Thursday, December 30, 2010

CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2010

27. Uncanny X-Force

Written By: Rick Remender
Illustrated By: Jerome Opena
Published By: Marvel Comics

The X-Men's black-ops squad reinvented themselves with a new roster, a new mission and a new creative team this year to incredible results. Rick Remender's handle on established favorites like Wolverine and Deadpool make these variant-cover hogs feel like fresh, new faces, while new life has been breathed into Apocalypse while Fantomex recieved some much-needed time in the spotlight. Throw in Jerome Opena's action-packed panels and you've got a title where everything old is new again, and that suits us just fine.

- CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu

Thanks soulkiller for the heads up!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

First Look: 5 Ronin - Psylocke

Art from 5 Ronin #4 - Psylocke:

Goran Parlov's Sketches:

X-Position: Top X-Moments of 2010

CBR: Right before the end of 2010, CBR asked you - their faithful X-POSITION readers - to send them your favorite moments of the year gone by from the various X-books. Here they are!

1. "X-Men: Curse Of The Mutants -- Storm and Gambit" One-Shot

2. Angel and Psylocke Get Back Together

Reunited and it feels so good! Most comic readers are romantics at heart, and the X-fans are no exception. It seems everyone was thrilled to see this classic couple back together, and they truly appreciated the reason behind this reunion as well...

I only have one favorite moment of 2010: Angel and Psylocke getting back together. I'm glad they didn't get back together just for the sake of it -- there's substance to it. I love how Remender handles the relationship and how it acts as the heart of the book. Plus they've always been my favorite X-couple.

When Betty explains to Warren why she is there on the team -- it's pure romance meshed with drama and reality. And it's all complemented by Jerome Opena's wonderful art and damn fine dialogue by the awesome Rick Remender!

Psylocke and Archangel getting back just feels so right. The X-Universe was lacking some good old romance...

3. The Death of Nightcrawler

4. "Uncanny X-Force" and The Final Horsemen

In September, the covert X-Force team formed by Cyclops and Wolverine was disbanded, but less than thirty days later...long live X-Force! That is to say, long live the new Uncanny X-Force, as written by Rick Remender. The formation of this team (headed by Angel and Wolverine) coupled with the creation of new Final Horsemen drove fans wild with excitement!

"Uncanny X-Force" definitely comes first. The Final Horsemen are the best Horsemen lineup to date! A Geisha who vomits bugs? Just beautiful!
-- Chace

Two issues in and this has already outshined everything else that was released this year. Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex chasing Apocalypse as a child? What's not to like?
-- Ben

5. Rahne's Long-Awaited Return to "X-Factor"

6. Inferno Babies!

7. Emma Frost's Tanline

8. "Pixie Strikes Back"

9. Doop's Investigation

10. Cyclops Has Breakfest

11. Dani Vs. Hope

12. The Death of Nathan Cable Summers

Runner-ups: "X-Women", Dani Moonster Turns Into a Valkyrie and "Second Coming" and its Ensuing Revelations

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 DLC

This is a polite reminder that the time is almost up, after December 31st the DLC will be gone and will NOT be coming back.

For 800 Microsoft points($9.99 on PSN) you can get 5 additional playable characters: Carnage, Magneto, Psylocke, Cable, and Black Panther. You’ll also get 4 simulator missions

For just 160 Microsoft points($1.99 on PSN), you can also buy the former pre-order exclusive the unstoppable Juggernaut!

There is a teaser pack that available that allows you to play online with those who have bought the DLC but this will also be removed on Friday.

Don’t wait, this is your last chance to grab this DLC and get those last achievements and trophies.

X-Men Legacy #243 Spoilers & Art

Spoilers: Hellion attacks Omega Sentinel with all his power. Karima is left brain dead. Cyclops wants to know if Hellions regrets what he did. He doesn't. Things aren't looking very good for Julian...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

David Aja's Psylocke cover

CBR: Marvel is pleased to present your first look at superstar artist, David Aja’s stunning covers to 5 Ronin! Featuring Wolverine, Psylocke, Hulk, Deadpool and the Punisher, Marvel's deadliest heroes, these covers are a must have for any fan! Bound together by the same fate, yet alone in their existence, the Ronin are forced to walk the lonely path of the masterless samurai in the violent and tumultuous world of feudal Japan to find those who they have been wronged by.

