|All-New X-Men #1 cover by Stuart Immonen|
By Brett White
In his new ongoing series, ALL-NEW X-MEN, starting November 7, writer Brian Michael Bendis drops the teen-aged original X-Men into the middle of
To get a better understanding of where these teenagers come from, Bendis spoke to Marvel.com about each original
First up for analysis: Jean Grey. No X-Man has suffered more hardship than the original Marvel Girl, but the Jean Grey in ALL-NEW X-MEN comes from a simpler time. Bendis explains what the future means to the Jean Grey of the past.
Marvel.com: Why has this Jean Grey, a teenager, decided to stick it out with the X-Men?
Brian Michael Bendis: I think she’s the quintessential X-Man. I think that’s why everyone gravitates to her so much. Her powers are unique; her powers are something she has to work on, something she has to control. Every time her powers build, it sets a new set of problems for her, and at the same time, a new set of goals and challenges that make her a better hero, And we know, as fans, that she has met with tragedy a couple of times, because of the rocky road of the mutants and the X-Men. In this story that I’m telling, we’re going to meet a Jean that is fully aware of everything that has happened to her, more than any of the other X-Men, and now we get to see how that information will inform her choices as a human, and as a mutant, and as a person, and as a girl going forward.
It’s a very interesting challenge as a writer. I literally cannot stop writing her. It is absolutely fascinating. We know that Jean is a sweetheart, and we also know that Jean has an incredible edge to her. How will that edge manifest itself, knowing everything that she knows about the destiny of her life?
Marvel.com: Can you reveal what is going to be the most shocking to her?
Brian Michael Bendis: I don’t want to spoil too much, but when we meet Jean in this story, she is specifically brought here when she’s not telepathic, so it would make it more palpable for her to understand what’s happening. But the event of bringing her here unlocks her telepathy earlier than it had prior. She gets a shock to the system discovering that Scott Summers killed Professor Charles Xavier, and that she had died. She is witness to everything at once, so it’s not just elements of her life that is shocking her, it’s the accumulation of all of it.
It’s literally like reading a Wikipedia page as fast as you can. It’s not just the facts of her life, but it is experiencing all of the emotions at once. Love from someone like Wolverine that she cannot reciprocate, to discover the rise and fall and rise and fall of Scott Summers, all of this happens to her in a flash. That I think is going to be the most shocking thing. It’s literally just her seeing Scott Summers standing next to Magneto. Remember, when they were 16, Magneto was Hitler. That’s what we’re gunning for.
Marvel.com: Jean is the only woman in a boy’s club on the original team. But now she sees this long tradition of women on the X-Men. What is her reaction? Specifically to Storm, who becomes adult Jean Grey's best friend?
Brian Michael Bendis: And that’s not a best friendship that teenage Jean can reciprocate right now. But what you do get is her gravitating very strongly to Kitty Pryde because they are very much of the same cloth. And that’s what I’m saying: Jean Grey is now Jewish because I’m writing her [Laughs]. No, I’m joking. But it’s not just the other females. It’s a smorgasbord of species and mutations. Remember the original five X-Men, they’re all still pretty human looking, but walk into the WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN book, and half those kids are alien looking, if not full on alien. So it certainly is an eye opener.
Marvel.com: The adult Jean was almost always in a love triangle with Cyclops and Wolverine, and Angel really flirted with her a bunch in those early days.
Brian Michael Bendis: They all did. I’ve re-read the early issues. It’s like that scene in "Out Of Sight" where all these business guys are trying to hit on Jennifer Lopez. If you read them all at once, again this was written over years, each one of the original X-Men, including Charles Xavier, take a shot at it.
Marvel.com: How does Jean feel about Beast and Iceman, the other two guys on her team?
Brian Michael Bendis: You got to remember when you’re 16 years old and when you have a lot of love for someone and you’re hormonal, that love can get confusing. I’m sure a lot of people reading this can remember making out with a friend they probably shouldn’t have made out with it. But you don’t know it until you do it. And that’s where they’re at. They’re very young and in a very excited lifestyle, it’s a very passionate lifestyle, and they have a lot of love for each other. So I don’t think it’s hard to imagine all of them falling for each other at one point or another. But again when we’re with this new element, with everything thrust here to the modern day, and all that that entails, things change dramatically for all of their relationships.
Marvel.com: Any final thoughts about teenage Jean?
Brian Michael Bendis: She is the one that everyone wants back the most, and what’s great about this situation. She is the most interesting of the group. They’re all interesting, but because she will have the knowledge. Even if she tells them, "here’s what happens to us," they're not going to feel it like she feels it. She is just so interesting to write, Most of us that have read a Jean Grey story know that her dark side is a real thing, and seeing her pushed to limits like this will be interesting for people to see. Will she hold it together? Does she want to hold it together?