Marvel teased "It's coming" before New York Comic Con, and though the actual event didn't provide answers per se, it at least provided some clues.
This image — first revealed at Saturday's "Cup O' Joe" panel and now released to press — certainly suggests something involving the Phoenix force, an entity most closely associated with founding X-Men member Jean Grey, who's been dead in comic book storylines since 2004.
Marvel didn't add any insight to the teaser at the show, but it does look like Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Olivier Coipel, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Adam Kubert and John Romita Jr. are all involved. Newsarama will keep watching this one as it develops.
Since it was announced back in August that Mike Carey would be ending his five-plus year run on X-Men: Legacy, fans have wondered who might take his place on the book. Marvel's X-Men panel Sunday afternoon at New York Comic Con provided the answer: Avengers Academy writer Christos Gage, starting with January's X-Men: Legacy #260.1. Newsarama talked with Gage about joining the ongoing series, working with new series artist David Baldeón, and the near future of Rogue and the rest of the book's cast.
Newsarama: Christos, congratulations on the new gig as writer of X-Men: Legacy. It looks like though the book is going to be experiencing some significant changes, but keeping Rogue as the main focus. Was it important to you to have that consistency? And what's your personal view of the character?
Christos Gage: Thank you! For me what was important was having the strongest possible protagonist, and that’s definitely Rogue. Because of the nature of her powers, she gives you a window into so many other characters, which is great for a writer. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s one of the most well developed characters in comics, having grown and matured tremendously as a person as well as a hero. Plus my wife’s Southern, so if I need help with the accent, it’s easy to come by!
Nrama: Beyond Rogue, Gambit and Frenzy are both sticking around, joined by Rachel Grey, Cannonball, Husk and Iceman. What kind of insight can you share about how that cast came together? And with that lineup, will Legacy thus be more of a proper "team" book than it has been, at times, in the past?
Gage: The cast was kind of already in shape thanks to Mike Carey, Jason Aaron and the rest of the X-crew, but I was all for it. I think it’s an excellent cross-section of character types as well as chapters in X-Men history. I think Legacy was a pretty good team book, especially lately...for me it will be a team book, but one with a focus character...a main protagonist, who continues to be Rogue.
Nrama: Your most recent prior X-Men experience was in Astonishing X-Men, which was a very different cast, and, it appears, a very different kind of story. So as a writer, how appealing is it to get to play with completely different components within the X-Men world? And are there any common elements — be it explicit or perhaps just in your approach — between the two runs?
Gage: Oh, it’s great. With Astonishing, I got to play with a lot of the icons... Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde — but at the same time I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do much to their status quo. With Legacy, the characters are perhaps less high profile — though certainly Rogue, Iceman and Gambit are as iconic as you get — but I can make significant changes to them. So it’s almost a different experience in the same character universe, if you will.
Nrama: It looks like Rogue's connection to the "next generation" of mutants will continue — what can you say about how that relationship works in the "Regenesis" world? And what members of said next generation will be seen in the series?
Gage: For a full list of students, check out Wolverine and the X-Men #1! But yes, Rogue has been guiding the mutants of tomorrow for a while now, and that will absolutely continue. However, we’re going to explore her further evolution as an individual as well. Sometimes the two will weave together, sometimes not.
Nrama: We know at this point that Rogue and the X-Men: Legacy cast are on Wolverine's side post-Schism. How much of a role will Wolverine himself play in Legacy?
Gage: He’ll be around when it makes sense for the story, certainly, just as Cyclops was during Mike’s tenure when the characters were on Utopia. But Wolvie’s in plenty of other books, so we’re not going to overdo it.
Nrama: This is your first time working with artist David Baldeón. Though your first issue together is three months away, how's the collaboration been thus far?
Gage: Oh, he’s almost done with his first issue, and it’s gorgeous. He’s an amazing storyteller, great with character as well as action. His versatility is really impressive! I hope we have him for a long time to come!
Nrama: You can't talk about X-Men: Legacy without the contribution that Mike Carey made to the book, from, well, before it was even called X-Men: Legacy. Though obviously every writer makes a book his or her own, are you looking to employ a similar feel or approach to what Carey had established?
Gage: Obviously I’m not going to try to write like Mike, because that would be a disservice to both of us as well as the readers... and it would suck, since I’m not him! But in terms of the approach, I am definitely going to try to maintain the emphasis on character. I liked Mike’s take on this book because it reminds me of the X-Men titles I grew up on: plenty of action, but character is what makes it all count. I’m after the same thing... in my own way.
