Hope Summers was given her first name because that's what her birth gave the mutants of the Marvel Universe -- hope of a future. In fact, many mutants saw her as a Messiah who would restart the mutant race, which became an endangered species in the aftermath of the 2007 "House of M" storyline.
That belief intensified when a teenage Hope arrived in the present day after being raised in the future by her surrogate father, the time traveling mutant soldier known as Cable. That's because Hope's arrival caused the activation of new mutants. The first five of these mutants, dubbed the five lights, banded together with Hope to form a team to help recruit and stabilize the powers of the new mutants who began appearing across the globe. Their adventures have been chronicled in the ongoing "Generation Hope" series.
Hope's team, the Lights, has experienced a great deal of tension due to Hope's gruff leadership style and the unnatural hold she has over her team after helping to stabilize their powers. In the current and final arc of the book, one member of the group, the shape shifting techno-organic mutant known as Zero (Kenji Ueda), has decided to do something about Hope's control over him. CBR News spoke with writer James Asmus about Kenji's crusade against Hope, which comes to a climax on March 21 in "Generation Hope" #17, the series finale.
CBR News: James, is this final arc of "Generation Hope" about Hope, her leadership, and her role as the mutant messiah? Or when it's all said and done will it be about something different?
James Asmus: Yes, it's about all of those things. I think it's important for a book thats stars the mutant messiah to spend some time examining those ideas and putting them in the crucible to look at other people's opinions of it and to test how she handles the negative side of what it means to call yourself the Messiah.
Speaking of bad sides, Hope grew up in a dystopian future where she was trained by her time traveling soldier father, Cable. In other words, she had to grow up fast. It's clear that Hope understands how to be a soldier, but does she really understand what it means to be a leader?
I think yes and no. She understands some of the abstract ideals, but she doesn't have the capacity yet to grasp all the ramifications of the decisions she makes. I think she's a strong leader with some good intentions, but I don't think she sees all the other moves on the chessboard just yet. So as a result some of her choices end up throwing other people under the bus, so to speak. But that's not her intent.
Might her grief over her father's death in the "Second Coming" story line also be affecting her thought process? Has she truly taken time to deal with her anger and sadness over Cable's death? She seemed especially angry at the end of "Generation Hope" #15 when she almost flaunted the control she had over her team to Cyclops.
There's a seed of continual anger over Cable's death. Certainly when it comes to Cyclops and conflicts with him because I think she still blames Cyclops for Cable getting killed, to a degree, in "Second Coming." Also, she feels like sometimes he behaves like he's trying to replace her dad, which always agitates her.
It's sort of that stepdad complex [Laughs], but I also think she has a little bit of pride that was getting riled up in the end of issue #15. That's something I wanted to deal with before "AvX." Hope has struggled with letting her pride and her emotions get in the way. I wanted to confront that character flaw in her more explicitly while everyone is worried she might become host for the Phoenix Force...
Do Hope's feelings about her father also extend to her other teammates as well. In "Generation Hope" #15 she defended her decision to bring an amnesiac Sebastian Shaw to Utopia and make him part of her team. In issue #16, however, she learns that before he lost his memories Shaw tried to kill her father on numerous occasions and then blatantly lies to him. Is she treating Shaw differently because she learned he tried to kill her father?
I think that piece of information took "Sebastian Shaw was a terrible person" from being an abstract idea to something that hit home for Hope. He had done the one thing she would hate more than anything. That resonates with her in a way that theoretical arguments didn't. I think of people who say that they're theoretically against the death penalty, but if someone they loved died they'd probably want their killer to be executed.
So now she's not as comfortable with Shaw as she thought she would be?
Certainly in the immediate future. Issue #17 will show more of how she deals with all this new information. I wanted everyone (including Hope) to have an awareness of the dangers that exist in letting Sebastian Shaw be a free person even if he doesn't remember who he is.
Freedom is on the mind of another "Generation Hope" character as well. That character is Kenji and in issue #16 we saw that his desire to be free from Hope's control has totally unhinged him. So Kenji has become homicidal, but is he completely crazy? Does his point of view have some merit?
I hope everything he says makes sense. It's always tricky when you put someone in an antagonist role in a super hero book because they quickly get categorized as a super villain. I hope that isn't what's happened with Kenji because it's definitely not my intent.
This idea of his frustration has been building and his attempts to reason with Hope or express his opinion in other ways was not received. Then she violated his sovereignty. [Laughs] So in my mind he has a valid point, even though his approach to solving it is flawed. That's no different from Hope's flawed leadership, though. Not to morally equate them, but in terms of intention vs. action, I think they're pretty comparable.
How violated does Kenji feel by Hope's ability to control him?
I sincerely believe that he means it when he says in issue #16 that he feels like he didn't have anything left. That said, if I'm allowed to play psychologist I think that impulse is mixed up with a lot of other things that he's not consciously sorting out. So he's still angry about his appearance, which was part of what was going on in issue #16 where he tries to conspire with his team mate Laurie in a dream scape he creates by psychically bonding with her. In the dream-scape he transforms them both back into their original human looking selves.
