Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
When the Pit swallowed Victor Creed in House of X #6, X-Fans knew they hadn’t seen the last of him. What they probably didn’t eXpect was how good — and thought-provoking — the eventual Sabretooth mini-series would be. Writer Victor LaValle stopped by X-Men Monday before Sabretooth #1 dropped. With the first five issues of Victor’s Sabretooth triptych wrapped, there’s no better time for Victor to return, reflect, and tease what comes neXt.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Victor! Obviously, you’re an accomplished writer, having produced short stories, novels, novellas and comic series. But Sabretooth was your first time writing an X-Men comic — to great critical acclaim among both readers and critics. So, with the first five issues of your Sabretooth saga in the can, how have you found the eXperience? Are you surviving it?
Victor: Five issues down! Real glad to get here. And even happier that the response has been so positive. I wasn’t sure if readers would enjoy my take on Sabretooth and how to tell a story that revolved around him. I did want to tackle some serious subjects AND I wanted there to just be fun parts. A Sabretooth story without some mayhem isn’t worth telling, after all.
AIPT: The series is called Sabretooth but Third Eye’s the character everyone’s talking about. For instance, X-Fans Gabi and Michael both love Third Eye and wanted to know what inspired you and artist Leonard Kirk to create him?
Victor: When you love comic book characters for long enough it can be easy (for me) to forget that someone had to invent these folks at some point. Whether you’re talking about Lee and Kirby creating Xavier and the original five or Morrison coming on strong with Cassandra Nova, these characters had to be imagined before they could be illustrated. My original idea was to toss in another dozen brand new mutants of various kinds, but the realities of a mini — one with Sabretooth, Oya, Nekra, Melter, and Madison Jeffries already in it — meant that I could create a dozen and given them almost no time, or I could create one and really let that one make a mark. I decided to go with Third Eye and leave it at that. Leonard and I worked through a couple different versions. Leonard gave him that cool bolo tie. It has been an immense pleasure that readers loved him as much as I do.
AIPT: Speaking of Third Eye, it’s hard to read his data page in Sabretooth #4 explaining how he and his fellow mutants ended up in the Pit and not grow outraged at Xavier and the Quiet Council. The crimes certainly don’t seem to fit the punishment. I’m curious, did these “crimes” spur any debate in the ultra-collaborative X-Slack?
Victor: I must take all the blame for the specificity of the crimes. In the Slack, there was agreement/understanding that the mutants in the Pit would have committed crimes that should bother readers more than a little. It was easy for some (many?) to understand or accept why Sabretooth went down (though I’d argue he went down for his history of crimes rather than just the crime he committed in House of X/Powers of X). But I wanted the other mutants to be people who readers wished would receive mercy or understanding… and then they don’t. The point wasn’t to say that Xavier or Magneto are evil, but to say that if “justice” is capricious then it isn’t true justice.
AIPT: X-Fan Zack said you’re asking big questions about the carceral state and the nature of law in Sabretooth. How do you view your role as an author in exploring these questions?
Victor: The history of X-Men comics, in particular, is one of wrestling with serious political and cultural issues so this seemed like the perfect lane for me to be in if I wanted to bring these issues up. I wasn’t trying to impose this on the comic, instead it was the situation itself that demanded some kind of reckoning with these issues. The worst thing I could’ve done, in my opinion, was write a Sabretooth comic where he gets out of the Pit and spends five issues tearing off people’s heads and making jokes. He’s a better character than that. Not a better person, but a more interesting character than that.
AIPT: I never would have expected Mole of all mutants to play such an important role in shaping Krakoan society, but here we are. What made you select Mole for the role he played in your story?
Victor: My formative Sabretooth story was the “Mutant Massacre” run. And Mole, in my memory, was a vital part of that storyline. It’s not actually true, of course. He’s a small part, but he was one of the few mutants who ever seemed like an actual New Yorker to me. His look and style, he just reminded me of someone I might pass on the streets where I grew up. So when it was a Sabretooth mini, I felt like it was only organic for him to return. If I’d been writing a different X-comic, I don’t imagine I would have a good excuse to get him back in the story, but this was the perfect chance. And he’ll play a part, in a way, in the next mini, too. I’m not done with Mole.
