SDCC 2010: GENERATION HOPE Gets An Ongoing in November

GENERATION HOPE Gets an Ongoing in Nov.

At the end of recently wrapped X-Men crossover “Second Coming,” mutant-detector Cerebra found five new mutants from across the globe, the first since Hope was born post-House of M. Called the “Five Lights,” it was another sign of, um, hope, that the mutant race might not be headed for extinction after all. After being introduced in this week’s Uncanny X-Men #526, written by Matt Fraction, the five new mutants take a starring role in Generation Hope, a new ongoing series from writer Kieron Gillen (recently of Thor), starting in November and announced during Marvel’s X-Men panel at last week’s Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Newsarama caught up with Gillen on the floor of Comic-Con this past Sunday afternoon to learn more about Generation Hope, what shape the book will take, and the challenge of writing characters from all over the world.

Newsarama: How would you characterize the actual comic? It’s about newly discovered mutants learning their powers, but what kind of conflicts drive the book?

Kieron Gillen: It’s tricky, because this is going to be a lot easier to do after [Uncanny X-Men #526] comes out. In the pitch, there were a couple of phrases I tended to use, like really early on. I used the phrase “imagine a hospital ward as a super-team,” the idea that there’s something wrong with all the heroes that bonds them together. That’s not how it is any more, but there’s bits of that you may notice which resemble it. An idea, which Matt described, was “imagine House as a super-team.” It’s an emergency — the idea that a mutant making an appearance is an urgent event and requires dealing with it. That’s a core part of the book. Between the two of them, that’s kind of where we are. The core cast is the Lights, basically. They’re all connected to Hope in a way. They’re all connected to each other. Hope’s kind of the thing that glues them all together, because it’s not like we’re going to go back to mutant-mutant-mutant! Popping up everywhere. Mutants are precious resources that essentially have to be protected, and that’s what Generation Hope’s about. Hope’s obviously a name with connotations.

Nrama: Yeah, just a bit.

Gillen: She’s a tricky character to write. Any time anyone vaguely sarcastic’s in the room, they want to make jokes. But she’s a tough cookie.

Nrama: So what role does Hope play in the book?

Gillen: She’s the glue. She’s very much part of the response team. That’s kind of what separates it from “learning power” books. One of the things that drives the series, it’s much more dangerous when (mutants) emerge now.

Nrama: It doesn’t seem like a traditional X-Men “team book,” either.

Gillen: Hope’s quite capable of telling Scott no. There’s an element of tension there. “You got my dad killed.” Also, “Why are you the boss of me?” The generation gap is something that’s core to the book. They’re not naturally subservient to the X-Men. Their allegiance is really with each other and Hope, and they’re going through a traumatic experience together.

Nrama: A big way Hope has been characterized is that she doesn’t want to be looked at as the savior of the mutants — I imagine these mutants are feeling the same pressure.

Gillen: All these sacrifices have been made for them, and these are the kids they have. Hope’s relationship with her “messiah-hood” is key to the series. Yeah, she’s pretty against it now, but she could very easily go the other way. She’s volatile. My personal experience of teenagers is both incredible insecurity and overwhelming arrogance. You can go from both, and embrace the role. Why not be the mutant messiah, then? What does that mean? What do we do to messiahs? The most famous in the western world ended up nailed to a cross. What do you do when you’ve got your messiah? That’s another thing about Hope and the Lights — the generation gap cuts both ways.

Nrama: So all of the “Five Lights” are teenagers?

Gillen: They’re age 14 to 19.

Nrama: They’re from all over the globe. Is that fun for you? What kind of research does that involve?

Gillen: Me and Matt did it together, we were on the phone at night, bouncing ideas. The one with the most research is from Nigeria. Nigeria is a place which I didn’t have as much of a handle on as — say — the Ukraine or Japan.

Nrama: How do you go about that, then?

Gillen: Read books. Research is about it. The question of misappropriation is a big one.

Nrama: And these are some of the first Marvel characters from these parts of the world

Gillen: Simultaneously you don’t want to turn them into a walking advert for their country. It’s important to keep people individuals. We try to do it right and not make a mess of it. Me and Matt worry a lot about everything. It's part of our charm.

Nrama: In the past, with books like Generation X there were mentor characters — Emma Frost, Banshee. Is someone going to play that role in Generation Hope?

Gillen: There’s going to be people trying to play that role. Everyone wants to have a hand in this generation – but are they going to let them? I don’t want to make them naturally subservient — “you’re not my mom and dad,” to quote every teenager in the world ever. There’s definitely going to be a relationship with the older generation, and people want to mentor them, because they want the next generation, essentially, to be in their own image. There will be mentor aspects, with would-be mentors floating in and out. People like Rogue, Kitty and Cyclops would be regular ones. I suspect you'll see Magneto trying to get his nose in too. I mean, he would, yeah?

Nrama: Did you and Matt pretty much create these characters together?

Gillen: He had a bunch of original ideas for the five, and I wrote an enormous list of ideas, and we kind of picked and chose the best ones. Or took aspects of two ones to make a superior chimera. For example, the Nigerian character was originally a speedster, but I brought up a certain detail about life in certain parts of rural Nigeria which lead the character in a totally different way. I think we're pleased with how they've all turned out. They're volatile, but I like them all.

Nrama: How would you say some other books you worked on informed this?

Gillen: It’s very different. Weirdly, Phonogram, the second series is what it almost most reminds me of. That's me writing teenagers. The most disturbing thing about writing the second series of Phonogram wasn’t the structure. It wasn’t the incredibly intricate stuff. It was just that I didn’t want to make a mess of writing teenagers. I took it very seriously, because you don’t want to patronize, you need to genuinely believe in it. No one’s ever said anything about the teenagers being off, which is my proudest thing about the book, that that bit worked. I'm hoping I can pull it off here too.

Nrama: An artist for Generation Hope still hasn’t been announced, right?

Gillen: No, it hasn’t yet. But he’s very, very cool. I love what he’s doing with the characters. It’s interesting stuff. He’s a really good storyteller. He's very much what I look for in an artist.

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