Marc Guggenheim sets up the next step in mutant killer robot technology!

Whenever Sentinels show up in the lives of the X-Men, things get bad in a hurry.

Consider that as X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim and artist RB Silva reveal the latest version of the Sentinel this June 21 with issue #6. A Sentinel made of nanites, capable of being whatever size and/or shape it needs to be to get the job of mutant extermination done.

Guggenheim took a few minutes away from his evil scientist’s lab to fill us in on what the Merry Mutants prepare to face head-on. I’m curious, as we start, what your history with the Sentinels is and how that informed your use of this iteration in this arc?

Marc Guggenheim: That’s a good question, a really great place to start. I think, as with a lot of fans, my first encounter with the Sentinels is the kind of classic giant purple robot version. But I’ve followed it through all its iterations, whether [it’s] Nimrod, Bastion, the Wild Sentinels or Trask’s Bio-Sentinels. It’s always been interesting to see how the Sentinels change with the times, the eras.

It’s funny, the thing is this story didn’t start as a Sentinel arc. I had this idea I wanted to do about a nanite threat, nanotechnology. Then my editor, Dan Ketchum [saw that] we needed a sort of [AI] to be in control of it and it was [he] that suggested the Sentinels. When he suggested [I thought] that’s a great idea. Speaking of your history, is there a particular Sentinel incarnation that you really love.

Marc Guggenheim: Oh, it is definitely the giant purple robots for me. It’s my first connection to them, it’s such the iconic version. In doing the research for the book, for this arc, did you encounter any Sentinels that surprised you or you were like, “Oh that’s an interesting take I didn’t know.”?

Marc Guggenheim: Unfortunately, there’s not really much new for me to read. I’ve followed the X-Men close enough that I’ve encountered all the Sentinels in sort of real time as they came into the books. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you are going to write the X-Men.

Marc Guggenheim: That is probably true. Although each of these X-Men have encountered Sentinels, they’ve all had different experiences with different versions of them. How do these various experiences inform the team’s reaction to this newest iteration? What kind of ripples does it cause?

Marc Guggenheim: This arc, in several ways, is about pushing the X-Men as far as they can go; pushing them towards their breaking points. For Gambit, who is sort of responsible for this new Sentinel—not on purpose, just through something that had unintended consequences—this is going to be a hard arc for him.

It’s really especially a Rachel story though. This is just an arc that’s going to really shape her. We get to see some characters from her past—or is it her future? When it comes to Rachel talking in tenses is really hard, but I think you know what I mean.

For instance, there’s a scene with her and Franklin Richards that was really interesting and really a lot of fun to right that I’m excited to have in the book. Speaking of Rachel, I know that’s something you said before issue #1 was out, that part of your goal for this book was to give her her own place, her own characterization? Now a few issues in, how is that going? How is she evolving for you?

Marc Guggenheim: I suppose that is really more for the readers to decide. That said, for me, it is going really well. You’re right that has been one of my missions with this book and I am proud of what we are doing with Rachel. I know an important theme of X-MEN: GOLD for you was how the X-Men, and more preciously, how mutantkind fits into the Marvel Universe. How does this arc figure into that?

Marc Guggenheim: Definitely one of the things I set out to do in X-MEN: GOLD was explore the idea of the X-Men as this sort of catch-all for any minority that might find themselves targeted for discrimination now.

X-Men: Gold #6 cover by Ardian Syaf

There is a Star Trek episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” I think that tells this story about [these] two groups of aliens that are just fighting one another to try to brutally oppress the other. But the only difference between [them] is one group has black on the right sides of their faces and white on the left and the other group has the reverse of that. White on one side, black on the other. I try to use [X-MEN: GOLD] in that same kind of way.

I think it is good and interesting to take those chances to hold up a mirror in fiction and reflect on what is happening around us and [the] X-Men have always been a great way to do that.

That said I want to be clever about it. I don’t want to say too much about how this arc does that, where it goes. Maybe I’ve said too much already. With RB Silva coming on as the new artist, how has the collaboration been? How does his work help capture your script ideas?

Marc Guggenheim: RB is just great. And he’s getting better too. The growth you can see from [his first issue to the end of the arc] is so impressive. He started good but some of the stuff he is doing [later on] is just awesome.

