Marc Guggenheim leads the mutants in the fine art of fighting a god!

Some days feel harder than others. You know the ones. You miss your bus. You forgot your lunch. You lose your credit card. You have to fight a god. The usual garden variety bad day.

What? Oh…the last one seems unusual to you? While that stands to reason. Not everyone lives the kind of lives the X-Men do. For them, that situation becomes very real on January 3 in X-MEN: GOLD #19 as the team must battle a deity in the Negative Zone.

We found writer Marc Guggenheim researching alien theology and he kindly gave us some of his time to talk the X-Men’s very bad, no good, horrible deity-battling day.

Marvel.com: By X-MEN: GOLD #19, the team has now been in the Negative Zone for three issues. How, simply put, are they doing? How are they handling the environment, being away from home, and the grind of ongoing conflict?

Marc Guggenheim: Some are faring better than others. Everyone gets kicked around pretty badly in this issue, but I’d say Kurt and Logan are definitely taking the brunt of it. Kurt is in dire straits after the end of #17 and Logan, well, he’s not as young as he used to be. Oh, and the X-Men are fighting a god—so nothing is easy.

Marvel.com: Yes, right. About that god…what can you tell us, without getting too deep into spoilers, about this antagonist?

Marc Guggenheim: The guy’s name is Scythian. He is an “old god of the ancient texts” of the planet the X-Men find themselves on, which is called Dartayus. For the moment, he’s a figure shrouded in mystery. He doesn’t have any dialogue in this issue—and that’s by design. I wanted to keep him as inscrutable and mysterious a figure as possible because, well, that’s generally how deities roll.

Marvel.com: We discussed previously, when we talked about issue #16, how various artists helped craft aspects of the story. How did the look of this god figure come together and how does Lan Medina realize it on the page?

Marc Guggenheim: Scythian was designed by Ken Lashley, but I really think that Lan did a remarkable job of bringing him to life, so to speak. There are some huge panels in this issue depicting Scythian in all his horrific glory and Lan just knocked them out of the park.

X-Men: Gold #19 cover by Ken Lashley

Marvel.com: Widening the focus on the artist, how does he handle the alien world of the Negative Zone and the X-Men’s new temporary appearances via their specialized suits?

Marc Guggenheim: Everything looks great. Lan’s pulled together the artistic visions of a multitude of artists into—what is, to my eye—a seamless whole. I’m really looking forward to when these issues are collected in a single trade. I don’t think you’ll feel all the artist changes—we’re telling one cohesive story.

Marvel.com: With what we discussed in the first question above and this new incredibly powerful antagonist, where do the X-Men find the reserves of strength—physical, emotional, psychological—to not only press on, but to take their efforts to the next level? Where do they find the ability to challenge a god?

Marc Guggenheim: I wanted to place the X-Men in a situation that they couldn’t just punch their way out of. Scythian is far too powerful for the X-Men to just take down by force. They have to use their wits and Kitty comes up with a plan that, I think, is not only unexpected—un-X-pected?—but that also requires the X-Men to work in concert with each other, utilizing their specific skills.

Marvel.com: Once again, when we discussed this arc a month or so ago, one of the things that you were excited about was taking the X-Men to a place they haven’t really been before. Now looking at them in this space for the past three issues, how does it feel to realize that goal? How much has the storyline met or exceeded your expectations?

Marc Guggenheim: Every project I write has elements that exceed my expectations, but also many which fall well short of them. Every project. That’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever written, in any medium, that didn’t have a few things—sometimes, many things—I wish I could go back and change.

That said, I’ve been very pleased with the work done by Ken and Lan and the rest of the art team and I’m very excited about how the end of #19 sets us up for #20, which is not only something of a “departure” issue, but also ends with a real game-changer moment that sets up things for at least the next 10 issues of GOLD.

Cheer on the team in X-MEN: GOLD #19 on January 3 from Marc Guggenheim and Lan Medina!

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Ed Piskor points to his highlights of Marvel’s merry mutants!

He’s won multiple awards and plaudits for turning the history of hip hop music into the critically acclaimed series “Hip Hop Family Tree,” but now writer/artist Ed Piskor tackles his first major project at Marvel. Starting with December 20’s X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, he’ll be reframing and remixing the history of the X-Men into one, singularly crafted narrative. It’s a chance to relive the mutants’ greatest hits from the perspective of one brilliant cartoonist who grew up on these stories.

We caught up with Ed to talk about his favorite X-Men stories and what’s changed for him from reading these comics as a youth to recreating them as an accomplished professional.

Marvel.com: The structure and format of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is unique. Can you describe the particular restrictions and whether that form was the starting point or something that developed organically?

Ed Piskor: [When I started] I basically said that I have a way to make the first 280 issues of UNCANNY X-MEN into a lean 300 page story. After some deliberation Marvel said “do it in 240 pages, across six issues, three trade collections,” and sent me a contract. But aside from the concession of those extra 60 pages GRAND DESIGN is a completely faithful vision of what I want to do.

Comics-making is way too time intensive to allow them to be compromised in any way. I like restrictions and rules or else I have a tendency to meander. Knowing that I was going to be taking about 8,000 pages of material and whittle them into 240 pages adds a certain storytelling necessity to be brief and not linger. Each issue has to be jam-packed rather than the decompressed method to storytelling that is fashionable with most of today’s comics. Each issue basically covers about 50 issues of the series more or less.

Marvel.com: The mythology of the X-Men is about as rich, dense and diverse as the history of hip hop music. Were there any big challenges in adapting this fictional material versus the historical facts you’re used to chronicling?