I also think his ego is wounded that he's not the leader. If he's stuck in this position how come he's not the person everybody is listening to? He has a ton of issues to sort out. That's part of why I love the guy.
Kenji isn't the only mutant on Utopia out for Hope's blood in "Generation Hope" #16. By the end of the issue a number of mutants have formed a conspiracy against her. Some of them really don't like her, but they've never actively tried to kill her. So what's going on here? Were we given a clue in the issue when Kenji says he can separate parts from himself and maintain control over those parts?
I'm not sure how much I want to spoil that. That is a clue and we explain it a bit more in #17. That said, there's a reason why he had to take some people like Scott out of the equation.
One of the most interesting figure among those that Kenji might have influenced is Magneto. What's going on with him? What does that say about Magneto that he was able to be influenced, but not Cyclops?
He certainly is a whole different level of threat. I think this suggests that Magneto has some concerns about her as the future of the mutant race, and in general that doesn't work out well for the people he think are a hindrance to it.
"Generation Hope" #16 wasn't strictly about Hope and her relationships with other characters. You also gave us a scene in the developing romantic relationship between Pixie and Gabriel Cohuelo AKA Velocidad. What does Gabriel see in Pixie? And why is he no longer romantically interested in Hope?
Never underestimate the charm-effect of an accent, particularly any of the UK ones. [Laughs] But Pixie is charming, cute, and has been on Utopia longer. So thinking back to high school what person wouldn't feel totally awesome dating an upper classman?
In terms of Gabriel's feelings for Hope, I think it was a struggle in the first place for him to make any ground with her.
Also, there's been allusions in what Kieron Gillen wrote and I've been operating under the assumption that this is true -- so we can just make it canon right now in the interview. To a certain extent, Gabriel's initial interest in Hope was part of her influence on them.
The paranoid part of me wonders if Pixie came to see Gabriel of her own free will or if she's being used by Kenji to delay Gabriel and keep him from interfering in what's happening with Hope.
That question gets raised in the next issue and I hope wherever we see them next that question is still an active and uncomfortable one hanging over their relationship. I know that it's something I want to play with if I get the chance.
While we're on the topic of Pixie, let's chat a little bit about her and Martha Johnson (No-Girl). They're the two newest members of "Generation Hope." What do you feel they bring to the book?
Kieron wrote Pixie joining the team before I got the reins, but that being said, I was really happy about it. I always thought she is one of the strongest new X-Men characters in the past 20 years. She's one of the few recent characters that several different writers have written significant stories for -- which is a good sign that something about the character resonates. So I was happy to keep her in the book and immediately enjoyed writing for her.
And as far as Martha/No-Girl. She's one my all-time favorite X-Men creations. I think she represents the best stuff of Grant Morrison's run [on "New X-Men], which was a slightly psychotic, but logical extension of mutants. A girl that's just a floating brain is absolutely one of the most bizarre and interesting options that you can have on a team. As soon as I started asking myself what I wanted to do with this arc I had her on a list of characters I was interested in. Then I almost immediately thought up the arch plot with Kenji running through.
Almost the whole arc for these issues (and Martha's place in it) hit me all at once. So her romance with Kenji, him making the body for her, and what we delve into with the final issue all came in one wave of inspiration.
Your run on "Generation Hope" comes to a close with #17, which goes on sale March 21st. With the big story line about Kenji playing Judas to Hope's messiah, Sebastian Shaw, and several other characters, is this a big issue with lots of stuff going on?
It is. Issue #16 had a lot of stuff going on, but issue #17 is definitely packed with story and character developments. Plus there's a ton of fight scenes. It's kind of amazing. I keep questioning whether or not we got in as much as I think we did. Then I go back and look and we absolutely did.
Plus the climax page is one my favorite things I've ever been a part of. Artist Takeshi Miyazawa absolutely killed with that page. (And every page, really.)
Hope is a big player in "Avengers Vs. X-Men" so why is the book ending in March? Why isn't it continuing with an "AVX" tie-in?
Hope's story is central to "Avengers Vs. X-Men" so her journey is pretty explicitly chronicled in the main book. There wasn't a lot of extra material to be done. Beyond that, it's no secret that sales numbers have been in the cancellation Danger Zone almost since "Generation Hope" launched. So it's a better platform for the characters to have their "AvX" stories unfold in books getting the readers that Gen Hope doesn't.
I know that all the kids are getting a pretty good amount of page and story time in "AvX." Christos Gage is writing the other Lights and Sebastian Shaw in "Avengers Academy." He and I had several conversations and he was very interested in continuing their stories from where we're leaving off. And as a big fan of "Avengers Academy," and Christos' work in general, I couldn't be happier.
With "Generation Hope" coming to an end what's next for you? Do you have any other Marvel work lined up that spins out of the aftermath of "Avengers Vs. X-Men?"
All I can say is that this is a long event and there will be some very interesting change ups to both sides in the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" conflict. The good news is, I am starting to work on a new (and surprising) project with Marvel. Current rumors are that it might be announced in April at C2E2. So stay tuned!
"Generation Hope" #17 is on sale March 21. Check out a lettered preview right here on CBR.