Death is a tricky subject in comics. As comic book characters often hop in and out of the afterlife like it has a revolving door, how does a writer communicate the proper gravitas death commands to the readers of a particular title? This was the challenge facing scribe Matt Fraction as seen in last week's "Uncanny X-Men," and according to fans...he knocked it out of the park!
Due to events in the "Second Coming" story running through X-books at present, the X-Men have suffered a great loss. Fans, of course, want to know what this means for Marvel's mutants and the team's trajectory with regards to the recent occurrences. Fraction was happy to jump into the fray to answer this and other questions from fans in today's X-POSITION. But be warned, spoilers aplenty can be found below. Brace yourselves for some turbulence...
RagnaTheBloodedge begins today's question-palooza with an email about the man who puts the "X" in X-Men:
Professor Xavier's been off-panel far too often for my liking lately. Is Cyclops keeping him as an ace in the hole, so to speak? If so, it feels monumentally wrong for him not to be helping with things on Utopia, especially now with "Second Coming" going on. With the "Heroic Age" on the horizon, will we finally be seeing more of him? And in what capacity?
Yes, very much so, and keep reading.
I know, right? The lamest answer of all time.
But you're right, ol' Chuckles (I get to call him that) has been in the back seat. There are all kinds of reasons, but first and foremost is that "Second Coming" - this crucible of faith that Scott Summers is enduring (that all mutantkind is enduring) is really his burden and his alone.
Scott needs to face this front and center. It is his bed and it's his to lie in. So I think some of the focus has pulled off of the Professor - I'm sorry, off of Chuckles - and fallen even more so on Scott. But, again, keep reading.
MarvelMaster616 has romance on his mind. Can you share some info that might titillate and entice?
I love the chemistry you gave Namor and Emma during "Utopia," but Namor has been a bit quiet in his affections for Emma since then. Is that ever going to become an issue again? Namor does have a history of pursuing blondes, and he doesn't seem to respect Scott Summers nearly as much as he did Reed Richards...
Yeah, of course! Imminently, even. Namor and Emma come to the forefront again in our first "Second Coming" storyline, "The Five Lights." That's a story I've only just started to tell, and I'll be getting back to it once the dust of "Second Coming" starts to settle a little bit...it's been a busy year from "Utopia" to "Second Coming," y'know?
We just got an amazing Terry Dodson cover featuring the two of them, as a matter of fact.
And I think Namor respects Scott - after "Second Coming," I know it for a
Fact - but they're not married. Y'know? Scott shoulda put a ring on it. And as we've already seen, Namor and Emma have a hot-and-bothered history. Ssssooo...
Steve McSheffrey tosses us our first curveball of the day. Thankfully, it appears Fraction is up to the challenge:
I have to admit, I almost decided not to ask the following question because I thought it might sound too negative. But in the end, I just had to put this out there and see what came of it. Here goes nothing:
Mr. Fraction, I believe you stated in an interview that you kept Psylocke Asian to retain ethnic diversity in the cast. I assume you do know that Betsy Braddock is basically an upper class British white woman wearing an Asian body, right? That quote from you has bothered me, and I was hoping you could make me see how a white woman made to look Asian represents any kind of ethnic representation at all...
Gosh, what could possibly sound too negative there...?
The entire point of this "resurrected" (that's not quite the right word, but I'm going with it) Psylocke is that she's a synthesis, a true synthesis, of both aspects - both individuals - that made up the character in the past. Far from being "an upper class British white woman wearing an Asian flesh suit," as you say, this Psylocke, as seen in "Sisterhood," is something else entirely. Something new. What started in "Sisterhood" continues too; she'll be wrestling with her identity, on numerous levels, in "Uncanny" and elsewhere in the X-Universe soon.
Richard Terrones has magnets on his mind and asks a pair of queries about the "attraction" between two powerful forces in the X-books:
1) I've really enjoyed the conversation between Magneto and Hope. It truly seemed as if you could feel him luring her towards him. It felt like a real "Seduction of the Innocent" was at work. Will there be any more developments on this in upcoming issues?