Ed Piskor: The major challenge is that there is so much I love about X-Men and it’s wholly impossible to cover it all in the space provided. Also, I’m just a little past the halfway marker so there’s still plenty of room to really hit some challenges. One that is constantly on my mind is figuring out a way to keep Scott Summers a hero after leaving his wife, Madelyne Pryor with child, when Jean Grey comes back to life. That always caused me trouble as a young reader, but I think I have the way to get it to [make] sense.

Marvel.com: Were any eras of X-history easier to tackle than others?

Ed Piskor: The third issue of GRAND DESIGN, I knew, would be the easiest to tackle because it’s the gold-standard stuff that got everybody on board with the original series in such a big way. It covers GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 through UNCANNY X-MEN #137 or so.

Marvel.com: You’re essentially one man reframing the serialized works of dozens and dozens of writers and artists. Which influences of those prior architects did you find coming out the most?

Ed Piskor: Artistically I’m building the story off of all prior artists whose work I connect to, X-Men, Marvel, or otherwise. I like how John Byrne and Paul Smith stuck to the characters proportions and kept Wolverine a shrimp. I liked the way Rob Liefeld drew hair back in the New Mutants/X-Force days. Steranko’s quirky foreshortening is a pleasure to my eyes. There are direct homages and samples using [Jack] Kirby in there. Neal Adams composition with the Sentinels flying into the sun is untouchable.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is made on the shoulders of giants.

Marvel.com: Who were your favorite X-Men characters growing up and did you find your faves changing as you worked on this project?

Ed Piskor: I confess that I’ve never been the kind of fan who identifies with particular characters or who has favorites. From a very young age—five, maybe six years old—seeing real life names associated with the credits of those who created the actual comic books were always my motivation.

Thinking in those terms, I will answer the question another way. When I was little Jim Lee was the most captivating artist on X-MEN at the time I really decided to become a cartoonist. Then I discovered and adored Byrne and Art Adams and Steranko, and Paul Smith. Kirby and [Marc] Silvestri.

While revisiting the series I have to say that I’m embarrassed that I didn’t give [artist] Rick Leonardi as much credit as he deserves when I first read his issues. Looking at that work now, his chops rival anybody’s and I’ve been digging in the bins for any comics with his name on them.

Marvel.com: The X-Men, more so than any other corner of the Marvel Universe, tend to function as their own world, rarely needing to intersect with the other heroes. Why do you think they work so well as a self-contained soap opera?

Ed Piskor: We have [longtime UNCANNY X-MEN writer] Chris Claremont to thank for that. Having one guy write the series for almost 20 years creates an unparalleled consistency in mainstream comics that I’ve not seen matched. He fleshed those characters out in ways that made readers really care. Listen to Chris speak about the work and he acknowledges his characters as people. Not words on a page or lines on paper.

Marvel.com: Were there any moments you found yourself more excited by when you got to them than you previously expected you would be?

Ed Piskor: Every aspect of this project is a blast. There isn’t a wasted panel in the whole thing. No particular moments are more important to me over others. I have to keep the big picture in mind at all times with this story.

Marvel.com: What’s surprised you the most about this process?

Ed Piskor: X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, to date, is a completely uncompromised vision. The editors were great so far all the way up the line. The sales guys were mindful the whole time. The folks handling the book collections are amazing and very helpful. Unless you guys are lying to me there’s going to be some special considerations with the printing of the books and trade in terms of paper stock and design. In a universe of corporate properties I appreciate that I’ve been given complete trust and respect to get my vision across. It’s going to yield an amazing product. I think my enthusiasm is clearly evident on every page and the hope is that the fans absorb that energy while reading.

Check out the first installment of this unprecedented undertaking in X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, from Ed Piskor, on December 20, followed fast by issue #2 on January 3!

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The original Generation X comes calling for the old school X-Men!

In the upcoming X-MEN: BLUE #18 by writer Cullen Bunn and artist R.B. Silva coming December 27, we’ll see the original Generation X crossing paths with the original five team. So how will it all go down? We chatted with writer Cullen Bunn about what we can expect when these mutants all go head-to-head.

Marvel.com: We’ve got the original Generation X team coming in, but we’re not quite sure whether they’ll help the Blue team, or start a fight. Could you give us a couple motivations they might have for each?

Cullen Bunn: The X-Men Blue team has discovered that time is breaking down and the past, present, and future are changing all around them. So, when they meet up with Generation X, they meet a group of mutant kids who have been dealing with circumstances that are a little different than what you might expect. The Generation X team is on edge and on guard, so when the Blue team appears before them, they don’t trust them at all. In fact, the original five X-Men are seen as enemies for reasons we have yet to explain.

Marvel.com: If it does come to blows, can you weigh the odds for us? What advantages does each side have? 

Cullen Bunn: Well, Generation X has the X-Men Blue team outnumbered just slightly, but I’d say that at this point in time, the X-Men are much more seasoned. That said, Monet and Chamber are wild powerhouses and Synch and Husk both throw in such a wild card factor that Generation X is not to be underestimated. If it comes down to a fight, it could go either way.

Oh, who am I kidding? They’re gonna fight.

And the matchups between Penance and Jimmy Hudson, Monet and Bloodstorm, and Husk and Cyclops are all exciting for me.

Marvel.com: In recent X-Men history, there we’ve seen a lot going on with the timestream. Like younger versions of Jean, Scott, etc. coming into the present. So this seems like a really interesting time for the X-Men to do Marvel Legacy stories. How does the timing of all of this influence this arc?

Cullen Bunn: Anyone who reads my [X-Men] stories knows that I’m almost always looking to the legacy of the creators who came before me. I grew up reading UNCANNY X-MEN. The X-Men are very important to me. Stories like this one—and the previous “Mojo Worldwide” story—allow me to dive into that love for the X-adventures of the past in a big way. I would have wanted to tell this tale no matter what, but the Legacy angle was a happy accident.

