Uncanny X-Men may have ended — twice — in recent memory, but the original flagship X-book is returning in February 2013, with All-New X-Men writer Brian Michael Bendis and veteran X-artist Chris Bachalo at the helm.
So far, readers know that it stars Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Magneto and some of their new recruits, and Marvel is set to reveal more via their latest “Next Big Thing” conference call. Things are scheduled to start around 4 p.m. eastern time, and we’ll be covering the press conference live, so this page will be continuously updated — keep hitting refresh for the latest.
On the line: Bendis, plus Marvel senior editor Nick Lowe. “Thanks to the daily shipping of All-New X-Men, we’ve been able to lay out exactly what the X-universe is going to look like, at least the foundation of it,” Bendis opens, joking a bit about the rapid initial shipping schedule of All-New X-Men. Bendis explains the team’s motive as “reaching across the world” to find and train new mutants.
Bendis says the series gives the opportunity to explore what being a mutant means in the modern world, much like how Chris Claremont did during his run. “There are so many new characters to debut,” Bendis says, adding that Bachalo’s art on the series is “fantastic.”
“His storytelling is unlike anybody else,” Lowe says. “The book is so cool looking.”
Bendis says that All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men are “of the same cloth,” but still radically different in terms of tone and content. “Writing for [Bachalo] is different than writing for anybody in the whole world,” the writer says.
The pair worked together previously on 2009′s Dark Avengers Annual, and Bendis says that Bachalo’s output on that issue was beyond anything he could have expected. Bendis says Bachalo is “about to burst with ideas,” and writing for that is “as unique a challenge as anything I’ve done in mainstream comics. I’ve really been studying this man like a psychopath.”
“I’m a big believer that when anyone goes through large changes in life, whether they realize it or not, do alter their appearances,” Bendis says, and that superheroes changing their costumes are an apt way to express that. “They’re in a very different place,” Bendis says of the Uncanny X-Men cast. “Clearly, something is going on with their powers. Something is going on with them.”
Speaking of Emma Frost, Bendis says that there’s “a lot more going on with her” then seen in the character’s early days, and that her outfit will reflect that. “It does reflect who she really is, rather than this other thing of how guys wanted her to be reflected. It will still reflect who she is physically, but it will be how she sees herself, and not how others perceive her.” Bendis points out that as a creator, when someone comes up to you in cosplay as Emma Frost, it’s “startling.”
First press question, from us: What villains might be involved with the series? “We’ve been discussing this back and forth a great deal,” Bendis answers. “This book will have a Dr. Doom-level villain, that I think is a surprise, who hasn’t been a villain in an X-book before, but when you see the connection is say, ‘Oh my god, of course.’ You will see this villain showing up in the first few issues. I would like it to be a surprise. I think at the end of issue #3, this villain will appear.” Also, among the new mutants that will be showing up, there will be new villain-type characters. “Not everyone is going to get their powers and say, ‘Yay, high five!’” “And there will be an antagonist in the first few issues that Brian picked up from Wolverine and the X-Men,” Lowe says. “And many people who pick this book up will think Cyclops is the villain,” Bendis adds.
Continuing, Bendis says the last page of Uncanny X-Men “completely shifts the dynamic of the X-Men universe,” and that he’s both very proud of the sequence, and looking forward to the reaction to it. Lowe says that Marvel isn’t going to show nearly as much of Uncanny prior to release as they did with All-New.
Next question, from iFanboy: What’s the process of creating new mutants? “You are very aware, as a writer, with debuting new characters that immediately from their first panel, that one little image of them is already being judged next to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of another character,” Bendis says. “They see the new mutant and say, ‘Wow, that’s no Sunspot. Why is this character better than the other character?’ You have to show a lot right away, just to express, ‘Why is this character different? Why do I care?’”
“You have these characters, like the Johnny Storms of the world, where their powers are a reflection of their personality,” Bendis continues, speaking on the subject of superpowers as an allegory. “And then you have characters where it’s the opposite.” Bendis says the “hardest thing in the world” is creating new powers, because you feel like “everything has been done,” but it’s very exciting when you come up with something you haven’t seen before, or a version of something that hasn’t been seen before (in fact, he has a file of power and character ideas, and used it to help formulate new mutant ideas). “For mutants, you like it to be powers that start off as one thing, but after some training, can turn into something else,” Bendis says, citing Iceman as an example.
