Certain writers become synonymous with the books they write. Spider-Man will always bring Stan Lee to mind (although Ultimate Spidey belongs to Brian Bendis), David Michelinie will be always be thought of as Iron Man's alter ego and it's difficult to envision Chris Claremont's name without the words "X-Men" near it in some way.
Over the past five years (approximately), writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost have grown to be known as two of Marvel Comics' primary "X-guys." They've written the mutants' adventures on TV ("X-Men: Evolution," "Wolverine and the X-Men") and in comics (two "X-23" miniseries, "New X-Men," "X-Force" plus "Necrosha" and "Second Coming"). Indeed, their close association with the franchise is largely the cause X-POSITION received so many tear-soaked emails that the two will be taking a break from the X-books come this fall.
They have kindly agreed to join us today to answer questions about their runs on various titles, the current "Second Coming," and what life after the "X" holds in store for them. We should still get one more X-POSITION out of the fellas before they leave the building, but let's consider this a warm-up to their eventual (sad) farewell...
Pariah-1972 kicks things off with a question directed to Chris, although in actuality, this is probably best answered by both of you:
Chris, how disappointed were you that "Wolverine and the X-Men" was canceled after only one season? Can you give us an idea of what else was planned?
Chris Yost: I think Craig can speak to this question as well, because he was the heart and soul of "Wolverine and the X-Men," but yeah, I was disappointed. I wasn't actually going to be working on Season Two because I was over working on (the animated) "Avengers," but I really wanted to see Season Two. I mean, there was a huge, awesome set up for Season Two, and there were a lot of stories to tell.
Craig Kyle: Yeah, it was a bummer. I was really proud of the show, and Chris brought a lot to it. Greg Johnson was the one who came up with the initial concept of having Xavier in one time and our X-Men in another, which was pretty fun because we got to go back to a famous era of X-Men and also bring in some "Astonishing," Morrison - a whole mixture of both old and new X-Men together. By the time we got to the end of the first season, it was designed to have at least three more seasons.
Obviously, "Age of Apocalypse" was next and then it would move into "House of M," which would have been the next stage. And we would have gradually brought in more of the Marvel Universe to build to that kind of story, but it was basically to catch up and do the most famous eras of X-Men and tell the most complete saga. And by the end of it, we would get to outer space and the Shi'ar and the Brood and just tell the X-Men's perspective of the Marvel Universe. I would say, though, that the X-Men never stay off of the television for long. I was thrilled for the first season we got, and I look forward to them popping up again, whenever that may happen.
MetalWoman is next, and she wanted to know about your intentions with regards to a certain character that we'll call...FurWoman.
While I loved most of your "X-Force," the one part I had problems with was Wolfsbane's story arc. After the first arc, her story had little to do with the rest of X-Force. Was that the story you originally planned to tell about her? Or did circumstances force you to change your plans?
Yost: You know, I think it actually was the story we intended to tell all along. The great part about Wolfsbane in "X-Force" is that she so totally didn't belong in X-Force. She was in there and a horrible, horrible thing happened to her, and then it was a matter of bringing her back. Like, how do you get her to that place where she can be Rahne again? But at the same time, I think we hopefully took the next step and began to evolve her. I mean, she's going to be a mom. That's going to be an amazing journey for her.
Kyle: We've said since the beginning, we wanted this book to be one of the richest, densest, most satisfying reads of any X-books on the shelf. And that's not to say the other guys don't have the same plan in mind - I think they do and they are doing a great job. I think it's a good time to be an X-fan! But we had a lot that we had planned to do, and I think we achieved the bulk of it. The fact that we're seeing our end game come smashing into the final big event with Hope and her whole journey has been really, really satisfying.
I think if we could've stayed on a little longer and done a little more with Rahne, that would've been great. But we learned early on when you do comics, the best guys - like Morrison and the other great writers out there - they leave lots of toys on the table. And I think our hope was that even though we didn't complete the journey with Rahne, we've given a lot of great fodder for the next chapter in her story and left a lot of other toys out there for other writers and artists to play with.
Our job is not to wrap everything up in a bow, because then the universe becomes very encapsulated and separate and cut off - and we're just not selfish in that way. We want to entertain the fans and make them feel like they've gotten their due, but we also need to leave something for the next guys. I think the people who feel frustration with Rahne's journey are speaking to the fact that we kind of did what we planned to from the start, as Chris said.
Speaking of plans for characters, Leogam was curious about your thoughts on another X-Force character who went through a big change under your pens...
