With the X-Men in the mainstream Marvel Universe falling on hard times, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are creating an alternate world for mutants – one that harkens back to the halcyon days of 1992, when the X-Men ruled the roost in comic books and cartoons. Following the tradition of books like Batman ‘66, Sims and Bowers’s X-Men ‘92 takes the continuity of the classic ‘90’s X-Men cartoon and expands it into a much larger world, bringing in characters and concepts the show never touched.
Seguing out of Secret Wars and into their own ongoing series this March, X-Men '92 recruits artist Alti Firmansiyah and opens the floodgates to more 1990s nostalgia like Generation X and the X-Statix while also creating new characters such as the villainous Alpha Red.
Newsarama spoke with Sims and Bowers about their plans to fully realize the world of X-Men ‘92, and even delved into which classic X-creators they’d like to get on board for future issues.
Newsarama: Chris, Chad – you’ve gone from mini to full-on series, so what do you want X-Men ’92 to be?
Chris Sims: In a word? Big! Since we’re not part of Secret Wars this time around, we can do all the wild stuff that we could never do on Battleworld, taking the story to different locations and bringing in a cast that’s about three times larger than what you saw in the mini.
Chad Bowers: On top of that, it’s important to us that X-Men ’92 look, and feel like a real X-book, if that makes any sense. I think it’s easy to see us as sort of the goofy, nostalgia kick, or the successor to the animated series, and we’re delighted to be all of those things and more, but it doesn’t change how we’re approaching the series. In our minds, X-Men ’92 is an epic 10,000 years in the making, and we’re not letting a little thing like taking place on an alternate Earth or whatever dissuade us from putting the entire Marvel Universe at risk!
Sims: Yeah, definitely. There’s obviously going to be an element of nostalgia to the book, when you’re working with something that’s deliberately trying to echo a very particular era, but for us, it’s less about taking things back to the ‘90s and covering the Greatest Hits than it is about trying to figure out what would happen if that team never stopped. Because of that, we’re bringing in a lot of the stuff that you’ve seen in the 21st century, characters like the X-Statix or hints at later storylines, and trying to figure out what they would’ve looked like if they’d been created with that ‘90s aesthetic instead. Also, one thing that Chad and I realized when we were working on it was that the ‘90s X-Men never really had the “school” aspect - there was Generation X, of course, but the core team were never teachers. So the first thing we do - before page one, even - is open up the Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters to bring in even more characters!
Nrama: What would you say the core team line-up of the series is, at least from the outset? Are there any Blue team, Gold team, or anything like that going on?
Bowers: Not much time has passed between the mini-series and the ongoing. So we pick-up almost exactly where we left off, with Cyclops and Jean on sabbatical, Storm settling in as the team leader, and Beast doing what he can in his new role of school headmaster. The field team is still Wolverine, Rogue, and Gambit, but we’ve added Psylocke and Bishop, who’re struggling with the transition from X-force to the X-Men. Now, they can’t just shoot and stab people, and blow things up all the time, and that learning curve is a big part of their story arc.
Sims: They’re still pretty violent, though, because what’s more ‘90s than a team where Wolverine is the reasonable one? But yeah, I think to us, it just doesn’t feel like an X-Men book if there isn’t a huge cast. We want big action, big threats, and a big enough roster that we can get to at least three different love triangles all happening at the same time.
Nrama: You’ve mentioned before Generation X will be involved. That’s a relatively deep cut, but how deep will you be going? Mondo deep?
Sims: Two words: Teen Doop.
Bowers: We used Chamber in the mini-series as the spokesman for the Nova’s RejeX, and we just loved writing him, and wanted to keep him around for the ongoing. From there, it’s only natural to bring in the rest of the Generation X kids, but even with all of them at the school, it was hardly the robust student body we were looking for. We thought about the New Mutants, but to me, they’re more ‘80s than ‘90s, so that didn’t feel quite right. We started thinking about who would’ve been about the same age as the Gen Xers, and then it hit us – the X-Statix crew!
Sims: Building the miniseries around Cassandra Nova made us want to see what would happen if we took a similar approach to other characters. So while she ended up being a clone of Professor X made by Apocalypse, we figured that characters like the X-Statix, who were in their mid-20s when that book was on the stands, would make a lot of sense to throw in as teenagers. With the school opening back up in our first issue, it just made sense to us to see if they worked - and I don’t want to spoil it, but at least two of them end up playing a big role in our first arc. Teen Doop aside, I mean.
