It's tough to be on Dazzler's squad of reality-jumpers in "X-Treme X-Men." During the course of the series so far, she's journeyed to a bevy of worlds, recently returning for a short while to the mainstream Marvel U, only to leave once again with her traveling companions Kid Nightcrawler, Howlett and Sage after defeating a giant Acanti Xavier -- and the team's incredible exploits don't end there. Most recently, Dazzler found herself face-to-face with another Xavier assassination squad led by a battle-hardened version of herself, pulled from a planet of zombies.
To ring in 2013, "X-Treme" writer Greg Pak joins X-POSITION to answer all queries on the reality-jumping, Xavier-killing squad of merry mutants including the expansion of the cast and what's in store for the massive "X-Termination" crossover that puts the X-Treme team on a collision course with David Lapham's "Age of Apocalypse" and Marjorie Liu's "Astonishing X-Men!"
Sage fan Valeria wants to know about her favorite character and another team of reality-hopping mutants clashing with Dazzler's squad.
Dear Mr Pak:
Thanks for bringing Sage back! You've earned the support and love of many a fan with that. Here are some little questions. Feel free to answer all of them.
What can we expect after X-Termination? Will there be more Evil Xaviers or will there be another threat?
Greg Pak: The Evil Xaviers storyline will come to a head with "X-Termination." I can't reveal what comes next, but Dazzler's in for a big surprise.
Also, what about Sage and the memories of Roma inside her head? How did she get out of the Panoptichron?
That could be a fun story to explore some day. But I'll be entirely honest with you -- sometimes I prefer to let the mysteries in certain characters' histories remain mysterious until the perfect moment comes along, particularly when those backstories are so mind-bendingly huge. I'm just happy to have Sage back in action for the moment. I want to explore her a bit more as a character and have fun seeing her relate to the rest of the crew. We'll see what comes next when the right time comes.
Will we see the Exiles clashing with the X-Treme X-Men in a glorious battle for the right to save the multiverse??? What about throwing the Captain Britain Corps in the middle?? Can the Governor General get his own solo?? X-Treme X-Men vs the New Uncanny X-Force, we need to see that.
Ha! I like the way you think, particularly about Howlett. But we're all focusing on X-Termination for the moment. It's going to be plenty insane, so here's hoping it satisfies your itch for big action.
Were there any characters you wanted to use but weren't allowed to?
Sure, that's always going to come up when you're writing stories in a shared universe -- certain characters are going to be unavailable because they're part of ongoing stories in other books that can't be disrupted. But there's always another character who can work just as well or better. And of course one of the glories of "X-Treme X-Men" is that whenever our heroes visit an alternate universe, I can pretty much use any character I can imagine. Look for a very special Namor in issues #10 and #11, for starters.
For a quick change of pace, madroxdupe024 wants to know about your "Phoenix: Endsong" miniseries and whether it was meant to extend to a third installment.
I know now that this will probably not happen, but I was just curious, is it true that you meant Phoenix: Endsong to be a trilogy? If so, what would you have named them and what would it have been about? As a big Jean Grey fan, you and Land did a terrific job on that mini (even if it doesn't get its respect, continuity-wise, IMO).
Thanks for the kind words. We had toyed with the idea of a third series, but my writing responsibilities on Hulk-related books got pretty huge around that time. I don't want to say too much about what I would have done because, hey, you never know what could happen in the future. But I will say that Quentin Quire would have played a big role. I've always been intrigued by Quentin's appearance with that multidimensional "Phoenix Corps" in Morrison's "Here Comes Tomorrow." There's a story in there somewhere.
Renaldo has a question about the convoluted backstories of the many characters in play for both "X-Treme" and "X-Termination."
1. With "X-Termination" coming up, we've got yet another Kurt that could meet the AOA one that betrayed Logan in the 616. Not to mention Logan and Emma could be coming to a place where there are people dead living -- people they knew alive actually dead -- and people time traveling. Was there ever a time that you guys said, "Damn, it's too much and this could get convoluted?"
Sure, given the long histories of these characters and the craziness that ensues with alternate universe stories, that's always a risk. I think the trick is to figure out what the core emotional story is and give the reader the necessary information within each individual issue to appreciate the drama. Seamless exposition and real emotional consequences are always the key to making mind-bending stories like these resonate. In the end, I actually think "X-Treme" has been an extremely new-reader-friendly book. Since it's all about alternative realities, there's a lot of built-in introductions to new characters and situations. And anyone generally familiar with some of the big characters in the X-Men can get a kick out of seeing us explore alternative versions of them.
2. Emma from "X-Treme" seems to have another dimension to her. How did you go about crafting her differently from her 616 character?
The great Warren Ellis created her in one of his "Ghost Boxes" stories a few years ago, so half the work was already done for me, which was nice. I'd describe her as an even more Emma Frosty Emma Frost -- she's a blueblood aristocrat in a 19th century steampunk world in that Warren Ellis story, with a really fun snobbiness about her. But in the "Astonishing X-Men" story I did that set up the "X-Treme" series, we raised the emotional stakes for her by having her discover that her husband, Scott Summers, had been murdered. So beneath that supercilious exterior, she's harboring an abiding, aching sadness that set up her big decision at the end of "X-Treme X-Men" #3 a few months back.