Marvel.com: I think a lot of us—including myself!—consider Jubilee a favorite. Can you tease a little about the role she’ll have to play in issue #18?

Cullen Bunn: I was so happy to be writing the Jubilee from this era. For me, she represents everything fun about the X-Men. This chapter of the X-Men Blue story certainly has some dark moments, but Jubilee reminds us that we’re meant to have a blast reading this story. Also, there’s conversation between Jubilee and Bloodstorm that I really enjoyed writing. It’s fun and maybe a little meta, but Jubilee also sums up what I think should be the ever-present philosophy for X-Men tales.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention anything else?

Cullen Bunn: Don’t forget that a story featuring Generation X from this timeline also means Banshee and the White Queen have a role to play. In particular, Emma plays an interesting role. In the present, the X-Men see her as an enemy. But when they encounter her in the past, they see a different side of her. Maybe—just maybe—this will inform how they interact with her when—[and] if—they make it back home.

Traverse the timestream with Cullen Bunn and R.B. Silva in X-MEN: BLUE #18, due out December 27!

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Ed Piskor tackles the unprecedented uncanny project!

On December 20, X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1 chronicles the greatest and most important moments in X-Men history—from origins, to battles, to heroes and villains.

Written and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Ed Piskor, this monumental assignment will provide a brand new look at some of mutantkind’s most iconic moments.

We got Ed’s perspective on what to expect from X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN.

Marvel.com: Since we’re talking history here, tell us how this series came about.

Ed Piskor: I tweeted that I wanted to do this exact comic and attached a compelling illustration of the lineage of the X-Men team. The image and tweet went viral and then Marvel came calling. I’m a fully-formed cartoonist who handles all the aspects of the creation, which basically means I’m a built-in comics-making factory with a million ideas. If I’m going to do any work-for-hire, the requirement is that it has to be a dream project or else I’ll just work on my own stuff. This X-Men comic absolutely falls into the category of “dream project.”

Marvel.com: Where do you begin with a project like this? How did you start to quantify everything you needed to cover across the history of the X-Men?

Ed Piskor: The most important thing with this, or any kind of project, begins with putting things down on paper. The common misconception of the audience tends to be that what they’re looking at is the creator’s first draft or something. In truth, the end result that the public gets to see, in my case at least, is probably a fifth or sixth draft. The liberation of making stories is that it doesn’t have to be right the first time. In fact, the first draft is usually trash but what comes from that is the more fun challenge of problem-solving rather than just staring at white sheets of blank paper.

Thankfully, I have a pretty in depth knowledge of this material so it just became a matter of curating things in a certain order and retooling things to fit my narrative as needed.

Marvel.com: Do you feel there’s an overarching story or theme in this series?

Ed Piskor: Sure. The overarching theme is the basic theme that’s always been there: here stands a new form of human evolution and the bulk of the population fears them. Now, the really fun thing will be that with each issue, a very natural arc takes place—which I didn’t necessarily anticipate. I’d want the reader to pick up on those themes themselves. It’s not an X-Men comic if you don’t have the dynamics between Charles Xavier and Magneto, for instance. The Phoenix left an indelible mark on the saga. Things like this.

Marvel.com: Did any characters stand out to you over the course of this book?

Ed Piskor: The characters of my comic act as a component piece to the bigger picture, the “Grand Design,” if you will. As I’ve just reached beyond the halfway mark of my epic, I do hate to admit how much I identify with Cyclops as a character. I think of him as a Type A square with a one track mind which focuses on being an X-Man. I focus my square Type A energy on making the best comics I can, seven days a week.

Marvel.com: Likewise, did you get to highlight any X-character that maybe has gotten short-shrift over the years?

Ed Piskor: Not specifically, but I did retool some characters to get them to fit into the greater narrative a little better. Eric the Red’s first appearance in the regular series never worked for me. Introducing Alex Summers so late never worked for me. Having Changeling be human cannon fodder disguised as Professor X never worked for me. The more I talk with readers, those comics never worked will for them either.

Marvel.com: How does being both the writer and artist for X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN benefit you most?

Ed Piskor: The benefits of handling everything, including lettering and coloring, is that each page exists as a living document until the very last moment the editor takes it from my hands and presses the buttons to make the comic see print. I rewrite text throughout the process to make things better. I redraw panels and stitch them in later to make things better. I recolor things at the last minute to just add a touch of polish that the reader won’t know about, but it all makes the end product a much better experience.

Marvel.com: What parts of X-Men history does issue #1 cover?

Ed Piskor: The first issue covers the origins of the X-Men. I take all of the established origin stuff that slowly got revealed through the first 280 issues and it’s all in this first issue. Now, the second issue will cover UNCANNY X-MEN #1 through issue #64 or so—whenever the series went into reprints for a few years.

Marvel.com: Rumor has it that this will be the first in a trilogy. What will the other two series cover?

Ed Piskor: Think of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN as a series of three two-issue arcs. This next set will include the X-Men team that includes Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Wolverine—among many others—and covers GIANT-SIZE X-MEN and way beyond, ending around the first X-MEN: LIFEDEATH story. The last arc begins with Rachel Summers introduction, the return of Jean Grey and it ends in a clever way that I won’t reveal, but I think it will create in incredibly satisfying, self-contained epic which will also inspire readers to dig deeper into X-Men lore. It’s very exciting.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, by Ed Piskor, drops on December 20!

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The mutants of yesterday struggle to save tomorrow with Cullen Bunn!

When the timeline gets fractured, who would be better qualified to fix it than the time-displaced X-MEN: BLUE teens themselves? Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Thony Silas present X-MEN BLUE #16, out on November 29!

