Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Brisson, Rosenberg & Thompson Unite for Uncanny X-Men: Disassembled

CBR: Kicking off this new era for Marvel’s flagship mutant title means juggling a huge cast of characters as well as dealing with the pressures of coordinating a weekly shipping story arc. CBR spoke with Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg & Kelly Thompson about those elements, the Avengers story that inspired their Uncanny X-Men collaboration, and the connective tissue between Uncanny and the other X-titles they write.

CBR:  With three writers and four artists who have been working on the X-books coming together to tackle a weekly epic with a huge cast of characters, I can’t help but be reminded of the recent Avengers story arc, “No Surrender.” Is that sort of what’s going on with Uncanny X-Men? And what’s it like working with a team of co-writers? What do you enjoy most about each other’s styles?

Kelly Thompson: Yeah, I think the success of Avengers: No Surrender was certainly the inspiration for doing this first Uncanny story using that same model. It’s an intense model, but it’s pretty exciting to get that much story that fast and while there are obvious disadvantages with coordination and schedule stuff, there are advantages too in what you can do when the story comes to the reader that quickly. Process-wise, we came up with the overall story and outline together, and then we take turns outlining individual issues but we each write every issue, together. We’ve been able to blend our styles well enough I think that divvying up pages in each issue has actually worked very well. All these artists are terrific, but so far what they’ve done is way beyond what I ever expected.

What I enjoy most about Ed and Matt are the ways that they are like me. HA!

Ed Brisson:  I’ve never worked collaboratively in this way before. I’ve done longer series where the whole story is broken down by the team of writers and everyone gets their own issues to write, but this is much more collaborative. As Kelly mentioned above, we beat the whole thing out over several weeks (months), both online and in person, and we all work together on each issue, writing our own pages and then revising to make it feel unified.

So far, no one has been murdered, but we still have a few issues to go.

Matthew Rosenberg: I’ve been having a blast. I was already a big fan and close friends with Kelly and Ed, but it’s fun to watch them work up close. One of the big thrills for me is dividing up the issue and seeing what everyone comes back with. I think each person grabs the scenes they like, sort of thinking they will be the most interesting ones. But when each writer is fighting to make their moments really sing, everything comes back much better than I ever expect. So that’s nice.

From talking with various writers over the years I know one of the difficulties of writing Uncanny is the X-Men have such a huge cast of characters and almost each one has their own set of dedicated fans. So what’s it like juggling so many characters?

Thompson:  Cast was a big one for sure, and you have to break things up into teams pretty early to make it manageable, but in an event this big, that’s not really a problem as there are a lot of threads to pursue. For the most part, we’ve got three main teams pursuing three different threads… but it can still be unwieldy. I definitely keep a cheat sheet on my computer about who’s with who and where and doing what. Although I think the most confusion we’d had so far is with X-Men transportation; it’s always the battle never even imagined that kills you!

Brisson: The X-Men transportation thing has been insane. There aren’t that many ships, yet keeping them straight is apparently a full time job!

What you said about dedicated fans, we’re seeing that in full force. As soon as the announcement went out, all three of us were inundated with messages begging us to use specific characters — some of whom probably haven’t been seen in decades. If we took everyone’s suggestions, we’d have a team of about 300 X-Men.

I will say that we’ve got some big guns on the team and some second stringers that maybe don’t get to be in the spotlight that often. We’ve also got some pretty exciting stuff with some of the younger X-Men.

Rosenberg: Are there a lot of X-Men? I hadn’t noticed.

Of course, the fun aspect of having so many characters is the chance to write X-Men and dynamics you don’t normally get to work with. Who are some of the characters and relationships that you don’t normally get to write, but you’re having especially good time tackling in Uncanny?

Thompson: I try to elbow Matt and Ed out of the way every chance I get to write Laura [X-23] and Armor. Ed and I will probably have to be in some kind of Thunderdome situation by the end of this thing over getting to write Armor. I’m also really enjoying Iceman and his terrible, adorable jokes.

Brisson: Kelly and I are definitely always in a competition for Armor’s love. Glob is in the series, and is a character I’ve been using a lot over in Old Man Logan. Love writing him. Northstar is one that’s been pretty great. Being Canadian, I always love the opportunity to tackle Canadian characters.