3. When plotting such a book as "X-Treme," there's less continuity bogging you down. How does that help your creativity?
It's a blast. We had a bit of the same kind of freedom with "Planet Hulk" back in the day, which was a storyline that let us create an entirely new world and have the Hulk run epically wild without fear of bumping up against ongoing storylines back on Planet Earth for a while. "X-Treme" is probably an even more extreme example of that -- we're creating new alternate worlds in just about every issue. Literally anything can happen in this book.
4. We've seen you do monsters, gods, mutants and touch on Avengers -- any chance you'd actually consider doing an Avengers or X-Men mainstream book again in 616?
Sure, I'd love to. The nice thing about doing books like "X-Treme" is that you can get to know these iconic characters on an even deeper level by pushing them to their limits in alternate worlds. I imagine that's a pretty good exercise for getting to understand the essence of these characters even better and thinking about possible new storylines for the 616 universe.
5. Which is your favorite character to write in X-Treme and what sets this book apart from other X-Titles?
I love all my babies equally. But Howlett and Dazzler are probably my faves. I'm pretty much in love with Howlett's tough guy exterior, great good heart, and propensity for blushing. He's a tough guy sweetheart, which is a ton of fun to write. And my girl Dazzler just makes me smile. She's got very little filter -- if she's thinking it, she's probably saying it, which is an endearing quality and a ton of fun to write. And she also strikes me as a fundamentally decent person who's always been an underdog and maybe doesn't even realize how huge a hero she really is. Again, endearing and a ton of fun to write.
6. What's been the toughest part of the "X-Termination" crossover behind-the-scenes? And was there any fighting in the office for this?
Probably the biggest challenge thus far has been coordinating schedules so we can all get on the phone for our creative conferences. I think we're all in different time zones -- occasionally as much as 12 hours apart. But Marjorie [Liu] and David [Lapham] are fantastic writers and fun collaborators and our editors are aces. It's been a blast so far.
Excalibur88 has a quick question about resurrection.
Seems with all the Professor X's running around in your series, it would be the perfect book to bring the Professor back to life. Any clues that this might be a possibility?
Heh. That'd be fun. But too soon, don't you think? ;-)
Melvin wants to know about expanding the cast of "X-Treme" and possible references to that other reality-hopping team.
I was wondering if we would be seeing any references to the Exiles in X-Treme X-Men? Along with that, how much bigger is the team gonna get? And are there any special appearances coming up that your allowed to tell us about?
I think the team's reached its full size with issue #9. I love Kalman's cover to issue #12 -- the silhouettes look just right to me. I will tease that there's a Japanese-Atlantean Namor coming in issue #10. Dontcha dare miss it!
For the "X-Terminated" storyline, I was wondering if this event has anything to do with the effects of the original 5 X-Men time traveling, the universe-size problem that the Illuminati and Avengers will be dealing with in upcoming issues, or whatever the Guardians of the Galaxy will be taking on?
All will be revealed very soon. Keep on reading, my friend! ;-)
Hercules fan cora reef wants to know what it was like to return to a character you spent so much time on in the past.
Dear Mr. Pak,
First of all, I'm so excited that you had a chance to write Hercules again, even if he's from an alternate reality. What was it like for you coming back and getting to write the character again?
It's been a blast. Sometimes it's a struggle to write certain characters; you have to really dig deep and think hard and kick and scream to find the right voice and tone. That's not a bad thing at all -- it's part of the process and it's fun and glorious and exciting. But then there are characters that just come easy -- for whatever reason, in any situation, you just instinctively and immediately know what they're going to do and say. That's Herc for me. Always happy to spend time with the big guy.
I'm fascinated by your use of Dazzler, especially the version that showed up in the most recent issue. Is there anything else you can tell us about her reality? It looked like Marvel Zombies, but I know Dazzler got zombified in that reality.
It's a world plagued by zombies, but as you note, it's not necessarily the specific world from the "Marvel Zombies" books. In an infinite universe, there have got to be plenty of zombie-infested alterna-worlds to pick from, right? ;-)
Finally, will we ever get to see more of Howlett's world? He's by far the most interesting character in the book and the first Wolverine I actually care about.
Thanks for the kind words! I love Howlett, too, and yes, we'll catch a glimpse of his world in issue #10. Fans of the Howlett/Herc pairing in particular will not want to miss that issue.
Finally, here's our first 2013 Behind-the-X question: What is your New Year's resolution?
I was so ridiculously busy in 2012 that I didn't see enough movies or read enough comics. I need to do more of both to keep abreast with what's up with the world and to stay challenged and inspired.
Next week, X-Position journeys back into the ethos of Marvel NOW! X-titles as incoming "Uncanny X-Force" writer Sam Humphries answers your questions about the new series and his new squad of X-Force! If you've got a pressing query for Sam, go ahead and drop me an email with the subject line "X-Position" -- or, alternatively, if brevity is the soul of your wit, try Twitter. Do it to it!