Comicon.com: The newest X-Men book, Astonishing X-Men, will be written by Charles Soule, coming out in July 2017, drawn by Jim Cheung on the first issue. Future artwork will be by Ron Garney, Phil Noto, Greg Land, and many more. Soule said that he’s worked with some of these folks before, and he asks himself what an artist needs in order to do well, script-wise, and he’s trying to do that. With Cheung, who excels at epic feeling and realism, the first issue heads that way. Set in London, intense real-world situations open the first issue, like a James Bond film, Soule said.
The first big villain of the series is The Shadow King, Soule announced, with some art shown. It was a “happy accident” that he also appeared in Legion, but in the comics he’s the first mutant Xavier encountered who was “mean”. Xavier engaged in a “mental battle” with him, and it was an eye-opener to Charles Xavier that bad guys existed, and prompted Charles to start his school to train mutants. But he’s also an “ancient force of darkness” and “chaos”. He resides on the Astral Plane. The Shadow King starts to “twist reality”. The book is “like a puzzle box” and you aren’t supposed to always know what’s happening. Issue one jumps around between locations and characters based on this.
Soule really wanted real cities to be involved, with human settlement, hence London. There’s a “giant purple psychic butterfly” on the Shard, for instance. Soule said that characters have to fight on the astral plane, and the way to “win” on the astral plane is odd–it’s about making “your version of reality” win out. Soule says that he uses “weaponized nostalgia” for fans, hitting on key elements from the past, but that’s not the only thing the story does, turning instead to new territory. The cast for the book are each “very different” in the way they approach conflicts so that enables him to “run the soap opera of the X-Men in different way”.