All this week, Marvel has rolled out details of new titles for the company's X-Men line of books - capped off by the seemingly throwback X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold. After what the publisher themselves has described as "years in the darkness" for mutants, ResurrXion is contrasted as "a colororful tomorrow."
According to editor Mark Paniccia, the mission statement of these new ResurrXion-era X-Men titles is simply mutants being Marvel heroes.
"X-Men are heroes. Of the Marvel Universe. These mutants have saved the world enough times they deserve to be called what they are," said Paniccia.
"Without spoiling too much about the ending of Inhumans vs. X-Men, the X-Men have been living with a cloud hanging over their heads—literally," added fellow editor Daniel Ketchum. "The current roster of X-Men titles has been defined by this pervading sense of doom, the fact that mutantkind is on the brink. Well, one way or another, the impending threat of extinction subsides, and this is the story of what happens next. The X-Men have a future. Now what are they going to do with it?"
One of the first things is softball games, according to Paniccia. While softball games in a superhero comic book might seem trivial, it is the spirit of those team-building, lighter moments of the seminal Chris Claremont era that Marvel is trying to tap into.
Although that might seem trivial to some, softball games evokes the high-water mark classic period of the X-Men with writer Chris Claremont, and that's something Marvel is looking to key into.
"Extinction is no longer staring them in the face, so the X-Men can exhale and turn their attention back to doing what’s defined them since the beginning: Protecting a world that hates and fears them," said the editor. "These new titles won’t cast the X-Men as members of a species fighting for their survival but rather as big, bright, colorful super heroes who want to demonstrate to the world that they want to walk with them hand-in-hand into the future. They’ll have costumes with capes, a school, and softball games. Oh, there will be softball games. The goal is to tell exciting new X-Men stories while keeping an eye on the tropes and touchstones that longtime X-Men fans cherish."
Ketchum specifically namechecks the Claremont/John Byrne era of Uncanny X-Men as a touchstone for the "creative energy" they're aiming for with these 2017 titles.
"The same stuff that made these stories and characters we love so much stand out time and time again. Crazy cool adventures. Awesome super powers. Groundbreaking science fiction and heartbreaking romance. And the element of surprise," said Ketchum. "When I was first introduced to the X-Men as a reader back in the Claremont/Byrne days I was always on the edge of my seat. I want readers to feel like they are on that same emotional roller coaster that made me come back month after month. I want to tap into that same creative energy that had us feeling what the characters were feeling, rooting for your heroes and cheering them on during battles where you thought they had no chance. And those quiet moments that made you smile because they were so real and relatable. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this line and the stories we’re going to be telling."
Digging into the specific books, Ketchum said that Iceman and Jean Grey have been key characters for Marvel since "All-New All-Different Marvel," but that the pitfalls of including them previously in a team book like Extraordinary X-Men gave them little room for an individual spotlight.
"These are characters rich with stories to tell. And characters readers want to read about," said Paniccia. "We’ve given a lot of face time to other characters and felt it was time to put the spotlight on two of these beloved cast members."
The Generation X will revised the classic "school" theme of past X-Men books, with a familiar but "very fresh vibe" according to Paniccia.
"So, Generation X will bring you plenty of teenage drama, school uniforms, awkward kissing, and young X-Men being thrown into peril that would test the mettle of even the most seasoned veterans. And—of course—Jubilee. Because how could you do a Generation X book without Jubilee?"
On the other hand, Weapon X is the dark book for the new X-title.
"I’m asking my writer to push the boundaries on this, go as far as we can take it in the rating," said Paniccia. "I haven’t done a lot of dark books in my career at Marvel. I’ve always had that itch I wanted to scratch. This is going into the abyss. Visceral. Shocking. You’ll step back and for a minute and be like 'What the [expletive] just happened? Did they really do that? I’m loving this!!!'"
The flagship titles of the upcoming X-line will be X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue. The editors didn't specify specific members or mission statements to differentiate those books, but calls them "quitessential X-Men team books."
"Rosters you’re going to love. The kinds of stories we all grew up on," Paniccia said. "You’re going to dig them and maybe even feel a little competition between the books, trying to outdo each other. If I do my job right, there will be readers who are Team Blue or Team Gold. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll enjoy both but you will have a home team."