With the release of its April solicitations, Marvel Comics revealed that "Age of Apocalypse" will come to an end following the "X-Termination" crossover. The "Uncanny X-Force" spin-off series written by David Lapham began one year ago and introduced readers to the X-Terminated, human freedom fighters in the Age of Apocalypse with familiar faces. William Stryker, Donald Pierce, Zora Risman, Francesca Trask and Graydon Creed joined forces with a depowered Jean Grey and Sabretooth to combat the forces of Weapon Omega as he attempted to rule the Age of Apocalypse with an iron fist.
Lapham joined X-POSITION to discuss wrapping up his ongoing series, the significance of the "X-Termination" crossover event with "Astonishing X-Men" and "X-Treme X-Men," his possible future plans at Marvel and adding his own square to the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.
David, to kick things off, mr_infinite has a question about wrapping up "Age of Apocalypse" and your plans for the end of the series.
Hi David, sad to hear about the cancellation of "Age of Apocalypse!" Now that we know the series is coming to a close, is there anything you can tell us about what you have planned for the big endgame?
David Lapham: Luckily, right from the beginning original series editor Jody LeHeup and I planned the first year to come to a significant conclusion. If the series did continue there would be a big shift in the second year. So without revealing anything, I will say it's a big finish. That said, I sadly did lay some threads for the characters and world that I won't be able to play out, which bums me out because I spent so much time thinking about this world and these characters.
Is the ending of "X-Termination" structured to serve as an ending for the series as well? Was that always the case?
No. We had always planned to bring the AoA team closer to the 616 universe in the second year, and had been talking about doing a crossover event. We all, of course, hoped it would be a springboard to bigger and better instead of... well... extermination. But it is a bigger and better extermination.
Now that this series is wrapping up, do you have any plans for future work in the X-Men Universe or the Marvel U at large?
I hope so. I have plans. Hostage plans...
Agent of X is hoping for some Nightcrawler and Mystique interaction during "X-Termination."
Given that his last appearance was with her in "Uncanny X-Force," will AoA Nightcrawler be shown with Mystique in "X-Termination," maybe an explanation as to where they went after Remender's final arc?
Yes. We'll see them together. And pick up our story from there.
Dagron392 has a query on the concept of safety in the Age of Apocalypse.
It seems like in "Age of Apocalypse," nobody is actually safe. When thinking about how the book would lead into its second year, how did you plan to play with this concept of safety, assuming even some of the cast survives what you've got planned?
Well, the first year established our human team and how they operate. It also set up a world they were trying to tear down. With that tearing down, things would get, in a real way, far worse. Chaos, rival factions, instability. I was setting up a war with Omega Red from the East. The series would have entered what I always called the "Game of Thrones" phase. And within that I would have had more opportunity to get deeper into many of the characters, such as Horror Show, Goodnight, and the relationship between Franny and Bolivar Trask. Plus Moreau would have had the opportunity to come out of his shell and do all sorts of nasty stuff.
Derek has a few questions, both about "Age of Apocalypse's" role in "X-Termination" and the selection of the rotating art team.
1) I've been consistently impressed with the art team on Age of Apocalypse. Every issue even if the penciler has changed the pages don't lose their flow. How did each artist end up being assigned to the book? Did you have any influence?
We had three terrific artists on the book, with the bulk being split between Roberto De La Torre and Renato Arlem. Roberto is a special, special talent. He does the kind of pages that come back and you just can't stop staring at them. Jody snagged him and he was perfect; the perfect artist to set the tone for the book. Since doing a monthly is a tough job Nick Lowe brought in Renato. Renato's a guy who has grown by leaps and bounds with each issue. The best part about this tandem though is that tonally they work in the same stark, noir-like reality. So issue to issue, whichever guy was telling the story, the book always had the same feel.
2) Sabretooth's death means that Graydon lost his chance to reconcile with his father. Down the road, going into X-Terminated do you see this having a profound effect on how he deals with other members of his family? As far as Graydon knows Nightcrawler is a hero, even if he is also a mutant. Then there's also Mystique wherever she is...
Well, I would say I had all kinds of plans down that road. Dark and emotionally gut wrenching plans. There will be some wrap up in the "X-Termination" event.
3) Why did Monet have that mark on her face when we last saw her? Had Emplate fed on her?
I tried to imply in the dialogue that it was something Weapon Omega did to her. If you remember she subjugated herself to him and had been going to see him. Weapon Omega is not a gentle man.
4) After Havok's resurrection, he seemed to fade into obscurity are there any plans for him in the future? Maybe his alternate reality green haired paramour?
