The Changing 'Legacy': Mike Carey on His X-Men

Mike Carey on His X-Men

X-Men: Legacy #225, due in June

Mike Carey’s journey into Charles Xavier’s mindscape has been quite the tumultuous journey—but of course, exploring the mind of one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe is never easy. But as the solicitation for X-Men Legacy #225 reveals, Xavier parts ways with the book and a transition starts which will lead to a cast-change for the book. Fans don’t have to worry—Carey will still be helming the title. The cover to July’s issue features Gambit, Rogue, and Danger, with #226 and #227 acting as a bridge for the upcoming status quo change for the title.

Charles Xavier’s past isn’t all that Carey is exploring either. In June, Marvel releases a new one-shot, X-Men Origins: Gambit, which teams Carey with artist David Yardin. The story covers an expanse of time in the Ragin’ Cajun’s life from his marriage to Bella Donna Boudreaux to his time spent with the Marauders up until the moment he initially met Storm in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #266.

Newsarama sat down with Mike Carey to discuss the future of the X-Men Legacy and his absolute take on the life and times of the founder of Marvel’s X-Men.

Newsarama: Things are coming to a close for Xavier’s run on X-Men Legacy in #225; do you think that Charles’ journey, this stage of growth for the character, is complete?

Mike Carey: Complete in the sense—in two senses really—in one sense he is now able to build up a picture of his past; all the holes in his memories, resulting from Bishop’s bullet to his head and Exodus’ rather drastic cure, have been filled. He knows he was and he knows who he is. Also, in the other sense, I think he’s come to a decision now regarding where is he going and what is he going to do next—which is not simply to repeat the mistakes of the past—to go back to the start—so his redemptive journey reaches a conclusion in #225.

NRAMA: So, how has Xavier changed? He’s grown—he’s looked back at the breadth of his life and experiences with the X-Men; how is this insight going to affect ‘the dream’ he started out with versus the ‘the dream’ he has today?

MC: I think one of the things we’ve seen happening is that he, quite simply, went out to make amends, to pay his debts, and put right the things he had done wrong over the years. He’s had to accept that some things just cannot be amended—that some actions remain too complicated and/ or ambiguous to be conveniently labeled sins or virtues; some bad things have good outcomes and vice versa. He feels like he’s paid some of his debts from his past—but he’s also reclaimed his past. He is in a position now where he can look at the totality of what he has done and who he has been and now he can say, “Okay, that’s me.”

He gives a speech in #225 where he basically says, “It’s time to stop living in the past,” and that he indicates that it is time to move forward; and, at the same time, that’s not a flipped comment—he’s not saying, “I’m off the hook now.” He’s just reached a point now—where you can’t tinker with your own past actions, you can’t spend the whole of your life endlessly finessing your past decisions. You have to make an impact on the present.

NRAMA: That’s an interesting character to have coming to that revelation—considering that Exodus is several hundred years old…

MC: (laughs) Yes, indeed. And therefore, you’d think he would be the one doling out the sermons. There are things that happen in #225 which sort of push Exodus in a new direction as well.

NRAMA: In the past, the character’s debut was very villainous—he was a very ominous villain; but, via the Age of Apocalypse, readers were given a different way to look at his character—someone was able to reach out to him, show him the error of his ways, and put him on the right path…is Charles going to be the one to break-through to Exodus?

MC: Charles will certainly be giving him things to think about—important things to think about. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Charles goes back and seeks out the Acolytes—and, because in the overall structure of the story, it’s very satisfying to have Charles return to the point where his odyssey began. There are a number of very important character beats, relationship beats, in this issue—Professor X and Exodus; Professor X and Amelia Voght—there are some pay-offs here to a number of things we’ve set up when “adjective-less” became Legacy.

NRAMA: The teaser image has been out for several weeks now—and there seems to be a bald guy allying himself with a new group, including Namor, Cloak and Dagger…

MC: Are you talking about the Dark X-Men?

NRAMA: (laughs) Yes, are you working on the title?

X-Men: Legacy #226, due in July

MC: Tangentially—because you can see from the cover of #226—I have some of my core characters turning up in the middle of those events; so this is the place where Legacy becomes a continuity book again. Inevitably, yes, there are things going on in Dark Reign and Dark X-Men is going to be referenced here.

NRAMA: Who is writing Dark X-Men?

MC: I don’t think it’s been announced yet—so I can’t say—but it’s somebody very exciting actually; and I was talking to him last week about what his plans are. They’re very cool.

NRAMA: Okay, let’s talk about post-Xavier Legacy; with the cover of #226 sporting Gambit, Rogue, and Danger—are readers getting a first look at the new cast of the series? Are there going to be other characters in focus?

MC: They’re certainly the core characters for #226 and #227; which is a 2-part story currently called, “Suppressing Fire”. This is the transition period between Professor X-centered legacy and the new legacy—so this introduces the new concept. It’s not going to be a team book. The rationale for the new version of Legacy will continue to be centered on a single character—but they will be centered around a very interesting, very satisfying supporting cast of characters who will come in on a regular basis.

NRAMA: A singular character? Or an interchanging solo focus?

MC: No—a steady solo focus. And the logic of the next focus will be played out during #226 and #227—at the end of the story, you’ll finally see where we’re going and why.

NRAMA: Will there be thematic changes or will Legacy still be a book looks at various times and aspects of X-related past continuity?

