This month, the "Astonishing X-Men" merged with the reality-hopping "X-Treme X-Men" and the cast of "Age of Apocalypse" for Marvel Comics' "X-Termination" crossover, which combines the three teams to battle a threat in New Apocalypse. While "Astonishing" team leader Wolverine has been to New Apocalypse before, the rest of the team had a rude awakening when transported to the dystopian version of their world.
"Astonishing X-Men" writer and "X-Termination" co-writer Marjorie Liu joined X-Position this week to discuss putting her team out of their comfort zone, the big threat to the X-Men following the crossover, the family dynamic of Wolverine's squad and when fans can expect more Gambit.
Nick starts us off with a question about cast rotation in "Astonishing."
Hi Marjorie. Thanks for your amazing work on "Astonishing X-Men," I'm enjoying it now more than ever.
Marjorie Liu: Thanks!
1) It seems that each team member is getting his or her "turn" in the spotlight. Can we expect to see a Gambit-centric arc in the near future and if so, can you drop any hints as to what type of developments might be in store for the character?
Actually, Gambit plays a large role in an upcoming arc in which Iceman (due in part to events in the "X-Termination" crossover) becomes a terrible threat to the X-Men, and the entire world. We've seen how the weather can disable or destroy a city. Imagine the same event, except with catastrophic amounts of ice consuming the entire planet. Iceman brings on the ice age -- an eco-apocalypse -- and Gambit will be one of the few characters equipped to stop him. It'll be a heartbreaking story for several of the characters, but most especially Bobby -- whose emotional wounds run very, very deep.
2) I really enjoy the dynamic between your cast members and the "family" feel you get with them. Are there any relationships or friendships between team members that you find to be particularly interesting and fun to write, or any that you plan to develop in future arcs?
I think everyone knows I wear my personal fandoms right on my sleeve. I love writing Wolverine and Gambit -- takes me back to the classic Claremont days -- and of course, Northstar and Kyle have become a huge source of inspiration for me. The same is true for Warbird and Karma, two characters who know what it's like to be an outsider, an alien (both to different degrees). Both of them have a lot to offer each other, even if they don't realize it yet.
Neko, also a fan of Gambit, has a question about his relationship with Cecelia Reyes.
Hello Marjorie, You made me chuckle when you had Cece say to Kyle that everyone looks at Gambit a certain way. I know your plans were to have Gambit and Cece circle each other, do you intend to go a little deeper in their relationship?
Trust me, their relationship will definitely be addressed. I haven't had many opportunities to play with those two, but the one thing that always attracted me about their friendship (and the potential for more) is that they are such opposites, but in a very complimentary way. Yes, Gambit is the playboy, the rascal, the thief. And yes, Cecilia is a total straight-laced, no funny business grump. But they are both incredibly smart, and very loyal, good people. They are also very wounded, though they have spent their lives trying to hide and overcome those wounds.
I really have enjoyed the sense of friendship you've built with your "Astonishing" team, any plans in the future to do a girls night/boys night out?
I would love to do that! I've tried to scatter those personal moments in, as much as I can -- and it's been a credit to the artists, (Mike Perkins and Gabriel Walta) who took those scenes and built them so that readers could feel and see the chemistry between the characters.
With the "X-Termination" event, you've gotten a lot of other characters to work with, which ones surprised you in terms of writing them? You always come across as having fun with these characters. Are any of them more of a challenge than others?
I think the hardest thing about a crossover like this, one that involves so many moving parts, is keeping everything straight in my head! If it hadn't been for ["Age of Apocalypse" writer] David Lapham and ["X-Treme X-Men" writer] Greg Pak (and our editor, Jeanine Schaefer, with assistant editor, Jennifer Smith), I think I would have lost my mind.
I know you can't spoil but can you give us a hint about what you've enjoyed the most about this crossover event?
Jean Grey. Dazzler. Destruction!
DestroyerDave is next with a query about the comfort level of the "Astonishing" team during "X-Termination."
"X-Termination" feels a little jarring in the scope of "Astonishing X-Men" to me, and maybe that's because this team hasn't had the chance to take on any non-616 threats together. How do you feel they're going to be able to act as a team when thrust into this unfamiliar situation?
It's an interesting situation because the team is forced to split up and join forces with characters they've never met before, and so it'll be uncertain territory (literally) for all involved. They're the X-Men, though. These guys live to adapt to the wild and crazy.
Considering Wolverine's really the only one to have visited New Apocalypse in the past on the team, what kind of culture shock can we expect from his squad of Astonishing X-Men after the dust has settled with their first battle?
I think they'll react with profound sadness more than shock. This is the world that could-have-been.
cora reef has a slightly unusual question about the X-Men fanfiction community.
Dear Marjorie, I just read your interview on CBR about women in comics and your experience with X-Men fan fiction in the mid-'90s, which I thought was really interesting. Is that a community that you still interact with from time to time?
Unfortunately, no, though I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made. Time slips away, doesn't it?
As a writer, when you have an event like "X-Termination" or "Avengers Vs. X-Men," how do you approach it compared to one of your novels, where all the shake-ups come from you?
It's a team effort, pure and simple -- and thank goodness for it. David Lapham and Greg Pak are brilliant creators, and in an event this big it was incredibly important to have all hands on deck.
mr_infinite has a few questions about the most recent issue of "Astonishing X-Men" including Northstar's American citizenship.
Northstar and Kyle have the benefit of being a pretty grounded couple, despite the fact that they live in Marvel's New York. How will citizenship affect Northstar's ability to be on the X-Men? Will we get a chance to further see how it affects his relationship with Kyle?
Yes, absolutely. I don't know if much of it will be addressed in this upcoming "Iceman" arc, but their legal troubles aren't going away.
Was Linda used only to help "Astonishing" readers ground AoA Kurt a little more, or do you have plans for that character beyond "X-Termination?"
She was his sweetheart in another life, and Nightcrawler needed to see her -- and grieve her loss. She was an important element of the story, but I have no plans to bring her back.
Finally, here's this week's "Behind-the-X" question: What was your first comic book?
The first real comic book I ever picked up was "X-Men" vol. 2 #65 (which also happened to be Cecilia Reyes's first appearance). I bought it at Powerhouse Comics in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Special thanks to this week's guest, Marjorie Liu!
Next week, "Wolverine and the X-Men" writer Jason Aaron returns to X-Position to discuss the Jean Grey School's recent field trip to the Savage Land and more! Got a question for Jason? Send it over in an or in a 140 character question via Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!