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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you are going to write the X-Men.

Marc Guggenheim: That is probably true.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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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Charles Soule shares some intel on the major mutant milestone coming in July!

Ready to be astonished?!

This July, Charles Soule joins a series of the industry’s best artists as they prepare to unleash ASTONISHING X-MEN! Last month, we spoke with the writer about his upcoming work on the series relaunch after its four-year hiatus, and now we return to try and pry some extra details from him about what he and his collaborators have in store for not only readers but also this brand new configuration of the X-Men.

Marvel.com: Charles, last month the news broke that you’d be spearheading the re-launch of ASTONISHING X-MEN. From those early news releases, we learned you’d be taking readers to “all corners of the X-Men mythology” according to Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso. Can you shed a little light on what this means for both new and long-time fans of mutantkind?

Charles Soule: I don’t want to give away too much of the story yet, because ASTONISHING X-MEN is designed to work as a series of reveals. Every time you think you know what’s happening, the script gets flipped a bit, usually around the last page of each issue. It’s like a puzzle box: part of the fun is figuring it all out. That said the book does do a lot with what I think of as X-Men touchstones—significant events in the lore, characters new and old—but rarely the way you think. I call it “weaponized nostalgia.” It’s all explained and laid out, though. Even if you’ve never read an X-Men comic before, it’ll just work as a fun adventure.

Marvel.com: I understand you’re looking to make this book just as much of an “entry-point” title for newer readers as it will be a satisfying experience for long-time fans of these characters. How do you strike that balance between seemingly opposite readerships?

Charles Soule: Not easily! But really, it’s about making sure that (a) each character’s powers are clearly noted or explained when they first appear, (b) writing them like real people who act towards each other the way they should based on their respective histories, and (c) having “nostalgia” or “homage” bits work in and of themselves. Like, if you see someone look at a photo of another character and get sad, that works for someone who knows exactly why they’re sad, but also someone who doesn’t, if it’s written correctly. I’m spending a lot of time on this specific aspect of the book. I don’t think you should need a degree in X-Men-ology to enjoy X-Men comics, but I think having that degree should enhance your enjoyment.

Marvel.com: If we don’t talk about the art, then we’re not talking comics! And this particular series will be taking a rather unique approach to the visuals. Can you walk us through the genesis behind the choice to introduce a new artist with each issue and why you and Marvel as a whole felt this was the strongest way to tell the story you’ll be sharing in ASTONISHING X-MEN?

Charles Soule: Well, again, there’s a story conceit I don’t really want to spoil yet, but I think it will work really well, in part because Marvel is staffing the series with an incredible batch of artists. We start off with Jim Cheung and just go from there, all amazing—or…astonishing, even. I’m tailoring each script to each artist’s strengths, to the extent I can. It’s pretty exciting for me, sort of a high-wire act, to make sure each artist gets what they need to draw a great issue but the overarching story gets served as well. Again, not easy, but fun.

Marvel.com: Although this is a series that you’re structuring to appeal to both new and old readers, I understand you’re dipping deep into the archives of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery in raising The Shadow King to the forefront as the initial “Big Bad,” and someone who fans could even credit as being the original inspiration for Xavier’s creation of the team.

What made him the right choice for you when it came to launching this new series?

Charles Soule: The Shadow King was the first “evil” mutant Charles Xavier ever encountered, and as we saw way back in UNCANNY X-MEN #117 in 1979, he’s essentially the reason Xavier decided to train up other mutants to fight emerging threats in the world. The nice thing about The Shadow King is that he resides in a place called the astral plane, which is sort of a dream dimension where anything anyone imagines can become real. So, battles there tend to be about willpower; the person who can impose their reality on their opponents, force them to believe in whatever situation they’re projecting onto them, tends to win. In ASTONISHING, we’ll see some fantastic set pieces built around that idea, some of which will tie into signature past events from X-Men history. It’s not all backwards-looking, though. This is a story that moves the X-Men forward in a huge way.

Marvel.com: Although you’ve certainly worked with your fair share of mutants in your time at Marvel, Charles, I believe your time with this particular group is more limited, no? What aspects of these characters made them the right ones to engage in this journey?

