Age of X

The Next Big Thing: Age of X

Writer Mike Carey and editor Daniel Ketchum open up the playbook on the upcoming X-Men event!

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By Kevin Mahadeo

This January begins the Age of X, whose upcoming launch served as the impetus for Marvel's latest Next Big Thing conference call on Monday.

Age of X begins with an AGE OF X: ALPHA one-shot and carries over into both X-MEN: LEGACY and NEW MUTANTS. Both writer Mike Carey and editor Daniel Ketchum strayed away from directly addressing the question of "What is the Age of X?" promising the answer to that quandary lies at the very heart of the soon-to-begin mystery/thriller.

"I thought it might be cool to have a story that brought [all the generations of X-Men] back in the field and Daniel and I thought for a while about possible mechanisms to allow that to happen," explained Carey of the origins of the story. "The more we talked, the more we realized we were more interested in some of the story arcs that we were creating to enable that sort of situation. We came up with a different idea that became Age of X."

That idea begins in an alternate timeline, one where the enemies of mutants united far earlier than in the regular Marvel Universe. Because of this unified anti-mutant front, not only did the X-Men never form, but mutants as a whole became a rather endangered species.

"This is a world that has never known the X-Men," said Carey. "We have a situation for the first time where the surviving mutants are making a collected stance. There is a certain confluence of events that bring them together and they stand up together for the first time."

The title “Age of X” Ketchum and Carey both said harkens back to Stan Lee's original interpretation of the "X" in "X-Men" meaning extra and extraordinary, but also refers to a mysterious character known simply as X. Carey revealed that the character plays an important role in the upcoming event, but refrained from delving further into details.

In regards to the characters involved in the crossover, for the past week, Marvel slowly revealed the line-up of the Age of X cast piece-by-piece. Many astute readers may have recognized some of the players through visual cues but also noticed both name and design changes. Carey said that he, Ketchum and the artists spent some time redesigning many of the characters for the new Age of X reality.

"The idea is that each came into their own without other mutants," said Ketchum. "You really see each individual character's look and personality. It's almost an extension of how they were in the books. Storm for example is pushed into direction where she is an African goddess both in terms of her personality and in her looks. That's how she initially was, and if she never came into contact with the X-Men or other mutants, she would have continued to go down that path."

Both also hinted that this leads to "all bets [being] off" when it comes to personal relationships. Since this will be the first time many of these characters meet within an entirely new context, it allows for different types of friendships and relationships forming. As for why and how these characters come together in this new world, Carey went on to explain how the event begins:

"The whole world has become hostile territory, but there is this one fortress, and we actually see it being built. There is a broad parallel with the role of the Utopia, but this place is surrounded by an army of enemies and is under siege from day one. The area around the fortress is effectively a battlefield."

"I always imagined it as mutantkind's Helm's Deep," added Ketchum, referencing the famous fortress from "Lord of the Rings." "The battle is right at their door. It makes for a really cool backdrop for the event to take place against."

Carey also discussed the importance of some of the characters. Magneto plays a very pivotal role, "in many ways the pivotal role." As the person that brings together the mutants of the world, Magneto acts as a figurehead for the species. One of Carey's personal favorites and star of his LEGACY series, Rogue, also plays a very vital role.

"Rogue is very much the protagonist and the point of view character of the first of the three acts," revealed Carey. "She's our way into the story."

The duo also addressed some fan speculation, confirming that the character in the teaser displaying Phoenix powers “is definitely not” Hope Summers and that the character revealed as Basilisk is an alternate version of Cyclops.

Conversation turned to the rest of the Marvel Universe and whether the story features only X-Men characters or if others super-powered heroes might make an appearance. Ketchum teased the possibility of a supplemental title, tentatively called AGE OF X: AVENGERS that further explored the divergent world.

As hinted at earlier, in regards to the setting and how it relates to current continuity, Carey said there exists a "very good reason" why they structured the story this way and that the explanation will be far from obvious. While much action should be expected, the crossover very much contains a mystery at the center, one that Carey explains backwards through the storytelling, first thrusting readers into the action before exploring how they got there.

"Just as this is a mystery to the characters within the story, the reader has their own mystery to unravel," promised Ketchum. "Mike does a very good job of weaving those subtle clues and hints even from his very first script that might allow a reader to figure out exactly what's going on."

"There's a number of inciting incidents and there's one very, very significant absence," added Carey. "There is one person, one crucial person, who seems not to have played a role in events at all. Eventually we figure out why."

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Comments

29 comments
Brainiac978
Brainiac978

It´s the Age Of Apocalypse re mastered all over again, hope the story lines are amazingly different. Cheers! And a Happy New Year!!

Gambit4Hire
Gambit4Hire

I'm not sure I understand some of the earlier comments posted, I think this "Age of X" storyline is going to be a lot of fun. I'm really exicted about the possibilites and can't wait for the story to unfold. My guess is the missing mystery person would be good ole Professor X - imagine what the X-men would be like without him? Magneto and Rogue playing leading roles sounds a little like the 1st X-men movie. Rogue is one of the most powerful of all X-men, which I guess makes sense giving her a lead role. Hopefully Gambit has an interesting role as well. Hmmm, wonder if they hook up?

Calintz
Calintz

Well don't buy it then. I'm glad Rogue is the pivotal character. Oh and she is NOT overexposed. She shows more in legacy than any other X-Title. So don't get mad at Carey because he made her and SOME other characters pivotal in this story he is writing. You don't want Rogue then read any OTHER X-title, then you will be fine.

mrvpascual
mrvpascual

What is preventing me from picking up this title is Rogue AGAIN being the pivotal character. I know that she's Carey's favorite character, but she is IMHO overexposed. X-Men is supposed to be an ensemble title. If Rogue is constantly going to be a lead character, give her a solo comic and I WON'T buy that book.

warriorspirit97
warriorspirit97

I will read it simply because Mike Carey astounded me with the way he wrote Xavier's path to redemption. I'm curious to see how this plays out. I hope this isn't age of apocalypse retreading.

