A new day is dawning for the X-Men. After years spent under the potential threat of extinction, the mutants fo the Marvel Universe have a new lease on life and writer Marc Guggenheim has been chosen to lead them into this new tomorrow.
Guggenheim, who is also known as the creator of The CW's Arrow, will team with artist Ardian Syaf on X-Men Gold, the new flagship title for the X-Men's ResurrXion relaunch.
X-Men Gold sees Kitty Pryde return to the X-Men after time spent in space with her now ex-fiance Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy. She'll lead a team that includes veteran X-Men mainstays Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, and Rachel Summers, who now operates under the codename Prestige.
This classic X-Men lineup will set out to remind the world that the X-Men are heroes and they'll begin by facing off with the most classic of X-Men foes, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
ComicBook.com spoke to Guggenheim about his vision for the X-Men's future. You also get a first look at Adi Granov's variant cover for X-Men Gold #2 and two pages from the issues that sees Old Man Logan taking on the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
What is the mission statement for X-Men Gold, both for the team and for the series?
Marc Guggenheim: To restore the X-Men to a place where they're superheroes in a world that hates and fears them. It’s really, “Can we tell the kind of stories that it's been a while since we've told in X-Men?” Usually, in the past few years, the X-Men have been dealing with very mutant-centric problems, issues of extinction or “no more mutants” or the Terrigen Mist, and this is an attempt to sort of get back to the basics, get back to the days when the X-Men basically were superheroes who were trying to save people who fundamentally distrusted them and fundamentally hated them.
That's also the team's mission statement. The team is trying again, after all these years of dealing with these existential threats, to reestablish themselves among humanity as good people, as people who can show that mutants can be trusted and that mutants need not be feared.
Kitty Pryde is leading the teach, which counts at least three other former X-Men team leaders among its ranks. What does that dynamic look like?
MG: They're pretty accepting of it. I'm all for dramatic conflict, but I think they would all be kind of jerks if they weren't supportive of Kitty. The other thing is that Kitty's really good at the job. I think one of the things that I'm finding as I write Kitty in this new role is that she's out there calling the shots a lot more than the typical team leader of the X-Men, whoever that team leader might be. In the past, it almost felt like, with some exceptions but generally speaking, when they were out in the field like someone being the team leader was more of a title than an actual position. Kitty really takes the reins of the team and she's out there calling the shots and calling plays and giving orders.
X-Men Gold’s team roster and mission statement have both led to comparison’s to the classic Chris Claremont run on X-Men. One of Claremont’s signatures was playing the long game with his stories, introducing subplots that wouldn’t pay off for some time. Are you taking a similar approach in X-Men Gold, are is it more episodic?
MG: I'm doing kind of a mix, actually. There are definitely subplots, I'm a big fan of subplots. I used to read those first. I used to skip through the issue when I got it and, like, there's this one page that feels unconnected to the rest of the narrative, and that's always the subplot. I'm doing that at the same time that I'm telling these very tight, non-decompressed, three-issue arcs. The reason for that is back in the day when Claremont was writing and the book - with the exception of, I think, one summer where the book double-shipped - was generally monthly. I think when it's double-shipping and you're telling a story at a much faster pace, my sense is you feel the decompression more, so I'm trying to avoid decompression and tell these tightly-plotted three-issue arcs where there's little to no decompression. At the same time, there are these subplots that I'm laying the foundation for future arcs and I think that’s part of the fun.
Marc Guggenheim - Page 2
Kitty Pryde and Colossus are two characters with a lot of history, much of it romantic, and there are a lot of fans of that pairing and that relationship. They’ll be teammates in X-Men Gold for the first time in a long while and after both have pursued other romantic interests. What should fans expect when they come together again in X-Men Gold?
MG: Honestly, I would say it's going to be awkward. There's a lot of water under the bridge with these two characters and it's one of the things I was most excited about when coming on to the book. I knew I wanted Kitty because she's my favorite X-Man, but once you sort of have Kitty, I really, really want to have Peter in the book as well so that I could play that romantic tension and that complex romantic history. We'll see where things lead.