Bowers: If the mini was a celebration of the earliest days of the ‘90s X-Men, look for the ongoing to really dive head first into everything else from that era. It’s funny, and maybe this is me showing my age, but I don’t think of Generation X as a deep cut. If you want to talk deep cuts, let’s talk about the Midnight Sons, 2099, and Marvel UK, and all those adjacently popular Marvel projects from the 90s. How cool would it be if some of those ideas spilled over into our book? Very cool, yes?
Nrama: In our interview back in September when this ongoing was announced, you said that this new series will allow to explore some iconic X-Men locations. What can people look forward to?
Sims: And that’s just for starters! I hope you’re ready for outer space, the far-off future, and even Mur-- wait, can I say that one? I think it’s a spoiler.
Nrama: And just who is that Oni-masked character on the cover to X-Men ’92 #2?
Sims: Oni? Nah, you’re thinking of our other book. But seriously, I think his name’s already out there in solicitations, so I can tell you that he’s Alpha Red, an all-new villain at the center of our first arc. And as his name implies, he has a connection to one long-time X-Foe that you probably expect… and one you might not.
Nrama: Also on this cover are the Strucker twins, Fenris. They were a big part of the initial X-Men story but didn’t really stick around to be long-term villains.
Bowers: Yeah, I remember they were all over the place there for a few years when I was a kid, but then kind of disappeared. Neither really caught on like the other 90s-era X-villains, and I can maybe see why, but I always thought they had a lot of potential and decided to just embrace that potential, and mold them into a major threat that might’ve been way back when.
Sims: We talked about how many heroes we’re putting in there, but don’t think we’re skimping on the villains, either. There’s a whole lot going on that the X-Men don’t even know about when they’re throwing down with Alpha Red.
Nrama: Any chance we could be seeing some of the bad seeds of 1990s X-Men lore – Maggot, Marrow, or perhaps Adam-X?
Sims: Adam X was originally going to be in the very first scene of the miniseries, but we ended up cutting him (with a razor-blade skateboard) to make more room. Now, it feels like we have to put him in there eventually. We just want to make sure that the time is right for him to show up and start electrifying your blood once again.
Bowers: Maggot’s in the mini as one of Nova’s RejeX, and we’ll probably pull him back in a little further down the road. Marrow too.
Nrama: Any chance for some baseball playing among X-Men in this series, or a trip to the mall?
Sims: I think the mall’s still recovering from the Sentinel attack back in the mini-series, but don’t worry - there’s a little recreation right up front in the first issue.
Nrama: Joining you on this book is Alti Firmansyah. She’s already shown her skills drawing Gambit in Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde, and he’s a big part of X-Men ’92. What will you be looking to take advantage of in her art style for this new ongoing?
Bowers: Alti’s maybe the most expressive artist we’ve worked with to date, and it wasn’t until we started getting pages that we realized just how much fun she’s going to make this book. There’s this amazing double page sequence in the first issue, where Professor X and Beast are walking through the school, and the body language of the students, and expressions on all of their faces is just stunning, and at times, utterly hilarious. Alti’s the real deal, she’s fantastic, and well on her way to being a superstar. We’re delighted to have her onboard.
Sims: We’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of artists who don’t even blink when we write stuff like “Page Seven: Three different teams of X-Men are fighting the bad guys when a dimensional rift opens up on the lawn,” and Alti’s knocking it out amazingly well. It’s gotten to the point where we actually write apologies into the scripts because we know it’s getting bigger, but she’s crushing it. That said, I think Chad’s right - her best stuff comes from how purely expressive she is. Her Jubilee is just great to look at every time she shows up!
Nrama: This is a homage to that 1990’s era of X-Men lore. You’re already working with Rob Liefeld on another project, but can Newsarama get you to go public with a dream list of artists you’d love to see come in and do a variant or some other work on this book in your run?
Sims: Oh jeez, there’s so many. We worked with Erica Henderson in the past, and I think we’d both love to see her take on our team. Something tells me she’s been a little busy lately, though.
Bowers: We’ve got a pretty incredible cover artist already in David Nakayama, but if we’re looking at a ‘90’s dream team, I’d love to see Chris Bachalo and Art Adams do a cover or two. Jae Lee would be pretty rad, too. Alan Davis. John Romita Jr. Can I say Jim Lee? I don’t think I can, can I?