Tuesday Q&A

Wednesday Q&A: X-Termination

David Lapham, Marjorie Liu and Greg Pak get ready for a reality-hopping X-Men adventure!

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Age of Apocalypse #13 cover by Greg Land

By Jim Beard

Sometimes X-Men events get so big it takes more than just multiple titles to contain them; it requires more than one reality.

The universe-jumping X-Termination will spill out not only from its own Alpha and Omega bookend issues, but also into ASTONISHING X-MEN, X-TREME X-MEN, and AGE OF APOCALYPSE beginning this March. We contacted Marjorie Liu, Greg Pak and David Lapham—the respective authors of the aforementioned X-titles—and posed a few questions to them about alternate realities, alternate points of view, and lots and lots of alternate X-Men.

Marvel.com: Marjorie, David, Greg—what’s it like for each one of you to be working with your fellow writers on such a sprawling event like X-Termination?

Marjorie Liu: Listen, these two men are wonderful storytellers. AGE OF APOCALYPSE by David is one of my favorite books of 2012: grim, heartbreaking, with a narrative pulse that is absolutely addictive. X-TREME X-MEN is no different—though less grim, certainly; a book that I can always count on to make me feel good. Greg and David tell stories that matter, which is part of the reason I love collaborating with them, most especially when we're putting our heads together for a common goal.

David Lapham: I think we each write our X-Family books from a non-standard perspective. We're exploring areas outside of the usual X-Men dynamic. Alternate worlds, alternate takes on characters. I've never met either Marjorie or Greg before and what made this engaging are these story sessions, e-mails, and conference calls we've had to develop this crossover event. That has been enormously fun and engaging with everybody playing ideas off each other. I had never really done that, and was a bit wary about it. So far AGE OF APOCALYPSE has operated in its own space. But the plan always was once we established the AoA series to start to tie it to the regular Marvel Universe.

X-Termination Alpha #1 cover by Ed McGuinness

Greg Pak: Marjorie and David are fun, funny writers with endless imagination and a total commitment to the emotional stories of their characters. It's been a ton of fun tossing huge ideas around and delving deep into what makes these characters tick and this story matter.

Marvel.com: The three of you are writing X-TERMINATION ALPHA #1 together, detailing the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler’s desire to get back to his own universe. What makes him so single-minded in this desire? And what will be the greatest damage he could cause in doing so?

Marjorie Liu: It's a cliché, but ever so true: Home is where the heart is. And AoA Nightcrawler's heart is in another world. In fact, our world still doesn't feel all that real to him. It's not where he grew up, where he made friends, fell in love, and lost his love. All these people aren't his people. And that lack of connection and empathy will prove to be incredibly dangerous.

David Lapham: The AoA is Nightcrawler's home. That's where his family and friends are, that's where he's spent his whole life fighting Apocalypse and then Weapon Omega.  That's what he was trying to liberate. Just because he leaves to another place and has an adventure doesn't mean he turns his back on all that and says "this new universe is a lot safer and cushier. I think I'll stay here while my loved ones suffer."

We see that in the real world all the time, a political exile from another country comes to the safety of the United States only to return to fight in their homeland even at the price of their life. And with Nightcrawler it's a step further; as much sympathy as he's had for what he’s seen and done here in the Marvel Universe, he just can't bring himself to feel it's a completely real place. The Marvel Universe is some kind of dreamland. The AoA is real.

As far as the greatest damage he could cause. Well, that's part of our crossover event…

X-Treme X-Men #12 cover by Kalman Andrasofszky

Greg Pak: As I intimated back when we launched X-TREME X-MEN, eventually our story curls back around to the Marvel Universe. The stakes are huge—multiple realities are at risk, including our own, and something's definitely gonna break.

Marvel.com: David, AGE OF APOCALYPSE #13 acts as a prologue to X-Termination—how will Nightcrawler betray Uncanny X-Force, and after doing so, what will he do next?

David Lapham: As much as he likes X-Force they're not wholly real to him, they're more like aspects of real people he knows in his world. He's there to get revenge on AoA Blob and others who hurt and killed his real wife and friends in the AoA. If part of that is betraying X-Force, that's regrettable but necessary.

Marvel.com: With so many threads converging here since AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1, what do you feel takes prominence and why?

