Tuesday, June 28, 2011

X-Position: Rob Williams

CBR: In addition to having his hands full with Logan's son, Rob Williams also keeps himself occupied with a few other dark characters in "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force" and the new "Ghost Rider" ongoing series. Thankfully, he's not too busy to answer questions for his readers, as he's our guest for today's X-POSITION. Williams is one busy little fish, so let's not waste time and jump right in!

Where'd you get the inspiration to create this rogue faction of Purifiers in "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force?" They seem to mean more hurtful business than past incarnations. How does the new antagonist Jonathan Standish embody their ideals?

Rob Williams: These Purifiers are a splinter group. While the main Purifiers believe mutants are the children of the devil, this group think that it's all superhumans. They see the events of "Fear Itself" and think this is the end of the world -- the stuff of the Book of Revelations -- and they think the super-people have brought the devil to earth for humanity's souls. It's up to them to get as many good human souls to Heaven "before the devil knows they're dead." They're basically very scared people, and fear makes humanity do terrible things.

Their leader, Jonathan Standish, is a neurosurgeon who believes he has been called to "save" as many people as he can. As ever in these instances, he thinks he's the hero here -- the one with the moral high ground. And he's got a mutant kill crew coming after him, so maybe he has a point (albeit a very screwed up one). The storyline was really generated by the moral question of "Should a mutant kill crew exist?" And if they are necessary, as Wolverine and company believe, then what does that say about society (and superhero books) in general? While "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force" has big, summer blockbuster-style action sequences, hopefully it asks a few interesting questions too. And Simone Bianchi's made it look stunning!

Your story ties into the chaos as the Serpent's Armageddon hits, but how else are your themes and story differentiating themselves from the awesome job that Rick Remender has already lain out in the main "Uncanny X-Force" book? Will your story be picking up on small seeds and threads from his title?

Rob Williams: I've tried to stay away from the main plot points in Rick's run (which is terrific and I'm really enjoying each month). But hopefully the character dynamics are the same. I've thrown in some sexual tension between Psylocke and Fantomex, for example; Archangel's in a pretty aggressive state-of-mind, etc. Jody Leheup's my editor on the miniseries and Jody edits the main "Uncanny X-Force" book, so he kept me on the straight and narrow. But, as I said earlier with Daken, I want this to be a self-enclosed story that new readers can pick up and immediately get what's going on. If I came in heavily referencing a bunch of Rick's plot points there'd be little room for our plot.

Jason Aaron Guides Wolverine Through Schism and a ReGenesis

Newsarama: The post-Schism X-Men status quo is being dubbed by Marvel as "X-Men: Regenesis," with Wolverine and the X-Men being joined in November by a new Uncanny X-Men #1. Newsarama talked with Jason Aaron to get a little clearer picture of what lies ahead, including the tantalizing hint that there's at least one character who "Wolverine literally has to drag with him in chains."

This interview is some more of the same, but we get a glimpse of Psylocke in Schism #2. Art by Frank Cho. (:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #541 Cover

Uncanny X-Men Fear Itself Tie-In cover featuring Psylocke. Art by Greg Land.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Alonso & Lowe Divorce Marvel's Mutants in X-Men: Regenesis

LinkRick Remender just tweeted: "None of the changes in other X-books will affect Uncanny X-Force. The stories interconnect but the book and purpose remain." So it looks like X-Force is safe, and it still remains the black ops undercover group book!

With plenty of details still under wraps, Newsarama consulted Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and X-Men group editor Nick Lowe to get some answers to these questions, and try to get a little bit of a clearer picture of what's in store for the X-Men in the near future.

Nrama: With the announcement today came the "Who Will You Follow?" teaser image. How literal should we be taking it? Is this at all an accurate representation of who is going to end up on which side, or more just a red herring/metaphorical illustration? Then there's the curious matter of Professor X back in a wheelchair, which seems like it must be there for a reason.

Alonso: The “Who Will You Follow?” teaser image is just that: a teaser image. It should not to be taken literally. Professor X’s wheelchair is meant to give the image a classic feel — we’re not putting him back in it. And who’s to say that everyone in that picture will still be alive this September?

Nrama: On the conference call last week, there was talk of how the philosophical split between Cyclops and Wolverine had to be played in a way that both sides had a reasonable argument, without either being clearly "right." Was the same kind of doctrine applied to establishing the direction characters would go in the split? Making sure that both teams were balanced, and not one was too stacked — either in terms of popularity of power sets?