In terms of my scripts, he’s a great collaborator. He has a good feel for what I’m trying to accomplish and knows how to do it; sometimes he gives me something a little different than I expected but then I see it and [it] just makes perfect sense. Speaking of art, every wave of Sentinels is an opportunity for not just the writer to make their mark, but also the artist to offer up the newest vision of these machines. How did Silva’s design reflect and capture this era’s Sentinel?

Marc Guggenheim: I think he’s done just an excellent job with it. [He] really created this version that is its own thing but also recognizable as being a Sentinel.

And the colorist Frank Martin too. My initial idea was what if Apple made one of these Sentinels so it was just sleek and white. He took that and just added in these slight purple elements that made it clear its legacy and connection to the Sentinels while maintaining the overall design. Considering your love of the iconic big purple robot design, what made you decide not just to have this edition sport that look? How did the changes help fit it to the story.

Marc Guggenheim: The size is…well, it isn’t just a robot, right? This is a different kind of thing. But the size is important as well. In the story you will realize because it is made of nanites it can be anything, any shape. So its size is intentional.

In fact, at one point in the story you will see it has gotten smaller and soon you will realize that’s because it is spreading itself throughout the city, covering as much ground as it can. What else do you say to readers about why they can’t miss this latest arc of X-MEN: GOLD?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s a few things. First of all, the big return of Gambit who we haven’t seen in the pages of X-Men in a while. He’s just a blast. He’s fun to write and I think he’s fun to read. A lot of the story gets kicked off because of his involvement.

The second is RB Silva is just crushing it. Just doing such a fantastic job. As I said, there’s even growth from the start of the arc to [the conclusion].

That actually really points out the other thing with the book that I’ve been doing which is—because we’re double shipping—I’m trying to keep the arcs of a pretty short length. So the stories are coming at you in a sort of [a more] fast and furious way than we typically see in comic books these days.

We’re certainly not doing an decompression here. I’m going for a narrative pace that is a little more similar to the comics of old.

Witness a new breed of Sentinel in X-MEN: GOLD #6 by Marc Guggenheim and RB Silva, coming your way on June 21!

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Marc Guggenheim welcomes back the Ragin’ Cajun by sharing his favorite stories!

Gambit’s back in X-MEN: GOLD #4 on May 17, and you can bet he’s bringing his own brand of Louisiana charm and a little trouble with him. To commemorate this homecoming of x-treme proportions, we spoke with writer Marc Guggenheim to take a look back at three of Remy LeBeau’s greatest stories and what might be in store for him in the upcoming arc.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #266

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #266

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Coming in first we have, rather appropriately, Gambit’s original appearance in UNCANNY X-MEN #266 written by Chris Claremont with art by Mike Collins. “He came onto the stage fully formed and really hijacks the story away from young Storm,” says Guggenheim. This appearance also kicks off Gambit and Storm’s long running relationship, which Guggenheim says he’s happy to get to play off in the new series. What better way to do that then to bring back Remy’s days as a master thief? And while Guggenheim takes a more traditional approach to the Cajun, staying true to the voice he has engrained in his head from years of reading the original comics, he did say he loves a good pun so that might just be in the cards for us, mes amis!

Gambit (1993) #1

Gambit (1993) #1

  • Published: December 01, 1993
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2011
  • Rating: T
What is Marvel Unlimited?
Next we have the Ragin’ Cajun’s original limited series, GAMBIT, written by Howard Mackie with art by Lee Weeks. This marked the first time we see Remy as a stand-alone character and according to Guggenheim, it’s where you realize that he can really hold a spotlight with that down-home twang and devil-may-care attitude. “He’s a slightly more morally compromised Han Solo,” says Guggenheim adding that he believes X-MEN: GOLD #4 artist RB Silva’s style perfectly suits the task of capturing that unburdened and free feel Gambit brings with him. All and all we can expect more of the old school Mardi Gras feel you’ve come to expect from the bayou boy.

