Whatever you do, a sure fire way to get a mother mad is to mess with her baby. That goes for animals, humans, and especially mutants. In Brian Wood’s X-Men series, he’s introduced a new mother/child duo to comics in the form of the quintessential teen mutant Jubilee and her cute and quirky adopted son Shogo. Through thirteen issues, Shogo’s been revealed to be more than just a cute, pudgy face – showing a promising future as an X-Men in “Battle of the Atom.” And in this current arc which started with last month’s X-Men #13, Wood is going to peel back the curtain to reveal Shogo’s past and also have him come face-to-face with his future -- by a threatening man named the Future. And it’s up to Jubilee and her newly formalized X-Men sisterhood to stop.
Earlier this month we learned that Wood would be departing X-Men at the end of the summer with Arrow’s Mark Guggenheim taking his place, but with four issues to go Newsarama caught up with the New York-based author to talk about the events coming up, to size up this new team as its developed, and Wood’s deliberate steps to make baby Shogo not just a plot point but a faceted character just like his other co-stars.
Newsarama: Brian, next week we have X-Men #14 – the second part in your final arc of the series. #13 was well-received by fans, so what is coming up in #14 and on through to your finale with #17?
Brian Wood: #13-17 is the arc, my final one, and it’s a couple things: it deals with a horrific threat directed at Shogo and Jubilee, and my extension the whole mutant community. The X-Men have their share of villains, but this is more of a terrorist than a costumed baddie, a sadist who uses fear and violence to get what he wants. There was always going to have to be an "other shoe" to Jubilee adopting Shogo, something that would come back on her for that, and it’s this. It's also my end cap to that long-running storyline, one that began with X-Men #1 and will conclude with #17. My goal was always to write a true ongoing, one where each arc had something to do with the arcs around it, building on each other. This is why Arkea is referenced, why “Battle of the Atom” is referenced, and so on.
And while I have no idea what any future writers are going to do with the series or these characters, I'm at least wrapping up the Shogo storyline myself, which I'm happy about. I hope he sticks around, but if not, I'm satisfied with his 17-issue lifespan.
Nrama: The last issue really went leaps and bounds in defining the team, especially with Storm taking the reins and formalizing it as a team. Can you talk about the non-team status of this title’s characters for so long, and what Storm’s formalization does for the group of characters?
Wood: That goes all the way back to the early planning of the series, this decision that this team is not a formal team, that it would start off as a bunch of friends getting together to help one of their own. Which to me seems natural and logical. I always knew that at some point they would formalize that, but I felt I needed to do two things: 1) show an actual need for them to formalize, and 2) not make it such a given. I wanted some conversation about it, some disagreements about the implementation.
The threat in #13-17 is such that there is no further debate, everyone is 100% ready to do this thing, and Storm is so motivated (for a couple reasons readers will come to realize) that the rest of the team has her back as leader.
Nrama: You’ve also been getting back on track in exploring Jubilee and Shogo’s complicated status with each other, and with the team. Readers seem to really be drawn to these two particularly in your run, so what would you say about what you’ve done – and what you’ve got planned for these two coming up?
Wood: I don't know to what extent readers like Shogo... I love him, I think it’s something unusual for the X-Men, because he's not just around for an arc - I made sure Marvel understood I was making him permanent. Look at “Battle Of The Atom,” he's an adult in that one, still at Jubilee's side.
Nrama: In the last issue Jubilee gets a text saying the future is coming for Shogo – readers including myself thought it was metaphorical given the previous “Battle of the Atom” reveal of an adult Shogo named Sentinel-X, but I’m told it is literally a character called the Future coming. What can you say about this development?
Wood: Yeah, The Future, that's the name of the bad guy. It's just this side of corny., but I don't care, I like the obviousness of it. And yeah, the future does have something to do with all of this... there's a really good reason why Kymera is present here. Remember, she knows the adult Shogo, and in theory she knows everything that's about to go down.
Nrama: Getting back to Jubilee, she’s in a bit of a liminal state – more than a student, but not quite a full-fledged X-Men like Storm or Rogue, so to speak. It’s a place we’ve seen some other mutants fall into in the past, but what does it mean for Jubilee?
Wood: It was never my intention to have her stay in that sort of purgatory... she is sort of the eternal kid in so many ways, I think she'll always be seen that way, but a student? I think the current state of X-students has sort of passed her by, she doesn't really seem like she belongs with the new kids. I saw her as a full-fledged, grown-up X-Man, but it'll be up to another writer to make that happen (or not).
Nrama: Last week we learned you’d be concluding your run on X-Men with #17, passing the baton to writer Marc Guggenheim. I know we’re still a few issues away from a conclusion here, but stepping back for a ‘big picture’ view her, what can you say about what you’ve done here on this book?
Wood: I sort of look at all the X-Men comics I've written in these last couple years. 30 issues if you're only counting 616, and in that space I've enjoyed writing Bling (especially the scene in my Wolverine & The X-Men mini), developing Sabra as a sort of spook and friend to Storm, creating Gabriel Shepherd (someone I had long, interesting plans for), obviously Shogo, and the Young X-Men backups here in X-Men, which were so much fun and also so short-lived (I have to end those with #15). Launching a book like this, which was so high profile and in so many fans were so personally invested in and in their unique ways... it was never easy, but I'm glad I did it. I'm humbled to have participated in the history of these characters.