Late last December, Marvel Comics unveiled a teaser image for something called “X-Men: First to Last,” showing the undeniably intriguing image of the original team — Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Jean Grey — facing off against current X-members (in three cases, the older versions of themselves), with Professor Xavier in the middle.
Following a couple of unlettered previews, we know a little bit more — but only a little. The five-part story starts with May’s one-shot X-Men Giant-Size #1, and continues in the pages of X-Men, starting with #12 in June and running through issue #15. The whole thing is written by Christopher Yost — the former New X-Men and X-Force co-writer making his return to the X-titles — and features villains called “the Evolutionaries,” who once plagued the original team and have resurfaced in the modern day. Paco Medina illustrates the modern-day scenes, and Dalibor Talijic handles the past.
Newsarama talked with Yost in a phone interview to see if we could get any more out of him about the story, including if that initial teaser of the old and new X-Men squaring off was metaphorical, or representative of something that literally happens within “X-Men: First to Last.”
Newsarama: Chris, all the promotion for “X-Men: First to Last” thus far has been definitely on the more vague side of things.
Christopher Yost: It’s a little bit of a mystery, and we kind of like it that way. It makes it hard to promote, for sure. It’s not what people are going to expect, I’ll tell you that.Essentially what it is, the X-Men encounter a new foe that they’ve seen before (but they don’t really know it), called the Evolutionaries. The Evolutionaries have a very specific role in the evolution of mankind over millions of years. They’re coming back. So every issue you’re going to see basically two stories play out — the story of the X-Men in the modern day on Utopia dealing with the return of the Evolutionaries, with all of them saying, “Who?” Except for one man, Cyclops, who knows who they are.
And then you’ll see the other half of the story in the X-Men: First Class days, where the X-Men are meeting them for the first time. So you get the explanation of what happened, and why it was really bad, and the consequences of everything that went down back in the day hitting home right now.
Nrama: The first teaser for “First to Last” showed the modern day team and the classic team actually facing off against each other — is that more of a metaphorical thing, or is that something that literally happens in the story?
Yost: I’m gonna leave that up in the air.
Nrama: Figured, but I had to ask.
Yost: There’s definitely a lot of fun comparisons to be had, for sure.
Nrama: This isn’t the first time that a terrible secret of the X-Men’s past has come to light — in some ways at this point, this story sounds a bit like X-Men: Deadly Genesis from a few years ago.
Yost: You know, it does sound like that. But it is not. This is something that happened and something that’s definitely going to come back and bit them in the ass, but it’s not due to any necessarily sinister machinations. I’m not going to add more to Charles Xavier’s bag of guilt here.
Nrama: With stories like this one and Jeff Parker’s X-Men: First Class series, it definitely seems like there’s been a lot more attention paid in recent years to the original Silver Age X-Men, when in the past it was mainly the post-Giant-Size X-Men #1 era that got the bulk of the nostalgic revisiting. Are the original X-Men something that specifically interests you creatively?
Yost: I’m a big fan of both equally. I think the original five characters are great characters. They’re still around today, so there’s something to them. They’re such great visuals. This is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the height. Iceman is a great character to look at; he’s so much fun, and he can do so much with his power. Angel gets a lot of flak, but he’s an incredible fighter. You’re going to see them in action throughout this. Hopefully we can show people what I love about them. And you get to have Jean Grey back for who knows how long.
You’re also going to be seeing the Brotherhood of New Mutants as well, and you’re going to see the Neo on the flipside of that. So there’s definitely a lot going on.
Nrama: The original yellow and blue (or black) X-Men costumes really hold up, too.
Yost: Yeah, I love those costumes. I loved them on the New Mutants, and later in New X-Men when Skottie Young put them back in there. I’m a big fan of that uniform.
Nrama: While this is your return to the X-Men, but it actually seems to be a lot different than anything you’ve done before in titles like X-Force or New X-Men.
Yost: I guess to a certain extent is the first time it’s the full-on X-Men. It’s not New X-Men, or X-Force, or “X-Dudes” or whatever it happens to be. I love all those characters, but it’s kind of nice to be playing with the whole cast.
But I am a guest here. Victor [Gischler], as far as I know, has got plans for the next issue once I’m done there. But while I’m here I’m going to try to blow up as much stuff as possible.
Nrama: And by being in that main adjectiveless X-Men title instead of its own miniseries, it certainly suggests that this is happening right now — not something off to the side that won’t really impact anything else.
Yost: It’s definitely happening right now, and it’s introducing a set of characters in the Evolutionaries that hopefully will be around for a long time to come.