Monday, January 14, 2013

Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel Relaunch "X-Men"

USAToday: The title of Brian Wood's X-Men comic book is a bit of a misnomer since it stars an all-female cast.

However, the writer aims to have everything else about the relaunched Marvel Comics series be classic, from characters and themes to villains and relationships.

"I'm definitely an X-Men fan, but I'm not deep into the world," says Wood, who's pairing with artist Olivier Coipel. "I'm not a writer who's been writing it forever, so my natural instinct is to go basic and simple and to its core."

"Marvel takes a look at its spectrum of X-Men books and fills needs. This is the book that is like a traditional X-Men book."

Debuting in April, Wood's series is the third relaunched X-Men-centric title in the Marvel NOW! initiative, joining Brian Michael Bendis' All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men (which premieres next month). And Wood had been on the X-Men series last year along with Ultimate Comics: X-Men.

He's just glad to be talking about the new series now: "It's like any second, I'm going to get a call and they're going to be like, 'Oh, no, we're giving it to Bendis,' " Wood says, laughing.

Since their first appearance 50 years ago, the X-Men have had a history of strong female characters, even before it was cool. Wood has had many of them in his books, too, going back to Generation X in 2000 — his first paid gig in comics — and his recent X-Men.

However, with this new X-Men he gets all the A-list X-women: The book's main star is Jubilee, but it also includes Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey and Psylocke.

"I feel like as far as the X-Men go, the women are the X-Men," Wood explains. "Cyclops and Wolverine are big names, but taken as a whole, the women kind of rule the franchise."

"If you look at the entire world as a whole, it's the females that really dominate and are the most interesting and cool to look at. When you have a great artist drawing them, they look so amazing and always have."

The drama is starting right away in X-Men, beginning with Jubilee bringing home an orphaned baby who might be key to mankind's survival. Meanwhile, someone else shows up — namely Sublime, a villainous bacteria from Grant Morrison's New X-Men run that can take over human beings but is currently faced with a threat of his own coming from outer space.

"He's forced to go to the X-Men for help," Wood says. "He's like the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend situation."

Things only get more interesting from there, with Sentinels, a potential alien invasion and an ancient war between siblings.

Having such a deep roster is "an honor in a way," Wood says, but it has been overwhelming for him at first juggling all of them and making sure they all have a clear logic and reason to be there. However, X-Men editor Jeanine Schaefer has been essential in reminding him what's important about each one. "I've never met a bigger X-men fan than her. She's hyperactive about this stuff."

While Emma Frost isn't around — "I did ask her for her, though, but she's busy," Wood says of Cyclops' love interest over in Uncanny — Wood's liked putting Jubilee in a starring role, although he's keeping many aspects of her story secret thus far, and continuing a popular take on Storm.

Other characters have been trickier, though, like Rachel Grey. "She's not as distinctive as others are. There's different learning curves for each one, but I want to get them all down," Wood says.

"I don't want to make it the 'Jubilee and friends book.' They're all A-list characters — I've got to make them all shine."

Wood's taking two past X-Men runs as inspiration for his book, starting with Chris Claremont's stint as Uncanny X-Men writer in the 1970s and '80s and his focus on character.

"I didn't read it at the time – I've gone back and read it in collected form — but I can really appreciate how riveting that must have been reading it monthly. You're just dying to know what happens each issue to these characters," Wood says.

"It was how they related to each other and the stuff they went through personally."

But he's also using the first handful of Morrison's New X-Men issues from 2001 as a "personal template for how you do what I'm doing now," the writer says. "It had everything: It had that classic cast doing the classic stuff — very recognizable and big action."

"If I can make the reader feel the way I felt about that, where you're just like, 'Ah, this is just right, this is the X-Men,' that's the kind of vibe I'm going for."

Wood, who also writes Conan, Star Wars and The Massive for Dark Horse Comics, says Marvel has made no secret of the fact that that want really compelling human moments from him — a trademark of his comics career.

"I really love getting into people's flaws as well as their attributes. I'm not afraid to show flaws in their characters, which I feel is unusual a lot in superhero books," Wood says.

"That's all I'm interested in writing at Marvel. Every so often I get asked, 'Is there anything else you want to do?' And I'm like, 'I don't know.' The X-Men are right up my alley — what I'm most comfortable with."

