Questions and Answers: Guggenheim on Young X-Men

Guggenheim on Young X-Men

Evolution. It’s the lightning rod at the center of mutantkind and their existence in the Marvel Universe. Well, the Young X-Men, hot off the inaugural story arc of their ongoing series, will be evolving somewhat with the release of issue #6—and it seems that this title, written by Marc Guggenheim, will be focusing on it’s own progression for several months to come. Young X-Men #6 hits stands on September 17th—as the young mutants being to deal with the tragic aftermath of the loss of one of their own—and the potential of a betrayer in their midst! Also, a couple of new/old faces will be showing up to join the ongoing series.

Newsarama contacted Marc Guggenheim to discuss the Young X-Men—the changes in store for the line-up of the team as well as their place in the current Manifest Destiny of the mutants of the Marvel Universe. He also attempts to help readers de-Cypher the series of images on the final page of issue #5 which give clues to upcoming plot points in the series.

Newsarama: Now that the Young X-Men have discovered that their organization was something of a scam--what kind of direction or leadership will the team have?

Marc Guggenheim: Good question; basically, they are going to discover that their next situation is also a scam like Amway or some other kind of pyramid scheme. This was always part of the game plan from the onset of the title—we been taking these kids and messing them up in their first arc. We’re putting them in this situation where there trust is being abused and they are being taken advantage of; and then, once I’ve sort of dirtied them up like that I’m going to throw them into the mix with all the rest of the X-Men in San Francisco—starting with issue #6.

It’s basically a part of Manifest Destiny because the kids are coming to San Francisco to take up residence with all the rest of the X-Men. Issue #6 really focuses on sifting through all the rubble and dealing with all the consequences of the first arc; including ideas like, “What are these kids going to do now?”

Cyclops has disbanded the school and these kids are too young to be a part of the team…

NRAMA: …Wolf Cub is dead…

MG: Right—he is dead—and everyone is sort of on edge. It’s funny but the events of the first story arc seem to mirror what’s happened to the book from a fan-base perspective; because, I think a lot of fans were angry at the initial arc--they either saw the twist coming and were annoyed by that or they didn’t see the twist coming and they were equally annoyed as well. In a sense, the characters are going to be doing a sort of damage control—and the book is going to be reaching out to fans by saying, “We had our fun with the first arc and we’ve played around with your expectations—starting now we’re going to be seeing the real status quo for this series.”

Issue #6 was a really fun issue to write, I must say. It’s definitely our best issue thus far. It’s a totally new look—Ben Oliver is coming in for a two issue arc and his work is looking great. That’s not to say that Yanick [Paquette] didn’t do a good job—the book is just going to have a slightly different feel now. The upcoming stories are much more character-oriented in a way that we no longer have this sort of plot-heavy misdirect that we were doing for the first arc. It’s also a chance for the kids to finally get a chance to interact with the real Cyclops and Beast and actual X-Men. We’re covering a lot of ground in the 22 pages of issue #6.

NRAMA: Several of the original New Mutants were featured in the first story arc--will they be playing larger roles in the series or will they be popping up elsewhere? Will any of these characters be sticking around for mentor-type roles?

MG: Two of the New Mutants are going to be sticking around and are going to basically become full-fledged members of the team—they’ll be more like the team leaders. Their job is going to be to help train these kids; like I said, there isn’t a school anymore yet these kids need some sort of training. Experience has shown that if you’re an X-Man or a former X-Man—you can’t just go run off and hide in the shadows and lay low until someone comes to find you.

So, essentially, at the start of issue #6, Scott and Emma are dealing with the dilemma of these kids and two of the New Mutants are part of the solution.

NRAMA: How connected are you to X-book continuity when you're working on a series like this? Does it help to create compelling stories or do you feel like it can be a hindrance?

MG: You know, honestly, as a fan—I totally buy into the “shared universe” quality of comic books. To me, it’s one of the things that makes this medium so cool; as a writer, I always try to embrace the concept. I’m very tied into X-Men continuity as far as I know what’s going on in each of the other books and when I sit down to write each of my issues I know where all the players are and I know what exactly they have going on in their own little worlds. The Young X-Men has been designed to operate on its own terms; except for things like crossover events, we’re not crossing over into the other X-books but what happens in those books exists in the background as coloring—like, I think, a shared universe works best.

NRAMA: Who is Jonas Graymalkin? Care to give readers a taste of this characters background? He sure does like to drop the name of a certain New Mutant when he's talking...

MG: It’s really funny—I love Graymalkin and a lot of readers have seemed to respond favorably as well. I obviously don’t want to divulge too many clues because I think one of the biggest appeals of this character is the ongoing mystery regarding who he is but I will say that several very large hints are dropped in issue #6. I hate to answer that question with a response like, “Hey, check out the next issue…” but we’re going to be really starting to reveal more about the character—like the fact that he is a mutant and we’ll be dropping several hints about exactly who he is—in the upcoming issue.

