Big things are happening across the Marvel Universe. The X-Men are about to enter a brand new era with ResurrXion, Robbie Reyes is making his return as Ghost Rider, and Marvel is launching a brand new family of comics centering on and around Daredevil.
Marvel editor Mark Paniccia has his hands full coordinating all of these major events, but somehow still found the time to talk to ComicBook.com about all of it, inlcuding the futre of Laura Kinney as Wolverine, Ghost Rider's new Marvel Universe friends and foes, and how Bullseye, Elektra, and Kingpin factor into the latest Daredevil saga.
See what Paniccia had to say in the iterview below, which also includes brand new cover art and a gallery of interrior artwork for Ghost Rider, All-New Wolverine, and Old Man Logan.
What was the creative process behind ResurrXion like?
Mike Paniccia: The X-Men have been through a really rough time for a long time. In Inhumans vs. X-Men, it's almost as bad as you can get. I'm not saying everything is bright and cheery afterwards because there's a cost that has to be paid for where they're going to be, but we felt story wise that it was a natural progression for them to finally have a moment to breathe and not always be looking over their shoulders. Not always going to funerals. Not always being attacked. Really, time for them to be heroes again and that's something that I really embraced because when I was first introduced to the X-Men that's what they were, they were heroes. They still are. With the X-Men, it just felt like they have been beaten up for such a long time that we wanted to do something nice for them [Laughs]
How will the ResurrXion era balance those heroics with the “mutant metaphor” that has come to define the X-Men’s themes?
MP: Well, I think they're always going to feel different because they are different. They are mutants. That doesn't go away. That feeling of being different, that feeling of walking down the street and knowing that people might be looking at you funny or they might be a little bit afraid of you or they may not understand you. That all will still be there, but the difference I think this time is we really wanted to tap into that ‘90s vibe. I look back at that heyday and it was great. It was a great time to be an X-Men fan. I really want to sort of recapture that magic for the run of all of these books, with the exception of Weapon X, which is meant to be the dark book.
Would it be fair to compare Weapon X to X-Force?
MP: It's going to be distinct from that concept. It is its own concept. I don't think anybody's going to be disappointed with the book we've got. It stars some great characters. People are probably going to guess who some of them are but I think they'll be pretty surprised by some of the other ones we've got. t's going to be a good time. Very visceral and very violent and action-packed with the kind of characters that do violent and action-packed the best.
I am fully anticipating the return of Adam X the X-Treme.
MP: Hmm. No comment. [Laughs]
What was it like choosing the rosters for these ResurrXion team books? Were creators trying to draft their favorite characters, or was it more tied to each book’s concept?
MP: It's a little bit of both. With some, the mission statements clearly dictated what kind of characters are going to be involved. There's always going to be some horse trading and maneuvering and negotiating to wrestle some characters out of the sphere of another creator. All in all, I love the rosters that we have so far. X-Men Blue is I think going to be a really fun cool roster. People are going to love X-Men Gold. They're going to just really dig up Weapon X,
As you’ve said, Weapon X is the dark book. We know that Generation X is the school book. Can you elaborate in any way on what the mission statements or concepts for the flaghship titles, X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold, will be and how they differentiate from each other?
MP: I think with X-Men Gold it's more of the golden age of the X-Men and it will obviously be distinct by the roster, and with X-Men Blue it's going to be more action but a fun book. You're going to have a handful of characters in this book where there's a lot of inner turmoil with them. There's a lot of all of the things you love about X-Men. There's a lot of reflection. I think that, as far as a vibe for X-Men Blue, Blue is going to have some classic X-Men themes in it and I’m not just talking about them being heroes that people may not necessarily embrace entirely, but also the inner personal dynamics.
How did you land on Iceman, Jean Grey, and Cable for the ResurrXion solo character series?
MP: It's weird because when we were looking at it, we were like, “Let's do Jean Grey, let's do Iceman and I had been wanting to do Cable for a long time.” I really wanted to do a Cable book and this was the time. It was the perfect time. It's weird because there was no push back on it. It was just like, “It's time for an Iceman book.” When you have that kind of sort of synergy with everyone, the kind of ingredients, you don't question it. You don't push your luck.
