Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
If you’re caught up on your X-books, you know the situation on Krakoa — and beyond — has taken a sinister turn. The Quiet Council compromised. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes defeated.
Everything is sinister.
Following the jaw-dropping, one-two punch of Immortal X-Men #10 and Sins of Sinister #1, X-Fans had a lot of questions. Fortunately, our guest has answers.
Sorry, had to. It’s Kieron Gillen! Let’s see what he has to say.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Kieron! Before we dig into Sins of Sinister #1, X-Fans 1407 Greymalkin The Living Memory of the X-Men and Mike Trobaugh seek clarity around Immortal X-Men #10. Was that narration from the real Charles Xavier, or a Sinisterized Xavier? Was there a clear point in the issue where things took a sinister turn? What can you share to quell the apparent X-Fan debate?
Kieron: Why would I want to do something fun-ruining like quell a debate? If we can’t debate over superhero comics and art broadly, what do we have?
It’s a story where the lead says they pray you’re suspicious of them. Me giving you a word of god answer takes your own faculties away from you. Charles is asking the reader to always have a little doubt and ask questions. I want you to do that, too.
I think the evidence is much stronger for one reading than the other, but it doesn’t mean the other reading isn’t there, plus all the mid-points between. But the evidence is for you to look at an awful thing to think about: maybe it doesn’t make any difference? The question of how much Sinister actually does influence them is certainly something I plan to play with going forward.
In passing, I’m pretty sure I saw 1407 Greymalkin The Living Memory of the X-Men and Mike Trobaugh play live at an All Tomorrow’s Party back in the early ’00s. Killer drone-rock set.
AIPT: Now onto Sins of Sinister. X-Fans AlexdaFalcon and Jean H were curious about the writing process for this crossover with Al Ewing and Si Spurrier. Jean H wanted to know how it works and AlexdaFalcon wanted to know how you navigate integrating current themes from Immortal X-Men, X-Men Red, and Legion of X into a cohesive narrative for Sins of Sinister.
Kieron: I fear this answer may be a bit dry.
Sins of Sinister went through several stages. When we were talking about it being a line-wide thing briefly at the start, Al and I pulled together a broad overview of the setting (or, rather, three settings) and the big picture stuff. There was plot stuff in there, certainly, but it was really about highlighting opportunities a writer could explore and develop.
When we decided to make it a tighter crossover — with just Si, Al, and myself — that remained the basic document we all looked at and worked out how we could forward our own stories in its framework… and then look at how those stories could be integrated to an issue-to-issue race. This issue establishes this, and the next establishes the next thing, so it all flows and builds. Also being conscientious writers, we also were thinking modular — I think each of the minis also has its own identity and story, and hopefully can be read individually. I’ve said this before, but my aim is always to reward people who read everything and not punish people who don’t.
There’s basic stuff like everyone reading everyone’s scripts, and also post-hoc surgery and flexibility where we tweak things at lettering to stress or downplay aspects. A comic story isn’t finished until it’s printed, and when you’ve got three writers telling three dovetailing stories across 1,000 years of history, that’s more true than ever. It’s doubly important when you realize that most of us wrote our issues out of order due to deadlines. I think I wrote mine in the order of Sins of Sinister, Immoral X-Men #3, Immoral X-Men #1, Immoral X-Men #2, and then the Dominion?
In short, you balance keeping to a vision while playing a team game.
AIPT: X-Fan Jean H said first the Machine, now Krakoa — how do you feel about killing island/planet/galaxy-sized consciousnesses?
Kieron: What can I say? Eternity better hope I haven’t got a taste for it.
AIPT: The death of Thanos. The death of Doom. The death of the Fantastic Four. The death of Wanda. Lots of death in those one-page glimpses at a more sinister timeline. But were there any other one-page scenes written that had to be cut for time?
Kieron: Less cut, and more that you had to choose what you wanted to show. We had 10 pages to highlight key moments. Clearly, if you’re taking over the world, you can have any number of events — especially in the Marvel Universe. Who do we want to show? What do we need to show, for whatever reason? Which is the most efficient to show? As in, can any of these pages do double-duty, and forward two key bits of the world-building?
And all the pages are basically Marvel Event-size stories. AvX2 with the Sinister Avengers would have been a 12-issue event, right? This is true for many beats we show a little more of too — the Orchis/Avengers/X-Men throw down would have been an event, clearly. It’s an edited highlights, and sometimes I edit more or less depending on the needs of the story. I mean, No More Wanda is one where I clearly thought the starkness was the point, and to let people use their imagination.