The X-MEN: BLUE team has been struggling with the knowledge of their own potential futures—including a bunch of traumatic events—but in “Cross Time Capers” they’re forced to face those events first-hand. When Magneto gives the team a time machine, they scramble to save the continuum and figure out who and what to make of themselves in this brave new world.

Cullen Bunn drops by to catch us up on the timeline(s?!) and what’s in store for X-MEN: BLUE.

Marvel.com: So catch us up on what’s going on with the X-MEN: BLUE team lately!

Cullen Bunn: The Blue team has had a lot going on as of late. They’ve been battling demons from alternate realities, adding vampires to their ranks, starring in blood sports for Mojo’s delight, and more! When I started writing this book, I was determined to throw a lot at these characters. There would be stories coming in from all directions. And no sooner than one adventure ends, another begins. Next up, the X-Men are being thrown through time on some outrageous escapades through time and space.

Marvel.com: How exactly does one “time cop”?

Cullen Bunn: Only Jean-Claude Van Damme knows for sure. But the X-Men are gonna give it a good old mutant try! There’s something dreadfully wrong in the time stream, and the Blue team is uniquely qualified to handle the situation. They have a time machine that Magneto has been building secretly in the basement of the mansion. They’re going to be putting that to good use, and they’ll be meeting the X-Men from 2099, as well as Generation X, The White Queen, and even Magneto from the past. The Blue team will be meeting Emma Frost from her Generation X days and Magneto from the height of his super villain days. Imagine that for a second.

Marvel.com: Jean’s been dealing with the knowledge of the Phoenix future that might await her, but how are the others grappling with the idea of their potential selves?

Cullen Bunn: For the original five X-Men, the future is the past. That’s a strange concept, but if they are going to grow into their more well-known counterparts, they have to return to the time they left behind. That scares the X-Men, because they have grown and changed while they have been in our world. If they return to theirs, either they have to abandon everything they’ve become or the future will change—drastically.

Marvel.com: How is Bloodstorm adapting to the team?

Cullen Bunn: Bloodstorm will always be a little out of place in this team. Remember, in her world, she killed many of the X-Men because of her unnatural hunger, so she’s always on edge, always on guard. But she has connected with at least one member of the team: Bloodstorm and Cyclops seem to have formed a bond.

X-Men: Blue #16 cover by Arthur Adams

 

Marvel.com: How is Beast doing after the events with Goblin Queen and his dangerous forays into magic?

Cullen Bunn: Beast is holding up well. He’s dealing with some guilt and a sense of worthlessness. That’s what led him to delve into these dark forces, anyhow. Now, though, he knows he can’t use magic without opening himself up to corrupting magic. He’s willing to do this in dire situations, but he must be careful. Of course, there might be some additional ways in which Beast could enhance his abilities, and we might see that in the time travel story…

Marvel.com: How is the team dynamic with GOLD doing after the events of their Marvel Legacy crossover?

Cullen Bunn: The dynamic post “Mojo Worldwide” will be both better and worse. The teams will have worked together. They’ll have a better understanding of each other. But, the revelation that they’ve been secretly working with Magneto all this time will strain the relationship a bit.

Marvel.com: What’s it like writing the X-Men so young? How did you get into their heads as teens?

Cullen Bunn: I genuinely love these characters, so it’s a delight to write them at this stage of their lives and on these adventures. I draw on my own youth to some degree when writing these characters, but—if I’m being honest—young people today are a lot smarter than they were when I was one of them. If nothing else, I brought the mental average down quite a bit. So, I try to think of universal truths and universal challenges that we all go through at some point in our life, then try to think about how these heroic teens might manage these situations. Tempering that with the individual attitudes and experiences of the characters, it helps to pull it altogether in a way that rings true.

Marvel.com: This story touches on how the timeline is fractured. Can you hint more about what we’ll be able to expect from that concept?

Cullen Bunn: So, there’s been this ongoing debate around this idea: are the original five X-Men from an alternate reality? Are they genuinely from the past of this universe? In this story arc, we’ll be answering that question fairly definitively.

Pick up X-MEN: BLUE #16 by Cullen Bunn and Thony Silas—available November 29!

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Marc Guggenheim sends the squad on a trip to the Negative Zone!

No rest for the weary—on November 22, “The Negative Zone War” starts to simmer.

Having teamed up with their Blue counterparts to take on all comers in the “Mojo Worldwide” storyline, the groups parted ways again—and now the Gold faction of mutants have started gearing up for a perilous journey to the planet Dartayus. Next month, writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Lan Medina prepare to send the crew to the infamous Negative Zone in X-MEN: GOLD #16!

We spoke with Guggenheim about the long road ahead.

Marvel.com: What drew you to the Negative Zone as the setting for this story?

Marc Guggenheim: You know, back when I first started breaking out X-MEN: GOLD, I knew I wanted to do a story that evoked the great “X-Men in Space” stories that I grew up reading and loving. I loved the “Brood Saga” and “Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire,” and I definitely wanted to do one of those stories.

At the same time, no one can top those stories, so as I started to think about other space-like venues, the Negative Zone occurred to me, just as something that makes things a little different. I’m a big FANTASTIC FOUR fan—and a big fan of the Negative Zone—and I just thought, “Oh, I’ve never seen that before. That might be interesting.”

That said, we do go to the Negative Zone but we do not meet the normal denizens of it. Annihulus and Blastaar do not appear in this particular arc.

But it feels like an interesting environment, the planet of Dartayus. It actually got its name from one of the visual effects artists that I work with on a television show that I produce.

Marvel.com: Ha! How’d that happen?

