The cast of Marvel Comics' X-Men books is composed of mutants with extraordinary super powers, but they all share a trait beyond their genetically bestowed gifts: the ability to endure. Being part of the X-Men means facing and overcoming vast amounts of physical and mental anguish. The team's latest ordeal was detailed in the recently completed "Age of X" crossover between "X-Men: Legacy" and "New Mutants" where writer Mike Carey chronicled the X-Men's experiences in a dystopian reality created by one of the personalities of the mentally troubled mutant known as Legion.
At the end of the crossover, Legion used his new reality altering power to restore reality, but the X-Men were left with a lifetime's worth of painful memories from their experiences in the nightmarish reality. They'll have to deal with these quickly, because there's a lot of work to be done, especially in upcoming issues of "X-Men: Legacy" where Carey and artists Clay Mann and Steve Kurth will be busy putting together a new team and dealing with some of Legion's mental and emotional trauma before sending their cast into space on a rescue mission. CBR News spoke with Carey about his plans for the series.
CBR News: Mike, when "X-Men: Legacy" began, it was a book that focused on Professor Xavier's quest to recover his lost memories. It later morphed into a title that followed Rogue in her new role as liaison to the younger generation of X-Men. Now, the focus is going to shift once again as "Legacy" becomes a team book in the months ahead. Is the frequently shifting focus part of the appeal of writing this book?
Mike Carey: Very much so. One of the pleasures of writing this book is that the X-Office editors absolutely allow it to be this weird, freewheeling thing. The ability to change the focus as we move forward is what makes "Legacy" so unique and so rewarding for me.
We felt with "Age of X" coming to an end, the time was right to shift our ground again. We'll still have Rogue as our point of view character and she's still in many ways the narrative center of the book. She's not a team leader as such, because this is a team that's over-endowed with potential leaders. She is a focus, though.
While Rogue will remain a part of "Legacy" moving forward, she's about to get five new teammates in Magneto, Professor X, Legion, Gambit and Frenzy. So you've got a cast of some of your old favorites along with some characters you recently worked with. How did you go about deciding which characters would be on the team?
It was similar to the way my initial team came together way back when I first came aboard as writer on adjectiveless "X-Men." I thought of a wish list and me and my editor -- in this case Daniel Ketchum -- haggled about the people on the list and how they would interact and what I would do with the development of the characters and the group as a whole. So we explored the rationale for each character, and some of them we rejected. We ended up with these six.
It's an incredibly over-powered team. It's hard to imagine a threat that would require this sort of response, but they will deal with threats that are proportional to their powers.
You've got an interesting dynamic with this team in that each character has a connection with at least one other character. Xavier and Magneto have been both best friends and arch-enemies, Legion is Xavier's son, Gambit and Rogue were in a romantic relationship and we understand that Frenzy and Gambit also have a past relationship?
Yes. They've fought each other in the past, but they've shown interest in each other, too. Fabian Nicieza, back in the day, was certainly sowing seeds for a romantic entanglement and we've gotten the occasional glimpse here and there. So the team dynamic is a complicated one.
There are a lot of tensions and conflicting agendas. Just like my first X-Men team, you could argue that this will be a group that contains the seeds of its own destruction. It's fairly unstable and there are people pulling in different directions. As we'll see in the first arc, the people that have the most at stake in this team are Frenzy and Legion. There's a sense in which Legion's presence is crucial to everything that happens. At least, it's fairly crucial to how the first two arcs play out and what the goals are.
Rogue is no longer the leader of the new team in "Legacy." Is that because she's reluctant to lead a team again after her experiences in your "X-Men" run?
What we'll see in issues #250-251 is that Professor X is the guy who proposes this team and sets up its parameters. But yes, there are tensions. At least one person in the group is working slightly at cross purposes to the others. The other area of tension, of course, is that we've got Rogue, Gambit and Magneto working and fighting side by side. So there's the potential for some edgy interactions there.
