After the Schism comes a Regenesis.
That's what Marvel announced today with the launch of two books in Fall 2011: Wolverine and the X-Men #1 in October, by Schism writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo, and Uncanny X-Men #1 by current writer Kieron Gillen with rotating art from Greg Land and Carlos Pacheco.
"The best thing about this split is that the two books hit two very different chords. One is hardcore super hero action and the other is something else entirely that I can't go too deep into without spoiling 'Schism,'" X-Men Senior Editor Nick Lowe told the AP. "The best way I can describe it is a return to a structure that made the X-Men what it was."
Gillen noted that this will be more than a cosmetic split, and not just a return to the "Blue" and "Gold" teams of the early 1990s.
"There's no hope for a united team as long as they hold the beliefs they do," he told AP. "There's also the chance the schism will make the individuals involved (never) look each other in the eye again."
His team, he told Marvel.com, will be "in public, operating on a scale we've never seen them act on before." The team will reach beyond their super heroic efforts in San Francisco and aspire "to be the world's premier super team."
Meanwhile, Aaron teased Marvel.com with the focus of and the X-Men, saying it will be “big crazy plots, intense character drama, love, sex, anti-mutant hysteria, man-eating aliens, all-new characters, old favorite characters, bizarre space tech, strange transformations, property damage, telepathic shenanigans, Wolverine drinking whiskey, mutants playing baseball. Except perhaps for that last part.”
The relaunch will be handled under the "X-Men: Regenesis" banner, just as the X-Men have previously been Reloaded and otherwise reinvigorated. The long-building split between Cyclops and Wolverine will actually come to fruition in the lead-in mini-series, X-Men Schism, and the first image of Regenesis may hint at the rosters (and survivors), though the split shown in the image would certainly hold some surprises.
In the first released image, we see on Cyclops' side Psylocke, who is currently a member of Wolverine's Uncanny X-Force squad, and on Wolverine's we see Emma Frost, who is in a romantic relationship with Cyclops. Whether that image is just a red herring or sign of a major shake-up remains to be seen.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says it won't end here, though.
"For five years, we've been getting our ducks in a row to prepare for Schism, just as Schism sets up a 2012 event that will have all eyes focused on the X-Men," he said.
As for the other X-Men titles, Legacy, Adjectiveless, Astonishing, and the others, we should have more news soon. Aaron did note on twitter today that he will be remaining on the Wolverine solo book, and that it "will also reflect the events of Schism."
Thursday's news that the outcome of X-Men: Schism would be an "X-Men Regenesis" of two new ongoing series debuting in the fall — October's Wolverine & The X-Men and a relaunched Uncanny X-Men, starting in November — brought plenty of immediate questions.
Who's going with Wolverine? Who's sticking with Cyclops? And that teaser image released along with the announcement — does it literally represent the breakdown of the fall splitl? Why is Professor Xavier back in a wheelchair? And why would Marvel reveal now what follows the end of Schism, when the series doesn't even start until next month?
With plenty of details still under wraps, Newsarama consulted Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and X-Men group editor Nick Lowe to get some answers to these questions, and try to get a little bit of a clearer picture of what's in store for the X-Men in the near future.
Newsarama: Axel, Nick, we're curious about the timing of the announcement — with the September solicitations just out this week, and Schism not even started yet, why announce the outcome of the story now?
Axel Alonso: Retailers ordering Schism wanted to know: Was it going to be just a throwaway X-story? Some small limited with no after effects? We wanted to get the word out right from the beginning that it would be a big story that had a profound effect on the X-Men and the Marvel Universe so retailers wouldn’t be caught short when ordering.
Nrama: With the announcement today came the "Who Will You Follow?" teaser image. How literal should we be taking it? Is this at all an accurate representation of who is going to end up on which side, or more just a red herring/metaphorical illustration? Then there's the curious matter of Professor X back in a wheelchair, which seems like it must be there for a reason.
Alonso: The “Who Will You Follow?” teaser image is just that: a teaser image. It should not to be taken literally. Professor X’s wheelchair is meant to give the image a classic feel — we’re not putting him back in it. And who’s to say that everyone in that picture will still be alive this September?
Nick Lowe: It sure would be an interesting team division, though, wouldn’t it?
Nrama: On the conference call last week, there was talk of how the philosophical split between Cyclops and Wolverine had to be played in a way that both sides had a reasonable argument, without either being clearly "right." Was the same kind of doctrine applied to establishing the direction characters would go in the split? Making sure that both teams were balanced, and not one was too stacked — either in terms of popularity of power sets?
Lowe: As a group we wrestled with this a lot. We had a mini-X-Retreat back in January. We had X-Writers and X-Editorial there working through Schism and its aftermath and a big part of that meeting was who goes where and why. It mainly came down to individual characters and belief systems. Once you know what the philosophical issue is it’ll make a lot more sense. It wasn’t like an NFL general manager or coach decided who to draft or trade to build the strongest team. It’s up to the individual X-Men, not the leaders of each side.
Nrama: And on that note, are there going to be any mutants who either reject the idea of the split entirely, or choose to stay neutral?
