Announcing Cheung, Garney, ACO, Noto, Land, Rosanas and more bringing the story to life!

It shouldn’t be too astonishing that the X-Men are as popular as they are. After all, their collection of diverse of mutants offers a never-ending grab bag of super powered mayhem that usually goes toward saving the day–when they’re not too busy butting heads with the Inhumans, that is. Simply put, there is no shortage of classic “X-Men” content and one particular title is about to re-enter the limelight.

After a four-year hiatus, Marvel is bringing back the “Astonishing X-Men” series this summer under the confident pen of writer, Charles Soule who’s not too worried that he’s got some big shoes to fill. We’re also excited to announce that Jim Cheung, Ron Garney, ACO, Phil Noto, Greg Land, Ramon Rosanas and more will be bringing the serialized, ongoing story to life with some incredible artwork.

Get pumped for the returning title by checking out our interview with Charles who discusses the book’s iconic cast, its use of the entirety of Marvel history and how the series will mutate under his skilled direction.

Marvel.com: “Astonishing X-Men” is a title whose original run spanned from the mid-1990s to 2013. What was the most exciting part about being the person responsible for relaunching it?

Charles Soule: “Astonishing” is one of the fundamental “X”-titles for me, especially the Whedon/Cassaday run. It’s some of the best “X-Men” storytelling of all time. So, exciting, yes – also somewhat terrifying. But like any book I take on, I’ll do my best.

Marvel.com: Over the years, the series was written by a litany of big Marvel creative minds like Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Marjorie Liu and Greg Pak. How were you hoping to approach it differently than these writers did in the past? How did you pour your own heart and, forgive me, soul into the writing?

Charles Soule: I’d like to think that any story I do will be different from the other incredible talents who have worked under this banner in the past, just because I’m not them. This sort of “Murderer’s Row” legacy isn’t anything new to me, though – from my very first Marvel project (“Thunderbolts”) to Daredevil to pretty much everything I’ve done, I’ve been working on titles that have superstar creators in their past. You just put your head down and write your story and hope that it can stand next to the other books in the line.

Marvel.com: Going off that, can you talk a little bit about the artistic vision you had for the look and feel of the series?

Charles Soule: I mostly want it to feel epic. I’m trying to go as big as I can both for character moments and “page-feel,” if that’s a term I can coin. I remember when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were working in what was termed “widescreen” back on their “Ultimates” project. I’d say it’s something like that, but within every massive beat there’s a character moment (or ten) to back it up. Mostly, I wanted to anchor “Astonishing X-Men” in the real world, so-to-speak. Many times the big superhero stories take place away from population centers, especially mutant stories. I get it – a superhero slugfest with a bunch of civilians around complicates things immensely. I’ve done it myself many times. Setting your battle scene on a remote glacier solves a lot of storytelling problems. However, I think the X-Men are at their best story-wise when they’re not only fighting super-villains, but their activities are seen through the lens of the human world. So, we’ll get a lot of that here – a lot of the action takes place in the heart of London, with all the attendant repercussions. Good times all around.

Marvel.com: We know the series will feature a veritable Who’s Who of fan favorite X-Men (i.e. Old Man Logan, Archangel, Mystique, Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke and Fantomex), but what can you tell us about the villains being featured in the story?

Charles Soule: Not too much just yet… but we’ll get there! I want it to feel like a nice reveal, but the way the story is designed I can pull in bad guys from literally any era of Marvel history. The book is built like a bit of a puzzle box, with multiple layers of reveals. Part of the fun of certain “X”-stories is speculating about what’s really going on, and this is definitely one of those.

Marvel.com: Now onto the heroes. What was the decision process behind choosing these specific characters to make up this team other than being adored by fans and veterans of the original run?

Charles Soule: It’s a mix of characters who I really wanted to write and characters who hadn’t been seen in a bit, or both! I wanted a bunch of people I knew I could write well, but who also had lots of history with each other. All of these people have been “bad guys” at one point or another – checkered pasts all around. Many of them have dated each other, or have been in love triangles… it’s just a feast of drama, and the soap opera stuff is part of what makes the X-Men great. It’s fun to write all these folks, especially in a really focused story like I’m telling in Astonishing. The book has a specific point, story and end goal… which you’ll see soon enough!