Marc Guggenheim: I always review the visual effects. I get the visual effects basically as separate shots and each shot has a title card and it indicates the name of the artist. I saw Dartayus and I thought, “There’s no way that’s a real name.” But, real or not, I thought, “I have to steal this for something.”

So thank you Dartayus, I really appreciate being able to use your name.

We get a chance to introduce the readers and the X-Men to a brand new planet, a brand new culture. I love to play with all the toys in the toy box, but at the same time I like to occasionally add some toys of my own.

In the case of Dartayus, we actually got a glimpse of it in X-MEN: GOLD #12. In that issue, we see the events from the perspective of Kologoth, this mutant who comes from planet Dartayus. In fact, if everything goes as planned, issue #12 will be published in the same trade paperback as issues #16 through #20, which constitute the whole of “The Negative Zone War.”

Marvel.com: Working with the artist Len Medina, how did you realize the look of the Zone and the planet? How does it look similar to, or different from, the Negative Zone we’ve seen before?

Marc Guggenheim: I have to say, the Dartayians came from four different artists. Adrian Syaf designed Kologoth. Luke Ross, the artist for issue #12, came up with the look of the Dartayian military and a lot of the iconography of the populace. Lan Medina designed their ships. Ken Lashley, finally, crafted a character who acts as basically a god of Dartayus, called Scythian. It became a real labor of love for four separate artists, all contributing different elements to the design of this whole Dartayian world.

It feels really cool—if it takes a village to raise a kid, it takes four artists to create a planet.

Marvel.com: You mentioned Ken Lashley—he illustrated the cover for issue #16, which shows some great new uniforms. Did Ken create them himself? Did you two collaborate on that?

Marc Guggenheim: It came about out of a couple of different things.

Editor Mark Paniccia had planted a seed in my head that maybe at some point all the Gold members get the same costume; we go back to the original X-Men uniform conceit. It ended up falling away for a variety of different reasons but it always sort of stuck with me.

This happens in issue #17—in true comic book fashion, you get a glimpse of the new costumes on the cover before you see them in continuity—when the X-Men go to the Negative Zone. When they go to Dartayus, the seed that Mark planted sprouted in my head as this notion of, “You know, it could be interesting if they had these special uniforms to function in the Negative Zone.”

So with that idea in mind, we handed it over to Ken who, in great Ken Lashley fashion, came up with a wonderful design that feels new and iconic, but not overwrought. I am very partial to clean, gimmick-less costume concepts and I thought Ken came up with something really, really cool.

Then, colorist Frank Martin developed a color scheme that, again, felt very timeless and original. That red looks really stark; it’s not really a color that you usually associate with the X-Men, so that feels really cool.

It was also, quite frankly, a really sneaky way to get Old Man Logan into a costume.

Marvel.com: So most of issue #16 takes place on Earth before they head to Dartayus.

Marc Guggenheim: Yes, X-MEN: GOLD #16 takes place all on Earth and then in #17 we go to the Negative Zone—spoiler alert.

Marvel.com: This book will also deal with the Mutant Deportation Act, which has been a story element for a few issues now. Given that the X-Men have always reflected and commented on the real world, did you aim for that effect with this facet of the series?

Marc Guggenheim: You know, I’ll be honest, there’s this sort of undercurrent of fan reaction—not just limited to comics, I see this in television all the time—of “Don’t get into politics, I just want to be entertained,” or “Don’t have your stories reflect what’s going on in the world, we just want to be entertained.”

I have a fundamental problem with that. In large part because I came of age in a time when television shows dealt with the issues of the day and comic books, quite frankly, dealt with the issues of the day. As a young kid, that’s how I learned about that stuff. I didn’t read the New York Times; I read UNCANNY X-MEN. I think some of the stories that Chris Claremont wrote dealing with racism—not just in Uncanny, but also in NEW MUTANTS—were profound. They really helped shape my thoughts on the subject. I kind of feel like when someone says, “We just want to be entertained. Keep real life events out of your work, out of anyone’s work,” that’s really lowering the discourse.

If I do my job correctly, the people that want to be solely entertained will be entertained. I’m not getting on any sort of soapbox in my writing. Theoretically, the politics should be like the adult humor in Pixar films—if you’re an adult, you get the reference. That’s an extra layer—that goes right over a kid’s head, but they still enjoy the movie.

I will say—that being said—on one page in issue #16, Kitty confronts Lydia Nance, who, throughout the book, has been, basically, an anti-mutant bigot. I’ll be paraphrasing my own writing here, but Kitty says, “Can you just clear something up for me? It is all I can do just to get up in the morning and go about my day and live my life. I don’t understand how people can find the time, quite frankly, to be bigoted. To find the emotional energy to be bigoted. Isn’t just living your life enough without getting into how everyone else lives their lives? Or who they are? Or how they were born? Don’t you have bigger things in your own insular life to deal with?”

I was basically speaking for myself through Kitty, but I don’t think that would be a particularly divisive or even revelatory point of view. I think, at the end of the day, you are right: no matter what era, the X-Men have always been about divisiveness versus inclusion. I think if you do an X-MEN book without that, it’s like doing a FANTASTIC FOUR book without the wonder. Or a SPIDER-MAN book without the humor. You’d lose a critical element of what makes the X-Men the X-Men.

Marvel.com: Any closing thoughts to leave readers with?

Marc Guggenheim: I have to say, I’m really excited about #16. It became one of those issues that felt like, for me, everything came together as a writer.

I think one of the challenges you face as a writer can be balancing—in 20 pages—subplots and character development and action. I just felt very pleased. I hate interviews where the writer just pats themselves on the back, but this issue felt like everything just came together from a writing perspective.

