By Kevin Mahadeo
When it comes to nation building in the Marvel Universe, writer Matt Fraction just gave Norman Osborn a serious schooling with the creation of Nation X, a new haven for the mutant population created by the X-Men and built upon the remnants of Asteroid M.
Like a rock thrown into a pond, the ripples from the finale of the six-part DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover will flow ever outward with the birth of this new mutant utopia. The nation's creation has served as a systematic response by Cyclops and the X-Men to escape the iron fist of the Osborn supremacy and as a means for mutants everywhere to finally find peace from the world that continues to hate and fear them. Last week's DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: EXODUS one-shot ended the crossover and firmly established the X-Men's new status quo. With the brunt of the construction work completed, Fraction took some time to talk about the infinite possibilities of Nation X, the return of the X-Men's oldest foe and Cyclops getting a little less love from Emma Frost.
Matt Fraction: I wanted to build to an X-Men versus Osborn story and an X-Men versus Avengers story, but I wanted to up the stakes in regards to where they were and where they will be in Norman's grand scheme of things. It just seemed like something we've never seen before in these explicit terms. I know parallels can be drawn between Genosha, but to put the X-Men, basically, on a floating headquarters off the shore of San Francisco puts them in an interesting militarized light depending on how it's looked at. Osborn can make them appear to be a huge threat, and maybe they are a huge threat. I couldn't think of a time that we've seen them here before and I thought there can be some particularly interesting stories about mutants and society itself using mutants as a type of microcosm of that. And also it's an opportunity to move everybody onto a type of floating Jack Kirby architecture, which is never a bad idea in a comic book.
Marvel.com: You said, "in these explicit terms," but what exactly does that mean in regards to the X-Men and the rest of the world?
Matt Fraction: That's what the story is about. That is really what we will be exploring. There [are] several answers to that and these next Nation X stories really explores what they are. Is it just that there's a floating headquarters? Is it like a mutant motel and it doesn't matter what other people think? Is it a concentration camp? A prison camp? Is it an Alamo? Is it a mutant Israel? Depending on who you're speaking to, there's a different answer. We are really going to explore what it is and how the world wants to view it. Is it Waco or is it Avengers Mansion surrounded by water? What's the difference between 30 Avengers living in a mansion and 30 mutants living on Asteroid M? It's a chance to explore what that means and if the world is just naturally frightened of mutants.
Marvel.com: I never understood why if the X-Men did something like this, people find it such a problem. The Fantastic Four own a giant building filled with technological mayhem in the middle of Manhattan, but the X-Men on an island are a problem?
Matt Fraction: Yeah. [The Fantastic Four] have a gateway to the Negative Zone in Midtown. There's a degree of arguing comic book logic, I suppose,
|Cyclops & Emma Frost|
Marvel.com: We've really seen Cyclops take center stage recently. He's the most experienced X-Man and has made a huge decision here. What's his mindset in creating this new nation?
Matt Fraction: I don't think this is necessarily anybody's Plan A. It's a strange and dangerous place that he's taken his people. But he's going to be able to defend this asteroid in a way that he wouldn't really be able to defend a mansion sitting in the head of the industrial United States. Cyclops to me is a kid who has been raised his entire life to fight this war. He is the epitome of the "plan for the worst and hope for the best," and the worst came. This is what I think Charles and everyone have been preparing this kid for, in a way. He's no longer a kid, he's a grown man, and the worst kind of thing has come down the pipe and he rose to a challenge and tried to lead his people to safety. To me, that's him. He's like a human Swiss Army knife. He had all these tools to his disposal and he was dealt quite possibly the worst hand of any person, and this is how he solved the problem.
Marvel.com: The fact that he did try to solve this problem in the best way possible says a lot about his character at the same time.
Matt Fraction: Yeah. To put it in "Star Wars" terms, he's not Lando [Calrissian] making deals with [Darth] Vader. You don't make deals with a guy like Norman Osborn and Scott knew it.
Marvel.com: We know Magneto is set to return to the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN. What is he going to be thinking about this new Nation X? How is he going to feel about the X-Men living on his old home?
Matt Fraction: Those are good questions and we explore them in the upcoming months. Magneto is a master of timing. His return is very deliberately and very specifically at this moment. And Charles is back now. What does he think about this last year? The boy has become a man. Scott has become the indisputable leader of mutantkind and now the two previous holders of the title are looking at it and are trying to figure what their place in the world is now. That's a big part of what we have coming up now.
UNCANNY X-MEN #516 cover by Greg Land
Marvel.com: Magneto has been portrayed as both a sympathetic villain and a raging psychopath. How do you see the character?
Matt Fraction: The entirety of UNCANNY X-MEN #516 is basically about that. It's really, "Oh s--t, Magneto is back. What does he want? What does it mean for us?" And we've never seen him in this way before. What we've got coming up is brand new. This is an all-new, all-different Magneto, I hope. Issue #516 really deals with that in a deep, deep, resonate way.
Marvel.com: Who are some of the characters to watch in the coming storyline?
Matt Fraction: Emma and Scott are always the axis. Beast. Magneto and Professor X. Rogue has returned. And, I think most tellingly is Namor. There's suddenly a very big gun on the table that the X-Men have never had before. I think Namor becomes a very big, very real and very important presence in the book.
Marvel.com: You mentioned Emma and in EXODUS, there is a scene where she goes into the white room inside the Sentry's head. That first appeared in NEW AVENGERS #10 years ago. Did you remember that scene and called up Brian Bendis and basically ask, "Hey, remember when that happened? Can I use that?"
Matt Fraction: Pretty much. That story is one of my favorites. That first year, that "band together" year, where the team comes together I think is just terrific. And that [artist Steve] McNiven storyline is one of my favorite works that either of those guys [has] ever done. I was really always struck by the visual and the idea of it. I thought Brian really made Sentry accessible in a way the he really hadn't been before. So, when I think about the Sentry, I always think about that white room. Then when we built toward this X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover we realized we had all these pieces on the board. It's like finding all the right Lego pieces that fit together. At first it's just a pile of Lego, but when you get into it they all just snap together into one kind of coherent shape. These things happen and they don't feel bigger than they are, but then months of story later and it gains a resonance it wouldn't have otherwise. It's a very long way of saying, yes, it was basically me going, "Hey! Let's combine my Lego and your Lego and make this one giant Lego."
UNCANNY X-MEN #517 cover by Greg Land
Marvel.com: You mention things from the past building to the present. And we see that with Emma, a piece of the Void still remains in her. Apparently these pieces continue to build to the future as well.
Matt Fraction: Yeah. She's stuck in diamond form. She's an omega class telepath. She can't risk giving the Void access to that. So, the X-Man's telepath is stuck in a diamond.
Marvel.com: You have to think that really sucks for Cyclops as kissing diamond seems uncomfortable.
Matt Fraction: Yeah. It also makes her cold and icy. I suspect there will not be a lot of kissing going on anywhere. [Laughs]
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