Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CBR X-POSITION: Kieron Gillen - My Questions and Uncanny Hints

I know it's been a while since I've mentioned CBR's weekly X-POSITION column. I imagine the fine folks at Comic Book Resources are having just as tough a time working off the holiday eggnog as I am. It was only yesterday that I could shit without evoking several deities for strength. But 2011 is over. 2012 is in full swing and while we're not obsessing over the Maya Doomsday Prophecy, we'll have plenty of awesome comics to read. The big story that's going to have everybody's dick hard enough to club baby seals with is definitely Avengers vs. X-men. Marvel has already been releasing teaser after teaser for this thing. I get it. It's going to be big, insane, and involve the Phoenix Force. I don't need to be reminded that I'm going to buy it.

It also helps that the current X-books have been pretty damn awesome without having to beat the shit out of the Avengers. Uncanny X-men is one of those gems. Ever since Kieron Gillen took over, the series has reached new heights of awesome that would leave weaker fanboys lightheaded and with a nasty case of vertigo. His first arc introduced Sinister and the Celestials to Cyclops's new Extinction Team, while blowing Emma Frost's arm off in the process. He followed that up with a one-shot issue about the Phalanx that was awesome in a way that didn't need a big ass event to leave an impact. The man is definitely firing on all cylinders so CBR has every reason to give him an X-POSITION.

CBR: X-POSITION - Kieron Gillen

As usual, I make sure I'm sober enough to ask a few questions. Between Avengers vs. X-men and the recent events in Uncanny, I have more than my share. And being the generous folk they are, CBR and Kieron Gillen were nice enough to answer a few.

MarvelMaster616 would probably like the previous answer, but he'd also like to hear about motivations...

1) First off, great job on "Uncanny X-Men" #4. It was a deep, heartfelt issue that also connected with Sinister's plans. Can you talk a bit about what he's doing and why he may be doing it?

Thank you. Regarding what Sinister is up to -- the main theme of him previously has been the Pokemon-catching-them-all-esque-ness of gene hunting. He basically is someone who viewed the world as lab material. By showing him get his hive mind from the Phalanx I make it clear that he viewed everything -- not just mutants -- like this. It's just how he rolls. He sees the world as a Petri dish, a butcher's window or a dissection table. He's perhaps the most entitled man in the Marvel Universe.

What's he doing now? Well, the clues are there to speculate what he's doing now. He's talked about upping his game to match the X-Men's new Extinction team. It's clear that he has a specific interest in Hope -- and having him be the person to finally drop the "P" word at her is probably problematic. And... oh, that's all you're getting. Except that you'll get more in Uncanny's "AvX" issues.

As I said earlier, Sinister's a schemer. Part of my first arc was both tying off his previous schemes and giving an answer... and then starting another one. It wouldn't be a Sinister plot if you weren't wondering "What is he up to?" for half of it.

2) It's been argued on message boards that Cyclops has become a lot like Magneto. His Extinction team evokes both fear and respect for mutants. How close would you say Cyclops is to being like Magneto? At what point would you say the similarities become too egregious?

I think his current position is that he's willing to pretend to be more like Magneto to get what he wants -- which is no one to fight and kill each other. It's a specific tactic for a specific situation for a specific timeframe. From Cyclops' position, it's a case of keeping mutants alive until Hope does whatever Messiah-y things she's born to do -- if embracing the fact they are feared is a short-term compromise he thinks is the best solution. Cyclops is synthesizing various philosophies. There may be more Magneto in there than previous, but it's not the dominant strand by any means.

And to state the obvious: Magneto never formed a super-team to protect the world.

3) I'm sure you've been keeping up with James Asmus' "Generation Hope." In a recent issue, Hope and the Lights "rescued" Sebastian Shaw and brought him back to Utopia. Cyclops certainly wasn't happy about this. Can you clarify when this takes place in the timeline with Uncanny X-Men? How will it affect events and character relationships?

I think you should wait until that story's over to really discuss those kind of elements. Until James has resolved stuff, I fear I'll step on his story.

4) While on the same subject, Emma kept Shaw a secret from Cyclops despite their promise in "X-Men: The Confession" to have no more secrets. Now that she seems to have gone back on this promise, how will that affect her relationship with Cyclops?

Once again, I'll nod at the previous answer. But, yes, this is clearly a tricky one. And there's things shaking up Scott and Emma's relationships soon enough over in 'Uncanny' anyway.

Many X-men writers handle these columns differently. I'm not convinced that some don't answer these questions sober. But Kieron Gillen always displays class in interviews. It's refreshing to know that a writer of a big time comic takes his shit seriously. I know that may not sound like much, but it goes a long way in ensuring that comics stay awesome.

His explanation about Cyclops being too Magneto-like actually adds some needed context because a lot of people on message boards have been bitching lately that he's become too much of a dictator. The sad part is they're not entirely wrong in their bitching. He certainly has taken on the mold of a Magneto type character with his willingness to make humanity shit themselves whenever they walk down the street. But there is purpose behind it. There are circumstances involved and like anyone whose memory has been bombed by booze and weed, those circumstances are easy to forget.

But on more pressing issues, I'm glad someone finally mantioned the P-word in the comics. Normally the P-word to me is an impromtu prostate exam. But Phoenix is just as bad on some levels (but not all if you know my doctor). It makes sense that someone as twisted as Sinister would bring it up and he seems to be preparing for it. Gillen has given Sinister some added charm to his already twisted persona and now that he's his own army, that's something that even the Extinction team should have problems with. If that little girl with red hair, green eyes, and a fiery disposition that isn't Jean Grey gets too moody, that'll only make it worse.

And I know I frequently rant about Marvel's apparant unwillingness to do anything with the Cyclops/Emma relationship, but I feel a strange sense of hope when Gillen says that it will be addressed soon enough. I hope he does more with it than Matt Fraction, who only used conflict to get these two in bed. It was less a relationship and more an extended episode of Two and a Half Men (the pre-Kutcher saga). Gillen has already shown a willingness to dig deeper with the characters than most writers who have graced the pages of Uncanny. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt in handling the ever frustrating relatinship issues of Cyclops and Emma Frost.

Overall, Gillen has done more than enough to earn the confidence of every Uncanny X-men fan that ever lived. Sure, it's a book that set the bar impossibly high with talent like Chris Claremont. But that doesn't mean guys like Gillen can't still kick ass with it and after just four issues into the relaunch, my ass is as tender as an overmarinated flank steak. Nuff said!

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