Just when the All-New X-Men thought they had the hang of living several years into the future, they’re about to get uprooted again in a major way.
ALL-NEW X-MEN #32, on sale September 10 and featuring the art of Mahmud Asrar, will take the young mutants and deposit them in a place their series writer Brian Bendis has a lot of familiarity with: the Ultimate Universe.
“I’m very excited about this because this is the kind of story we’ve been holding back on for many years,” says Bendis, who helped launched the Ultimate Universe with ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN back in 2000 and remains involved to the present as writer on MILES MORALES: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. “We waited a long time because it would have been easy to have done these stories with the Ultimate Universe right off the bat, but it would have probably taken away a lot of the power from the [line] whereas waiting until it was really established, now things have an equal footing. I find myself getting emotional while I’m writing.
“There’s a lot of emotional opportunity which I really like. There’s a lot of emotional weight to these stories because you’re looking at a parallel, sliding doors look at your life and it can’t help but sober you or humble you.”
So after already getting dragged into their tomorrow by the present day Beast, how do the All-New X-Men end up skipping a dimension over?
“In an attempt to help a new mutant, they find themselves accidentally thrust into the Ultimate Universe,” comes the partial explanation from Bendis. “It takes a while to even figure out where you are when stuff like this happens. They don’t wake up and go, ‘Oh my god, this is the Ultimate Universe!’ [because] everyone looks pretty similar. And then you go, ‘Wait a second…this isn’t my stuff! That’s not my Spider-Man!’”
Bendis credits the “Asgardian Wars” saga that played out over NEW MUTANTS SPECIAL #1 and UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #9 back in 1985 as a major influence to the story. In addition to the theme of X-characters travelling to a foreign local, the writer also borrowed the aspect of separating the cast to various parts of the Ultimate Universe, giving each a chance to shine and allowing for a variety of guest stars and cameos.
“It gives some of the X-Men some spotlight to shine that they don’t normally get, particularly Iceman, Angel and [X-23],” says Bendis of the plot structure. “And we get a fantastic Jean Grey/Miles Morales team-up.
“And for people asking, ‘Will the Ultimate X-Men appear in this giant extravaganza?’ Of course they will! Yes, hell yes.”
In true “Welcome to the X-Men, hope you survive the experience” fashion, Asrar takes the artistic reins one issue prior to the kick-off of this epic tale. He previously teamed with Bendis on earlier issues of ALL-NEW X-MEN where he shared chores with Brandon Peterson.
“I immediately liked what he was doing and it felt very much in the visual language that the book had already set with [previous ALL-NEW X-MEN artist] Stuart [Immonen],” Bendis says. “I loved his stuff on Supergirl and would love to tap into that energy and he took to it right away.
“Also, [this is] the kind of story that artists love because all the X-Men are in different places so there are different locations and different villains and different heroes and different things to draw so it keeps you on your toes. It’s not boring at all. [Mahmud is] having a very good time. He’s doing a very good job. I see him leaning in hard on the emotional pages which just makes me want to do more so that’s a good sign to me. That’s one of those things I don’t look for but when I see it I go, ‘Oh, here we go, I can write anything for this guy, he’s going to deliver.’”
The last time the All-New X-Men journeyed outside their regular haunts and into outer space, one of their number, Cyclops, did not return. Could we see similar upheaval in the wake of this sojourn to the Ultimate Universe?
“People are scared that the All-New X-Men may not leave the Ultimate Universe—they might not,” Bendis teases. “We’re writing dangerous and that makes us happy. It also makes people frustrated, but that’s the good part. That’s the fun part. You don’t want them having parties all the time. It’s the drama.
“I just want to say on Marvel.com, thank you to everyone that has been so vocal in their support of [this title.”]
The journey to the Ultimate Universe begins in ALL-NEW X-MEN #32 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar, on sale September 10!