Alonso: Given the nature of the split, that would be hard to do.
Nrama: The Marvel.com article noted that Cyclops' team would be front and center in the Marvel Universe. As an Avenger, Wolverine has been prominent in the Marvel Universe for a few years now — so can we expect Schism to affect his standing among the Avengers teams, as well?
Lowe: Well, the Uncanny team and their leader will certainly be prominent, but that doesn’t mean that Wolverine is going underground. He takes actions that very much affect how readers and Marvel Universe citizens will react to him.
Alonso: At some point, he might even have to make a choice where his real loyalties fall.
Nrama: Looking down the horizon, despite the clear ties between the two new series, is there going to be an effort to keep the two books apart for a bit at first, to let them establish their own status quos and sense of purpose?
Lowe: Yes, the books will blaze their own separate trails with their separate teams and mission statements. At least until events in the Marvel U require otherwise.
Nrama: It's natural to hear this news and wonder how the other X-books will be affected. X-Men: Legacy has just started to establish its own team with Rogue, Magneto, Xavier, etc., a dynamic that would seem to be untenable post-Schism. Adjectiveless X-Men and Astonishing have a bit more of a fluid format, but would also seem to be affected greatly. Are we headed for another shift in direction for Legacy? Will all these titles be sticking around?
Lowe: All the X-Books are going to have to react and deal with the status quo coming out of Schism. Mike Carey, who is the bees knees, has some amazing plans all throughout Schism and has really cool ideas on what Legacy is going to be after that. Adjectiveless X-Men will also feel the effects of Schism but will keep its identity as the most Marvel U-ingrained X-Book with lots of ties to the greater universe. Astonishing, well that’s going to be an announcement all to itself. And you didn’t even mention Uncanny X-Force or New Mutants or X-Factor or Generation Hope. They are all going to feel the effects and be changed by Schism.
Nrama: Let's look at Uncanny X-Force, then — we can't imagine that book is going anywhere, but given Wolverine's leadership status on that team, can we intuit from today's news that there will likely be a significant impact on the book?
Lowe: Yep! You’ll see effects there, too. You’ll have to wait a month or two after the rest of the books because Rick and Jerome are still in the middle of the “Dark Angel Saga” saga as well. But both Schism and “Dark Angel Saga” will change that book in big ways.
Nrama: Want to talk about the art teams a little bit: Chris Bachalo has a long history on the X-books — what made him the right choice as artist for Jason Aaron's title?
Lowe: Chris Bachalo is a legend. He is a master storyteller (every comic he draws is a fantastic journey) and when he draws the X-Men they look like The X-Men! When you read Wolverine & the X-Men you’ll see why Chris was the first and only choice for the book.
Nrama: Then we've got Carlos Pacheco, who illustrated the Uncanny X-Men Point One issue and will be rotating art duties with Greg Land. Both of those artists have a more classic superhero style — is that a deliberate choice reflecting the tone of the book? And can we expect the Dodsons announced on another Marvel book soon?
Lowe: Carlos knocked Schism #1 and Uncanny #534.1 out of the park and loved being back on the X-Men. He has been having fun and it showed. I had to fight another editor in a “Beat It” style fracas to take Carlos off another book and get him on Uncanny.
As for Greg, he has been with us on Uncanny since #500 and has been doing a great job. I believe he was thinking of asking off the book (and would you blame a guy after a few years and 25-odd issues) but between the current Fear Itself arc and what Kieron [Gillen] has planned for Uncanny he couldn’t help but stick around and I couldn’t be happier. The art he’s done on the Fear Itself arc is his best yet.
Nrama: The AP article today mentioned a 2012 event with the X-Men playing a major role. Is that an X-Men-specific event like "Second Coming," or a more general Marvel Universe event in which the X-Men are heavily involved? (Which hasn't traditionally been the case with a lot of the big Marvel Universe-wide events.)
Alonso: It’s a Marvel Universe event in which the X-Men will play a major role. For some time, we’ve been promising to get the X-Men woven deep into the fabric of the M.U. — and this is where we do it.
Nrama: Finally, you guys have talked about this a bit already elsewhere, but we wanted to ask about the renumbering issue. Obviously, there are a lot of people bummed about Uncanny renumbering with #1. It's prompted by a major plot development, but when making a decision like that, how much of a concern is that type of skeptical or negative reaction? Are there people at Marvel with the same type of nostalgic feeling towards the numbers that many fans seem to have? And is it frustrating to hear the inevitable cynical reaction — "Oh, they're just going to switch back to the old numbering in a year"?
Lowe: We knew there would be a reaction. But this is such a seismic shift in the X-side of the Marvel U that it merited the change. This isn’t business as usual. This isn’t a story that Kieron had planned to do anyway. We started from square one on this one.
Alonso: There’s a story-based reason for Uncanny X-Men to get a number one, alongside Wolverine & The X-Men #1. Two new teams, two different mission statements. It’s as simple as that.
Gillen: New UNCANNY Cast Most Powerful X-Team of All Time
Yesterday's news that the X-Men: Schism series would lead to, well, an actual Schism is a story a long time coming. Cyclops and Wolverine, after all, have never really gotten along very well. Whether it's fighting over how to run things, fighting over the value of life, fighting over a pretty redhead; they've basically always been at each other's throats.
