Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cullen Bunn Reveals Original 'Uncanny X-Men' Pitch, Cosmic Book with Captain Britain

Cullen Bunn: In 2015, I was asked to take over Uncanny X-Men. We all know that yielded the Magneto-led team. My first pitch, however, was a cosmic team with Rachel Summers in charge and a new Captain Britain. My pal Bri Hurtt even worked up a few concepts. Their ship was powered by the Siege Perilous. And they would have encountered alien mutants across the universe. And—of course—Magneto would’ve played a role. Why didn’t it happen? It almost did. Then one editor really pushed a case against anything cosmic. Or maybe it would’ve just been too awesome. Everyone liked it... save one person who convinced the rest, I guess.

Tini Howard and Marcus To Talk 'Excalibur' - ‘There’s a lot to say about Betsy’

AiPT!: X-Men Week continues with a peek at the magic that awaits readers of Excalibur!

AiPT!: Tini, when preparing for Excalibur, did you revisit any of the classic Excalibur comics for inspiration, or is this series very much its own thing?

Tini Howard: Both? That’s a silly answer, but I think you have to do both, as a writer. You can’t build on something in a satisfying fashion without an awareness of what’s come before. I think House of X and Powers of X taught us that, if we didn’t already know, right? The combination of a completely fresh take with the presence and prominence of mutant characters and history from all over. I’m absolutely endeavoring to do the same in Excalibur.

AiPT!: Marcus, were you a fan of the original Excalibur?

Marcus To: Maybe not the original one, but the era of Pete Wisdom and Kitty Pryde dating and Colossus coming in after he left for the Acolytes–that was my era. I didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, so I’d sparingly buy one–“Oh, Colossus is in that one, I’ll buy that one–oh, Cyclops is in that one.” So I jumped around a lot as a kid and it wasn’t until later in my years I could read them. But I always loved Excalibur because it was a fun book. You could so so much more with that book.

AiPT!: Excalibur seems to be a team composed of “big” personalities. As a writer, how much fun is it juggling Rogue, Jubilee, Apocalypse and the other leads?

Howard: Incredibly! As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished #6 and it’s amazing to me how far these characters have come. They might seem like a motley crew to some, but to me, who has been spending so much time with them, they’re unquestioningly linked now. It does sometimes feel like juggling–right now I could write a solo about each of them, but that’s team books for you.

AiPT!: Marcus, you redesigned the entire team, right?

To: Yep, I redesigned pretty much all of the Excalibur characters.

AiPT!: What’s it like redesigning so many characters with such iconic costumes?

To: A lot of panic and late sleepless nights. I mean, obviously, with every character, there’s different things you need to make sure that they have. Every character kind of had their own different design differences. Obviously Betsy had the most drastic change, as she’s Captain Britain, so you pore over a lot of references to see what other people have done and see some of the similarities with what they’ve done and try to take those similarities and then add your flavor to them. So color schemes to try and stay on top of–Rictor has more green in his costume with a little bit of red and blue, then Gambit is purple or pink–one of the two. Jubilee is pink and yellow. A lot of those things you start off with, then go as crazy as you can, and then the editor pulls you back.

AiPT!: We haven’t seen Rogue in her ’90s costume in many years. What made you go that route?

To: Well, you’ll see in #1, she will have a slightly altered costume later on. But #1 will set the stage. We just needed her in something for now.

AiPT!: Tini, magic can be a turnoff to some superhero comic readers. Why should these specific readers, who don’t care for magic and mysticism in fiction, give Excalibur a chance?

Howard: I’ve never seen magic as just an aesthetic choice, it’s really the same as great science fiction, it’s a way of talking about the unknown and the speculative. It’s a good way to talk about things in reality we don’t understand–consciousness, connection, these nebulous things that are a big deal. I actually read a lot more science fiction than fantasy, and I think it’s because of the way I use magic in stories. This is a story about magic not as a thing we use to do the dishes for us but as a natural part of a culture’s history, that mysticism develops just like other cultural touch points.

AiPT!: I know you’re friends with Leah Williams–are there any aspects of Leah’s take on Betsy in X-Tremists you plan to carry over to Excalibur?

Howard: Leah and I have talked a lot about Betsy. I think one place we both really connect with her is that she has both the literal complicated-relationship-with-her-own-body, and also the same ones that many of us have as women. She’s a model, she’s been changed by the people who had power over her, distrusted, had a lot of messy affairs. There’s something I really connect to in ‘woman feels that another body would be better, easier to live in than her own, but is wrong about that in so many ways.’ There’s the added complexity that she is a white woman who took over the body of an Asian woman, at the hands of a man who was making her into the object of his desires… there’s guilt that’s legitimately hers and guilt that isn’t, guilt she’s feeling because the men responsible for it won’t feel it like they should. There’s a lot to say about Betsy.

AiPT!: And in terms of Betsy’s powers, artists have really delivered some very cool visuals using her revamped psychic weapons. Marcus, have you been having fun illustrating the new Captain Britain’s powers?

To: It’s been super fun. I think just drawing Betsy, in general, is a lot of fun. I think she has a lot of character. I think she’s going through so many things in her life right now, like drawing a lot of what her psychic powers mean to her now, which is a different part of her. It’s been awesome.

AiPT!: Finally, Tini, what do you love the most about the new status quo for mutants? And is the freshness of it all liberating for you as a writer?

