While the X-Men may not seem to have much in common with Grey's Anatomy, fans of the superhero team have the TV show to thank for an upcoming comic story by Allan Heinberg in Uncanny X-Men #526.
Most of the television watching public know Heinberg for his work on TV shows like Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls and The O.C..
But it was the end of his last season on Grey's Anatomy that cleared up his schedule enough to do more than one comic book project for Marvel, and led to him writing a bonus story for Uncanny X-Men #526. The issue, which goes on sale on July 14th, was added after solicitations were released and teams the writer with artist Olivier Coipel.
"When editor Nick Lowe asked if I'd be interested in coming up with this story, I actually had some time to devote exclusively to writing comics," Heinberg said.
Comic fans know Heinberg best for his run on titles like JLA and Wonder Woman, and particularly his creation of the Young Avengers, a group of teenage characters he'll be writing again in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, a nine-issue mini-series that starts this month.
Yet few fans know that Heinberg once worked with someone most X-Men loyalists worship — long-time Uncanny X-Men scribe Chris Claremont.
"I am a big X-Men fan. In fact, I was briefly Chris Claremont's assistant back in the early 90's," Heinberg said. "He was very patient with my fanboy questions and generous with his time.
"I deeply admired his work on X-Men, of course," Heinberg said of the writer's influence. "And I loved Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men. And Whedon and Cassaday's Astonishing. And Warren Ellis's Astonishing has been fun, as well. And I love what's going on in the main books right now. I think "Second Coming" has been an extraordinarily impressive and satisfying event."
While the main X-Men story by Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio will deal with the after-effects of "Second Coming," Heinberg will be focusing on how the fall-out from that event are connected to his Young Avengers — and particularly Scarlet Witch, whose character returns within the pages of Avengers: The Children's Crusade.
"The most important thing to know about this story is that it was drawn by Olivier Coipel, who is one of the finest artists on the planet," Heinberg said up front. "The story deals with the fallout from 'Second Coming' and principally features Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Doctor Nemesis.
"[Marvel] Editor Nick Lowe felt that this story could shed some light on the X-Men's relationship to — and feelings about — the Young Avengers," Heinberg said. "Particularly in light of Magneto's possibly being Wiccan and Speed's grandfather."
Heinberg said that, while his story in Uncanny X-Men is definitely a self-contained X-Men story, "it does set the stage for Magneto's possible involvement in Avengers: The Children's Crusade."
As a long-time comic book fan, it's not surprising that the writer loved getting his hands on Magneto. "Especially now that he at least seems to be looking for some kind of redemption," Heinberg said. "Which doesn't make him any less of an iconoclast, but it does have the effect of making him a bit more relatable. Even if you're unsure about Magneto's true motives, you can't help rooting for him at this point."
While the nine-issue Children's Crusade mini-series reunites him with his Young Avengers artist Jimmy Cheung, Heinberg said he's been a fan of Coipel's work for awhile and jumped at the chance to work with him.
"I've been wanting to work with Olivier since his time drawing Abnett and Lanning's extraordinary Legion books," he said. "And his work on Thor with JMS is some of my favorite comic book art of all time. So I'm beyond grateful and quite honestly amazed that Olivier agreed to do this story with me. He's been an absolute dream to work with, and I very much hope we get a chance to collaborate on something else soon."
And as long as we had Heinberg talking about comics, we asked him what he thought of the upcoming changes to Wonder Woman, since he's the last writer who relaunched the comic.
"I am such a fan of JMS's run on Thor — and he's such a smart writer — that I can't wait to read the book and to find out what his plans are for the character," Heinberg said. "And as far as I'm concerned, anything that gets people talking about Wonder Woman again is a good thing for Wonder Woman."
Now that readers are only a week away from the first issue of Children's Crusade, Heinberg said he's feeling a little nervous, since he's been away from comics during the years he was committed to Grey's Anatomy.
"But I do hope people enjoy seeing the characters again," Heinberg said. "I know they'll enjoy seeing Jim's phenomenal artwork. And Young Avengers readers should definitely pick up Uncanny X-Men #526 if they don't already read Uncanny, because it does serve as a kind of prologue to Avengers: The Children's Crusade."
As for his love for the X-Men, Heinberg left the door open for writing more stories dealing with the characters, as long as his schedule is open.
"If the X-Office will have me," he said, "I'd love to write more X-Men stories."