Why did you feel the need to change Warren back to Archangel? I thought that chapter in his life was done with. And are you planning to resolve his new "switching" powers before you leave?
Yost: Yeah, it seemed like that super-awesome, greatest chapter ever was closed (on Archangel), but then we thought, "You know what? That chapter was super-awesome and great - let's open it up again!"
I think that Archangel was such an exciting and deadly character - like when he was first introduced in the Simonson issues of "X-Factor," and then seeing him in the "X-Tinction Agenda" fighting Wolverine in, like, a gladiator pit - I mean it was super-freaking cool! He had that deadly edge that was perfect for "X-Force." So we sat down, and figured out how to get that back.
Kyle: And Chris and I never go back to what we loved as comic fans to redo the same stories. It's our job to keep the continuity alive. I mean, if all you did was bring new characters to the table, I think it would be a little tragic. I want to see what's up with Sebastian Shaw, the Hellfire Club, and Nimrod, and I want to see the sagas that have been around for forty, fifty, sixty, seventy years - and not just with the X-Men but for all the Marvel titles. I want to see them perpetuate. I mean, if people stopped writing Loki, or Dr. Doom, or Magneto - think of all the stories we'd lose. I mean, we're always happy to bring new stuff in, and we have - you know, we created X-23, and Kimura, and Nezhno, and...
Yost: Predator X.
Kyle: Yeah, Predator X. And we've put lots of new toys on the table, but our job is to try to do justice to the things that made us fall in love with the comics and bring those characters to the fans of now and the fans to be. I think the tragedy of bringing that part of Warren's life back is felt by the character in the right way and shows why it's right to return to that.
I mean, instead of saying he's just Warren, he's now someone struggling with two sides of himself that he can't just purge and walk away from - life's just not that easy. So we hope the take we've now brought to the table speaks to the awesome works of the Simonsons who did it originally and the people who have worked on it since, and now we're bringing a different spin to it that hopefully does it justice and makes it worth reading again. It's a big challenge, but Chris and I don't just throw darts at a board - it's all planned. And just like the previous question, we wouldn't wrap this Archangel storyline up and put it away. We feel like this is an ongoing story for him, and I would hope that the next guys don't do it either, but if they do it well, then I'd be down for that story too.
Podmark wrote in with an inquiry about a plot point that has yet to be addressed, so...here's your chance!
I'm enjoying "Second Coming" so far, but one thing has been bugging me: back during "Messiah War," Elixir seemed to learn something about Hope, but so far this hasn't been addressed. Will this be followed up on during "Second Coming?" Also, is Elixir unable to heal now? They could sure use him.
Yost: After "Necrosha," Elixir kinda bugged out. He is not on the island.
Kyle: He has been fighting the ability to kill for quite awhile - since he killed Stryker, way back when we were writing "New X-Men." He's been forced to use this ability again, and...this has kind of been a tipping of the scale. Once he does that too many times, it's a question of...you know, unlike Archangel where he'll revert, Elixir may not have that option. His powers may switch for good, and that's something he doesn't want to happen. Because a kid who can heal anything, well, if he could do the opposite, he would be one of the most dangerous creatures in the Marvel Universe, and I think he's seen a little glimpse of this inside himself.
Now, he knows what Hope is, and that information isn't going away, but he gracefully left himself on Necrosha in the hopes of healing the remains of those who weren't devoured by Selene. Where he shows up next and how and who he'll be, well, that's anybody's guess. But let's hope he's a good guy still, because if he's not, it's going to really, really change up the Marvel Universe.
That sounds ominous - I like it! Yanapryde had a query about a book that ties into the big event running through the X-titles at the moment:
Can we expect the "Hellbound" team to make it back for the finale of "Second Coming?" Or does the last issue of "Hellbound" happen after the "Second Coming" finale? Can you say?
Yost: I cannot really say. You'll see in issue #2, I believe, some of the events that are going on in "Second Coming" within the pages of "Hellbound," but at this point, I don't want to say if they make it back in time...or at all. But I appreciate the question and the interest!
The Big G (not me) was concerned about one of his favorite X-characters being injured. What can you tell him about this person's rather sizable, um, boo-boo?
1) Why did Hellion get mauled...again? I wanna be bitter about it, but Choi's art is so f*cking awesome I can't help but love it...
Yost: You know, I forgot he got impaled by Lady Deathstrike in "Messiah CompleX," but that all worked out.
