Grant Morrison’s New X-Men revitalized the X-Men comics line in the early 2000’s, following the aesthetic of Fox’s blockbuster X-Men film franchise and pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a mutant.
Marvel is reviving that era, and adding to it, in a new Secret War series titled E is for Extinction. The series, by writers Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver, revisits the New X-Men era and doubles down on the idea that being a mutant could be fashionable rather than something to be hated and feared for.
Newsarama spoke with Burnham and Culver, along with series artist Ramon Villalobos, about the two warring teams of X-Men that populate E is for Extinction, and what it’s like to follow such a landmark run ahead of the book’s June 24 release.
Newsarama: Dennis and Chris, E Is For Extinction is based on one of the X-Men’s most distinct eras. How do you pay homage to that while still crafting an original story?
Chris Burnham: We take a drastic departure from Grant Morrison’s and Frank Quitely’s original arc of E is for Extinction and follow it logically from there.
Dennis Culver: As you’ll see it ends up in very unexpected yet familiar places.
Nrama: We know that Magneto is leading a team of “New X-Men.” Who are the mutants involved in that?
Culver: Magneto is leading the next generation of mutants that came up in the original New X-Men run.
Burnham: Beak, Angel, Glob Herman, etc. They’ve all blossomed into very capable X-Men under Magneto’s guidance.
Nrama: Solicits also mention the “classic X-Men.” Who does that team consist of?
Burnham: When our story starts only Scott Summers and Emma Frost are carrying the tattered flag for Xavier and his dream.
Culver: But something happens that causes Cyclops to get the old band back together, and some of the members will be a real surprise!
Nrama: What elements of Grant Morrison’s run inform E Is For Extinction? Chris, since you’ve actually worked with Grant before, did you have any conversations about this project with him?
Culver: The entirety of Grant’s run informs our book in ways you might not expect. Except for Fantomex. We just didn’t have any room for him.
Burnham: When I told Grant he got a real kick out of it and gave us his blessing.
Nrama: Chris, what’s it like foraying into writing? Do you have more writing projects planned?
Burnham: It’s an interesting challenge turning my brain upside down and attacking story problems from the opposite angle. I’ve got a few other projects I’m writing in the works but nothing I can talk about here.
Nrama: Dennis and Chris, what’s the working relationship like between the two of you?
Culver: Chris and I share studio space here in Los Angeles so working together consists of us shooting ideas back and forth all day while we draw.
Nrama: Ramon, what’s it like working in an X-Men era that has such iconic visuals? How does the art style of the New X-Men era influence your work on this project?
Ramon Villalobos: I love Frank Quitely. He’s probably my favorite artist, and I routinely get into arguments with people for saying that he's the best to ever do it. I've definitely done a lot of studying of those issues he did when working on this project.
In my opinion, though, nobody is as good as Quitely, so I'm definitely not trying to be and I'm honestly just drawing this as I would any other book--while also paying tribute the best I can to the work done with these characters by Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, Igor Kordey, Chris Bachalo, Phil Jiminez, and Marc Silvestri. That said, Ian Herring's colors are really intense and unlike most things you see in comics so it’s definitely forcing a more ostentatious approach out of me that deviates a lot from the original run.
Nrama: What’s the main threat we’ll see these teams of X-Men combating?
Burnham: Each other!
Culver: Magneto never handles power well.
Nrama: The solicits for E Is For Extinction mention a world where humans “want to be” mutants rather than “hate and fear” them. How does that change the dynamics of the X-Men?
Culver: This follows up on one of Grant’s main themes in New X-Men. So it’s familiar territory to longtime fans.
Burnham: The real question is how those ideas play out differently without Xavier’s guidance
Nrama: Ramon, which team of X-Men, Magneto’s or Cyclops’s, is your favorite to draw? Dennis and Chris, which is your favorite to write?
Villalobos: I love drawing Magneto’s team for the hot young people, and I love drawing Cyclops' for the emotional weight and nostalgia. If I had to choose one, though, probably the Magneto-led young X-Men. They just have more attitude and cool clothes.
Burnham: I like the newer generation because they’re much meaner.
Culver: I prefer writing the classic team and their reactions to a world that’s left them behind.
Nrama: Bottom line, why should fans pick up E Is For Extinction even if they aren’t reading the main Secret Wars title?
Culver: One of the big goals we’ve all had in crafting this book was making sure that it stood on its own as an interesting parallel to Grant and Vin’s run, while still having considerable stakes to the well-being of Battleworld.
Burnham: I think you should pick it up for Ramon’s art alone. He’s really leveled up with this one.
Villalobos: Word on the street is that I leveled up with this one, but I'd probably say get it because we're all working super hard on this and would be so appreciative if you picked it up.