How do writers know when their work is going well? Well, they may hear characters from their works conversing in their minds. Or better yet, the story might go in a direction that surprises the writer but works even better than their original plans. Truth be told, there is no one "thing" that signifies great writing, but both the scribe and readers know when they see it -- and they're definitely seeing it with Peter David's "X-Factor."
The industry veteran joins us for today's X-POSITION, where he is happy to share some of the mysteries behind his long-running Marvel Comics gig along with a few other projects. Are you ready to dig a little deeper and delve into some X-quisite storytelling? Then grab your shovel and let's go!
Our first email comes from Lance. He has one question about the future, one about the past, and feels the need to plead.
What's up? First, I want to thank Peter David for getting me hooked on reading comics on a monthly basis way back in "X-Factor" #9. Now, I have some questions:
1) Will we ever get an explanation of the future that we saw at the beginning of "X-Factor" issue #12?
Nothing is forgotten, Lance. I was planning to revisit Mr. Tryp and a variety of aspects of that future history starting somewhere around issue #230. Don't hold me to that; there will be times when I'm working on a story and I'm suddenly struck by a notion which prompts me to go off in a different direction. I'm a big fan of allowing the stories to be organic; keeps things more lively and the fans on their toes.
2) Are you planning on explaining Cortex?
You mean the exact circumstances that caused him to be created? Not sure. I am planning to have him return -- I mean, big shock, he's not dead. If it seems appropriate to the story, then I might go into detail. On the other hand, over-explaining an origin isn't always a good thing.
3) Who do I contact in order to beg for a sequel to "Wolverine: Election Day?"
As long as we're discussing non-X books, Marius665 wanted to inquire about another title from your extensive list of works:
Are you ever going to get the chance to finish the plotline you set up in "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" with Quentin Beck and his "superiors" who sent him back from Hell?
Actually, Marius (you a fan of "Les Miserables?") when I was doing that story, mostly I was endeavoring to lay some trackwork for "One More Day." If you go back and read Beck's dialogue with the knowledge of subsequent events, you'll find that it actually makes a lot more sense. However since then, with the advent of Rahne's pregnancy and storylines that will be growing out of that beginning with #220, I've been kicking around the notion of returning to that and incorporating it into a subsequent arc. We'll see...
Well, our pal Rory wants to "see" if you have answers to the following:
1) Will you be able to expound in future issues about what happened to Layla and Shatterstar while in Latveria? Based on Shatterstar's reasonable attitude towards Rahne's deception of Rictor, it seems Layla has had a profound and maturing influence on him.
Yeah, I am, Rory. There's going to be some stuff coming up that's going to cause some serious rifts between Layla and key members of the team, and Shatterstar is going to wind up being a bridge between the two.
2) Is the "mystery person" behind Pip the Troll going to be revealed soon? Could you give us some hints as to his/her identity?
Yes to the first. As for hints, I'll simply tell you it's someone we've seen before, but not in this series.
3) Is there any chance of X-Factor becoming involved with the rest of the Avengers (aside from Thor) in the future? How about the Future Foundation?
There's always a chance, but it's not on the docket at the moment.
Hmm. It seems JC is curious about the manner in which teams are picked to get on that particular docket.
What kinds of things do you consider when you decide to match X-Factor Investigations against another team? Let's take the Thunderbolts as an example...
The question I always ask, JC, is: would the other team look good wearing trench coats and fedoras? If they don't, then I don't use them. On a slightly more serious vein, I don't really operate by saying, "Hmmm...it would be cool if I had X-Factor fight such and such a team." I would never say, "I want to have them fight the Thunderbolts."
Instead, it would be more along the lines of my developing a storyline and the needs of the story dictate involving a team such as the Thunderbolts in order for the mechanics to work. And if the story dictates require that the teams are going to come into conflict, then I figure out -- based on the personalities involved -- how I'm going to make that conflict as interesting as possible.
Marcus has a couple of queries about X-Factor appearances in books outside of their own:
1) The solicitation for "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" #6 mentioned a possible appearance by X-Factor. I was wondering if you were involved in this in anyway and if any of the revelations that occur in this series would be reflected in "X-Factor?"
I'm involved in that there are story elements that they ran past me and I said, "That sounds great." And yes, Marcus, they will absolutely be reflected in "X-Factor," beginning in #225.
2) Given their recent brush with the Asgardians, I'm wondering if the X-Factor team will be involved in the "Fear Itself" event?
We were thinking of tying in by changing the name of the team to "Fear Factor," but there were trademark issues.
By the way, has Simon Cowell gotten the team's permission for his latest TV venture? I wonder if people will think your comic is a tie-in. Anyhow...
MC doesn't like all the trash-talking that's taken place regarding his favorite diamond in the rough and hopes a certain X-Factor member might feel differently:
How does Monet feel about Emma? I know that Dani, Rachel and Kitty all have had problems with her, but it'd be nice for one of her Generation X'ers to stand up to those X-brats for change...
Unfortunately, MC, as I've intimated before, Monet is not a huge fan of Emma's. Although honestly, I think one of the major reasons for that is that Monet sees way too many similarities between Emma and herself. That happens sometimes: When people have negative personality traits that they see in other people, they automatically dislike that person without either realizing, or being able to admit, as to why.
Jamal had some thoughts he wanted to share about Monet and wanted to run them by you.
First, I love how you brought up Monet's Muslim identity in an organic way in the last issue. With Rahne (and now Monet), it seems like you are one of the few X-writers who can deal with a character's religious identity in a way that is natural, believable, and does not resort to one-dimensional characterizations.