When you begin this new era of "Legacy" in issue #248, you're not focusing yet on the new team.
There's kind of a narrowing in focus during those two issues. I'm very, very happy with how they came together. Issue #248 gives the global picture; how the X-Men as a whole are reacting and what are they're doing to address the problems that have opened up because of "Age of X." Then, in #249, there are three separate stories. The title of that issue is, "Black, Red and a Color that Tastes like Screaming." It's three separate stories, each of them taking forward one character. The three being Magneto, Frenzy and Legion. It functions both as an aftermath to "Age of X" and as a prelude to #250 and the introduction of our new team.
Rogue's perspective is still going to be a large part of "Legacy" even though the book is no longer a solo title. Will these initial post-"Age of X" issues be told from her point of view or someone else's?
When we begin things, our story is mainly seen through Rogue's eyes, but in the second arc we're going to split the team up. We'll get her point of view and the perspective of the people operating independently from her. So we'll see their side of the coin as well.
Issue #250 hits stores in just a couple of months. What can you tell us about the milestone issue?
Our main story in the issue kicks off a new arc that runs until issue #253. It's a story about Legion and some of the things that happen to him as a result of "Age of X" and the restoration of the X-Men's normal reality.
Issue #250 also has a back-up story that sets up the arc that begins in issue #254. It also explains some of the lingering mysteries from "Age of X." Specifically those relating to Revenant; her identity and how she came to be among the X-Men.
I understand this back-up also shines some light on another lingering mystery; the whereabouts of Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl.
Oh yeah, we see them. Not just in glimpses, they're in the thick of the action. All three of those characters are very cool and fun to write and I've missed having them around -- which is the main reason why I floated the idea of bringing them back in like this.
Since we last saw those three characters, they were in space. Will the arc that begins in #254 take your team to the cosmic corner of the Marvel U?
Yes. The last we heard from them I believe was in "Realm of Kings" and they were on their way home. Obviously they never got there.
So in the story that begins in #254, four of our six protagonists end up in a very remote section of space. They're dealing with a crisis that arose in the aftermath of the "War of Kings" -- the war that was fought between the Kree (led by the Inhumans) and the Shi'Ar. But you don't have to know anything about the "War of Kings" to know what's going on. We're focusing on the destruction wrought in the conflict on some of the remoter parts of the Shi'ar empire. We'll be looking at what that meant for a strategically unimportant but narratively interesting part of the galaxy.
During "War of Kings," Professor X's ex-wife and former Shi'Ar empress Lilandra Neramani was murdered. Refresh my memory -- have we seen Xavier react to that news yet? Does he even know of Lilandra's death and will his feelings about her murder be part of this story?
As far as we know, he has no idea this has happened. And he doesn't find out in this story, although some of the other members of the team do. That means Professor X will find out very soon.
Earlier, you commented on just how powerful the new team in "X-Men: Legacy" is. I'd imagine the space arc will test their mettle with some pretty powerful adversaries. What can you tell us about the dangers they'll face?
We have, effectively, a running firefight going on between two alien groups. One if the Shi'ar, the other is a new and very scary race called the Grad Nan Holt. But we also have a not-very-natural disaster going on around them, which will probably end up destroying both sides. The X-Men are trying to avert this disaster and drawing fire from both sides in the process.
It's fast-paced, action-oriented sci-fi story. The setting is a planet-sized space station which has become a battlefield and is falling apart: imagine someone trying to write Larry Niven's Ringworld in 80 pages -- that's kind of what this is.
Finally, what can you tell us about your plans for "Legacy" following the space arc? We're only a few months away from "Schism," the event story line destined to tear the X-Men apart. Will "X-Men: Legacy" tie-into "Schism"?
Yes, the team will be drawn into the events of "Schism" and we'll see how they respond to things. "Schism" will be a supremely important storyline for "X-Men: Legacy." Everybody on that team is going to have a very powerful response, and Magneto and Professor X in particular are going to have to define their position. The result of that may redefine our status quo a bit.