Marvel 1st Look: UNC X-MEN 522 Variant

The mutants of the Marvel Universe can’t seem to catch a break, can they? March 2010 marks the beginning of the third and final chapter of the X-line’s largest crossover ever - Second Coming! Cable has returned with the mutant savior and the game is about to completely change; but, that doesn’t mean the X-Men’s world hasn’t been turning since they left. Recent events in the Uncanny X-Men have started to already change the constant evolution of the title: Henry McCoy has decided to leave and the shock ending of Uncanny #521 has had fans of the popular Marvel series talking since last Wednesday with the return of Kitty Pryde.

Newsarama contacted Uncanny scribe Matt Fraction to talk about the return of Kitty; the departure of Hank; the Second Coming event and more.

Newsarama: First things first Matt, Magneto is pulling a pretty impressive stunt to get in the good graces of the X-Men; is he really going to pull this off? Or are you tugging at the heartstrings of Kitty Pryde fans across the world?

Matt Fraction: Oh no, she’s coming back; this is the real deal. It’s not a dream, it’s not a hoax. We’re bringing her home. That said, nothing ever happens neatly; her return isn’t going to be simple and clean. Just know that this isn’t some sort of fake-out; Kitty’s return to Earth starts here and carries through Second Coming and the storyline that follows it.

Nrama: What does this mean in terms of the dynamic between Cyclops and Magneto? Is Scott going to become a believer?

Fraction: I don’t want to say that Cyclops is going to become a “believer” per se; he’s definitely going to stop second-guessing everything that Magneto does now. He’s going to start valuing his advice, his presence and his perspective in a way that he couldn’t bring himself to in the past. That was why Magneto chose to put himself through the ordeal.

Nrama: Magneto’s decisions, over the course of the X-Men’s run, seem to directly affect Colossus a lot of times. Will Kitty’s imminent return bring a little more warmth back to everyone’s favorite metal mutant?

Fraction: [laughs] It’s going to bring his girlfriend back— so yeah, his life’s going to improve, absolutely!

Nrama: Well, you did that arc last year, where Colossus kind of kicked his woes to the curb and he started kicking a lot more butt…

Fraction: It’s like I said earlier—nothing can be so simple. Peter gets Kitty back…but it’s definitely going to be complicated.

Nrama: Now, let’s take a step back; Hank McCoy has left the building; is he going to return or was this a necessary split? With the winds of change in the air, will other X-Men start to have a difference of opinion with the powers that be on the island?

Fraction: Absolutely, Second Coming is going to be one helluva crucible for the X-Men. The tension in this story, and the tension within Henry McCoy, has been building for quite some time. We’ve talked in the past about the rift forming between Scott and Hank—and how one of these men seems to have a better ethical leg or moral center to carry Xavier’s dream forward. I think the recent scene between Beast and Iceman really kind of brought this idea home; because of who Hank is to the team. I think now that he’s gone—his absence is going to put the team in a very precarious place.

Nrama: Will the X-Club carry on without McCoy’s guidance? Is Dr. Nemesis the natural leader of the X-Men’s think-tank?

Fraction: I think so, yeah. I think Nemesis is the crabbiest—and an aggressive-aggressive type in a room full of passive-aggressive types usually tends to take charge.

Uncanny X-Men #522, pg. 1

Nrama: Continuing on that train of thought, the “Second Coming” is upon us; what sort of bedlam is about to befall the Children of the Atom?

Fraction: Bedlam? I’m not sure if that’s quite the term I’d use right away—Hope is back and she’s what everyone has been hoping and waiting for…and everything suddenly happens. Just be careful what you wish for. Let me put it this way: Scott isn’t the only one who has been praying for Hope’s return.

Nrama: It seems as though Bastion seems to be pulling all the strings during Second Coming; will any of his group of mutant-hating baddies have the spotlight in your portion of the event? Do you have any personal favorites in this group of villains?

Fraction: I think Bastion is because he’s such a badass. He’s been a lot of fun to write because he’s this ultra uber-organized, calculating villain—and his plans are kind of multi-tendrilled. He’s all over the place and he’s a lot of fun.

