Welcome, X-Fans, to a truly Uncanny edition of X-Men Monday! That’s right, last week’s Age of X-Man celebration was so much fun, we figured we’d do it again, this time with the writing team that helped put Uncanny X-Men back on readers’ pull lists! Before the long-awaited Uncanny X-Men #22 hits shelves this Wednesday, we’re going over your X-Questions with writers Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson. But before we jump in, a word from X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
Jordan: Hey there, gang! I am taking a powder this week again, as I am simultaneously swamped with HOX and POX plus prep for San Diego Comic-Con! Did you hear that we’re announcing the first wave of X-Books, DAWN OF X, there? It’s true–you’ll hear all about them on Saturday. As for today, though, the writers who worked on the about-to-be-concluded volume of Uncanny X-Men, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson and Matthew Rosenberg, have stepped in to answer your Uncanny Asks! We did 22 issues and an annual in nine months. That’s almost two years worth of comics in 3/4ths of a year! It’s a pretty impressive feat, and I gotta thank these writer-folk along with artists Mahmud Asrar, RB Silva, Yildiray Cinar, Pere Perez, Carlos Gomez, Salvador Larrocca, Bob Quinn, David Messina, Rachelle Rosenberg and Guru eFX for making it all happen–as well as my assistant Chris Robinson! Anyway, you check out these questions, I got a panel to prep.
AiPT!: Thanks, Jordan! OK, so “X-Men Disassembled” was packed with ideas–the “grandchildren of the atom,” X-Adults vs. X-Kids, X-Man trying to save the world from itself and so on. Could you provide some insight into how such a giant story–being told by three writers–came together?
Matthew: The basic idea was to put us all in a room and lock the door until we had a story idea. Luckily we all came in with parts that we were very excited about. I don’t remember who brought what specifically. I think I was big on the Legion vs. X-Man “grandchildren of the atom” fight, but I know it wasn’t a full idea at the time. Everyone sort of added and built on everyone else’s stuff in that first retreat. It was a really fun way to make a book actually.
Kelly: Matt definitely came in with Legion as an option and I don’t remember who said “grandchildren of the atom” but that was the sentence that really intrigued me and got me excited for the book. Matt and Ed are two of my best friends in comics and I was really excited to get to do this with them… it only occurred to me after I took the project that it might destroy us. Fortunately it didn’t–couldn’t have asked for better partners in crime.
AiPT!: Were there any subplots or characters you thought about including in “X-Men Disassembled” that you had to abandon or cut out?
Matthew: Yes. A lot.
Kelly: Sure. A big plot like this can be overwhelming. It’s a lot of plates to keep spinning. I’ve talked a little before about how much we (I?) would have liked to include Rogue and Gambit in the story, but at the time that we were plotting it was all or nothing–if Rogue and Gambit were part of “Disassembled” then they would have to go into Age of X-Man, which would mean cancelling their new book, which nobody wanted to do. Later down the line we found exceptions to that rule, but it was too late for Rogue and Gambit, they were already set on their path as was “Disassembled.” It’s not a huge loss as I don’t think there were big juicy roles for them in “Disassembled,” but I always like to see them in the big events.
Ed: 100%. There was some stuff with the “kid” team (Armor, Glob, Pixie, Anole, Rockslide) that we wanted to build to, but in the end, there really wasn’t room for it.
AiPT!: Robert Secundus (@RobertSecundus) said bringing back X-Man in “X-Men Disassembled” was an amazing but completely unexpected decision. How did you come to the decision to use him as the primary antagonist rather than, say, Legion or Proteus, two more popular characters that could play the same role?
Matthew: Some of the fun of doing a book like this is going for the unexpected. X-Man hadn’t been getting used very much lately and is such a fascinating character. Where Legion has a TV show and pops up a lot, we thought very early it would be fun to do a fakeout. Let people think it’s Legion as the main villain, and then rip the rug out from under them. In some ways I don’t think it worked perfectly because none of us were used to the way weekly books work. Having the solicits for the final issue out before issue 1 hit meant that we sort of spoiled that twist for some folks, but I still think it works well dramatically. Also, if you don’t want stuff spoiled, don’t read solicits. Or go on the internet. Or talk to people in comic shops. Or anywhere.