X-Men (1991) #24

X-Men (1991) #24

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Finally, any story that ships Gambit and his ‘chere,’ Rogue, as hard as Guggenheim does. “There is just something very pure about being in love with someone you can’t have a physical relationship with,” says the writer. Quick recap: Rogue’s powers allow her to absorb another’s memories, abilities, personality and physical traits through skin-to-skin touch but prolonged contact proves quite harmful to those around her. So despite his borderline narcissistic confidence Gambit’s advances often get met with a stone cold poker face. We have to hand it to the guy though, with all the obstacles standing in their way he sure hangs in there for his ladylove. There must be a real spark between the two.

Be sure to catch all the card-throwing, ego, and Cajun lingo May 17 in the new X-MEN: GOLD #4 by Marc Guggenheim and RB Silva!    

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Writer Marc Guggenheim reveals the roster of the newest Brotherhood!

Before the X-Men can even begin to signal their return to Charles Xavier’s dream, there arises a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to derail that plan. As the X-MEN GOLD title opens, these sides create the classic tension of the X-Men franchise.

While much of the Brotherhood’s motives and means remain hidden so as to ensure no spoilers, we did our best to pry some information out of writer Marc Guggenheim. To start very generally, one of the long debated issues when it comes to the Brotherhood is whether or not they should be the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or just the Brotherhood of Mutants. Where do you stand on this long-running debate? What makes sense for them? Any insight into why you think about as you do?

Marc Guggenheim: I feel like I may have made a joke in one of the issues with something like, “Calling themselves the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants? They should probably just call themselves the Brotherhood of Self-Aware Mutants.”

In general, evil people don’t tend to self-define as evil, but by the end of the arc you will understand why they call themselves evil. In fact, there is a very specific reason for it. It is not a random thing. All will be revealed. What were your guiding principles, as a writer, in building the team?

Marc Guggenheim: I kind of went through a list of all the various rosters that any group with the word “Brotherhood” in the title had. What I was going for was something that felt like it had a classic feel.

For me, my first exposure to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was the “new Brotherhood” that was introduced in “Days of Future Past.” Unfortunately, two of my favorite characters from that lineup—Avalanche and Pyro—are both dead the Marvel Universe.

Those people who have [read issue #1] of X-MEN GOLD have seen the lineup we are playing with…they are probably feeling like, “wait a second, those guys are dead.”

I was talking about it with [editor] Daniel Ketchum; Daniel shares my affection for those particular characters and we were like, “You know, given the story I am telling with this Brotherhood, there’s way to introduce a new Avalanche and a new Pyro that [have] similar powers and somewhat similar looks to them without wrecking continuity.” There was a way to have a cake and eat it too here, so we put them in the roster and are introducing a new Avalanche and Pyro to the Marvel Universe. Because Daniel and I, at least, were both missing those characters or mutants like them. What can you reveal about the other members of the team?

Marc Guggenheim: Let’s see. Well, we have Avalanche and Pyro. We’ve got Magma who is a former New Mutant who, as far as anyone is aware, is not an evil mutant so her inclusion in the group is a bit unexpected. I don’t want to spoil much about what she’s doing there, but given what Dan and I were discussing about the origins of this Brotherhood, we thought it would be fun to include someone who everyone knew but did not necessarily know as this bad guy.

I’ve always had a fondness for Magma. I like her look, I like her power set. She struck me as someone who would be fun in that role.

After Magma we have Cleevus. Cleevus is this really strange alien looking character who, hopefully, no one has seen before because he’s a brand new character who is getting his first appearance in X-MEN GOLD. This character is going to prove to be far more important than it looks like at first blush. He’s hiding some mysteries to him.

Actually with Cleevus I’m laying seeds for some stories that we probably won’t get to for another year or at least another six months. Forgot about that double shipping.

Then there’s Masque for the Morlocks. I included Masque because in this group of evil mutants we’ve got two guys who are new incarnations of previously established characters, a brand new character, we’ve got an established character who’s never been established as a bad guy in Magma. I wanted to round out the group with just one honest-to-god evil mutant who you had seen before being evil.

I’ve always liked Masque. First of all, when I was growing up, I could never tell if Masque was a man or a woman and I liked how the character was written to be gender ambiguous and drawn that way as well. The power is not a very useful power in terms of battle, but it’s very cool visually and creepy as hell. Masque just struck me as really evil.

Mesmero is, essentially, revealed to be the leader of the team. What story opportunities did it open up to put Mesmero in a leadership role, an unusual place for him?

Marc Guggenheim: A couple of things.