David Lapham: Everything is about defeating Weapon Omega—basically AoA Wolverine with the Apocalypse Power. And every element that's happened has all been orchestrated by Prophet to that end, from resurrecting Lady Penance to the protection and development of Jean Gray. Not everything went or will go exactly as planned, but it all adds up to a chance for a group of normal people to take down a god. 

Jean Grey has taken on a huge role that I didn't think of when the series started and she's one of the elements I'm most proud of. Taking her away from her powers and just focusing on her as a character and her struggle to adjust and thrive has been hugely rewarding.

Marvel.com: Greg, picking up things in X-TREME X-MEN #12, how do alternative Charles Xaviers figure into this story? 

Greg Pak: Dazzler and her X-Treme team have been on an insane mission to kill 10 evil alterna-Xaviers before they bring ruin upon the multiverse. In this storyline, we'll finally find out exactly what threat the Xaviers represent and whether the Xavier Head in a Bottle who's been guiding the team is a villain or a hero. Most importantly, we're going to find out whether Dazzler's finally going to cross that line and risk her own soul in order to fulfill her responsibilities as a leader.

Astonishing X-Men #60 cover by Phil Noto

Marvel.com: How will your team seek to repair the tear in realities? What do they have to work with and what are the stakes?

Greg Pak: The X-Treme team brings some key players to the table. Sage and the Xavier Head possess enormous brainpower and a huge amount of experience with the science of the multiverse, which is likely to come in handy. Depending on how dangerous AoA Nightcrawler becomes, the X-Treme team's Kid Kurt might be able to reach his alterna-counterpart as no one else can. Similarly, as an older and possibly mellower Wolverine, Howlett may provide an interesting influence on Logan. Finally, Hercules and our Buffalo Soldier Cyclops very recently served on a kind of black-ops X-Treme X-Force team. When push comes to shove, they may provide our team a key ruthless advantage—or push it completely over the edge.

Marvel.com: Marjorie, over in ASTONISHING X-MEN #60 at what moment in the action does Wolverine call in his team? What happens to convince him it’s the right call?

Marjorie Liu: Wolverine begins to bring his team together in issue #59, though at first he doesn't tell them exactly what's going on. I don't know that he's convinced it's the right call, really. But both Wolverine and Nightcrawler are men who live by a certain code, and once they set their mind to something, they don't let go.  

Marvel.com: The team will be faced with an alternate version of their late friend; what will be the hardest thing about facing AoA Nightcrawler? Who on the team will have the hardest and the easiest time of it?

Marjorie Liu: None of them will have an easy time. Imagine your best friend died, and then you found him again, alive, except he has no memory of your friendship, lived a totally different life, and doesn't want to have anything to do with you? That would hurt. You might tell yourself it shouldn't, that it all makes perfect sense, that this isn't the same person you loved, but that wouldn't really matter, would it?

Nightcrawler (Age of Apocalypse)

Marvel.com: We’re excited to hear the phrase "Wolverine vs. Wolverine" associated with ASTONISHING X-MEN #60—what's that all about?

Marjorie Liu: There's more than one Wolverine in the multiverse, and who is to say they will all get along?

Marvel.com: All three of you get to work some of Marvel’s most amazing artists; what do each of them bring to the table that strengthens the X-Termination event?

David Lapham: What aren't Roberto De La Torre's strengths? Maybe that he can't draw AGE OF APOCALYPSE every month? He's a superstar artist and we were lucky to have him in on the creation of the characters and the book. His style sets the exact tone for the book that I tried to convey in the writing. Also let's not forget about Renato Arlem who's done a tremendous job. He's still learning and growing—and by leaps and bounds each issue—but the one thing he's always nailed is the tone Roberto established and the book has been seamless because of it.

Marjorie Liu: Matteo Buffagni's storytelling in ASTONISHING X-MEN is extraordinary. He's able to capture those important quiet moments in ways that still carry intense emotional weight and then transition smoothly, elegantly, into ferocious action scenes. His work is absolutely lovely, and I feel very lucky to be collaborating with him on this story.

Greg Pak: On X-TREME X-MEN, Andre Arujo combines incredible imagination with really beautiful character work. He's got a gorgeous, Otomo-influenced line that does an amazing job of making big, crazy sci-fi stories feel real and grounded. I loved every panel and every page he drew for the X-TREME X-MEN #7.1 issue; it's a huge pleasure being about to work with him again here.

X-Termination kicks off this March in X-TERMINATION ALPHA #1!

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