Kelly: I mean, I think, on the surface, the biggest reason to not use Legion or Proteus is because they’d been used before in similar capacities pretty recently. And Nate was rather perfect because he comes from a horrifying reality and because, like Legion, Nate is a “grandchild of the atom” … a child of the X-Men–which was a big part of what we were trying to talk about–are the X-Men failing because the children they’re raising are growing up to be these incredible planet-killing threats? It’s a thin line between hero and villain when you have that much power. Like Matt, I was really excited about some of the layers of reveals and twists… also like Matt, I was pretty disappointed to see some of that stuff spoiled… but comics are tricky that way!
Ed: What they said.
AiPT!: Could you clear something up for AppleJ (@JackiEv87585672), who said it didn’t seem entirely clear how all the strange changes on Earth happening during “X-Men Disassembled” were connected to X-Man specifically. What was up with the dinosaurs, strange weather and so on?
Matthew: X-Man is weird.
Kelly: However well-intentioned, Nate was using his powers as a hammer, rather than a scalpel. When you have powers that manipulate the very fabric of reality you have to be incredibly careful–you try to do the right thing and bring back extinct animals, but there are unforeseen consequences to things like that. Nate is trying to fix an imbalance largely caused by mankind, but in doing so he created his own imbalance.
Ed: The idea was that Nate was trying to create a perfect world. He was bringing down rain in deserts so that the people could have access to water. But, of course, weather systems are fragile and so changing the atmosphere or climate of one area is going to impact other areas.
AiPT!: Ororo munroe appreciation account (@aliastager) was curious–what led Jean Grey to be so dismissive of the New X-Men after her stint with Gentle, X-23 and Honey Badger in X-Men Red?
Matthew: I don’t think she’s dismissive of them. She is maybe overly protective of them because she understands the scale of the threat. And she has little time for them not wanting to follow orders. But that’s a fairly common thread in X-Books going all the way back to the start. The next generation not respecting the previous, the hierarchy of power, the changing dynamics when they shift from an academic focus to a more superhero one. All of that stuff causes friction and Jean has no time for friction when she realizes the scale of the threat and also her own personal stake in it. Not to mention it is literally coming from the younger generation in a sense, so she might have some added baggage.
Ed: Matt stole my answer.
AiPT!: Xavier Files (@XavierFiles) asked… Did Nate Grey ever un-blow up the Pope?
Matthew: He didn’t blow up the buildings so he definitely didn’t blow up the Pope. He stole the buildings to make his weird temple. But he made sure to shake out all the people inside before he took them.
And yes, he restored the buildings. So I’m sure the Pope went back inside and is happily doing Pope stuff.
Ed: No, he just tucked everything away in a pocket universe. Or something.
Kelly: Yeah, I think the end of the story makes it pretty clear that the changes Nate made–both good and bad–were undone by the end of the story. Things were returned to normal–except the X-Men were gone and that after the terrifying events everyone the world over experienced, the mutant vaccine was a more popular idea than ever with the world.
AiPT!: Ed, part of the fun of reading Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 was seeing how exactly you brought Cyclops back–in a way I don’t think anyone could have predicted. How long did it take to come up with the specifics of his resurrection? Based on the ties to plot points in pretty obscure comics like Secret Avengers #26, I have to imagine there was quite a bit of back-issue diving.
Ed: It was MONTHS of me banging my head against the wall, to be honest. The idea was that Kid Cable would be responsible for bringing him back and so I needed to find a way that we could use past events as the engine for Cyclops’s rise. There were moments that I knew for sure that I wanted to touch on (Scott’s two deaths, for example) and so figuring out how to weave those into the story in a way that made sense.
Another thing I didn’t want to do was undermine any of the events that had previously happened. The scene between Scott and Jean in Phoenix Resurrection was a powerful moment and I didn’t want to do anything that would take from that and, at one point, realized that we could use that scene as a key moment in bringing Scott back.
Once I had the key moments, I did a lot of back issue diving to figure a way to string everything together in a way that made sense.
AiPT!: Matt, X (@nouveauxmutants) said the team in your Uncanny run was very unique since it was made up of a lot of longtime X-Characters who were more often on periphery X-Teams and not the flagship title, like Madrox, Dani Moonstar and Karma. Which character was the most fun/exciting to bring to the main team?
Matthew: I love them all, so each was a thrill to write. I’d never written Scott or Logan before, so that was a big kick for me of course. But honestly? Magik, Dani and Havok are some of my all-time favorite characters so I was thrilled to get to play with them some more.