MC: No, it’s also a change in thematic focus as well—we’re not going to be exploring the X-Men’s past in the same way; in fact, if anything, we’re sort of aggressively focusing on the present and the near-er future without any kind of time travel. (laughs)

NRAMA: Does this “aggressive focus on the present” begin any sort of build-up toward an X-Office event this summer or later this year?

MC: You mean something that will feed across all the other titles?

NRAMA: Right. Are the X-books building towards a significant event this year? Or is this year going to be an individually focused, event-less year?

MC: There is going to be a gathering of momentum towards another event; yes. If you think Messiah Complex as being the first act of a three-act drama and Messiah War as being the second act—the climax, the culmination of that is coming and the stories that we’re telling are going to come to a head and it’s going to tie into all the major books—the ramifications of this event are huge and are going to be felt across the entire X-verse, so to speak.

NRAMA: How dire are things going to be getting for Children of the Atom?

MC: It will be pretty bad—in some ways, this event will recall a previous crisis very closely but with a devastating new twist.

X-Men Origins: Gambit

NRAMA: Changing gears, let’s discuss X-Men Origins: Gambit; you’re working with David Yardin on the book—how excited were you to be offered this opportunity to explore Gambit’s past?

MC: It was very, very cool to be offered it because—obviously— of using Gambit in Legacy as I have been; I’ve been looking at lot at his past, I’ve been examining a lot of my favorite moments in his story and, because of the way Gambit was introduced, his story was fed to the audience in bite-sized pieces. At first, there was the big mystery of who the character was and where he was from…

NRAMA: There’s still a lot of that.

MC: Oh yes! There are still a number of unanswered questions; the biggest unanswered questions are not going to be answered in our origin story because they are things that would have a bearing on the future or the past. There are some things that Sinister has said to him that are not going to be explained here.

So what I’ve done here is I’ve pieced together several beats—from Gambit being a thief in New Orleans to being an X-Man—so we start on the day of his marriage to Bella Donna Boudreaux and we finish with his meeting with Storm…

NRAMA: In Uncanny X-Men #266

MC: Correct and we draw a through-line through these events and connect them together.

NRAMA: What is it about Remy LeBeau, as a character, that makes him so prolific?

MC: Well, I think that “thieves with honor” or “rogues with honor” are fascinating characters—they’re easy to love. There’s a long tradition of villain-heroes in that sense—of thief heroes—or even assassin heroes.

I love his background; I love all the business between the guilds in New Orleans and the internal politicking between the rivaling families. I really enjoyed reading Gambit’s story the first time around; the incredible revelation that he had been involved with the Marauders during the Mutant Massacre which rocked my world at the time when I was a reader—so there is this fascination, again, because he’s someone who has done this terrible, terrible sin in his past that has stayed on his conscience that still feels the need to atone for. I think his relationship with Rogue over the years has been very cool—and having said that, there have been times where their relationship has settled into too firm and fixed a mold, and it’s always been a strong aspect of their pairing that writers have changed things around and explored their relationship from a number of angles to keep things fresh. There’s an awful lot to like about this character really.

I like that he’s very different from the rest of the X-Men. Having said that, a lot of the characters in the X-Men books have become darker in the last 15-20 years and the status quo has changed quite a bit—but he’s a character that has stood out in the X-line up as having a different mindset and a different modus operandi even.

NRAMA: Do you think there is a tragic underpinning to the charming, energetic nature of this figure?

MC: Yeah, I think there is; I think he’s haunted. By his past, certainly; there is all sorts of emotional baggage that he’s lugging around with him relating to—most obviously—the mutant massacre, his failed marriage, and some of the events in his solo series. Tragic is a good term—it’s not overstated here like it is with other characters.

NRAMA: Would you want to explore his past further on down the road?

MC: I feel that this origin story is doing what I wanted to do. What I would like to do, I think, in the future, would be to flesh out some of the suggestions—some of things that have been hinted at in the past—but have never been fully revealed. We obviously don’t know who Gambit’s parents were and where he originally came from in terms of his literal origin. And then there are those things that Sinister knows about him which Miss Sinister may also know…possibly.

NRAMA: Is she going to be turning up in X-Men Origins: Gambit or in upcoming issues of Legacy?

MC: Not in the near future—but somewhere down the line she will be, yes.

NRAMA: Would you like to continue doing X-Men Origins projects?

MC: The Origins books are a blast to do—I had a really fun time do Beast’s book as well. There are still a number of mysteries to be expounded upon.

NRAMA: Does X-Men Origins: Gambit aid in segueing the transition going on in X-Men Legacy?

X-Men: Legacy #224

MC: No, not really. It’s just the beats in the story of how Gambit became the guy we know now.

NRAMA: Are there any plans for more X-Men Origins stories written by Mike Carey?

MC: At the moment, there’s nothing else on my card—but if I was offered the opportunity, I would definitely say ‘yes’. It’s a great opportunity to remind readers of some of the cooler aspects of the characters’ pasts and to have fun revisiting those past stories yourself—it’s very similar to Legacy but on a much larger scale.

NRAMA: Out of all the other guys handling X-books at the moment, if you could force someone to trade projects with you—who would it be? Why?

MC: Who would I steal from? Hmm, I’d have to say I’d steal Uncanny from Matt Fraction. (laughs) I’ve had a really good time on Legacy but there is a part of me that still misses doing an X-team book. Back when the book was “adjective-less”—that was sort of the best years of my life, I really enjoyed putting that team through their paces.

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