Kyle: I think he's just too mouthy. If he would just shut up, he would stop getting stabbed and mutilated. [Laughs]
Yost: He's so arrogant, he's just asking for it. Heh. You know, there's a funny story about that, and when it's all said and done, we'll tell it. But, yeah, he's had some bad luck. I think all the New X-Men kids are in a tough spot right now, but hopefully with "Legacy's" new direction post-"Second Coming," they'll get some of the spotlight and start rebuilding.
Kyle: And here's the real kicker - had that been Anole, that kid would have had two awesome arms!
2) I loved the little scene of Hellion and X-23 in the Med Wing; it was very touching. I was wondering though - can Hellion get a pirate hook prosthetic for his left hand?
Yost: He'd have to get two of them.
Kyle: Ohmigod - he could be Razorfist's sidekick!
Yost: You're right! Telekinetic Razorfist II!
Kyle: He could be, like, Razorfork!
Yost: Sooo...no, he can not have a hook, to answer the question. I have to tell you, I love the New X-Men - I don't think that's a secret to anybody - and doing that was so horribly hard. I did not enjoy that scene particularly.
Since the Big G mentioned Hellion's love interest, Chickrockguitar wanted to know more about her new title that was recently announced
What do you think of X-23's upcoming ongoing series? Were you guys consulted on it at all? And what about your plans for a third X-23 miniseries?
Kyle: You know, we weren't consulted, but that's okay. There's been other X-23 stories where we also weren't consulted. You know, it turns out Marvel owns the character - I had no idea. [Laughs] What I love is that a female writer who is very talented is taking X-23 on to the next chapter.
Did Chris and I have another story we could tell? You bet your ass. I also think that if Chris and I were left to our own devices, we could keep writing that character indefinitely. But we also agreed a long time ago that the longer you hold onto a character and the longer you write them, the easier it becomes for you to be the one that ruins the character. So, because of its timing, "X-Force: Sex and Violence" is kind of our X-send-off for the time being.
Who knows what our next thing will be? We're always looking, always thinking, always plotting. But for X-23, I'm excited. It will be very interesting and kind of exciting to be just a fan for once and sit back each month and see what's going to happen. And I am really just excited that she's in the right hands, because I do think Marjorie will do a great job with her. And as long as the next time X-23 meets Daken she kicks his ass, I'm cool.
Considering Marjorie has written both characters, let's all cross our fingers that that throwdown occurs!
In light of the recent reveal regarding Rogue's intimate relationship with Sentry in "Sentry: Fallen Sun," Red Lotus asked the following"
If you two were writing the Nightcrawler funeral issue, what character would you have had him secretly sleep with for it only to come out at his burial?
Kyle: [Sing-songy] Three-waaaay! Ooh! No, Mystique posing as Destiny! Imagine the mind-bending weirdness of that.
Yost: I actually assumed that Chris Claremont had him sleep with everybody.
Kyle: He's a pimp!
Yost: I think he and Rachel were going to hook up...he and Storm were going to hook up. I think Nightcrawler's covered some ground there.
Have you ever seen that big X-chart of all the people the X-characters have slept around with?
Kyle: No, send it to us! We've got to keep up. The X-Men are just like one huge brothel...oh! And Vanisher could be the pimp!
Yost: That's a book right there!
Kyle: "The Best Little Whorehouse in X-as!"
Kyle: No, "X in the City!"
How about seX-Men?
Kyle: I love it! Aaand you've just gotten us fired, George.
You're welcome! And onto the next question from Red Lotus...
Is there any character who you wanted to kill, but the X-office wouldn't let you?
Yost: You know, they stopped us from killing Onyxx back in "New X-Men," but we finally got him in "X-Force."
Kyle: That's true!
Yost: I hated that character. No offense to Peter Milligan, who I think is great, but I was not a fan. But we never do anything maliciously - it's all within the story. Hm, let's see, anyone else we wanted to kill, but didn't, because they wouldn't let us...
Kyle: Oh, Nezhno!
Yost: Yeah, we wanted to kill Nezhno, just to show people that we would.
Kyle: Yeah, people thought we got all precious. Now, I'll be the first to admit we favor X-23, but that's because she's awesome! But, yeah, we were going to kill Nezhno, and they said, "Nnnooo, we like him." Now, we liked him too, but that's why we thought we had to ace him...
Hm. Were you the kinds of kids who pulled on girls ponytails when you liked them too? Never mind, I think I can guess...
Goneandromeda is asking you to take a look back before you leap forward, and asks:
Do you have any regrets about the way any of your stories have gone? And are there stories you wanted to write in "X-Force" or "New X-Men" that you just never got around to writing?
