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While other superheroes are dealing with seemingly infinite crises, time gaps and continuity, Marvel Comics' heroes are facing a larger villain: themselves. This summer, Marvel kicks off "Civil War," a series whose driving concept is self evident, and will spawn many ancillary titles, detailing the effects of the war throughout the universe. One of those series will be "Civil War: X-Men," written by David Hine, who's earned acclaim for his work on "District X," another X-Men themed series. With this announcement on Day Two of the Wizard World Los Angeles convention, CBR News caught up with Hine for a few words about the four-issue limited series, launching in July, to coincide with "Civil War" #3.
"It will be a very compact, fast-moving book," said Hine. "Yanick Paquette is on art, fresh from signing an exclusive for Marvel. The pencils on the first issue are starting to come in and they're looking very, very good. Yanick is great at conveying personality through body posture and facial expressions and he has a terrific design sense. There's also a great attention to detail that makes the settings seem totally real. I'm really fired up about this collaboration. Having Juan Doe on covers is the icing on the cake. Actually it's more than that. Juan's covers for 'The 198' were true works of art and I've every expectation that he'll be producing some equally stunning covers for this series.
"Inks are by Serge LaPointe and colors by Stéphane Peru who both work out of the same studio as Yanick. You'll notice they all have French names. These are pseudonyms they use to appear cool and sophisticated. They are actually called Sonny, Otis and Marvin. Juan Doe is the only member of the art crew who uses his real name."
Some fans have felt that there are too many X-Men series and may scoff at the creation of another, albeit it limited, series, but Hine says the series, "Had to be. With the superhero community split over the Superhero Registration Act it was inevitable that mutants would get sucked into the conflict. The series also serves as the logical continuation of 'The 198,' which finishes with a lot of issues unresolved."
The main ideological schism in "Civil War" appears to be the superhero registration act. This harkens back to the famous Mutant Registration Act, which was almost passed in the late eighties, and brought forth a lot of nuanced moral issues. The issue was briefly addressed in the first "X-Men" film, and as illustrated there, the feelings about the act, and this new one, are varied in the mutant community. "For the mutants there are issues of control and containment as well as registration. The legal position of the mutants at the Xavier Estate has yet to be clarified. Although ostensibly it is a refugee camp whose purpose is to provide a safe haven for mutants, we've seen that The 198's [the number of mutants left] freedom of movement is severely restricted. So are they prisoners, and is this unconstitutional?
"To some mutants the solution is to bring the Mutant Registration Act in line with the SRA, identifying and tracking mutants, but not imprisoning them. That's really no more than Cerebra already did. So there are supporters of the SRA, even among the X-Men. But The 198 are not prepared to sit and wait while Congress debates the issues. Part one is called "Breakout". This is The 198 on the run.
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"Until now the X-Men have tried to remain neutral. They tolerate the presence of The O*N*E at the Estate but they have never really confronted the question of whether the Sentinels are there to protect them or to police them. Now the lines are drawn, the two sides are defined and the X-Men will each have to answer the question 'Whose side are you on?'"
Fans will no doubt find the moral quandaries interesting, but they'll also be thrilled to learn that the series focuses on one of the classic X-Men teams. "The heart and soul off this story is the original X-Men: Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and (Arch)Angel. I really wanted to see the surviving members of the original team operating as a group. The other key players are Bishop, Sabra , Micromax and X-Force members Shatterstar, Domino and Caliban. From The 198, Outlaw, Leech, Lorelei and Johnny Dee have major roles, as do Val Cooper and the Sentinels."
Bishop, the time traveler sent back in time to find a traitor in the team, found resolution to his mission almost ten years ago, and his position in the X-Men universe was undefined until Hine arrived. Setting up the former cop as a detective in "District X" proved to be a hit with fans, and it should not be a surprise that Bishop will take a lead in this series. "Bishop is a guy who is really torn. He's kind of an authority figure. He has great respect for the law and has often worked closely with the government. But he is also very wary of the Sentinels and The O*N*E's apparent attempts to control mutants. It's a little too close to the nightmare future into which he was born. So I guess he could go either way."
But another popular mutant won't be in the series. "Wolverine gets far too much screen time. He won't be appearing in this series," admits Hine.
Hine's been affecting other areas of the mutant universe in "Son Of M," where Quicksilver, son of Magneto, has been trying to restore powers to mutants who've lost them recently. While this series will have repercussions, those effects won't be explored in "Civil War: X-Men." "Not directly," says the writer. "That would be one too many complications. 'Civil War' focuses on the Civil Rights issues of superhumans/mutants. There are lots of plans for Pietro and you'll be seeing more of him later this year. After Son of M, Pietro is being re-positioned to become a major player."
You also won't see much of the familiar X-Mansion for too long, with Hine explaining, "The story starts at Xavier's but once The 198 are on the run, no-one knows where they'll be heading. (Well I do, but I'm not saying. Nyeh!) Not New York though. It's a nice town and it gets trashed far too often.
"Members of X-Force raid the Xavier Estate to break out The 198. The 198 go on the run. The X-Men have to make a decision. Do they track down the renegade mutants, whip their butts and drag them back, or do they join them in their quest for freedom? The X-Men are torn asunder with much angst all round. That's it in a nutshell but there are lots of twists to keep everyone guessing, and a cliff-hanger ending for every issue."
Though Hine promises lots of superpowered action, don't expect the explosive battles to undercut the impact of the weightier issues being handled in the series. " 'Civil War' is a heavyweight event so there will be a suitably serious tone to the series. These are incredibly important issues and the schisms that occur here will deeply effect all the characters. Old friendships and loyalties will be tested beyond breaking point. There will be X-Men who are seriously trying to kill one another. It goes that deep. But we'll be having a lot of fun here too. This is probably the biggest project I've tackled so far and I want to keep the readers entertained with everything they expect from a major X-book. Action, drama, humor and heartbreak all the way. And some stonking new Sentinels too."
As Joe Quesada and the rest of the Marvel staff have promised, each "Civil War" series will stand on its own, with "X-Men" being no exception. "Obviously it relates to what happened in 'The 198' and what is going on in 'Civil War,' but it works fine as a stand-alone series too. It's a point of principle for me that if you pick up a book, that's the story you're buying. You won't have to pick up half-a-dozen other books to figure out what's going on."
While you don't have to buy other X-Men series to appreciate Hine's X-centric "Civil War" book, he does admit that continuing to read those X-series will show how far this series reaches. "I've left a time-bomb ticking in this one," he teases. "There's no telling where or when it will go off. I've done the same with the 'Son of M' series. Both series come to a satisfying dramatic conclusion, then there's an 'Oh my G-o-o-d!' moment where you see the potential for some serious shit coming down in the future.
"I see this series as a real test of my abilities to write a team book. It's not easy to handle a dozen or more characters and give each one of them the attention they deserve while still telling a great story. I'm working with some of the finest artists in the industry so if 'Civil War: X-Men' isn't a big hit, it will be all my fault. (Erm, did I just put my
neck on the lineâ€¦?)
Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story
CBR's coverage of Wizard World Los Angeles is Sponsored by Comics Unlimited.