By Will Henderson
Editor’s note: This interview took place before Sunday morning’s X-Men panel at NYCC.
In the last 12 months, Matthew Rosenberg has resurrected Jean Grey, infected several members of the New Mutants with a malicious techno-organic virus, exhumed (in more ways than one) the body (bodies?) of Multiple Man, paired Winter Soldier and Hawkeye on a journey to find Black Widow, and gave the War Machine armor to the Punisher.
He’s probably done more than that, given the number of titles Rosenberg writes, and next month he, Ed Brisson, and Kelly Thompson are teaming up on a new volume of Uncanny X-Men, which speaks volumes of Marvel’s faith in a man who just 12 months ago had written very little about the X-Men.
The secret to his success?
“It’s all about luck, skill, and hard work,” said Rosenberg at his table in NYCC’s artist alley. “I try to work really hard, and I’ve been incredibly lucky, so two of the three can get you far.”
So does a clear respect and love of characterization and continuity, which Rosenberg has demonstrated, as well as a willingness to put even his favorite characters (cough Multiple Man cough) through the ringer in the interest of good storytelling.
Uncanny X-Men returns Rosenberg to writing Jean Grey, who has moved on from her resurrection and currently leads a team of X-Men in X-Men Red.
“It’s been fun to see how she’s grown and changed since then. She’s comfortable in her own skin and confident,” said Rosenberg. “Tom [Taylor, X-Men Red writer] has done a great job with her.”
When breaking out a story, Rosenberg said he boils the issue down to one central sentence, and then he builds out the structure from there, figuring out key pieces one at a time.
He said that he, Brisson, and Thompson may approach how they write comics differently, but that they have benefited from a partnership that that lets each lean in to their favorite mutants, like Glob (Brisson’s favorite), X-23 (Thompson’s favorite), and Jean Grey and Multiple Man (clearly two of Rosenberg’s favorite characters) to play key roles in the 10-part Disassembled storyline in Uncanny X-Men.
Expect a lot from Bishop, too, who is integral, said Rosenberg “in a very real way that no one can be.”
So what about the members of the New Mutants who were infected with the T-O virus at the end of the six-part Dead Souls mini? Rosenberg’s not telling – yet. But sorry to disappoint – those characters are infected with the virus, which will not be easily undone.
“There won’t be a switch to turn it off,” said Rosenberg, who added that there is a template for “breaking” a member of the New Mutants (see what happened to Doug Ramsey after he merged one-too-many times with Warlock in the first New Mutants series), and that the virus will “deeply impact these characters in a large way.”
Uncanny X-Men wasn’t the only thing keeping Rosenberg busy at the convention. He and Tyler Boss (the creative team behind the critically acclaimed 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank) had available ashcans of the first part of their 2019 series from Image Comics, What’s the Furthest Place From Here? Rosenberg announced on Twitter that he had sold out of his copies early Saturday, though Boss still had a few at the time this story was filed.
As for following in the footsteps of other creators who keep one foot firmly planted in the bedrock of the Marvel Universe and the other foot, well, elsewhere, Rosenberg said that Marvel, while keeping him “very busy,” has also been incredibly kind and generous and let him explore other projects as he can.
“It’s a balancing act,” Rosenberg said of balancing his workload, admitting that sometimes making it work means “sleeping less.”
During the interview, Rosenberg tip-toed around potentially spoilery comments, but agreed to play a word-association game, sharing the one word that he thinks of when he thinks of specific members of the X-Men. Fair warning: Anyone familiar with Rosenberg’s books and Twitter feed (@AshcanPress) knows that the following could be filled with red herrings and misdirection, tools that any writer worth his or her salt keeps sharp and ready to deploy:
Jean Grey – Leader
Multiple Man – F@#!-Up
Boom Boom – Best
Emma Frost – Villain
Magneto – Right
Iceman – Heart
Cyclops – Dead
Psylocke – Complicated
Magik – Lost
Shadowcat – Spirit
Cannonball – Goofy
Bishop – Bad-Ass
Jubilee – Well-Dressed
Storm – Mohawk