NYCC '09 - Chris Claremont on GenNext: United

At the New York Comic Con on Friday, Marvel announced the return of GeNext—a concept created when fans voted for projects for Chris Claremont to work on. GeNext is a concept based around real-time and how the X-Men would have developed if they aged properly instead of through the magic of “comic book time.” The first GeNext mini-series, which hit shelves early in 2008, introduced readers to a new generation (or two) of mutants and storytelling based around Chris Claremont’s work on X-Men: The End. This new mini-series promises more second and third generation characters based on fan-favorite X-Men plus the return of old favorites.

Newsarama contacted Chris Claremont to talk about his work on GeNext United and about the possibilities and permutations of alternate futures.

Newsarama: Chris, where does the beginning of GeNext United pick up in terms of where the last mini-series left off?

Chris Claremont: The second series picks up the story an hour after the first series ends, with the arrival of Hank McCoy and Megan Frost-Summers in Genosha.

NRAMA: For the sake of readers who are not familiar with the first mini, could you give a brief rundown of your principle characters?

CC: The team of GeNext consists of Olivier Raven (son of Rogue and Gambit), "Rico" (real name thus far confidential, but based on his powers, his overall looks and references to his parents and grand-parents—well, let's just say there are clues galore), Becka Munroe (daughter of Ororo, from the Savage Land), Pavel Rasputin (grand-son of Piotr Rasputin, also from the Savage Land), "No-Name" (about whom surprisingly little is known but who seems to have friends among some of the X-Men's deadliest foes) and, as of issue #1, Megan Frost-Summers. Olivier's power derives from his mother; he can absorb the powers and memories of those he touches. "Rico" has an elastic body and the power to turn invisible and create an invisible force field. Becka has power over the weather. Pavel turns to living metal. "No-Name" is a mystery. And Megan is a telepath.

NRAMA: Will there be any new faces in this mini? Will there be any classic X-characters returning to the fold?

CC: Megan qualifies as a "new" face, even though she appeared in the last issue of the first arc. We'll also be introducing a number of local heroes and villains. And since the arc is set in India, the team's primary adversary represents a classic question—where does the line between goddess and villain blur? In addition, there's one other antagonist who, like GeNext itself, represents a new generation of classic characters. In terms of "classic" X-characters, yes.

NRAMA: What sorts of challenges do the kids face this time around?

CC: The story is set in the sub-continent of India. Readers can expect to see a number of local heroes, and villains, as the GeNext team find themselves caught-up in a plot to overthrow the government. I'm dealing with where the line between "evil" and "villain" gets bandied about so much in comics—I wanted to explore where modern technology bumps up against old avatars.

NRAMA: In your last interview, you talked about how you envisioned GeNext's continuity as something akin to a paradox spinning out of continuity that you had mostly created—can GeNext spin far enough away from standard continuity and X-Men: The End that it will eventually become a separate entity altogether? Does this book, because of its connection to such a storied lineage, need those connectives to execute properly?

CC: GeNext takes place a generation ahead of current super-story reality. All the heroes whose adventures we're used to seeing are at least twenty years older, and probably more. Their lives have progressed far beyond what we've seen. More importantly, these stories are not about them. Our focus is always on our protagonists—how they chose to relate to their world and their obligations this new generation placed on them by fate and circumstance. For some, it is the desire to be a hero. For others, it's individuals finding themselves forced to become heroes while dreaming of a life and future that are altogether different. New lives—New loves—a world of choices awaits!

NRAMA: Will your work on X-Men Forever have a ripple effect on the contents of the GeNext story?

CC: I suspect not. They're two different books, derived from two different conceptual realities.

NRAMA: Are there characters from the periods you weren't working within X-Men continuity that you'd like to work with?

CC: I feel like I had my shot at that continuity and the characters therein during my run on X-Men and Uncanny back in 2000, and then on X-treme X-Men. As far as GeNext is concerned, the stories aren't about the older generation of heroes and villains. These are new kids, blazing their own new trails off around the world (as is Forever, in its own way). The challenge, and the delight for me as a creator, is to see where those trails lead, and what new and interesting confrontations and concepts might grow out of them.

NRAMA: Could characters from your work on Exiles figure into your upcoming work? Or are those a separate entity altogether?

CC: I would have to say it's doubtful, since Exiles is embarked on a whole new revamp in terms of concept and execution. When you're dealing with amini-series, as we are with GeNext, the fundamental requirement is to stay focused on the primary characters and conflicts. There simply isn't space to go off playing on the peripheries. On the other hand, if GeNext proves successful enough to earn a third story arc, or even return as an ongoing monthly title, then I'd have to say, who knows? Anything's possible, and it certainly would be fun to involve them with some of my guys from the Crystal Palace.

NRAMA: In the past you've said that your lengthy tenure on the X-Men was due to the fact that it was just too fun to do anything else—how do you keep your relationship with Children of the Atom fun?

CC: When you work with the quality of characters, and the level of artists that the X-Men has attracted over the years, the fun comes naturally.

NRAMA: Would you like to do GeNext on a monthly basis? Or is an arc-by-arc mini-series easier to manage?

CC: Six of one, half-dozen of the other. Of course, I'd like to see these characters get a shot at a regular, ongoing title. But I also remember arguing back in the day that perhaps a better way to go with Wolverine instead of an ongoing series was to present an annual mini-series of 4-6 issues. Such a format would allow is to tell really powerful, iconic stories on a regular but limited basis that would always keep the readers hungry for more. Both formats present challenges—my job is to run with it!

More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:

NYCC '09 Video Page

NYCC '09 Mini-Site

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