"From the very beginning, I wanted to keep each cover down to two colors that identify with each of the five characters” explains artist, David Aja. “We set out to come up with a design that would grab your eyes from the shelves compared to the rest of the covers while keeping uniformity throughout the series and I think we accomplished that here."

Editor Sebastian Girner adds, “They clearly show the Marvel characters we know and love, but show them in a way that signals that readers are in for something a little different. Something special.”

Will the five find their revenge? What powerful secret connects these lone warriors? Find the answers to these questions and more as 5 RONIN hits comic shops everywhere this March.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

X-Solicits for March 2011

Uncanny X-Force #6
Written by: Rick Remender
Art & Cover by: Esad Ribic
“Deathlok Nation,” Part 2
Buried deep, sequestered under a million years of unnatural evolution, Father, architect of The World, has a solution to the relentless and fruitless super human conflict that has left the Earth teetering on the brink of destruction. The Deathlok virus will spread, acclimate and control them all. In order to protect Earth’s heroes from the Deathlok virus, X-Force must kill The World’s Father, and his perfect future with him. But should they? How many people would a hero allow to die to ensure worldwide utopia?

Uncanny X-Force #5.1
Written by: Rick Remender
Penciled by: Rafael Albuquerque
Cover by: Simone Bianchi
Special Point One issue.
Start reading with this Point One issue. When a situation calls for hard choices, the X-Force is there to step in. Lady Deathstrike, with the deadly Reavers at her side, set out to destroy the X-Men in their home! Deathstrike will obliterate the X-Men or die trying, and this new Uncanny X-Force is more than happy to oblige. As the line between right and wrong become more and more blurred, will the Uncanny X-Force be heralded as heroes…or villains?

5 Ronin #1 – # 5
Written by: Peter Milligan
Penciled by: Tomm Coker, Dalibor TalajiC, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov & Leandro Fernandez
Covers by: John Cassaday, Mark Brooks, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Mack, Ed McGuiness & David Aja
5 Books, 5 Heroes—1 unforgettable story of heroes pushed to their limits. It is 17th century Japan, a time and place of violent upheaval, wandering Ronin, and mysterious Geisha. Into this strange and dangerous world come Wolverine, Pyslocke, Punisher, Hulk and Deadpool. Five of Marvel’s greatest heroes… as you’ve never seen them before. Each has been wronged by a powerful tyrant. Each has taken a solemn vow… of vengeance! 5 Books, 5 Heroes, 5 Weeks… 1 spell-binding story.

X-Men Legacy #246
Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Clay Mann
Cover by: Leinil Yu
“Age of X” Chapter Three!
Rogue has stumbled upon the secret hidden deep within the bowels of Fortress X. And now she’s public enemy number one. A fugitive amongst her own kind, Rogue goes on the run…but when your entire world is surrounded by an unbreakable forcefield wall, there’s not far to go. Especially when a team of mutantkind’s most ruthless killers is hot on your trail!

New Mutants #23
Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Steve Kurth
Cover by: Leinil Yu
“Age of X” Chapter Four!
In possession of knowledge that could mean the collapse Fortress X, Rogue is on the run, hunted by every other member of the mutant race. But one of those pursuing her has an agenda of his own. Will it be her destruction…or something else entirely?

