As announced at Chicago Comic-Con this weekend, the Dark X-Men receive a five-issue mini-series to follow on the heels of the “Utopia” storyline. Questions linger about which characters will appear on the team. However, the creative team IS known, and that’s Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk, late of a run Captain Britain and MI-13. We caught up with the creators to ask about seeing mutants darkly.
Newsarama: At this writing, the Utopia event is still ongoing. What can you tell us about how the event impacts your mini without giving too much away?
Paul Cornell: This is all about what Osborn hopes is the status quo after Utopia,
his ability to show that his mutant team can take care of mutant problems.
Leonard Kirk: Well, as I have not read any of Utopia, I can honestly say that I have no freakin’ clue how this will affect Dark X-Men.
NRAMA: Nate Grey is a somewhat controversial character that's seen a couple of
very different incarnations. Why is this the right time to bring that character in, and how do you make that character appealing to an audience that may be, for lack of a better word, suspicious?
Kirk: I think Paul is a better one to answer the first part of your question. As for making him more appealing...? From an artistic standpoint...? I suppose I could just add a thousand rhinestones to his costume. People like rhinestones, right? Oh and clogs! He has got to be wearing clogs! I’m kidding, of course. Actually, I see Nate more as a purple sandal kind of guy with little bells strapped on at the ankles.
Cornell: Well, the audience has written to me, saying 'hmm, I don't know, could
you perhaps just have X-Man in one panel, and we'll see how we like it, dash off with it to our nest (they have a nest, go with it) and then perhaps come back for more, more and more often, until you've won our trust.' Nate is a mutant shaman, an obviously charismatic leader and a Summers. He's exactly not who Osborn wants showing up right now, so that's why it's a good time.
NRAMA: Clearly, Dark Avengers has been doing well with readers. Does that put
any particular pressure on you in terms of delivering with Dark X-Men, or does the approach there actually open up certain paths for creative liberties to be taken?
Kirk: Nope. No pressure at all. Next question.
Cornell: I always feel a huge pressure to perform every time I write for comics, because there's no distance at all between me and the audience. So extra pressure hadn't occured to me. Until now. Thanks for that. I try to be my best, as Echo from Dollhouse would put it. Bendis is, obviously, a serious act to follow. But you can't let that stop you from making the title your own way, and we'll be doing our own thing, a very wry and dryly funny thing, my hope is, about four
characters living in the ruins Osborn's made.
NRAMA: If one character sums up Dark X-Men for you, who would it be and why?
Cornell: I believe we're teasing who the members of the team are, so let me just say that it's indicative that this is a book where a serial killer, who kills our of a sick interest, or when he's bored, is the beloved and jocular centre of our title.
Kirk: Dark Beast would be at the top of my list. He’s the perfect combination of adorable fuzziness and sociopathic terror.... sort of like a cross between a Care Bear and Hannibal Lecter. And the scariest part is that he’s actually the most sane member of the group. BUWHAAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!!
NRAMA: Obviously, Paul and Leonard, you had the chance to work on a book
(Captain Britain) that ostensibly spun out of a big Marvel event. As a reader, it seemed like a very successful take on some underseen characters. In what ways will your approach to Dark X-Men be similar, and in what ways does the material demand a different approach?
Cornell: There's no ostensibly about it, it really did. It happened! It's actually about taking every title on its own merits. I do try and use a different voice every time, and this time it's rather more world-weary, a bit more like my first book, Wisdom. These are four very damaged people: someone very committed to their cause, the serial killer, etc., and there's is a team that's limping along, just about doing the job, with huge damage along the way.
Kirk: From my end, I don’t see that it requires a different approach at all. My goal is always to illustrate a story the best I can. I suppose that I will not need to look up quite as much reference for this series, seeing as it takes place in the USA instead of the UK. However, I consider my work a success if the reader is able to get the gist of the story from my pictures alone. Storytelling is what is most important to me and that has never really changed from project to project.
NRAMA: Leonard, certainly, the word "dark" is in the title. Does that whole notion of dark/villainous, etc. affect your design sense right away, and how do you realize that if it does?
That’s a tough one. I have a very difficult time consciously trying to make a story read as “dark”. The most obvious tool would be using lots of black. But I already do that anyway. I don’t really try to design the look of the story as “dark”. Instead, I focus on making as much of the emotion in the script come through the settings and the characters as possible. Other than that, I might toss in some of my favourite parlour tricks from various horror comics and films that I’ve seen over the years.... having stuff happen off-panel to allow the readers’ imaginations to fill in the blanks... then hit people with the occasional shocker... adding panels to stretch out a scene and add suspense.... stuff like that. The odd dismembered body part flying through a panel wouldn’t hurt. (That one I’ll have to discuss with Paul.)
NRAMA: If you haven't been following X-Men or Dark Reign, will this be an easy
series to pick up? If you need something in particular ahead of time by way of introduction, what should it be?
Kirk: I’m sure that it will be an incredibly easy series to pick up as each issue will only weigh a few ounces.... or grams for those of you accustomed to the metric system. Even so, if the comic happens to be located on the bottom shelf of the display, I still suggest that readers bend at their knees, just to be safe. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not what you meant. I imagine that checking out a few of the other Dark Reign comics, particularly the prequel mini Dark X-Men: The Beginning, wouldn’t hurt. However, The story, at least what I’ve seen, is pretty self contained. Most readers shouldn’t have a tough time jumping on board, even if they haven’t been keeping up with the other books.
Cornell: I think you can dive right in. If you get the idea that there's a villain with his own X-Men now, that's all you need.
NRAMA: The mini is set for five issues. Is that definite in your minds, or do
you envision elements of this concept as threads that can move forward into more stories?
Cornell: What?! I thought it was four! Nick?! Are you okay with having a fifth issue? I'm up for it. And personally I'd love to continue, because I think this team, as they start to find themselves enjoying each other's company, and wondering if they can get out from under
Osborn (and if all of them want to) has legs. I'm enjoying their company.
Kirk: I haven’t seen any scripts, aside from the first issue, so I really can’t give much of an answer. However, as I mentioned before, I am definitely digging Dark Beast. I have no idea what the heck will be happening to him within this series or afterwards but I could see myself drawing something else with this character.