Kieron Gillen on UNCANNY X-MEN Comings and Goings

Kieron Gillen on UNCANNY X-MEN

 

The X-Men have their hands full as a result of recently wrapped miniseries X-Men: Schism, and so does Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen.

With Marvel's mutants splitting into two squads based on sharply divided philosophical lines — one staying in Utopia and headed by Cyclops and the other moving back to Westchester under the leadership of Wolverine — some serious status quo overhaul has resulted in a what Marvel is calling "Regenesis."

This week brings the X-Men: Regenesis one-shot written by Kieron Gillen (preview here), who also wrote Uncanny X-Men #544, out later this month and the final issue of the flagship book that's been running since 1963. Don't get too bummed over it, though, as Uncanny X-Men returns with a new #1 (and #2) in November, both issues also written by Gillen. (Preview of #1 here.)

Shortly before departing from the UK to the states for this weekend's New York Comic Con, Gillen answered a few questions from us via email, about all of the above and his decision to leave Generation Hope, the year-old young-mutants-in-training series he'd been writing since its debut. 

Uncanny X-Men

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Newsarama: Kieron, the last time you spoke with Newsarama about Regenesis, it was before the team lineups were revealed. Now that we've got a much clearer idea of who's on what side, it looks it's actually going to be a pretty smooth transition for Uncanny, as main cast post-Schism appears to be pretty much the same as it was pre-Schism — Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, Illyana. Is there anyone you're giving up that you're going to miss — Wolverine being the obvious candidate? Or any new characters coming into the fold you're eager to explore?

Kieron Gillen: Yeah, I'll miss Logan. Which is a little surprising for me. When I took on Uncanny, part of me was thinking "have I anything to say with Logan? He's a character who's appeared in so many comics, etc". But the second I started writing him, it became clear why he had been in so many comics. He's just a compelling character with both a core power and flexibility. And I will never get tired of earning money for writing "Snikt!". So, I'll miss that.

I miss Iceman, having enjoyed all the times I've written him (briefer than I liked — though he's prominent in the last issue of Uncanny). I would have liked to have had a chance to write Rachel more (I briefly had a chance in Generation Hope #10). Beast wasn't around, but I always like writing him. And Kitty. I'll miss Kitty, though I suspect with the grinder I put her through in my issues, she'd be glad to see the back of me.

Uncanny X-Men

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But to be honest, I'm fine with them all. It's really about the story. Those characters don't really fit where Uncanny X-Men will be in issue #1. If I had them, I wouldn't know what to do with them.

In terms of additions to my core team, Storm is the big one. She's a character who hasn't quite been in the spotlight as much as her status would suggest, and I'm looking forward to putting her through her paces. And Psylocke's position post-Regenesis is interesting. I can't say any more. But I find it very interesting.

Nrama: The X-Men: Regnesis one-shot is out next week. It looks like it's going to be a fairly comprehensive look at where the different X-characters end up after Schism — what kind of challenge was that, balancing out a lot of different players (and some you're not normally writing) in just one issue?

Gillen: It was tricky, both because of the sheer amount of characters I had to write, and the fact that it was always in danger of being the same scene repeated fourteen times. "Hello! I'm with Cyclops!" "Really? Well, I'm with Wolverine!" "Oh noes! See you around!" I tried to mix it up as much as I could, used a few narrative devices to make it (hopefully) more compelling. Since some of the characters — as you say — weren't "mine," I tended to approach it modularly, reserving pages for certain characters to write when I'd had a chance to work out what they exactly wanted to happen there. I'm foreshadowing a whole lot of plots in books that I'm not actually writing.

It was fun, actually. Being the last guy to have a chance to run around the whole cast, putting a few words in each of their mouths was enjoyable — whilst being more than a little sad.

 

Nrama: Then right after that (so many comics!), is the final issue of the current volume of Uncanny. Obviously the book is starting right back up with a new #1, but what kind of responsibility is there for a writer in crafting such an issue? Is it mostly continuing to move the new direction forward, or is there an amount of seemingly inevitable nostalgic looking back thrown in as well?

Gillen: As you say, it doesn't matter that we're relaunching so quickly — this is the final issue in a comic novel that's been continuing for decades. I was incredibly aware of trying to put a thematically appropriate bow on the whole creative endeavor. I mean, what's the final image going to be in the Uncanny X-Men? What's the last line? They're decisions that I took seriously. Is it nostalgic? Well, it uses the history. I use scenes that will recall the very earliest days of the X-Men — but I'm primarily doing it to show what's changed. We've come a long way.

And nostalgia? Nostalgia isn't just that contented sigh. Nostalgia is a bittersweet emotion — thinking of how used to be and how things have changed. As such, it dovetails perfectly with the events of Schism.

And, to steal a line from Phonogram's Emily Aster: "Nostalgia's an emotion for people with no future." The X-Men all believe they have a future, so we simultaneously celebrate the X-Men while moving forwards.

Nrama: Then, hey! Uncanny X-Men #1 out just a little bit after that. Mr. Sinister is returning that book — why is now the right time to bring him back?

Gillen: He's the classic X-Men villain who's been out of circulation for longest. While part of me would love to have started Uncanny with a brand new villain, there's an undeniable power in bringing back someone like Sinister with a lick of paint as fresh as the rest of the book. When we were talking about the first arc, I sent a hefty deconstruction/reconstruction of Sinister and everything I wanted to do with him over at the X-Office, half expecting to be told no. But they loved it, and now we're away.

I'm doing a lot of things with Sinister — he appears in the final issue of Uncanny, which will start to raise questions and show what I'm planning — but a key thing is to resolve some of his mysteries. Why has he been so interested in Scott Summers and mutantkind? I mean, what's really on his mind? What he's been working towards?

I give the answer in the first arc, which sets up what I hope will be a compelling course for him in the future.

 

Nrama: You're stepping away from Generation Hope imminently — was it simply a matter of not having enough time, or did Regenesis provide a natural stopping point for you? (Or maybe both?) And can we expect the book to continue to tie closely into Uncanny during James Asmus' run?

Gillen: Both. I can handle three monthly books, but the fact that there's been quite a lot of double-shipping this year has meant that it's been more like five books. Which has made me aware I was working at the edge of what I could do, and perhaps not worth risking continuing. Equally, I had planned for the first year of Generation Hope, in terms of what I'd have introduced, what I'd have resolved and where the team would be. It would have been a sensible place for another voice to take over the book anyway.

In short, I'm very grateful to James. Thanks to him, I can now see my wife more often. And I'm a big fan of kissing.

With Hope in my main cast in Uncanny, there will be an element of crossover between the two books. Nothing explicitly, but softly. Generation Hope is a key part of my third arc in Uncanny, actually.

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