In case you haven't noticed by now, James Asmus enjoys the X-Men.
He's been a fan of the franchise since the early days of Excalibur by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, which he was drawn to after recognizing Kitty Pryde from the "Pryde of the X-Men" pilot that failed to yield a series but nonetheless aired at seemingly random intervals in the late '80s and early '90s.
With a background as a playwright and actor, Asmus has also written numerous X-Men comics for Marvel, including contributions to the Manifest Destiny and Serve and Protect anthologies, plus last year's Uncanny X-Men annual. He's taking over as ongoing writer of Generation Hope from Kieron Gillen starting in November, and Astonishing X-Men #43, a done-in-one story written by Asmus, is out this week.
The issue, illustrated by David Yardin, sees Danger collecting on the debt owed to her by Emma Frost dating back to January 2008's Astonishing X-Men #24, the penultimate issue of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's run on the title. Originally, Emma promised Danger — the self-aware embodiment of the X-Men's Danger Room — revenge on Professor Xavier in exchange for help in Breakworld, though Danger has since had a change of heart over in the pages of X-Men: Legacy."I was really looking forward to that," Asmus tells Newsarama. "I definitely feel like any time you can sort of force someone's hand into actions they don't want to participate in, but feel like they have to, there's really just great internal conflict."
With her original motive off the table, Danger asks Emma for help in tracking down another piece of artificial intelligence that she believes is being trapped against its will, similar to her former situation. Asmus describes the issue as a "buddy cop-type story" with "mismatched and yet perfectly paired partners for a specific mission."
"That's essentially the most evocative cause that she could be defending, sentient machinery rights," Asmus says. "Which is an issue that politically just isn't getting the attention that it should."
This quest leads the pair to Secret Avengers headquarters — where they encounter Beast, a member of that team, one of Professor X's five original pupils, and also part of Whedon and Cassaday's main Astonishing X-Men cast."The cast for it is actually pretty tight," Asmus says of his single-issue story. "Obviously that makes it a simpler process. The intelligence they find when they get there is really our sort of x-factor."
A limited number of players gives Asmus the opportunity to focus squarely on character, something he says comes naturally to him given his skill set.
"The No. 1 thing I respond to is character, and the character viewpoint, and maybe that comes from starting out as an actor," says Asmus, a member of sketch comedy trio "Hey You Millionaires." "Those are two characters that are incredibly layered and rich, and their emotions are very, very complex."
Asmus has palpable admiration for both of his Astonishing X-Men #43 lead characters — he reports a "deep love" for Emma Frost, whom, given her past history with Sebastian Shaw seems likely to appear in Generation Hope — and is interested in Danger's status as a recent addition to the X-Men mythos, albeit one with an obvious connection to something that's been around for decades.
"In my opinion, Danger is still so young as a character, in every sense," Asmus says. "We've only got a few stories explaining her perspective. She's definitely one of the most distinct members of the X-Men."
And there's the fact that, as a robotic entity, Danger isn't a mutant, making her place among the X-Men all the more unique.
"I wanted to challenge the assumption that she should even be on this team, and really cause her to consider her motivations and her place in the Marvel Universe," he says.It's no coincidence that Astonishing X-Men #43 stars characters and plays off story beats from the original run of the book. Serving as a bridge between recently wrapped arcs written by Daniel Way and Christos Gage, the issue is serving as a bridge before the start of Greg Pak's run next month, and Asmus wanted to pay tribute to the book's distinct history among the many X-Men titles.
"I was particularly interested in thinking about a story and characters that felt like they came out of the run of that title," Asmus says.
Comic book veteran Arthur Adams illustrated the cover for the issue, and Asmus shares that he met the artist for the first time at this year's Comic-Con International: San Diego.
"He's one of my favorite artists of all time," Asmus says. "I had just had the thrill of getting to meet him and chat with him for a while, and then I found out they were putting him on the cover. it felt like a nice little full circle."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!