Oh my, yes.
I thought it was important, too, for us to see that the one guy utterly unimpressed - on the surface, anyway - with Hope would be the last guy Cable would ever want near her. So of course this makes Magneto all the more appealing to Hope - it's kind of fun to think about, right? And Terry just nailed it - their interplay, their expressions...
Yes. Hope and Magneto. One to watch.
2) Also, what will Magneto and Cyclops' relationship with each other look like after the events of "Second Coming?" Will it change from things that happen in this event?
We'll be seeing Magneto acting in a...consigliere sort of role towards Scott. A battle-wizened advisor. And as they work their trust issues out - or fail to work 'em out as the case may be - the value of that relationship will rise and fall. Can Magneto help Scott? Can Magneto stand not being front-and-center guy? Can Scott let himself listen to Magneto?
And - without blowing the revelations at the end of "Second Coming," the event itself absolutely changes things - the relationship will continue to complicate and grow. Or warp, as the case may be. As everything else complicates, grows, and warps.
Andre4000 wrote in with our first set of questions about the aforementioned death that just occurred in "Second Coming." Let's see what you think of these - we'll have our hankies standing by, just in case...
1) From a writer's perspective, why do you feel it made the most sense to have Nightcrawler die? Why not another X-character?
I don't know that it made "sense." I don't know that tragic deaths make sense. I think that's maybe part of why they're tragic. I think that's why they affect us and move us and touch us and...I mean, it wasn't meant to make sense - it was meant to be awful and tragic. And to show how high the stakes here really are, how massive a threat Bastion is and how serious and dire "Second Coming" is; that this isn't, y'know, a throwaway adventure crossover. Things are changing in big and meaningful ways.
Since "Messiah CompleX," the X-books have had an underpinning of faith vs. science. Scott's belief in Hope, in Cable's mission, and in his plan - in the face of irrefutable, inarguable scientific proof of the imminent extinction of the mutant race - has fueled the last...what, three or four years of stories? All of it heading towards this crucible moment.
Across that span we've seen Nightcrawler's faith growing stronger and brighter. If you go back and look at the scenes in his chapel since "Messiah CompleX" -the chapel he built himself, alone - every time we go back there are more people in it...more people were there seeking comfort. Regardless of what their exact "religion" may or may not be, Nightcrawler became a beacon to his people over the last few years, especially. And he - the man of faith - believed so much in mutantkind's salvation that he made the ultimate sacrifice.
I don't know who else it could've been that would've made the point any finer or illustrated the gravity of the situation any better.
It wasn't fun, it wasn't easy, and hopefully, it wasn't cheap.
2) Which X-Men will be most affected by Nightcrawler's death? I'd assume Wolverine. Will we see him work through his grief in "Uncanny?" Or will that take place elsewhere?
Immediately? Wolverine, as you've surmised. But in the long run, the lack of a moral core that Kurt provided will start to resonate elsewhere. Hope won't be shaking it off any time soon either.
Oddly enough, we'll be seeing those things play out in great specificity in a book that's not "Uncanny." Or books, even.
3) With Nightcrawler gone, Beast was the lone fuzzy blue guy but now he's left too. Was his leaving due to Brubaker's decision to add him to the Secret Avengers? Or did the timing just work out that you were done with him when Brubaker wanted him?
Well, I wasn't "done" with him, but as we've been looking to tell stories that upset the status quo, that show characters developing and changing and reacting to events in dynamic ways, we knew that Beast, once he learned of the lengths Scott has gone post-"Messiah CompleX," would conscientiously object and have to leave the team on moral and ethical grounds.
We do, as you've pointed out, now suffer from a decided lack of blue and fuzzy people. Dammit!
4) While I appreciate the fact that you juggle such a huge cast, is there any chance this cast will be getting smaller and more intimate? It must seem like a challenge to fit personal moments into such large stories...