NRAMA: Ink has somewhat of a "less than ethical" double-dealing nature--as revealed in the first arc; will there be repercussions from his actions in the last arc?

MG: Absolutely—starting in issue #6, actually. In #5, Cannonball basically says, “Look, now is not the time to address the issue of Ink’s loyalties…” and then, in issue #6, Rockslide says, “Okay…now we’ve got some time!” (laughs)

NRAMA: (laugh) Will the Young X-Men find themselves battling other old-school X-threats? Will there be any new villains introduced in the near future?

MG: Yes, there will definitely be some new villains in the very near future—in issue #7, there is going to be a new spin on a very old X-threat. I’m trying to throw things into the mix that are old-school ideas with new interpretations and brand new characters as well—it’s a tricky balance, you know? You’re usually only making 50% of the readers happy when you try to spin old concepts in new directions—and you have those folks who really want to see new characters and don’t necessarily want you to use older ones. I’m trying really hard to satisfy both camps the best I can.

NRAMA: You mentioned issue #7 which boasts a new line-up and a member who isn't a mutant--any clues as to who will be joining the team?

MG: Well there are a couple of things going on all at once—at the end of issue #6, we’re going to be re-introducing a former member of the New X-Men to the book; someone who is a fan-favorite…but that’s all I’m saying for now. In addition, one of the existing members of the team is going to find out that they aren’t a mutant—which is going to turn into somewhat of a fun mystery for issue #7 when you find out who that is.

NRAMA: How does the Manifest Destiny over-arc in the X-books figure into Young X-Men? How are these characters affected by current events in the Marvel U.?

MG: Coming off of this first arc, there is a lot of work to do in terms of answering questions left from the first arc and tying up some of the loose ends so that there is a semblance of a pay-off so I didn’t really have the real estate to really get into the kids being involved in something like Secret Invasion—as much as I would’ve liked to. I’m very content with projects like Mike Carey’s X-Men: Secret Invasion mini-series handling the Young X-Men crossing-over for an event of that magnitude.

As far as how much everything becomes affected—you know, we have these periodic retreats within the X-office where we all sort of catch each other up on the events of the individual titles—which is something that I really enjoy because I think that part of the fun resides in working in this really big playground with other folks.

NRAMA: Let's talk about the last page of issue #5, shall we? First off—who are these guys that are standing around saying, “…I guess that makes us the X-Men.”

MG: The Y-Men.

NRAMA: The Y-Men?

MG: Yeah—that is a panel from the upcoming arc starting with issue #8—it’s going to be a slight mystery who the Y-Men are initially but the ‘Y’ is going to take on different contexts as the story progresses.

NRAMA: Spider-Man is going to be swinging by…

MG: Obviously, we’re going to have to coordinate with the Spider-Man Office at Marvel—but I have some pull with those guys. (laugh) We’re eying April of 2009 because Spidey is planned out so far in advance.

NRAMA: Illyana Rasputin—in her Darkchilde form, no less—are the Young X-Men going to be figuring heavily into X-Men: Infernus?

MG: They will be involved in the arc—but they will figure more heavily into the aftermath.

NRAMA: Doug Ramsey. Or is that Douglock? Rumor has it that Doug’s body is actually still worm food in the backyard of Xavier’s…

MG: I don’t want to ruin the surprise—this is something we actually worked out at the last X-Men summit and there is actually a very cool, organic way Doug will go from being worm food to not being worm food and it will actually tie-in to another big arc from one of the other X-titles.

NRAMA: In your mind—who do you think is going to be the break-out character of this title? Also, which character is the most fun to write for you personally?

MG: That’s funny—because I have two different answers. When I think of a term like ‘breakout’ I think of new characters—so I really feel like Graymalkin is going to be the character to really shine as the breakout character of the title.

Now, my favorite character to write won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading the book—it’s Rockslide. I’ve got a weakness for wise-ass characters.

NRAMA: He also has the distinctive role as the heart of this team…

MG: Exactly. He definitely has the feel of that, doesn’t he? He’s such a fun character to write—but he’s also dealing with a fairly large helping of grief at the moment in the wake of Wolf Cub’s death and he’s sort of a man on a mission when it comes to figuring out who the non-mutant on the team is. I’ve had a lot of fun writing him as he is processing his grief, and his anger, and his pathos over the next couple of issues.

NRAMA: Alright, Marc, to close-up shop—if there was one X-villain from the past to pit the Young X-Men up against—who would it be?

MG: Good question. Magneto would be a lot of fun.

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