This week, X-Men fans finally got the news they'd been waiting for when Marvel Comics announced the creators who would be taking over the "second tier" X-Men books under the direction of Warren Ellis next March.
Marvel's Tuesday press release named the writers and artists who will be working with Ellis in his role as "plotmaster":
- Brian ("Channel Zero") Wood will script "Generation X," with an
artist to be named later.
- Steven ("Punisher," "Stone Cold Steve Austin") Grant will script
"X-Man," Ariel ("JLA: Paradise Lost," "The Kingdom") Olivetti on
art. Mania (http://www.mania.com/) is reporting that Tim
Bradstreet will be redesigning the character and doing covers for
- And Whilce ("Wetworks," "Uncanny X-Men") Portacio will be
handling art on "X-Force," which will get scripting from writer Ian
("Aliens vs. Predator") Edgington.
But none of the writers will be doing traditional scripting work; Ellis will
be providing plots and much of the dialogue for the first four issues of
each series starting in March, with Wood, Grant and Edgington fleshing
out the rest of the story.
The arrangement isn't the only atypical thing about Marvel's shift of the
three X-books: None of the writers chosen by Ellis and Marvel are what
one might call the usual suspects for an X-book.
"It's a great chance to work with Warren, and to
work on a high-visibility project," Wood told the
Comic Wire on Tuesday. "I try not to get too
wrapped up in the politics of the thing. True, it's a
Marvel book, and an X-book, and I am sure lots of
my hardcore revolutionary-type fans are reeling at this
news, but all I want to do is tell good stories and have
people read them."
And while fans of his acclaimed subversive Image Comics series
"Channel Zero" might be reeling, so too might "Generation X" fans who
cling to the notion that Wood might secretly be a closet X-Men fan.
"Heh, not really," he said. "I pick them up from time to time, and 'Gen X'
is one of few that I have followed for some time, off and on."
Don't look for Wood to stop fighting the power, just because he's now
working with one of the majors.
"I am still continuing with my creator-owned books as planned, and am
currently working on a new 'Channel Zero' graphic novel."
Grant, on the other hand, has more of a background with Marvel's
superheroes, most notably Frank Castle, the Punisher.
"I've read the X-Men since I was a kid - I think the
first one I bought was the one that introduced The
Blob - but I don't know that I'd say I was a fan," he
told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "But I like the
challenge of turning 'X-Man' into something. I like
writing loner outlaw heroes, and while he fits that
mold, he takes it in a new direction. I don't think my
fans will be disappointed at all. From what Warren's
concocted, I suspect most comics readers will go
wild for the book as well. It's completely logical, but I
don't think it has been done before."
So, what has Ellis come up with? You'll just have to wait until next spring
to find out, as far as Grant is concerned.
"Know all those nasty things that can be done to a human body that John
Constantine and Spider Jerusalem are always talking about? Warren will
cheerfully select one or more of those
things to do to me if I start giving away
plot details. But I can say the current
plan is for X-Man to become, as
Warren puts it, the 'spooky telepathic
shaman of the 21st century.' We both
want to do a character who can be
genuinely heroic, and both of us are
tired of whiny loners who squander
their time pining to be part of
something. So X-Man will be a loner who's very comfortable with it. He
has figured out what his role should be, and he's pursuing it avidly."
Rumors and reports about Marvel's shakeups of their X-Men franchise
had been circulating for months, and Tuesday, the company confirmed
many of the reports in one fell swoop.
The company confirmed that Steve Skroce will be taking over as writer
and artist of "Wolverine," novelist Robert Weinberg and artist Michael
("Contest of Champions II," "Heroes Reborn: Ashema") Ryan will take
over "Cable" and former "Wonder Woman" penciller Yanick Paquette
will join current writer Fabian Nicieza on "Gambit," starting this February.
"I've only done one issue so far ('Gambit' #15) and it was really exciting
to draw," Paquette told the Comic Wire on Tuesday. "I've done a lot of
mostly realistic and down-to-Earth stuff in the past and 'Gambit' is giving
me the opportunity to explore a different genre. Techno backgrounds and
cool action scenes are daily bread for the X-books. I've been reading the
X-Men since I was a kid and I'm proud to add my sweat to their
mythology (not only because the X-books are successful)," he joked,
"But cause I still feel close to these characters.
"Fabian is a great storyteller and seems very open to ideas. I'm not gonna
spoil any of the stuff coming up, sorry, but all sorts of major
developments are going on around Gambit. X-Men fans should pay
attention (and add 'Gambit' to their reserve if it's not already)."