Charles Soule: That’s correct. Except for Mystique, I’ve never really written any of this group to any real degree, unless you count Old Man Logan and Wolverine as the same character; they’re not, although of course there are similarities. I like this cast because it gives me an immense amount to work with as far as their interpersonal relationships. Rogue and Gambit have a long history together, romantic and otherwise. Mystique raised Rogue for a while. Fantomex and Angel have both been linked with Psylocke. Old Man Logan probably killed all of these folks back in his own universe. And on and on it goes. The power set is varied, they’re all super cool in different ways—it’s a rich stew, and I feel like I can do a ton with it. I should also say that the eight characters on the cover of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 are not the only X-Men that will appear in the series, but they’re definitely the leads.

Marvel.com: Before we wrap up, I want to lob one “fastball special” your way. There’s always a concern among comic book fans about consequences. With a new series launch, we expect a certain amount of bombast, but what sort of consequences have you baked into the story you’re preparing to launch? In what ways does this story not only matter, but why is it one that’s going to be a “must read” for X-Men fans of all kinds and varieties?

Charles Soule: I think that will all be made clear on the last page of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. I think I’m known for writing a certain kind of X-book, after DEATH OF WOLVERINE, DEATH OF X and IVX. ASTONISHING X-MEN is no exception. If people want consequences, they’ll get ‘em.

Charles Soule and the top artistic talent in the comics industry bring you ASTONISHING X-MEN, beginning in July!

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Enter the X-Men as the Shi’Ar Empire goes after the mighty mutants!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of the new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

The past has a way of catching up with you, even if it’s technically your future.

That’s the kind of life lesson most people can’t relate to, but most people aren’t the time-displaced Jean Grey from ALL NEW X-MEN. She and her pals traveled to the present and continue to be awed by the way the world turned out. Of course, that initial shock didn’t hold a candle to the mind-blowing surprise of aliens popping out of the sky and kidnapping their psychic teammate, an event that kicked off a crossover with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY called “The Trial of Jean Grey.” Brian Michael Bendis wrote every issue—GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1113 and ALL-NEW X-MEN #2224—with artwork by Sara Pichelli, Stuart Immonen, and David Marquez.

All the trouble started when Gladiator and the Shi’Ar empire decided to punish the young mutant for the crimes her older self committed under the influence of the Phoenix Force. Even J’Son of Spartax thought the idea seemed a bit thin, but that didn’t stop them from following through. The Guardians got wind of the plan and decided to help, but arrived on Earth too late to actually save Jean Grey, so they gathered the young X-Men—including X-23 at that point—to travel with them into space and track the errant X-Man down.

While the Shi’Ar held Jean, they informed her of her charges, yet another revelation that left her wide-eyed. At the same time, the Guardians and X-Men continued to give chase, getting some help from the Starjammers along the way. Emotions continued to run high as the young Scott Summers met his dad Christopher, otherwise known as the cosmic pirates’ leader Corsair.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #11

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #11

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Jean Grey’s hearing continued on with Gladiator officially leveling charges against her. In a surprising move, J-Son appeared out of nowhere to challenge the legitimacy of the claims, which inadvertently stalled the proceedings so Jean could escape and her friends could land on the planet. During the final conflict with Gladiator and the Imperial Guard, Jean developed some new powers that her other self never possessed. This proved, to some extent, that this young woman could not be the same person who committed murder on a planetary level. With that new information, the Shi’Ar agreed to let her go.

With the immediate trouble out of the way, most of the X-Men returned to Earth—Scott decided to travel around with his dad in his own solo series—and the Guardians got back to their own endeavors.

Transmissions from Knowhere

With everything going on in this crossover, you might be surprised to find that it also planted the seeds of romance between Peter Quill—Star-Lord—and Kitty Pryde. Before returning to the stars, Peter handed Kitty a space phone that would allow them to chat anytime. “Call me,” he said. “Just to whine about the universe.” To see how that goes down, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post!

Next time, Brian Michael Bendis continues his run on the Guardians by disassembling the team and then building them back up with all new members!

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A closed beta of Marvel Heroes Omega has been confirmed for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One!

Earth’s mightiest heroes will unite for Marvel Heroes Omega on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this spring! Gazillion Entertainment and Marvel announced today the action-packed RPG/MMO, a spin-off of Marvel Heroes 2016, will bring together the Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, the Avengers, the Defenders and more. Play as your favorite hero from the Marvel Universe across the nine-chapter story campaign and take on some of our most infamous super villains, including Doctor Doom and Loki.