[Sighs] Again, yeah. AoA is a whole universe with only one book. It's hard to get to everyone. But yes, he would have been a player in one of the factions I was talking about in the chaos going forward. The best laid plans...
5) Omega Red's empire has been referenced numerous times. Will we ever get to see him?
Yup. You just have to come and use the imagination X-Ray machine on my head and see it all unfold in glorious black and white.
cora reef is one of the many readers expressing disappointment at "Age of Apocalypse's" end, and wants to know whether you plan to take any new risks before the final issue.
Hi David, I'm a big fan of the series and I was disappointed you won't get the chance to continue with it.
Thanks. Me, too.
Back when "X-Termination" was first announced, it seemed like there was going to be a big impact on all the books involved -- with the series ending after the event, do you feel like you can take more risks with your characters?
I feel like big risks will be taken in the event we have. Big action, big consequences, and hopefully I'll be able to save a couple elements from AoA to carry into the regular Marvel U. But actually, with very limited time and space, I felt that after the big first year finale I had to bring as much "full circle" to the characters before it all implodes in the event. The event is great, but it's not as intimate a place for the really small moments between characters.
One of my favorite parts of your book is that you write real characters in an impossible situation. How difficult is it for you to get into that headspace of how people brought up in this reality would react to normal and impossible situations?
That was the number one fun thing of the whole series. How on earth can five human beings fight hundreds of thousands of mutants ruled by a mutant juiced with Celestial power. Well, we've seen other characters like Daredevil, Batman, even Captain America who has "powers" but not to the level of what he's fighting. These guys survive by being smarter. By being a step ahead of their opponents. That's where Prophet came in. For me this was a guy who was always three steps ahead of the curve. He knew what you were going to do before you did. I described him as a one man CIA. So that was the first part of the puzzle. Prophet could stay ahead of the game so he could work in the background to disrupt and undermine Omega's regime. The second part came in the fact that the humans were so beaten down that they became basically extinct. A non factor in Omega's plans. Therefore while they were still under threat just for being human, they were also "under the radar."
Jack wants to know more about Weapon Omega and Jean Grey's relationship following the events of the most recent issue.
Your version of Wolverine (Weapon Omega) is just one of the coolest interpretations of the character. What can you tell us about how he reacts to Jean's betrayal in the most recent issue?
Weapon Omega was formerly Weapon X and while the Apocalypse Power definitely corrupted him, he's not just a mustache twirler. He truly believes that he was given this power to advance mutant evolution and the number one element of this is to eliminate humanity. He's completely ruthless because he believes in survival of the fittest. It also makes him relish combat and challenge to his power. Omega has feelings for Jean, no question. Part of that is that he considers her as belonging to him. Part of that was that she like he was has been given an advanced "cosmic power." I think he has less of a feeling of betrayal and more of frustration. He wants Jean to be a mutant. He wants her to have the Phoenix force. He wants to force her onto his side, kill her, or be killed by her. But her being depowered and just a mere human frustrates and saddens him. Now he just feels sorry for her and wants to put her out of her misery like a race horse with a broken leg.
Finally, dreadpirateJim has a question about the future of the "Age of Apocalypse" cast following cancellation.
Now that the series has been cancelled, how difficult is it for you to give up writing these characters? Is there a temptation to kill them all by the end so nobody else can use them?
I LOVE these characters. I've spent far too much time thinking about them and where they might go in the coming years. Books get cancelled though, and that's the way it goes. I actually would love for them to survive and be used by others to use. Because I'd love for the book to have some legacy. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to be the "other person" at the controls. But I didn't put my creative energy into a creator owned book here. I was trying to be part of the Marvel U. I was lucky to have my own little corner of it, but still I wanted to create something in this universe I grew up on. That said, we'll see how it plays out, but I'm confident this isn't the last I've seen of at least a couple of these guys.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Finally, here's our behind the X question: What is your favorite hot beverage? (If you don't like hot beverages, what is your favorite cold beverage?)
I like the hot beverage. I like the cold beverage. My wife's a big coffee drinker and thus I have become a big coffee drinker. But if I have to pick a favorite let's go special and go for a nice Christmastime Hot Buttered Rum. Again my wife makes this, and it's crazy special and awesome yumminess.
Special thanks to David Lapham for joining us for this week's X-Position!
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, Rick Remender is unable to join us for X-Position next week -- but "Fearless Defenders" and "Ultimate Wolverine" writer Cullen Bunn has agreed to step in for next week's X-Po! E-mail your questions over with the subject line "X-Position" before the end of the day tomorrow to get the skinny on the Ultimate Universe's Wolverine!]