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Tuesday Q&A

Thursday Q&A: Marjorie Liu

The novelist-turned-comic creator bids a silent farewell to X-23 and prepares to launch a new era of Astonishing X-Men



By Chris Arrant

This month, writer Marjorie Liu caps off her two year run on X-23 with the series finale in #21, and takes on a new challenge with ASTONISHING X-MEN as the team returns to the New York City in issue #48.

For this former lawyer, her current place as a key writer for the X-Men titles works as a dream come true considering that in college the author created her own Wolverine fan website and wrote fan fiction on the side. Now with years as a prose novelist and transitioning to comics in 2008, her love of comics—and mutants—has come full circle.

Marvel.com spoke with Marjorie about what’s coming up in her run on ASTONISHING X-MEN, the unique cast she pulled together, and the epic conclusion to the X-23 series.

Astonishing X-Men #48 cover by Dustin Weaver

Marvel.com: The cover to your first issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN shows a unique line-up of Wolverine, Gambit, Northstar, Warbird and Karma, with Iceman and Cecelia Reyes set to join as well. Can you talk about this group and what brought them together?

Marjorie Liu: They're all in the wrong place at the wrong time, basically, but being X-Men, they're not the types to turn away from a dangerous situation. What none of them realize, of course, is that working together will lead them into some very unfamiliar—and uncomfortable—situations.

Marvel.com: This team springs out of Wolverine's branch of the X-Men, from the Jean Grey School. Will post-Schism politics play a role at all in this storyline?

Marjorie Liu: Nope, I'm trying to avoid that. There's more than enough going on in this arc without bringing Regenesis into it.

Marvel.com: Even though the first issue isn't out, we already know it will feature the return of the Marauders. How would you describe this face-off?

Marjorie Liu: Violent, explosive, and not at all what it seems.

Marvel.com: You seem to have a unique affinity for the character of Gambit, who played a role in your X-23 run. Can you explain your outlook for the character and his role here, especially given his past with the Marauders?

Marjorie Liu: As with all the characters in this book, I'm trying to show how they live their lives away from the X-Men. I mean, let's be honest, you can't be a super hero all the time. You need to find your escape, and just be a normal person, even if it's for an hour at a time. My outlook for Gambit is just that: he's trying to bring something normal into his life—whatever normal might be to a master thief. Of course, he's also an adrenaline junkie—I think all of them are, to some degree—so his definition of normal is going to be a bit different than everyone else's. As for his past with the Marauders, I'll touch on it a little, but it's not going to be a huge focus.

Astonishing X-Men #48 preview art by Mike Perkins

Marvel.com: Northstar is another standout character in this line-up. Can you describe your train of thought in bringing Jean-Paul to play here?

Marjorie Liu: Northstar has so much to offer in terms of character; not just his personality, but where he is now, where he wants to be, who he might become under certain circumstances. All of which will be addressed in these first two arcs. Also, despite being a powerhouse of experience when it comes to this super hero gig, he's also a bit unpredictable; his emotions get the better of him, sometimes, and that's very interesting to play with when he's under pressure.

Marvel.com: In publicity for this arc, Marvel said it would be the most controversial story of 2012. Can you tell us about that?

Marjorie Liu: Something happens in this arc that will change the lives of these characters...forever. Cue ominous music!

Marvel.com: Artist Mike Perkins joins you fresh off his run on Stephen King’s THE STAND. With all the artists you've worked with, what does Mike bring the book to carry out your vision for the story?

Marjorie Liu: I can't say enough good things about Mike. His storytelling is incredible, absolutely beautiful, and it is a joy working with him. Readers are in for a wonderful treat. His X-Men are gritty, real, and passionate.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us about your long-term plans for the series?

Marjorie Liu: There's a long-term mystery playing out over the first two arcs that establishes these individual X-Men as a real team. We have fights, deaths [and] explosions, but in many ways it's a very intimate story, and by that, I mean these characters will literally live and die based on the strength of their relationships to one another. There's an enemy, of course, but the battle against this individual's machinations will force the X-Men to look inward, and at each other, in ways that may be very uncomfortable, and illuminating.

X-23 #21 cover by Kalman Andrasofsky

Marvel.com: Also in March we see you send off the X-23 series with artist Phil Noto. What's it like bringing this series and this chapter of Laura's life to a close?

Marjorie Liu: Bittersweet, I must confess. I love this character, and it's been a true privilege working with such talented artists. In fact, the last issue itself will be entirely "silent," told only through Phil Noto's incredible art.

Marvel.com: It seems this series has been about X-23 finding out about herself past being an experiment and also past being the clone of Wolverine. Do you think she figured that out yet?

Marjorie Liu: I don't think so, but she's trying her best. It's hard to shrug off the past, but each step takes her closer to finding her own individuality. The key is choice, and belief in that right to choose for herself, and she's got that. She's learning to exercise that part of herself in some beautiful ways.

Marvel.com: X-23 has matured a lot as a character since you first took her over, and in a way you're handing her off to join AVENGERS ACADEMY as this series ends. What's it like bringing that to a character and then letting go?

Marjorie Liu: I always knew I would have to let go, so that part isn't difficult. What makes it hard is that I still had some stories I wanted to tell!

Marvel.com: Although this issue brings to a close X-23 as a series for now, could you foresee revisiting X-23 down the road, perhaps even in ASTONISHING X-MEN?

Marjorie Liu: I hope so!

X-23 concludes with issue #21 on March 13, while Marjorie joins ASTONISHING X-MEN on issue #48, coming March 28

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      I hope so, as well. Bring Laura back from and form up the team again with Gambit and Wolvi.