrie plus.
This scene is very much a cue up for Zeb Wells' “New Mutants.” Dani Moonstar is a part of that cast. So read “New Mutants!” Zeb is going to take Dani to some great places and who didn't want to see her back on that winged horse?
Emma Frost arrives in the White Room mindscape that she built in an early “New Avengers” storyline in order to help the Sentry with his psychological problems. Why did Terry Dodson end up drawing this scene instead of Mike Deodato?
I suspected that Terry would be drawing this stuff. As you mentioned, the White Room first showed up in a Sentry story from early on in Brian's [Bendis] “New Avengers” run. That story is one of my favorite arcs from that book. I love the metaphor that [“New Avengers” artist] Steve McNiven created to represent everything.
We've already played with some of the stuff in this scene too. If you go back and reread the “Cabal” special, the dialogue from the weird prescient dream that Emma Frost has? That's Bob's dialogue. So we knew this was coming for a long time. You don't need to have read all those different books, but if you have, their fresh in your head. It all links together. This representation, this metaphor of Bob's situation is something we've been coming to for a long time.
What exactly happens with the Sentry and the Void in this scene?
Scott and Emma knew they couldn't beat the Sentry, so they had to distract the Void and for a split second Emma does just that. She keeps it within herself long enough for Bob Reynolds to snap to, realize what's happening, and flee. All they needed to do was to buy that half-a-second for the Sentry to take off and he flies into space as fast as he can. He realizes the best thing he can do is get off the battlefield. He goes off at the speed of light and the Void rushes after him to reconnect so they can be whole again.
Doing that has left a sliver of the Void in Emma's psyche. She's got this weird, twisted dagger of darkness incarnate in her brain. So she has to stay trapped in diamond form, which cuts her off from her psychic powers. If she were to go flesh and blood the Void would have access to the abilities of an Omega level telepath. So she's basically the carrier for a disease. That was the price she paid.
Here it looks like the X-Men finally win the Battle of the Bay by standing together as a united front for the television cameras.
Yeah, they're taking Norman's weapon of choice out of his hands and playing with his head for a change. Scott was genuinely telling the truth earlier in the story when he said he didn't know what would happen next but that the world would bear witness. He got his people safe by doing this. He can at least guarantee that when his people go to bed at night they won't wake up with a knife at their throats.
Did having the cameras there humanize the mutant struggle for the citizens of the Marvel Universe?
I think so. It let people see the face of it, and as Ms. Marvel said there were too many X-Men and the only way for them to win was to kill everybody, but you don't get to walk back from genocide when it's caught on camera. You don't get to spin genocide to make a political point.
You’re making an observation about Dark Reign. For the villains to hold onto the power they gained as heroes, they can't act behave according to their natures, at least not when there are cameras around.
Right, and Norman is so addicted to the power that he's acquired that it momentarily trumps his villainy and bloodlust.
On the previous page Cyclops claimed that the battle fought in the Bay was a victory for the X-Men and mutants. But here, Norman Osborn is back in front of the cameras spinning things the other way.
Norman really does feel like, “Great! I won. I got the X-Men off the board.” His previous agreement with Emma Frost was, “You keep your people quiet and everything is going to be peachy.” And when they weren't quiet, he had to step in and that's how everything got started. Now that mutants are on a rock floating in San Francisco Bay, though, that's it. He's got them all cornered. It's like he's forced them on a reservation.
So in Norman’s mind, it's easier for him to level the X-Men's new island home than it was to level San Francisco?
Exactly. In his mind, he's able to spin what happened into a victory and it energizes him to go out and write this list of his.
Osborn's bit of dialogue about how what's coming next is going to change the world, that’s a tease for the “Dark Reign: The List” specials?
Yeah. “The List” really was born out of us asking ourselves what we would do if we were in Norman's position in the Marvel Universe. Why would you let the Hulk run around? Or why do the Fantastic Four have a portal to the heart of the Negative Zone in downtown Manhattan? We wanted Norman inspired so he goes launching out of this into “The List” and the X-Men go launching out of this into the “Nation X” storyline.
Emma Frost and Scott Summers remember another floating mutant community, the island of Genosha.
It's impossible not to think about Genosha. Genosha was where Cassandra Nova sent Sentinels and they killed tons of people. So, precedent acknowledged, but this is something we've never seen before on this level. “Uncanny X-Men” is at an exciting point where I don't think it's been before. It doesn't feel like we're riffing on old plot lines. We're in this weird, virgin territory and I can't refer anymore to the “Essentials” on my bookshelf. I can't ask what happened last time they did this because there was no last time. It's as new for me as it is for Scott and everybody else.
Any final thoughts on “Exodus?”
This was big. It was the biggest thing I ever wrote. There were so many characters and so much stuff to keep track of and keep straight. At one point in the story, Pixie says, “We're all X-Men now.” And that was the point, to see every mutant working together as one. That was a blast to write and deliver with big pyrotechnics. There were a lot of plot points and pieces that had to be moved around the board to get us to this point, but I wanted to have an ending with a really big payoff.
I hope people enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope they loved the art because I think Mike and Terry knocked it out the park.
We know from the opening pages of “Exodus” that the upcoming “Dark X-Men: The Confession” one-shot reveals some of the off-panel action that shaped this story, but where are the X-Men headed after that special? Does the story pick up in the next issue of “Uncanny X-Men?” Or “Dark Reign: The List-Uncanny X-Men?”
I might be wrong but I believe “The List” special is next. “The List” issue is our first time seeing what it means for Namor to be on this island and what it means to accept Namor as a mutant. While the X-Men are a big part of the book, it really is about Norman Osborn executing a down and dirty personal revenge on Namor for his betrayal.
Whose point of view will “Dark Reign: The List-Uncanny X-Men” follow? Namor's? Or Osborn's?
A little bit of both. It's our first chance to see what the king of Atlantis is like in a team situation where somebody who is not Steve Rogers is giving him orders. Plus, Namor still wants to knock his bewinged boots with Emma Frost. So it's a fun, brave, and weird new world.
Then as “Nation X” starts up, we've got Magneto's return and we'll be dealing with the question of how do you live on this rock? How do you get fresh water? Where does the electricity come from? How does it stay afloat? Where do they get their food? On top of your typical mutant excitement there will be this flavor of society building. They're not living in a cushy mansion anymore.