Kitty Pryde also has a long history with Wolverine. Modern fans often think of Jubilee or X-23 as Wolverine’s teen girl sidekick, but Kitty was really the first. However, this will be the first time she’s really interacted much with Old Man Logan. What’s that relationship like?
MG: I'm a big fan of the, I feel, like little-known, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine miniseries that Claremont did with Al Milgrom. I always enjoyed their dynamic and I thought there's a great opportunity here to play with that familiar dynamic because they're in such different places now in their lives. Kitty's the leader of the X-Men and Logan, to me, writing Logan as Old Man Logan is no so much a function of writing him as old, or drawing him as old, as it is writing him from a place of a lot of experience, that he has got a wealth of experiences, good and bad, that now inform his character.
What can you say about the new Brotherhood of Evil mutants that the X-Men will be facing in the first arc?
MG: I'm really trying to get back to the basics of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as basically mutant terrorists. I think you'll see that in a variety of different things that they do in the first three issues. That's sort of part and parcel with one of the things I'm trying to do, as much as I'm trying to sort of honor the book's roots and, like I said, take this back to the basics approach, I'm also trying to move the book forward into the 21st century. I'm trying to write human/mutant relations and anti-mutant bigotry from a lens that's very 2017, so that includes, again, what anti-mutant terrorism looks like today.
The book really begins with sort of a thesis statement about anti-mutant bigotry and what that looks like in 2017, particularly in a world where there are Inhumans and there are people with superpowers and there are all sorts of different altered people running out there in the Marvel universe. Why is it that people don't trust mutants? I felt like this was particularly important in light of everything that's been going on with the Inhumans for the last several years, because one of the things they've been playing with the Inhumans is that the Terrigen Mist and the idea of becoming an Inhuman is something that's embraced by society. I thought there was some interesting tension. Why are mutants hated and feared and Inhumans embraced? Again, prejudice, by its definition, is not rational, but I did want to just open the book from the perspective of someone who doesn't like mutants and whose prejudiced against mutants to see what's going on.
So it would be fair to say that you’re reexamining the mutant metaphor that has been at the core of the X-Men franchise since the very beginning to determine what it means in the 21st century?
MG: Exactly. I think there are two ways of looking at the mission statement of X-Men Gold. One is that we're trying to go backward to go forwards. The other is is that we're trying to really produce a book that feels like the halcyon days of the X-Men, but, at the same time, has some new and interesting contributions to make.
Most of the team is made up of characters who debuted in Giant-Size X-Men #1, but Rachel Summers, while certainly a veteran X-Man, came a little later down the line. Why did you decide to add her into the X-Men Gold mix?
MG: I did a run on “adjective-less” X-Men, which was is the all-female X-Men book at the time, about two years ago and I really enjoyed writing Rachel. When Marvel asked me who's my ideal lineup, I wanted to include her, mainly because I just really enjoy writing that character. I will say, there was a practical element in that she had a power set that's very useful, both to the team and to being a writer. It's fun to play with telepathy and I play around with different versions of that in the X-Men Gold, but, fundamentally, I kind of find Rachel to be this fascinating character.
I think the approach I'm trying to take with her is, so many of the stories about Rachel have been focused on her past and she has this very storied past, being Scott Summers’ daughter and then coming from the “Days of Future Past” timeline, all manner of really cool and interesting things, but one of the things that I wanted to do with her is tell stories that don't rely on past stories.
During the X-Men run that I did, the story was fundamentally sort of a reaction to or continuation of Chris Claremont's “End of Greys” storyline. I sort of approach Rachel as this character that's very steeped in history and steeped in a backstory and trying to free her up from that and tell some different stories with her. Something's going to happen with her in our second arc that I think will, hopefully, fundamentally change the character and give her some very interesting stuff to wrestle with and for me to play with as a writer.