Lowe: As a group we wrestled with this a lot. We had a mini-X-Retreat back in January. We had X-Writers and X-Editorial there working through Schism and its aftermath and a big part of that meeting was who goes where and why. It mainly came down to individual characters and belief systems. Once you know what the philosophical issue is it’ll make a lot more sense. It wasn’t like an NFL general manager or coach decided who to draft or trade to build the strongest team. It’s up to the individual X-Men, not the leaders of each side.

Nrama: And on that note, are there going to be any mutants who either reject the idea of the split entirely, or choose to stay neutral?

Alonso: Given the nature of the split, that would be hard to do.

Nrama: It's natural to hear this news and wonder how the other X-books will be affected. X-Men: Legacy has just started to establish its own team with Rogue, Magneto, Xavier, etc., a dynamic that would seem to be untenable post-Schism. Adjectiveless X-Men and Astonishing have a bit more of a fluid format, but would also seem to be affected greatly. Are we headed for another shift in direction for Legacy? Will all these titles be sticking around?

Lowe: All the X-Books are going to have to react and deal with the status quo coming out of Schism. Mike Carey, who is the bees knees, has some amazing plans all throughout Schism and has really cool ideas on what Legacy is going to be after that. Adjectiveless X-Men will also feel the effects of Schism but will keep its identity as the most Marvel U-ingrained X-Book with lots of ties to the greater universe. Astonishing, well that’s going to be an announcement all to itself. And you didn’t even mention Uncanny X-Force or New Mutants or X-Factor or Generation Hope. They are all going to feel the effects and be changed by Schism.

Nrama: Let's look at Uncanny X-Force, then — we can't imagine that book is going anywhere, but given Wolverine's leadership status on that team, can we intuit from today's news that there will likely be a significant impact on the book?

Lowe: Yep! You’ll see effects there, too. You’ll have to wait a month or two after the rest of the books because Rick and Jerome are still in the middle of the “Dark Angel Saga” saga as well. But both Schism and “Dark Angel Saga” will change that book in big ways.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

X-Men: ReGenesis

Marvel.com: The X-Men have fought countless foes from the sewers of New York City to the outer reaches of space, but the challenge that ultimately divides them will come from within.

Ater the events of this summer’s X-MEN: SCHISM, mutantkind strikes out in a bold, diverting path as WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN begins in October, followed by the return of UNCANNY X-MEN the following month.

“WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN will have everything I love about the X-Men,” explains series writer Jason Aaron, who will be joined by artist Chris Bachalo. “Big crazy plots, intense character drama, love, sex, anti-mutant hysteria, man-eating aliens, all-new characters, old favorite characters, bizarre space tech, strange transformations, property damage, telepathic shenanigans, Wolverine drinking whiskey, mutants playing baseball. Except perhaps for that last part.”

The new status quo puts two teams of X-Men at odds with one another, acting as distinct and separate groups with different agendas, members and headquarters. Writer Kieron Gillen takes the flipside to the new mutant situation, carrying over his current work on UNCANNY into the re-launched #1 this November alongside artists Greg Land and Carlos Pacheco.

“To use a word, it'd be ‘pugnacious,’” says the British writer of his cast. “It's an X-Men team in public, operating on a scale we've never seen them act on before. Traditionally, the X-Men have mainly been about problems coming to mutantkind. They fight against foes who want mutants gone; the problem being [that] those victories just maintain mutantkind.”

“Over the last few years—mainly in the adjectiveless X-MEN book—we've seen the X-Men try and act more like super heroes. The idea being, we act like super heroes, maybe people will start feeling better about us. And it's worked a bit; they're certainly not hated in San Francisco as much as most of the world, but that's a town. That's region-based heroism. To change the world, they have to act on a world scale. That's what they're trying to do. UNCANNY X-MEN is the team aspiring to be the world's premier super team and everything that goes along with it.”

Although they might be trying to win over the world at large, the rival teams will not be playing nice.

“Bad enough to tear apart old friends, to separate lovers, to forever ruin the chances of there being an intramural X-Men basketball league,” Aaron quips on the state of X-Men relations coming up. “Too bad, because Logan, unlike LeBron, has a pretty sweet post-up game.”

“To quote the Buzzcocks, it's a different kind of tension,” adds Gillen. “[One] team looks at [the other] in an almost paternalistic manner. ‘Okay, you're going to go and do that? Great. It makes it harder for us, but we're going to look after you too.’ For me, the core of the disagreement is about how much of today you are willing to give up for tomorrow. Generally speaking, they think the other team is being profoundly selfish and self-indulgent in the route they're taking.”

