Gillen: New UNCANNY Cast Most Powerful X-Team of All Time

10 Picks for the New UNCANNY X-MEN

Yesterday's news that the X-Men: Schism series would lead to, well, an actual Schism is a story a long time coming. Cyclops and Wolverine, after all, have never really gotten along very well. Whether it's fighting over how to run things, fighting over the value of life, fighting over a pretty redhead; they've basically always been at each other's throats.

Now they're splitting up in a big way, with the new branding of "X-Men: Regenesis". With the October launch of Wolverine and the X-Men from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, Wolverine will go off on his own, with his own team of like-minded mutants, and be the X-Men. Likewise in November, Uncanny X-Men will relaunch from Kieron Gillen with art by Greg Land and Carlos Pacheco, seeing another team of like-minded mutants, being the X-Men.

While this relaunch is several months away and has a lot of story between now and then, we were able to lock down Uncanny writer Kieron Gillen for a few teases, including the as-yet unrevealed fate of the Schism leaders and the possibility of the most powerful X-Men squad ever.

Newsarama: Kieron, you've been co-writing then solo writing Uncanny for a bit now, but this sounds like a big shift. How much has your approach had to change with the split of the teams?

Kieron Gillen: For a start, it's a new beginning which I've crafted. When I inherited the book, I've been resolving unfinished business and developing stuff to where I wanted it for the relaunch. Or to be incredibly florid for a second, I've been tending the garden in the way I wanted it, and now I let it bloom. It's a new status quo which I've manufactured to my own design.

Nrama: I know you can't talk about roster (and really, we wouldn't want you to spoil it!) but with Cyclops as the ostensible leader and a desire for a "world-class superteam," can you describe what kinds of mutant characters you see as being appropriate for that style of team?

Gillen: You're making a presumption here. The Schism is between Cyclops and Wolverine, but we haven't said that Cyclops actually ends up on my side. We haven't said that Cyclops even survives. There's all sorts of possibilities which I wouldn't rule out. Let's see where the end of Schism #5 leaves us.

But generally speaking, what kind of mutants are on my team? Extremely powerful ones. I'd argue the core cast of nine are the most powerful X-team of all time.


Nrama: Adding Carlos Pacheco to the art team seems natural after the point one issue of Uncanny. What are his particular strengths you plan to play to?

Gillen: Working with him on my .1 issue was a dream. This is a book in which a city-destroying horror and a carefully raised eyebrow can be of equal importance. From the micro to the macro, Carlos makes it sing. I mean, look at that .1 issue again. It juxtaposes this small conversation-level interaction between Magneto and Kate Kildare PR and full-on superhero action. Basically, whatever I dream up I can be confident that he's going to do something startling with it.

Nrama: As you, Jason Aaron, and the editorial team discussed which characters would wind up on which side of the Schism, were there characters that surprised you? Not asking you to reveal which, but can you tell us a bit about the process and how it felt to finally drive this wedge between them?

Gillen: There were certainly ones which surprised us. When the team lists are made public, there will certainly be some which will make people wonder why they've gone the way they did. I'm getting to explore some of them in a one-off issue called "Regenesis" where we get a lot of these crucial moments, and the arm-twisting and heart-searching that goes along with it. Writing it has proved pretty grueling. If it's bad for the characters, it's normally bad for me too.

In terms of the mechanisms, at the last X-summit Jason and I pretty much said who we wanted. If we both wanted one, we talked it over. Mostly when someone explained why they thought someone should go the other way, we saw the drama in it.

And, of course, there's also 6 issues worth of Uncanny between now and then. Their status quo of the characters now isn't necessarily going to be the status quo of them then.

Nrama: What tone are you seeking for the relaunched Uncanny X-Men? Does an attempted shift to world-class superheroics by the team mean a shift in the way the stories are told (i.e. Less drama, more "fun," etc.)?


Gillen: It's a exciting, dramatic high stakes book. It's certainly not what I'd call a "fun" book. As powerful as they are, when they go into battle, they are in absolute peril. It's tonally and recognizably X-men, but with all the needles deep in the red. Cursed to defend a world that hates and fears them, on a larger scale than ever.

There's plenty of internal drama as well. As I said, this is a hefty team. Even keeping them together is a battle. And there's an ethical question over considerable portions of what I'm doing. I quoted Machiavelli all the way back in my .1 issue about whether it's better to be loved or feared. The answer, thought, Machiavelli, is both. The team is that in practice. Yes, they're saving the world... but there's an implicit threat. You mess with mutants? You're messing with us. Do you *really* want to do that?

Oh - and there's some classic X-men villains who are raising their game along with the X-men. I try to write conflict grounded in emotional engagement and personal history, not just on the threat they pose. The Villains, ideally, should say something about the X-men. They should threaten them emotionally and ethically as much as they do physically.

Nrama: Finally, Kieron, this relaunch is still a few months off, and right now you have a four-part Fear Itself tie-in to worry about. What's happening with the team now in that story, and will we see any hinting at what's to come in the fall there?

Gillen: As I said in the last question, the themes I'm exploring were stated upfront in my first issue. "Breaking Point" was a pretty optimistic arc in the end. "Fear Itself" is perhaps less so. The actions my team choose to take are serious world-changing ones, and the final parts of motivation are put in place in my Uncanny X-Men: "Fear Itself" issues as much as Schism.

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