Kyle: You know, I choose not to live like that (and focus on regrets). I think that sometimes you visualize stories one way, but then they evolve into something else. The only thing I wish we could done is spend a little more time with Rahne - not changing what we've done, because that's tracked from where we wanted to go with it, it's just, selfishly, sometimes you do want to tell the entire story yourself. But I have no concerns that someone else will come along - Peter David, Zeb Wells, or whoever ends up getting Rahne - and do a wonderful job with her. But selfishly, that's one I would have liked us to work on a bit longer. Chris? Any regrets? …everything?
Yost: Yeah, I regret it all. [Laughs] No, my only problem is that I love it all so much that I never want to leave it. I had tinges of regret leaving "New X-Men," and I'm sure in a couple of months I'll regret leaving "X-Force"...because I'll be homeless and living on Skid Row. But, no, I'm really proud of everything we've done.
Kyle: You know, it's true - "New X-Men" is a good specific example of that. We were in the big story session plotting out "Messiah CompleX" and we knew "New X-Men" was coming to an end...and there was a way for Chris and I to keep it going if we wanted to, but at the time, (the people in the room) were talking about the X-Force book and thinking of calling it "Warpack," which we weren't crazy about. We wanted something that was an X-centric title, something that would connect with us and the fans...and the second we heard the line-up, I leapt in there, and with all these talented people in the room - Brubaker, Carey, Fraction, and everybody around the table - I immediately leapt for that gig for Chris and I.
And you know, I didn't give Chris very much time to process what I was doing. And he was pretty torn up about it - he didn't want to leave the kids. And I said, "Look dude, we've done a lot with them. We've told some great stories, but we can really sink our teeth into these guys," and he made that leap of faith. It was really a painful choice for him to be a part of, but it obviously worked out great and he was a trooper about it, but he was really torn up about it when we made the move in the room...
Yost: Well, I didn't break down weeping or anything, but...
Kyle: I just mean you get attached to the stories. We both do. I didn't say you fell to your knees and started crying in a corner...
Yost: Heh. Craig and I have talked about this a lot, but...I am not one who changes gears easily. The example we've come up with to explain this is that if someone offers me ten bucks, I'll say, "Great. I'll take it." But in the middle of it, if they say, "No, wait, you can have a million dollars..." I'll go, "But wait - you said ten." That's just my nature...
Kyle: Yes, Chris fears change.
Yost: Even now, I'm breaking out in a cold sweat. But it all works out for the better...except, sometimes, when it doesn't.
That dovetails nicely into Goneandromeda's second question, as they wanted to know:
Once your schedules free up, is there any chance for a return to an ongoing series? And if so, would it be an X-book or would you branch out? Say, perhaps to "Runaways..."
Yost: You know, Craig and I love comics. We've got a lot going on right now with our respective stuff, but it's definitely something we'd be open to...
Kyle: With the right project, we'd definitely want to do it. We're always thinking of what's the next thing. The X-office obviously loves us and wants us to hang around. I'd say after "Sex and Violence," there probably will be a little bit of a break, but we love comics. We're big fanboys. The idea of walking away and saying "it's over" isn't very appealing to us. It's tough to say exactly what the next thing will be, but we love the books, we love the characters, we love the fans. We are really proud of the way our X-chapter is ending with both "Second Coming" and "Sex and Violence" - I mean, that one...if people like what we do - it's just some of the best stuff we've done.
Yost: Yeah, "Sex and Violence" is just going to stand out.
We'll be sure to have one more X-POSITION when that book hits the stands. I'm looking forward to it!
And now, it's time for today's "Behind the X" question, and I think it's a good one for creators such as yourselves: what sequel-less book or movie would you like to read/see a sequel to?
Kyle: "The Matrix." [Laughs]
Yost: Jeez. Let me think...
Kyle: Oh! "The Professional." I would love that, with Natalie (Portman) back as her character. I would love to know what could pull her back into that life that she has long forgotten. That would be effing awesome.
Yost: Crap. Now I'm feeling the pressure to provide a great answer...oh. There was a book that Neil Gaiman did called "Good Omens" with Terry Pratchett, and I friggin' love that book. And I think they could have done a whole series of those, so I'm going to go with that.
Whew! That was one lengthy X-POSITION, but that's what happens when you have two guests. And, believe it or not, we're double-dipping again next week as we have another writing team joining us: Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu!
Together and individually, the two scribes write quite a few X-books, including "Wolverine: Origins," "Deadpool," "Dark Wolverine," and the upcoming "X-23" ongoing. I better see loads of great questions from all of you! Just type them up and shoot me an email with an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll send them on their merry way. I'm waiting...