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Tuesday Q&A

Wednesday Q&A: Louise Simonson

The writer talks about an alternate take on reuniting the original X-Men as well as Apocalypse in her upcoming limited series

By Kevin Mahadeo

Writer Louise Simonson has some unfinished business, and she intends to take care of it with her new five-issue limited series X-FACTOR FOREVER.

In the same vein as Chris Claremont's X-MEN FOREVER, this new project returns Simonson to the characters and setting of the original X-FACTOR ongoing exactly where she left off almost 20 years ago. The title teams the writer with artist Dan Panosian and allows Simonson to tell the story she originally planned for the mighty mutants. Along with returning the five original X-characters-Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, Iceman-X-FACTOR FOREVER reunites Simonson with the Marvel super villain Apocalypse, whom she co-created in 1986's X-FACTOR #5.

Simonson discussed the March-launching limited series, what it's like going back and re-reading her original run and her thoughts on being a part of the Women of Marvel celebration.


X-FACTOR FOREVER #1 cover by Dan Panosian
Marvel.com: Looking back, what was going through your head while you were reading your original X-FACTOR issues to prepare for X-FACTOR FOREVER?

Louise Simonson: They actually weren't that bad, you know? [Laughs] Even if somebody else would have written it, I would have liked it. I had also forgotten a lot. I remembered the characters, of course, but I had forgotten a lot of the story. It looked to me that I had been setting up this story that I'm now doing in X-FACTOR FOREVER, but I had totally forgotten. I tend to do that. When I'm off a book, my brain erases the information it was holding. It's as if I were hitting delete. So, when I read it, I thought, "Oh man, there's this big set up here." I would read a balloon and be like, "I'm setting this up here? Holy cow." It was actually a pretty major thing. If I had kept doing the book at the time, I would no doubt have dragged it out a lot longer. This is a five-issue [limited series], so I think it's more concentrated than the story would have been had I done it in the past. But the essence of it is certainly there.

Marvel.com: So, you really had this, "Oh yeah," moment of recognition while reading?

Louise Simonson: Yeah. I had totally forgotten. It's really funny. For years now people have asked what about this or what about that or what would you have done here, and mostly I don't want to answer those kind of questions because when you're done with playing with those particular toys, you're done. You don't want to go back and dis anything anybody might be doing with them. It's bad manners or something. So, I'd use to not really answer those kind of questions. Or if I did answer them I might not really remember. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on these characters, the original five X-Men, and where you last left them?

Louise Simonson: I had actually left each of the individual characters in a pretty good spot where they had all kind of come to terms, except for Jean, who was still have problems with what had happened to her due to the whole [situation with] Phoenix [and Madelyne Pryor]. Angel had gotten a little more comfortable with being turned into a living weapon. I just like them. They're people I like spending time with. I think they're courageous, smart characters with their own problems, which is part of the fun of it. I enjoy throwing wrenches in their works and seeing how they get out of it.

Marvel.com: You mention Jean, and it's funny because besides Chris Claremont's X-MEN FOREVER, Jean's been pretty much gone from the comic light recently.

Louise Simonson: I'm actually not as familiar with present day continuity as I should [be]. I've been away from comics for a while. I was doing books, mostly. Every once and  while somebody would tell me something, like Scott is sleeping with the White Queen or something like that to try and get me all shocked about it. Nevertheless, I think [Jean's] a cool

X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 cover by Dan Panosian
character. I don't think it's a bad idea to sometimes put characters aside and not do anything with them for a while. People may get tired of them, but if the writers themselves are tired with them, then there's no point in writing them because it's really hard to write a character you find boring. But I'm not bored with her, so that's good.

Marvel.com: In the book, the characters are known to be mutants and are out there in the public light. What does that mean for them? Are they sort of quasi-celebrities with paparazzi chasing after them?

Louise Simonson: Yeah. They have that happen. Right before I got off the book, I had Angel come back to being a slightly more mellow character then he was before when he was being the really crazed Archangel character. He got it together enough to use the old Worthington charm and now they've set up photo ops where the reporters are allowed to take pictures of them. They're mostly okay with that. The paparazzi will follow them around a little bit, but it's not as horrible as it was for a while. I mean, this is New York and unless a space ship lands in the middle of the city, people are usually willing to leave you alone even if you're a celebrity.

Marvel.com: Apocalypse also plays a role in this series. He's a character you created who has become really big character in comics. But what can you say about where he is when your book starts off?

Louise Simonson: He has [been] working toward a goal, which is now reaching fruition, since pretty much the dawn of man. We're actually doing an Apocalypse back-up story that gives his history. But it turns out that the thing he was working toward may not actually be working out the way he thought it would. And the Celestials are not necessarily happy with the way it looks like things are turning out. He realizes that he's got a problem and he moves to try and mitigate the problem as much as he possibly can. So, we get an Apocalypse who having been supremely confident is now freaking out a little bit because he thinks he might have doomed humanity by mistake. Oops! [Laughs]

Marvel.com: You mention the Celestials, who are pretty much godlike beings. How does X-Factor plan on dealing with something like that?

Louise Simonson: Well, their ship is a Celestial artifact. The ship was originally put on Earth as an information-gathering device for the Celestials and was left here. Apocalypse, having infiltrated the device, was able to take it over and it became his ship. But it also remained a Celestial artifact and was transmitting information to the Celestials the whole time. So, X-Factor has seen the Celestials because they were pulled

X-FACTOR FOREVER #3 cover by Dan Panosian
off the ship onto a planet where the Celestials were early on in their continuity. But how you deal with them is a whole problem because there's not much you can do against a Celestial. They pretty much do what they want to do. You can try to drive them off or you can convince them they don't want to be there. But they're pretty darn powerful. Unless you really convince them that this isn't where they want to be, they can do anything they want.

Marvel.com: As a final question, the new limited series is also part of the Women of Marvel promotion. What are your thoughts on the event and being a part of it?

Louise Simonson: You know, there was a time when I was annoyed by the idea of women in comics being treated as if they're anything special. When I was younger, I thought it sounded like, "Oh look. Women can do comics, too." Now, I'm older and I've run across enough young girls who think it's cool and who see women can do it and believe that they can do it, too, and that there is an open door. I think it's a great thing, and I was wrong when I was younger. So there. [Laughs]


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This limited series is just the sort of thing to pull old X-Factor fans, like me, back into the fold. When X-Factor first debuted I was thrilled with the writing and loved all the Celestial stuff. I look forward to this hitherto unknown tale of X-Factor being revealed.


Louise Simonson is my favorite writerso I'm definitely gonna buy this series:cyclops: :phoenix: :iceman: :beast: :x-men:


Cool can’t wait to see the plot unfold and see the original five in action again.