Rosenberg: I have a real soft spot for Storm, Jean and Madrox. One of the relationships I’m really enjoying I can’t quite talk about here, but he’s fun as hell in the way he interacts with almost everyone.

Speaking of dynamics, you’ve currently got three groups laying claim to the name X-Men, each with different goals and line-ups. What can you tell us about them coming together? Is this a story about what it means to be part of the X-Men in today’s world? And will people necessarily agree on what that means?

Thompson: I don’t know if we can answer this first part without getting fired. I think that’s all still to be revealed in time.

I do think this is absolutely a story about what it means to be an X-Man today…and to be a mutant. This story has big ramifications on those fronts… I mean, it is called “Disassembled,” after all.

Brisson: Can’t really go beyond what Kelly said above, but you’ve certainly hit it on the head. It’s about proving your worth in a world that is often at odds with you. And if everyone agrees with what we’ve done in the end, I think that will be the first time in all of comics history that that’s happened.

What can you tell us about the threat(s) that bring your cast together? Will this series allow you to have fun with classic X-Men villains? Create new ones? Or a bit of both?

Thompson:  Bit of both! Some of the new, some of the old, combined in what I think we all hope are interesting new ways that will excite people while also tickling some nostalgia.

Brisson: The threat that brings them together is a bit of a mystery that I’m not going to spoil. There are a few really fun twists in the first few issues that I think readers are really going to enjoy.

Rosenberg: All three of us get a real kick out of reading fan theories, I think in part because if we weren’t writing this, we’d be doing the same thing. There are some wild theories out there, but I’m really happy that no one has come close to where we’re headed. I think folks will be shocked. Often.

Let’s talk about the artists bringing your story to life: Mahmud Asrar, R.B. Silva, Yildiray Cinar and Pere Perez. What’s it like working with these artists? What do you enjoy most about their styles?

Thompson: It’s been incredible. I’m not kidding when I say we asked these guys for a lot of tough stuff, and they delivered more than I imagined. I think people are going to be blown away, each of them is probably doing the best work of their careers on this book. I suspect they would each like five minutes alone with us in a room so they can beat us to death… but the books look great.

Brisson:  We’ve got a lot of really big pieces in this book, and all four artists are knocking it out of the park. But, yeah, like Kelly said, I’m sure they want to kill us over some of these pages.

Rosenberg: These guys are, in a lot of ways, some of the best new talent at Marvel. I am blown away that I get to have them translate my nonsense onto the page almost every day. And yeah, I’m sure they hate me. But it’s worth it.

Finally, I know Uncanny X-Men will be new reader friendly, but do the stories you’re telling in X-Men: Extermination, Old Man Logan, Mr and Mrs X, and Astonishing X-Men sort of lay the ground work for “X-Men: Disassembled?” And will Astonishing and Mr and Mrs X tie-in or be immediately effected by the events of the story?

Thompson: It is definitely intended to be as new reader friendly as possible, but again, I’m not sure how much we’re allowed to say on this front for the most part. I can say that Mr and Mrs. X is completely disconnected from “Disassembled” — it’s not a tie-in.

Brisson: Old Man Logan is largely its own thing that doesn’t connect into Uncanny. Extermination is a little tougher to discuss without spoiling things, so for the sake of my job, my lips are zipped.

Rosenberg: You guys are missing out on some real sales here. C’mon! Yes you have to read Astonishing, New Mutants, Multiple Man and all my other books to understand Uncanny…

No, that’s not true, sadly. But while we are working to make it new reader friendly, if you have been reading the X-Books, you’ll see us taking threads from almost all of them for sure. And that includes Red, Blue, Gold, Weapon X and the others we don’t write. This is (almost) all the X-Men coming together. It’s as big as it gets and we want to make sure it feels like everything has been building to this for the X-Fans.


Stephen W said...

Betts looks fantastic in the preview...especially her hair 💜

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Stephen, agreed. The uniform looks good or like crap depending on the artist.

Antone Poitier said...

@Rahsaan Chisolm I completely agree with that!

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Antone, I want another danger room practice session where Psylocke clobbers Rogue, as usual for old time’s sake.

Antone Poitier said...

