Tuesday, April 5, 2011

X-POSITION: Kieron Gillen - My Questions Asked (And Danced Around)

Well this past week was Kieron Gillen's turn with X-POSITION and you know what that means! No, I'm not going to get drunk and do another Ultimate X rant. I'm just about halfway out of those. This rant is going to be a good old 616 rant! Once again the fine people at CBR asked a few of my questions. They did this even though one of my question was somewhat of a repeat (although it wasn't meant to be). Can you guess which question it was? I'll give you a hint. It has red hair, green eyes, and the Phoenix Force. If your response was "Jean Grey is dead." Congratulations, you're either Nick Lowe or a total douche.

X-POSITION: Kieron Gillen

Yes, I know I ask a lot about the whole Hope/Jean issue. It's been a major sticking point for me ever since I found out that it was a total farce on the same level as Tom Cruise's sexuality or Donald Trump's pre-nup. I think it's an important question to ask. Hope Summers (aka Jean Ripoff) is supposedly a character to keep an eye on. That's all well and good, but for the love of Thor's hammer does she have to be a blatant leech on Jean Grey? If Marvel really wants her imagery and her selling power (and she does sell if you look at the sales of Phoenix Endsong) then why don't they just bring her the fuck back? Steve Rogers came back after only two years and he didn't have the Phoenix Force! But I digress. I've been on that rant before and my doctor says I risk a cerebral hemorrhage if I do it again. Here's what was said.

MarvelMaster616 wants to dig deeper into the subject of this "Jean Grey" person. What's her deal again?

1) It's pretty difficult to ignore Hope's similarities to Jean Grey, especially now that she has the Phoenix Force as was so eloquently reinforced in "Generation Hope" #5. So how do you make Hope appeal on her own merits when so much about her (whether intentionally or not) sparks connotations with Jean Grey?
Give me six issues and ask me again. On the painful side, there's something I'm really looking forward to writing in issue #11 of "Generation Hope" which breaks my heart even thinking about it. On the her-father-daughter's side, I'm actively proud of her in 'Uncanny' #539. My '90s-kid one-line description of "Generation Hope" has always been "'The Authority' Meets 'My So-Called Life.'" Following the latter part of that side through, Hope's very much our red-headed Angela. She's certainly not perfect, but I think she's interestingly imperfect. Or at least I hope.

By the way -- and apologies if I've got usernames confused -- last time I believe you asked me on a similar topic. I answered involving their personalities -- which I do think are different in a mass of profound ways. However, I think that the connotations of Jean are absolutely there, and the characters who know act with that in mind. To state the obvious from issue #5: Emma wouldn't stumble in conversation with most of her students.

2) How much longer is Kitty Pryde going to be stuck in that space suit? As you've written Lockheed before, will we get to see the reunion between the two in "Uncanny X-Men?"

Kitty gets out of the space suit all the time! Normally when it gets smashed off her. Joking aside, the whole Kitty intangibility situation is right at the heart of "Breaking Point."

Alas, I won't be writing the Lockheed/Kitty reunion. I actually did write a load of dialogue for the scene before realizing that there really wasn't room for it in "Breaking Point." I believe the first proper crossing of the paths will be over in Mr. Gage's "Astonishing X-Men."

3) Emma and Cyclops had a big moment in "The Confession" where they conceded that keeping secrets was bad. In "Quarantine," Emma basically fell back into old habits by keeping secrets about Shaw from both Cyclops and Namor. I assume this will come back to haunt her. Will Cyclops (or Namor, for that matter) be nearly as understanding this time?

Good question. But, yes, Emma hasn't been particularly good in keeping her end of the "Confession" conversation up.

His responses were a mixed bag for the most part. For one, I'm glad he'll be addressing the whole Kitty in a spacesuit issue. I love Kitty Pryde. I love her too much to see her stuck in some goofy ass space suit. Wearing a fish bowl for a head is Mysterio's deal. Besides, Colossus hasn't had any of that sweet Shadowcat loving since Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing. A good X-man like Colossus deserves a little poon and a good X-woman like Shadowcat deserves a muscle-bound stud to toss her salad.

The Emma question might as well have been ignored. This is something that's bothered me throughout the Matt Fraction run and something I hoped that Kieron Gillen would address. Matt Fraction went out of his way to make Cyclops and Emma look like a 50s sitcom with breast implants. It's the complete antithesis of the relationship that Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon developed. It's become so annoying, having all the problems that people used to piss and moan about with Cyclops and Jean Grey minus the depth.

It was a big fucking deal when they started keeping secrets and Cyclops started sleeping on the couch. It ended up in a painfully bland moment where they just forgave and forgot the whole thing. Nothing happened with it and their relationship was basically the same as it was beforehand. Then recently, Emma went back on her promise. Cyclops did his part. He disbanded X-Force. Emma didn't. She lied about Shaw to Cyclops AND Namor. So is nothing going to come of that? Is this going to finally do something to this relationship that no writer has bothered to touch since Joss Whedon left? Kieron Gillen was silent. He basically restated my question and that was it.

As for the Jean question, I'm getting mixed messages. He did recognize me, so that shows he's come to expect my ranting every now and then. However, his remark about the connotations between Jean and Hope have me scratching my head. If she's supposed to be her own person as he stated on multiple occasions, then how can she always have this connotation that both the readers and the X-men are aware of. It's like drinking from a punch bowl when there's clearly a giant shit log floating around at the top. It's clearly there, but people keep drinking from the bowl. So I'm left with one big WTF. 

Nick Lowe says Hope isn't Jean and Jean is dead. Kieron Gillen says the connotations are there and it's happening on panel. Emma Frost seems as uncertain about it as me. So what are we to make of this? Is this connotation just a gimmick? Is it just a way to use Jean's imagery to bolster Hope? If so, it's a pretty dishonest way to do it. It's like making a painting that looks a lot like the Mona Lisa, but changing just a few minor details and calling it an original.

I'll say it again. If Marvel wants to tap Jean Grey's imagery and selling power they should just bring her the fuck back! It would make it a lot easier to develop a character like Hope, making her more like X-23 is to Wolverine rather than some blatant ripoff trying to replace the void left by Jean Grey. I like Kieron Gillen. His writing has been a great addition to the X-books, but some of these concepts that he inherited are still deeply flawed. He has a chance to unflaw them. It remains to be seen if he or someone else on the X-staff will do so.


  1. To me the most important part of his response to your Jean/Hope question was "give me 6 issues." That tells me it should be addressed (somewhat) in a coming issue. That is much better than the stupid answer you were force-fed last time. If it is indeed part of a coming issue, then the question really can't be answered in an interview, otherwise the spoiler would hurt sales of the comic.


  2. I'm willing to give Gillen 6 issues, but the problem for me is that so long as Hope has red hair, green eyes, and the Phoenix Force then she's going to be tied to Jean Grey. When you describe those traits it's Jean Grey that comes to mind, not Hope Summers. So unless Hope becomes a callous, cruel, psycho-killer she's going to basically emulate Jean Grey in the sense that she carries that connotation that Gillen mentioned.

    I'm open to being swayed, but right now there will have to be a LOT of changes in the next six issues for Hope to be more than a ripoff of Jean Grey.