cover.With Uncanny X-Men, writer Kieron Gillen has been at the forefront of Marvel's publishing line, writing the flagship title of the X-books during an especially high-profile period between "Regenesis" and Avengers vs. X-Men. But Gillen's "other" Marvel title, Journey Into Mystery, has quietly been attracting all sorts of praise for its joyfully layered approach to Kid Loki exploring some of the less-charted areas of the Marvel Universe.
As the current story arc, "The Terrorism Myth," unfolds, Journey Into Mystery is also headed to a May crossover with New Mutants. Gillen is collaborating on the story with the New Mutants team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and all five-parts are illustrated by Carmine Di Giandomenico. It's designed as an inversion of past New Mutants-meet-Asgardians stories, with Thor, Loki, Sif, The Warriors Three and more headed to San Francisco.
Newsarama talked with Gillen — whose "The Immaterial Girl," the third volume of his creator-owned series with Jamie McKelvie, Phonogram, was announced this past weekend at Image Expo — via email about "Exiled," working with the long-running DnA writing duo, recent Journey Into Mystery developments and where he sees the book headed. Plus, courtesy of Marvel, we're exclusively debuting several pages of interior art by Richard Elson from March's Journey Into Mystery #635.
Newsarama: Kieron, right now you're writing Uncanny X-Men — which in terms of positioning is effectively about as mainstream as a comic book can be — and Journey Into Mystery, which is certainly much more on the fringe of the Marvel Universe (even though you're crossing over soon with an X-book). As a writer, how gratifying do you find the duality of your current situation?Journey Into
interior art.Kieron Gillen: You're right. I'm enjoying it a lot. I can pull on a tux and swan into the fanciest parties in town, and then throw off my jacket, pull on my leathers and hit the darkest corners in the underworld. I'm all about the duality of man, me.
I can stand anything but boredom. Having two such radically different books mean that I can explore completely different parts of storytelling. With Uncanny, I'm putting a radical spin on a core part of the Marvel Universe. With Journey Into Mystery, I'm building something close from scratch. A new wing in the great Marvel Palace. Or, at least, a sturdy outhouse.
Nrama: JIM has become the place to see many lesser-known Marvel characters, especially in the current "Terrorism Myth" arc, with Nightmare playing a central role and Daimon Hellstrom, whose name I frequently misspell (but I think I got right just now), also entering the picture. What have you enjoyed about using these characters?
Gillen: All the best people misspell "Daimon". Since everyone also gets my name wrong, it's one of the easy ins into the character. But really? The Marvel Universe's metaphysical cosmology is an incredibly complicated place. One of the desires in JIM was trying to sew it all into a tapestry. How do all these pantheons, demons and magicians interact?Journey Into
interior art.Specifically with these two, with Nightmare I get to play my murderously creative Oedipal games and stab knives into the womb that bore JIM, and with Hellstrom, I get to answer the question "what if Jim Morrison was an exorcist?"
Nrama: A little further into the future is "Exiled," Journey Into Mystery's crossover with New Mutants coming in May. For the story, you're collaborating with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. How has that process been? The UK comic book scene seems fairly close-knit, for as much as I can tell sitting here in Los Angeles — were you acquainted at all with the duo before working on the story?
Gillen: Acquainted, but only in the loose convention bar sense. Actually, one of the joys of the crossover has been getting a chance to get to know them better. I've dug their work for years, and I was especially interested to see how they, as a long-term co-writing team, actually did it.
The process was basically sitting in a coffee shop in New York, and panicking until we came up with a story we liked, and then trying to convince editors it was a good idea. We're splitting writing duties 50/50, with the plotting completely by us both. The first issue has 10 pages by me and 10 pages by them. I write the JIM issues and they write the New Mutant ones, but we both give a pass on the finished version, so I don't have Dani saying things like "Jolly good show, verily and stuff" and they don't have Thor quoting from Warhammer novels.Journey Into
interior art.Nrama: You've gotten to work with the <>New Mutants characters here and there, in an issue a while back, and in places like the Regenesis one-shot, but are there any characters from that book that you were particularly excited about getting your hands on in "Exiled"? And since it's a story involving mutant characters, does it play into what you're doing in Uncanny X-Men at all, even if in very subtle ways?
