For the past few years people have been proudly proclaiming “they have a Hulk.” Well, Amazing X-Men has a Wendigo – an army of them.
Back in June, longtime X-Men vets of both animation and comics Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle took the reins of Amazing X-Men and plotted a course into the heart of Canada and X-Men lore – with a little help from Alpha Flight. Originally envisioned as a solo Alpha Flight series, Yost and Kyle used the offer to do Amazing X-Men as a way to tell their story and incorporate the heroic team who helped the Flight debut with the X-Men. It all starts when a man is murdered in a meat processing facility, unknowingly circulating human meat into the food supply of North America – and in Marvel lore, when a human eats the meat of another human they turn into Wendigo. When a lot of humans eat the meat of another human, it turns into the aptly titled arc, “World War Wendigo.”
Newsarama talked with series writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost about this first arc as they enter the halfway point with next month’s Amazing X-Men #10, and discusses their penchant for Alpha Flight and cannibalism as well as some eyebrow-raising relationships that come to the surface that’ll leave one founding Alpha Flight member chomping mad.
Newsarama: The first two issues of your Amazing X-Men run are on stands now and features the beginning of what you’re calling “World War Wendigo.” What can readers look forward to coming up?
Christopher Yost: Well, Wendigo mostly. Lots of them. A lot. Ed McGuinness and Carlo Barberi have really pulled out all the stops artistically, but they may have Perez levels of Wendigo here. But on top of that, Craig and I really wanted to kick off with a big adventure, something anyone could pick up and enjoy without knowing the minutia of the X-Universe. Just a big, fun super-hero epic that people expect from Amazing X-Men after Jason Aaron’s kick-off story.
Craig Kyle: Chris came up with the core concept and I loved it. It’s such a huge uncontainable threat with direction connections to our core team and their history. Being old school fanboys, it seemed like the perfect story to tell for new and old fans alike. Readers should look forward to the big action Chris described as well as some fun twists and turns along the way.
Nrama: Both Wolverine and Alpha flight have crossed paths with a Wendigo before, but now it seems like there’s an army of them. Can you tell us how the idea to use Wendigo, and in this manner, came to you two?
Yost: Well, Craig has been an Alpha Flight fan forever, and I love cannibalism, so in this moment everything just aligned perfectly. The idea was originally for an Alpha Flight series, but when Marvel editor Mike Marts came to us with Amazing X-Men, it just felt right.
Kyle: This was Chris’ idea but I think we’ve built a fun story around the concept that will bring out the best heroics our team can offer. As a bonus we get to bring in Alpha Flight, which is fun since they don’t have their own title right now.
Nrama: This is an X-Men book, but fans of Alpha Flight got a pleasant surprise seeing several members of that team featured here. We’ve seen several of the core members here, so are they sticking around for the entire arc?
Yost: They absolutely are. Northstar’s featured, obviously, and Vindicator, Guardian, Talisman and Puck come in early, but we don’t stop there. You’re going to see the entire, classic team.
Kyle: This is my chance to work with these characters, so we couldn’t resist bringing them all in. That said, we don’t plan to sideline X-Men. This threat is absolutely enormous so it’s going to take more than one team to stop it. It’s all hands on deck for every hero in the title. We also love brining in other classic characters that can reveal other sides of our X-heroes.
Nrama: And what are both of your thoughts on Alpha Flight, in using them here?
Yost: Welcome back, Alpha Flight. Hope you survive the experience. Ha, I kid!! They will mostly make it out alive. Not necessarily human, but alive. Look, we‘re aware that we have a reputation for killing characters off, but we try and bring back a lot of characters, too. This is one of those times.
Kyle: Alpha Flight is often considered the perpetual Marvel C-Team, but in the right hands every character in the Marvel U can rise to limitless heights. Now I’m not suggesting we’re those hands, but we’re going to try and show why these guys are awesome in their own right. We did our best to do that with the New X-Men kids and that’s the plan again here… Uh, minus the exploding bus full of kids. (That said, if sales decline we keep the option for more exploding buses open.)
Nrama: I have to ask about that eyebrow-raising scene between Puck and Talisman in Amazing X-Men #8 – will you two be elaborating on that down the line?
Yost: Yeah, I’m not sure how happy Shaman is about that one. Time will tell if we get to delve into the interpersonal dynamics of that relationship.
Kyle: Maybe Talisman is just checking a box off her bucket list. Or maybe Puck is… Look, these guys are a team. They live, fight, sleep and nearly die together almost every day of their lives. You don’t get more intense relationships than the ones these guys share. Bonds and emotions run high between them and no one but another hero could possibly have a true understanding of what their lives are like or who they are. I think these people are drawn to each other because of all they’ve seen and survived together. I bet by the time their lives are over they’ve all made their way through the ranks of the team. We’ll see how much we can share about this relationship with the readers in the pages we’ve got left, but rest assured these choices were made for character driven reasons.
Nrama: The two of you have worked on a number of X-Men projects in the past, going all the way back to 2003 with the X-Men: Evolution animated series. On one hand, its familiar territory—so what’s that like?
Yost: Like coming home to old friends. The X-Men — the characters, the world — we have a great love for it all as fans, and as creators. It’s such a rich tapestry and sandbox to play in from both an action and an emotional perspective; it’s really rewarding to be able to add to the story. There’s a comfort to it as well… we know what those characters’ voices sound like, we know how they think and feel and react. So in whatever universe we’re writing them in, be it animation or the comics, they’re like old friends.
Kyle: The X-Men are my first love. They found me when I was twelve and never let go. If possible, I would make X-Men movies until they put me in the ground. So, when Marvel asks Chris and I if we want to do an X-Book, the answer is always YES!. Even when we should say “NO!” due to a crushing amount of feature film work, which we also love. :)
Nrama: But on the other hand you’re obviously not trying to do a continuation of X-Men: Evolution or X-Force – can you talk about doing this different kind of X-squad and what you see as the theme of this series?
Yost: With Amazing X-Men, we’re really trying to get the feel of the classic X-Men, old school Claremont and Byrne. There was a sense of fun and adventure there, and while the darkness was always encroaching, it didn’t overwhelm everything. This is old friends and new, coming together to save the world. The X-Men as full on super-heroes.
Kyle: I miss the darkness ofX-Force. Don’t get me wrong, I love this team and its tone but I tend to move into more deadly and darker waters with characters. I love humor and heart as much as the next guy, but give me deep dives in everything including evil and wickedness and you’ll find my creative happy place. X-23: Innocence Lost speaks the work, where I feel I’m being the most creatively truthful to myself and the readers. That said, X-Force: Sex and Violence is my second favorite story Chris and I have told, which is just fun and guns. I heart Domino.
Nrama: Ed McGuiness drew #8, but after that Carlo Barberi joined you from #9 on. Carlos worked with the two of you on an X-Force short and worked with Chris here on Scarlet Spider for a time. What’s it like switching gears here from Ed to Carlo?
Yost: Both Ed and Carlo and pros, both bring huge energy and fun to their pages, from layouts to finished pencils. In the back of our heads, though, we’re always thinking about what our dream page is from each artist we work with, and try to give it to them… so that at some future point we can try and buy it from them. :) Our goal with artists is to try and give them awesome stuff to draw so they want to keep working with us.
Kyle: I have all of Ed’s DC action figures. His style is just delicious. But he’s got nothing on Carlo. Carlo is incredible at both action, movement within a panel, and acting. He nails the emotions of every character every time. All I ever do is send him gushing thank you emails because he make us look so damn good. Chris and I don’t ever get to pick our artists but this is a perfect example where we got very, very lucky. Twice!