Thursday's news that the outcome of X-Men: Schism would be an "X-Men Regenesis" of two new ongoing series debuting in the fall — October's Wolverine & The X-Men and a relaunched Uncanny X-Men, starting in November — brought plenty of immediate questions.Who's going with Wolverine? Who's sticking with Cyclops? And that teaser image released along with the announcement — does it literally represent the breakdown of the fall split? Why is Professor Xavier back in a wheelchair? And why would Marvel reveal now what follows the end of Schism, when the series doesn't even start until next month? With plenty of details still under wraps, Newsarama consulted Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and X-Men group editor Nick Lowe to get some answers to these questions, and try to get a little bit of a clearer picture of what's in store for the X-Men in the near future.
Newsarama: Axel, Nick, we're curious about the timing of the announcement — with the September solicitations just out this week, and Schism not even started yet, why announce the outcome of the story now?
Axel Alonso: Retailers ordering Schism wanted to know: Was it going to be just a throwaway X-story? Some small limited with no after effects? We wanted to get the word out right from the beginning that it would be a big story that had a profound effect on the X-Men and the Marvel Universe so retailers wouldn’t be caught short when ordering.Nrama: With the announcement today came the "Who Will You Follow?" teaser image. How literal should we be taking it? Is this at all an accurate representation of who is going to end up on which side, or more just a red herring/metaphorical illustration? Then there's the curious matter of Professor X back in a wheelchair, which seems like it must be there for a reason.
Alonso: The “Who Will You Follow?” teaser image is just that: a teaser image. It should not to be taken literally. Professor X’s wheelchair is meant to give the image a classic feel — we’re not putting him back in it. And who’s to say that everyone in that picture will still be alive this September?
Nick Lowe: It sure would be an interesting team division, though, wouldn’t it?
Nrama: On the conference call last week, there was talk of how the philosophical split between Cyclops and Wolverine had to be played in a way that both sides had a reasonable argument, without either being clearly "right." Was the same kind of doctrine applied to establishing the direction characters would go in the split? Making sure that both teams were balanced, and not one was too stacked — either in terms of popularity of power sets?
Lowe: As a group we wrestled with this a lot. We had a mini-X-Retreat back in January. We had X-Writers and X-Editorial there working through Schism and its aftermath and a big part of that meeting was who goes where and why. It mainly came down to individual characters and belief systems. Once you know what the philosophical issue is it’ll make a lot more sense. It wasn’t like an NFL general manager or coach decided who to draft or trade to build the strongest team. It’s up to the individual X-Men, not the leaders of each side.
Nrama: And on that note, are there going to be any mutants who either reject the idea of the split entirely, or choose to stay neutral?
Alonso: Given the nature of the split, that would be hard to do.
Nrama: The Marvel.com article noted that Cyclops' team would be front and center in the Marvel Universe. As an Avenger, Wolverine has been prominent in the Marvel Universe for a few years now — so can we expect Schism to affect his standing among the Avengers teams, as well?
Lowe: Well, the Uncanny team and their leader will certainly be prominent, but that doesn’t mean that Wolverine is going underground. He takes actions that very much affect how readers and Marvel Universe citizens will react to him.
Alonso: At some point, he might even have to make a choice where his real loyalties fall.
Nrama: Looking down the horizon, despite the clear ties between the two new series, is there going to be an effort to keep the two books apart for a bit at first, to let them establish their own status quos and sense of purpose?
Lowe: Yes, the books will blaze their own separate trails with their separate teams and mission statements. At least until events in the Marvel U require otherwise.
Nrama: It's natural to hear this news and wonder how the other X-books will be affected. X-Men: Legacy has just started to establish its own team with Rogue, Magneto, Xavier, etc., a dynamic that would seem to be untenable post-Schism. Adjectiveless X-Men and Astonishing have a bit more of a fluid format, but would also seem to be affected greatly. Are we headed for another shift in direction for Legacy? Will all these titles be sticking around?
