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By Marc Strom
Let's hope the X-Men enjoy their sunshine.
With a move to San Francisco and a new raison d'etre, the team embarks on one of the most eventful periods of their history this month. Yesterday
, we took a look at what changes Marvel's merry band of mutants have in store for them with ASTONISHING X-MEN #25, on sale now, and UNCANNY X-MEN #500 hitting shelves July 23.
Now, strap in for the second half of our in-depth coverage with writer Matt Fraction and editors Nick Lowe and Axel Alonso, and find out what more the X-teams could possibly have in store for them!
Hail to the (One-Eyed) Chief
The days when you could mark the time by Scott Summers' self-implosions have fast become ancient history.
X-MEN preview art
by Simone Bianchi
Recent events have pushed Cyclops into the role of leader, and some of the decisions he's made—including letting Cable take the baby into the future at the end of "Messiah CompleX"—have proven his grace under pressure.
According to Matt Fraction, Scott's newfound confidence comes "from being the man with the plan, rather than the dreamer with the dream."
"His whole life has led to his leadership," the UNCANNY co-writer explains. "And so far, so good. All he has to stop is extinction."
Series editor Nick Lowe agrees, but notes that Cyclops' and Xavier's leading styles differ in more ways than one:
"As long as Scott has been the 'Anointed One,' he's always played Xavier's game. That time is over. It's not the same world that Xavier lived in and Scott isn't going to use those strategies.
"With the mutant population as low as it is, he lives in a desperate time. And desperate times…"
Welcome to the X-Men, Young Mutant
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Since the debut of a certain all-new, all-different lineup, the X-Men's ever-tumultuous roster has rarely settled down for too long…and fans shouldn't expect that to change any time soon, according to Fraction.
"One of the reasons we're moving the X-Men to an entire city—or three cities, depending on how you look at it—is to encourage a much more freeform, free-flowing 'team' structure than we've seen before," the scribe notes.
"Of course the core favorites are still here—Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma, etc.—but rather than focusing on an X-Men with fixed membership, we're trying to think of mutantdom as a very extended family. Mission-to-mission, who can say who'll show up? We want to allow for as many appearances as possible."
One young mutant in particular, though, will play a very specific role in the X-Men's future: the former New X-Man known as Pixie.
"Pixie follows the tradition of using young teenage girls—Shadowcat,
Jubilee, etc.—as the lens through which the team, and mutant society, is viewed," Fraction pontificates.
"And she's just an amazing character,"
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adds Lowe. "She hits the Kitty and Jubilee button, but she hits it in a totally different way. She is more optimistic, more excited and more spastic than Kitty and less sarcastic and guarded than Jubilee. I think it says interesting things about the times that we live in."
Bring on the Bad Guys
While UNCANNY X-MEN #500 promises appearances from fan-favorite villains like Magneto and the Sentinels, Fraction and co-writer Ed Brubaker will soon introduce some new groups into the mix. Two in particular will cause more than a bit of trouble for the newly-transplanted team.
"[First, there's] the Hellfire Cult, a mutant hate group beating mutants half to death on the streets of Oakland," Fraction teases. "[And] the Sisterhood of Evil Mutants, who—well, wait and see."
With such evocative names, could these groups have any ties to certain villainous organizations from the X-Men's past?
"Of course," Fraction coyly suggests. "Maybe."
To All Tomorrow's Parties
X-MEN #26 cover
by Simone Bianchi
With so many changes occurring in the lives of Marvel's premiere mutant super team, the future's never looked so uncertain.
Or, as Fraction rather succinctly puts it, "things get dark" from here on out.
And to hear Executive Editor Axel Alonso tell it, the term "Manifest Destiny" may have some deeper implications on where Cyclops leads his team next.
"Do the X-Men believe it's their destiny to expand their turf?" Alonso asks. "Is San Francisco just the beginning? Read and find out."
Finally, to top it all off, a certain Skrull incursion will soon make its way into the team's life.
"There's also an invasion that I've been hearing things about," teases Lowe. "The X-Men don't escape that, I'll tell you that much."
Be on the lookout for UNCANNY X-MEN #500 by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Greg Land and Terry Dodson, coming at you on July 23! For more X-Men, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.