Senior Editor Nick Lowe explains that this split is actually the first step into a wider integration between the X-Men and the Marvel Universe.

“The X-Men have been a pretty separate corner of the Marvel Universe for a long time and we’ve been working to change that and further integrate with the rest of the line,” he says. “This is another step into that. We work really hard for cohesion, most visibly through the creative summits and such, and synergy like this is the product.”

That synergy will be evident with the artists involved, from veteran Bachalo returning to the X-titles in WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, to fellow X-alum Pacheco acting as one of two artists on UNCANNY X-MEN. Pacheco recently illustrated the special Point One issue of the series, but his history on the title goes back much further to early in his career during the mid 90’s.

“To be honest, this feels like the real X-Men,” says Pacheco. “It’s really as good as they were in the good old days.”

Joining Pacheco on the all-new UNCANNY X-MEN will be Land, who has a unique take on the schism at the center of these books:

“I guess this makes the X-Men as dysfunctional as some of the 'reality show families.’ I suppose anytime you have two strong alpha males in a group, heads will butt so it actually seems like it would have happened long ago. And since there are so many X-Men these days, it makes sense that they go separate ways with separate agendas.”

Speaking of separate agendas, the dueling personalities of Cyclops and Wolverine mirror—albeit more civilly—between competing series writers Gillen and Aaron.

“Mutual incomprehension,” describes Gillen. “Taciturn hyper-dry Alabama meets hyper-speed Brit-Midlands mumbler. It can only end badly.

“Honestly, I'm in quiet awe of Jason,” he admits. ”When I first started reading his work over with The Other Side and Scalped, I was in awe because of all the big boy writing he was doing there; understated mastery of structure and character and motivation and things which even excellent writers in other ways stumble with. However, I made myself feel less desperately insecure by filing him as "Crime Writer," which is miles away from what I did. Of course, then he came over to Marvel and has gone on to show that he can write pretty much anything. I am a seething cauldron of jealousy.

“I'm just looking forward to going head to head with him. That's all kinds of fun.”

Aaron has his own appraisal of their working relationship, explaining it as “only moderately more friendly as the one between Scott and Logan in SCHISM.”

“Actually, Kieron and I work great together. It helps that I'm such a huge fan of his work. Maybe I'm a bit biased but between Kieron's work and Rick Remender's amazing UNCANNY X-FORCE run, along with all the other X-stuff in the works, I think it's an exciting time to be an X-Men fan.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

X-Solicits for September 2011

Uncanny X-Force #15
Written by: Rick Remender
Penciled by: Jerome Opeña
Cover by: Esad Ribic
Marvel Architect Variant also available
Marvel Architects Sketch Variant also available
“The Dark Angel Saga: part 5”
Genocide has incinerated half of Wolverine’s body, leaving only two remaining members of X-Force to defeat Archangel and his army. Someone has wiped out a small town in Northern Montana and in its place a new alien landscape has grown. What is Tabula Rasa? Can Fantomex and Deadpool work together to survive its harsh terrains long enough to unlock its mystery? The acclaimed team of Rick Remender (Venom, Punisher), Jerome Opeña (Punisher, Moon Knight) and Dean White (Avengers) return to introduce you to the strangest territory in the Marvel Universe.

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3 (of 3)
Written by: Rob Williams
Art & Cover by: Simone Bianchi
Fear Itself Tie-In!
With the Serpent's destruction spreading across the globe and time seemingly running out for Planet Earth, Jonathan Standish and his Purifiers make their final move. How many human lives can they take before the 'devil' claims the souls of the human race? And can X-Force successfully track down the location of Standish's 'brain bomb' and the Purifier's main target? In the final moral battle against sin, can a mutant kill crew possibly win?

X-Men: Schism #4 (of 5)
Written by: Jason Aaron
Pencils & Cover by: Alan Davis
Variant Cover by: Frank Cho
The events of Schism #1 have launched the world into turmoil, and the all-new Hellfire Club is ready to take advantage of the chaos. But when the survival of the mutant race is on the line, just how far will the X-Men go? Once a line is crossed, there’s no going back. The event that promises to tear the X-Men apart at their very core continues, by writer and Marvel Architect Jason Aaron, and superstar artist Alan Davis!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Uncanny X-Men" Ends In October

Marvel Comics announced this morning that "Uncanny X-Men" #544 publication in October will mark the end of the long-running series, due in large part to the events unfolding in "X-Men: Schism."