Gillen: One of the best things about "Exiled" is exactly how much it's its own thing. It grows entirely from New Mutants and Journey Into Mystery, and all the natural connective tissue stretching all the way back to the original Asgard/NM crossovers. If you're a fan of either book, "Exiled" will be meaningful to you. And if you're interested in trying out two of Marvel's better reviewed books, this is an ideal showcase for what makes both of them pretty damn special.
Man, that answer sounded serious and sincere. That's totally out of character. I'm trying to be fun and flippant, and failing totally.To answer your question: It's good getting my hands back on Dani. Journey Into
interior art.Nrama: One thing that came up repeatedly during the "Exiled" press call earlier this month was the word "fun," in terms of the tone of the story and Journey Into Mystery in general. When writing, how much is that a conscious effort, and how much is just a natural extension of the characters and situations?
Gillen: You know me, Albert. There's nothing I don't do which isn't ludicrously overthought, and that extends to its whimsicality. It's funny. JIM's as theory-heavy a book as I've ever written, but the fact that it's surface is so fluffily adorable means that it doesn't switch people off entirely.
"Exiled" is a story which has a certain rompiness — but like JIM, the reason why it hits a little harder is the underlying darkness. JIM's a book about a cute kid who's pretty damn adorable... but everyone believes he's going to grow up to become evil. Including the reader. That adds an underlying sadness to everything.
There's a little of that in "Exiled." It's bloody funny, and a black farce at times — but it's all wrapped around one of the darkest secrets I've buried in the whole of JIM."Exiled" promotional art by
Stephanie Hans.Nrama: Speaking of major events, the Avengers movie is now just about two months away and of course features an adult, villainous Loki in a prominent role. Though not always the case — Jean Grey has been dead for a few X-Men movies now, and I sincerely doubt Gwen Stacy is coming back in time for the new Spider-Man film — there has been, historically, often been effort made to at least superficially move things in the comics closer to things in the movies. Yet it looks like Kid Loki is here to stay for the near-ish future. How much of a relief is it to not have to bring things more in line with the live-action version of the character?
Gillen: I didn't even read this question before answering the previous one. It's entirely the point. One of the best things about JIM is that it's a book where the weight and momentum of culture and continuity actually works in its favor. If JIM's story — a young reincarnation of an evil god tries to not grow up to be the monster he once was — was told in almost any other place, the expectation would be that he'd succeed. Because that's the sort of story our culture likes to tell. However, because of the weight of the Marvel Universe, we create masses of doubt in the reader's mind. And the doubt means that it's both more tense and uncertain.
But, bless Marvel, they've never been anything but supportive about where I'm taking the story. So I haven't had to worry about it.Journey Into
cover.Nrama: You mentioned a couple of months back in an interview over at CBR that you see Journey Into Mystery as a finite story — about 30 issues, provided sales hold up to allow that. Has that always been your plan for the book, or is that more how the story has evolved over the past year?
Gillen: I've always known the majority of the final issue. I've always known what the final image will be. I've always known where it was going. The only question was what the exact route to it would be. JIM isn't the sort of book that runs off flowcharts. It's about the god of chaos and mischief. It required a more raconteur-esque structure, allowing elliptical storytelling, playfulness and profitable detours. So when I started, I didn't know whether it would be 15 issues or 50 issues. I just knew where they'd lead.
I have it all planned to the conclusion now. It's going to to appropriately JIM, in its brutality and whimsicallity. There will be laughter, cheers and tears before it's all over.Keep reading Newsarama for an "Exiled" interview later this week with New Mutants writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning! Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!