Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
And I know–the world is anything but uncanny right now. Each day is filled with new uncertainties and the headlines can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this column brings a bit of consistency–and maybe even joy–to the beginning of each new week. I know it has that effect on me–and for that, I’m grateful.
Speaking of being grateful, I’m very eXcited that former New Mutants and Amazing Spider-Man writer Zeb Wells is making his X-Men Monday debut in this edition to discuss his new Dawn of X series Hellions! So without further ado, here’s Zeb!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, Zeb! First, for readers who aren’t familiar with you… what made you first fall in love with the X-Men?
Zeb: I got into comics around when Uncanny X-Men #230 was out, and Classic X-Men was reprinting the Claremont/Byrne run. Seeing the huge tapestry that Claremont had built was intoxicating. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
AIPT: In X-Men Monday #50, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White mentioned you wanted in on the modern X-Men era and pitched Hellions. How did you come up with this pitch and settle on the characters at the center of it?
Zeb: I’d been out of the comics game for a couple of years, but picked up House of X to see what the fuss was about and was so captivated by both the scope of what Jonathan was doing, and the execution. I felt that buzz from comics that I hadn’t felt in a while, and I knew I wanted to earn a place in that world. I accosted Jonathan at a Marvel summit and he said I could pitch.
The Dawn of X books all explore a different facet of the Krakoan high concept. So I looked for a question I wanted to explore, and the one I landed on was: what are they gonna do with all the jerks? Then I realized that in answering that question I’d be able to write a team of psychos and maladjusted odd-balls. That’s a swing I wanted to take.
AIPT: From a creative standpoint, how does writing the team in Hellions differ from writing the team in New Mutants?
Zeb: The New Mutants were a team that was a family by the time I got to them. I loved exploring a group that was so tight and cared for each other so deeply. This is the opposite of that. This team has no reason to like each other. Can they make it work? Will they kill each other? Both?
AIPT: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that Havok’s actions–that hint at him not being completely over what happened to him in AXIS–land him on Mister Sinister’s squad. What made you want to revisit Alex’s inversion?
Zeb: I like the idea of old traumas coming out in unexpected ways. All these characters have been through so much. What are the scars that are left? And it’s nice to have a straight man on the team that so very much wants to be normal and healed, but isn’t.
AIPT: In Fallen Angels, Psylocke and Mister Sinister worked closely with one another, which will continue in Hellions. Psylocke News (@PsylockeNews) wanted to know if fans of Kwannon can expect further exploration of her past?
Zeb: Yes, we’ll continue digging into her newfound relationship with Sinister, and how that relates to her past. What hooks does he have in her? That’s always the question with Sinister.
AIPT: Empath is such a polarizing figure in X-Fandom. In fact, Soldier X (@TROCKSTANSCABLE) called him “total slime,” but still wanted to know what made you pick this specific Hellion for your team.
Zeb: Empath is the big question we’re exploring in a nutshell. What do you do with these mutants who you’ve given a home, but are also profoundly antisocial? He seems so utterly irredeemable. Does the promise of Krakoa apply to him too? We’ll see.
AIPT: How has Krakoa changed Nanny and Orphan-Maker? Or has it had no impact on them and that’s the problem?
Zeb: Haha. You hit the nail on the head. Nanny and Orphan-Maker are in such a deeply co-dependent tailspin that no one on Krakoa can get through. They’re in their own little dysfunctional world. Their first scene in Hellions #1 really says it all, and has a splash page that I will absolutely be trying to buy from Stephen.
AIPT: Are you a big fan of “Inferno”? In addition to the Goblin Queen, Mister Sinister and Havok obviously played major roles in the classic X-Men epic. Can we expect you to revisit their “Inferno” history in Hellions?
Zeb: Yes, “Inferno” happened around the time I got into comics and it was huge for me. Such great iconography throughout. And a lot of unresolved issues, some of which will be much more resolved by the end of the first arc.
AIPT: Gary H (@HappyGuyDublin) was curious–as a character, do you prefer Pre-Inferno Madelyne Pryor or Post-Inferno Maddie?
Zeb: Post-Inferno Maddie is more viscerally compelling to me, because she’s doing what all of us have wanted to do when someone breaks our heart and moves on: Go scorched earth and MAKE THEM ALL PAY. Claremont had those great lines where Maddie says Cyclops made her feel like “A nothing being. In a nowhere place.” That’s what getting left behind feels like, and that’s her character right there. The X-Men want to pretend she didn’t exist? She’ll show them.
AIPT: Finally, will the Hellions cast stay the same, or is it safe to assume other mutants in need of rehabilitation could land on this team in the issues to come?
Zeb: Yes, every mutant better watch their P’s and Q’s, because I sure as Hell am. If they step too far out of line I’ll be in Jordan’s ear to let me have them for my Breakfast Club.
AIPT: Yikes! Let’s hope everyone behaves. And on that note, I’d like to thank Zeb for taking the time to answer questions–and the X-Fans who sent some our way! In the next edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT, we have an eXtra-special guest–one I’ve wanted since I started writing this column. He’s the co-creator of Mukos. He’s the writer who made you believe a Mojo could love. He’s the man who helped bring this scene to life…
It’s X-Men Black – Mojo writer Scott Auckerman, the host of the hilarious Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, the co-creator of the also hilarious Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis and other assorted hilarity.
TL;DR: Scott’s really funny and he’ll be answering X-Men questions. I think it’s safe to say we all deserve a good laugh right now.
Something else X-Fans deserve? Some eXclusive preview images from upcoming Hellions comics! Enjoy, wash your hands, practice smart social distancing and have an eXceptional week!
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