Now they're splitting up in a big way, with the new branding of "X-Men: Regenesis". With the October launch of Wolverine and the X-Men from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, Wolverine will go off on his own, with his own team of like-minded mutants, and be the X-Men. Likewise in November, Uncanny X-Men will relaunch from Kieron Gillen with art by Greg Land and Carlos Pacheco, seeing another team of like-minded mutants, being the X-Men.
While this relaunch is several months away and has a lot of story between now and then, we were able to lock down Uncanny writer Kieron Gillen for a few teases, including the as-yet unrevealed fate of the Schism leaders and the possibility of the most powerful X-Men squad ever.
Newsarama: Kieron, you've been co-writing then solo writing Uncanny for a bit now, but this sounds like a big shift. How much has your approach had to change with the split of the teams?
Kieron Gillen: For a start, it's a new beginning which I've crafted. When I inherited the book, I've been resolving unfinished business and developing stuff to where I wanted it for the relaunch. Or to be incredibly florid for a second, I've been tending the garden in the way I wanted it, and now I let it bloom. It's a new status quo which I've manufactured to my own design.
Nrama: I know you can't talk about roster (and really, we wouldn't want you to spoil it!) but with Cyclops as the ostensible leader and a desire for a "world-class superteam," can you describe what kinds of mutant characters you see as being appropriate for that style of team?
Gillen: You're making a presumption here. The Schism is between Cyclops and Wolverine, but we haven't said that Cyclops actually ends up on my side. We haven't said that Cyclops even survives. There's all sorts of possibilities which I wouldn't rule out. Let's see where the end of Schism #5 leaves us.
But generally speaking, what kind of mutants are on my team? Extremely powerful ones. I'd argue the core cast of nine are the most powerful X-team of all time.
Nrama: Adding Carlos Pacheco to the art team seems natural after the point one issue of Uncanny. What are his particular strengths you plan to play to?
Gillen: Working with him on my .1 issue was a dream. This is a book in which a city-destroying horror and a carefully raised eyebrow can be of equal importance. From the micro to the macro, Carlos makes it sing. I mean, look at that .1 issue again. It juxtaposes this small conversation-level interaction between Magneto and Kate Kildare PR and full-on superhero action. Basically, whatever I dream up I can be confident that he's going to do something startling with it.
Nrama: As you, Jason Aaron, and the editorial team discussed which characters would wind up on which side of the Schism, were there characters that surprised you? Not asking you to reveal which, but can you tell us a bit about the process and how it felt to finally drive this wedge between them?
Gillen: There were certainly ones which surprised us. When the team lists are made public, there will certainly be some which will make people wonder why they've gone the way they did. I'm getting to explore some of them in a one-off issue called "Regenesis" where we get a lot of these crucial moments, and the arm-twisting and heart-searching that goes along with it. Writing it has proved pretty grueling. If it's bad for the characters, it's normally bad for me too.
In terms of the mechanisms, at the last X-summit Jason and I pretty much said who we wanted. If we both wanted one, we talked it over. Mostly when someone explained why they thought someone should go the other way, we saw the drama in it.
And, of course, there's also 6 issues worth of Uncanny between now and then. Their status quo of the characters now isn't necessarily going to be the status quo of them then.
Nrama: What tone are you seeking for the relaunched Uncanny X-Men? Does an attempted shift to world-class superheroics by the team mean a shift in the way the stories are told (i.e. Less drama, more "fun," etc.)?
Gillen: It's a exciting, dramatic high stakes book. It's certainly not what I'd call a "fun" book. As powerful as they are, when they go into battle, they are in absolute peril. It's tonally and recognizably X-men, but with all the needles deep in the red. Cursed to defend a world that hates and fears them, on a larger scale than ever.
There's plenty of internal drama as well. As I said, this is a hefty team. Even keeping them together is a battle. And there's an ethical question over considerable portions of what I'm doing. I quoted Machiavelli all the way back in my .1 issue about whether it's better to be loved or feared. The answer, thought, Machiavelli, is both. The team is that in practice. Yes, they're saving the world... but there's an implicit threat. You mess with mutants? You're messing with us. Do you *really* want to do that?
Oh - and there's some classic X-men villains who are raising their game along with the X-men. I try to write conflict grounded in emotional engagement and personal history, not just on the threat they pose. The Villains, ideally, should say something about the X-men. They should threaten them emotionally and ethically as much as they do physically.
Nrama: Finally, Kieron, this relaunch is still a few months off, and right now you have a four-part Fear Itself tie-in to worry about. What's happening with the team now in that story, and will we see any hinting at what's to come in the fall there?
Gillen: As I said in the last question, the themes I'm exploring were stated upfront in my first issue. "Breaking Point" was a pretty optimistic arc in the end. "Fear Itself" is perhaps less so. The actions my team choose to take are serious world-changing ones, and the final parts of motivation are put in place in my Uncanny X-Men: "Fear Itself" issues as much as Schism.