WonderCon 2012: Pak Gathers Dazzler and the X-TREME X-MEN

WonderCon 2012: Pak Talks X-TREME X-MEN

Last week, Marvel teased a new X-Treme X-Men series, which immediately fueled speculation among comic book readers — who's the creative team on the book? What's the hook? Does it have anything to do with the old X-Treme X-Men series? And if not, why is Marvel reusing the title?

The answers came Satuday at Marvel's "Talk to the Hat" panel (hosted by executive editor Tom Brevoort) at WonderCon in Anaheim, and were as follows: Writer Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia, mutants from different realities working together to save all universes, not really, and well, we'll get to that.

Newsarama chatted up Pak via email to learn more about the July-debuting series, how this relates to his recent Astonishing X-Men arc that introduced Howlett and Kid Nightcrawler, working again with his Silver Surfer collaborator Segovia — and a lot about the "Planet Hulk writer's newfound love of Dazzler.

WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat

Newsarama: Greg, the first thing I (and I imagine, a lot of people) noticed about X-Treme X-Men is that it sounds very similar to Exiles. Is that a fair interpretation, or missing the mark? Did Exiles influence the conception of this series at all?

Greg Pak: When X-Men editor extraordinaire Nick Lowe and I met last year to brainstorm my Astonishing X-Men arc, which opened by throwing Cyclops into an alternate reality, we absolutely were thinking of that Exiles magic. But since this was an Astonishing story, we had the fun excuse to dream up alternate versions of the biggest X-Men characters around — hence our alternate Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, and Professor X.

And since X-Treme X-Men spins out of that Astonishing storyline, we're able to continue to explore these iconic characters in wild new ways.

Nrama: As noted, this is a direct follow-up to your Astonishing X-Men arc. Was a new series spinning out of that always a possibility, or is it something that developed along the way — kind of a, "hey, this is working, let's keep it going" type of thing?

Pak: I'm pretty sure Nick had his eye on this particular ball from our first meeting. And the more I wrote these characters in Astonishing, the hungrier I got to keep writing 'em. I'm ridiculously thrilled things have all come together.

Nrama: Aside from Howlett and Kid Nightcrawler, "our" version of Dazzler is also in the cast. What made her right for the story you're telling?

Pak: Dazzler! You have no idea how hard I've fallen for this woman. She's so much fun to write — she's funny and real and wry; she's a survivor who's seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.

When I met with the X-Office to talk about the series, we all agreed that we wanted a major character from "our" universe to play a big role in the book. And Dazzler's name kept popping up. And the more I thought about it, the more I loved it.

I'd been working with "our" Cyclops as our main character in my "Astonishing" arc. That felt so right — having a character who could be taken absolutely seriously as a leader but who also had a major emotional journey to take in this alternate reality. And when I started thinking about Dazzler in that kind of role, all the lights came on.

In a crazy way, Dazzler's power set is similar to Cyclops's — she can generate and fire massive amounts of energy. She can even create solid light blasts not unlike Cyke's optic blasts. And an alternate universe story seemed like the absolutely perfect way to launch her on a journey to see if she could rise to her amazing potential.

Nrama: Will other familiar X-characters also be joining the cast of the book?

Pak: Too many to mention. Every issue will feature new incarnations of your favorite characters who we hope will shed new light on who they really are or could be. And in the fullness of time, we'll reveal how our story links back to the mainstream Marvel Universe — and the massive impact it has on key characters right here at home.

Nrama: On a similar note, where might the team's quest take them to? Other alternate timelines/realities that we've seen before? Completely new ones?

Pak: We're doing completely new stories here. But each new world will illuminate something key about the characters we're following.

Nrama: What's appealing to you about this type of series, which includes both classic versions of characters and also different takes on familiar ones? Seems very "open" — the type of book that can rather literally go anywhere.

Pak: Exactly. Ever since "Planet Hulk," I've always had a blast dreaming up new worlds in the Marvel Universe. And I'm a big believer in the potential of a new environment to bring out something surprising and essential about a person -- in fiction and in real life. So X-Treme is right up my alley — giving me the chance to cut loose and have a huge amount of fun imaging new worlds while staying totally focussed on these characters. We're building a pretty massive hero's journey here, with some unexpected but monumental emotional outcomes — dontcha dare miss it!

Nrama: You've re-teaming with Stephen Segovia for this series — what are you looking forward to him bringing to the book?

Pak: Stephen and I had a blast working together on our 2011 Silver Surfer book. His imagination knows no bounds and his characters explode off of the page. We're plunging into big, fun, mind-bending adventure here, and Stephen's going to eat it alive.

Nrama: Other than Exiles, X-Treme X-Men brings to mind another X-book of last decade that it shared a name with — is there any connection, whether concrete or abstract, to that series? And if not, what do you see as the significance of the title?

Pak: I'd say the "X-Treme" title means that anything can happen in this book. It also means we're pushing these characters to their limits, asking all the dangerous questions, cutting to the quick. We're going to learn a lot about who our heroes really are or can be. And as the adventure comes to a head, the answers will ultimately have a real impact on the mainstream Marvel Universe.

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