Carey Looks Back on Five-and-a-Half Years with the X-MEN

Mike Carey Looks Back on X-MEN

 

Mike Carey's final X-Men arc — for now, at least — begins later this month with X-Men: Legacy #259, out Nov. 30. (Exclusive preview here.)

The two-part story details the return of Rogue's team from far-off space — including Havok, Polaris and Rachel Grey arriving at Utopia for the first time. Of course, as a result of X-Men: Schism and Regenesis, readers know that Rogue and most of her associated have left the west coast for Wolverine's Jean Grey School of Higher Learning in Westchester, and these issues detail that decision.

Newsarama spoke with Carey about ending his run on X-Men: Legacy — which started in summer 2006 with X-Men #188, before becoming X-Men: Legacy as of issue #208 — his final story on the book, what he wished he had the chance to explore further, and his plans for the future.

Newsarama: Mike, we're coming up on your last story arc on  X-Men: Legacy, and it's a two-parter, right?

Mike Carey: Yep, it's just a short and sweet coda to my run, and introduction to Christos [Gage]'s.

Nrama: So the obvious question is, after five-and-a-half years on the book, what makes now the right time to leave?

 

Carey: I guess there never is a "right time" to leave, really, and I leave with a lot of regrets. But I've got commitments elsewhere that I was having trouble meeting, mostly prose fiction and screenplay stuff. I've had to cut back on a lot of fronts, and the last thing you want to do, if you’re writing on a book like X-Men, is to skimp or to give it less than your full attention and energy.  So I figured it would be best to bow out, at least for a while.

Nrama: Longevity-wise, this is your second-longest run on a book, correct? Right behind Lucifer?

Carey: I think actually, in terms of pages, it's more than Lucifer. Lucifer was 75 straight issues of the monthly, plus the three-part miniseries and [one-shot] Nirvana. With X-Men, I've got a 73-issue sequential run plus two annuals.

Nrama: And plus the New Mutants issues of "Age of X."

Carey: Right. And also the "Endangered Species" chapters that I wrote, which were kind of a prologue to "Messiah Complex." I think in terms of actual volume of work, it's the longest run I've ever had on any book.

Nrama:  Back when you first took over the series, did you have any plans or expectations to have this long of a run? Was there a "master plan" or did it just kind of unfold organically?

Carey: When I came in, it was a team book; it was still adjectiveless. My pitch took the form of, "This would be my team, and this is what I'd love to do with them."

 

Obviously it was then completely reinvented when it became Legacy. From then on, there was kind of a longer-term plan, to work through the Professor X stuff, and then to bring Rogue front and center. There's a sense in which, for at least part of the time, yes, there was a master plan. But with any ongoing book, you're constantly introducing new plotlines, you're constantly tying off old ones, so whenever you leave, you leave with stuff undone, sadly.

Nrama:  Yeah, it seems inevitable that there would still be plotlines you didn't get to develop — and probably characters you wished you could feature more, too.

Carey: Yep, all of that. There were plotlines that we trailed — Gambit's other persona, this other self that's sort of awake and aware inside him. There's this mystery of Blindfold's brother. There's stuff we would have loved to do.

Having said that, there are some things that we do tie off [in my last two issues]. There's plenty of stuff there that will give long-term readers a big kick, I would hope.

Nrama: Are there any characters in particular you wished you had more time to explore?

Carey: I'm hugely nostalgic for the lineup that I had in the first year when I was working with Chris Bachalo.

Nrama: Mystique, Sabretooth…

X-Men: Legacy

#250 cover.

Carey: Yeah, and Lady Mastermind, and Karima. Iceman, of course, and Cannonball. It was a fantastic group of characters. There was loads of potential there for storylines. They were characters who struck sparks off each other in fun and interesting ways.

Nrama: Of course, your biggest "legacy" (sorry, couldn't be avoided) on the series is probably your work on Rogue. That's obviously a character you're fond of — how pleased were you to get the chance to build her up during your run?

Carey: Yeah, totally. I loved writing Rogue. She's one of many characters who I loved writing. I guess it always comes back, for me, to the fact that these are characters whose adventures I read and enjoyed when I was younger, and it's a privilege to add chapters to their story.

I say this a lot, but it's true: You kind of feel like this is a house you lived in as a child, and here you are building new rooms onto it.

Nrama: Your last arc on the book looks like it's centered on Rogue and Magneto's relationship, given that we know at this point that post-Schism they go their separate ways.

Carey: It's certainly centered on Rogue's decision. We see Rogue discussing options with both Magneto and Gambit, and several other characters, including Rachel. It's a tying off of loose ends for Rogue.  It's also a re-introduction of an existing character wgo we haven't seen for a long time, who I hope will be used in some of the X-books going forward.  And it's kind of a farewell to some characters and relationships that I have enjoyed writing.

X-Men: Legacy

#254 cover.

Nrama: The previous Legacy  arc, "Five Miles South of the Universe," seemed like a good note to go out on: a big, five-part space drama. Did you intend for that to be one of your last stories in the series, or did it just kind of end up that way?

Carey: It just ended up that way. I pitched the space story before I pitched "Lost Legions."  But then when "Age of X" got up and running, we realized that we'd have to put the space story on the backburner for a little while, because there was other stuff that would arise out of "Age of X."

It was a good note to go out on. In so many ways, the last year-and-a-half has been stupendous. I loved writing "Age of X;" I loved turning Legacy to some extent back into a team book again. It's just been very cool.

Nrama: What can you tell us about the other projects you're working on? Obviously there's Unwritten still going at Vertigo — anything else you can discuss, or is it a little too early?

Carey: Unwritten's the only ongoing comic commitment I've got. Of course, at the moment, Unwritten is coming out twice a month because of the .5 issues. The first of them is about to hit the stands — #31.5. "War of Words" has major revelations about the cabal, about Tom's past, and about Tom's nature, and some pretty huge climaxes — some game-changing stuff, introducing a completely new phase of the book for next year.

 

There's some stuff that I did last year that is hopefully going to hit next year. I did a werewolf story for Thomas Jane's Raw Studios; there is some stuff that I'm talked about elsewhere that hasn't been announced yet. I just finished co-writing, with my wife and daughter, a fantasy novel, The Steel Seraglio, which comes out from ChiZine Publications in March.

I'm working on two thrillers — the first one came out in August. It's difficult to talk about them, because they're pseudonymous. They're not Mike Carey books, they're written under someone else's names for complex reasons. I'm working up a lot of pitches for TV, I'm talking to someone about a movie screenplay, I have a movie screenplay which is hopefully going into production shortly… It's a lot of stuff.

Nrama: That's certainly a lot on your plate, but are you talking at all to Marvel about more work with them, maybe down the line?

Carey: I would love to come back. I would love to come back and do some more X-Men work. I know it's easier to leave than it is to come back, because things move on — you don't know where you're going to be six months or a year down the road. But I've really loved working in the X-Men universe. 

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