Next question, from CBR: How much crossover will there be between All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men? “It’s going to intersect once in a while,” Bendis replies. “You don’t want to over-abuse it. And where the two teams are, physically and emotionally, could not be a in more different place.” Bendis says there’s a “giant” connection in All-New X-Men #9 and Uncanny X-Men #3, with the Uncanny team showing up at the Jean Grey School, uninvited, and readers will see the encounter from both perspectives. “Something huge will happen,” Bendis reveals, that will alter the dynamic of both books.
Next question, from Word Balloon: Do any of the relationships in Dark Avengers inform Bendis’s writing of Uncanny X-Men? “This is definitely the darker of the X-Men books, but not as dark as Dark Avengers,” Bendis answers. “In that book, everyone was nuts. This is different. There are going to be people who see Cyclops, and his goal, and will be rooting for him. Magneto is an interesting character, because he has been a selfish father and done wrong, and there are people in this world who get to a certain age and realize, ‘Oh, sh*t, I’m the a**hole of this story,’ and they immediately try to make up for it. There’s some of that going on with Magneto. He didn’t do right by his kids, so he’s trying to do his version of it, for Scott and Emma and them, but it’s all mixed up with the issues he has. It’s not coming out straight.”
Bendis says that having Magneto around is also a constant reminder that “if Cyclops makes the wrong decision one more time, he’s Magneto. The end. There’s no redeeming it.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: What are Cyclops’ specific goals for his “revolution”? “He’s making a lot of noise, and it’s making him very popular, but at the same time, rubbing people the wrong way,” Bendis says. “The goals of this revolution, and what he could get out of it, are what we’re building towards for the 50th anniversary of X-Men.”
Marvel marketing’s James Viscardi, moderating the call, asks about the Uncanny X-Men base of operation, the old Weapon X headquarters. Bendis says readers will see much more of it, even an old-school cutaway showing what’s in every room, and that it’s “reclaiming” something that was used to torture mutants. “It’s not somewhere the mutants will ever go looking for him.” There will also be a “new type of Danger Room,” upgrades to Cerebro and more.
Going back around, another question from us: How much of the X-Men: Schism status quo does Lowe and Bendis see as still relevant, and how much was this outcome planned from the onset of Schism and “Regenesis”? “Some plans were firmer than others,” Lowe says. “Even in the early talks with Brian, I was very pleased with how he showed interest in having a book with Cyclops, Magneto and Emma Frost. Him gravitating immediately towards that made me very happy to know that these plans were continuing, and bared further digging into. When we were planning Schism, we didn’t quite know that the events of All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men would happen, but seeing how it has all worked together has been very gratifying. It’s been cool to see how that goes, and how Brian, on his own, has picked up that baton in a different way.”
“When we were on Avengers, we had a plan,” Bendis adds. “And then other things start happening. You go, ‘Does my plan fit?’ When it all works out, it’s the best. It’s the coolest thing in the world.”
Next question, from iFanboy: Has teaching affected the way Bendis writes student/teacher relationships? “Absolutely,” Bendis answers. “To me, it doesn’t feel that long ago that I was a student in college, and all of a sudden you’re on the other side of the desk, and it is a completely different dynamic — except that I can tell you that the paperwork, website and parking is as bad as it is for students. But the dynamic between a teacher and a student is quite successful, and watching someone succeed, and realize that you don’t have to do much other than nudge them in the direction they’re already going, is such a fantastic moment. You live vicariously through your students’ successes and failures, but at the same time, there’s only so much you can do.”
Next question, from CBR: What will Magik’s role on the team be? “Due to the drama with the Phoenix Force, all of these characters’ powers have been broken or shifted,” Bendis recaps. “They’re not the mutants that they were. While Cyclops is now dealing with the horror of his optic blast not being something he can control all the time, and Emma’s powers being broken, and Magneto’s powers being broken, Magik actually finds herself more empowered. She seems to have more control over Limbo, and the powers that she has always wielded. At the same time, what the cost of this power is will be a big story going forward. Also, one of the students immediately falls in love with her.”
Last question, from Marvel.com: What’s the Wolverine/Cyclops relationship like at this point, especially in light of the Uncanny team using Weapon X as a headquarters? “I think Wolverine is much angrier at Cyclops than Cyclops is at Wolverine at this point,” Bendis says. Readers will see them interact in the earlier mentioned All-New X-Men #9/Uncanny X-Men #3 crossover. Bendis says he thinks Wolverine would be “quit touched” if he knew the new status of Weapon X.
Wrapping up: Uncanny X-Men #1 and #2 are both out in February 2013, from Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. That’s it, thanks for reading! More Marvel coverage all week.