Cover by Dustin WeaverMarvel’s Astonishing X-Men has been a spotlight book for a variety of comics’ finest creators, and the run’s set to continue this March when writer Marjorie Liu (Dark Wolverine, X-23) and artist Mike Perkins (Stephen King’s The Stand, Captain America) become the regular team with issue #48. We got up with the creators to find out what brought them together on this book, and to try to get some hints as to what readers can expect.
Newsarama: Marjorie, tell us about your AXM story.
Marjorie Liu: I can't tell you much, unfortunately. The plot, to use a cliche, "is shrouded in mystery." What I can reveal is that the Marauders are only some of the villains our team will face – and that it won't be long before several of our heroes are changed forever by what they encounter in these first few issues.
Nrama: Mike, what made you want to work on this story?
Mike Perkins: Nick Lowe asked me. Marjorie was writing it. It's the X-Men. You can pick and choose any of those reasons but for a true sense of it I would ask you to consider all three.
Nrama: Marjorie, how familiar were you with Mike's work prior to this project, and what does he bring to the story?
Liu: Very familiar. I love Mike's work on The Stand, and his art in Captain America totally rocked out. He brings such visceral energy to the story, with an incredible, subtle eye for detail. Also, his instincts for telling a story are spot-on – and he's flat-out lovely to work with.
Nrama: Mike, how well did you know Marjorie's work, and what have you enjoyed about her scripts for this?
Perkins: I was very familiar with Marjorie's work and we've wanted to work together for a while. I first came across her writing on NYX, then when Black Widow was released, I was certain that we had to collaborate on something together.
This coincided with meeting Marjorie at C2E2 and we just clicked - we got on so well together - and, when I returned home, I found myself in the local library taking out one of her novels...and loving it. Marjorie, in turn, very kindly and sympathetically, sent me a ton of her novels to save me from the stares of the librarian when she saw me with one of "those" covers in my hand.
As for her scripts.... there's room to breathe. By this, I mean that the moments of grandeur are allowed their individual space and are interspersed with times of great character interaction.Exclusive Perkins
"Cecelia Reyes" artNrama What's your collaborative process like?
Liu: It's great, very open and relaxed. Mike and I have been discussing a collaboration for quite some time, and as such, we've had a lot of practice tossing ideas back and forth to one another. From the very beginning our goal has been to tell the best stories we possibly can, and it's so nice being able to put our heads together to brainstorm.
Perkins: We chat and email back and forth. Throwing different ideas at each other. Then Marjorie shuts herself away and makes it even better.
Nrama: Does this storyline tie into any of the other X-books, or is it relatively self-contained?
Liu: It's self-contained. I think. We're still in the early stages, so that might change.
Nrama: Mike, you've drawn many other icons of the Marvel Universe. What's unique/exciting about drawing the X-Men?
Perkins: In a way it's a different sensibility. The Avengers characters are front and center in the Marvel Universe. The X-guys are on the outskirts...just around the next corner. That aspect is fun to play with.
Nrama: Do you have a favorite X-Man or woman to draw? Conversely, do you find any particularly challenging to draw?
Perkins: I love considering the visual possibilities of Iceman. There's so much one can do with the character. I'm still trying to get my head and hand around Warbird's Shi-ar feathery hair – that's definitely a challenge!
Nrama: Marjorie – aside from Wolverine, obviously, who's been the most fun X-Man/woman to write? Who's been the most difficult to get a handle on?
Liu: I know everyone will probably expect me to say Gambit, and yes – he's fun to write – but I've also really enjoyed telling Northstar's story. He's a very complex character – a clash of ego and compassion – and the more I tune into his character, the more I love him.
Nrama: What do you feel is the fundamental appeal of the X-Men?
Liu: Family. Bonds of friendship.
Perkins: Again it comes back to that outlaw feel. True, they're attempting to be more accepted by the outside world at the moment with so few of them left but even in Cyclops' case that's just a surface detail for the public consumption. There's a feeling, a "shadow" to them that sets them apart.
Nrama: Give us the hardest sell on this story that you can.
Perkins: This is a book full of bombastic battles, intense intrigue, captivating characters, wonderful writing, incredible illustrations and amazing action. In short...it's astonishing!Exclusive Perkins
"Karma" artNrama: What other books/creators are you currently enjoying?
Liu: I just read an excellent non-fiction title called Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl.
Perkins: Gah! Where to start? Anything by Ed Brubaker and Mike Carey. Fantastic Four, FF, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Club, Secret Avengers, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Collections of 2000 AD stories i.e. Cradlegrave and Defoe. European graphic novels such as Long John Silver and Pandora's Box.
I've been enjoying Nathan Edmonson's writing on Who is Jake Ellis? and The Activity. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Kraken by China Mieville. I trade-wait on Walking Dead, Scalped and Locke and Key and I still have a bookshelf full of books waiting in the wings.
Nrama: What else are both of you working on at this time?
Liu: I'm writing a novel set in a dystopian world where werewolf gypsy gladiators fight to the death, and vampires are hunted by humans who control a vast zombie army. I also, just recently, had two new releases: Within the Flames, about a dragon shape-shifter being hunted by witches, and The Mortal Bone, which is part of my Hunter Kiss series about a woman covered in living demonic tattoos that peel off her body at night.
Perkins: My sole concentration is Astonishing X-Men but I recently illustrated a six-page story tied into the Combat Disco Pop Collective known as Apparatjik, which you can download via this iTunes link!.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Liu: I'd like to thank the readers for all the support they've shown us, ever since it was announced that Mike and I are coming on board Astonishing X-Men. It's been very kind.
Perkins: What Marjorie said!
Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins will deliver some Astonishing stories starting in March 2012.