Laura Kinney has only been Wolverine for as long as the T-Cloud has been floating around. Similarly, Old Man Logan has only been part of this universe for about that long. How does IvX effect Wolverine and Old Man Logan?
MP: More so than the events of IvX, the events of “Enemy of the State II” will take more of a toll on Laura and it's going to put that book in a different place. I don't see the tone being drastically different on it, but there's definitely an arch with the character, there's definitely some things that are going to resonate from “Enemy of the State II” and it will change things a bit cosmetically in the book and it will change the tone. The writer cannot help but write a fine dark story. He couldn't just write a straight dark story because he's just too clever. I think Tom Taylor just destroyed on that book. We were talking about, “What's the next big thing after ‘Enemy of the State II?’” Wait and see!
How did you come upon the idea of doing a spirtual sequel to “Enemy of the State?”
MP: When Tom and I first started working on the book, we really wanted to go dark. Or at least I wanted to go dark with it. I don't do dark books. I don't ever have the opportunity to. I was really looking forward to doing a dark book. The way that things shaped up, it turned out to be a much lighter book in a sense. Tom added some stuff that was in the original pitch that was a really great idea, but we were like, “Now's not the time. That’s not the tone we're setting for this series. Now's not the time for this story but we're going to get to a point where it will be.” It just hit that moment for us. When I was reading the outline for this I was like, “Wow, this is like Laura's version of ‘Enemy of the State’” and I brought that up to him and he really liked the idea of bannering this as such and that's pretty much how that happened.
The new Ghost Rider series is about to launch, bringing Robbie Reyes back into the Marvel Universe. The first issue has some interesting guest stars. Is having Robbie interact more with other members of the Marvel Universe something you’ll be focusing in on with this series as it continues?
MP: You know, it just felt like when Felipe [Smith] and I, when we first started chatting about the first series, one place where we wanted to go was with more interaction with the other younger characters. This was the place to do it. At first, what we really wanted was to establish Robbie as very local to LA and not a lot of exposure to other characters. We felt this was a really great place to bring in a character like Amadeus Cho, a great character for him to play off of and wait till you see what Felipe does with Laura Kinney. You saw Gabby's in there. She didn't play a big role but we've gotten such a great response to Gabby. Every writer that wants to have Laura in the book, ends up wanting to bring Gabby in too. I would love for Gabby to have her own series, but that's probably a stretch.
Considering how popular Robbie has been on Agents of SHIELD, are there any plans to have him interact with Quake or the rest of SHIELD in this series?
MP: Yeah, I would say that's not outside the realm of possibility. Felipe really likes those characters. In some discussions that we've had, they've been brought up.
Johnny Blaze showed up in All-New Ghost Rider to help mentor Robbie. How will Johnny and the other Ghost Riders of the Marvel Universe factor into the new Ghost Rider series?
MP: Once we get past the young heroes, that's a direction that Felipe wants to go and explore. He wants to bring in the other Ghost Riders and actually has a pretty cool idea for how Alejandra will play and maybe even bringing through some of the new versions of some of the characters that we saw in Ghost Racers.
Tradd Moore really defined Robbie’s look in All-New Ghost Rider. What was the search for a new artist like and how did you land on Danilo Beyruth?
MP: That was the hardest thing. The hardest thing was trying to find somebody that could give as visually distinct a look as Tradd did. When, at first, I asked Tradd to be on the series I knew I had a problem. I knew that there was nobody out there that could fill those shoes. It was a long process to try to find somebody. Danilo has a really unique visual style. He's got several of them and when I asked him if he wanted to work on this, I was like, “Do your thing. Just read the script and create a new style if you want.” The guy is so interesting. I think what he came back with was really cool, and it's visually distinct and unique and it's all his own.
When we last saw Robbie, he had come to an uneasy alliance with Eli Morrow, but not before his relationship with Gabriel took a hit. How have those relationships progressed since then, and where will we see them going in Ghost Rider?
MP: Robbie and Eli formed an uneasy alliance. Robbie doesn't want to give up the Ghost Rider power and Eli, he had to make a deal with him. As all deals go with the devil, there's price that has to be paid. You won't notice until the second issue but we’ll be introducing some elements that you see are going to be built into that mythos of Eli and take Robbie to a really bad place, between a rock and a hard place.
