Returning Rogue: Mike Carey on X-Men: Legacy

Mike Carey on X-Men: Legacy

X-Men: Legacy #220

Wrapping up the current arc of Marvel’s current “Original Sin” arc in X-Men: Legacy and Wolverine: Origins, Marvel Comics and Mike Carey are moving forward with more exploration of the life and times of Professor Charles Xavier in January in a new arc titled ‘Salvage’. With Scot Eaton handling the artwork, the upcoming arc, which kicks off with issue #220, focuses on Rogue, Gambit, and a mysterious villain with a big settle to score with Xavier. However, in December, X-Men: Legacy #219, featuring the artwork of Phil Briones, acts as bridge between the two arcs with a standalone story featuring Xavier and his indomitable step-brother, Cain Marko—the Unstoppable Juggernaut.

Newsarama contacted Mike Carey to discuss the finer points of ‘Salvage’ and its key players.

Newsarama: Rogue takes center stage in the next arc of Legacy—what can you tell us about ‘Salvage’, Mike?

Mike Carey: Well, I don’t want to spoil any of the big reveals—but, basically, Rogue has gone back to Maynards Plains – to the Outback town that the X-Men once used as a base of operations in the mid-200’s of Uncanny X-Men - you know, the town they took over from the Reavers.

There are two reasons she’s gone back there; one is just to be away from people because she wants to get her power under control. She wants to do what Professor X has failed to do; what Mystique and Destiny had failed to do; what no one has been able to help her with. She’s working through her problem on her own; she feels like she has to be by herself in order to do it—because of the nature of her powers and the fact that coming into contact with other humans is only going to exacerbate the problem. The other reason why she’s gone back to that one place is of course that that was the place where she finally drove Carol Danvers out of her psyche.

Professor X is looking for her because he wants to make good on that promise he made her all those years ago when she approached the X-Men for help in controlling her abilities. We’ve seen in an earlier arcs how Xavier claimed that he’d eventually help Rogue deal with her problem with her powers. But he was effectively lying because he really had no idea how to help her—and that sort of defines the burden of guilt that he carries. He made a promise in bad faith and now he wants to see if he can finally keep that promise and help Rogue to get out of this impasse.

Charles recruits Gambit—and so far so good—but they aren’t the only ones there. There’s another person looking to make contact with Rogue for very different reasons; there are also some outsiders who are dragged into the mix through a mistake of their own. This story has a very rich mix of new and old characters which results in a situation that spirals very quickly and spectacularly out of control.

X-Men: Legacy #219, page 2

NRAMA: So Xavier considers Rogue to be one of his failings—he’s already disappointed Cyclops and failed to help Wolverine—are there going to be more casualties added to this list?

MC: I think we’ve now identified them—not that I necessarily endorse Xavier’s opinions on this subject —but I think we’ve seen all the people that he feels he owes the biggest debts to; those three you mentioned…and Cain Marko, the Juggernaut. The Rogue arc is a sort of culmination of everything that has happened to him since he recovered – or partially recovered – from Bishop’s bullet. In #224, all that stuff comes to a head and, at that point, the odyssey that Professor X has been on – and that aspect of X-Men Legacy – will finally be over and the book will take a different direction.

NRAMA: Going back to the Australian base of operations—which was used nearly 20 years ago in Uncanny X-Men as you said - what really drew you back to that location? Are the Reavers going to be making an appearance as well? Gateway, perhaps?

MC: Only in flashbacks. Gateway, as far as we know, is dead because he was one of the people that the Marauders targeted in ‘Blinded by the Light’

NRAMA: Right—but how can anyone trust something that they didn’t actually see…

MC: (laughs) Yeah, you’ve got a point – but those characters aren’t a part of this arc. The Reavers are seen—but only through the perspective of Rogue’s memory—as she’s thinking back to the events that first brought her to this place.

NRAMA: Will Rogue be making her way to San Francisco after this storyline ends?

MC: Rogue will be interacting with the other X-Men soon, if that’s what you mean…Rogue, Gambit, and Professor X are going to be coming back into the mainstream of what’s happening in the X-verse. But nothing in that first meeting is going to go quite how anyone would want it to go, let’s just say.

NRAMA: Well, let’s switch gears and talk about Gambit. He’s already helped Charles earlier in the series—what keeps bringing Remy LeBeau back? Is Rogue his primary concern?

MC: I don’t think it’s possible to draw a comparison between the two situations. In the first arc, where they were fighting Sinister—it was Gambit learning about the contract that had been taken out on Professor X. Gambit basically stepped in to sabotage that process; he came to Professor X in order to help. This is different. This is Xavier going to Gambit and saying, “Hey, look, I’m going to try and find Rogue. I’m going to try and help her.” If you want to put a cynical spin on that, Xavier knows that having Gambit there makes it easier to get in the front door so to speak. If Rogue is going to talk to anyone it’s going to be Gambit.