The cast will be coming into a tighter focus. The first two years of my run have been about setting up this massive mutant community in time for "Second Coming." Now that we're almost through it, we can start to focus on our core as the realities of post-"Second Coming" life start.
It's hard to answer that without getting too specific, but...Year Three is far more focused now that we've firmly established a world where Pretty Much Everybody is Pretty Much Around at the same time, and once you've got that as a given, it's okay to narrow your attention some.
5) I don't know how long you plan to write "Uncanny" (but I hope it's for awhile). That said, what do you want your legacy on this book to be? How would you hope it's characterized?
I don't think it's up to me to define that. I just don't want to feel like all we did was rip off Claremont again and again and didn't bring anything new to the table. I'd rather fail trying to do something new or different with X than succeed in being a cover band.
As stated in one of the previous questions, there are lots of mutants in your book. Nicholas Marinelli was curious about which homo superiors might be getting a shot at the spotlight soon...
1) There are a lot of interesting characters that are not getting used and "Uncanny" is a great place for them to appear. Are there any minor characters that are going to show up soon that we can look forward to?
We're going to see some relatively minor characters thrust into a position of extraordinary importance starting around issue #530. A kind of band of local heroes that dig in and help out the people of San Francisco while the rest of the X-Men suffer...wait! Wait - too soon. Keep reading!
2) Once the dust settles from "Siege," will the X-Men be heading back to San Francisco and Greymalkin Industries again?
Yes! Yes. Utopia will stand as a kind of base and San Francisco (really the whole Bay Area) will stand as the mutant's adopted hometown yet again. The Heroic Age shines from sea to shining sea, baby, and some of that big bright beautiful daylight manages to burn the cloud cover off the Bay...
Check out the "Heroic Age" special for more on that. But yes, post-"Second Coming," post-"Siege," and post-Osborn, the mutants are comin' ashore.
3) Who can we expect to see the X-Men interact with in the greater Marvel U now that the "Heroic Age" is coming? Iron Man, perhaps?
We see the Fantastic Four, Molly from Runaways, and Captain America in the "Heroic Age" special. And - very nicely done - Iron Man (well, Tony Stark) in "Uncanny" #527. Also the events of "Second Coming" aren't just isolated to Utopia. The whole of the Marvel U will be watching.
Ever want to see Terry Dodson draw Thor?
Yes, please! Several people sent in a question regarding the funeral of Nightcrawler. As EC got me his email first, I'll give him the honor of relaying the inquiry:
1) What was the reason behind Iceman doing the eulogy? It seemed a bit random considering people like Storm and Xavier were standing right there, and there were many others that knew him better?
No, random would be...uh...Diamond Lil. Or Karma. Or Fin Fang Foom.
The reason it was Bobby is - to me - he's the most normal guy there is. The guy who, through it all, through all the insanity, is still, innately, unshakably, Bobby. The guy you'd call to come bail you out at four in the morning. The rock. The anchor. He's the guy going forward that's going to (in his own way) have to fill the absence left by Nightcrawler and Beast.
It just felt right that...that it'd be him. I don't know. Writer's prerogative, I guess. Sorry if it took you out of the moment.
It was very important to me that one of the first X-Men deliver the service.
2) Can you give us any teasers about your arc post-"Second Coming?"
It's called "The Five Lights." We go around the world. We get answers about Kitty Pryde. We get answers about Sebastian Shaw.
And we find out what the last page of "Second Coming" means.
While you try to wrap your noodle around the possible implications of this tease from Mr. Fraction, allow me to announce our guest for next week...Victor Gischler! This writer has been keeping himself busy with a myriad of psychoses on "Deadpool Corps" and was recently announced as the scribe for a new "X-Men" series that looks to be fang-tastic!
So please think up a pile of quality queries for our guest and email them to me just as quickly as you can. If I find an "X-Position" in the subject line, I'll put a scratch-and-sniff sticker on your email - I promise. Move along, and get me those questions! I'm waiting...