Uncanny X-Men #534
Written by: Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen
Pencils & Cover by: Greg Land
“Quarantine,” Part 5 (of 5)
The X-Men have an infectious, killer disease. What could possibly mean enough to make them break quarantine and risk exposing the world? And when that plague cuts them off from their powers, what would be the use of doing so anyway? Cyclops has his answers. You can make up your own mind. Meanwhile, Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw finish their physical debate… and the final words will change their relationship forever.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Uncanny X-Force #3 Spoilers

Spoilers: First, we are introduced to the Final Horsemen. Decimus Furius, the minotaur, is War. Jeb Lee, a confederate spy, is Famine. Ichisumi, the geisha, is Pestilence. Sanjar Javeed, the Persian, is Death. All were plucked by Apocalypse and Ozymandias from different points in time to be the Final Horsemen, to be awoken only when all other approaches have failed. They have utterly defeated the X-Forcers and were awaiting word from Kid Apocalypse as to what to do with the fallen heroes. Kid Apocalypse doesn't really want to give the death order, so Ozymandias gives the order for him. Luckily for X-Force, that delay gives Fantomex and Psylocke the opportunity to recover. Betsy turns off his ears, so he can be safe from Famine's bio-sonic consumption. She also disconnects his peripheral and nociceptor nerves in order to turn off his pain. Fantomex then begins to use his powers of misdirection to cause some of the Horsemen to attack each other, while he gets the near dead Wolverine away from the fight. Deadpool tries to help Archangel, who was severely affected by Famine's powers. War, still in love with Psylocke (see issue #1), takes her prisoner instead of simply killing her. After Fantomex's misdirection wears off, the rest of the Horsemen retreat to their base and prepare to lift-off. Psylocke, who made it inside, flirts with War, and gets close enough to him to drive her psychic knife into his skull, incapacitating him. The ship is about to take off, and Wolverine, Fantomex, Deadpool and Archangel are left behind. This issue ends with Psylocke approaching a frightened Kid Apocalypse, who was innocently playing with some action figures.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peter Milligan Talks "5 Ronin"

ComicBookMovie: Peter Milligan sets Wolverine, Psylocke, The Punisher, Deadpool and The Hulk down in feudal Japan, a place with love and danger.

Peter Milligan On How The Characters Are Portrayed:
“These characters are all icons, but they're all very different, with very different and contrasting psychological make-ups,”. “Whereas Psylocke and Wolverine could be said to possess cunning, The Punisher is a relentless blunt and deadly weapon."

Peter Milligan Explains How The Hulk Is Portrayed Differently Than In Normal Comics:
"Hulk - at least how Hulk is portrayed in this story - is different again. A seeker of truth and control the monster inside oneself is the greatest form of enlightenment."

Milligan Also Explains That The Characters Are Like There Normal Counterparts In Some Ways But The World They Are In Is Differents:
“These characters are very recognizable [in 5 Ronin]. To all extent and purposes they are the same characters; there'd be no point using them if they weren't very much like their Marvel Universe [counterparts]. In fact, that's what interesting about the story; seeing these heroes put into a different world and pitched against different problems. The world they find themselves in is a world in flux, and our heroes are also in states of flux, which is of course the most interesting and revealing condition for heroes to be in.”

As masterless samurai—“ronin”—the five make their way through the countryside of their own accord, but a shared fate will set them on the same path. Each issue details their stories, every chapter revealing another piece of the greater epic.

Again Milligan Explains That The Characters Will Have Crossing Paths Leading To The Same Destination:
“Their fate is to be caught up in the seismic shifts of a changing world,” Milligan says. “Unaware of each others' existence our heroes will come to learn that one man has had a terrible effect on all their lives. It is this one man who draws [them] together, so that their brutal paths cross.”

Although Milligan Says That He Has A Favorite Of All Of The Characters:
“I like them all, but the way that Psylocke has emerged from this book really moved and intrigued me.”

Milligan Also Praises His Editors In The Project:
“[Editors] Axel Alonso and then Sebastian Girner called me and asked if I was interested in this sort of thing,” Says Milligan. “Sebastian and I then spent a lot of time talking throwing ideas and notes back and forth and honing the concept, storyline and characters. I had to do a lot of research for this story. But the great thing about Sebastian is that he has such a passion for Japan and all things Japanese that he was a wonderful source of knowledge and enlightenment.”

