Uncanny X-Men #517Marvel Comics made a host of new announcements during the 2009 summer convention scene but none of them have surprised fans of Marvel’s X-books like the announcement of a re-powered Magneto in the pages of Uncanny X-Men after the conclusion of the current "Utopia" storyline featuring The Dark Avengers. Not only does the threat of the mutant master of magnetism appear to be lurking on the horizon but so do the winds of change; the next arc in is entitled "Nation X" and will significantly tie-in to the return of the X-Men’s greatest villain.
Newsarama contacted Uncanny X-writer Matt Fraction to discuss his “all new, all different” plans for the Children of the Atom in the fall.
Newsarama: Matt, the events of "Utopia" are in full swing and it seems that factions are forming. How does the return of Magneto figure into all the instability growing around the mutants of the Marvel Universe?
Matt Fraction: Oh my, yes! Magneto has this unique sense of timing, and at the end of X-Men/ Dark Avengers — specifically at the end of Exodus — is the trigger that precludes his return. He’s back for a reason…but you’ll have to read X-Men/Dark Avengers: Exodus to find out.
Nrama: What does the High Evolutionary have at stake in all this? I'm sure he and Magneto aren't just old buddies...
Fraction: True. We explain that a little bit, but we’re playing this a little closer to our chests right now in case we want to go back later and talk to him.
How can I explain this…okay, here we go: my mother is brilliant with jigsaw puzzles. It’s like her superpower, you know what I mean? She’s good at putting them together; I’ve even seen her put them together upside down, you know, just the brown cardboard backs of the pieces laying face up. She’s absolutely unstoppable when it comes to solving puzzles. We bought my son a little puzzle the other d and she couldn’t not put it together. People have those kinds of gifts; Neil deGrasse Tyson went on the Colbert Report and they have Rubic’s Cubes laying around the green room and he started to play with — went out and did his segment and went back to the dressing room for like two and half hours until he solved it.
Certain people are just gifted with certain kinds of puzzles and they have this unquenchable compulsion to solve them. That’s how I see The High Evolutionary, ultimately. Magneto offered him a provocative enough reason to solve the mystery of M-Day than the Beast did. If nothing else, on the surface the Evolutionary couldn’t not solve the problem.
Nrama: What can you tell readers about the "Nation X"? Is this a name for an upcoming story arc or is it more?
Fraction: It is and more. It’s a credo, it’s a way of life, it’s a family crest. It’s a dream, a sign, it’s the way the wind is blowing right now. We’re going to be putting Scott and the X-Men into a very new setting; meaning, the X-Men have never been in this sort of place before and "Nation X" is what comes of it.
Nrama: Initially, when the word went out about "Nation X" , it felt a little bit like the old “Factor Three” type of thing where mutants were going to rise up and be the third world power like back in the sixties…
Nrama: But how is that possible? There are only a handful of them left.
Fraction: That’s what everyone said about the Israelis too.
Nrama: You've mentioned before that a philosophical split is on the horizon as more and more of the X-Men learn of Cyclops' less-than-ethical practices with X-Force and his proactive stance against threats to mutantkind; will the developments of this next arc clearly define this split?
Fraction: Well that is water that is coming to a boil and it is very much an X-Force story. I can say explicitly that more people are going to know about X-Force by the end of X-Men/ Dark Avengers than do currently. More people know about X-Force now than we don’t know — does that make sense? Who all knows? Well, let’s just say more than you think, we just haven’t revealed who knows about them yet. By the end of X-Men/ Dark Avengers, it’s an even larger secret still. So, as far as a split goes like down the middle, I’ll just say that it’s more like a gentle sloughing away. We’re going to see things start to fragment and chip a little bit. People are definitely going to begin to object to the moral and ethical choices Scott has made.
Nrama: A lot of readers are probably still mulling over the scene you wrote with Beast going into Scott’s bedroom in the middle of the night to confront him…
Fraction: Yeah, that’s a critical scene and we will be revisiting that night again very soon. I like to think that Beast is the real moral core of the book.
Nrama: Over the past year, you — along with other X-book writers — have brought back a slew of classic villains and/or threats; will readers continue to see how these negative factors, villains and collateral damage will fuel anti-mutant hysteria?
Fraction: We’re actually going to see some new threats, some new faces we’ve never seen before and we’re going to mix it up quite a bit. The events that are going on currently are going to end up bringing all sorts of people out of the woodwork. We’re going to be looking for new places to go beyond “Some comes to kill the X-Men”; which, on some sort of macro-level, you can kind of reduce all the X-Men stories to some degree. It’s the same infinite variation on a theme. We’re looking at ways to make things a little more interesting and we’re trying to find a new take on a lot of old stuff.
Nrama: Will the mystery of the Celestial be explored further?
Fraction: A little bit? You know, I think the Celestials are the Celestials and their motivations are their own and there just happens to be blood samples of two proto-mutants buried in Golden Gate Park underneath the feet of a Celestial who chose to stand there. How weird is that?
Now, in terms of the mystery with the Celestials and how that crosses into what Magneto and the High Evolutionary have been up to — I say ‘yes’. Everything in regards to these developments will be explained. But for now, the reason for the Celestial’s presence would be like a flea trying to comprehend what a dog does.
Nrama: Are there more X-Club stories on the horizon? Will Beast and his scientists pick a side when all the cards are on the table? Will Beast be in any shape to pick a side--things aren't looking so good for him currently...
Fraction: Yeah, those characters are a lot of fun and it’s one of those weird things where our publication got ahead of the story going on in Astonishing, so the whole reason the X-Club were assembled was because of Forge sort of freaking out. We needed a replacement for Forge but we couldn’t explain that they were the replacement for Forge without spoiling the climax of the story in Astonishing.
There is a real need for these characters being together in this group; we’ll be seeing just how important they are in the months to come. They’re also a lot of fun because I don’t think there has ever been a group of people like this in the X-books and they’re really cool which makes them even more fun to write.
Are there anymore plans for one-offs with the Club planned? Not right now, but the characters remain important and I hope to do a bunch of stuff with them as we move forward.
Nrama: Are the X-Men at their best when their backs are against a wall?
Fraction: I don’t know if that is for me to say. I think that what really sums up the core of the book sounds more like this: The X-Men are at their best when they’re saving a world that hates and despises them, whether it’s an extreme moment of crisis or if it’s something on a smaller scale.
Nrama: Several of the other titles are building to culminating points. Are all of the X-titles set to converge again in the near future? The X-Summit just ended after Comic-Con, didn’t it?
Fraction: Yes, it did, and we have a road map in place. We sort of opened things up with "Messiah Complex" and then you had the Cable/ X-Force crossover with "Messiah War" and we’ve already said that that is the second part of a trilogy. I can say that we’ve got that third part figured out and it’s the resolution that story…all points will be converging to this point! [laughs]
In the future there will be another "Messiah Complex"-level event that will complete the trilogy that this crew of X-creators has started. It may not involve every single title but it will have giant ramifications for everybody.
Nrama: To close, how will the return of Magneto effect Norman Osborn's pursuit of the X-Men? Could we see a Trask/ Osborn collaboration in the near future?
Fraction: I can’t really get into that without talking about the end of X-Men/ Dark Avengers; I’ll just say that by the end of this storyline, both Magneto and Norman Osborn will have bigger fish to fry than each other.