Cover from Uncanny X-Men/Dark AvengersThe X-Men have long been a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe, and whenever major events ripple through the social or super heroic superstructure of it, somehow, the mutants trained by Professor Charles Xavier find themselves front and center.
Marvel’s current Dark Reign, which sees the villains of the Marvel Universe secretly in charge of the world is no different. And a reckoning is coming.
Backing things up a little – the X-Men and Norman Osborn, the man in charge of the Marvel Universe following Secret Invasion did have an understanding.
As Uncanny X-Men writer Matt Fraction explains it: “When Norman ‘won,’ he got together some of the biggest superpowers left and said, ‘We won. This is how it should work,’ and set about carving the world up like a slice of pie. Emma [Frost, of the X-Men] was one of those included, and the agreement was simple – ‘I don’t want to deal with mutants, so you keep them quiet. Keep your people out of my affairs, and I’ll make sure the government doesn’t come for you.’ Mutants are an endangered species, there are no more being born, they’re being murdered and hunted and are still hated and despised, and Emma thought that sounded like a pretty good deal, so she took it.”
Beginning in June though, that agreement starts to fall apart. The Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men’s worlds will come together in an opening one-shot, cross-over for the respective July and August issues (Uncanny #513 and #514 and Dark Avengers #7 and #8) of the respective series, and conclude in another one-shot in September, all written by Fraction, with Dark Avengers writer Brian Bendis advising.
We spoke with Fraction for more on the meeting of the groups of equal resolve.
Newsarama: Matt, first off, this is a pretty big event, both in the number of books and scope covered within the Marvel Universe under Dark Reign. How did you end up writing it all? Obviously, you write Uncanny, but it seems like Dark Avengers would be a book you’d have to pry out of Brian’s cold, dead fingers…
Matt Fraction: I think Brian thought I had a good grip on it, and he’s doing his stuff, and we talk a lot – there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of coordination between us right now just to make sure his moving part and my moving parts are all moving in congress with one another.
Without getting too into the story, it all ultimately ended up making sense. It’s a huge vote of confidence from Brian, it’s going to be big and crazy, and obviously, it’s going to be mine to blow. If it sucks, I don’t get to blame Brian anymore. [laughs]
NRAMA: Touching on the story lightly then – it’s safe to assume that Norman and Emma’s deal…goes south?
MF: The deal was “Keep your people quiet, and I’ll keep H.A.M.M.E.R. out of your business.” And her people don’t stay quiet. Again, not to get too specific, a H.A.M.M.E.R. presence is required in San Francisco, and all hell comes with them.
NRAMA: With Cyclops' increasingly aggressive stance on protecting the remaining mutants of the world—will readers be seeing a more tenacious X-Men as they face off against the Dark Avengers?
MF: Tenacious? Hell no. Cyclops has endured countless nervous breakdowns and crises of faith and confidence because he was irrevocably heading towards this very moment. He's been raised to be a general his entire life, whether he wants to admit it or not. And now the war the survival of his species has gone hot on his doorstep. Tenacious is absolutely not the word I'd use. Resolute, maybe.
This is it. This is the big one.
NRAMA: Are the kid gloves going to be off for this confrontation? Will there be any bloodshed or casualties?
MF: This ain't one of those stories that the teams can settle by a rousing game of softball, no.
NRAMA: You've indicated recently that things are only going to keep getting worse for the X-Men; will this run-in with the Avengers be another nail in their coffin? Will this fight cause ramifications across the board in all the X-line?
MF: Things are certainly dire, and the stakes are certainly high, and through it all there are still no more mutants being born. And this confrontation propels the whole of the Marvel Universe forward, whether it's the Avengers family or the X-Men family of stories. What comes next is as inevitable as the sunrise.
We've both got some big stories to tell—here's where they intersect.
NRAMA: The power structure of the Marvel Universe has been turned on it’s ear over the past several years—are things going to get worse? Are the heroes of the Marvel Universe in grave danger as more and more of the villains of the Earth become more organized?
MF: Yeah, absolutely. There's nothing more disastrous than these guys getting mad and organized, especially when the heroes have been brought to their lowest points across the board.
NRAMA: For you as a writer, how does the whole ‘game change’ aspect to the Marvel Universe that ‘Dark Reign’ represents affect you in doing your job?
MF: It’s great – you never get to write like this, so it’s a lot of fun. And what comes out of the X-Men/Dark Avengers story is big - it’s another game changer on top of the earlier game changers. It’s virgin territory for these kinds of stories. The bad guys have never won this big before – this…perpetually before, so it’s a blast because we’ve never gotten to put the heroes through wringers like this before. It’s a lot of fun.
NRAMA: Speaking of the Dark Avengers, this is your first time with most of them, correct?
MF: I haven’t written any of them before – it’s a treasure trove of bad guys. I’ve wanted to write Bullseye for years. I wanted to do Bullseye stuff in Punisher, but we couldn’t because of where the character was, so I’ve had a mad-on for Bullseye for a long time. As for Norman – well, I’ve written Norman before, and love writing him. I love the stuff that’s happened with Moonstone that Warren did in Thunderbolts; and Marvel Boy is really fun – he’s a terrific and underrated Grant Morrison character that’s just a wellspring of great stuff. And Venom for god’s sake – it’s the Avengers of evil. Who doesn’t want to write them?
NRAMA: Big event run-ins like this always draw slight amounts of skepticism—especially when they tout the idea that everyone involved will have their lives altered forever. Forever is a long time and pretty big talk; here's your chance to back it up.
MF: Nothing gold can stay, Pony Boy. Nothing lasts forever. Everybody dies. Everything ends. Maybe that all starts here.