Wood also promises to bring a lot of relationships, love and sex into the book, "in the classic X-men way — the way it used to be."

He wants to challenge the double standards that have been in superhero books for years, were Wolverine can sleep with anybody but if a female character does it twice, she's promiscuous, which Wood sees constantly online.

"To everybody's credit, these people are often shot down immediately for being sexist and unfair, but that is a very common thing," Wood says.

"We're just going to do it. We're not going to worry about that. If Kitty or Rogue has basic human bodily urges, tough luck (to those opposed). To me, that's as much of the X-Men as anything else."


@JJfroud said...

Omg. Wood writing Psylocke again. With Coipel on art. With an all-female team. With two thirds of the team being from the Australian team. This is literally my ideal book. Hope he touches on Psylocke's old frosty relationship with Jubes. Literally best news I've heard today. Can't wait for this. Plus Betts is rockin that cover

FSaker said...

Wow, this looks amazing!! Even though some X-Women are missing (notably Emma Frost, Magik, Hope and Dazzler - but that can be explained since the first three women are now wanted criminals, and the fourth one is lost in the multiverse), it's fantastic to see this team assembled.

Great to see that Psylocke and Storm are (at least in this cover) keeping their UXF uniforms. Nice to see Rachel as well (since W&TXM, and especially since AvX, Rachel has become a very interesting character), and Jubilee was definitely needing a book. This team looks so great that I'm not even upset that Kitty is in it (hopefully Betts will troll Kitty a lot in it).

Australian Outback said...

I'm almost more excited for this than UXF, but for different reasons. I would love to see Dazzler join at some point, please. There needs to be a book where Psylocke and Dazzler interact - that friendship they have that had been shaped in the outback days, and noted in both the Psylocke solo and Dazzler solo books, is otherwise ignored.

Australian Outback said...

Also - Coipel on art? Wood taking influence from the 70s and 80s Claremont runs? Sweet on both counts.

CmX said...

I wish Dazzler would replace Rachel, but I'm still excited! I'm surprised Pixie isn't there, I wonder if they'll have a teleporter.

Adrian Sandoval said...

Dazzler needs to get put in this book! Her current one isn't that great. I would have liked for Husk or maybe even Gen X Penance to be in the mix.

White Hair said...


White Hair said...

Pixie will be in the first arc...or issue.... I can't remember....

White Hair said...

And I love that none of their poses on that cover are overly sexual!!!!!! Men could be standing in their places and it wouldn't be a problem (except maybe Rogue's, but a guy could stand with his hands on his hips. WHATEVS!)

rocketboy said...

Good for Marvel for making it happen, particularly when Hollywood has all but given up on female superheroes as not marketable and just uses them as background in films.

I think it's a great counter to the Avengers big boy club, now they just need to let these characters be as powerful they should be like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and such. It seems like everytime one of these guys show up against the likes of Psylocke or Shadowcat, they have some kind of "countermeasure" that negates her powers. What's that all about? I want to see Psylocke have a "countermeasure" in her new fancy car that negates Iron Mans powers so she can psychicly make him take a dump in his armor. The Avengers can go **** themselves indeed!

Brian said...

Seriously. Given their abilities, almost any of the X-Women should be able to stomp almost any of Marvel's Golden Boys' d•••s in the dirt with relatively little effort. Especially the telepaths. But, like rocketboy said, there's always a convenient immunity to whatever power they're using, or they manage to best the X-Lady using good old fashioned smarts. You know, because that would totally work against an opponent who can un-smart you just by thinking about it.

Zebedee said...

I've been out of touch with xmen for awhile, due to the constant title changes and crossovers. I have read some of the xforce titles because of Psylocke and found it to be very good and super serious. That being said I'm excited about this comic and it has the Australian girls. I don't know what is going on w Rachel's outfit, it looks like a gen x costume and I hated those red things. I don't mind Kitty, but sadly Jubilee has gotten on my nerves since they rescued her from the mall. Maybe she has become a better character since she is a vampire. I would not mind seeing Karma, Polaris or Dazzler instead of Jubes and keep Emma out of it, she bores me and really needs to be bitch slapped.