It’s time for another Marvel conference call, this time as Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Lowe talk about All-New X-Men #1. And I was there! Read on, to hear about villains, heroes, mutants…. and how I got cut off halfway through asking a question because my house had a power cut! Also: Stuart Immonen art! Truly, this article will have it all.
The conference call started with Nick Lowe singing to himself, into the void. I couldn’t quite work out what it was, which I think is more my ignorance than his singing. He seems to have an angelic singing voice.
Brian Michael Bendis started off by talking about why he finally chose to take on the X-Men now, after having been offered the franchise in the past. He says that he struggled to find a new take on the idea of the X-Men, something which would be true to them but different and fresh. With the end of Avengers Vs X-Men finally came the idea of bringing the original five X-Men into the present, to conflict the past against the present. This gave him an emotional centre to work from. He says:
The book will be very emotional. Lots of action and drama — but emotional at the core. It goes back to the original idea of the X-Men and personality of the characters, but in a contemporary way. It feels more like when I wrote Ultimate Spider-Man than anything else I’ve done for Marvel.
It also means that Jean Grey returns – not the Phoenix-using Jean Grey readers remember, but the fresh-faced, young Jean from the past. When asked about his favourite part of writing the series, he immediately turned to Jean. Writing about young Jean felt like “everything I love about writing comics” he says, noting that one of the first beats he’ll get to hit is one between young Jean and young Scott Summers. When she hears about the man her boyfriend will become, she’s not going to be… particularly chuffed.
More room for Pixie to muscle in, I guess?
Lowe mentioned that having kept Jean out of the books for so long meant that having her back feels more special, for him. Absence makes the heart grow fonder for Jean. When asked about his role as the X-Men Group editor, Lowe said that his hardest challenge (aside from balancing all the books at the same time and keeping a rough grasp of continuity) was making sure each book felt different and had a different voice. Which is why Bendis was approached for this title. There’s a long history with the X-Men, and continuity is hard to keep up with, as iFanboy asked Bendis about. He said that he has stacks and stacks of comics now, all in piles – there’s a pile of Apocalypse books, a stack of Onslaught books (you should probably just ditch those ones), and he’s recently read End of Greys. Which is the most recent best Chris Claremont story you’ll find, guys. It’s really good.
And a quick note about continuity, as we’re on it – Word Balloonasked about WHEN specifically the characters will be taken to the future. Which I can actually answer myself – it’s X-Men Vol #1, issue #8. Just before Beast fights Unus. Hah! Lowe said that there’ll be an AR button on the page of All-New X-Men where they move to the present, and if fans scan it they’ll be able to see the original scene, and how the two sync up together.
The pair discussed Stuart Immonen’sartwork, which you’ve surely been stunned by while you read this article. Bendis says that when working with Immonen, he closes his eyes and tries to picture how the world would look if drawn by his frequent collaborator. He can then take those images form his mind and try to write into that, to give Immonen something fun to work with. The 05 are all teen characters, and Immonen specifically plays to their innocence and youth as a contrast to the other characters. Which is when I came in with my first question.
With Scott Summers somewhat deposed, would there now be a power vacuum which characters like Storm and Kitty could try to fill? Bendis caught the question and redefined Cyclops a little. He’s not out of the picture – he’s very much in it. Only the superhero community know that Cyclops killed Xavier during AvX. The rest of the world knows Cyclops as the man who said he’s save the world and end war (and did) but then vanished mysteriously. When he reappears, his ‘mutant revolution’ will be massively popular amongst the rest of the MU.
The heroes will know the truth, but the public won’t. And again, some heroes think Cyclops was right, and that Xavier martyred himself for no reason. There’s a lot of ambiguity, and Bendis is specifically aiming to make the book open to interpretation. Meanwhile, the new generation of mutants will interact with the 05 in Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men series, which will share loose continuity with ANXM. Again, I choose to believe this means more Pixie.
Newsarama asked about which unexpected characters might show up, which led to a brilliant mix-up between Lowe and Bendis. Lowe said *not* to mention a villain who’ll be showing up in a few months, but Bendis thought he said *to* mention her. Which means we now know Mystique will be showing up. Bendis said this reappearance of Mystique would be “rougher” than seen previously. My second question was about how the repopulation of mutants would play into the book, and if Bendis would address the idea of mutants as metaphor for minorities in society. The persecuted.
