By TJ Dietsch
Brahm Revel just got knighted, Marvel style!
The writer and artist of creator-owned books like Guerillas and I Sell the Dead will pull double duty on a brand new limited series called MARVEL KNIGHTS: X-MEN starting in November. The new Marvel Knights concept revolves around writers and artists mostly known for independent work creating in-continuity stories featuring some of Marvel's biggest characters.
For his part, Revel focuses his five issues series on a pair of teenage girls discovering their mutant powers amidst a town-wide search for a murderer. Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Rogue roll in to help out, but discover there's more going on than meets the eye.
"At last year’s SDCC—which was my first by the way—Axel Alonso came by the Oni Press booth and very quickly mentioned that he liked what I’d been doing with Guerillas and that he might want to use me for an upcoming Marvel gig," Revel recalls. "About a month or so later he called about this Marvel Knights project, which sounded like a really fun group of books, and he asked me to send in some ideas. Initially I pitched a couple Daredevil stories, which were well-received, but after a chat with [editor] Mark Paniccia, we decided I should do an X-Men story which I was more than happy to do since those were the books I followed the most religiously growing up."
Revel jumped at the chance to play in the X-Men toy box, but also enjoyed the idea of adding to the available playthings.
"I can’t tell you too much because the story is somewhat of a mystery," he says. "Or rather each of these two young girls [is a mystery]. I knew coming in that I wanted to invent some new characters that were blank slates and didn’t have immense histories from living in the Marvel Universe for 50 years. And since the Phoenix Force had recently been dispersed and new mutants have been popping up again, this story fit well within the current continuity. I’ll you this, they’re both young girls in bad situations and each has chosen a different way to use their new powers to deal with their problems."
|Marvel Knights: X-Men #1 cover by Brahm Revel|
As if dealing with new-found mutant powers didn't offer enough of a challenge, the young ladies also find themselves getting the hairy eyeball from their neighbors who think they're involved with the recent killing.
"It all starts with a murder," Revel reveals. "The death of a mutant hangs over the story until the very end. But it’s not really a murder mystery so much as a story about how your past can come back to haunt you, and how little things that seem inconsequential can spiral out of control and have huge ramifications down the line. When you’re a teenager you lack the experience to understand that the choices you make have consequences. When you add super powers into the mix, the consequences get magnified even more. And this is exactly the reason the world needs the X-Men, to ease the passage of young mutants into adulthood."
To help usher the new characters along, three well known heroes show up: Wolverine, Rogue and Kitty Pryde. All three characters not only reflect aspects of the girls' journey, but also happen to be favorites of Revel's.
"Well Wolverine was a given," Revel says. "If I’m gonna do an X-Men story, I’m putting Wolverine in it. And as I said above, this is a story about how the past can come back to haunt you, so Wolverine made sense because he is a character with a checkered past. He’s a killer and has rage issues, yet he still identifies himself as a good guy. At a certain point he has to reconcile these two opposing identities.
"Likewise, Rogue started out as a bad guy. It was only after she absorbed Ms. Marvel’s powers and psyche that she sought out Professor X’s help. I think this still drives Rogue’s psychology to this very day. Until she could completely control them, her own powers were seen as a curse and it was her adopted powers that were seen as a blessing. It begs the question, if she had never got into that altercation with Ms. Marvel, would she still have become a 'good guy?'
"And I wanted to use Kitty because of her long standing relationship with Wolverine. She used to be like a daughter to him, but now she’s grown up. Not too long ago she was the teenager that the X-Men were recruiting and now she’s running the school. I thought she could represent someone who’s made a successful journey through the gauntlet of adolescence to adulthood, and how her and Wolverine’s relationship has had to evolve as that’s happened."
In addition to talking about his writing process, Revel explains how he breaks down both the story and art when handing both aspects of the series:
"I start with an outline, which essentially describes the plot. This happens, then this happens, and we have to get these ideas across at these points. Then I move to a script, in which I’m primarily concerned with dialogue. If I have an idea about action or staging, I’ll quickly jot it down, but mostly I save that for the thumbnails, which come next. I think one of the best parts about writing and drawing your own stuff is being able to edit on the fly. If I feel something is too wordy or if a section needs some dialogue to slow it down, I can add or subtract as necessary. Then it’s just pencil and ink. Every stage is about refining. You start broad and get more specific with each step."
Revel notes that the process has proven a bit different than with his previous creator-owned projects, but says he enjoys the new challenges.
"It’s been great," he says. "The hardest part has definitely been in the writing stage. With everything I’ve written in the past, the character has grown out of the needs of the story. Essentially the story comes first and the characters follow suit. With this, obviously, the characters come first and the story is built around them. It’s definitely a different thought process. But it’s been fun playing in Marvel’s sandbox and I’d love the chance to do it again!"