"Uncanny" editor Nick Lowe told the Associated Press, "The X-Men are getting torn apart from within. The events of 'Schism' do more damage to the X-Men than any villain has ever done." The sentiment was echoed by current series writer Kieron Gillen who called the end of the series a necessity, though "it's not taken lightly."

Jason Aaron, writer of "X-Men: Schism," explained that while his miniseries may detail exactly why the team breaks up and "Uncanny" ends, the actual team dissolution has been a long time in coming. "It's obvious that things are coming to a head between [Cyclops and Wolverine]...Whether you're a long time X-Men fan or a new X-Men fan, you can pick out and understand the nature of this conflict and how it breaks apart the two lynchpin guys of the X-Men."

"All things must come an end…even for the X-Men, and this October fans will bear witness the end of an era as Uncanny X-Men #544 concludes the long running series. It’s all come to this! Years in the making, the seeds of dissent finally bear fruit as the events of X-Men Schism tear the X-Men and the Marvel Universe apart! When the dust settles, the state of mutantkind will irreparably be changed forever. Don’t miss the historic final issue of the longest running X-Men title this October, in Uncanny X-Men #544!"

Uncanny X-Men #544
Written by: Kieron Gillen
Pencils and Cover by: Greg Land
On Sale: October!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

X-Men Destiny Info

Newsarama"Through individual gene samples you collect throughout the game, you can alter your character's power set, augmenting it with those of several of your favorite X-Men. In just an early sneak peek, we saw Havok, Northstar, Quicksilver, Psylocke, and more listed as characters whose powers you can change yours with. So if you start out with energy blasts and equip Surge's electrical attack power, your blasts will now have a burst of electricity, shocking your foes. These power alterations come in three flavors and have a fourth bonus."

X-Men Schism Teaser

 CBR: Marvel releases a new Schism teaser drawn by Alan Davis with a message from EIC Axel Alonso. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

IGN's 25 Greatest X-Men Stories

IGN.com ranked Uncanny X-Force's arc "Apocalypse Solution" as their 8th greatest X-Men story of all time. Even beating out Grant Morrison's New X-Men! Here's what they had to say about the series:

How can such a recent story claim such a high place on this list? Uncanny X-Force is just that good. Rick Remender combines modern storytelling sensibilities with many of the elements fans love about the '80s and '90s-era X-Men into one fast-paced and engaging series.

In this volume of X-Force, Wolverine and Archangel are co-captains of a secret band of mutant assassins, unbeknown to the rest of the X-Men. Their first battle pits the new X-Force against a resurrected Apocalypse and his new horsemen.

The Apocalypse Solution" shines for two reasons above all else. For one, Jerome Opena's work is gorgeous in its texture, choreography, and energetic execution. For another, Remender shows a deep understanding of his protagonists, mining characters like Psylocke and Fantomex for all they're worth.

This series is less than a year old, and it's already clear Remender is crafting one of the best X-Men sagas in the franchise's long history.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #11 Spoilers

Spoilers: Dark Beast opens a portal for X-Force to the Age of Apocalypse where he accompanies the team there. X-Force is unaware that AoA Sabretooth and Wild Child are secretly stalking the team. Dark Beast locates his old laboratory and finds the "seed of life" that's need to cure Warren of his Death persona implanted by Apocalypse years ago. As Dark Beast reveals the seed of life to X-Force, AoA Nightcrawler teleports into the lab and steals the seed of life. The AoA X-Men were aware of Dark Beast's return and were determined to destroy whatever it was he came back for. Wolverine is surprised to see AoA Nightcrawler and he tries not to let his emotions take over. Nightcrawler escapes and the team pursues after him while Psylocke stays to watch Dark Beast. Wolverine splits from Deadpool and Fantomex and is ambushed by Sabretooth and Wild Child. Wolverine gets the upper hand and almost kills Sabretooth before Psylocke arrives and stops Wolverine and she tells him he is a very different Sabretooth than the one from their reality. Meanwhile Fantomex is able to defeat Nightcrawler, but AoA Sunfire arrives and takes the seed of life which he quickly destroys. Just then Dark Beast notifies X-Force that he's stranding them there and escapes through a portal which closes quickly behind him. X-Force is able to explain their situation and why they needed Dark Beast's help. The Amazing X-Men take X-Force to their leader and to their base which happens to be under water. When they arrive Logan sees AoA Jean Grey who drops her glass when she sees him. Standing next to her is a wheelchair bound AoA Magneto.