First of all, I’ve always seen Mesmero as a…well, not a D-list villain but certainly on the C-list and I’m a fan of seeing villains level up as antagonists. I think Mesmero is ripe for an upgrade or a makeover. I think his look could definitely stand to be improved. I think [X-MEN GOLD artist] Ardian [Syaf] did a great job of executing on a couple of general thoughts I had about how [Mesmero’s] look could be upgraded.

Mesmero is cool, as well, insofar as he has a nice long history with the X-Men. He really harkens back to the Bronze, if not the Silver, Age. Having a character with that long a history with the X-Men I thought was pretty cool.

It made sense because this was a character who wasn’t living up to his potential. He could be more of a leader than we’d previously seen. He could be more powerful; he’s got a pretty significant power set if used properly. A lot of what I thought Mesmero was capable of fit in with my larger plans for the Brotherhood.

X-Men: Gold (2017) #1

X-Men: Gold (2017) #1 In what ways will fans see that this is different than any other Mesmero they’ve seen before?

Marc Guggenheim: I think he has clarity of purpose and a certain ruthlessness that they’ve never seen before.

Also, he’s keeping a secret; he’s got a secret agenda that I think makes him more dangerous than you’d expect. To move back for a moment, how did you and Ardian come up with Cleevus’s design? How much input did you have, how much was the artist just knowing where the character was going and creating his look?

Marc Guggenheim: One of the thing I love about Ardian is his designs—he’s able to perfectly execute what I see in my head despite not a lot of input on my part. In the case of Cleevus, I basically wrote up a description of what I was going for, of what I was trying to evoke, and I think I described him as having a creepiness to him that was similar to the Brood but obviously he’s not Brood, but I like evoking that similar creepiness.

I think you can see how his design evokes that kind of thing. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a character in the X-Men who just really really did not look human at all. That’s really what I was asking Ardian for—a character that did not look the least bit human—and I think he delivered. Something you’ve said—referencing an idea you’ve been turning over in your head a lot—is in this modern Marvel Universe why do mutants still get singled out? When they are so many kinds of super powered people what is it about mutants in particular that set them aside? You pointed to the Brotherhood as the kind of group that people point to justify their distrust. They are the negative side that people use.

Marc Guggenheim: That’s right. As you have been digging into the book and these characters, how has that helped you clarify that line of questioning? How has that worked in the writing?

Marc Guggenheim: I try to approach the writing—well, as I said, no one thinks of themselves as evil and every villain is the hero of their own story. Terrorists are convinced they are on their version of the side of right.

It was important for me to take that approach to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants; to have them approach things from the standpoint—as other incarnations of the Brotherhood have—that whether they like it or not humanity and mutants are in a war with each other. In a war there are causalities. In a war, sometimes you do have to do things that are defined as “evil.”

The Brotherhood has always been the terrorist, the militant faction of mutants. And when you are a minority and members of your group engage in an act of terrorism it seems to exacerbate the prejudices against that minority group. That’s what the X-Men must deal with. It’s just about the activities of the Brotherhood but then the optics of how mutants are perceived because of those actions. Speaking of the X-Men, how do they view this emergence of a new Brotherhood?

Marc Guggenheim: I think their reaction varies depending on who we are talking about. One of the things I tried to do was not only get the perspective of the X-Men Gold team specifically—they’re very focused on the practical matter of finding out who [the Brotherhood] is, what do they want, how do you stop them—but the students at the school too.

Their reaction is a bit more visceral; their reaction is focused on “what is this going to mean for mutantkind?” They’re watching the television, they’re seeing all the war drums getting beaten and they’re having a fairly natural fearful reaction.

One of the things I wanted to do with this arc was I wanted the X-Men reacting to the activities of this mutant terrorist group, yes, but I wanted what the mutant terrorists are doing to be not as mutant-centric as we have seen in the past. Their targets and their victims are far more human than mutant.

The X-Men are determined to protect the world that hates and fears them so in my mind that means creating stories, writing stories with humans at the center of them, humans that will suffer or be in jeopardy, as a result of the activities of the bad guys. If you could point fans to one member of the Brotherhood they should definitely keep an eye on, who would it be?