Then Lan came in and I just felt like he leveled up his art. It already looked really, really good, but some pages in issue #16 are simply stunning. One of the nice things about having rotating artists on X-MEN: GOLD has been that, despite the rotation, these artists are not doing their first issue; they’ve been doing the books for a little while now. Lan has been a great example of someone who drew on X-MEN: GOLD before, then came back in and just seems like, “Oh yeah, I got this.”

Prepare to return to the Negative Zone with X-MEN: GOLD #16, by Marc Guggenheim and artist Lan Medina, on November 22!

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An evil goddess fights the X-Men with an army of the dead!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Death follows the X-Men wherever they go.

One of the unfortunate side effects of fighting for equality, the mutant race negotiates with extinction on a semi-regular basis. And this practice reached a climax when the X-Men faced an army of dead reanimated to kill the living.

Selene, a the psychic vampire, used a Techno-Organic Virus mixed with her own dark magic to create a new concoction that raises the dead. She used that formula against the X-Men in an event called Necrosha that began in 2009 with the one-shot X-NECROSHA and then continued between X-FORCE, X-MEN LEGACY, and NEW MUTANTS.

X Necrosha (2009) #1

X Necrosha (2009) #1

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Written by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Zeb Wells, and Mike Carey with art by Clayton Crain, Diogenes Neves, Clay Mann, and others, this story made the X-Men reflect on some of their biggest mistakes—and face them like never before.

This damned enterprise served Selene’s quest to become a goddess. On that quest, she and her undead crew—which included Wither, Blink, Senyaka, Mortis, and Eli Bard—utilized an army of zombie mutants to attack the X-Men in their home of Utopia. While the X-Men fought the horde, Selene and her inner circle traveled to Genosha where they made thousands more mutants and former mutants rise from the dead as a means to build her seat of power.

In NEW MUTANTS issues #6, #7, and #8, the recently risen Doug Ramsey followed Selene’s command to destroy his old teammates after helping the Hellions break into Utopia. Luckily for those involved, Warlock eventually showed up and helped quell the danger.

Meanwhile, over in X-MEN LEGACY #231, #232, and #233, a team consisting of Nightcrawler, Rogue, Colossus, Psylocke, Magneto, Husk, Trance, and Blindfold raced to Muir Island at the behest of Destiny. Once there, they faced off against Proteus—one of the X-Men’s deadliest foes. The ensuing battle led to teammates fighting possessed teammates, and only Magneto’s intervention could manage to save the day.

The main action took place in X-FORCE issues #21, #22, #23, #24, and #25, as the more violent X-Squad dealt directly with Selene and her plans. Working together to seize Selene and her evil cohort, the team also fought off a pack of Necroshan zombies. Though brave in their efforts, the X-Squad remained unable to stop Selene from undergoing a rite to reach her goddess form.

X-Force (2008) #21

X-Force (2008) #21

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In response, Warpath communed with his dead brother, John Proudstar, A.K.A. the first Warpath. They used their ancestral ritual to outfit the team with abilities to adequately counter the new deity. And at last, the mutants—the living mutants—prevailed.

Fright Fact

NEW X-MEN #23 and X-FORCE #11 provide further background to the players in the Necrosha epic. The former explores Wither’s past with the title team and illustrates how he started working with Selene. In the latter issue, called “Who The Hell Is Eli Bard?”, readers learned the answer to the titular question—and witnessed his first ever meeting with Selene.

And to see how Selene selected the rest of the major characters in her scheme, read up on X-NECROSHA: THE GATHERING. This story features some of the creepiest, most spooktacular monster art in the series!

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Writer Marc Guggenheim peers inside the head of the terrifying TV tycoon!

After years of drawing the X-Men to his own nightmare realm, Mojo has decided to mix it up and swing by New York City instead. On October 18, Mojo takes Manhattan in X-MEN: GOLD #14!

Written by Marc Guggenheim with art by Marc Laming, the mutant crossover continues as the Gold team fights alongside their X-MEN: BLUE counterparts in a war with Mojo, the Brood, and Dark Phoenix!

So, what motivates the malevolent mogul behind all this chaos? We asked Guggenheim to find out.

Marvel.com: The first time we spoke about this crossover, you mentioned that Mojo would be your nightmare television executive. Now that you’ve written him, has that perspective held up?

Marc Guggenheim: Yeah, it really has. Even more so than I imagined.

The fun thing about writing Mojo has been the opportunity to get metatextual. I really, really pushed that—particularly in issue #14. There’s a page that has a really fun joke about the nature of X-Men capacity to not only avoid being killed but to be resurrected. It gave me a chuckle to see how Marc Laming executed that; the joke really lands.

Mojo can never be too broad or too big. No matter what you write for him, it never feels over the top.

Marvel.com: What inspires Mojo on a day-to-day basis?

Marc Guggenheim: For my money, Mojo gets motivated by three things: ratings, ratings, and ratings.

It makes him a very ego-simplistic guy. He has a very simple need: he wants the biggest audience he can get his hands on. There’s something very decadent about that kind of character—the kind that acts just so cravenly that nothing will stop him in his pursuit of ratings.

If you think about ratings, they are kind of meaningless. And I say that as someone who has been working in television for 18 years. [Laughs]

There’s nothing special about ratings. It gives you an idea of how many people are watching your show, but they aren’t good onto themselves. So Mojo pursues this entire endeavor for his entire life and it is a very meaningless pursuit.

If you can see him through that light, you almost start to feel bad for the guy.

Marvel.com: What draws Mojo to the X-Men? Why does he find them so magnetic?

Marc Guggenheim: Well, that’s a good question.

He has a history with them. It’s almost like he’s killing two birds with one stone—he gets his precious ratings at the same time that messes with the people who have often made his life difficult.