X-Men: Legacy #219, page 15

NRAMA: Is Gambit’s presence going to aid Rogue or make things worse?

MC: I don’t think I want to answer that question. What they find when they make contact with Rogue is a million miles away from what they were expecting to find. Rogue isn’t in the same situation that we left her in, and the new situation raises a new set of problems.

NRAMA: Do you want to explore Gambit’s background more down the road; or is that a story for someone else to do?

MC: I am going to be exploring Gambit’s background but not in Legacy—there’s another story that I’m working on which goes a bit more into Gambit’s past. In Legacy, the upcoming exploration is all from Rogue’s perspective and, obviously, Gambit is a part of that but it’s her story primarily.

NRAMA: In your mind, what makes Gambit such a big draw for these books?

MC: I think Gambit stands in a long lineage of charming, rakish gentlemen adventurer-thieves, you know? He’s like Robin Hood; he’s like Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman—he’s like a lot of characters in that literary tradition. I guess it’s the combination of the charming manners and the amoral lifestyle; it’s an easy kind of character to make attractive and charismatic—he’s a fun character to play with.

NRAMA: Are there any challenges to writing characters like Rogue and Gambit?

MC: (laughs) With Gambit, I always have a problem with his accent—because Cajun French is very different from French-French; it’s a different kind of register and I’m never sure I’m getting it right. In terms of the other aspect of his “voice”, I think I know what he’s like and where he’s coming from so I think I can do the voice convincingly in terms of the attitudes that come through: the superficial jokiness and the very keen intelligence behind that.

NRAMA: Let’s talk about Charles Xavier now—he seems to be changing from arc to arc his idealistic dream is sort of crumbling before his very eyes and he’s becoming this creature of necessity; he’s mind controlling people a lot more, he’s willing to do all of these sorts of questionable things. Is there a new Charles Xavier on the horizon for 2009?

MC: Well, I don’t know if he’s going to be any different—he’s always used his powers in very pragmatic ways when the need arose. I think that’s one of the more interesting things about Charles; he’s an idealist who is capable of startling, and sometimes ruthless, displays of pragmatism when he’s in a situation that calls for it. Some of the things he’s done over the years have been disturbing, quite frankly.

X-Men: Legacy #219-#221 full cover image

At the same time, though, Charles is someone who is always agonizing about the morality or what he does—and I think what we have now is a Professor X who has sort of newly experienced, or experienced again, all the things both for good and for evil that he’s done. He’s coming out of this experience with a new perspective on what his role ought to be going forward.

NRAMA: You mentioned earlier that there is going to be a Juggernaut story connected to Charles’ exploration of his past. Are readers going to be re-visiting their childhood together again or will there be more exploration of their exploits together in the military? Or will this be a deconstruction of their terribly dysfunctional relationship as a whole?

MC: It’s more of the latter. It definitely touches on their childhood a little and on their service in the military together and how Cain became the Juggernaut. But ultimately, it’s going to be a restatement of their core relationship; and even more than that, it’s going to be a restatement of the Juggernaut as a character.

NRAMA: The Juggernaut had seemed to change his ways for a little bit—and then there was this regression recently when Marko had to reclaim the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak…

MC: I guess, for me, there are some characters who can be redeemed, can change, and then there are characters who can’t—I’ve always been most comfortable with Juggernaut when he was completely irreconcilable. The wellspring of his motivation has always centered on something very personal—this animosity he has for Professor X and what he has achieved. He is psychologically what he is physically – unstoppable, obsessed, and totally focused.

NRAMA: Are there any other villains returning to cause Xavier any grief in the near future? Will any less reputable characters trigger more of his introspection? Is he going to be on the run or is he relatively safe now?

MC: In the upcoming Rogue arc, there’s going to be a big confrontation with a character who has reason to hate Xavier; someone who’s had unfinished business with Xavier for a long time. After that…I’m not sure—the book itself is going to be going in a completely different direction.

NRAMA: With this change in the dynamic after #224, can you mention anything about what’s in store for 2009?

MC: I can say that it’s not going to go back to being a classic team book; it’s not a step backwards in that direction. Just as Legacy grew out of “Adjectiveless” at quite an unexpected vector—the next incarnation of the book will develop in an unexpected way and will focus on another set of relationships. It’s not something that’s never been done before in X-Men but it’s a different way of doing something that has been done before. I think it’s very cool and I’m very excited about it.

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