Marc Guggenheim: I will say…well, the consequences of this arc and this encounter are probably going to impact Magma the most. It is something she will be feeling the repercussions of even after the end of this first arc.

I would definitely keep your eye on Mesmero though. He’s probably the most intriguing character especially since he’s got some tricks up his sleeves that no one else in the Brotherhood knows about.

You can pick up X-MEN GOLD #1 by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf available now, and look for issue #2 coming April 19 and issue #3 coming May 3!

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Marc Guggenheim provides a guide to his squad of mighty mutants!

Staying gold has never been a problem for the X-Men, but then no iteration of the team ever had to survive a titanic tussle with the Inhumans, as chronicled in IvX. Once past the conflict, the mutant community must reorganize and X-MEN GOLD will tell of one group to emerge from the tumult.

While the X-Men Gold squad will feature many a familiar face, readers should not expect them to be exactly as they remember. Writer Marc Guggenheim took a moment from putting gold in his chain, in his rings, to reveal the state of the lineup as the title launches on April 5.

“The new leader of the X-Men,” Guggenheim states. “The thing about Kitty is she has returned to the school like as a head teacher but never as the leader of the X-Men. So, in many ways, this is the story of the young recruit who goes on to become the general.

“She’s got a lot of good qualities to be the leader. She’s learned a whole lot by basically spending her entire life as an X-Man. I’ve enjoyed writing leadership Kitty enormously.”

“I’ve written Logan before,” points out the writer. “I love writing him; I love his voice. This is the ‘Old Man’ iteration so my goal with him is to make him even more crotchety and gruff. That’s been a real blast.”

“Nightcrawler, to me, is the heart and soul of the team,” asserts Guggenheim. “He’s the team’s conscience in many ways. I think he’s the one many look to for that moral clarity.”

“Peter is morally clear, I think, in a slightly different way,” the writer argues. “He’s less complicated than a lot of people. He tends to be the strong, silent type, but beneath that steely exterior beats the heart of a poet.

“That’s the thing that Kitty is attracted to, that Kitty is in love with. That’s not to say that he and Kitty are going to get back together, but I’m definitely enjoying playing their attraction to each other, their chemistry, their romantic history.”

“Without spoiling IvX, Storm probably has the most to atone for,” reveals Guggenheim. “She was the wartime consigliere, she was the one who led the X-Men into the fight and the consequences of that conflict really weigh on her. She basically is punishing herself for doing the thing that she believes made the state of mutant-human relations worse.”

“The codename change is really meant to encapsulate the approach I am taking to Rachel [Grey],” Guggenheim explains. “Pretty much for her history, she has been written as a legacy character. I am very interested in approaching the writing of her from the standpoint of ‘if we don’t lean into her past but rather lean into her future, what kind of stories can we tell?’

“I think it is interesting to explore a character who is trying to forge their own identity out of the shadow of their history.”

Go for X-MEN GOLD #1 by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf, headed your way on April 5!

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Marc Guggenheim and Al Ewing offer tantalizing teases for the X-Men and Inhumans!

As the dust settles from Inhumans Vs. X-Men, writers Al Ewing and Marc Guggenheim step into the aftermath with INHUMANS PRIME and X-MEN PRIME respectively, both arriving March 29.

With the ending of IvX promising to rock the world of readers everywhere, we do not dare give it away here. However, both writers proved kind enough to provide us some non-spoiler-y teases from each title to wet your proverbial whistle.


Black Bolt
“Black Bolt is always silent,” Ewing points out. “But now there’s something he’s not saying. Could his secrets be more destructive than his voice?”

“Yesterday she was Queen of the Inhumans,” reveals the writer. “Who will she—and her people—be tomorrow?”

“Black Bolt’s mad brother makes a desperate last stand…or is it only his first move?” Ewing wonders aloud.

“Karnak knows how to fight and how to kill,” contends the writer. “But there’s one Inhuman who could still break him…even if he wins.”

Marvel Boy
“He’s not even an Inhuman,” acknowledges Ewing. “But what he knows is going to change the Inhumans forever.”


First Exposure
“This is going to be people’s first look at a lot of the different books in the ResurrXion line,” asserts Guggenheim. “It’s really your first preview of WEAPON X, X-MEN BLUE. [PRIME] sets up [X-MEN GOLD] being in New York City in Central Park. It sets up [the] X-MEN BLUE mission statement of operating separately from the rest of the X-Men. It introduces you to the membership and mission of WEAPON X.”

