By Tim O’Shea
This September, when mutants from tomorrow journey to today to confront their predecessors in the 10-issue event X-Men: Battle of the Atom, things get complicated on many levels very quickly. With past, present and future versions of multiple X-Men in the mix no one knows just how complex and fascinating matters will become better than Senior Editor Nick Lowe.
To help gain perspective on some of the major players, Lowe reveals his insight first into the time-lost Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl from ALL-NEW X-MEN.
Marvel.com: Both young and present Cyclops are struggling to find who they are, changed and challenged by circumstances as they both are. What do you hope to reveal about these two very different leaders in Battle of the Atom?
Nick Lowe: You hit the nail on the head that they are both going through some identity issues. Young Cyclops is trying to decide who he is, really, in the stark reality of seeing his future spread out in front of him. Is his future what he wants? I’ll go out on a limb and say a solid no. And with adult Cyclops getting the opposite treatment, he has to define himself next to his younger idealistic self and ask the question: “Is this who I wanted to be?” The closest any of us get to this is finding a letter written to one’s self by our younger self or something like that.
Marvel.com: With Charles Xavier gone, Magneto has become a father figure for present day Scott Summers; but what kind of relationship, if any does young Cyclops have with Magneto?
Nick Lowe: The only relationship young Cyclops has with Magneto is a “I’M GONNA BLAST HIM” relationship. He still sees him, very much, as the enemy. That may be changing, though…
Marvel.com: What qualities about the two Cyclops come into play in Battle of the Atom?
Nick Lowe: The strategist skills are the qualities I most want to play up. These are two guys—one more green, for sure—who think tactically, so it’ll be amazing to see them go head to head.
Marvel.com: Iceman's powers in his early days were vastly different than his present day incarnation, what opportunities present themselves in terms of fight scenes and young Iceman's powers?
Nick Lowe: You have to think that young Iceman sees what adult Iceman can do and take note.
Marvel.com: Which Iceman has more to teach the other: past or present day?
Nick Lowe: Definitely adult Iceman. He has to teach him how to properly toilet-paper a house or something…
Marvel.com: Both in the past and present, Iceman is best pals with Beast. Do you hope to explore either Bobby's reaction to present day Beast bringing the original X-Men to the present?
Nick Lowe: We’ve seen that reaction in ALL-NEW X-MEN. Bobby’s not thrilled with Hank, to say the least.
Marvel.com: For present-day Angel, his life is a blank slate to a great extent—does that have any bearing in this story?
Nick Lowe: There’s so much going on in Battle of the Atom that we’re not going to have a ton of time/space to deal much with present-day Angel’s mental state and such in this story. But more on that is coming after.
Marvel.com: How much is young Angel a critical catalyst in Battle of the Atom, given that he is allied with Cyclops' Uncanny X-Men?
Nick Lowe: Angel agrees with the forces who want to send the All-New X-Men back in time. Heck, he’s been saying that since the get-go. He’d love to be back in his home time.
Marvel.com: Young Angel has learned a great deal about his past, while living in the present, how has that changed him?
Nick Lowe: IT FREAKS HIM OUT! It certainly makes him want to avoid Apocalypse, I’ll tell you that much.
Marvel.com: The events of Battle of the Atom would not be happening without the actions of present day Hank McCoy; how important is he to the overall event?
Nick Lowe: He is a huge part of all of this. Not only did he set this into motion with bringing the original five to the present, but he’s one of the few characters whose past, present and future are all here in the story. So you’ll see a lot of interplay between the three of them!
Marvel.com: Who do you think regrets the decision to bring the young X-Men to the present day more, young Hank or present day Hank?
Nick Lowe: To be honest, I don’t know that either of them regrets it. Both Beasts are pretty happy with the current situation, consequences be damned!
Marvel.com: Of the original X-Men, would you say Beast is the foundation that ties both the past and present teams together?
Nick Lowe: He’s often been the glue of the X-Men, but I’d say that the act of bringing the original five to the present has everyone questioning him more than ever!
Marvel.com: From the original X-Men brought to the present, is there any character other than Jean that has been thrown more in the metaphorical deep end of stuff to process? She arrives in the future to find out she is dead, and there is a school named after her, among other things.
Nick Lowe: I would say that Jean and Scott definitely had the most to deal with coming to the present. There is little crazier than the tumultuous history of Jean Grey and learning about that at such an early stage has to be really hard to deal with.
Marvel.com: In the heat of this battle, it strikes me that Jean is a character who is weighed down and conflicted by the expectations of people she cares about, given she can read almost everyone’s minds. Is that a fair assessment?
Nick Lowe: Oh yeah, especially considering she has barely had this telepathy power for a week and has little control over it. But she has also shown herself to be incredibly strong and decisive! That’s one of my favorite parts of Brian [Bendis] and Stuart [Immonen’s] run on [ALL-NEW X-MEN]!
Marvel.com: Much is always made of Scott/Cyclops’s role as a leader over the years, but would you agree that present day events will show yet again what a great leader Jean can be when she chooses to be, in her own unique and powerful way?
Nick Lowe: That’s been one of the things that Brian has been pushing hard in ALL-NEW X-MEN. She has, very much, started to assert herself as a leader. I can see why when you learn the guy she was just starting to trust as a leader grows up to make some very controversial choices.