Uncanny X-Men #522, pg. 2

Nrama: It’s been noted in Marvel’s solicit material that an X-Man is about to be pushing up daisies; did you have a hand in that decision? What kinds of factors do you weigh when you’re preparing to pull the trigger on a character?

Fraction: Yeah, we discussed who to kill at the last X-editorial summit, the Second Coming editorial retreat, last summer—and it was hard…really hard. This is a real character, a big character; there are several casualties over the course of Second Coming but this one is one of the biggest casualties to come along in a long time.

It was hard! It’s a fan-favorite character. It’s one of my favorite characters. It’s somebody I enjoy writing—it’s somebody I’d like to stick around so I can write them again; but I guess it’s time, you know? I saw how this character’s death could be such a big story; there’s a lot of weight and gravity to the loss—it’s going to make this book kind of enormous and very real. It wasn’t an easy task. I saw what was coming and it’s really become one of those “kill your darlings” kinds of moments.

Uncanny X-Men #522, pg. 3

I wrote the funeral scene a couple of weeks back and it was just really depressing and difficult; the feelings I was having while writing the scene let me know that this was the right direction to take these characters and books. I can’t say this enough, it feels enormous. One of my favorite heroes gets a heroes’ death and we’re going to be dealing with the aftermath of that for a very long time to come.

Nrama: John Sublime’s presence has been felt in the book recently; how vital are characters like Sublime in their role as 21st century villains for the X-Men?

Fraction: I think you have to grow them out old ideas and when you can bring something forward—say from the legendary Claremont run, for instance—then it’s a really good thing. Sublime is a great character and an amazing idea. I wanted to explore it more.

Uncanny X-Men #522, pg. 8

Nrama: One word: Fantomex.

Fraction: Awesome!

Nrama: [laughs] Wow, that was fast! He seemed like much more of a team player recently…

Fraction: [laughs] Yeah, he’s around—he’s here. Yeah, he’s now one of the pieces on the table.

Nrama: Do the X-Men need a new “big bad”? There are the haters, the genetic supremacists, so on and so forth? What’s lurks beyond the periphery?

Fraction: Yeah, I think they do. There always needs to be fresh blood in this book, you know? This is a book about evolution and the constant state of flux it’s in. It’s really easy to get trapped into the repetitive nature of some of these stories so there’s always a need for more villains. You can always recalibrate, reintroduce, and revamp too, you know? I think that guys like Sublime and Bastion are kind of a part of that developing process; the mythology of these characters tends to consistently change the dynamic—whether it’s a new “big bad” or the return or redevelopment of an older character.

Uncanny X-Men #522, pg. 9

Nrama: How long do you see yourself writing Uncanny? Is it a dream job? Or is it harder than it seems?

Fraction: Well, dream jobs can be hard sometimes-- for me, a dream job isn’t a dream job if it’s not challenging. So yes, it’s a dream job, but a lot of that is because it’s a challenge. Looking at what I’ve done so far, I’m at about the halfway point for the plans I had for this book and these characters; so, hopefully, I’ll be writing it for a while. That’s the plan as of today, right now.

You never know though, someone else might have other plans and things might change tomorrow. For now, however, I like where I’m at and I’d like to continue to write this book; I have a lot of stories I’d still like to tell—but I felt that way about The Order too! I’m not planning on going anywhere. [laughs]

Nrama: To close up, a couple of years ago, the creators of the X-books were saying that Messiah CompleX was the start of even darker times for the mutants on the Marvel Universe. Second Coming is the final act in the trilogy; are all gloves off this time? When the ashes settle, what will be left of mutantkind?

Fraction: Well, I can’t say that because it would ruin the end of the story; the current direction for the book is coming to an end—and it’s a big #$%ing deal. This is the biggest story I’ve ever been a part of and it offers more than just a superficial change. It’s bigger than, “Oh Cyclops is in charge now,” or some sort of superficial shift—this is a core change, it’s going to be a dramatic evolution for a book about evolution. Second Coming is the X-Men’s Book of Revelation.

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