Every time he deals with the X-Men, he comes away diminished. But it’s more than just the X-Men foiling his plans—he usually ends up taking a step back as a result of his interactions with them. For someone like Mojo, who has this massive ego, he gets really picky about these upstart mutants that keep vexing him at every turn.

Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on Marc Laming’s rendition of Mojo? What about his depiction really brings out those characteristics?

Marc Guggenheim: I really like Marc’s ability to capture a lot of the humor of Mojo. It can be one thing to draw Mojo as really diabolical or creepy looking, but Marc also manages to nail all the jokes that are written here.

Marc has also made Major Domo this really fun visual sidekick to Mojo. You’ll often see Major Domo’s facial expressions are providing a fun, but subtle, commentary on something probably all of us can appreciate—working with the worst boss ever. [Editor’s note: Not me! I love my bosses that will definitely read this article!]

Marvel.com: How did you and Marc go about capturing the broken physics and inherent strangeness of the Mojoverse?

Marc Guggenheim: In issue #14, Marc takes us on a tour of the X-Men’s Greatest Hits. His artwork does a fantastic job of not only replicating the look and feel of those stories, but really the look and feel of those eras.

For example, we open with a scene set around the start of “Mutant Genesis”—the beginning of [writer] Chris Claremont and [artist] Jim Lee’s three-part Magneto story in X-MEN. You’ll really feel like you are transported back. It’s really cool and fun.

I just want to say, Mike Mayhew drew issue #13, Marc draws issue #14, Diego Bernard will do issue #15, and all the issues are colored by Rain Beredo. All the artists are turning in unbelievable work. And Rain’s coloring brings it all together so even though three different artists are on board, it keeps a similar visual style all the way through.

They are really, really, really stunning looking books. All our artists are up to the challenge of the incredibly huge landscape we are playing with here. These are really big widescreen sequences across the biggest, most iconic X-Men stories that have ever been done. It has been really easy to write, but man the artists have had their work cut out for them.

Marvel.com: What about this story makes Mojo so dangerous to the X-Men?

Marc Guggenheim: Every time the X-Men have dealt with Mojo, it hasn’t just been on his terms, but on his playing field as well. For Mojo to make a breach into our world—it just ups the dramatic stakes. You’ll see throughout the series how Mojo’s plot eventually impacts Manhattan. To my knowledge—I’m always loathe to say we’ve never seen something because there are so many stories—I feel pretty confident in saying we’ve never seen this before.

Without spoiling the ending, I will say that by the end of this issue the battlefield will be very significantly changed. It sets up the climax that we will reach in X-MEN: BLUE #15.

The crossover continues in X-MEN: GOLD #14, by Marc Guggenheim and artist Marc Laming, on October 18!

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Analyzing a mutant Marvel Legacy with writer Cullen Bunn!

Mojo may seem like a goof, but writer Cullen Bunn needs you to know that the villain has you—and the X-Men—fooled.

The mutant crossover continues between X-MEN: GOLD and X-MEN: BLUE as the two squads unite to wage war with Mojo, Sentinels, the Brood…and the past. On October 11, Bunn joins artist Jorge Molina to keep the fight alive as Marvel Legacy begins with X-MEN: BLUE #13!

Cullen took a moment to warn us about the danger of Mojo, the devious delight of unveiling Team Blue’s connection to Magneto, and the joy of collaborating with Marc Guggenheim.

Marvel.com: What made this the perfect time for a crossover between Blue and Gold?

Cullen Bunn: What’s more thrilling than two X-Men teams coming together and facing a threat that they simply cannot face alone? There’s a long-standing tradition of two different X-teams joining forces, mixing up the rosters, and facing some dire threat. With the Marvel Legacy initiative, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit that tradition in a big, action-packed, fun way.

Marvel.com: How did you decide on Mojo as the villain to bring these teams together?

Cullen Bunn: First of all, Mojo is awesome. I’ve been planning a Mojo adventure for a while now—there are hints of it in my UNCANNY X-MEN run. When we started talking about the Marvel Legacy arc, though, we knew we wanted to have the Gold and Blue teams come together, and my Editor [Mark Paniccia] suggested that this could be where the Mojo story takes place. I couldn’t agree more. Mojo gives us a great opportunity to revisit some of the greatest moments in mutant history—the Asgard War, the Mutant Massacre, the Death of Phoenix, Days of Future Past—because he has such vast abilities to warp reality in a deadly way.

Deadly.

Marvel.com: How would you describe your take on Mojo?

People forget this about Mojo—yes, he’s kind of a goofball and he cracks weird jokes. But he’s also extremely powerful and can be scary as Hell. Mojo can be terrifying and menacing. He’s still a character with a lot of humor, but he’s not to be trifled with. In this story, his back gets pushed up against the wall, so to speak, and that makes him extremely dangerous. I just looked at some lettering notes from one of the issues, and the Editor had written “So creepy!” on a Mojo scene. That’s exactly what we’re going for. Sometimes you hear that Mojo operates in an alternate reality, so his threats aren’t all that real. Well, in this story he’s coming to our world—and we absolutely do not want his plans to succeed.

Marvel.com: How does the Blue team react to their Gold counterparts? How about Mojo?

Cullen Bunn: The teams get along fairly well. There are some very interesting dynamics here. Cyclops and Rachel, for instance. Old Man Logan and Jimmy. Storm and Bloodstorm. Of course, the 800-pound Master of Magnetism in the room is that the Gold team does not yet know that the Original Five are working with Magneto. That’s going to change in this story, and it will put some tension on the relations between the groups.

Marvel.com: Describe the collaborative process between you and X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. How’s it been?