Along Side Milligan On This Project Are:
Artists (rotating): Tomm Coker, Dalibor Talajic, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov and Leandro Fernandez
Editors: Axel Alonso and Sebastian Girner

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

X-Position: Rick Remender

CBR: Rick Remender joins CBR today to answer emails sent in to X-Position by you. Lots of treats and surprises await – let's get to it!

Uncanny X-Force #4 Advance Preview

Betsy's been through the wringer a lot over the last ten years, especially with regards to her constantly-changing power set (shadow teleportation, psychic katana, etc.). How do you define her abilities now?

Rick Remender: Burgeoning Omega-level telepath and stealthy ninja. I see Betsy as having telepathic abilities akin to Jean Grey's prior to the Phoenix merger, with the ninja skills of a high Hand operative. That is it.

You've mentioned previously that Fantomex may have ties to Psylocke's father and brother. Will we find out more about this in upcoming issues?

Rick Remender: Yes, I have plans to touch upon this thread. There is a history to be explored between Fantomex and Betsy's family.

And what about Betsy's origins? Her father wasn't human, he was a citizen of Otherworld. Will her Otherworld-ian heritage come up in your book?

Rick Remender: Yes. I'm aware that there are fans of Psylocke who feel that the character's background has sort of been forgotten about. Obviously, when you have a character whose roots are tied to the heyday of Claremont and Alan Moore, it would be foolhardy to overlook all of the clever things that were established in her history. It'll be a slow build for sure, but you can expect for that stuff to be touched upon eventually.

Why exactly did Psylocke join X-Force? I understand she's there to keep Archangel in check, but is this the only reason? Does she have the same a similar point of view as Logan as to everything that's going on?

Rick Remender: She has a ferocious killer within her mind, thanks to the Hand's training. Betsy contends with what the rest of X-Force contend with, a dark part of their soul; an animalistic and savage aspect of their personality that desires release. Every member of this team is, in some way, trying to find a way to use that dark and ugly part of them for good purpose.

That said, I don't see her sharing the exact same perspective as Logan, but it's all degrees of the same philosophy. When she first joined the X-Men, she was unsure if she was fit to join a clan of warriors. Now she has become one of the most savage among them. And that's something that I'm going to be exploring – that and her relationship with her twin brother Brian (a.k.a. Capt. Britain) in future issues. Betsy is a complex character with a rich history, and I plan to continue to explore how that history affects her future in issues to come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Psylocke Heads to Feudal Japan

CBR: Wolverine. Psylocke. The Punisher. Hulk. Deadpool. Five of Marvel's deadliest heroes will come to the fore this March for a series unlike any other in 5 RONIN. Bound together by the same fate, yet alone in their existence, they are forced to walk the lonely path of the masterless samurai in the violent and tumultuous world of feudal Japan.

Crafted by writer Peter Milligan and a rotating cast of today's hottest artists, 5 RONIN is a month-long event with covers from some of the biggest names in the industry. To celebrate the release of this series, retailers will have the opportunity to order two different covers per issue, one by superstar artist David Aja and one by another industry favorite.

“What would the ultimate samurai super hero epic look like? The answer is 5 RONIN” explains Editor Sebastian Girner. “When we came up with the idea of taking our biggest heroes and setting them in this time period, writer Peter Milligan and the amazingly talented cast of artists immediately jumped on board. This is easily one of the most beautiful comics you will read this year.”

Each of the 5 seeks revenge, but against whom? And what powerful secret connects these these lone warriors? 5 RONIN will examine the true face of Marvel's most solitary characters against a majestic -- and bloodstained -- backdrop.

5 Ronin #1 - #5
Written by: Peter Milligan
Penciled by: Tomm Coker, Dalibor Talajic, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov & Leandro Fernandez
Covers by: John Cassaday, Mark Brooks, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Mack, Ed McGuiness & David Aja
Parental Advisory …$2.99 (each)

X-Position + New Covers

Next week's X-Position: In seven short days, Rick Remender - the writer of "Uncanny X-Force" - visits CBR to answer any question about his unique team of mutant mercenaries. Send your Psylocke/X-Force questions to (Put "X-Position" in the subject line).