Nrama: And during Carey's run, the "Legacy" in the title referred to a couple of different things at different points. For you, at the beginning of your run, what's the significance of the word "Legacy"? Is it Rogue's guidance of the next mutant generation? Or perhaps also a connection to her past?
Gage: It’s got a number of interpretations. The next generation is certainly one, given that the characters are teaching young mutants. But to me it also reflects the rich history of the X-Men, seeing as the book is populated by Iceman, one of the original students, as well as characters from nearly every other point in X-Men mythology. And it’s Rogue’s recent past that I think will be haunting her, as she is going to have to face the ramifications of her decision to leave Utopia — and Magneto — pretty quickly. More than any other characters in the Marvel Universe, the X-Men’s actions shape the legacy of not just themselves as individuals, but their entire species. And that pressure will only intensify as we go along!
It was never easy being a member of Marvel Comics' X-Men, but these days it's a whole lot more difficult. Before all you had to worry about was protecting a world that hated and feared you. Now that "X-Men: Schism" has ended there are two X-Men teams with different ideologies about how the group should operate, and the mutants of the Marvel Universe must now choose whether to ally themselves with Cyclops' team on the island of Utopia in San Francisco or Wolverine's group, which recently relocated back to Westchester, New York to establish a new training school for mutants.
In "X-Men Legacy" #259-260, outgoing writer Mike Carey chronicles how and why his cast chooses the X-Men team they want to align themselves with, and in January's #260.1 the book's new creative team of writer Christos Gage and artist David Baldeon will deal with the repercussions of that decision. CBR News spoke with Gage about his run on the book, which was announced yesterday by Marvel at their "X-Men: Regenesis" panel at New York Comic Con.
CBR News: Christos, having completed a run on "Astonishing X-Men" and having worked on books such as "World War Hulk: X-Men" you're no stranger to the world of mutants, but with "X-Men: Legacy" you're taking over a book and a character, Rogue, that Mike Carey has been working on for the past several years. What's it like following his lengthy run?
Christos Gage: It's intimidating following someone who has made such a mark on a book as Mike Carey has with "Legacy," but Mike has been nothing but wonderful to deal with in easing the transition, and I'm a huge fan of what he's done. To me, "Legacy" feels like the X-Men books I grew up with in the height of the Chris Claremont era -- there's fantastic action, but character is what makes it all matter.
And how does your run begin? Does Mike wrap up his stories or does he set up a cliffhanger for you to pickup and run with?
Appropriately, the transition from Mike's run to mine occurs as the characters are making a transition of their own: going to Westchester with Wolverine to open the Jean Grey School and carry on Professor Xavier's dream. So Mike's run has a definite ending, but also a clear passing of the baton to a new status quo. My first issue is a Point One standalone story, a perfect jumping on point for new readers -- or a chance for longtime fans to see if they like what David Baldeon and I have to offer. I hope they will!
For the past several months "Legacy" has been a unique book in that it's both a solo title focusing on Rogue and a team book starring other heroes. Will that continue under your run? And if so, what do you find most compelling about Rogue? Which aspects of her personality do you really want to explore?
The great thing about Rogue, and I think Mike handled this brilliantly, is that by the very nature of her powers -- borrowing abilities and memories from others -- she is a window into other characters, so while she is very much the headlining character, this can't help but be an ensemble book. I think Rogue is one of the most fully developed characters in comics, having gone from a villain who can't control her powers to a strong leader who can show others how to be their best. I want to explore what it's like for her as she strives to figure out who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life at a time of great transition -- from Utopia to the Grey School, in terms of what is best for both her and mutantkind, and, of course, that juicy love triangle between her, Gambit and Magneto! So yes, the emphasis on Rogue will certainly continue.
Along with Rogue you're handling the characters that Mike brought into the book -- Gambit, Frenzy and Marvel Girl as well as three new additions: Cannonball, Iceman and Husk. What made you want to group these characters together? What kind of dynamic is initially created from this grouping?
Much in the way that Mike did, we'll be using characters from all over the Grey School, but you're right, those characters are the core of "Legacy." I thought they provided the most potential for cool stories -- it's as simple as that. They represent the history of the X-Men from the very beginning to the recent past. And while they have all chosen the same path, they will not necessarily agree on how to walk it.
At this point we know the characters in "Legacy" will be affiliated with Wolverine's branch of the X-Men. Can you talk at all about the mandate they'll have as a group in this new era? What role will they play in Wolverine's larger organization?
The X-Men in "Legacy" are all involved in Wolverine's school in some way, and we'll see them in that role, but we'll also see them in their lives outside the school. And the question of what their mandate is looms large. Big picture, their job is to educate, protect and support the students so that they are able to make it to adulthood safely and decide what they want to do with their lives. But since they're carrying on Professor X's dream of human/mutant coexistence, they will also, from time to time, tackle threats to the public in general, just as a team of heroes like the FF or Avengers might.