Lovers of lore can also expect a fantastic tour through famous locations, from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the mystical realm of Asgard. Players can look forward to joining forces with fellow Super Heroes in the game’s many Headquarter areas to tackle the game’s most challenging end-game content. Other modes available include Operations, Midtown Patrol, and Danger Room. For loot seekers, tackle the Legendary Missions and Heroic/Superheroic/Cosmic Trials.

Take a look at the announce trailer and photo gallery above.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Heroes Omega” news.

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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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mutant expert Cullen Bunn lends a hand in evaluating the original five!

Here are my and Doctor Bunn’s notes and observations on the mutants as requested. You received their releases in advance and we have kept copies as well should their waiving of privilege need to be proven at a later date. Please let us know if there is anything further we can do to help

Jean Grey: With the knowledge of her future—or the future she would’ve had—Jean has proven to more assertive at a younger age than the Jean Grey who was not plucked from the timeline and moved forward. With this assertiveness has come some arguably problematic behaviors including overreaches in power and some manipulations.

Overall, as Dr. Bunn describes below, the main thrust of Grey’s therapy is about her feelings of responsibility for her teammates and the larger mutant community.

Dr. Bunn’s Notes: “Jean Grey has assumed a leadership role among the young X-Men, but she struggles with worry that she could be letting her teammates down. She has put her team on a potentially very dangerous path, and she feels solely responsible for their safety.

“She also shows concern over being patronized by the rest of the X-Men. She relies upon and confides in her teammate Scott Summers, who understands the struggles of leadership. Knowing that the older X-Men have faced great challenges in their lives, she hopes to prepare her team to better face the same level of threats.”

Cyclops: Summers, intriguingly, has followed an almost opposite path than Grey. Instead of the knowledge of his future making him more assertive and dedicated to assuming a leadership role, it has served to encourage him to take a step back. While supportive, he has gladly ceded the role of team leader to Grey. This stands in contrast to a Cyclops who once would literally fight teammates for the “honor” of leadership.

Knowing his future has also allowed him, it seems, to expand his attention beyond mutant concerns as demonstrated by his joining the Champions and exploring the idea of being more of a super hero and less of a mutant spokesperson/advocate.

Dr. Bunn’s Notes: “The destructive power he possesses—and the great discipline he feels he must always maintain—has contributed to Scott’s restrained, controlled, and rigid demeanor. He was the first of Professor Xavier’s X-Men, and he feels that this distinction comes with a great responsibility. Still, he is somewhat relieved that Jean has taken a leadership role for the team.”

Beast: Henry McCoy is an intriguing case to this writer. I’ve gotten to know the “adult version” as a devoted man of science so to see his teenage self beginning to dabble in more mystical pursuits has been both interesting and alarming. The client’s struggle to find a path when, of all the clients, his future seems the least fraught has certainly caught my attention, leading me to wonder if there has been some tragedy encountered by the client since he arrived that he has kept secret or that the adult McCoy has hidden or suppressed some painful memories while I worked with him.

X-Men: Blue #1 cover by Arthur Adams

Dr. Bunn’s Notes: “Hank is a man of many secrets. Since finding himself lost in our time, he has struggled to find his place in the world and his value to the team. This has led him to dabble in the mystic arts, a new interest that could prove dangerous for him.

“When cautioned about the risks inherent with the magical arts, he scoffed, saying that he has a ‘teacher’ who is guiding him in this new field of study. No record of this teacher could be found.”

Iceman: Of all the team, Bobby Drake seems to have taken the most advantage of this timeline, for lack of a better way to express it. While his confession of his sexuality was something he was rushed into by Grey’s mind-reading, he has since proven rather comfortable with both the self-knowledge of his desires and living an out life. While his adult counterpart has often seemed to vacillate between identities and responsibilities to the point that it was difficult to know if he had an authentic self, this teen seems comfortable, level-headed, and very aware of who he is.

Dr. Bunn’s Notes: “Bobby uses humor to mask his feelings of discomfort and nervousness. A great deal has changed for him since he arrived in our time. He has developed a romantic relationship with the Inhuman Romeo, and he is experiencing a wide range of emotions, as would any teenager. The fact that the young men no longer see each other as much as they once did—because of physical distance and increased responsibilities—causes Bobby a degree of uncertainty and worry. This anxiety appears to be manifesting as minor fluctuations in his powers.”