AiPT!: Grey_life12 (@304grey_fan) asked, where do you think Cyclops and Wolverine stand with each other? How would you describe their relationship?
Matthew: Brothers who don’t get along. There is a bond that goes deeper than whatever the current fight is, but that doesn’t mean they will ever get beyond the fight. They both respect each other, and deep down they both sometimes wish they were more like the other, but they also can’t stand each other a lot. It’s complicated, like family often is.
AiPT!: Kaiolino (@Kaiolino1) said you had previously mentioned you cut two relationships from your Uncanny run because there wasn’t enough space for them. With the run at its end, can you reveal what they were?
Matthew: Nope. I’ve seen some people guess correctly online. I think both are hinted at pretty well in some ways. But they weren’t in the book so there’s not a lot of use in putting them out into the world.
AiPT!: Obviously, a lot of mutants have fallen in the line of duty throughout this Uncanny run. Jake (@JDChen0804) wanted to know how it was decided who on the team would perish.
Matthew: Well, the story’s not quite over, so I can’t give everything away. But going in the idea was that most of the X-Men won’t make it out. We’re taking them to one of the lowest spots they’ve ever been, and when you’re the X-Men that is real low. For the X-Men, and most ongoing superhero stories, it’s about peaks and valleys. We take them to the edge of destruction and see them come out the other side as something stronger hopefully. It’s a painful process for sure, it’s been painful to write, but I think when people see the bigger framework of what we did and where things are going in the coming years, I think a lot of the choices we made will make even more sense.
AiPT!: D. (@jvstagirl) asked if you believe Emma Frost feels guilty about handing the mutant vaccine over to Callahan–especially considering how guilty she felt over her students’ death.
Matthew: Of course she does. Emma is tortured and sees no other choice in that moment. But she is also one of the smartest and most Machiavellian characters in the Marvel Universe. So she is playing several moves ahead of Callahan in that moment. She knows that the serum will be a short-term problem that she can handle if her long-term plan works. And that’s the only angle she can play at the time.
AiPT!: Finally, what was one plot point, scene, line of dialogue or general contribution you came up with that you’re most proud of in “X-Men Disassembled”?
Matthew: There’s so much that I love in the book, and I have a real fear that I will say something that Ed or Kelly wrote by accident. But the little coda at the end with Scott finding out the X-Men are all gone… That was really emotional for me to write. It was closure on this big project, it was the beginning of my next project, it was me saying goodbye to a lot of characters I truly love. It was very cathartic.
Kelly: As always, my true favorite contributions are dumb jokes. But on the serious side, I did like the moment in issue 3 with Bishop and the racist protestor… that moment felt like quintessential X-Men to me. And this wasn’t mine so much as all of ours, but I was pretty happy with how all the heavy hitters at the end of the book were the X-Women… we didn’t do that on purpose… it just happened. A good indicator I guess of how many incredible female characters the X-Line is blessed with–an embarrassment of riches really.
Ed: I had a lot of fun writing Armor, Oya, Anole, Pixie, Glob and Rockslide riffing on the MLF. It may not have been one of the bigger moments (far from it), but I did get a lot of joy out off writing the exchange followed by the reintroduction of the MLF.
I will forever feel terrible for writing this on Page 10 of #2:
This panel should take up the majority of the page. From the POV of the X-Men. Below are thousands of Madroxes (Madri?) — they’re in the field, they’re in the trees, on the lampposts, they’re sitting on the porch of a nearby metal-roofed farmhouse, one of them is even in a tractor — and they’ve all stopped to look up at the X-Men.
Poor RB. The page looks good, but I can only imagine how hard he was cussing me out while drawing those thousands of Madri.
AiPT!: And with that, we bring our Uncanny X-Men X-It interview to a close. First, a BIG thank you to Ed, Matt and Kelly for taking the time out of their busy schedules to take part in this week’s X-Men Monday! And, as always, a HUGE thank you to all the X-Fans who submitted questions!
As Jordan said, Comic-Con International: San Diego is this weekend and promises major news regarding the future of the X-Men. AND, AiPT!’s own Content and Media Manager David Brooke will be there bringing you the latest news. So if you’re not already following AiPT!’s Twitter account, do so and then wait for that sweet, sweet X-News throughout the weekend.