Decimating the X-Men meant that they were more unique, rather than having mutants everywhere. It made it more shocking for a member of the public to see a mutant. They stood out more. There’s not just bad to be taken from the idea of being different – there was also good—
…..Which is when Britain decided to have a power cut, and I lost contact with the call. Halfway through Brian Michael Bendis answering one of my questions! Whoops. That’s the problem with calling Britain, I suppose – we’re still not quite au fait with this whole “electricity” business. If we had our way, we’d still create power through furnaces and bellows, in honesty. Life was better in those days.
But there we go! All-New X-Men #1 will be released on November 7th, so Jean fans take note – she’s coming!
I have enjoyed many things that Brian Bendis has written, going all the way back to his early independent days in Ohio. I however, just have never been able to reconcile the idea of time travel. I have read many of those type of stories in the past and always come away feeling abused.( with the exception of HG Wells when I was a kid )
Good Luck with this one Brian, but you’ll have to do it without me on board. I will continue to check into Ultimate Spider-man from time to time.
I’m remaining skeptical about Bendis doing X-Men for the protection of my fannish self, but I admit he IS saying the right things. And that Immonen art would make some disagreements with the writing quite easy to forgive.
Oh, and whatever Lowe was singing, I’m sure it was a Taylor Swift song.
He did it with Daredevil the Avengers, he’s going to do it again with the X-Men. I haven’t read an X book since Grant’s run. I’m very excited for this book, great coverage Steve-o.
The problem with the title, as various people have pointed out already, is that the time travel element makes no sense at all. In a single timeline system, the “old” X-Men can’t stay in the present for any significant length of time without risking damaging changes; in a multiple-timeline system, there’s no reason to have them come from the past. Have them come from a parallel universe with an offset starting date.
Aesthetically, ALL-NEW X-MEN is the opposite of using characters from alternate futures. Reasoning that, well, characters from the future or the past are more exciting than the heroes from the hum-drum present amounts to severe self-criticism.
@Synsidar – yeah, I totally agree you on the aesthetics angle. To me it seems to feel like it’s pandering to some sort of continuity completist fetish.
Synsidar – Why can’t they come from the past? They can stay for as long as they like, just return them 5 seconds after they left.
Art looks great.
Time travel doesn’t work that way. The notion that someone could travel along the “time stream” is based on obsolete views about the space-time continuum. Having someone travel into his own future–something that he hasn’t experienced yet–isn’t just hard to work out, or difficult to understand, it’s conceptually impossible. When the old X-Men travel into their own futures, they’re physically in two places at once.
None of those impossibilities occurs if the X-Men are from a parallel universe or even an alternate timeline, but then readers dismiss it as “just another alternate” story. The threat of a universe-disrupting paradox is the only thing that gives Bendis’s setup any oomph, but his setup makes a paradox impossible to avoid.
The young X-men in the present is the catalyst for the Marvel reboot that many thought would occur because of AvX.
The characters will be changed by their time in the future and when they eventually go back, that’s when it’s gonna happen.
SRS: Are you kidding? Time travel can work any way they want it to. It’s a fictional concept in a fictional story. If they want to say that time travel is fueled by cat whiskers, they can do that.
But the story, and the plot, specifically, have to make sense. How good will the story be otherwise, unless you’re someone whose mind is blown by special effects in a theater? How many times have you seen comments about a time travel story to the effect that “my head hurts,” and the reader is wondering if he missed something, because the story doesn’t make sense?
There are so many alternatives to the single timeline time travel story that do make sense that there’s no reason to do one any more, unless the writer and his fans think that paradoxes are cool, even if they can’t explain to anybody how they happen.
This is a universe full of things that don’t make sense. Gamma radiation that makes people into Hulks instead of cancer patients. Spider bites that grant superpowers instead of a bit of swelling and redness. Mutations that result in telekinesis and not just different colored irises. Hell, Kang tries to regularly kill the Avengers, even though he’s from a future where he remembers them, and thus didn’t succeed in killing them. This is just another suspension of disbelief. You’re welcome to not suspend disbelief, sure, but to do it here and not for every other comic in the MU except Punisher, just seems arbitrary.
Ok I let me admit it. I love time travel stories. Love them. Now having said that, I’m rather curious as to exactly how long the original X-Men are going to be in the current timeline? A year’s worth of stories? Longer? Do they get shunted off to alternative past once the novelty wears off? Are they mind wiped? Because the current X-Men apparently have zero recollection of these events happening from the original X-Men’s point a view. Interesting how this all pans out. The artwork is totally purty though!
I hope Bendis has a plan for the original x-men. It would be pointless for them to come here, get lots of development and then mind wipe and go back. Unless they are suppose to help change the present.
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