By Ben Morse
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR X-MEN: LEGACY #245 AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, GET TO IT!
We have entered the Age of X.
From now through April in the pages of X-MEN: LEGACY, NEW MUTANTS and beyond, a strange and exciting new reality known as the Age of X will be introduced, with mysteries unfolding and a world where the X-Men never existed coming to light. After each chapter, we’ll have the event’s writer and mastermind Mike Carey here with us to discuss the latest revelations and will also preview art from the next exciting installment!
The Age of X officially kicked off in X-MEN: LEGACY #245 and it did not begin with a whimper.
Courtesy of writer Mike Carey and artist Clay Mann, we found ourselves dropped head-on into a world where the would-be X-Men wage a daily war against humanity in defense of their Fortress X outpost, attempting to stave off extinction. We saw the man we know as Cyclops letting loose as the tortured Basilisk, our beloved Rogue take on the dual guise of Legacy and Reaper, Pixie twisted into the bizarre Nightmare and Cannonball taking charge like never before, just to scratch the surface.
Even as the players took their places on stage, mysteries began to abound as far as who knows what exactly and the role of Kitty Pryde in revealing the truth behind this warped reality.
We caught up with Carey to get sort out these happenings; also, check out some exclusive preview art by Steve Kurt from Age of X’s fourth chapter, coming up in NEW MUTANTS #23 on sale March 23.
|X-MEN: LEGACY #245 cover by Leinil Francis Yu|
Right off, we see the X-Men as a finely-honed military machine as opposed to a traditional super hero team. How far removed do you think this is from how the X-Men actually are in "our" reality? What steps were needed to get them there in Age of X and how close do you think they are to perhaps being there in the baseline Marvel Universe?
Mike Carey: That's a good question and I think the gap has narrowed in recent years. The response of the X-Men to the near-extermination of mutantkind has been to pull back and retrench, defending Utopia against all comers with a discipline and a focus that are pretty close to military. Cyclops has that speech in Second Coming where he says exactly that: "Today you are all combatants. You are all X-Men. Fight or die." The details of the war are very different in each case, but the situations are broadly comparable. In both cases, it's a battle for survival.
As we're told this is the daily routine in the Age of X—humans attacking Fortress X and being repelled—what are the humans hoping to accomplish? Do they not have some sense that they can't win at this point?
Mike Carey: I think the opposite is the truth. Yes, the mutants win each day's battle, but they can't win the war because their numbers are so small, the constant attrition is bound to kill them in the end. In this issue, we see Tempo die, and it's a common enough thing that the system is already in place: it's accepted that Legacy/Reaper will take her memories so that nothing of her life and experience is lost. With the numbers we're seeing on the mutant side, every death is a catastrophe. It doesn't really matter how heavy the losses are on the other side, because the other side has a world's resources to call on and in infinite amount of—to put it crudely—cannon fodder.
Cannonball has emerged as the clear and strong field leader of the X-Men in Age of X; what factors went in to making this happen? What is preventing it from happening in the normal reality? How much of a difference does the absence of Cyclops as a stable leader make in Cannonball's life and in the X-Men hierarchy? In some ways, is this a commentary that Cyclops is holding Cannonball back in our world?
|NEW MUTANTS #23 preview art by Steve Kurth|
Mike Carey: Well, we see Cannonball, in the absence of Cyclops, taking on that responsibility and living up to the role. But I think we recognize the Sam we already know in this version of Cannonball: he's had that leadership role before in the New Mutants and X Force—has it now, in fact—and he's never flinched from it. It's just a broader responsibility here, with more people looking to him and more weight on his shoulders. I can totally see the Cannonball of regular X-Men continuity taking on that position if the need arose, and neither complaining about it nor feeling unfit for it. I'd also say, judging from things he said in Second Coming, that he knows how much it costs Cyclops and isn't exactly going after his job.
How did Pixie turn out so different and become Nightmare in Age of X? Also, how fun is it to write that version of the character?
Mike Carey: I think this is a Pixie who just knew more loss and betrayal and hurt a lot younger than our regular Megan and has hardened as a result. She is fun to write, absolutely; it's great to take a character like that, who we know has great potential but who is normally a little diffident, and really take the gloves off.
Legacy, aka Rogue, is our focal point character here. I know you've answered this question many times, but why of all the X-Men do you gravitate to Rogue so much?
