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X-Men: ReGenesis

Uncanny Regenesis

Kieron Gillen discusses establishing a new mutant world in the X-Men: Regenesis one-shot and new Uncanny X-Men series

By Justin F. Gabrie

With the X-MEN: REGENESIS one-shot coming next week—Wednesday, October 12—writer Kieron Gillen begins a new chapter in the lives of Marvel’s mutants. It’s a lot of responsibility, but one would never know it talking to the British scribe.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1 preview page by Carlos Pacheco

Having spoken to fellow X-Masterminds Jason Aaron and Rick Remender, Gillen knew exactly where all the writers wanted to position their characters. 

“It's not just a book about the characters’ future physical locations, but their emotional locations, too,” notes Gillen of REGENESIS. “Obviously with ‘my’ cast it’s easier, but to hopefully avoid it feeling too piecemeal, there's a nice big visual metaphor—and a visual metaphor involving punching, because I'm aware of what genre I'm writing in.”

The writer’s excitement on breaking new ground with the X-Men had only one dark cloud manifested in a simple plot point:

“It's just sad. [Wolverine and Cyclops,] two men who've come so far dealing with each other and now that's over. That we leave them in a chilly, cold war almost makes it worse.”  

While REGENESIS presents a daunting endeavour in terms of the writing, even that does not compare to closing out the original UNCANNY X-MEN series with issue #544 and preparing for a new #1 on November 2.

“It's just something I'm aware of,” says Gillen in reference to concluding the long-running title. “Even if it's re-launching next month, writing the final issue of UNCANNY, that’s an enormous thing to do. I'm trying to put a thematically-appropriate bow on top of decades of work. I wanted to make it feel like a thematic epilogue to the whole thing, so it's a mixture of the X-state of the art and some nods towards the earliest days.”

In looking toward the future of the new UNCANNY, it began with which characters would wind up on which side after Schism.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1 preview page by Carlos Pacheco

“Apart from the Great Maggott Battle Of 2011—I can show you the scars—surprisingly gentlemanly,” Gillen describes the selection process. “It's just a question of writing. A lot of characters logically went to one camp or another. As much as I love Beast or Kitty, there’s no natural or convincing way that they'd end up on my side. Psylocke, on the other hand, we talked over carefully. Her position: complicated, to say the least. I think we've left her in an interesting position.”

When Gillen took over UNCANNY X-MEN a year ago, he knew about the impending divide. Quickly, he became aware he had 12  issues to set up the status quo he planned to operate under, so his stories focused on showing Utopia as a fledgling state and Cyclops dealing with one diplomatic crisis after another while staying true to his stance on how to best safeguard the mutant race.

“The split transforms all this theory into practice,” he says. “[Cyclops] pushing his plans forward quicker as a direct response to [Wolverine] taking a bunch of people and—in Cyke’s opinion—endangering them. However, while a response, it's also a direct development of what's come before.

“The biggest change: I don't get to write Wolverine significantly any more. Sniff.”

But where one door closes as Wolverine walks out, another one opens with Carlos Pacheco coming in as the regular artist on the new UNCANNY.

“Carlos is a joy, in that he can do pretty much anything,” Gillen touts. “My vision for the book which marries sheer, planetary scale with genuine human moments, magnifying the traditional X-Men stories until they can be projected to fill the sky. Carlos handles the superhuman and the human with equal aplomb.”

UNCANNY X-MEN #1 preview page by Carlos Pacheco

Having collaborated before on the Point One issue of UNCANNY X-MEN, Gillen mildly inquired about Pacheco’s availability:

“I was a little more passive aggressive than just asking for him, wearing ‘Pacheco is a Very Good X-Drawer’ badges when I popped into the office. I'm subtle, me.”

Looking ahead, the writer promises the Uncanny team will continue to follow Cyclops’ direction for the X-Men, aspiring to be the world's premiere super team for the improvement of the mutant image, while using the natural fear humans have of mutants to get things done.

“That's the reason for the Extinction Team: save the world, but—by their very existence—they’re a threat,” says Gillen. “Yes, they're saving this city. But they could just as easily be destroying it, if you gave them motivation to do so. And the team, with its bunch of ex-villains, are designed to be credible and convincingly intimidating in that role, both in terms of power and personality. People [are] glad the team has turned up [and] seem glad that they're on their side, but know if they ever did anything to make them not on the same side, there would be trouble.

“In short, it’s the super-team as nuclear deterrent.”

Mister Sinister will be the first villain to menace the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN, and Gillen promises the classic baddie has raised his own game along with his long-time foes.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1 preview page by Carlos Pacheco

“Frankly, he's my archvillain,” he says. “[Sinister] has been scheming ever since his introduction to the X-world, and the first arc shows and tells the results of his grand experiment.”

Following the initial arc, issue #4 will present a standalone tale illustrated by Brandon Peterson, whose work has floored Gillen. The second major story will pick up threads recently explored in UNCANNY X-FORCE—a certain environment in particular—and after that the team will go globetrotting.

“It's a team of fiery, powerful personalities, and the clashes between wills are all sorts of fun,” Gillen concludes. “Also, I'm genuinely surprised by how Namor and Hope act around each other.”

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      Impressive. I hope to see more of Hope, Namor and Magik in Uncanny X Men 1