@Rashaan LMAO I miss those days. Wonder if Kwannon is going to wear Betsy's old costumes or at least modified it to here appeal cause my top 3 favorite Asian Betsy csotumes was the current Uncanny X-Men one, the New Age of Apocalypse costume and the House of M costume.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Antone, I hope not. Grated, it would make more sensse for Kwannon to wear Asian-inspired costumes than Elizabeth who if we’re trying to be less tropey. However, it will also be wack if Kwannon continues to live with no identity outside of Elizabeth, including wearing her hand-me-down clothing. They need to put her in title away from the X-Men, like the Exiles or something.

Alexis said...

Tbh, there's not much difference physically between Asian and Caucasian Psylocke. Except for the slight lighter skin tone and purple hair, there's not much difference how both women are drawn.

I think the whole Madripoor story was more of a benefit to Kwannon than Betsy.

Tazirai said...

Kwannon needs her own Identity. Not be a clone of Psylocke.
With that said, These pages look amazing.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Alexis, I’m hoping Kwannon will go back to black hair as a statement of her own identity since she had black hair before being forced into a situation with Psylocke.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Alexis, a question. No shade, but how is Kwannon winning? She for the moment seems to be in editorial limbo, Meanwhile our girl, Elizabeth is featured in the newly, relaunch premiere X-Men title? That’s the opposite if being the primary beneficiary.

Alexis said...

@ Chislom No worries, none taken :) I actually enjoy these discussions.

Kwannon is winning in a sense that the writers didn't dispose of her body. If she had a minor role in the X-universe, the writers wouldn't have added that last bit at the end of the arc, and would have left her body to rot. So, it's very likely that she will have an important role in the near future.

While too early to really tell, what I fear is that British Betsy is going to end up in the background in the new X-titles. But, hopefully not. I guess as a reader I wasn't convinced with how Psylocke got her body back, and the writing was sloppy. So, I reckon the writers will be sloppy with how they use her.

Anyway, it does provide space for Kwannon to develop and maybe grow as an important character.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Alexis, yeah. The writing was really bad in that arc. Even though I like the end result, I can admit that. I am optimistic that they would not have gone through all the trouble of having this big surprise to then have her fall to the wayside.

As for Kwannon, I really think that they should do everything they can to differentiate her from Elizabeth, including changing her hair color to black, developing her empathic power versus giving her telepathy/telekinesis/precognition and possibly even have an issue where she an Bets "break up" a la Jean and the Phoenix. Otherwise, she still remains dependent on Psylocke for identity, which is whack. I still maintain that she may not even have a place with the X-Men. She kinda reminds me of Binary being with the X-Men, because of what Rogue did to her when she was Ms. Marvel. It was fine for a time, but ultimately Carol's place was not at the school. I don't feel Kwannon belongs at the school for the long haul. She needs an identity outside of Psylocke's to be completely her own character. The X-Men are Elizabeth's family. She can make her own. perhaps she can have her own exploits in Madripoor or even in Japan. The only reason she came to the school was, because she had been gaslighted into believing she was Elizabeth Braddock. I feel like with her own life to live again, she'd not want to return to the X-Men.

Tazirai said...

I really hope they don't put Kwannon in Asian themed clothing, that would kinda suck. And be extremely tropey and stereotypical.
Most asians wear jeans and tees lol.
Psylocke looks awesome in that pic with some nice curves. Not as heavy as I draw them, but enough to be ooh la la!. :)

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

@Taz, yeah. Your Psylocke is thick AF! :-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't been here in a while! I love how Betsy's hair and facial expression here is drawn! In my view, the costume looks better or worse depending on the artist, but is still a generic looking costume. With this artist, it looks better. But I really think it needs to be improved.

FSaker said...

She does look great - and so does everyone else! I don't know how consistent the art will be in this arc, but at least the first issue will be very nice to look at.

I shouldn't be excited for anything Marvel comes up with after so many disappointments, but... well, I am. I love the idea of a huge roster of characters (and this time it will probably work better than in Fraction's run, where despite of the dozens of X-Men only four of them were relevant), and while I'm not very familiar with the work from these writers, I know Kelly Thompson is a huge fan of the X-Men and all three of them sound very excited with the project in this interview, so I'm confident that they will do their best.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...

Speaking of great art, I saw this on Facebook: