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By Marc Strom
The X-Men have trouble settling down.
Recently, Marvel's merry mutants have experienced more than a few changes, even by their standards. The birth of a mutant baby after the Scarlet Witch's proclamation of "No More Mutants" has given them hope for a future, and now, along with a demolished headquarters and a change in leadership comes a move to San Francisco.
The new direction will hit the oft-maligned super team in full force this month with ASTONISHING X-MEN #25, on sale today, and UNCANNY X-MEN #500, coming July 23. We spoke with editors Nick Lowe and Axel Alonso as well as incoming UNCANNY co-writer Matt Fraction to get the shakedown on everything fans can expect as the X-Men deal with some of the biggest changes in their storied history.
UNCANNY X-MEN #500 doesn't mark just a milestone anniversary, it heralds a new beginning of sort, with the debut of Matt Fraction, joining Ed Brubaker as regular co-writer, as well as artists Greg Land and Terry Dodson, who will alternate story-arcs.
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And according to X-Men group editor Axel Alonso, the new creative team will help usher in an all-new era for mutantkind.
"This isn't just a change of scenery," Alonso insists. "[The move to San Francisco] signals a change in strategy and philosophy. Right now, the X-Men are marching forward with faith, but not knowledge, that they have a future. They are now, more than ever, an army, guided by the unquestioned leadership of Scott Summers."
So what does the new creative team have in store for their first story-arc? To hear Fraction tell it, fans can expect plenty of answers in the coming months to questions they didn't even know to ask.
"It's really Pixie's first story as an X-Man," the scribe divulges. "The Hellfire Cult does some stomping. Who's behind them? Why? What kind of music does Wolverine listen to while fixing his car? What's Scott building in that secret room? Who offers Pixie a job? Will she take it? Is she cut out for life in the X-Men? Just how fabulous can Greg Land make the X-Team look?"
Prepare to be Astonished all Over Again
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The new ASTONISHING X-MEN creative team of writer Warren Ellis and artist Simone Bianchi make their own entrance into the X-Universe with issue #25, and the two have more than a few changes planned.
Alonso notes that fans shouldn't expect too much of a difference between the Astonishing and Uncanny teams, though.
"The group dynamic should be consistent across the titles," he notes. "But of course each writer will bring their own touches to the table. Warren loves Cyclops and Beast and Storm, so look for them to figure prominently into the action."
"There's a great scene in ASTONISHING X-MEN #25 between Emma and Storm, for instance, that's pure Warren Ellis," the editor teases.
The new creative team's first arc sees the X-Men get involved in a murder mystery which Alonso promises will prove anything but average:
"It has grave implications for mutants. There is evidence of a serial killer targeting mutants. And these days each mutant life is especially precious."
Welcome to the Hotel California, X-Men
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The sunshine, the ocean air, the friendly townspeople—what more reason would the X-Men need to relocate to San Francisco?
Well, there's also the fact that, as Fraction points out, "It's not the giant X-shaped target of a mansion built on the graveyard of their friends far removed from the rest of humanity."
For the X-Men, on the forefront of the genetic landscape, moving to San Francisco also represents a move closer to the future.
"[San Francisco] might be the most bleeding edge, tolerant, and aggressively forward city in the United States, if not the world," Fraction continues. "It's gorgeous, it's cinematic, and it's...well, it's all-new and all-different to what we know. As the X-Men and mutantkind are in uncharted waters, it made sense that new digs would be in order."
But on a more practical note, series editor Nick Lowe succinctly points out, "Their old home was blown up constantly. It's time for a change. Why not go somewhere that has a history of accepting differences?"
But don't expect ticker-tape parades and city-wide hug-outs anytime in the near future.
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"No matter where they go, the X-Men are targets," warns Lowe. "But they're hoping to go someplace where they might get beaten up every other
night, not every night."
"The boldly different always have to face contempt and violence," adds Fraction. "Always."
Come back tomorrow to learn even more about what's in store for the X-Men, including new villains, new team members, and just why everyone's so eager to follow Cyclops to the end of the world and back! For more X-Men, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.