The future has shown itself to be a dangerous place if you’re a mutant – whether it be “Days of Future Past,” “Battle of the Atom,” “Here Comes Tomorrow” or elsewhere – but in this week’s 100th Anniversary Special: X-Men #1 we’re getting a far different future that’s just as startling, but also a bit more optimistic.
Written by Robin Furth and illustrated by Jason Masters, 100th Anniversary Special: X-Men #1 is a jump forward into the fictional 100th anniversary of Marvel’s core characters to see how they might look in the Marvel comics being published in 2061. In the case of the X-Men, the long-time persecution of mutants by the world-at-large is largely dissipated – so much that Cyclops, who humans in current continuity consider a mutant terrorist, has become the duly-elected President of the United States. He’s in the midst of planning his own White House wedding with some familiar comrades by his side, including Furth tells us a living-and-breathing Wolverine.
Newsarama: All the future visions of the X-Men have been dire, beginning with “Days of Future Past.” What is 2061 like here for mutantkind in this one-shot, Robin?
Robin Furth: I really wanted to imagine a different world, one where Americans had become much more tolerant of mutants. In fact, I wanted to imagine a future version of our country where a mutant could be elected President of the United States. Although many diehard X-Men fans might be surprised by this idea, I figured that it was one way to show that decades had passed and that times had really changed. 50 years ago, no one would have believed that Americans would elect an African-American President, so who is to say that by 2061, we might not have an X-Man in the Oval Office! But having seen the awful backlash against Obama by rightwing groups, I knew that having an X-Man in the White House would be fraught. It could very well divide the country.
When I started to think about a mutant becoming President, it seemed to me that Scott Summers was Presidential material. He's charismatic, intelligent, has a powerful moral code, and (important in our television age) is a handsome man. However I faced a really big problem. In our time stream, he's also an outlaw! So, the first thing I had to do was imagine a scenario that would redeem Cyclops in the eyes of his countrymen. The best thing I could think of was to make him a national hero. So, after many conversations with Marvel editors Xander Jarowey and Ellie Pyle, as well as my husband Mark (who happens to be a science buff as well as a poet), I created a backstory. Years before our story takes place, Cyclops and his band of mutant revolutionaries saved the state of New York from a giant black hole growing at the heart of the Brookhaven National Laboratory's Large Hadron Collider. This act of bravery catapulted the group to fame and glory. From there, Cyclops organized the Pro-Mutant Party, which fought for the rights of all people traditionally excluded from power. It was only a matter of time before Scott, with all of formerly disenfranchised America behind him, began to rise as a political star.
Although I imagined Scott as a national hero and as a future President, I knew that there would be loud and perhaps violent opposition to his tenure in the White House. That's where I began my story.
Nrama: So you’ve got Cyclops here in this X-Men title. What other mutants are joining here him in this 2061 story?
Furth: I'm a real fan of Brian Michael Bendis's comics, and so I wanted to work with some of his newer X-Men. As well as some old favorites, such as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde, I included grown-up versions of Eva Bell (Tempus), Christopher Muse (Triage), Benjamin Deeds (Amity), Shogo Lee (Sentinel-X), and the Stepford Cuckoos: Phoebe, Irma, and Celeste. (There's a guest appearance by another character, but I won't reveal that yet. It would spoil the surprise.) We had the opportunity to choose a potential name for Benjamin Deeds, "Amity," since his X-Men codename hasn't been chosen yet in current continuity. I think that Triage is an exceptionally interesting character, because he's not a fighter, he's a healer. In an America trying to heal old scars, I thought he would be an important player. He grows up to be a very handsome guy too, so he and Tempus have a romance. Since the comics have established that new X-Man Benjamin Deeds is gay, I ran with it. He has a crush on Shogo, but Shogo is partial to the Cuckoos. I mean, who hasn't suffered from unrequited love?
Nrama: The cover features Cyclops and Emma Frost, seemingly reunited and wedded. What can you say about this cover?
Furth: Cyclops and Emma get married in the White House, but they soon run into terrible difficulties. Emma disappears (literally), and is erased from everyone's memories. Only Scott knows that she existed, and he has to fight to bring her back.
Nrama: Who are the X-Men up against in this story?
Furth: A lot of groups oppose Scott's political position, including the Hellfire Club (though they've had some important defectors), the Sapien League, and the Purifiers. But their greatest enemy is an unknown force that can rip people out of the time/space continuum. If you want to find out what it is, you'll have to read the comic. : -)
Nrama: You’re best known for working on the comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. What’s it like branching out in comics with this story?
Furth: It's been great branching out into other comics. A couple of years ago I did a short prose piece about Wolverine, and another about Shang-Chi. I've also done one-shot comics about Satana, and also about the Fantastic Four kids, Franklin and Val. However, having the chance to work on an X-Men story feels like a personal breakthrough and the fulfillment of wish. I'd love to do more!
Nrama: Working with you on this is artist Jason Masters – what can you say about how he’s translated your scripts into comics pages?
Furth: Jason was absolutely fantastic and I'd love to work with him again. He was so creative and added a tremendous amount to the story. Like me, he's an X-Men fan, and so put his heart into designing "looks" for these characters and I must say, he did a magnificent job. An artist has a tremendous amount of input into a story because he brings the characters to life on the page. Jason's work is an inspiration.
Nrama: I know this is just a one-off story, but if successful could you see yourself doing more stories of these future X-Men?
Furth: Oh yes. I'd absolutely love to. If anybody out there enjoys the story, let Marvel know. Jason and I would love to continue with these characters!