Also, here's Chris Bachalo's cover for "Age of X: Alpha" and David Mack's upcoming (?) Psylocke cover. :]

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marvel T&A: All Axel Alonso

CBR News is back again to present an open and honest Q&A with Marvel Comics Vice President Executive Editor Axel Alonso while his partner in comics Tom Brevoort has off – the feature we like to call MARVEL T&A! A comic industry veteran with a style his own and a record for rule-breaking, Alonso has plenty to share on his own including details on the ins and outs of the X-Men line!

With Mike Carey's plan for "Age of X," how removed will the book be from the rest of the line. With an alternate future, it can always stand on its own, but are there ways in which "Uncanny" will affect that story or maybe that story will kick back and affect what's coming in "Uncanny?"

Alonso: "Age of X" started as an idea Mike Carey had for an arc of "X-Men: Legacy" that would feature the various generations of X-Men: the Second Genesis, the New Mutants, Generation X and so on. But as the story developed, we knew we had something bigger and even more exciting on our hands than just an X-Men team-up. We had an event. "Age of X" brings you the full cast of the X-Universe in a sci-fi/mystery/thriller story that makes full use of the best parts of their mythology. It's widescreen action, intrigue, and your favorite bits of X-Men continuity rolled into one against a backdrop the likes of which you've never seen.

Without giving anything way, I'll just say: the "Age of X" isn't an alternate future, it's an alternate present, and one that isn't necessarily far removed from our regular continuity. While the storyline is very tight and can't reflect events transpiring concurrently in the other X-titles, you will definitely see effects spilling over from "Age of X" into other titles in the future.

What was the piece of the hook that brought your attention to "Age of X?" Just this core idea of "The X-Men if they'd never been the X-Men?"

Alonso: Yeah. As simple as that.

One book that's really gotten a strong response of late has been "Uncanny X-Force," and I understand the upcoming second arc will involve Deathlok, who is a character people don't immediately connect to the X-Books although he does fit the black ops mold of that particular title. Who decided to bring him in, and what kind of role will he play as the series moves through its first year?

Alonso: Rick Remender really dug what Jason Aaron did with Deathlok over in "Wolverine: Weapon X" and saw the potential to revisit that character and his world in the pages of "Uncanny X-Force." And the hook is insane! The story starts in issue #5, out in February. Cover artist Esad Ribic is penciling it, and the pages will blow people away. Trust me when I say, Deathlok is a perfect fit for this book, this team.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Carey Ushers In the "Age of X"

CBR: When a mutant reaches maturity in the Marvel Universe, their super abilities manifest in fantastic and sometimes frightening ways. Because of this, they often have to deal with discrimination and outright hatred from a human population that fears them. To help alleviate some of this anxiety and prove mankind and mutantkind can co-exist, Professor Charles Xavier assembled the X-Men - a team of super powered mutants tasked with protecting a world that fears and hates them. But what if the world never gave Xavier the chance to form his group? Writer Mike Carey answers those questions and more in "Age of X," a seven-part story line that begins in January with "Age of X Alpha" #1 featuring art work by Paul Davidson, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Harvey Tolibao, Mirco Pierfederici and Carlo Barberi. It then continues as a crossover which runs through "X-Men: Legacy" 245-247 featuring art by Clay Mann and "New Mutants" 22-24 by artist Steve Kurth. CBR News spoke with Carey about his plans for the alternate reality based storyline.

Like the protagonists at the heart of its story, "Age of X" is a concept that has mutated and evolved over time. "This is a story that just grew and grew, as my editor Daniel Ketchum and I batted it back and forth and as Daniel discussed it with the other X-book editors," Carey told CBR News. "Initially, I just wanted a story that would put all of the different generations of the X-Men into the field, ideally against each other. I was trying to think of a set-up where you could have these different teams in their pure and classic forms squaring off against each other. Daniel and I got to talking about mechanisms that could allow for that to happen and we hit on an idea that we both thought was really, really exciting. The more we developed it, the less it was about the generations and the more it was about this world; this situation and what it would mean for the X-Men and how the X-Men would react to it.

