The adolescent members of Marvel Comics' X-Men routinely deal with high drama of both the super heroic and interpersonal varieties. And, when these two worlds of stress meet, things can get especially complex and dangerous, as was the case in Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley's "All-New X-Men" #4.
In the climax of the issue, Angel and Wolverine let the growing tension in their relationship creep into their conflict with the revamped X-Men foe the Blob, who exploited their relationship issues to turn the tables on them. CBR News spoke with Hopeless about the tension in Angel and Wolverine's relationship; working with Bagley to redesign the Blob and the other classic X-Men foe that will soon clash with the team, Toad; and the adventures the "All-New X-Men" will become embroiled in as they head towards the series' "Apocalypse Wars" arc, which begins in May.
CBR News: Much of "All-New X-Men" #4 focused on the tension between Wolverine and Angel. Is it as simple as Laura feels her role as Wolverine is to take the punishment the rest of the team can't heal from and Warren worrying she's putting herself at risk? Or is there more going on than what they're telling each other?
Dennis Hopeless: There's a lot going on under the surface there, some of which will come to light in the next two issues. Wolverine has made a conscious choice to assume that Wolverine role and to play it the way that she has been. She's actively trying to be this new version of herself. None of her other teammates seem to have a problem with it -- but Warren knows her very well at this point. He has legitimate concerns, most of which are unrelated to her healing factor.
There's more to Warren and his motives than it seems, as well. That stuff begins bubbling to the surface in issue #6. The character drama in this series is obviously more marathon than sprint -- but we have big things coming.
The issue ended with the cliffhanger of a revamped Blob delivering a severe beating to Wolverine. What made you want to update and bring the Blob into the book?
Classic X-Men villains make a lot of sense for the book because they allow us to play with THEN vs. NOW. The time displaced X-Men are trying to live out Xavier's original super hero mutant dream in a world that has largely moved on. The Blob and Toad they'll encounter now are not the easily thumped also-rans they remember. These villains are grown-ups, now. They've lived lives, taken lumps and have well-earned hard edges.
This Blob can take on the whole damned team -- and win. It catches the team off guard, and gives us a big crazy fight through Paris. That's the thing I find most interesting about Freddie Dukes. He looks and sounds like a Silver Age joke, but he isn't -- not anymore. This guy can straight throw down.
The X-Men's battle with Blob continues in issue #5, and then it looks like in issues #6-7 you're going to tell the story you set up at the end of issue #3 with Toad. There have been many different takes on Toad over the years -- what's your sense of the character?
Our Toad story is a weird, creepy, psychological horror thing. Toad is in a dark place right at the moment, and has decided to project that darkness onto teenage Scott Summers. In #7, we get to show how he went from being the Jean Grey School's kindly janitor to this broken, hateful drunk -- then, things get pretty scary.
Mark Bagley has done so much great design work over the years, especially during his run on "Ultimate Spider-Man" where he and Brian Bendis updated and revamped so many classic foes. What's it been like redesigning and working on these classic X-Men villains with Mark?
It's so great. I trust Mark completely, so I just give him a quick summary of the new direction and get out of his way. I'm particularly fond of his custom-designer-suit-wearing foodie Blob. Beats the hell out of that black singlet.
It looks like your spring plans for "All-New X-Men" involve some fun and, as you mentioned, big stories. In issue #8, it looks like Doctor Strange appears, while issue #9 kicks off your "Apocalypse Wars" arc.
Beast takes the spotlight in issue #8. He goes looking for a little magic help and inadvertently creates some problems for the Sorcerer Supreme. Dr. Strange is an interesting character because he's this all-powerful wizard who used to be a surgeon. Strange understands how Hank's mind works -- which maybe makes their interaction all the more frustrating for everyone involved.
Then, yeah, "Apocalypse Wars" hops off in issue #9. That's an Evan and Hank story that is -- basically impossible to talk about without spoiling. There's a lot of sand in it. Sand and swords and Apocalypse.
I'm thrilled to be writing this book. It feels like a classic X-Men story. The super heroics are big, weird genre-bending fun, but it all hinges on the teenage soap opera. Each issue is something new and it's a blast.