In July, “Astonishing X-Men” arrives from Charles Soule and artist Jim Cheung for issue #1, though the panel said that each new issue will have a different artist including ACO, Phil Noto, Greg Land, Ramon Rosanas and Ron Garney on tap for the future.
Soule revealed that an upcoming issue will feature the return of TV star Amahl Farouk AKA the Shadow King as drawn by Dale Keown. The writer said he was enticed by the idea that the human form of the character was the first evil mutant Charles Xavier encountered and therefore his inspiration for the formation of the X-Men. “He’s this incredibly ancient force of darkness – kind of a dream demon,” the writer said of the Shadow King entity, which will attack the X-Men during their London-based adventure. “The book is a puzzle box, and you’re not supposed to know where everything is going.”
But before that story arrives, fans will get to meet the new team consisting of the likes of Old Man Logan, Mystique, Fantomex and Psylocke. “I can run the soap opera of the X-Men in different ways by looking at each of them as their archetype,” said Soule. He used the example of Bishop as a man who’s lived through several apocalypses. Guggenheim praised his fellow writer for introducing each of the characters by their core personalities in this new series. Soule said that his goal was to make this a book for people who didn’t want to know anything else about who these characters are before they meet them on the page.
- "The story open in London. Something really intense happens and the X-Men show up and try to fix it."
- The series will kick off with an issue of intense action before opening up.
- The mysterious returning villain is Shadow King.
- Soule talked about Shadow King's history as one of the first evil mutants Charles Xavier encountered.
- He called the character's inclusion in FX's Legion a "happy accident."
- Soule called the title a "puzzle box," saying the ever changing nature of the Shadow King's home realm of the Astral Plane means that reality will always be in question.
- "I think the best X-Men stories are the ones where they're not only saving the world, but trying to convince everyone that they ARE saving the world."
- Soule talked about Fantomex's role in the story, saying "it gets really weird," with Fantomex constantly questioning his reality.
- "It's super hard to write, I'm not gonna lie," Soule confessed.
- The story will visit many points in X-Men history via the Astral Plane. Soule called it "weaponized nostalgia," using the mechanic to convey emotions and ideas.
- Soule called the line up "incredibly badass," and "incredibly different."
- Soule talked about Bishop, with Guggenheim calling Soule's take on the character "incredibly poetic."
- Bishop is constantly looking for the signs of his future coming to pass, trying to prevent it.
- "I want it to feel like a big, massive X-book. We're swinging for the fences."
- Soule said Gambit and Fantomex will have a "buddy thieves" dynamic.
- "The last page is gonna break the internet," said Chris D'Lando from Marvel's marketing department.