By Kevin Mahadeo
Starting this week, X-MEN: LEGACY writer Mike Carey steers the title in a brand new direction, taking a Gambit with Rogue and adding a little bit of Danger to the mix.
For the past year, X-MEN: LEGACY followed the life of Charles Xavier as he battled demons inner and outer in an attempt to repair his literally shattered mind. Most recently, the series began to add more characters to the cast as Gambit joined Xavier on a hunt to find the missing Rogue in the Australian outback, encountering and battling the sentient Danger Room computer aptly dubbed Danger.
Beginning with issue #226, the book shifts focus from Xavier to Rogue, now in control of her powers for the first time, and ties into the DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover currently rocking the mutant world. Carey shares a little bit of his new LEGACY with readers by discussing the title's new direction and the myriad of mutants joining the ride.
Marvel.com: Since the title began, we've seen X-MEN: LEGACY following the life of Professor X, but now we have a new direction. Can you expand a little on what that is?
X-MEN: LEGACY #226 cover by Terry Dodson
Mike Carey: Well, the crucial point is that this is where we rotate Rogue into the spotlight. We'd woven her story into Professor X's odyssey, particularly towards the end, with the last piece of unfinished business he had to tend to was bringing Rogue's powers under her conscious control, something that became possible as a result of Danger's diagnosis of Rogue's condition. Now we see Rogue going back to the X-Men, but not to business as usual. Cyclops has a specific role that he wants her to take on, and it's very different from the last role he offered her back in X-MEN #188. It's a role that will bring her into regular contact with the youngest members of the X-Men's cast: the former students at the Xavier Academy.
Marvel.com: The first issue ties into the DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover. The book has been off on its own for a while now. Will it start tying into the main Marvel Universe more?
Mike Carey: It's certainly back in current continuity. When we were following Xavier, we were at least as much concerned with the X-Men's past as with their present. Story arcs were set in present time, and sometimes had implications for other titles, as when we teamed up with WOLVERINE: ORIGINS for the "Original Sin" arc, but generally it's fair to say that we went our own way. In 2009-2010, you'll see that change, with X-MEN: LEGACY being part of a more immediate and, I hope, compelling interplay between the core books.
Marvel.com: Do you prefer it when the title plays in its own world or when it's part of the bigger goings on in the mutant world? Or is it really a balance of both?
Mike Carey: It has to be a balance of both. The crossovers and mutual acknowledgements should always be there, because this is a shared universe, not a basket of free-standing titles. I've always tried to give a sense of other things going on in the background, even when I was doing my own thing. But sometimes you just want to shoot off at right angles to everyone else and pursue a single idea, or a single character, wherever they take you. One of the great things about the X-Books is that they allow you to do both, and the editorial team encourages you to do both.
X-MEN: LEGACY #227 cover by Terry Dodson
Marvel.com: How would you say the shift of focus from Professor X to Rogue changes the overall tone of the title?
Mike Carey: That's kind of a tough one to answer in some ways because the tone comes partly from me-from stuff I do without thinking about it. So I suspect that in some ways the flavor won't change all that much. In other ways, though, you could see this as a return to the kind of stories that I was telling in X-MEN before it became X-MEN: LEGACY, with a bigger-albeit rotating-cast falling into and out of strategic alliances with each other. There'll be some changes, of course, just because of who's in that cast: we're talking about former New and Young X-Men stalwarts, about Trance, Indra, Bling, Loa, Hellion, Surge. They'll bring their own personalities to the book, and that will shift the way some stories are told.
Marvel.com: Rogue now has the ability to control her powers. How does this change her as a character, considering that for a long time her lack of control almost defined her?
Mike Carey: I see it a little differently than that. The lack of control defined her situation but inhibited her personality. When we first met Rogue she was whimsical, mercurial, endlessly resourceful, teasing, slightly anarchic; there was an exuberance about her despite the problems that arose from her use of her powers. Bit by bit, the problems deepened and widened and closed her in, until they became, as you say, almost a defining factor. Removing that straitjacket won't change her so much as it will set her free to be herself more.
Gambit & Rogue
Marvel.com: You mentioned her personality, but what would you say is her drive and motivation? How do you see her as a character?
Mike Carey: I see her as a deeply passionate person in the broadest sense of that word; somebody who feels things deeply and strongly. That applies to her romantic attachments, which are never casual or fleeting, and it applies to her loyalties and her convictions. But then there's this counterpoint: Rogue likes to play, to do crazy and unpredictable things; she's got all this energy and exuberance inside her, and it comes out in striking ways, as when she steals people's powers by kissing them on the lips. What is Rogue's basic drive? I think for a long time it was to get to the state where she is now, with her powers and her life under her own control, and to break free from Mystique's influence on a lot of levels. Now that she's done those things, we'll probably see other things become the bedrock of her personality, and I'd expect that personal loyalties would be a large part of that.
Mike Carey: I should say up front that they're not part of the core cast. They're in the [first] arc, and they'll weave in and out of the ongoing story, but it's not their book, if I can put it that bluntly. They're both with Rogue when she returns to the X-Men, and she fights alongside them in the "Suppressing Fire" two-parter. Beyond that, well, Rogue's feelings for Gambit and his for her will definitely be addressed, but there's no deep connection between Rogue and Danger. What threw them together was a mixture of Danger's scheming and blind chance. Having said that, both Gambit and Danger are among the characters who I enjoy writing, so we'll inevitably see a fair bit of them.
Marvel.com: What do you find most interesting about Gambit? What do you like about him? What do you dislike, if anything?
Mike Carey: When I've talked about this in the past, I've sort of run aground on the fact that the X-Men now are not the same as the X-Men when Gambit joined them. The rules of engagement were different, and Gambit stood out as a slightly amoral-or at least morally compromised-pragmatist in a group whose stated goals and M.O. were entirely idealistic. The goal posts have moved a lot since then, and you could say that the X-Men's position has moved closer to what Gambit's used to be: a position of "whatever gets the job done." But Gambit is still fascinating and cool because he's a thief with a rigid code of honor, a charismatic rogue whose criminal activities never detracted from his essential decency.
Mike Carey: I have to admit, right at the start there, I was just using her as a plot device. But I got interested in her when I realized that she saw herself as a freed slave.
Marvel.com: A long standing issue in X-Books has been Rogue and Gambit's tragic relationship. With Rogue's new control, what does this mean for the two? Will readers finally see them together and happy?
Mike Carey: There's no way I'm answering that question, but we'll see their past relationship examined and their present relationship defined.
Marvel.com: What type of villains or obstacles will Rogue and her group be facing in this title?
Mike Carey: Emplate in the initial story arc. Overall, as with X-MEN before it became X-MEN: LEGACY, a mix of old and new antagonists and a mixture of external and internal crises. Expect to see a lot of familiar faces, including some from previous X-Verse stories I've told.
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