The X-Men have been the place for some of the strongest female characterization in comics, and next month Brian Wood and incoming series artist Terry Dodson are taking the team in X-Men face-to-face with Lady Deathstrike and an all-new Sisterhood.
Newsarama spoke with Wood about his genre-and-gender-busting superhero X-Men team, from the threats they face from the outside and the team’s own inner struggles, to of an earlier foe of the team as well as the appearance of a former X-Man whom Wood has ties with going all the way back to his 2000 run on Generation X.
Newsarama: X-Men: Battle of the Atom isn’t even over yet, but I have to ask you about what’s coming next in X-Men… namely, the “Muertas” arc. Lady Deathstrike looks to play a big part of this, and it looks like she’s bringing the Sisterhood with her. What’s she after, and who does she have with her?
Brian Wood: Lady Deathstrike is indeed front and center, as we've been teasing for a while now, but it’s not quite the same Yuriko we've seen in the past, right? That gets addressed right away in scene 1 of X-Men #7, so no worries there. But I still don't want to give it away, so I'll just say that fans of Lady Deathstrike don't have anything to worry about. And yeah, we've also teased a new Sisterhood, and that's coming... it’s a gradual reveal over the course of the arc. But just who the Sisterhood is, is far and beyond what any speculation I've seen on the forums and such. It's going to be a big deal. I'll also add that some of the questions readers had at the end of the "Primer" arc, regarding Arkea and story resolution will be picked up on. X-Men is a true ongoing title in the sense that this is a single long narrative, rather than a bunch of contained arcs stacked side to side.
Nrama: You’ve also got a new member on deck to join the team in X-Men #8 – Monet, from X-Factor and also Generation X. Bringing in Monet is something special – can you tell us about your decision to recruit her and what your views are of Monet as a personality?
Wood: Much like the formation of this not-quite-an-official-team, Monet is not recruited in the formal sense... her presence at the Jean Grey School is organic and logical, and she gets swept up. She's actually not really looking for a team role, after her recent ordeals in X-Factor.
Nrama: Given your past writing her years ago in Generation X, is Monet someone who’d been in the back of your mind when you got on X-Men?
Wood: I'm pretty sure Monet was on my original want list, way back when we were first developing X-Men. Part of it is feeling a writer's connection to the Generation X cast, part of it is knowing how well I could play her off Jubilee (and vice versa), and part of it is the power set, having a "superwoman" on the cast, which always makes for an interesting challenge, creatively and logistically.
And I'll add that as a side effect, something that we didn't plan to happen but are nonetheless very happy about, we have a very diverse cast: Storm, Monet, Karima, Jubilee, Psylocke (and Shogo!).
Nrama: You mentioned Karima, formerly known as Omega Sentinel. She’s quite the X-factor in this (no pun intended), given her villainous past. What can fans of Karima expect coming up?
Wood: I was pretty adamant early on that I had no intention of introducing Karima into this book only to have her possessed, nearly killed, and then put back in a holding pattern. She absolutely has a role in this title, but does she have a role in the X-Men? That's the question. After the events of "Primer", she's ...changed. I'm pretty excited about her narrative here, I think I'm writing a role for her that's unique, really grows the character, and compliments everyone else on the team.
Nrama: In the issues of X-Men that have come out so far, we’ve seen almost as many explosions between the two teammates of Rachel and Storm as we have against their villains. How would you describe their current state?
Wood: Well, its all sort of wrapped up in the idea that this team is not really a team in the formal sense. There's no leader, no defined roles or ranks. So as things come up and command decisions need to be made (like in "Primer"), what happens? Who gets the final say, when there are big disagreements? Storm sort of assumes the authority, and Rachel isn't so sure that this is right, and there's tension there. It's not quite schism-style beefs, but it is a tension that affects everyone around them. They have to work it out.
Nrama: Jubilee’s bouncing baby boy Shogo has taken quite a turn in X-Men: Battle of the Atom, showing up as an adult in the future X-Men as Sentinel-X. I hadn’t seen you been asked this anywhere, so let me: Shogo. It’s a Japanese name, but how’d you come across of it and decide to name Jubilee’s baby this?
Wood: Shogo's Asian, first of all, and while I never made a big deal out of that or defined his specific nationality, I'm willing to state here that he's of Japanese descent. That's not super important or meaningful in any way other than I wanted Jubilee to have a child that resembled her in a very general sense, to cement, if only visually, the mother-son unit. That may be weird and old-fashioned, but there it is. I'm taking away any superficial or societal barriers that would make a random passerby think Shogo was NOT her biological child. The name Shogo itself is just a name I liked, it’s been in my notes for a long time and I finally had a chance to use it.
Nrama: Long-time fans of your work can remember this isn’t your first dance with the X-Men – just over a decade ago you wrote the fondly remembered Generation X title which we touched upon briefly. We already have Jubilee in the book, and Monet’s on the way in. Any chance for a complete reunion on the female side, with Penance and Husk?
Wood: Probably not. Honestly, when I look at those characters what I really want to do is wrote the Generation X -era versions of them. It’s a personal nostalgia, I guess. So while the idea of someone like Husk is great, I realize it’s not the same Husk I feel connected to. That's been tricky with Monet, having to sort of retrain my brain to write the current Monet.
Nrama: And I can’t go without asking about your new collaborator beginning with this arc, Terry Dodson. He has a long history of drawing X-Men comics and female-fronted books. Knowing he’s on the receiving end of your script, have you been adapting your work at all to take advantage of what he brings to the table?
Wood: Honestly, this is one of those cases where I haven't felt the need to tweak my scripts or write for Terry, since I think his style perfectly fits this story, and both Terry and Rachel are just total pros, there's probably nothing I could write they couldn't draw the hell out of.