Howard: It’s totally liberating. It frees us from a lot of the constraints that can happen in writing superhero comics. I’m really lucky to be a part of it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Battle of The Atom: Star Studded NYCC 2019 Special, Marcus To Talks 'Excalibur'

XavierFiles: This week, Adam Reck goes to New York City Comic Con! Marcus To is interviewed from 29:40 to 40:00.

What is mutant magic?

Marcus To: It’s been established in House of X/Powers of X a lot of mutants thrive from Krakoa. I think that’s where a lot of the magic comes from. From that island and from the flowers that bloom there.

Do you feel that Excalibur is its own standalone or does it weave in between some of the other stories?

Marcus To: The book starts right at the end of what was established before. Our first arc is pretty standalone. We mention a bunch of things. There’s going to be a lot of characters we haven’t seen yet. We’re establishing everything these characters have gone through and are going to go through next. The first issue is quite a large one, so you’ll get a lot of story and it really sets the stage for everything that’s coming ahead of us. It’s pretty standalone. We’re going to really focus on Betsy and her new self.

It’s a really cool status quo change for her character.

Marcus To: Yeah. Having such a large change in who she once was, now she’s really by herself in a lot of ways, especially with Krakoa being only for mutants. She’s very close to Brian and she can’t be living with Brian all the time. They have to be apart.

How many versions of the Captain Britain look did you go through before settling down on the one?

Marcus To: Actually, it was pretty simple. I spoke to Tini on the phone. We talked about what we both wanted and were looking for. She sent over some reference that she was pouring over and I really wanted to stay true to the traditional Captain Britain looks. We made sure to keep the color scheme and the cross across the chest. Her helmet still basically looks like the old Captain Britain one. We’ll see her wearing that mask/helmet a few times in the story. I also wanted her to look like a leader and that’s the point of the cape and her golden X’s. I thought it would give her a lot more of a knight in shining armor/leader look to her. That was the main goal and it went pretty easily.

There’s something majestic about her look, especially with the flowers in her hair.

Marcus To: I looked through a few English maidens mixed with female armor. I thought it was only right for her to have a flower motif, especially with the Krakoan flowers being unique to the book.

What’s like drawing Apocalypse in this team?

Marcus To: It’s challenging from a visual standpoint because he’s so large, fitting him in panels sometimes it’s difficult. But it’s fun because every good story has good conflict and what better team conflict than having probably one of the greatest villains in X-Men’s lore on your team and you having to find a way to work with him. They’re all working towards the same goal. House of X established that Apocalypse felt like he no longer has to fight anymore because he’s gotten what he wanted. Imagine if you’re fighting your entire life and now you can just shed all that armor and wear the clothes you originally wanted to wear. A lot of my designs were trying to call back to that Pharaoh/Egyptian look and Apocalypse’s design was the one that took a lot of tries.

How’s it working with Tini?

Marcus To: Fantastic. I only met her through this project so I didn't know her before, which is a very unique experience. As with any new partnership, it takes a little while to get comfortable with each other’s writing style and art style. I’m going to finish issue #5 next week, so we’re rolling really good. It’s been a great experience. I learned a lot from Tini. She writes a very compelling script and after every issue I’m like “Oh man, what next?” And it’s exciting for me to draw that.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Captain Britain by Marcus To

Giant-Sized X-Men Monday #31 - New York Comic Con 2019

AiPT!: In the Monday after New York City Comic Con 2019, 14–that’s right–14 past and present X-Creators field X-Men questions in NYCC’s Artist Alley!

AiPT!: When you put Psylocke back in her original body, did you know she’d eventually become Captain Britain–and how does that development make you feel, in general?

Jim Zub: I didn’t at the time, but I love that that’s become the outcome. I think it’s really neat, particularly because it’s harkening back to some of her earlier stories where she took on the mantle and failed at it early on in the Captain Britain series, the original stuff. So it’s a nice bit of bookending to that transformation. Now she gets to really pick up the mantle and carry it forward. I also like the kind of Euro-centric sword and shield stuff they’re doing with her power. I like it. It’s always fun to take the baton for a little bit and carry it off and then someone else is going to evolve it–that’s the way the Marvel Universe works. We all get to add our little pieces and then someone else takes a new turn.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

NYCC 2019: X-Men - Dawn of X Panel

As the sun sets in New York, Marvel's "X-Men: Dawn of X" panel rises here at New York Comic Con. Ed Brisson (New Mutants), Tini Howard (Excalibur), Benjamin Percy (X-Force) are joined by X-Men Group editor Jordan D. White and Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski to talk about what's coming. Welcome to the Dawn of X panel... we hope you survive the experience!

Excalibur #5 & Excalibur #6 Covers by Mahmud Asrar, on sale in January 2020

Tini Howard said that Hickman's ideas immediately spoke to the idea of mutants building things that cultures aren't able to until they are able to flourish. "They can make art and magic and that's what this is the story of. It's also the story of Betsy Braddock who has recently been divorced from a body that wasn't hers and is kind of adrift on the isle of Krakoa."

Excalibur #1 Interior Art by Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

Howard says that she's getting to work with a lot of characters she loves and "one real big blue jerk." Howard says her book has a journey for Apocalypse as well. She talks about Marcus To as akin to Alan Davis in the kinds of things he's able to do on the page. When developing the characters she sent him a lot of reference from waterhouse paintings to Revolutionary Girl Utena "Girls with swords, it's the mood".

Monday, September 30, 2019

Excalibur #1 Variants Unite the New Captain Britain's Team

Excalibur #1 Variant Cover by Mike McKone

Excalibur #1 Young Guns Variant Cover by Michael Del Mundo

Excalibur #1 Design Variant by Tom Mueller