Angel: The popular conception of Warren Worthington prior to the traumatic destruction of his wings and subsequent alliance with Apocalypse was that he was a gifted and privileged adolescent who experienced little by way of adversity that was not directly associated with his wings.

This interpretation may have been true, but the teen Worthington in our timeline has shown himself to be far more complex. After being compelled to stay by Grey’s powers—as noted above, an unfortunate side effect of her increased assertiveness—Worthington has quickly shed his timeline homesickness, replaced by a sort of reckless arrogance. In some ways, he has become the least charitable assumptions about him: that he is a self-involved rich boy who only cares about his own glory. That would be concerning enough on its own, but paired with a violent streak that is unlike anything recorded about his adult counterpart’s years as Angel, it becomes something altogether worrying.

Dr. Bunn’s Notes: “At first, Warren was the most uncomfortable of the time-lost X-Men, wanting desperately to return to his point of origin. He has, however, now embraced this time period as willingly as—if not more so than—his teammates.

“With his abilities changing to be more dangerous, Warren has adopted more aggressive tactics in combat. Perhaps this has influenced a more impulsive side of his personality. Warren appears to be displaying near-narcissistic tendencies in his relationships with his teammates and others.”

This X-Men team will next meet with Doctor Cullen Bunn and his associates Doctors Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni on April 12 and the session notes will be found in the file labeled X-MEN: BLUE #1.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who knows his teenage version is out there somewhere, just whooping it up.

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Betsy Braddock has had one weird road to being a super hero!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Psylocke might be throwing down with Magneto in this week’s UNCANNY X-MEN #19, but she might not have been so bold back in her first appearance. In fact, as longtime X-fans will know, the woman known as Betsy Braddock has actually changed more than her appearance since she first showed up in the Marvel UK comic CAPTAIN BRITAIN #8 in 1976 by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe.

The sister of the title hero, Betsy displayed some telepathic abilities, worked with S.T.R.I.K.E., and even took over as Captain Britain for a brief adventure. She would go on to appear in other Marvel UK books like THE DAREDEVILS and SUPER SPIDER-MAN AND CAPTAIN BRITAIN before making the jump across the pond in NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #2.

In that issue, Mojo and Spiral jumped her and used her to help dazzle the children of Earth with a new animated series. Though executing the usual evil plan, Mojo did help restore Betsy’s previously lost sight and granted her the name Psylocke. After the New Mutants rescued her, she decided to attend Xavier’s school in order to get a better handle on her powers.

After serving with the X-Men for a while, an amnesiac Psylocke wound up in the Hand’s possession where they continued to brainwash her into thinking herself the assassin Lady Mandarin. The group also altered her appearance so she would more seamlessly blend in with Hong Kong. Luckily, Wolverine restored Psylocke, as seen in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN #256258, but Betsy retained the incredible fighting skills she learned as well as her now-iconic psychic knife.

Around this same time a ninja named Kwannon also appeared with Betsy’s old face. The case of mistaken identity bounced back and forth for a while until ultimately coming to a conclusion that left Psylocke in control once again. Braddock continued fighting the good fight, even getting a power upgrade thanks to the Crimson Dawn, but she fell in the first few issues of X-TREME X-MEN; she got better in UNCANNY X-MEN #455.

Later she helped the reality-hopping Exiles save several existences in the pages of both EXILES and NEW EXILES. She also played a big part in X-MEN: SWORD OF THE BRADDOCKS and starred in her own 2010 limited series. Upon fully returning to the Marvel Universe, Psylocke has become a big part of the X-Men again, appearing in books like UNCANNY X-FORCE, X-MEN, and UNCANNY X-MEN.

Flash Forward

The most recent volume of UNCANNY X-MEN marks just one more step in the long relationship between Psylocke and Sabretooth. They first met one another in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN #213, not long after Betsy enrolled at the school. After quickly taking out Rogue, the then-villainous ‘Tooth entered the mansion to do the same with Betsy, but she used her powers—enhanced by Cerebro—to stun him before running away. Braddock held her own pretty well, but ultimately Sabretooth got the drop on her, but not before Storm and Wolverine showed up to pick up the slack. Later in UNCANNY X-MEN #328, Psylocke stepped in to stop an enraged Boom Boom from getting herself killed in Sabretooth’s cell, an act that led to her own evisceration. While running around with the Exiles, Psylocke actually started a relationship with the Age of Apocalypse version of her enemy. Most recently, the two came together on the same team.

