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X-Men: School Ties Pt. 2

Brian Michael Bendis unveils the vision Cyclops has for the Xavier School!



The Xavier School by Chris Bachalo

By Brett White

Unlike previous generations, the new mutant generation emerging around the world has a choice between two schools of differing philosophies. The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning no longer has the distinction of being the only institution for mutants wishing to learn how to cope with their powers. Cyclops, along with his team of revolutionary X-Men, has founded a new Xavier School for the sole purpose of preparing the next generation for the harsh realities of the world.

These clear divisions will be put to the test, however, when Cyclops and his team appears on the front lawn of the Jean Grey School, offering a home and education to those who agree with his more extreme views.

This new school, which also serves as the central location of UNCANNY X-MEN, fills out the abandoned husk of the old Weapon X facility that birthed Wolverine. Cyclops and his team have turned the site of atrocities against mutantkind into a place designed to protect and prepare mutants for the outside world. With its first students enrolled—and Cyclops looking to recruit a few more from the rival Jean Grey School for Higher Learning—class has begun.

We spoke with Brian Michael Bendis, the creator of the new Xavier School, about the new institute for higher learning on the block. What would you say is the main philosophy behind the new Xavier School?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, that school is Scott Summers’s very specific point of view on how the Xavier dream should live on. And he has taken a harder edge stance. It’s kind of a cross between Xavier’s stance and Magneto’s stance, which is, that mutants and humans are going to live together, and if you can’t do that, then we’re going to have to beat the hell out of you. If the Jean Grey School is a prep school, then the Xavier School is a military school.

The Xavier School by Chris Bachalo How do you think that the Xavier name reflects what it is?

Brian Michael Bendis: It reflects many things to many people. For Scott, specifically, it is what I just said. The goal should always be to live Xavier’s dream and whatever society reflects back at me, that is what I’m going to do to make that dream come true. Also he’s living under the shadow that Xavier died at his hand. Whether or not Scott was in full control of himself or not is a debate that goes through all of the books. You know, all the Avengers and X-Men [were] witness to it. Many people said, “No, he murdered him. I saw it.” And other people went, “No, he wasn’t in control. We’ve known Scott Summers a long time, and he’s not that kind of guy.” While other people even think that Xavier may have sacrificed himself for the greater good.

Now, all of that is debatable, and there’s no right or wrong answer. But with Scott Summers, he either has to blow his brains out or do something to redeem himself. And that is what he is doing with this school, and with Emma and Magneto and Magik. All of them have a harder tinge, and all of them have major, major healing to do themselves. So, not only is it a school for these younger mutants that they’re finding but it’s also kind of a rehabilitation center for the teachers. What type of student do you think would be attracted to the more militaristic take in this school?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, the ones that think that the Jean Grey School is just not doing enough. “That’s fine and all if you guys want to sit in class all day and wonder what the real world is like. I know what the real world is like, and we have to do something now.” Scott Summers—modern day Scott Summers—is going to show up on the doorstep of the Jean Grey School and make a pitch for his school. And some people from the Jean Grey school will join Scott Summers’s school, while other students that Scott has been picking up over the course of ALL-NEW X-MEN and the first few issues of UNCANNY X-MEN, some of them will see the harder-tinged stuff and some of the scarier things that go on with that and decide this is not for them.

Cyclops at the Jean Grey School by Chris Bachalo

But what’s interesting, or what is part of Scott’s pitch, and Emma as well, is that, you know, “We were kids. We didn’t have a choice. Our choices were much more horrible—it was Magneto or Xavier. And what we’d like to do is offer you more of a choice.” And so the students now, this new generation of mutants including the new ones that are popping up all over the world, have a choice. And that’s pretty interesting. Does Cyclops see any value in what the Jean Grey School is doing? I’d imagine so.

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes. He says, “Listen. I’m not against the Jean Grey School. I will defend the Jean Grey School with my dying breath. But, in my heart I know more has to be done.” There’s no way Scott Summers looks at a school that’s housing mutants and teaching them to be good people as a bad thing. He just knows that, in the long run, without a harder stance, it’s not gonna work. And there’s also this extra level with Scott Summers where his public persona is very different from his mutant persona. His public persona is almost at t-shirt level. He’s like a Che Guevara kind of image for college students. And they go, “Scott Summers is trying to feed the poor and clean the water and do all this cool stuff as Phoenix,” and they don’t know what happened. They just know that “The Man” kind of shut him down. So they look at him and he’s on the cover of "Rolling Stone," so there’s this image of Scott Summers that he’s trying to live up to while he’s dealing with all his demons and all the misunderstanding and hatred that he has from the other mutants.

Cyclops at the Jean Grey School by Chris Bachalo If you were a recruiter for the Xavier School, what sales pitch would you make to a potential student to convince them to enroll?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s a scary world out there, and you have to be prepared. And you know what? We know what happens from history! We know what happens when new mutants pop up. We know that it’s building fear, it’s building rage, it’s building misunderstanding, and we have to be prepared for it. We can’t just let it happen to us like we’ve let happen in the past. We have to be prepared and we have to train for it, and we have to know that we will fight back. They have to know we will fight back.

Tomorrow, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN writer Jason Aaron turns things around to give his thoughts on the Jean Grey School!

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