AIPT: X-Fan Nate X found your use of Magma in Sabretooth very interesting. Do you feel like something has clicked for Amara, as in a wake-up call?
Victor: I’m going to be blunt, I needed a mutant who could realistically tear a hole through Krakoa. I’d last seen and enjoyed Magma in Ed Brisson’s New Mutants #8, so she came to mind right away. (As a side note, there’s another character in that issue who will play a big part in my next Sabretooth mini.) But I also liked the idea that the injustice Mole shares might chafe her the wrong way. Maybe someone else down the line will feel like bringing her back. I liked having her at the party, even briefly.
AIPT: X-Fan Alex of X was curious for your thoughts on Cypher. Is Doug the “voice” of Krakoa, or a mutant with a separate agenda?
Victor: Doug plays such a vital role, in the Krakoa era in particular, and I’ve loved all the ways people have been making him so central. On the whole, I think he’s often cut quite a lot of slack because of his big, loving heart. But that kind of person can make mistakes, too. Ones that have profound ramifications. In the case of Sabretooth, he and Krakoa wanted to do something good, but it’s hard to do that when the situation is already poisoned. Doug tried his best to offer a kindness to Sabretooth, but never questioned whether Sabretooth should be down there at all. The Quiet Council gave the decree and he followed orders. I see a lot of his separate agenda (at least in my book) as him trying to undo that mistake.
AIPT: In Sabretooth #5, Xavier’s reputation takes the latest in a long string of hits. For someone with such a brilliant mind, Charles doesn’t seem to think much about the potential consequences of his actions (Deadly Genesis, Inferno, and so on). Do you think Xavier ever feels regret, or has he evolved past such emotions?
Victor: Xavier, as a character, is in a hard position. If he preaches that dream of mutants being nice to their abusers then he’s naive or foolish. (Which is correct, by the way. Never be kind to your abusers.) But if he goes the other way, and asserts his will, then he’s a despot or a monster. I do imagine Xavier feels emotions like regret, but that his understanding of what he should regret, and why, is probably pretty skewed. My favorite Xavier is actually the one who left Earth and the mutant cause behind, and went into outer space with his lady.
AIPT: X-Fan Justin Dixon said that Sabretooth tainted the Pit. Could this have ramifications on other parts of Krakoa as well?
Victor: One of the things Hickman said in the X-Slack, back when I first joined, was that we should always be adding to the larger mythos of Krakoa. It was one of the best pieces of advice for joining a story world that isn’t yours, one that will go on long after you’ve left that universe. If Sabretooth left and Hell went with him, that would make a kind of sense on a short-term level — but if he left a little bit of Hell behind then you make it possible for some other writer to pick that idea up and do something incredible with it.
AIPT: Finally, the neXt part of your triptych has been revealed: Sabretooth & The Exiles. What can you tease about what comes neXt for Victor?
Victor: At the end of issue 5, we see Sabretooth sucked up into the hold of an Orchis private prison. The next arc will not be a repetition of the first. Mutants are indeed being held in the Orchis prisons. There are five altogether. Sent from the nations that refused to recognize Krakoan sovereignty. Their care — or lack of care — outsourced to a private company who pay well for the material these mutants provide. Krakoa hasn’t come to save them, its Sabretooth who does it instead. All those mutants, now feeling indebted to Sabretooth. What might he get them to do?
AIPT: Consider me eXcited. Victor, thanks for taking the time to chat and good luck working on Sabretooth & The Exiles! X-Fans, while it’s too early to provide a look at the art for that series, how about a few eXclusive preview images for some other X-books, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White?
In the neXt edition of X-Men Monday, writer Alex Paknadel makes his X-Men Monday debut to discuss his recent X-Men Unlimited work.
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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