What can you tell us about the initial adventures you have planned for your cast? Who are some of the characters they'll come into conflict with?
First up, in #260.1, we have the N'Garai, the other-dimensional demons who have bedeviled the X-Men since "Uncanny X-Men" #96! A bit of classic X-history to start things off is, I think, a good thing.
Then our heroes must face off with one of the most powerful mutants ever: Exodus! When we last saw him, Professor Xavier had convinced him that mutantkind could not survive unless it was united, and he went on a pilgrimage to ponder his role in this new world. Now he's back -- only to find that mutantkind is far from united, and he's not happy about that. Exodus is really going to make our characters examine and defend the choices they've made.
You're working with David Baldeon, an artist primarily known for his depiction of teenagers in books like "Young Allies" and DC Comics' "Blue Beetle." What does he bring to the book as an artist?Given his knack for drawing super powered adolescents can we expect to see some of the younger generation of X-Men in prominent roles in this series?
You definitely will see David drawing students, but the teachers are the focus, and David brings an awesome approach to them as well. I was familiar with David's work on the books you mention, but what really surprised me was how amazingly he drew edgier subject matter, like the N'Garai demons who attack in our first issue, #260.1! This guy can bring the scary when he wants to! I look forward to letting David show his chops on other kinds of stuff he isn't necessarily known for -- I think he's got a lot more tricks up his sleeve!
As we mentioned at the beginning of this interview, "X-Men Legacy" has primarily been the vision of one man, Mike Carey. If fans respond to your work would you also like to have a long, multi-year run on this series?
Sure! Many of my most fondly remembered runs on comics were long ones: Chris Claremont on "X-Men," Peter David on the "Hulk," John Byrne on "The Fantastic Four," John Ostrander on Suicide Squad. That said, I'm also a big believer that when you run out of stories to tell, it's time for you to go. I don't anticipate that happening soon, though, so if the readers like what I do I'd love to stick around!
Writing an ongoing X-Men title is a dream come true. I hope I can do justice to characters I've loved for years, and to the faith of editor Daniel Ketchum, who wanted me for the book based on my "Avengers Academy" work. I'm going to do my absolute best!
Moderated by Director Of Communications, Publishing & Digital Media Arune Singh, the panel kicked off with a short introduction of the star-studded panelists and some insight on the two factions of the X-Men, splitting the sides and going through the books in a quick-fire style, with each creator speaking a bit on their upcoming plans.
Kieron Gillen spoke on "Uncanny X-Men," and how he'll be taking Cyclops' team to become the world's greatest peacekeeping force. "This is the X-Men operating on a scale they never have before," said Gillen. "This is them trying to be the world's premiere super-team."
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's "New Mutants" will maintain the focus that Dani Moonstar's team has had since its formation. "Cyclops gave Dani the job of cleaning up the leftovers the X-Men have left behind them," said Abnett, citing that this was much more than just a mutant team with a roster that has a good deal of mutagenic diversity. "They're not a street cleaning team...they're about integration"
One of the more mysterious character appearances in the upcoming Regenesis is the that of Sebastian Shaw in "Generation Hope," written by James Asmus, who explained that Shaw's appearance in the book spins directly out of his most recent appearance in "Uncanny X-Men." When the Black King appears back on the grid, Hope's team follows their first directive and hunts down the new mutant signature. "The book is going to spiral wildly from there, including all the hormones and kissing that a teenage book should have," said Asmus.
Although not much was revealed about "X-Men," the panel did mention that Victor Gischler will be bringing the original vampire arc full circle, exploring more of Jubilee's role on the team.
One of the most exciting announcements was Greg Pak's "Astonishing X-Men," and while the writer wasn't able to talk about his plot (or the teaser image of Mohawk Storm kissing Cyclops), he did express his love of the characters. "The X-Men are the characters that will give me a tear in my eye, curl up on the couch and give me a manly sob," he said. As a teaser, he also mentioned that readers are "going to see some people who may not meet up at this time meet up in some unexpected ways." A teaser image was also displayed of a mysterious character with golden claws.
With the wrap-up of Team Cyclops, Team Wolverine was up with Aaron's "Wolverine and the X-Men" held up as the flagship book. Aaron did a quick overview, mentioning that the "Jean Grey School for Higher Learning" has Wolverine in the role of Professor X -- but with his own twist on being headmaster. "There's a Danger Room, but it's not the one we've seen before; there are classes, but they're not the ones we've seen before," he teased. "It's all thrown into a book where Wolverine wears a shirt and a tie."
