By Jim Beard
The all-new X-TREME X-MEN ongoing series launches July 25 with writer Greg Pak at the wheel and an array of alternate reality mutants along for the wild ride.
|X-Treme X-Men #1 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco|
It’s really no wonder that Pak’s been chosen for such an extreme task; the award-winning film director has brought many a grand cinematic vision to the Marvel Universe over the past several years in such titles as INCREDIBLE HULK, HERC, and RED SKULL, just to name a few, not to mention the ASTONISHING X-MEN arc that set up this series.
Pak took a few moments out of his busy writing schedule to throw us some details on X-TREME X-MEN and also briefly discuss DOCTOR STRANGE: SEASON ONE.
Marvel.com: Greg, what will make X-TREME X-MEN stand out from all other X-titles? What’s going to make the book pop?
Greg Pak: Dazzler, baby! We're taking our universe's Dazzler, the Alison Blaire you know and love, and throwing her into a series of mind-blowing, life-and-death, cross-dimensional, alternate universe adventures that will eventually result in a massive threat to our own reality.
Dazzler's a phenomenal lead character for a book like this; she's funny and wry and irreverent, but she's also a massively powerful mutant warrior and a leader-in-the-making who's about to be tested to the extreme. So she's completely down to earth and accessible, which makes her the perfect kind of character to undertake a huge hero's journey like this. She's long been due for a story that brings her to the forefront of the mutantverse like this, and I'm thrilled to be along for the ride.
Marvel.com: What are the advantages and challenges of working on alternate versions of such well-known Marvel characters?
Greg Pak: Dazzler's team consists of surprising alternate versions of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Emma Frost. Working with alternate versions of characters is a blast because you have the opportunity to really crystallize some of the things that really work about the character while trying some shocking new ideas that you'd never be able to do with our universe's version. The extra bonus here is that although these characters are from alternate realities, they're all absolutely in continuity—and we'll eventually see their impact on our universe.
Marvel.com: Okay, so, who of the three, Howlett, Emmeline and Kurt, has grabbed your attention the most so far, and how?
Greg Pak: I love all of these characters. Kid Kurt, a nine year old kid version of Nightcrawler, is a blast because he epitomizes the happy-go-lucky, swashbuckler streak that makes our universe's Nightcrawler so much fun. Emmeline Summers-Frost, of the New Albion X-Society—introduced in one of Warren Ellis's [ASTONISHING X-MEN] stories—is even more haughty—and dangerous—than our universe's Emma Frost.
But Howlett is probably my favorite at the moment. He's the former Governor General of the Dominion of Canada; a kind of turn-of-the-century Teddy Roosevelt-esque gentleman adventurer with a fedora, lambchops, and elephant gun. He was his country's special envoy to Shangri-La, and his bones are covered with adamantine, the golden metal of the gods. So he has an interesting tie to mythological forces that will play an important role sooner rather than later.
Marvel.com: You’ll be accessing various universes in X-TREME X-MEN and all of their colorful denizens; what will readers have to know going in?
|Astonishing X-Men #46 cover by Mike McKone|
Greg Pak: You don't have to know anything going in. We're going to start by creating brand new alternate universes; in an infinite universe, there are infinite alternate realities, after all.
Marvel.com: What about villains in the series? Will we see alternate versions of well-known baddies as well as new ones?
Greg Pak: For fear of spoilers, I can't say too much. But we're absolutely going to see surprising alternate versions of major X-Men villains throughout the storyline, and a major Marvel character will play a key role in the central hook that sends our heroes on their quest.
Marvel.com: Speaking of which, what excites you most about the first storyline?
Greg Pak: I've been thinking about an insane, completely different angle on just what it means to be a mutant for some time, and by the end of X-TREM X-MEN #1, our heroes are going to hit a world in which that crazy idea is reality. I still can't say too much for fear of spoilers, but something at the very core of Storm's character plays a big role here.
Marvel.com: Will our regular Marvel Universe be impacted by the story?
Greg Pak: You bet. Eventually the story will work its way back to our universe in a big way.
Marvel.com: Looking at the other half of the series’ creative team, what are the pleasures of working on a book like this with artist Stephen Segovia?
|X-Treme X-Men #2 cover by Kalman Andrasofszky|
Greg Pak: Stephen and I worked together on [a SILVER SURFER limited series] a couple of years ago, where he really cut loose with crazy cosmic action. He has a giant imagination as is having a ridiculous amount of fun with the insane alternate universe hijinks I'm throwing at him. The last page of issue #1 is going to blow your mind.
Marvel.com: And what else might you currently be crafting for Marvel and what can you tell us about it?
Greg Pak: I'm working on the DOCTOR STRANGE: SEASON ONE original graphic novel with artist Emma Rios, which comes out in September. We're telling an untold story from Strange's earliest days, when Strange was still essentially a selfish former surgeon figuring out what it really means to be a hero. Wong plays a big role here, and we're having a ton of fun with these two young, would-be heroes driving each other crazy.