How closely tied, on a plot level and a thematic level, is the new Ghost Rider to Robbie’s debut series, All-New Ghost Rider?
MP: Thematically, it's the next chapter for Robbie, because the first one was about the discovery of this new situation of his, this new predicament. The beauty of that first issue is that it was such a classic Marvel story of someone who is trying to do the right thing but the wrong way. There was a price he had to pay and that first arch was really about him being put in the situation and now having to figure out how to deal with this new power that he has and what his role is with it. This new chapter is a great jumping on point, but everything's very familiar for that first issue. He's still trying to do the right thing for Gabe, but now things are getting more complicated with it because of the deal he had to make with Eli. Eli's not the kind of guy that's going to keep a deal either.
Daredevil is about about start a story arc that will reveal how Matt Murdock managed to get his secret identity back. Why have you waited until now to tackle that story?
MP: When I first became the editor of the book, I sat down with Charles [Soule]. I heard bits and pieces of his plan at various editorial summits. There's a long game there that he was playing with the characters. We went out and he pulled out his notebook and started telling me what all the reveals were. We talked about a few things and I told him some of the things I would hope that he could incorporate into the book as far as themes go and what not, but he had this plan. It's meticulous. I've never seen a long term plan like this before that has such precise reveals in it that had been planted earlier with the kind of precision that he did with this. It's a real modern masterpiece. Why now with this arc? This was just the time that it needed to be done in the natural progression of what he had outlined. It's great too. It's a great story.
Daredevil is about to be joined by a few sister series in Kingpin, Bullseye, and Elektra. The last appearance of Elektra in Daredevil involved someone tricking her into believing she had a daughter. How does that story factor into this new series?
MP: It’s a big part of the opening arc. When we open up, we find Elektra just trying to sort of lose herself. She has been screwed with in so many ways, and especially something like that, that kind of a mind f---, you don't just brush something like that off. It's hard enough to shake off a bad dream. Imagine that you've had that dream for however long she did and then she still doesn't know what the truth is afterwards. We'll open up with her sort of trying to get away from everything and decompress and maybe even relax a little bit but you know, there is no happy time. There's no vacation for Elektra. She gets pulled into something pretty intense in that very first issue and it's a great arc, too.
How closely tied together are these titles?
MP: They're all very distinct. With each one of these, the first arc is to introduce the character to new readers and catch regular readers up with where the characters have been. Once that’s been established you’ll start to see more connective tissue. They are also stories that I think long time readers are going to love because so true to the concept of each one of these characters. These are meant to be the kind of stories that a casual fan will really enjoy and someone will be able to go, "Hey, you should check out the Elektra series." You can jump right in. It's just a really good Elektra story and it introduces her as what this core character. Every story puts all of the characters in a situation where you understand who and what they are.
We have a sense of what’s going on in Daredevil and where we’ll be starting with Elektra. What about Bullseye and Kingpin?
MP: In Bullseye, its classic adrenaline junkie Bullseye. There's almost no job that's not boring to him and when he finally finds a job he likes it's because it’s a suicide mission. It just goes to show you how crazy this character is. Anybody else would go into this mission with stealth and care and this guy is just like, "Hey everybody, I'm here and I'm looking for this," and he puts a target on himself. It's fun watching him put a target on himself every issue throughout the series. You really get a sense of how crazy this character is. It all comes back to Bullseye: Greatest Hits, which is an amazing Bullseye story which really explains what that character is all about. It's just putting himself in unwinnable situations where you are just thinking, “How the hell is he going to get out of this one?”
Kingpin is all about a guy who's willing to do anything to keep his power and Kingpin is a criminal mastermind and he's got a new plan to broaden his sphere of influence and his power. It's going to be a cool series. It’s very interesting watching him strategize and manipulate people. It will be cringe-inducing seeing what happens with some of the supporting characters.
We’ve touched on a lot of titles here, but you’re a man with a lot on his plate. Is there anything you want to say about any of the titles we haven’t hit on?
MP: I think people are going to have a lot of fun with Monsters Unleashed. That's something that we're in process of and I'm getting pages in from Steve McNiven and Greg Land and they're amazing. I think we've all kind of wanted to see a big super hero versus monster book for a long time. We're not holding anything back with this one.