Although the forefront of major shifts in the Marvel Universe is contained in the Marvel NOW! publishing initiative, things have been anything but status quo in the Ultimate Universe. Following the "Divided We Fall" Ultimate crossover, the Ultimate X-Men have undergone a decimation as a vast number of mutants have opted to take a cure to eliminate their powers.
Leading the remaining mutants on a reservation of land known as Reservation X is Kitty Pryde. Along with Jimmy Hudson, Iceman, Rogue and others, Kitty forges ahead with creating a new mutant-run nation -- despite opposition for leadership from Nomi Blume.
This week, "Ultimate Comics X-Men" writer Brian Wood joins X-Position to shed some light on the direction of the Ultimate Universe's X-Men and answers reader questions about everything from whether fan-favorite characters will appear to the challenges of writing in the Ultimate U.
Before we get started in the Ultimate U, Pixie wants to know about how you handled the character Pixie in your recently wrapped "X-Men" run.
Mr. Wood, I'm a huge fan of your work (Marvel and non-Marvel). As one of the pre-eminent Pixie fanboys in the world, I was amazed at your portrayal of the pink sprite in your recent "X-Men" run. Beautifully nuanced. Please tell us what ideas you had for the character when writing and where do you see her going?
Brian Wood: She's the next generation of X-Men, and I just wanted to write her without any angst or bitterness or snark, just an open and genuine young person. Which is how I feel most young people are, despite the way we stereotype teens and people in that general age group as sarcastic hipsters. Pixie's a solidly good person and wants to see the good in others. Which might sound boring on paper, but I always feel someone who is direct and honest will always create a stir around them. As a writer, I love Pixie and I look forward to writing her again.
Rixec has a question about "Ultimate Comics X-Men's" reach beyond Utopia.
Will we ever get to see the X-Men's reaction to the All New Ultimate Spider-Man? Will we ever see the Ultimate X-23?
No plans for either. Although I can see no reason why I shouldn't bring X-23 in. But this is the pitfall of the Ultimate U: I like X-23 and would like to write her, but I wouldn't want to create an Ultimate version just to writer her the same as 616. I'd have to come up with a different angle... without losing her X-23-ness.
Renaldo wants to know a bit about Captain America's role as President and your enjoyment of writing female protagonists.
1) With Cap now taking over this new role and the new order setting in, did you see this as sort of paralleled to the 616-mainstream after "AVX?" I ask as all the mutants, well the "law-abiding" ones at least, marching to the beat of Steve's Avengers over in 616!
Not consciously. I think that's a valid interpretation but not what I was going for. Putting aside the Ultimates for a second, what I'm writing now in "UCXM" is what I came on board this series to write. The Reservation X/Natural Resources/X-War trifecta of arcs that you'll get next is basically my pitch. I'm just getting to them now. And that had nothing to do with "AVX" or anything else going on in the 616. But if any reader finds some common ground, that's awesome. It's a cool side effect.
2) You seem to have a knack for the gritty female as seen with Belit and on this title with Rogue and Kitty so I ask what makes these females such pivotal and poignant characters to hinge on and lead with?
I like writing women, I always have. My first comic ever, "Channel Zero" back in 1997, had a female lead and at the time it was not a decision based on anything beyond that I just thought she looked cool! When the book came out, it was cited as a "rare example" of a female led comic, and so I figured the industry needed more of them, if it was in fact a rare thing. Now, I'm known for writing nuanced, multi-faceted female leads and I'm happy and proud to be that guy. And since I am that guy, I get offered the jobs with the female leads already built in. In the case of "UCXM," my editors suggested Kitty lead the book. In "Conan," Belit is really the star of the book I'm adapting, and so on. And as everyone knows, there is no greater population of amazing female character than in the X-Men. They completely outclass the men, in my opinion.
3) Would you ever consider bringing over some other Ultimate characters such as Miles Morales for a bit of a higher profile run in your title?
Not specifically Miles. But I have had Captain American and Tony Stark so far.
4) Storm and Colossus were quite controversial in the Ultimate Universe in past years and these iterations caught some fans by surprise, so do you have any secret storms or teases that you can allude to without divulging too much?
Karen Grant's coming back, and with a pretty serious vengeance. Possibly under a different name?
5) Online has been buzzing that a new Brotherhood under the scribe of Brian Wood would be amazing. Would you ever consider that?
I'd consider anything X-Men. But right now my dance card at Marvel is pretty full... and not just with "UCXM."
6) What's your favorite part of writing this unit that's not bogged down in continuity and steeped in creative lore for decades gone?