Marc Guggenheim - Page 3
Speaking of your previous X-Men runs, do you have plans to pick up threads or reuse characters from those issues in X-Men Gold?
MG: It's a pretty clean slate. I'm definitely not looking to continue any storylines. It really was designed so that you should be able to have not read X-Men for a number of years, or at all, and hit the ground running with issue one. Daniel Ketchum, my editor, and I have this running joke about my desire to put Ink, who is a character I created for Young X-Men, into the book. It may pop up here and there. I'm actually trying very hard not to rely too much on characters that I've introduced in Young X-Men, mainly, because, I don't know, it always feels a little self-serving. One of the things I'm actually really enjoying doing is, you have this X-Men Gold team of five characters, but they're living in the X-Mansion, and in the X-Mansion are a whole bunch of other mutants and various students, former X-Men, former members of various X-teams and it's fun to bring them in as the story requires.
That actually leads into my next question which is about how locked in this roster is. Is this the cast, or could we see some shuffling or guest stars?
MG: Oh, yeah, you'll definitely see guest team members, even in issue one, there are a whole bunch of other mutants apart from our core five. The balancing act I'm trying to do is keep the main lineup small and manageable, but, at the same time, play around with a bunch of other characters as the stories dictate. For example, in the second arc, Gambit comes to the fore. Rockslide and Armor play an important role in the first arc. I love Anole, so Anole keeps popping up. Kid Gladiator appears in the first issue. You have all these toys in the toy box and I'd be foolish not to avail myself of as many of them as I can organically work in.
Will X-Men Gold be where we see what’s happened to certain Extraordinary X-Men who didn’t meet the cut for the new team? Magik and Forge, for example?
MG: I love Forge and I just turned in some outlines that have him involved, but the outlines haven't been approved yet, so wait and see. Magik makes a critical appearance in X-Men Prime, which is the book that launches the ResurrXion relaunch. I'm a big Illyana fan, so I think you can definitely expect to see her. I keep trying to work Dr. Cecilia Reyes into the book because I have always really enjoyed that character. I love the idea of an X-Man who doesn't want to be a superhero but just wants to be a doctor.
The characters that you are carrying over from Extraordinary X-Men have just gone through some rough periods in their lives. Colossus was turned into a Horseman of Apocalypse. Nightcrawler was on the brink of insanity. Old Man Logan comes from a timeline where he killed the X-Men. Storm is still working through regret over her actions during IvX. Will these emotion arcs carry over into X-Men Gold, or do you pick up at a point where they’re over it and ready to move on?
MG: I would say I'm picking up from a place not where they're over it, but rather they are trying to move forward. They're not particularly haunted by the past, and part of that is a tonal thing of trying to sort of do this book from a hopeful place. It's a lighter tone.
The other thing is, again, I want it to be as new-reader-friendly as possible, so I'm trying not to base too much of the story and the characterization in arcs that have come before us. I think, perhaps, the one exception to that is Storm. Ororo had such a critical role to play in Inhumans vs. X-Men, and she is wrestling with the consequences of that conflict, and particularly the consequences of her judgment throughout it.
That's probably the one thread that I'm carrying through from recent storylines, and in large part, I'm doing it because it affects Ororo's character. Again, that'll all sort of make more sense when you read X-Men Prime, but it affects Ororo's character, it affects, also, the reason why Kitty is the leader of the team and not Storm, so it's kind of load-bearing. Again, not load-bearing in a way that you'd have to read IvX in order to understand what's going on with Storm. We tried to give you all the information in X-Men Prime and X-MenL Gold #1. If you have read IvX, I think it gives you an additional layer, an additional bit of color.
Any last words you’d like to leave X-fans with?
MG: I think just that the goal of the book is for it to be fun. I think it's been a little bit of a while since the X-Men were fun. The X-Men are finally facing a future where they're not dealing with some kind of existential threat or threat to mutantkind and that allows them, as characters, and me, as a writer, to really cut loose and just have fun.