Cullen Bunn: Marc and I both have X-Men lore wired into our brains. I know for certain that Marc’s notes for X-MEN: GOLD included “softball game!”—just like my notes for X-MEN: BLUE. I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure he also had plans for Mojo. Working together has been an absolute blast. We had some phone calls early on to discuss the story, then we started trading planning documents back and forth, adding to the story, making it crazier and more epic.

Marvel.com: How have your respective artists, Jorge Molina and Mike Mayhew, contributed to that process?

Jorge and Mike helped so much in defining the look and feel of Mojo’s world—we’re seeing a lot of it here—and of Mojo’s technology and the “weapons” with which he attacks Earth. Also, seeing these two talents casting the current X-teams into classic situations—and classic clothing—is something special.

Marvel.com: Given that Mojo lends himself to both humor and horror, how would you describe the tone of the crossover?

Cullen Bunn: This crossover is all about action and classic X-Men adventure. In some Mojo stories, the X-Men are thrown into silly or goofy situations, but not here. These adventures are serious business with real stakes. This feels like a fun story, make no mistake, and there will be plenty of moments of humor—some of it fun humor, some of it dark—but I don’t think what we’ve got here could qualify as silly. The X-Men are trying to save themselves, but they are also trying to save the world, and time has started running out.

Marvel.com: Tell X-Men fans why they need to get onboard with this crossover.

Cullen Bunn: I think you could start this arc without reading either book beforehand, really. We give you everything you really need in those first couple of issues. Of course, you should read both GOLD and BLUE, because you’re missing out on some really awesome fun in those titles, but you can let this be your introduction to either or both teams and still have a blast.

X-MEN: BLUE #13, by Cullen Bunn and artist Jorge Molina, launches on October 11!

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A classic X-Men storyline makes its mark on the acclaimed mobile game!

The X-Men joined the “Marvel Future Fight” team only a few months ago, but Apocalypse has already sniffed them out. Ever ready to eliminate those mutants he sees as beneath him, the powerful villain brings a new Age of Apocalypse to the world of “Future Fight.”

You’ll need to assemble your team, suit up in some new uniforms, and take the fight to the High Lord himself. Maybe—just maybe—you can bring him to your side.

To get the full rundown of everything the Age of Apocalypse brings to “Future Fight” fans this month, we grabbed a few minutes with Minkyun Kim, Dev Director at Netmarble Monster.

Marvel.com: Age of Apocalypse comes to “Marvel Future Fight” in a big way with this update. After the addition of the X-Men back in June, fans have certainly been eager to see some content from one of the team’s biggest events. What can you tell us about the apocalyptic additions?

Minkyun Kim: In this update, we will be telling an X-Men story from an alternate dimension with our mutant heroes under Apocalypse’s control. You’ll be able to experience World Boss content along with the X-Men, traversing an apocalyptic world.

Marvel.com: To combat the villainous Apocalypse, several of the recently added X-Men suit up as their Age of Apocalypse counterparts. Who will sport these new uniforms?

Minkyun Kim: In the first Age of Apocalypse update, you’ll be able to check out the comic uniforms for Cyclops and Beast, who appear as minions of Apocalypse. In a later Age of Apocalypse update, uniforms for Rogue and Wolverine will be available.

Marvel.com: And of course, some new faces join the team, as well. What do the Maximoff twins each bring to the table?

Minkyun Kim: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver will appear as World Bosses. They also play a very important role in the story. A huge event will affect not just the Age of Apocalypse dimension, but also the world of “Marvel Future Fight.”

Marvel.com: Not one to be left out of an interdimensional battle, Cable arrives on the scene as well. How will his unusual mix of psychic abilities and massive weaponry play out?

Minkyun Kim: He’ll have his basic weapon, a futuristic laser rifle. He will also be able to throw a smoke bomb, which will cover the enemy’s vision while he teleports away. With his rifle, he can fire at the enemy furiously or [launch] rockets and leave them suspended in the air using psychokinesis before suddenly activating them on unsuspecting enemies.

He is also able restore his health by meditating. During the meditation, he can use his psychokinesis to throw military knives to keep the enemy away.

If he needs more firepower, he is able to get support fire from the floating nation, Providence. He can also pull out a large plasma bazooka and destroy whatever is in his way. You’ll soon be able to experience his very powerful weapons and his amazing strength.

Marvel.com: Alongside the Apocalypse update, World Boss mode gets an overhaul. What changes are coming to the fan-favorite game mode?

Minkyun Kim: New users had a difficult time with the original World Boss modes, and it also felt too long. To alleviate this, we created a Beginner Mode for new users. Beginner Mode will enable players with lower level characters to participate in this core game content.

Marvel.com: Players will also be able to get their hands on a new currency with this update. What are Boost Points?

Minkyun Kim: The amount of energy consumed when playing through content will decrease, or the amount of experience gained will increase, depending on the amount of Boost Points a player has. Previously, Hot Time events enabled players to log into the game at specific times during the day to gain these effects, but players who lived in other time zones were unable to utilize it. Boost Points enable all players to make full use of these bonus effects, regardless of when they log in or what character they play.

Marvel.com: Apocalypse himself will join the fight in a few weeks; how will players recruit him and what will the world’s first mutant add to their team?

Minkyun Kim: To acquire Apocalypse, players will have to complete a newly added challenge in World Boss, unlock his stage and face him like other World Bosses in order to collect Apocalypse biometrics.

Apocalypse is a very powerful character who does not use any weapons. Even his slightest movements can crush the ground or blast enemies with a dark force, keeping [his opponents] at bay. He is also able to remove enemy buffs and can enhance himself [to] keep himself at an advantage. He deals continuous damage and his ability to deploy floating stones is also advantageous. He can also enlarge himself and destroy things around him with increased strength.

For all the latest on “Marvel Future Fight,” stay tuned to Marvel.com and @MarvelGames on Twitter!

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