By Marc Strom
Marvel Math 101: Divide the X-Men and what do you get? Five tales of awesome, of course.
When the second X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND anthology hits shelves tomorrow, May 21, fans can catch up on what Forge, Beast, Surge and more have been up to since the events of "Messiah CompleX" ended the X-Men.
But why wait 'til then, True Believer? To whet your appetites, Marvel.com spoke with the four writers—C.B. Cebulski, Mike Carey, Duane Swierczynski and Andy Schmidt—behind five of the X-Men's latest solo adventures to see how our merry mutants have dealt with life post-"Messiah CompleX."
C.B. Cebulski on Illyana Rasputin, Surge & Moonstar
Marvel.com: You've teased fans with an image of Illyana Rasputin in some very…familiar attire. What can you tell us about her story?
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Not much more unfortunately. We recently saw the Darkchild return in the "Quest for Magik" arc by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Skottie Young [in NEW X-MEN]. During that story, a small part of Illyana Rasputin's original personality emerged from time to time, so we know a part of our little Snowflake is still in there. This is a story about finding out just how much of Illyana remains.
Marvel.com: Is it even possible for Illyana to come back, or is she too far gone for redemption?
Oh, it's possible! Illyana's been one of the Marvel Universe's greatest victims in my opinion. She's been a punching bag in so many stories. Now it's finally high time for her to start punching back on her search for redemption.
Marvel.com: Switching gears to Surge, considering the fact that she was the leader of the New X-Men, how has she taken the team's disbanding?
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That question goes right to the heart of what this story's about, so my lips are sealed.
Marvel.com: Why has she come knocking on Dani Moonstar''s door?
Dani was not only Nori's teacher and mentor but also her friend, which is why she seeks her out. As you'll see, and as Nori will find out, the two have a lot more in common than they expect.
Marvel.com: Has Dani come to terms with losing her powers?
She puts on a strong face, but I don't think she has. Losing her powers was something that affected her to her core and will continue to be a marked absence in her life, no matter what she says.
Marvel.com: Your artist on this story, David Lafuente, was discovered by you during the ChesterQuest worldwide talent search—anything you'd like to say about working with him?
David is absolutely amazing! I loved his work from the moment I saw it in the pub in Dublin. I brought his samples back and showed them to X-Editor X-Traordinaire Nick Lowe who felt just as strongly about it as I did about David's work. David's definitely an artist to watch!
Mike Carey on the Beast
Marvel.com: Your story has Beast returning to the Xavier Institute post-"Messiah CompleX." Why has it fallen to Hank to close up shop?
As one of the original X-Men, he'd have the strongest associations to the place—and it's in Hank's nature to be the one who dots the I's and crosses the T's. He's got a very orderly mind. We always wanted this story to revolve around one of the classic five, and of the four surviving candidates, Hank seemed to be the one who fitted the bill best of all. Plus I just really enjoy writing him.
Marvel.com: As one of the original X-Men, do the events of "Divided We Stand" hit him harder than others?
Oh yeah, I'd definitely say so. If you think about the circumstances [under] which Hank came to the X-Mansion, you can understand how it's been the center of his life ever since. He's really got nothing outside of this place. He's forged some close friendships over the years, but—apart from his stint as an Avenger—this has been his home since he was in his late teens. And the home he had before that is one that he can never really go back to. This is a very poignant moment for Hank—an irrevocable moment.
Marvel.com: The artist on your story is Scott Eaton, someone you've been working with quite a lot recently between X-MEN: LEGACY and "Endangered Species." What do you feel he brings to your scripts?
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Hey, these days, what does Scott not bring? I've said in a couple of interviews that I'm loving the way he handles the emotional nuances of X-MEN: LEGACY, which is a very character-driven book, and I [mean] that. But look at how he draws the danger room sequence [in this story]. Scott is just on top of his game here, and he can do everything from quiet moments of reflection to big wide-screen action and make it all work.
Duane Swierczynski on Forge
Marvel.com: In a nutshell, what is your Forge story about?
Funny you use the word "nutshell." This story is about Forge kinda sorta losing his mind in the days following the events of "Messiah CompleX." Bishop has gotten the drop on him not once, but twice
, and that's gotta mess with a guy's head. Especially a guy as smart as Forge.
Marvel.com: Will your Forge story tie in at all to CABLE?
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It ties directly
into CABLE—specifically, CABLE #2, where Forge's cameo appearance was limited to pretty much: "Huh?" Thud
. And this story will lead into another down the line. You're going to be seeing a lot of Forge later this year.
Marvel.com: So far your work at Marvel has been longer, multi-part stories or extra-sized one-shots. Was there anything you found challenging or different about writing a short story?
It had been a while since I had an excuse to write a short story, so I was thankful for the opportunity. Though I do think short stories are more difficult. With something long-form, like a novel or a monthly series, you've got 300 pages—or, say, 5 issues—to hit your targets. But with a short story, you've only got one bullet in the chamber, so you really have to make it count.
Andy Schmidt on Havok
Marvel.com: How have Havok and his crew fared since the end of X-MEN: EMPEROR VULCAN?
Not well. Not well at all. All but two of them were captured at the end of that series, and there's a reason the title of this story is "The Hole." These guys are in a pickle. It doesn't get much worse than this.
Marvel.com: How will the events of "Messiah CompleX" and "Divided We Stand" effect Alex in the middle of the Shi'ar Empire?
That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? How do the events on Earth billions of miles away affect Alex? Doesn't seem possible, does it?
Marvel.com: What draws you to Havok as a character?
Since I was a kid I've always been a Havok fan. I loved his costume and the fact that he didn't really want to be a super hero. I think on some level I liked that he was the little brother too—I'm the youngest of three boys [myself].
Marvel.com: How was working with artist Frazer Irving on this story?
Frazer was amazing on this story! He really elevated my script and turned in amazing work. He was nice enough to keep me in the loop as he turned pages in which I also appreciated. I would work with him again in a heartbeat!
X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND BOOK TWO will be on stands tomorrow, Wednesday, May 21. You can see where it all began with X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.