Leinil Yu is no stranger to X-Men - he got his big Marvel Comics break two decades ago by drawing Wolverine for a Wizard Magazine contest. Since then, he's drawn Marvel's merry mutants many times, including in a run with Chris Claremont that was to be a start of a brand new era for mutantkind.
And now, in "Dawn of X", Yu will reunite with his former Avengers partner Jonathan Hickman for a brand new X-Men #1 - and a whole new era for the team following House of X and Powers of X.
Newsarama spoke with Yu ahead of X-Men #1's October 16 release to unpack what's in store in this new status quo - including new villains, a return to the Savage Land, a cast of dozens of mutants, and more.
Newsarama: Leinil, you’ve got a long history with the X-Men, including a run alongside Chris Claremont. What sets this “Dawn of X” relaunch apart?
Leinil Frances Yu: I think I've vastly improved as an artist since 20 years ago when I had the privilege of working with Chris Claremont. I had a lot of shortcomings as an artist and it was a struggle.
Right now, I feel I'm more artistically equipped for Jonatha Hickman's amazing vision.
Nrama: Without being too spoilery, what’s on your drawing board right now?
Yu: I am working on X-Men #3 and a few covers! We are introducing new villains and I can't wait for fans to see the pages.
Nrama: How’d you wind up taking the reins on this X-Men relaunch? Did Jonathan Hickman come to you?
Yu: Jonathan and my editors reached out months ago when I was wrapping up Captain America. I had no Idea how big this project was. I'm elated that Jonathan had me in mind for it. I always said that one of my favorite projects ever was our Avengers run. I just love his Sci-Fi infusion into the Superhero genre.
Nrama: We’ve seen a lot of characters in covers and solicitations for this X-Men series. What can you tell us about the book’s core cast?
Yu: Everyone is here, even their cousins [laughs].
Nrama: You’ve drawn pretty much every mutant there is. Which cast members are surprising you this time?
Yu: I'm still surprised that decades-long enemies hanging out in one room having casual conversations. I love it. I'm drawing more mutants than ever.
Nrama: You’re taking the team to the Savage Land in upcoming issues. What else can you tell us about what you’re drawing there?
Yu: This is where we meet those new villains that may surprise a lot of people. I'd rather not say more to avoid spoilers. I'm just having a lot of fun and I feel like the young punk artist I was 20 years ago. I'm stoked.
Nrama: You mentioned those new villains. What threats can we expect to see as X-Men moves forward?
Yu: I can't say more without spoiling!
Nrama: Had to ask. What’s it like working with Jonathan Hickman? How much detail goes into his scripts?
Yu: One of my favorites for sure. Most scripts are similar in density but what sets writers apart are their pacing and story ideas. I really get excited reading Jonathan's scripts even without the visuals. I just hope I give the story justice and convey to the readers the energy of the plots.
Nrama: Bottom line, what’s in store for readers as this new era of X-Men gets going?
Yu: It's a massive story that will be remembered for years to come. Jonathan Hickman is on fire.