Not all mutants are cut out to be fighters - and the revived Generation X coming in May is making a home for them.
Described as "lovable losers" by writer Christina Strain, the new Generation X is led by an alum of the original 1990s series, Jubilee. Framed as a The Breakfast Club-like assortment of mutants, Generation X is set in a new offshoot of Xavier's titled Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. For old school X-Men fans, this is the school Artie, Leech, and Wiz Kid wish they had.
Newsarama spoke with Strain about this rejuvenated Generation X title, why these "non-fighters" still run into their fair share of action, and some other connections to the original Generation X title and the other teen series Strain worked on, Runaways. Along with this interview is uncolored pages and character designs by series artist Amilcar Pinna.
Newsarama: Christina, who are your new Generation X team?
Christina Strain: Our team of “lovable losers” are: Jubilee, Quentin Quire, Benjamin Deeds, Bling!, Eye-Boy, Nature Girl, and a new character named Nathaniel Carver who'll end up going by the name “Hindsight.”
Nrama: How did Jubilee end up as leader of this for you and Marvel?
Strain: I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't use all of the original (surviving) Gen X members, but I wanted one carry over to lead the team. And since our editor Daniel Ketchum and I love Jubilee, she seemed like the natural choice. Plus, since we'd labeled our Gen X team as the “lovable losers,” and Jubilee's on a bunch of internet “worst” or “most useless” X-Men lists, she totally fit as our lead member.
BTW, those internet lists are all wrong about her. Jubilee's amazing.
Nrama: She’s not on our list – just sayin’.
Jubilation has had some rough years between becoming a vampire and raising a child on her own. Where's she at, at this point?
Strain: Still having a bit of a rough time! Jubilee's in a weird position right now. Between Shogo and her students, she's suddenly got eight dependents. She's been a leader before, but she's always been in charge of her peers, not dependents. So she's in a place where she's trying to figure out how to walk that fine line of being a responsible adult and empathetic ear that her students are going to want to confide in. And of course, Jubes being Jubes, she tries to stay positive about everything but it's a struggle!
Nrama: Will any other X-Men alums appear in this, at least in the initial arc?
Strain: Yes! I've mentioned this in a few interviews, but Chamber will be there as an instructor and Jubilee's buddy and Kitty Pryde will be there as head of the school. And there will be plenty of students because the school is very well populated. So you'll see glimpses of younger alum like Broo, Pixie, Glob Herman, and Graymalkin. There'll be cameos aplenty!
Nrama: So what is the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach itself like?
Strain: That's a good question and one the school is still figuring out! The thing about this new division of classes is that it's new for everyone. It's not like it's been tested before, so it's going to come with some bumps, but the ultimate goal of the school is to teach their students how to best control/utilize their powers without needlessly putting them in harm's way. They've basically gone from being a school with set majors to a school with special studies majors specifically tailored to fit their students. If you've got an aptitude for combat, you'll be trained to fight. Excellent people skills? You'll be trained in mutant outreach. You've got 10,000 eyes all over your body? Maybe you'll be support staff for spy operations. Or maybe you'll just be the best eye glasses model the world's ever known. Either way, the school's gonna help you figure it all out.
Nrama: As you say, this series is being framed as a class of students who aren't warriors - does that mean there will be less action than a typical X-Men book?
Strain: This is an X book, of course there'll be action! Our kids just won't be “good” at it. Not at first, anyway. Hopefully they get better at it? We'll see. I mean, you'll see. Because I know.
Nrama: Action or not there has to be some kind of antagonist. Who are they up against?
Strain: They're up against some Purifiers. We wanted a sort of baseline baddie we thought the majority of the school's students would be prepared to fight and then use them to highlight how ill equipped - and in what ways they're ill equipped - our kids are.
Nrama: The original Generation X wrapped up in 2001, the same year you made your professional debut. What are your memories of the original series, and how is that impacting what you and Amilcar are doing?
Strain: I read the original Generation X in the 90s and the thing I liked most about it was that gave me all of those amazing teenage angsty outcast feels. It just did such an amazing job of capturing how strong those internalized feeling of insecurity are in a teenager and then how lonely those insecurities can make a teen feel. So I wanted to bring some of that back by developing character arcs based around our characters facing their own insecurities and what happens when they're over run by them. I mean, we've been calling our team the “lovable losers” partly because we're dealing with a group of kids who are all trying to figure out who they are and where they belong. And if that's not teenage angst, I dunno what is!
Nrama: And you're best known for another set of teen heroes - Runaways, which you colored extensively. How would you compare those heroes and these?
Strain: I like to think that they're comparable in terms of tone. Runaways was fun and whimsical with a good amount of heart, and I hope we're capturing the same sort of feel with Generation X. Unfortunately, Generation X is severely lacking in dinosaurs so we'll never be anywhere as cool as Runaways but you can't win 'em all...
I think the identity stories we're going to tell in Generation X are going to feel similar, just slightly older than the ones we told in Runaways. Basically, it's like comparing high schoolers to college students. Like, I think in high school, you're trying to prove to the world who you think you are while in college it's more about learning to accept and understand the skin you're in. And I think The Runaways was starting to head in that direction, but then it ended.
Although, now that I think about it, Chase post-Gert's death was basically there. Poor kid. He probably would've fit right into our group. Ugh. Why didn't I consider this before this interview!?!
Nrama: There’s still time. But moving on, big picture, what are your goals for Generation X?
Strain: I just want to make Generation X a fun book full of characters that people really wanna root for. That's it. Because I've fallen in love with them and I want what's best for them so I'm hoping that comes through in the writing!