By Kiel Phegley
Chris Claremont never runs out of ideas.
As Marvel assistant editor Jordan D. White attests, the legendary writer carries new stories for the Marvel characters he's help craft for over 30 years with him wherever he goes—literally.
"Whenever I see him, he's got notebook after notebook, filled with thoughts and concepts for things," White explains as he discusses two of the most recent fruits of Claremont's labor: the GENEXT UNITED limited series and all-new ongoing X-MEN FOREVER.
GENEXT UNITED, with art from Jonboy Meyers, presents the sequel to Claremont's fan-demanded series exploring the lives of the young mutant heroes descended from the original X-Men in real time. On the flip side, FOREVER brings Claremont and artist Tom Grummett back to some very iconic versions of Marvel's mutants. The unique hook for the book revolves around the idea that Claremont pick right up where he left off the first time: 1991's X-MEN v2 #3.
"I don't think it's any secret that his epic run on X-Men is the work Chris is most associated with, and one of the best parts of that run was seeing how those characters grew as he fleshed out their lives and stories," White says. "In X-MEN FOREVER, Chris can continue shaping those characters again, as though he never left. Everything revealed since X-MEN #3 is fair game again. James Howlett? Never heard of him. Our Wolverine is called Logan."
The series will debut with a special one-shot comic, X-MEN FOREVER ALPHA which reprints Claremont's original three issues of X-MEN with artist Jim Lee and presents an all-new eight-page backup prelude to the new ongoing which will also debut on Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited. As some readers will recall, Claremont's original plan involved making the death of Magneto a permanent change to X-canon, and in X-MEN FOREVER, that shocking point remains intact.
"If there is one thing you can count on for sure, it's that things are going to be very
different in this series," promises White. "Both the world and Chris have changed since the '90s so he's not going to be doing the exact same things he would have back then. He's using the books he did back then as a launching point, to be sure, and will be touching on story points and ideas from back then, but he's going to be sending our favorite mutants off on all-new stories, and he's playing rough. Not all the toys are going to make it through these games. Here, the death of Magneto changes things for the X-Men more than it did in [norman continuity]. The team we end up with is one born out of the circumstances thrust upon them. You'll see what I mean when things ramp up."
Indeed fans can expect a shakeup across the board. "In issue #1, the team will still be dealing with fallout of the Asteroid M debacle, and the one villain who got away, but then they'll be rocketed off in a new direction. I'll give you a hint: Magneto won't be the only classic X-Character they'll be mourning," White promises.
Looking to the future, GENEXT UNITED picks up right where the last series ended with the coming together of a new team of young X-Men descended from the originals, including Colossus' grandson Pavel as well as Rogue and Gambit's son Oli.
"Last time, GeNext was thrust into the heroing biz to help a friend, and they found that it came naturally despite their hesitance," Whites notes. "This series kicks-off with them dealing with that revelation.
Sure, they can head back to the school now, but do they want to? And even if they do, if doing what's right is in their blood, they're not going to be able to ignore another call for help, are they?"
Joining the team on their peril-filled journey of self-discovery will be a number of characters from Claremont's long history with the X-Men, some of whom can't be revealed just yet.
"One founding member of the X-team joins the cast in issue #1—Dr. Hank McCoy, the bouncing blue brainiac, Beast!" exclaims White. "He's come to look out for GeNext and usher them home—we'll see how that goes for him. Later in the series, I can promise you another X-Man will appear, but one who joined the team significantly later than our furry friend."
And as with their last adventure, the second volume of GENEXT lets the kids bring potential new fans to Claremont's X-Universe to the fold, thanks in large part to Meyers' attractive art.
"Jon has a terrific energy to his work that really makes the characters come to life," says White. "I think his style is similar enough to Patrick Scherberger's [who did the previous GENEXT series] that they feel like the same characters, but different enough to give the new series it's own feel. I think fans of the previous [series] will be happy, and new readers can hop on and enjoy it with fresh eyes."
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