Kitty as Leader
“In X-MEN PRIME, we learn not only how Kitty returns to the X-Men but how she becomes [their] new leader,” he explains.

A Bit of Old, A Bit of New
“You’re going to see some familiar faces,” the writer promises, “You’re going to see some long missed faces.”

Peter and Kitty Meet Again
“[Artist] Ken Lashley is a big fan of Colossus and there is a scene [with] Peter and Kitty that he just drew absolutely beautifully,” reveals Guggenheim. “If you’re a fan of the Kitty-Peter relationship, you will really, really enjoy X-MEN PRIME.”

The Future of Xavier’s Dream
“After years of just fighting for their very survival, Kitty has returned to position the X-Men to pursue the latest iteration of Xavier’s dream,” states the writer.

Join the ResurrXion on March 29 with INHUMANS PRIME and X-MEN PRIME!

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Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf go for the gold in a new X-Men series!

X-Men fans, grab a few more long boxes for 2017 because the Children of the Atom have returned, in tip top shape, to grab your attention and fill those cardboard receptacles.

It all begins with X-MEN GOLD, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Ardian Syaf. Double shipping, the book seeks to return the mutants to their roles as super heroes and symbols of hope not just for their own kind but for all people. With Kitty Pryde back from space to lead the team and Rachel Grey taking on a new identity, change with a connection to the past seems the order of the day.

We discussed the return to form, the nature of mutant hatred in the 21st Century, and why Ardian Syaf has proven a perfect fit for the book with Guggenheim and editor Daniel Ketchum. Let’s start with the top of the team. Kitty Pryde has come back from space just in time to be a part of X-MEN GOLD. For you, what made her the entry point character?

Marc Guggenheim: Honestly, that’s a really good question. It was because she was my entry way into the book. The very first [X-Men comic] that I ever read was UNCANNY X-MEN #139 which was the “Welcome the X-Men, Kitty Pryde, hope you survive the experience” issue. In many ways, I kinda feel like I was Kitty. I’ve followed Kitty all these years and, you know, as I said in my pitch, I’m also a straight white Jewish man so I’m kind of, by law, required to be a fan of Kitty Pryde.

So, for me, it just made so much sense for Kitty to be part of the team. I actually wasn’t even certain she’d be returning from outer space, so my inclusion of her in my pitch was very much wishful thinking on my part. While we cannot reveal what happens in the storylines leading up to X-MEN GOLD’s launch, we can say that, in general, she arrives to find an X-Men team very different than the one she left behind. For Pryde, what is the emotional experience of reconnecting to this group when they are in this different place?

Marc Guggenheim: The way I’ve been approaching it, basically, is that it is like someone that returns home and goes to teach at the school that they used to be a student at. In the case of the X-Men, that’s somewhat literal too.

I think in the case of Kitty she looks at the X-Men and she sees all the challenges that they face and she sees all the things that they’ve gone through. But for her, she remains very confident—she has a lot of faith in the institution of the X-Men. For me, the most important thing is to help get the X-Men back to the type of team they used to be.

I don’t think it is spoiling anything to say that the X-Men are feeling a little bit of a setback in the wake of [Inhumans Vs. X-Men]. It’s Kitty that’s able to bring some hope back to the group and in many ways remind them of who they used to be. I took a quick look at the roster and it seems to be the core members of the team from GIANT-SIZE X-MEN from back when Len Wein and Dave Cockrum relaunched the book. I was wondering if that was at all intentional to have the team be made of a majority—Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine, albeit a different version of Wolverine version—from that era?

Marc Guggenheim: Like I said, I grew up with the post-“Death of Phoenix” X-Men essentially. I started with, really, the end of John Byrne’s run. With the exception of Rachel [Grey] and the fact that Logan is older, that’s all these X-Men.

Some experts say the music you listen to when you are 19 [or] 20 makes the biggest impression on you, I think the X-Men who were the X-Men when you first fell in love with the book are still the X-Men that are nearest and dearest to your heart. For me, that’s very much Colossus and Nightcrawler and Storm and Logan and Kitty.

