Dark Reign

Making the List: Matt Fraction

Marvel’s mutant maestro gets the Children of the Atom up close and personal with Norman Osborn

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By Kevin Mahadeo This fall, Norman Osborn's making a list, but he'll only need to check it once. As Osborn's rule over the Marvel Universe tightens, the Green Goblin-turned-Iron Patriot targets his biggest threats and prepares to deal with them accordingly. Comprised of eight interconnected one-shots, DARK REIGN: THE LIST refers to a literal list of people, places and things that hold particular importance to the Marvel Universe's current man in charge. A different creative team tackles each issue, which each address one item on the previously mentioned list. For the next week, Marvel.com will be speaking with the talented writers responsible for Making the List.

Dark Reign:
The List

Norman Osborn has a score to settle against the Marvel Universe's mighty mutants, the X-Men; and this fall the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. makes his move courtesy of writer Matt Fraction and artist Alan Davis in the one-shot special DARK REIGN: THE LIST—UNCANNY X-MEN. "What I can say about this issue is that it is a direct outgrow of the resolution to [the DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover]," says Fraction. "It's the natural next chapter in that story, in a way. The events of [the crossover] feed into this event. Where the playing field is set up at the end of [the crossover], THE LIST story takes place in that space with those rules and in that world." Fraction helped co-create the concept of THE LIST with fellow scribe Brian Michael Bendis during one of the duo's regular Xbox Live sessions. Fraction took some time away from his creative gaming to talk about the upcoming one-shot, channel his inner Green Goblin and explain the similarities between the House of Ideas and Cylons.
 
Marvel.com: The first immediate question that comes to mind is that considering Emma Frost's position on the Cabal, it seems that normally Norman wouldn't go after the X-Men. So, why now? Obviously, something must have gone down. Matt Fraction: Yeah. [Laughs] I guess we'll have to see. Without getting too much into it, it's a very natural extension. It's a logical story that comes next. It's weird because we're locked in that place where press and solicitations are further ahead than story. So, we're looking at the narrative like Algebra. There [are] a lot of blanks that need to be filled in. I think where we're going is going to be a crazy time.

The X-Men

Marvel.com: The X-Men have never been on the public's good side. Mutants have always been outcasts. With Norman now publically saying mutants are bad, how are they going to take this latest blow to their image? Matt Fraction: Well, that's not exactly what he's saying. I can't really answer it without blowing endings and kind of resolving where we're going. Let me put it this way: this is a very personal item on the list for Norman. Some of the other elements he is covering is much broader and with a lot of PR involved. This X-Men thing is very, very personal, which is fun because it puts Norman in a place we haven't really gotten to see him in much. Since he's taken over, he's been so much the guy in control [of himself]. But this is definitely the Goblin-iest he's been in a while. Marvel.com: It's almost like his vendetta against Spider-Man in a way? Matt Fraction: It's very much a grudge item on the list, yes. Norman gets grudgy, and it's fun to see because he's been controlled and tightly wrapped these days that to see him get brutal and vicious and personal is kind of fun because we haven't seen him in that space in a way. Marvel.com: We saw Norman go Goblin in THUNDERBOLTS when he went off his meds. Is this like that? He stops taking his happy pills? Matt Fraction: Not really. This is Norman letting himself get personal. He's been professional up to this point. And if you're going to rule the world the way Norman's been doing it, you can't afford to get personal. This is Norman giving himself a rare treat. Marvel.com: Is this really a good

Norman Osborn

decision for Norman? The X-Men have never been as united as they've been recently. They're pretty much an army. Matt Fraction:
You know, you're not the only person who brings that up in the span of the story. [Laughs] Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it's never a good idea to react professionally on personal emotions. Norman is being all too human and all too angry and all too crazy. The fallout continues from this. Marvel.com: Who would you say Norman sees as the biggest threat of the X-Men? Matt Fraction: What if it wasn't about who but where? What if Norman considered the biggest threat their proximity? Marvel.com: Their proximity? Matt Fraction: Did I stutter? [Laughs] You've got 200 super-powered people living together in one place. The root of [Norman's] deal with Emma is, "You keep your people out of my business and I'll keep my people out of your business. You keep mutants quiet and I'll keep H.A.M.M.E.R. away and won't come and make you register and go into camps." Throughout [the crossover]—again I wish I could talk more about it—things happen that irrevocably put Osborn in the X-Men's business and the X-Men in Osborn's business. He understands that they had the potential to be a threat and throughout the course of the story, Osborn begins treating them as a military powerbase that has to be dealt with. Imagine an army of 200 disenfranchised, scared, alienated, hated, super-powered lunatics in one place—on American soil, in your country, in your state, in your town. It's a huge problem when the

Emma Frost

X-Men become mad and organized. So, rather than looking at any one particular X-Men as being the real power, it's like the analogy of "you can snap one dry stick across your knee, but if you put a bundle of them together they're unbreakable." He's looking at them as a united army that lives on his turf. So, it's their collectiveness and their proximity that is primary issue to him. Marvel.com: I think you just made Norman's speech to the public right there… Matt Fraction: I very clearly channeled my inner Osborn. [Laughs] But that's exactly how we would sell it. The coolest thing to me about Osborn right now is that he's not exactly wrong about some of this stuff. We're all trying to be very, very careful on how to frame Osborn's arguments. He's not a mustache twirler. He's not Doctor Evil going "Mwahaha." So, it's how do you try and sell this case. It's a disenfranchised super-powered army living in San Francisco. We have to do something. We can't just have them running around. That's the beauty of Osborn's wickedness to me. Marvel.com: And considering he's a public figure, he can't just run out and say, "We're going after these people. The end! Deal with it!" Matt Fraction: Exactly. It's like, "They're evildoers, and you're either with us or against us." Osborn is really trying to sell this in a way that you'll believe. "Yeah. Why do they let Hulk run around? Talk about a public health threat. I have to take my shoes off every time I go on an airplane, but nobody is figuring out a way to get rid of the Hulk once and for all?"

Preview art by
Alan Davis

Marvel.com: We mentioned earlier Emma's position on the Cabal, but what about the other members? Are we going to see their reactions to all this? Matt Fraction: Yeah. Believe it or not, we're very much like the Cylons [from "Battlestar Galactica"]; we have a plan. This is all building and growing toward one nodal point in Marvel history. These will have echoes and reverberations all across Norman's empire—whether that's him being the boss of H.A.M.M.E.R., whether that's him being the schizoid lunatic trying to keep the Green Goblin at check or him being the cornerstone of the Cabal. Marvel.com: The last thing I wanted to hit on, artist Alan Davis provides art duties, and he's not a man unfamiliar with mutants. What's it like working with him? Matt Fraction: It's intimidating. He's a legend. He's amazing. I just try to stay out of his way and make the best, most fun Alan Davis comic that as a fan of his and as a reader [I] would want to read. I try to let Alan be Alan and make me look like a much smarter and much more talented guy than I actually am.
Check back in tomorrow when we speak with Dan Slott about Making the List! Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" and "Wolverine and the X-Men" now on iTunes!

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