CBR: This week in X-POSITION, "Uncanny X-Men" writer Cullen Bunn joins us and answers your questions about those ideas, which include the return of the Inhuman villains the Dark Riders, Archangel's new role as a predator drone, Monet's aggressive attitude towards Sabretooth and more.
Magneto's group seemed shockingly... sinister at first, but now I see it operates more like Utopia's Extinction Team than X-Force, in that Magneto's team are ultimately the last line of defense for mutantkind. Is making this motley crew all relatable and quasi-honorable a challenge?
Any time you're dealing with characters who have been traditionally portrayed as antiheroes or outright villains, it can be a challenge. Not only do they need to be relatable, as you mentioned, it's important to remember what made them villainous to begin with! Some of these X-Men have done very, very bad things in the past, and I don't think the ol' switcheroo between villain and hero is simple.
And you mention "honor," but that is a completely different beast. A code of honor can include some pretty callous and cold elements. That's why you'll see this group do things that you might not expect from a traditional X-Men team -- because they are not a traditional team. What I think is interesting, though, is seeing if these hard-edged characters come around to a kinder, gentler way of thinking. Some of them just might. I know for a fact that some of them fail -- horribly.
Mystique and Magneto, despite film history to the contrary, have never (or rarely) actually worked together in the comics. How would you describe their relationship?
When it comes to Mystique, I think any relationship is best described as contentious. Magneto knows better than to trust her. She's too mercurial. But she's useful and (maybe even to jerkface Magneto's way of thinking) expendable. All that's assuming, of course, that she is actually working with Magneto and, as you'll see in issue #2, that might not be the case. The "team" that we've been talking about with this book isn't actually what people think it is!
I had seen the previews, so I knew the Dark Riders were coming. They are interesting in relation to the present situation of the Terrigen Mist as not only are the founding members Inhumans, but at least some of them were originally members of the Inhuman royal family. Fair to say this is why you are revisiting these characters that haven't appeared in some time?
I think I mentioned somewhere that when I first started working on this series, I sat down and listed all the X-Men that I might want on the team. I then set about winnowing that list to a manageable grouping. Then I did the same thing with villains. I created this sprawling list of all the bad guys I'd like to use in "Uncanny X-Men." Suffice it to say, the list is pretty long. Mojo, the Hellfire Club, the Brood, the Reavers, the Nasty Boys... and on and on and on. The Dark Riders were near the top of the list -- primarily because I remembered liking their designs. The fact that they hadn't been used in a while was a bonus. It wasn't until a little later that I started digging into the backgrounds of the characters that I remembered that they had a connection to the Inhumans as well, and I felt that (thematically at least) they would be perfect for the first arc.
Apocalypse's views do seem somewhat in alignment with how Inhumans ran their society, at least prior to the release of the mists worldwide -- i.e., your place in society is dictated by your raw power. Do you think the Dark Riders are devotees to Apocalypse or just extremist Inhumans?
The Dark Riders are devotees to the teachings of Apocalypse. They have been force fed his doctrines for a long, long time, and it has twisted their brains in some monstrous ways. In this arc, however, they are "in the wind" so to speak. They are operating on their own, without a mastermind figure. That may make them even more dangerous, though, as they are acting with their own terrifying moral codes as their guides. They are trying to get back into the good graces of Clan Akkaba by making a violent, bloody statement against the mutants. The Terrigen Mist situation soured them into action. Not all of them are Inhumans, but for those that are, I feel like Apocalypse's teachings have been all consuming for them, overriding any previously entrenched philosophies.
Will healers like Elixir and Triage have a more important role in "Uncanny X-Men"? Or will they only appear for this specific arc?
Elixir and Triage are important in the first arc of the series, and I'd be lying if I said they're going to have an easy time. The Dark Riders are targeting mutant healers for execution, and they're really good at their job.
Really glad to see you working with Greg Land. You've teamed up with Gabriel Hernandez Walta before [on "Magneto"]; did you have any preference regarding the artist for this series? Will any of your favorite artists work with you in the upcoming issues?
Heliophoenix, a super heroic name if ever there was one!
Sometimes, when I start a new book, I'm asked for suggestions for artists. That can be tough, because almost always the artists I request are working on other books. With "Uncanny X-Men," I think editorial already had a few names in mind for the series. Greg Land and Ken Lashley were brought up quite a bit in the initial conversations, and I knew I'd be working with them in the initial couple of arcs (Ken will be drawing the second arc of the series). One thing that's nice about those two guys -- they both really love the X-Men.
I keep throwing the names of favorite artists out there, though, and I'm sure you'll see some of them popping up here and there. For instance, Tyler Crook, the artist for [Dark Horse Comics'] "Harrow County," is doing a short story with me for February's "Deadpool" #7. It's not "Uncanny X-Men," but it will be gorgeous!
As a huge Archangel fan, I'm glad to see him being utilized again. The hippie thing just wasn't working. How much of Psylocke's desire to find Warren's personality in there somewhere is based on love and how much is based on guilt?
All right, nx01a, I'm about to get maudlin with this answer. I once heard that grief is the price you pay for loving someone, and I think that's true. In the case of Psylocke and Archangel, I feel like Betsy will always have love for Warren. Her actions here, though, are not necessarily driven by being "in love" with him. Rather, she feels remorse and guilt for what happened to him. I don't want to go into how Archangel has resurfaced (that will be revealed later) but now that he is here, Psylocke sees this as a second chance to save him.
Seeing the dialogue between Magneto and Psylocke, it reminds me of when she first joined the team and the interactions they had -- specifically, her willing to do a job and Magneto showing concern about her talents. Now it seems reversed. Did you do a lot of research on each character's interactions with each other in the past to help lay groundwork for new interactions?
I wouldn't say I did a lot of in-depth research, Tazirai. Instead, I think about the interactions between the characters that I remember the most and build on that. In some cases, the details of those relationships are lost with the passage of time. In other cases, I've completely fabricated interactions I thought had happened based on my interpretations of the characters! As I've said elsewhere, I am a huge fan of the X-Men. I've been reading and collecting those comics for a long, long time. I can't, however, keep it all straight in my head. And I don't want to get too mired by those details if I can help it.
That said, you're onto something with Magneto and Psylocke and how they are interacting. Reversals of attitude are a pretty important part of how they get along in this book. And, yes, Psylocke isn't sure Magneto is up to the task ahead of him, not because of his power levels or skill, but because of his state of mind.
Will we see the character of Briar Raleigh show up in "Uncanny X-Men" to provide aid and help for Magneto once again, or Agents Rodriguez and Haines?
Yes! Briar Raleigh does have a role to play in the series -- a pretty important one at that. She's not going to be showing up on-panel for a while, but trust that she's already at work in Magneto's world.
Given the opportunity, I'd love to do more with Rodriguez and Haines. There are no immediate plans (there was a Haines cameo in an early draft of issue #6, but I ended up cutting it). I think it is safe to say that they'll show up, but it will be further down the line.
Monet hitting on Sabretooth seemed to be more her acting out than actual attraction. Is that a fair assumption or does she genuinely find something appealing about him? If so, why?
Howdy, xhx23x! I think you're onto something when you say Monet might be "acting out" when it comes to her seeming attraction to Sabretooth. In the eight months that have passed before the launch of this series, a lot has happened, and some of it has impacted Monet in a major way. It's shaken her down to the core. She's working through it in her own way, and that may not be the healthiest option. As the series progresses, you'll see some additional ways in which her behavior is affected by whatever happened. And what happened!?! I can't tell you yet.