It’s very intentional insofar as [editors] Dan [Ketchum] and Mark [Paniccia] were really terrific and basically said, “pick who you’d like to see on the team.” I got my first choice on every single category so that’s pretty amazing. Although they do harken back to a classic version of the team, they are decidedly much different than they were back then. What is the feeling of the team, what is the level or teamwork—what state are they in in terms of how they get along with each other at the start of this book?

Marc Guggenheim: To me what’s so much fun about the X-Men—and this has been the case for a great many years—is the rich backstory that all these characters share.

I don’t mean that in a “you have to read every issue of X-Men ever published in order to appreciate the book” way. It’s not that at all. It’s just you can feel a sense of history. I felt it even in UNCANNY X-MEN #139. I felt the prior history of all those issues—that’s the thing that makes these characters feel so three dimensional.

They have a personal history, in some cases a romantic history, and certainly a fighting history with each other. My goal going into this book was to acknowledge, to pay respect to those histories but also to recognize these people have been together a long time, they’re like a well-oiled machine and they all love each other. They’ve all had each other’s backs for a countless number of years at this point. It leads to a very positive book; it’s very much about looking to the future, being super heroes, and having a bright outlook. You alluded to this yourself: Rachel Grey does tend to be the outlier in this group. What were the creative motivations to include her? What made her a good member of the team?

Marc Guggenheim: Once I settled on Kitty, Nightcrawler, Logan, Colossus, and Storm, I wanted a sixth member to round out the team. I felt like I needed some more estrogen in the lineup and I was just thinking about X-Men that I like, especially women X-Men that I like. When I wrote the X-MEN arc for Dan I remember really, really enjoying writing for Rachel. There was something about that character that really clicked for me.

I think it is, in large part, the fact that she has this incredibly deep backstory that even extends into the future; obviously a very complex family and lineage. There’s so much there to mine.

At the same time, I thought even when I wrote Rachel [before] it was always steeped in her history. When you have such a rich backstory there’s always a temptation to find story in the past rather than looking to the future. The more I thought about that, the more I was intrigued to write Rachel in a way that allowed her to move past her past. That allowed her to take a step into the future.

It is an individualized version of what Kitty is trying to do with the entire [team], so thematically it really felt like it connected up. I thought, this will really be a positive thing for Rachel, for her to define herself outside of her family and her past.

X-Men Gold by Ardian Syaf

X-Men Gold by Ardian Syaf

Then that dovetailed with another idea I had been kicking around: that it would be fun to have a member of the team with a new codename, a new look, a new mission statement. Not dissimilar to the way Chris Claremont made Carol Danvers [into] Binary for a time. I just like the idea of taking an established character and reinventing them. So I thought if anyone should be doing that, it should be Rachel who always seemed to define herself by her past, define herself by her family.

So we gave her a brand new costume and she’s got a new codename; she’s now called Prestige. It’s a name that has nothing to do with Jean Grey or her family history. It is sort of a blank slate for her to write her destiny on. You have a very long history with the X-MEN as a fan, but you also have a fairly lengthy history with them as a writer. For you, as a writer in 2016 starting this new book, what’s different for you? What have you learned, how do the characters feel different to you?

Marc Guggenheim: I think it was actually Dan when he called up to talk to me about the project [who mentioned] that I have written the X-Men a lot. I’ve written YOUNG X-MEN, I’ve written X-MEN, I’ve written WOLVERINE a bunch of times, and the X-TINCTION AGENDA tie-in for Secret Wars. But I’ve never had a chance to write the X-Men X-Men, you know. It is always an offshoot of the team or a solo book; this is sort of my first opportunity to write The X-Men- capital “T,” capital “X”—and that is super exciting and also incredibly daunting. In so many ways, this is probably the most important comic book assignment I’ve ever been given so I’m feeling a huge of amount of good pressure not to screw it up.

I think what is fortuitous is that I’m coming on to the X-Men at a time when they are a crossroads. Without spoiling the end of IvX, they definitely come out of the IvX with a decision to make. What type of future are the X-Men going to carve for themselves?

Here you have Kitty coming in being a new leader. It’s the first time this group of X-Men has been led by someone who isn’t Storm or Cyclops. The story we are telling very much mirrors what all the X-Men are going through coming out of IvX. Who are we? What’s our purpose? What’s our mission statement?