Aidemus
Aidemus

i find it a good story. but why always a change in the past. why no something more recent. like.. when the x-men face osborn avengers. they win and rule the cuntry. that will be interesting

Jorge1989
Jorge1989

I want to read this early!!!

newmutants45
newmutants45

I've been with the X-men since the eighties, though I've read some of the older stories in the form of trade paper backs, hardcovers, etc. and I'm trying to have faith that some day the stories will be as good as they used to be back in the day.

bryannicely
bryannicely

I have been back in the Marvel fold for two years now, after a 10 year nap. I have tried to GET INTO the X-Men but I agree with other posts that the stories are like looking at the after affects of an explosion, going in all directions with nothing left in the center. I currently buy Uncanny and X-MEN and tried Forever 2. I will try the first three issues of X-Nation then decide but it is starting to look like I will be dropping all X related titles and the new Wolverine (art). What a shame, I started reading these characters in 1972 and I can not figure out what is what.

narkussos
narkussos

if it's going to be an alternate reality, the writers should be more creative than creating an alternate reality "inspired" by another alternate reality. getting tired of this age of (insert), days of (insert), fall of (insert), and many more...

hake98
hake98

agreed! enough of all these alternate x-men timelines! lets keep everything in the 616 universe. btw.. where the heck is havok, polaris and rachel summers? last time we saw them was during the war of kings storyline

destinyquest74
destinyquest74

It looks interesting enough but honestly I have to agree with some of the previous posters comments that the X-men franchise would be better served by focusing on this reality not alternate ones. And truthfully I don't even hate to admit I'm quickly losing interest in the X-Men books. They are suffering from a serious lack of focus, which has been going on for years and the constantly changing rosters only make it so a reader can't get attached to any of the characters. Gone are the days of the expanded storylines where interweaving plots leave us waiting with bated breath for the next issue. Instead now we forced to have shorter more self contained stories written specifically for resale as graphic novels. Right now there are just too many mutants to care about. They are supposed to be more endangered than ever and yet there are more mutants appearing in the book at any given moment than since the series first began. What I would love to see is a more streamlined X-men. Get us back to a core team with 5 or 6 main characters. The occasional supporting member and a more specific mission for the team and I'd sign on for that.

superchuck79
superchuck79

Damn Marvel fix your links. From what they said it sounds awesome now if I could only look at the artwork I would be a definite sale

Havik86
Havik86

I honestly just don't care about the X-men anymore. It's too complicated and there's no good jumping on point. There's too much of a shuffle in the rosters and I just don't have the energy/inclination/money to figure it all out.

pillar
pillar

It says it is running through legacy and new mutants. I assume that the mutant known as x is wolverine and the person who is missing entirely is proffesor x.

tonkatoy5
tonkatoy5

Is that Chamber, and when did he get his powers back?

OverlordOfEvil
OverlordOfEvil

As much as I like the X-Men, I have to say I'll probably skip this entirely. I'd much rather see some creative story telling, risk taking, character revamping, and promotion in the in-continuity / Earth-616 X-titles, where it can be cannonized and have some sort of staying power, Don't get me wrong. I've always been a What If? fan, but how many "alternate universes" do we really need as expanded limited series? Just write the good stories into the on-going books like Stan and Jack did back in the day. Make today's stories the foundation for future generations of fans.

LoganByrne
LoganByrne

Personally, I would totally enjoy this without Wolverine. Keep in starting the original crew. I wanna see X-Men pre-dawn again.

ericmichael
ericmichael

They should bring back Forge. Maybe Longshot and Dazzler.

joshtylen
joshtylen

Is this running through all the X books

crisskuma
crisskuma

Not Impressed! AOA all over again.How about an alternate universe where the creators at Marvel write an original story.I would have been happy if this team was in the Normal Universe & some members just wanted to revamp themselves. I like the revamp of gambit with the musket, or cyke, & warpath. Why O why is it always some alterverse that has to go away. Ive been a fan for 34 years of X men & have only seen 3 good story lines in the past 3 years. Come on guys. As for Wolverine hes cool but so played, The X men dont need him in every book. I love the idea of Magneto, Rogue,Cannonball,Berserker,Frenzy, ect. bring this story to life in the current continuity please.

MEESE
MEESE

I like the new X-Men

chambe
chambe member

There is one person, one crucial person, who seems not to have played a role in events at all. Eventually we figure out why."......Its Wolverine, because he was thrown in a river as a baby and grew up with wolves in the remote wilderness of canada. after not coming into contact with people for many years the self taught wolverine learned everything he could from an abandonded mansion, next he creates a secret organization were he rules the world through puppet gov'ts. He creates the mutant phobia and organizes it to stop any other mutants from overthrowwing him......Hows that

IronManx8
IronManx8

Since when did a young Solid Snake join the X Men?

GinnyBrown
GinnyBrown

I don't care for the X-men normally, but this actually sounds really good. Waiting with baited breath, Marvel.

spikevalentine
spikevalentine

Sound kind of an Age of Apocalypse revamp, in terms of concept, but will obviously check it out!

bdalton78
bdalton78

A character called X, huh? Gee Chuck, I wonder if that means you...

ArchangelDRMRS
ArchangelDRMRS

Damnit Marvel! fix your links and loading pages so we can actually SEE what you're taling about