Marvel.com: Will we be seeing a different team dynamic than we’ve seen in the past and were there any specific characters you had a blast writing?

Charles Soule: I’ve said this before, but this book doesn’t have a team. It has a cast. It doesn’t have a leader, either. It’s like a novel, or a film, or a TV series. There are characters who are more or less prominent from scene to scene, but this isn’t a story about superheroes coming together with a shared goal to fight bad guys, with a base, and cool coordinated costumes and so on. This is a bunch of flawed, extremely powerful individuals who find themselves in the same place at the same time as something very intense and potentially world-ending happens. Then, we see what they do next. It’s a pretty cool ride, I think.

Read More

Artist Greg Land unsheathes his visual plans for this new X-Men series!

Instead of creating living weapons of mass destruction, Weapon X plans on taking out the ones they’ve already made. Of course, the WMDs themselves have a thing or two to say about that in the pages of the April 12-launching WEAPON X by Greg Pak and Greg Land.

Specifically, Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath, Domino, and Lady Deathstrike don’t like the idea of being expunged like so many guinea pigs and will band together in the series to help each other not only stay alive, but also shut down the operation that firmly planted them in the cross hairs.

We talked with Land about mixing this volatile cocktail of characters together, making a few design changes, and working with Pak again after over a decade!

Marvel.com: You and Greg Pak have worked together in the past, even under the X-Men umbrella with PHOENIX: ENDSONG. How has your collaborative relationship evolved since then?

Greg Land: I just looked at the trade for PHOENIX: ENDSONG to see the publication date. Wow, it has been over 12 years since that project! I have not had the pleasure to work with Greg since then and I have been excited to work on another project [with him].

Marvel.com: Getting into the book itself, the cast of characters includes Old Man Logan, Warpath, Domino, Sabretooth, and Lady Deathstrike. How is it for you digging into these characters and figuring out how they work from a design perspective? Were there any challenges in that process?

Greg Land: The challenge for [Old Man Logan] is that he is in street clothes all the time. Getting believable movement in regular jeans and button shirts for the action scenes is harder than the traditional hero spandex. Also I really am working to make his face look older; not just adding a few lines for wrinkles, but getting the feel of a man that has many miles of hard road under his belt.

With Warpath, I want to show his Native American Indian lineage. The strong cheekbones and nose are prominent features. With Sabretooth, I asked if we could go back to his long hair, wild man look. This is working great with the story and it gives us a visual difference between him and Logan. I have not gotten to work on the ladies too much yet, but I am looking forward to getting to draw them again!

Marvel.com: Greg has said he likes how these characters play off of each other on a personality level. Have you found the same thing to be true in a physical sense as they share panels and pages?

Greg Land: So far Logan and ‘Tooth have been the only ones in the same scenes for me. By going back to the long hair, wild look of Sabretooth, it gives us a nice silhouette difference between the two.

Marvel.com: Given this cast of characters and the fact that they’re being hunted down by Weapon X, I’m guessing we can expect healthy doses of action and violence. Do you enjoy digging into those scenes and figuring out the best way to make them work?

Greg Land: This is the challenge of working in comic books: how do I take the written word and make it move in a believable and interesting way? Greg has written some elements that I have never had to draw in or out of comics so this has been a good experience for me. It pushes me out of any comfort zone and makes me take chances with the designs and locations. These are the stories that artists love to work on. Always having to push themselves.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Weapon X. What can you tell us about the design and look of this new take on an old organization?

Greg Land: I want to give the Weapon X facility a creepy and sinister feel. Lots of hi-tech machinery and shadows. It is as much of a character as the individuals that work there. We are slowly showing some of the workers and I am looking forward to getting to expand on their individualities. There is a rich history of the Weapon X project and I want to give it respect in visual terms that it deserves.

Marvel.com: Can you also talk about some of the methods Weapon X will use to try and take out these incredibly formidable mutants and the design process behind them?

Greg Land: It is too early in the story for me to talk about the methods that will be used but I am sure Greg will have me working hard to come up with some interesting and dynamic visuals.

The hunt begins on April 12 in WEAPON X #1 from Greg Pak and Greg Land!

Read More