"At a certain point, Nick Lowe pointed out that it might be cool to have a larger canvas to tell the story on," Carey continued. "With Zeb Wells leaving 'New Mutants,' there was a possible gap before the new creative team could take over. So we ended up having six issues - three issues of 'X-Men: Legacy' and three issues of 'New Mutants' - plus an 'Alpha' issue, and now we have an 'Age of X: Universe' spin-off. So the story keeps on snowballing. And believe me, it's a big enough story that it needs that room to play out."

In "Age of X Alpha", readers will get some background info about the world, discovering it's very much like main Earth of the Marvel Universe, Earth 616. At some point, though, history seems to have taken the world of "Age of X" down a different path.

"What happened at those divergent points is in some ways a mystery to be solved as you work through the story. There are a lot of aspects to the story that are different from what they initially appear to be. What I can definitely say is that this is a world where there have never been any X-Men. There have never been any mutant super teams," Carey said. "The X-Men's enemies were much more organized and were in the position to take the initiative and unleash a radical anti-mutant agenda before there ever were any organizations for mutants. Now we have a situation where all sorts of anti-mutant coalitions more or less rule the world. Then at the eleventh hour, somebody has united the surviving mutants. There aren't very many of them and they're fighting a desperate rear guard action for their very survival. So in some ways it's a mirror of the events in the 616 universe post 'House of M' in that once again, we have a small number of mutants fighting to stay alive, but here they're in very different circumstances."

One of the more shocking aspects of the world in "Age of X" is the fact that the anti-mutant coalitions didn't have to take over the world by force. Instead, society simply let them have control. "There are a few very high profile events, which created strong anti-mutant sentiment. For example, in this world the Phoenix manifests on Earth and destroys a whole city. So initially, the anti-mutant coalition gets a lot of public sympathy. It's not clear how far people have now moved away from that position, whether the public goes along with what's being done in their name today. A number of appalling things have been done in pursuit of an agenda of 'peace and security'. You'd have to imagine there would have been a backlash against some of these measures, but now the U.S. and many other countries are effectively no longer democracies."

The dystopian political landscape will allow Carey to invest "Age of X" with a healthy amount of political subtext. "Just like 'Civil War,' it asks the question of how many things will you trade for security, and whether or not that's a bargain that every pays off," Carey remarked. "Like all X-Men stories, it's also about the tension between groups and within groups. It's about finding your identity in a very traumatic and challenging situation."

"Age of X: Alpha" also details how the last remaining mutants come together to form an army in order to protect themselves from the ruling anti-mutant powers. "In the 'Alpha' issue, you get these chaotic, desperate individual responses to a situation that's rapidly escalating out of control," Carey said. "By the time we meet the characters in 'Age of X' proper, there's an enormous solidarity that's developed. It's because they're under siege. Every day is a battle for life and death. Nobody questions things or steps out of line, which has its upside. They all love each other and trust each other and they've totally identified with the cause. Of course, there's a downside. If anybody steps out of line or comes up with a different way of approaching a situation, there's kind of a zero tolerance for dissent. That's a problem that Rogue has to face during the first and second issues."

Rogue is just one member of a large core cast of characters that includes new versions of classic mutants like Magneto, Cyclops and Gambit as well as alternate reality takes on newer X-characters, as seen in a series of teaser ads. "The characters who were revealed in the teasers are all very important to the story. The core cast develops and grows. In Act One, Rogue is very much our way into the story. We see things from her point of view and the decisions she makes are crucial in setting the narrative into motion," Carey explained. "Once it does start moving, though, other people get swept up into it; some because they're directly connected to her, and some for other reasons. So in Act Two, we change our point of view character and have a larger core cast. Act Three is an exponential increase in scale. Everyone is involved and there's probably a dozen characters at the center of it."