The companion five-issue miniseries, "Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega," heralds Brian Wood's return to Marvel, and he's starting off with a battle royale spinning right out of the pages of "Schism." "This is kind of Logan vs. Quentin Quire," said Wood. "They have a contentious relationship. They have it out here in a way you might not think. It's a confrontation that's on Quentin's terms almost entirely." Wood also mentioned that fan-favorite character Armor would be "a little bit of collateral damage."
The panel then saluted longtime "X-Men Legacy" writer Mike Carey for over five years helming the title before introducing his replacement, writer Christos Gage. Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum filled the audience in on the book and how it continues Rogue's story as relates to her allegiance to Wolverine while addressing the possible love triangle between Magneto, Rogue and Gambit.
Next up was Peter David's fan-favorite book, "X-Factor," and while David was keeping things close to the chest, he did describe a bit of how Havok and Polaris came back under his wing. "The timing absolutely could not have been better in terms of the overall story I was doing," he said, referencing some of the tragic events that occurred recently in the X-Factor Investigations ranks. "It's really an all-time low as it comes to morale. The idea of Havok and Polaris, the former leaders of the team...coming back is more attractive to some members of the group and not as attractive to other members."
David also referred to how classic "X-Factor" fans would find a lot of value in the reunion of his original team. "It's been a lot of fun to bring them back to explore the new dynamics and really, really shake things up in the group," he said. "It's an incredible opportunity."
"Uncanny X-Force" will be continuing with Rick Remender as writer, despite the NYCC announcement of him pulling writing duties on "Secret Avengers." The teaser image featured Psylocke and Fantomex with Wolverine, Deadpool and Nightcrawler in the foreground. "It's important to pay attention to the art and see who's there and who's not there," said Singh. The PR guru then announced a brand new X-Men series, "Age of Apocalypse" by David Lapham and Roborto De La Torre, spinning directly out of Remender's current "Dark Angel Saga" storyline. The upcoming "Point One" one-shot directly addresses and will provide a lead-in for the new series.
"Wolverine" hits a milestone this year with the 300th issue and features Adam Kubert on art. Series writer Jason Aaron set fan expectations very high for the issue. "I'd say it's the biggest Wolverine solo story that I've done," he said. "Everything I've done in 'Wolverine' has been building towards this." Fans were also lucky enough to get a first look at Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi's "Wolverine" run next year that re-introduces Sabretooth.
The fans went wild when Marjorie Liu was introduced to discuss some of what she's got planned for "X-23." After finishing up the "Chaos Theory" arc, X-23 will be dealing with Hellion's return to the East Coast and getting a babysitting gig from the FF that goes horribly wrong. Rob Williams' "Daken: Dark Wolverine," by contrast, will be featuring fan-favorite characters, the Runaways, who, editor Jeanine Schaefer said, Daken might not be able to deal with with the brutal efficiency he typically employs. "He underestimates them a little bit," she said.
No X-Men panel would be complete without some "Deadpool" coverage, but fans may be saddened by the newest arc. Entitled "Dead," beginning #50, the Merc with a Mouth may finally succeed in finding Death's cool embrace. "At Marvel, we have a policy that none of our characters die," said Alonso, prompting laughter from the audience. "But you might be surprised."
As the panel wrapped, one of the most exciting teasers was displayed on screen with the "It's Coming" image featuring the Phoenix. Singh urged the audience to pick up "Point One" and assured them that it would answer a few of their questions. "It's really a Rosetta Stone for 2012."
The floor opened up for questions, and while there were some excellent points discussed, some amazing signs held up by Peter David (including "Hi, Mom!" "Han Shot 1st" and -- very late in the panel -- "I have to pee"), one of the most revealing was that there are concrete plans for "X-Statix" in the future, confirmed by Jason Aaron. "Doop is in 'Wolverine and the X-Men,'" he said. "There's a little teaser, but there are plans for them."
10-year-olds were asking some amazing questions, including one member who asked, "What political parties do the two sides support?" When asked which party he supported, the young man said, "Republicans."
"Would you side with Cyclops or Wolverine?" asked David.
"Wolverine," said the young man.
"Because Scott's more of a libertarian right now," joked Asmus.
However, the biggest reaction from both the fans and the panelists was when a 10-year-old boy dressed as Jack Power walked up to the microphone and asked, "Who is Jean Grey's true lover?" After the audience calmed down, Singh asked the young X-fan, "Who do you think it is?" The child then said, "Cyclops." For his audacious question, the young man was awarded an Archangel action figure, with the box signed by the entire panel.