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Artist Ardian Syaf opens up about channeling the classics and designing evil mutants!

With INHUMANS VS. X-MEN coming to a stunning conclusion this week, it’s time to look to the future of mutantkind as ResurrXion stands ready to begin. Kicking off with X-MEN PRIME #1 on March 29, a slate of new books will launch including X-MEN GOLD by writer Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf.

Along with a new vision for the franchise comes a fresh take on many of the costumes, which Syaf handled while working on GOLD. The creative went classic-but-updated when it comes to the team consisting of Kitty Pryde, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, and Prestige, the newly-renamed Rachel Grey.

We talked with Syaf about taking these characters back to the old school, coming up with Prestige’s gear and mixing old and new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants members.

Marvel.com: How excited were you when you heard that Marvel not only wanted you to draw X-MEN GOLD, but also re-imagine so many classic costumes?

Ardian Syaf: It’s like a dream come true. It’s X-Men; every artist dreams of drawing it, I am sure. Actually I didn’t have much challenge about the costumes. Marc has a clear vision about them. He prefers we bring back classic costumes, which I love. Not much need to change.

Marvel.com: Of the bunch, Rachel Grey looks like she’s gone through the most visual changes. What can you say about her new look?

Ardian Syaf: Yes, Rachel Grey has a brand new costume. Marc asked that her new look shouldn’t relate with her previous one. The editors gave me very much help in the process.

Marvel.com: This first arc pits the X-Men Gold team against a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. How was it dreaming up that group and their overall design?

Ardian Syaf: I searched and found many designs before. I just took their unique elements and applied to the new version.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Marc so far?

Ardian Syaf: Working with Marc is so nice, and makes me proud, because he’s [a] big name. The writing is very easy to understand for the artist. Marc gave emotions and mood in the scripts.

X-MEN GOLD #1, by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf, arrives on April 5!

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A new X-Men series delivers what you've been waiting for as part of ResurrXion!

You asked for it! You got it! The hardest hitting mutants. The biggest villains. The best creators. Marvel is pleased to announce that chart-topping writer Charles Soule (DEATH OF WOLVERINE, INHUMANS VS. X-MEN) will headline the all-new ASTONISHING X-MEN. A new prestigious ongoing series from top-tier creators set to unite some of the most popular, fan-demanded characters in the X-Men mythology for an epic story that will redefine the mutant landscape in the Marvel Universe!

“If you’re going to relaunch a book called ASTONISHING X-MEN, it had better live up to the title,” says Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso.  “Charles and his soon-to-be-revealed collaborators are about to unveil a story that touches every corner of the X-Men mythology, and the first issue alone will have massive ramifications for the Children of the Atom.  We can’t wait to tell you more about this book.”

Old Man Logan, Archangel, Mystique, Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke and Fantomex. Together, they are the Astonishing X-Men. But what brings this eclectic collection of heroes together? A familiar menace has once again reared its ugly head – reborn, renewed and resurrected. To defeat one of their greatest foes and rescue one of their own, the X-Men’s greatest will assemble for a mission that will take them places you never thought they’d go!

“Other than the occasional line here and there, I haven’t written most of the characters in the Astonishing X-Men lineup before – for me, that’s a fantastic challenge,” shares Soule. “It’s been fun to get into their heads and think about what they all might have going on at this point in their lives. That said, the series is designed as a fresh starting point, so anyone jumping in with [ASTONISHING X-MEN #1] will get everything they need there to follow the story – even if it’s your first X-story.

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

“The book is designed to tell a very focused, specific story, with a few cool main villains,I’m writing it like a puzzle box, with new layers and reveals opening up every issue. So, you’ll never know exactly where it’s going to go next – but the structure is built in such a way that almost anything from the long, incredible history of the X-Men can pop up. If you think about these characters, they’ve been present or involved for virtually every major era of X history, all the big events. That’ll play a role in a big way.”

As deadly forces await, will the Astonishing X-Men’s first mission also be their last? Find out this July, in the blockbuster ASTONISHING X-MEN #1!

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