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Welcome Rachel Grey to the X-Men

Writer Brian Wood attempts to separate the former Phoenix from her famous parents and give her some spotlight!

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By Brett White

The X-Men franchise's latest mutation takes the action and drama that fans have come to expect from the team and multiplies it exponentially. X-MEN, the new series from writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel, stars six of the biggest characters in the X-Universe bound together by duty, fate and friendship to form a heavy-hitting fighting force.

Fittingly for a book simply called X-MEN, the women that comprise the team represent time-tested, fan favorite characters with rich personalities. Wood skillfully brought the group dynamics germane to close knit teams to life while writing the previous X-MEN series last year.

Rachel Grey happens to be one of the few second-generation heroes in the Marvel Universe, a fact that's defined her maybe a bit too much in her history with the X-Men. Hailing from the apocalyptic timeline first seen in the classic tale "Days of Future Past," the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey has made a name for herself in the present day by fighting alongside the X-Men and Excalibur. But with her mother dead and her father on the other side of the law, where does Rachel fit in now?

We spoke to Brian Wood about his take on this time-tossed character.

Marvel.com: Of all of your X-Men, Rachel Grey is perhaps the least well-known, despite her famous parents. What has kept her out of the A-List?

Brian Wood: Hard for me to say without speculating on other writers’ thoughts and opinions, but for me, I have a couple thoughts. I think she has a strike against her, merely existing in the shadow of the elder, much more popular [Jean] Grey. She's changed her name and visual identity around a few times. It seems to me she's ebbed and flowed, in terms of popularity and exposure, a few too many times. I don't know, I'm guessing at some of this, and it's just thoughts I had when I was reading up on her. I certainly like Rachel, and I see some potential there. I sort of miss her EXCALIBUR era bondage suit. All those spikes!

Marvel.com: Rachel played a large role in your WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN: ALPHA & OMEGA limited series. What keeps you coming back to her?

Brian Wood: Well, she keeps sticking around! [Laughs] In ALPHA & OMEGA she was there by default, in a limited role as an administrator. I sort of enjoyed casting her as a tough person, a hardass. Not necessarily in a bad way, and this is her role in the new series. She's aggressive and idealistic, a bit opposite of Storm. If Storm makes controversial moves for noble intentions, Rachel will always frame her decisions around the greater good of mutantdom. She thinks more globally, less passionately, more within set rules. This sets her and Storm up, almost immediately, to be at odds.

We've also selected Rachel to be first up for some romantic entanglements, such as they are. Despite Rachel herself, via Twitter, telling me she's quite happy staying single. Oops.

Marvel.com: When Rachel first joined the X-Men, she was haunted by her nightmarish home time period and her past as a mutant hunting hound. How much of her current motivations are still tied to her traumatic past?

Brian Wood: I'm not deliberately drawing a line between then and now, but maybe someone with some distance from the material can connect that past trauma with her current persona as the enforcer and protector of that greater good?

Marvel.com: One of the cornerstones of EXCALIBUR was the friendship between Rachel and Kitty. Now that the two are teammates again, will they be buddying up?

Brian Wood: Not exclusively, not off on their own. But that's exactly the sort of past that serves as a "glue" for this unofficial team.

Marvel.com: Rachel is a child whose parents cast long shadows. Does she struggle with finding her own identity? Even on a meta level, do you think she's more defined by who her parents are as to who she herself is?

Brian Wood: She absolutely is, and that's sort of what I mean when I said she lives in the shadow of her mother. "Who's Rachel Grey?" is a question that will always be answered right away with the names of her parents. Which is understandable up to a point, but by now she's got a long history as a character and is very much her own person. I'm writing her, consciously or not, very much removed from her parents. Gotta give the girl a break.

Pick up X-MEN #1, available now, and be back here tomorrow to welcome Kitty Pryde!

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