This past December, Marvel released an X-Statix omnibus, collecting writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred's entire X-Force and X-Statix run in one 1,200-page hardcover volume.
Launched in 2001 in the early days of Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada's tenure at Marvel, the series made news right off the bat with X-Force #116, Milligan and Allred's first issue of the series. The comic not only introduced an entirely new cast, but also raised the ire of the Comics Code Authority — leading to Marvel no longer submitting their books to the organization, which effectively ceased to exist last year.
X-Force presented mutants not as outcasts but as celebrities, in a pre-TMZ era when reality television was just beinning to take hold. After 14 critically acclaimed issues under the X-Force title, the series relaunched as X-Statix, and lasted 26 more issues. The five-issue miniseries X-Statix Presents Dead Girl provided a coda to the franchise in 2006, but traces of the unique series are still felt in Marvel's current output, most notably in Doop's current role as the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning registrar in Wolverine and the X-Men.
"Some very uncommon creators working on a very, very commercial franchise," Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said of X-Force and X-Statix, books that he edited when originally released. "It was a hostile takeover of the X-Men paradigm."Newsarama talked with Allred via email to get his reflections on the series, working with Milligan, and seeing X-Statix get the omnibus treatment. Newsarama: Mike, the omnibus has been out for about a month now — what's it like seeing it all collected in one giant volume? Obviously, there have been some giant Madman hardcovers in the past, but I think this is even a couple hundred more pages than those.
Mike Allred: Hard to tell exactly. It doesn't have page numbers, but it does look like it's a little thicker than Madman: Atomica, which is just over 1000 pages. In any case it's a thrill to see it all together like this — and then to be able to stick it next to the other nifty omnibuses like Fantastic Four and stuff.
Nrama: X-Force/X-Statix was your longest work-for-hire project to date. How special of a place does it have for you in your career? And how did the visual freedom compare to a creator-owned series?
Allred: It was very special. Seminal. Peter Milligan is one of the finest writers to ever work in comics. We talk about doing more together. And in a very strange way it always felt like we were doing a creator-owned book. Axel Alonso and Joe Quesada encouraged us to be ourselves and play with the book. I've taken that spirit of progression and liberty with me on everything I've done since.
Nrama: This is a very broad question, but I'll ask anyway — looking back now, there any favorite moments that stick out to you to this day, with what you guys were able to accomplish with the series?
Allred: The silent issue was especially memorable. And I got a huge kick about our Avengers encounter which wrapped up the series. But killing the comics code is what sticks with me the most as far as making our mark.
Nrama: One notable aspect of X-Force/X-Statix was that it certainly didn't shy away from violence, starting in a big way right with X-Force #116. I'm not quite sure why, but it always felt especially jarring to me given your artistic style, because for whatever reason I was really not expecting it — do you find that, either in this or in other series, there's something about your artwork that makes the depiction of graphic violence have even more of an impact?
Allred: Possibly. Supposedly I'm from the "clear line school" that holds a certain innocence that by contrast gives violence an extra jolt when it presents itself. Violence is a horrific thing, and I don't like the idea of someone becoming numb to it.
Nrama: You and Peter Milligan last worked together on the Nation X story about two years ago — any chance of more work together in the future?
Allred: Yup. I'd work with Peter at any opportunity. Love him! We're trying to determine how long to continue with my current series, iZOMBIE, which I love. My co-creator, Chris Roberson, is another terrific writer showing how spoiled I've been. It'd be fun to get something going with Peter again. We were just with him in France and the same energy is there as always.
Nrama: X-Force/X-Statix was very much "of its time," but I think a lot of is still very relevant today, with things like obsession with fame and media coverage. How well do you think it holds up, thematically?
Allred: I'm told it had a retro vibe at the start which kind of pulled it out of time... I prefer to think of it as timeless. The themes will always be relevant and seem to be coming even more so. Andy Warhol's theory on fame seems to be more true every year.
I know it will always be relevant for me just for all I experienced with the characters and the creative team, including all our pals who played with us like Darwyn [Cooke], [Paul] Pope, [Nick] Derington, [Nick] Dragotta, Duncan [Fegredo], [Philip] Bond, [J.] Bone, [Marcos] Marcos, [Nick] Craine… what a trip!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!