Lowe: All the X-Books are going to have to react and deal with the status quo coming out of Schism. Mike Carey, who is the bees knees, has some amazing plans all throughout Schism and has really cool ideas on what Legacy is going to be after that. Adjectiveless X-Men will also feel the effects of Schism but will keep its identity as the most Marvel U-ingrained X-Book with lots of ties to the greater universe. Astonishing, well that’s going to be an announcement all to itself. And you didn’t even mention Uncanny X-Force or New Mutants or X-Factor or Generation Hope. They are all going to feel the effects and be changed by Schism.
Nrama: Let's look at Uncanny X-Force, then — we can't imagine that book is going anywhere, but given Wolverine's leadership status on that team, can we intuit from today's news that there will likely be a significant impact on the book?
Lowe: Yep! You’ll see effects there, too. You’ll have to wait a month or two after the rest of the books because Rick and Jerome are still in the middle of the “Dark Angel Saga” saga as well. But both Schism and “Dark Angel Saga” will change that book in big ways.
Nrama: Want to talk about the art teams a little bit: Chris Bachalo has a long history on the X-books — what made him the right choice as artist for Jason Aaron's title?
Lowe: Chris Bachalo is a legend. He is a master storyteller (every comic he draws is a fantastic journey) and when he draws the X-Men they look like The X-Men! When you read Wolverine & the X-Men you’ll see why Chris was the first and only choice for the book.
Nrama: Then we've got Carlos Pacheco, who illustrated the Uncanny X-Men Point One issue and will be rotating art duties with Greg Land. Both of those artists have a more classic superhero style — is that a deliberate choice reflecting the tone of the book? And can we expect the Dodsons announced on another Marvel book soon?
Lowe: Carlos knocked Schism #1 and Uncanny #534.1 out of the park and loved being back on the X-Men. He has been having fun and it showed. I had to fight another editor in a “Beat It” style fracas to take Carlos off another book and get him on Uncanny.
As for Greg, he has been with us on Uncanny since #500 and has been doing a great job. I believe he was thinking of asking off the book (and would you blame a guy after a few years and 25-odd issues) but between the current Fear Itself arc and what Kieron [Gillen] has planned for Uncanny he couldn’t help but stick around and I couldn’t be happier. The art he’s done on the Fear Itself arc is his best yet.
Nrama: The AP article today mentioned a 2012 event with the X-Men playing a major role. Is that an X-Men-specific event like "Second Coming," or a more general Marvel Universe event in which the X-Men are heavily involved? (Which hasn't traditionally been the case with a lot of the big Marvel Universe-wide events.)
Alonso: It’s a Marvel Universe event in which the X-Men will play a major role. For some time, we’ve been promising to get the X-Men woven deep into the fabric of the M.U. — and this is where we do it.
Nrama: Finally, you guys have talked about this a bit already elsewhere, but we wanted to ask about the renumbering issue. Obviously, there are a lot of people bummed about Uncanny renumbering with #1. It's prompted by a major plot development, but when making a decision like that, how much of a concern is that type of skeptical or negative reaction? Are there people at Marvel with the same type of nostalgic feeling towards the numbers that many fans seem to have? And is it frustrating to hear the inevitable cynical reaction — "Oh, they're just going to switch back to the old numbering in a year"?
Lowe: We knew there would be a reaction. But this is such a seismic shift in the X-side of the Marvel U that it merited the change. This isn’t business as usual. This isn’t a story that Kieron had planned to do anyway. We started from square one on this one.
Alonso: There’s a story-based reason for Uncanny X-Men to get a number one, alongside Wolverine & The X-Men #1. Two new teams, two different mission statements. It’s as simple as that.More from Newsarama on X-Men:
- Exclusive Marvel Preview: X-MEN LEGACY #251
- Mike Carey Talks Long-Awaited Returns Coming to X-MEN LEGACY
- LOKI, MAGNETO and HOPE: Kieron Gillen's Big Marvel Month
- Jason Aaron Pits Wolverine Against Cyclops in X-MEN: SCHISM
- Year Of The X-Men - Nick Lowe on All Things X-MEN - LIVE!