I'm relatively new to the Marvel Universe -- both of them actually -- so continuity and lore doesn't mean the same thing to me as to some of my peers. When coming up with new stories, I'm not looking to the past for clues or old stories to build off of or riff on. I'm coming as it as a new guy who just wants to write some X-Men stories, in the classic "world that hates and fears them" mode. For me, that's what I enjoy the most, getting to write that theme anyway I can. The X-Men are still so fresh to me, and I think I can find fresh stories purely within that original high concept.
Unsurprisingly, Wolverine12 has some questions about Jimmy Hudson's role in "Ultimate Comics X-Men."
Hi Mr. Wood, I'm really enjoying your run on Ultimate X-Men, I just had a few questions about Jimmy Hudson. First, will you be giving him some more page time soon, either solo or developing his relationship with Kitty?
Absolutely. One of the challenges I've experienced in writing him was finding a specific role for him that was story-specific. He's sort of been Kitty's right hand for all this time, but in this "Natural Resources" arc, he sees how he can be that and much more, a job for him and only him to take on. I've heard from readers who consider him to be a "Wolverine lite" and I really don't want that to be the case. He's getting an overhaul, both inside and out.
Second, will we get an explanation on how he can just think about his claws being covered in metal and it happens?
Probably not on my watch.
Finally, will he ever meet his dad?
Ben has a very detailed question about Psylocke. Very detailed.
1) I know there was some minor controversy regarding Psylocke showing up in "Ultimate X-Men" #19 without any explanation after she died during "Ultimatum," but whatever the reasons for her resurrection are, I was confused by her characterization. Betsy, or Colonel Braddock as she was introduced in the Ultimate universe, was an adult woman who was an agent for the British Intelligence Service, worked undercover for Xavier and then fully joined the X-Men, working alongside the likes of Storm. Now all of the sudden, she shows up in Reservation X, voting for a fourteen year old kid she doesn't even know to lead her and betrays her former allies along the way. It's like a whole different character. Why would Betsy do that? What are her motivations?
Maybe it is a whole different character? Suffice to say, this will be addressed, I won't just drop that on you guys and let it ride.
Roberto has some questions about names and codenames.
Mr. Wood, "Ultimate X-Men" is my favorite book and I have always followed it... though I have enjoyed your last issues so much, I have seen some inconsistency in the book lately.
On the new Network: why change Blackbox? He was a cool character! Also the new one looks a lot like Blackbox, they have that same thing on the back of their heads. Should we assume Blackbox took the cure? It's also sad to see Quentin Quire will never shine in this universe... more cannon fodder, along with Stacy X & the kids from the Morlock tunnels... I liked the one with the leech-like creature attached to his spine!!
Much like the "Purge" tag that was attributed to Mach Two early on in my run, "Network" was an artifact from an early draft of the script. There is no Network, only Black Box. We'll fix that for the trade. And don't assume anything about Quentin. Don't assume too much in general. The story is being told from Kitty's POV, right? If she says there are only 20 mutants left, how could she possibly be sure of that? They can only count the mutants who showed up to take the cure, or not.
Lastly, I was confused by Kenji Uedo "Zero." he appeared 2 issues back and he was called Adam... so what happened there?? there seem to be a lot of mistakes or last second changes (as with Purge becoming Mach Two...)
I have no idea how that happened. "Adam"? That name isn't in any of my notes or in the scripts. That said, Purge was a valid error. I was calling Nomi by that codename until it occurred to me how stupid it was to give a teenage girl a nickname with such obvious bulimia connections. It was a last minute change that didn't get done in time.
Finally, Codah wants to know about the future direction of the team in the Ultimate Universe.
Mr. Wood, I love your run on "Ultimate Comics X-Men" so far, it's the best story I think we've ever seen in the Ultimate U. I'm wondering though if the survival aspect of this book will ever shift our X-Men into a more super-hero role like saving humans from X-Villains and such. Thanks!
Eventually, probably. It's not the story I'm telling, though. With all the crap the mutants have been going through -- and by crap I'm really talking about some serious stuff, like genocide -- it doesn't seem like the thing they would do right now. It's not the tone of the Ultimate Universe. Not right now.
With all manner of winter holidays coming down the line, here's our holiday-themed Behind the X question: What is your favorite holiday-themed movie?
Because you didn't specify what holiday, and because I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm going with "The Ice Storm."
Special thanks to Brian Wood for answering this week's X-POSITION questions!
Next week, it's back to exploring the new X-Titles from Marvel NOW! as X-POSITION hosts "Cable and X-Force" and "Avengers Arena" writer Dennis Hopeless! Got a head-scratcher for Dennis? Go ahead and drop me an email with the subject line "X-Position!" If brevity is the soul of your wit, you might also try Twitter. However you choose to send your questions, get them in by this Friday! Do it to it!