This makes me really wish that Soraya was on X-Factor, since it feels like other writers have difficulty in figuring out what to do with her. They seem to treat her like Rahne was treated in the past -- a religious caricature or a background character. I doubt you would add Soraya to the team, but can I hope that X-Factor might get a case that involves the handful of Muslim characters in the Marvelverse?
The thing is, Jamal, I'd be concerned that it would come across like "And now, in a Very Special Issue of X-Factor..." Let's take it out of the Muslim context: years ago, I established that Leonard Samson was Jewish. No big shock there. He's a doctor with an Old Testament surname, and how many Leonards can you name who aren't Jewish?
After I wrote that, though, I didn't immediately feel a compulsion to have Leonard invite Sabra to a sedar or team them up on a story involving West Bank settlements. This isn't to say that I won't have Monet and Dust meet up at some point and discuss their, uhm, different approaches to their faith, if it's a meeting that seems reasonable and organic rather than simply manufactured because, hey -- two Muslim characters.
On a different topic, is there any chance you are going to be one of the writers for the "Dark Tower" TV series that's going to take place between the movies? And what is your opinion of the ending of Book 7 of the "Dark Tower" series?
Is there a chance? Sure. That chance, though, would kind of rest on their asking me. If they did, then I'm absolutely on board. But they haven't. As for the ending of the series, when you ponder the futility of obsession, then really, it was the only way it could end.
While we're on the subject of things outside of your control, Nick T. thought he would toss a request your way.
I know this isn't your department, but are there any plans to collect "X-Factor" in a nice deluxe edition or omnibus format that it so rightly deserves? If you can't answer that, then will Darwin be back anytime soon? He's one of my favorite characters and I'd like to see him again. Also, will you be doing another Madrox and Layla focused issue? The last one was one of my favorite recent issues...
You're right, Nick -- that's not my department. But perhaps the people whose department it is will read your comment and believe that there's a market for it. And yes, Darwin will be back eventually. Actually, I was planning to have him back for the storyline running from issue #220 through #224, but there wasn't room for him (and that gives you an idea of just how much is going on in those issues if I couldn't squeeze him in). He will be back, though.
We conclude today with a question from Vegetable (hey, I don't pick people's forum names, I just reprint them):
First off, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy "X-Factor." I started in the around issue #40 and have read backwards and forwards since, so thanks! From the start of the series to the renumbering, you seemed to have a clear direction about where you were going and how things would "end." Do you have a similar idea of where things are heading from here? How far ahead have you planned? And do you have another big finale planned?
Well, Veggie -- can I call you Veggie? -- I have general outlines in my head. But nothing locked in. I mean, there are writers who develop detailed two- and three-year overviews of everything that's going to be happening. God bless ‘em that their minds work in that organized a fashion. Mine doesn't.
I usually tend to plot based on what I feel the characters need and have them drive the story. That's why, for instance, I brought Shatterstar back; because I wanted to give Rictor something to do. When I did it, though, I only had short-term plans for Shatterstar. But I liked the dynamics between the characters and so kept Star around, and now I'm developing storylines that give them both something to do, as individuals and as a couple.
That's just how I build storylines. I don't have a long-term end game because they're not my characters. It's not like "Fallen Angel," which I write for IDW, in which I have an endgame/game changing strategy that I'm employing right now in the "Return of the Son" storyline. I have an over-arcing storyline that I actually hinted at with the Darwin standalone story a few issues back, and the stories to come will be playing against that. By the same token, I'll also have various shorter arcs that are freestanding so we don't have a constant case of, "In order for you to read and understand what's going on, you have to have read the previous nine issues."
And now to close out our little gathering, I have a "Behind the X" question tied to current events: at the recent WonderCon, you dressed as the Green Hornet and many folks didn't recognize you. Were you intentionally trying to disguise yourself? And what was the most fun thing you heard or did while you were incognito?
Here's the thing: I was brought out to WonderCon on Activision's dime because they wanted me out there to promote the new videogame, "Spider-Man: Edge of Time" which I'd scripted for them. And I wanted them to get maximum bang for their buck, so my feeling was that anyone who wanted to see me for any reason -- autographs, questions about "X-Factor," "Dark Tower," "Fallen Angel," whatever -- should have to come to that panel. But it wasn't until Saturday at 4:30 PM, and I didn't want to be a prisoner of my hotel room. So I put together a Green Hornet outfit.
I wasn't trying to emulate any single version; it was kind of an amalgam of several different styles and walked around. Attired in that manner, I walked around the convention and, aside from people asking to take my picture, no one stopped me. I honestly wasn't sure it was going to work; I thought people would walk up to me and ask me what was up with the costume. But not only did I fool the fans, I fooled people I've known for years -- Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF, Paul Levitz, Terry Moore, Mark Evanier, lots of people.
Probably the most fun was simply posing with the fans who wanted to have their picture taken with the Green Hornet as I'm thinking, "If only they knew my true identity." It was the "play" aspect of cosplaying. Although it was rather entertaining to walk up to Len Wein and say, "I'm a huge fan, Mr. Wolfman."
On that jovial note, we close out this week's X-POSITION with a wink and a smile. But don't you fret, we'll be back in seven days with the all-powerful and all-knowing X-Editors. That's right! It's the folks who make X-magic, and they're available to answer your questions about any and all X-books and X-characters, so see if you can think outside of the box. Just do some ruminating and they'll try to be illuminating!
Shoot those emails my way ASAP and I'll pass them along. Place an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll ask the Easter Bunny to try and hide your chocolate eggs in an obvious place (psst, check the couch cushions). I'm excited to see your questions, so hop on your keyboards and send them now!