I know I’m going far afield of your question, but the book is very focused on the X-Men as super heroes, very much the way they were when I first fell in love with them. The whole raison d’être of the book is back to the basics so that’s what I’m trying to do? Many times in the X-Men’s history they’ve been one of, if the not the most important books at Marvel. At others, they’ve been very much on their own, disconnected from the larger Marvel Universe. With X-MEN GOLD, what is their relationship to the rest of the Marvel Universe? How connected will they be?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s definitely my intention to have the book reflect what is going on in the larger Marvel Universe. In fact, Dan and I were just talking about that other day.

I can’t talk about the post-IvX status quo but the nature of that status quo will put the X-Men front and center of the Marvel Universe, let me put it to you that way. The new status quo will very much almost literally make it impossible for the X-Men to be off on their own and to be ostracized.

At the same time, one of the first things I did when I sat down to think about the book, I thought about what does it mean to be a mutant? What does it mean to be prejudicial against mutants in the 21st Century in this world where you have Inhumans and Terrigen Mists and all these things that have happened to mutantkind over the years? What does it mean right now—if I’m an anti-mutant bigot, why am I a bigot? What is the company line for people that hate and fear mutants?

That is very much to be reflected in the book. That itself stems from things that are going on in the Marvel Universe. The mutants are not the only enhanced individuals these days so, to me, that makes the hatred of mutants very very specific. To speak to that, the villains you initially have the X-MEN GOLD team facing off against are a new Brotherhood. Can you speak to why you selected them and how they reflect that theme?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s a great question. In thinking about the first arc and the villains of the first arc, I thought about a lot of things. What was the tone I wanted to set? What’s the first story I want to tell? At the same time, I was thinking ahead to all the other arcs I needed the first arc to set up.

What I came down to was a very simple thing. If you’re the X-Men and you’re trying to chart this new course and remind the world that you’re not evil and that you’re super heroes—that you are functioning as super heroes, not just mutants—what would be the biggest challenge to that mission statement? I thought, it would be a group of evil mutants running around causing problems.

I thought about the Brotherhood in terms of—well maybe there’s a way to do the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, that really takes to heart the idea of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. That being said, there is a twist. Not everything is as it seems. But that’s the dynamic of the first issue. This may be pushing for too much, but can you reveal any members of the Brotherhood?

Marc Guggenheim: [Pauses] Yeah. Yeah. How about two?

Pyro and Avalanche.

And allow me to include, yes I am aware they are dead, just to stop people from tweeting at me. Artistically, how does Ardian Syaf fit with your vision for the book?

Marc Guggenheim: It looks spectacular!

I can’t even express how joyful seeing Ardian’s pages make me. Ardian is such a perfect bit of casting for this book because I am trying to hearken back to a kind of back to basics old school version of the X-Men while still doing it in a 21st Century 2016 kind of way. Daniel, God bless him, has found an artist who feels incredibly new and modern but has this clean line and great old school sensibility.

In many ways, I say if you want to know what approach I’m taking in the writing all you need to do is look at Ardian’s pencils. If anyone is not quite sure if they want to buy X-MEN GOLD what might you tell them?

Daniel Ketchum: I think it wasn’t lost on us that over the past couple years, a lot of people thought we put X-Men in the corner. I think we went out wanting to tell cool stories. We knew we wanted to tell the story of the X-Men coming into conflict with the Inhumans and we leaned into that. But I think one of the side effects was people thought, “Oh Terrigen Mists are going to be the end of the X-Men,” and I think we acknowledge that and say, “No, no, the X-Men aren’t going anywhere. There are a lot of X-Men fans into the halls of Marvel.” This is a return.

X-Men also got me into comics and this is what I would want X-Men to be. Big, beautiful, X-Men as super heroes. Marc is just nailing it. It’s so good. And, as he said, Ardian too. What’s also great is that between X-MEN GOLD and X-MEN BLUE, there’s going to be a lot of story to dig into. It’s gonna be weekly: an issue of GOLD, an issue of BLUE, an issue of GOLD, an issue of BLUE. It’s gonna be big awesome X-Men adventures.

Marc Guggenheim: It really is an old school X-Men book written by a life-long X-Men fan.

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