By Chris Arrant
After getting the X-Men embroiled in a war with vampires and later sending the mutants deep into the New York sewers after a mystery menace, Victor Gischler has booked the team on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bermuda Triangle—and beyond. To kick off the second year of his series X-MEN, the Louisiana-based writer plans to explore one of the Marvel Universe’s most exotic locations with the Future Foundation along for the ride.
While those two teams rack up the air miles, Gischler will also be returning to the re-invented Dracula and pitting him against his biggest threat yet: The powered up Worthy version of the Hulk. In the bi-weekly limited series FEAR ITSELF: HULK VS. DRACULA, debuting in September, Dracula finds himself in Hulk’s crosshairs as the never less jolly green giant barrels through the European countryside.
Marvel.com spoke with Gischler about team-ups, match-ups and what’s coming up for X-MEN with Regenesis.
Marvel.com: X-MEN #16 just came out, matching up Marvel’s mutants with the FF. First off, how’d it come about to bring these two teams together?
Victor Gischler: [Senior Editor] Nick Lowe and I are always looking an arc or two ahead for who we want to guest. We have to sort out which characters we want, who is available and who might fit best into whatever story we have in mind. I remember tossing out the notion of the FF because I suspected it would be a lot of fun to write The Thing. Nick also like the idea of getting Magneto and Doctor Doom together. I remember it was just after Johnny Storm died, Nick sent me an e-mail saying we were clear to use the FF in a future arc. I wrote back and said "Awesome! I've always wanted to write The Human Torch. He wrote back, "Uh ... you're joking, right?"
Yes. I was.
Marvel.com: Instead of Johnny there’s Spider-Man to deal with. This super team-up takes them to the Bermuda Triangle where they’re sucked to another world. What can you tell us about the reptilian landscape they’ve landed in?
Victor Gischler: It's a dimension straight out of the Marv Wolfman SKULL THE SLAYER comics from the 1970’s. Nick sent me some issues, and it was all so pulpy and cool; just the kind of stuff that hits my sweet spot: crazy time travel, dinosaurs, robots and aliens. Like the Savage Land on meth. I immediately thought there was just so much potential.
Marvel.com: Speaking of potential, early on you had some tension on both sides because both teams currently harbor sometime villains Magneto and Doctor Doom. How does that play into this story?
Victor Gischler: Well, to some degree or other, a lot of people are probably asking themselves are these villains really ‘good guys’ now? How long can this last? Also, the idea of getting those two giant egos together is irresistible. They'll interact more as the arc goes on.
Marvel.com: The X-MEN book has had a rotating line-up of great artists, with Jorge Molina coming in for this story. What’s it like getting in with all these great artists, and with Jorge in particular?
Victor Gischler: Each one becomes my new favorite. And I think it’s hats off to the editors to recognize which artist matches up best with a particular story. Jorge perfectly captures this otherworldly dimension on the other side of the Bermuda Triangle. I'm really lucky. I turn in the script then stand back and let these guys work their magic.
Marvel.com: And after this four-issue long arc, you’re taking the X-MEN book headlong into X-Men: Regenesis. We’ve learned that Jubilee will be on your team, and you’re also joined by artist Will Conrad. What can you tell us about the story coming up in X-MEN #20?
Victor Gischler: Still a lot of great action with the new arc, but not as pulpy as our adventure through the Bermuda triangle. I told Nick that the story had kind of a Tom Clancy-ish feel since there is a bit of international political stuff involved. As for the team, well, I don't want to undermine the teaser campaign. Jubilee is not the team leader, but she's an important member of the squad.
Marvel.com: Bringing in Jubilee reminds us of this series’ origins with Curse of the Mutants, in which that character became a vampire. What’s it like to get her back in the book?
Victor Gischler: I want her to push her new vamp powers to the limit as the series goes on. I think she's pretty badass in a new way now, and we're going to explore how best to exploit that. But being a vampire isn't all fun and games. I guess she'll have to worry about mirrors and garlic now.
Marvel.com: Speaking of vampires, you’re telling the next part of Marvel’s Dracula saga with the upcoming limited series FEAR ITSELF: HULK VS. DRACULA. As if the regular Hulk weren’t dangerous enough, Dracula faces off against the Worthy-wielding Hulk. What can you tell us about this trio of issues?
Victor Gischler: Well, you've sort of nailed the big question. Yes, Dracula is a tough dude, but against Hulk? Against Dei-Hulk?! So that's Drac's major headache. How does he fight The Hulk? His struggles with this question provide a lot of conflict for the arc.
Marvel.com: The recent teaser campaign about the group of new characters called the Forgiven only adds fuel to the fire of this series. What can you tell us about these guys, and whose side are they on?
Victor Gischler: These are actually brand new vampire characters. I think I'd like not to spoil anything, and let readers meet them for the first time in the pages of the book. But there were some heavy-hitting editor-types taking strong interest in the invention of these new characters. I've spent so much time working on their back stories and who they are that they seem like real people in my life.
Marvel.com: For this book, you’re joined by one of Marvel’s rising talents, artist Ryan Stegman. What’s it like having him translate your scripts into comic pages?
Victor Gischler: Ryan is crazy talented. He sends me the pages as we go along, and sometimes he'll make a change and send the page with a note. "Is this okay?" It's always gangbusters. He's got a good eye and his suggestions to reconfigure some staging or move a panel are always spot on.
Marvel.com: Looking over your comics work, you’ve become Marvel’s main man when it comes to vampires. What’s that like for you?
Victor Gischler: If that's true, then I won't fight it. I feel I've had a lot to say in shaping these characters, so they're almost like family.
Family that bites you and sucks your blood.