Mike Carey: I dunno. I think it's probably pathological. I think I said in one of our previous conversations there are just some characters [that] you feel like you can voice convincingly and get inside their head and there are others who remain opaque to you. I like Rogue a lot and I feel like I know how she'll react in a wide range of situations. It's sort of effortless to get myself into her mind-set. If you look at any X-Men writer, you'll see their preferences and their imaginative sympathies laid out very clearly over time. I'd feel more defensive if it was just Rogue, but there are other characters [that] I come back to again and again in similar ways.
|NEW MUTANTS #23 preview art by Steve Kurth|
Very clever use of the Legacy name as it sums up quite nicely Rogue's role in Age of X—how did you come up with it?
Mike Carey: Strangely, it came to me fairly late on in the process, and I was a little diffident about suggesting it because I was afraid it might seem cheesy to reference the title of the book in that way. But it got so when I called her Reaper, [editor] Daniel [Ketchum] and [artist] Clay [Mann] would correct me, so I knew it was going to stick!
How does Legacy's primary function as a "reaper" in Age of X alter the Rogue personality we've all come to know?
Mike Carey: As we see in this issue, one thing it does is to turn her from a person into a resource. In regular continuity, we see that happen to Hope, and we see Hope fight against it. Legacy fights against it, too, but in this more overtly military situation she can't go where she's not deployed: essentially, her life boils down to the exercise of her powers in this one way, and when she's not using them, she stays up in the command room with Magneto, very much against her will. But in part two, we'll see exactly what happens when Legacy steps out of line...
Who are the five members of the Force Warriors? How are they viewed by the rest of the X-Men?
Mike Carey: The five are Psylocke, Legion, Hellion, Stand-Off—which is to say Carmella Unuscione—and Revenant. In light of what we've just been talking about, you could compare their role to Legacy's: they're too important to risk in the thick of the fighting, because without the force walls, Fortress X can't survive. But they're much more visible than Legacy, their role is a daily and ubiquitous one, and they're not associated with death and loss. Quite the opposite: they're the face of survival and defiance, and everyone respects and even loves them.
Why is Frenzy so down on Wolverine? Is this a common attitude amongst the X-Men or personal to her?
Mike Carey: Oh, that's just Frenzy mouthing off. She's never exactly been overflowing with compassion. Seeing a warrior like Wolverine, who she formerly respected and saw as her equal, reduced to this much more passive role turns her stomach and she's not shy about saying so. I think most people would show more pity and understanding than this, although I'm not sure how much more bearable that would be from Logan's point of view.
|NEW MUTANTS #23 preview art by Steve Kurth|
We spoke about Namor and Storm last time, but why did you decide to pair up Frenzy with Cyclops/Basilisk and Iceman with Psylocke romantically?
Mike Carey: Iceman and Psylocke was just a "why not?" That Dick Van Dyke dialogue came to me as I was scripting, so I stuck it in. The pairing of Basilisk and Frenzy is much less random, and I think it tells you something about both of them. First, this is a Frenzy who's much closer to the heart of things than the Frenzy in regular continuity: someone who's embraced a positive role and despite her more fierce and wayward instincts, sticks to it. But also, this is a Scott Summers who is much more reckless and self-destructive. There's an edge of violence and dysfunction in the relationship which we glimpse in this issue and see again later. Although, having said that, there's a real passion, too. They sort of work. You remember that line from [the television show] “Firefly” spoken by Wash? "A lot of people don't get me and Zoe, at first..." It's like that. Your first thought is "say, what?" but I'm hoping that people will see the way they watch each other's backs and keep each other standing.
Is the fact that some of the X-Men are questioning if they would have met under different circumstances an indicator that they sense something is "wrong" with their universe?
Mike Carey: It's more of an expository device, but maybe, yeah, some of them have an unconscious inkling of what they've lost, or what they never had.
After the incident with Kitty, why is Legacy the one who begins to question things so intensely?
Mike Carey: Partly it's just that she was right there, in the crucial place and at the crucial time. She sees the camera, she looks at the pictures, [and] she starts to wonder. Partly, though, it's in keeping with how I've portrayed Rogue elsewhere, as someone whose main gift is for not following the rules. Some people slot into a role and let it dictate the way they think; others always kick against it and are aware of the edges of the box they live in.
Is Magneto acting out of pure altruism or something more sinister?
Mike Carey: A good question, to which, at this point, I do not have a good answer.
What can you say about who is in those isolation facilities and why?
Mike Carey: Well, we see some of the inmates at the end here—Emma and the Cuckoos, Kitty, Professor X—and we see more of them in part two. The why unfolds more gradually, but it's certainly not random.
We’ll be back Wednesday to talk NEW MUTANTS #22 and chapter two—you can also pick up chapter three, X-MEN: LEGACY #246, on March 9