Tuesday, February 12, 2013

X-Position: Brian Wood

X-Position: Upcoming "X-Men" writer Brian Wood answers fan questions about his all-female mutant team, selecting the cast and the his desire to return to the "Generation X" crew.

Due to Psylocke not being too fond of the Avengers (per "Uncanny X-Force" #1) are Betsy and Anna going to butt heads?

Brian Wood:
It's funny, it took me a second to realize you meant Rogue, since I am conditioned to think of her as Marian now because of the Ultimate book. Um, there's no immediate butting of heads in my scripts but you raise a good point. I think I'll be watching Sam [Humphries] and Rick [Remender's] books to see what unfolds, since they have a bit of a head start. And like I've said, this first mission the (my) X-Men take is one of shared necessity, and the plot moves at like mach five, so there just isn't the space for anyone to indulge beefs.

How big will prior relationships between these women be in your story? They'll all been on long tours of X-Men duty together through various teams. When they come together in your book is it because of shared history working together or more happenstance that they assemble?

Well, both, really. Like I said upthread, the selection of these X-Men for this book had a lot to do with the fact they have shared history and bonds already in place. And that is basically responsible for the formation of the team, since its something created by necessity in a moment of crisis. This isn't a formal team in the sense they rent out space for an HQ and declare themselves a team with a group high-five or something. Going forward, I don't know if it will turn into something more formal, but they all are sort of already based out of the JG School and have positions and roles there, so I don't see it happening in the foreseeable.

I've long thought Storm or Psylocke were well known and appreciated characters that a multitude of stories could be told about them, its always struck me as odd female characters so rarely get anything approaching the exposure Wolverine and Deadpool get. Given that I see more and more young adult women gravitating towards comic books over the past few years, why do you think it's difficult to sell ongoing female led series to the readership?

I think there's a series of barriers. You can't just write spectacular YA or female-oriented comics and stand back and watch the crowds of new readers flood in. They simply won't flood in, because of any combination of the following: shops that won't order the books and/or run a shop that invites this readership; lack of marketing and outreach to overcome these barriers; truly inclusive stories and art that have mass appeal and aren't written and drawn from an overly male point of view; hostile male fanboys ready to shut newbie women down for expressing an interest; and the entrenched social stigma that comics have always carried. It's a ridiculous situation, and even the most targeted attempts, like the DC Minx line for one example, will only work a little bit.

What's the answer? I don't know. "X-Men" #1 is a step in the right direction, but at the same time that book, and others like it, will be outmatched on the shelves that month by dozens of other books that take us many steps in the wrong direction. So while I don't know what the magic bullet answer is, I think its something that can't happen on the comic book page alone, it has to be a social change, within the publishers, within the direct market, and within the readership.

But let's take a look at the effort Marvel's doing in these very recent months, with this book, with "Fearless Defenders," with "Captain Marvel," with "Uncanny X-Force," and so on.

Including the original teams of X-Men, the New Mutants, X-Force, Generation X and the various other collection of students, the X-Men boast tons of potential characters to choose from. How did you decide upon your initial cast? Will this cast be permanent going forward or subject to change?

It's permanent for the foreseeable future -- I'm trying not to get ahead of ourselves and start entertaining question of lineup change when we're still a few months away from its launch! As far as the lineup, it was partly my choice and Marvel's. I knew I wanted to keep writing Storm, and when the chance to include Jubilee presented itself, of course I was into that. And part of the point of this title is that these characters are X-Men heavy hitters, characters with history and pre-existing relationships with each other, characters that can immediately bond and work as a practiced X-team. And, obviously, to be a sales draw. Everyone wants this book to succeed, so fan-favorite A-listers are necessary. Let's see the book launch big, hold its numbers, and deliver strong stories for awhile, and then we can see about tweaking the recipe.

As far as gender and super hero comics go: Why do you think the X-Men as a franchise has been such a gender inclusive place for such a long while? Do you think it had to do with early writers "being the change they want to see in the world", and thus creating universes/characters who had agency and depth?

: I think the basic concept of the X-Men just naturally lends itself to very human, multi-faceted, complex characters, and the writers that really "get" that produce amazing X-Men stories. It's essentially a book designed to be inclusive on all levels, and on both sides of the cash register. And the proof is right there, in the history of the title and the fan base, like you say. I think the franchise could also stand to step it up a notch, with more A-listers of color and transgender characters. It's a fine line to walk, since its easy to slip up and have something like that come off as a stunt or preachy, and there's a portion of the fan base who will take it as that no matter what. But I'd love to see the X-Men push past that like a steamroller, and instead of baby steps just blow the doors off and be the example of an inclusive comics series. There's no other franchise in comics that could do it like the X-Men.


QKC said...

This interview makes me REALly REALLY like him. Wow. Looking forward to his run

walteion96 said...

Generation x?
There will be a generation x book in marvel now? When?
And I thought new mutants was cancelled.

FSaker said...

Great interview. And he's right, there are a lot of barriers preventing more female readers from getting closer to comic books. Let's hope this book will give the first steps to solve this problem.

From what I understood, there will NOT be a new Generation X book; Wood just said that he'd like to write it.

I just wish there were more questions about Ultimate Comics X-Men. I'm still very curious about Ultimate-Psylocke: if she is the same Ultimate-Psylocke we knew pre-Ultimatum, why is she behaving the way she is? And if she isn't, who is this girl and why is she posing as Psylocke?

Oh, and I'm not sure if Betsy (the 616 one, that is) really hates the Avengers... sure, she said they could **** themselves, but she wasn't in a great mood then and she was cursing about everything...