By Ben Morse
|UNCANNY X-MEN #535 cover by Terry Dodson|
Come this April, Kieron Gillen’s going to be a busy man.
As we announced yesterday, the British native will be writing the newly-revived JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY starring Loki—but that’s not all! In the same month, Gillen becomes the one and only writer of UNCANNY X-MEN, as Matt Fraction leaves one of Marvel’s most beloved titles in his cohort’s capable hands.
Gillen became Fraction’s co-writer on UNCANNY back in December, but he’ll fly solo beginning with issues #534.1 and #535, illustrated by Terry Dodson. We spoke with newly-appointed Senior Editor Nick Lowe about the process of succession, how fresh creative blood helps the X-Men and why Kieron Gillen has what it takes to guide the mighty mutants.
Marvel.com: How did this particular baton pass of writing duties on UNCANNY X-MEN come about, moving from Matt to Kieron?
Nick Lowe: There were a lot of things going on that led to it. First, Matt and Kieron are good friends. They were worked very closely on the “Five Lights” storyline and the planning for GENERATION HOPE. Second, Matt had just started working on Fear Itself and it goes without saying that these events are hugely time-consuming. With his landmark run on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and his launch of MIGHTY THOR, something had to give, so instead we put he and Kieron together on UNCANNY. One thing led to another and it just became apparent that Matt’s talents were better spent on Fear Itself, IRON MAN and THOR. Kieron had done such a great job co-writing UNCANNY and blew us away with GENERATION HOPE so it was a no-brainer. Also, Kieron completed the obstacle course much faster than the other applicants, so…
Marvel.com: Every writer is different and each brings a fresh approach to the X-Men: What are Kieron’s particular strengths and what new viewpoint does he bring to the title?
|UNCANNY X-MEN #535 pencils by Terry Dodson|
Nick Lowe: The first thing that needs to be made clear is that Matt is a tough act to follow. He’s been on the book for 2+ years and has redefined who the X-Men more than anyone since Grant Morrison, really. Think about it—Utopia, Magneto and Namor joining the team, the whole Dark Avengers crossover and Cyclops’ trajectory were all things that are largely defined in Matt’s run. That’s big stuff.
As far as Kieron’s upcoming run, he’s planning on focusing on a smaller number of characters and really putting the characters through hell. Kieron’s greatest strengths are his characters and the emotional resonance that he brings to the table. You’ll see this right away in UNCANNY X-MEN #534.1 and then #535.
Marvel.com: How will Kieron be picking up on what Matt has laid down the past couple years? What new stuff is he adding?
Nick Lowe: He’ll be picking up on the big threads that Matt was dealing with—Magneto, Namor, Kitty—but not in ways that you need to have read every issue. You can start with #534.1 and get in on the ground floor without a problem. I’m a big fan of playing with old and new. I always try to challenge my creators to bring new toys to the table and I will be pushing Kieron to do so, like I did with Matt. The current “Quarantine” arc is playing with characters Matt and Greg Land created earlier in their run, in fact.
Marvel.com: Can you give us some hints about who and what Kieron’s initial arcs will be focused on?
Nick Lowe: In #534.1 we see the X-Men begin to deal with the world knowing that Magneto is part of the X-Men. Think about if you lived in the Marvel Universe. You wouldn’t feel great about the most well-known mutant terrorist in the world walking free
|UNCANNY X-MEN #535 pencils by Terry Dodson|
and living just off the coast of San Francisco. And then in #535 we dive right into one of the most chilling [X-Men stories] I can remember as what the X-Men did in ASTONISHING X-MEN when we all first saw Breakworld [comes back]. They left that world changed. Is it for the better? And remember, the Breakworlders almost destroyed the world, but the X-Men stopped them. What are they going to do for revenge? I haven’t been as scared since Kieron got to the Bear-Pit section of the obstacle course.
Marvel.com: This is the second time in the past few years UNCANNY X-MEN has segued from one writer to the next by having both work together briefly as co-writers in between tenures—Ed Brubaker’s handoff to Matt being the last—why do you consider this an effective strategy for creator changes?
Nick Lowe: They were both special circumstances. With Matt and Ed, we had intended them to alternate arcs but Ed’s schedule just got too jammed up and we knew the book was in good hands with Matt. The Kieron/Matt thing was really similar. And it’s looking like we’ve struck gold again, judging by Kieron’s first scripts. Seriously, I was laughing and gasping reading the script to #536 on the subway ride home. It made me forget about those poor runners up, lying on the floor of the Bear Pit. Maybe next time, guys—UNCANNY is Kieron’s baby.
To hear from Kieron Gillen himself on taking over UNCANNY X-MEN and see more exclusive art from Terry Dodson, check in with our buddies over at Comic Book Resources!