In Carey's story there are few remaining mutants, so characters who were arch-enemies in the 616 world may be the best of friends in "Age of X." "There are some surprising omissions in the story. There are some powerhouse characters that you may expect to be part of this line up who are not present. Sinister is not there. Apocalypse is not there. Some of the most powerful 'evil' mutants in the 616 are notably absent in this story. There is a reason for who is and who isn't there. Absolutely everything makes sense," Carey revealed. "This will also result in some unlikely character pairings. For example, Cyclops – or Basilisk, as he's known in the world of 'Age of X' – is in an intense and slightly messed up relationship with someone who is a villain in 616, or at least has a dramatically different agenda than the X-Men."

In order to survive in the world of "Age of X," many mutants have developed different code names, methods of operations and interpersonal relationships. One thing that hasn't changed about these characters, however, is their basic personalities. "These characters' lives have all been about surviving; staying one step ahead of the opposition. The world will not allow them the latitude to act as heroes or be seen as heroes," Carey explained. "Having said that, these characters have the same personalities as their 616 counterparts. There's a sense that the personalities of these characters will shine through regardless of what the world throws at them. That's part of what we're doing in this story. It's one of the most enjoyable aspects of it; seeing how the people we know define themselves against these very, very different crises."

February's "X-Men: Legacy" #245 is the second chapter of "Age of X," picking up some time after the "Alpha" issue. The set up of the issue is almost like something out of a zombie movie, with a horde of faceless enemies surrounding the mutants' last remaining stronghold, Fortress X, trapping them inside. As a result, tensions are understandably high.

"It's hard to see these soldiers that they're up against as human because there's absolutely no human interaction," Carey said. "You get this scene in the third issue where you discover that Cyclops/Basilisk is collecting the insignia from soldiers who die on the battle field because he feels what's happening here is terrible. There have been an appalling number of casualties which are not being marked or recognized in any way. Each side has ceased to see the other as human. There's a loss of innocence and a loss of humanity as a consequence of that."

Fortress X is the alternate world counterpart to the X-Men's current island home of Utopia, and much of the action in "Age of X" unfolds there. "It's a crucially important locale," Carey said. "Part of the story in the 'Alpha' issue shows how the fortress came to exist. We get to see why it takes the crazy form it does. So the setting is crucial to everything. If you read the story closely, there are things about the setting that are intriguing and not explained. Those are the most important things. The things that we don't explain are at the heart of the mystery surrounding this world."

As Carey stated earlier, the plot of "Age of X" unfolds in three acts, with the stakes and scale of the story growing dramatically from one to the next. "The story moves very, very fast after the 'Alpha issue.' In some ways, the three act structure is like a snowball rolling downhill; a very rapid escalation takes place from act to act," the writer revealed. "There's a mystery-thriller aspect to the story in that we present a situation that makes sense on its own terms, but there are unexplained holes in terms of who is responsible for some of the thing that we're seeing. This person - or persons - have their own agenda, and the mystery becomes more and more crucial as things go on. So in terms of genres the set up is an alternate history, but the resolution is part mystery thriller, part all-out action."

While Carey will chronicle the main "Age of X" story himself, the overall storyline is a mini-event complete with its own tie-in, the two issue "Age of X: Universe," which will be written and drawn by a currently unrevealed creative team. "The 'Universe' tie-in actually fills in some missing pieces of the story," Carey revealed. "We'll see how Fortress X is created in the 'Alpha' issue, but there is another side to that story that will be shown in this two issue tie-in."

These days, many Marvel fans are hungry for stories that matter to the larger shared universe, but it would be a mistake for readers to dismiss 'Age of X' as a simple "What If?" style story done on a grand scale. Carey's story is full of mysteries, though, and some of the secrets that are going to be revealed will have an impact on the main Marvel 616 Earth. "That is the plan. Alternate world or not, this is ultimately not a self-contained tale," Carey hinted. "It's far from it."

"Age of X" is Carey's biggest Marvel storyline to date, and the writer hopes that fans will have as much fun reading it as he's had writing it. "It's astonishing how this project all came together and grew to its current size," the writer said. "And now that I'm writing the actual issues, I'm having the time of my life."