The broad structural thing was the other key thing — there are 10 pages, 5 before Storm realizes, and 5 afterwards. The 5 before are covert. They’re X-Force stories, or ones where the mutants have a lot of deniability (e.g. The Avengers have been going bad for years, now we have a war — they’re the bad guys, not us.) While I’m giving the conspiracy view in the story, but on the surface, things are mostly going pretty good for humanity and mutantkind. Krakoa is helping people. It’s not their fault that Orchis wiped out all the human brain imprints. The second five are more overt, because it’s Too Late Now.
AIPT: X-Fan MC Panda wanted to know who or what was the Nightcrawler stand-in/yes man on the Quiet Council all those years?
Kieron: Shape-changing was the first gift that Sinister stole from mutantkind, from Courier. It’s his oldest recipe. I figured a shape-shifted clone with enough telepathic-imprints puppetry from the telepaths to pass. That Kurt has been through so much trauma from the +0 period is a pretty good cover why he’s remained quiet. His Legion of X experience has been a horrorshow, and that’s not even touching on what he endured in Judgment Day.
AIPT: X-Fan Alex of X said the first generation Chimeras looked awesome! Have you named them?
Kieron: I didn’t, for shame.
But I did name them as a group. They’re a product line called NEW X-MEN.
(Hence the Quitely Homage in the composition)
AIPT: A more general Sinister question from X-Fan Mathias X — how do you interpret Sinister’s relationship with En Sabah Nur? Despite Apocalypse’s role in Sinister’s origin, he hasn’t really been mentioned in relation to Sinister much.
Kieron: I think the one mention I did include in Immortal from the original Nathaniel Essex is telling: “I should have never have trusted the Egyptian.”
The classical Sinister/Apocalypse relationship all the way from the ’90s was Starscream to his Megatron — but more that he wanted to escape the shadow of Apocalypse. That was the apparent driver for most his schemes, right? They have separated significantly since then, but there’s still something key there. There is a resentment there. “I could never be who I am without you” is the one thing that an egomaniac like Sinister wouldn’t ever want to admit.
It’s funny. I think that Sinister and Exodus could bond over this shared hate, if only they’d realized they had it in common.
I also said Sinister said he’s petrified of Exodus. The same is true of Apocalypse. He’s in a different league to Sinister, and Sinister knows it.
That said, Apocalypse’s feelings about Sinister?
I think of the Mad Man meme. “I don’t think about you at all.”
AIPT: X-Fan Adam ‘X-Patriot’ L. asked if you have a favorite Sinister moment from the Krakoan age?
Kieron: I find myself thinking of Luke Haines’ sleeve notes on his Best Of album Das Capital, where he went through all his back catalogue of albums, reviewed them, and gave them stars. Example text: “My third masterpiece.” But I’m not going to pick my own, as that would make me a monster. (“Ah — Xavier taking off the helmet and revealing the diamond — my third masterpiece.”)
I want to say “All of Hellions” but I think Sinister’s entry in House of X/Powers of X was golden. Introducing an old character in an accessible pop way, and doing it with such style? Good work, Jon.
Oh — Si’s “turning off and on again” of Nightcrawler. Golden.
AIPT: X-Fan Definitely not a Sinister (who shared they really enjoy your writing because it’s clever and funny at the same time and an absolute delight to read) was wondering if music and pop culture become Sinister-themed in this new age. Any fun examples come to mind?
Kieron: Firstly, thank you.
I think pop culture would only get worse and worse under Sinister. All Sinister can do is remix and sample, with ingenuity but not really creativity. He has no soul and no empathy. There would be things that echo other things, and blown up to an impossible scale, but fundamentally heartless, like Mussolini-era architecture in Rome. That’s part of the horror of Sinister. He doesn’t know Drag Race as he enjoys it. He knows Drag Race because he knows he can be disarmingly charming by deploying knowledge of it, to buy a little wiggle room.
That said, there’s another route he could take — you know Ready Player One? When I read the book, I felt convinced it was going to reveal that the guy who holds all of humanity’s keys to the internet hostage until someone solves an ARG about all the s--t he loved was a bad guy. Because that’s some bullshit, right? People should be able to find their own ways through culture, and discover it, not held hostage until you can only communicate in quotes from Star Wars.
Sinister wouldn’t agree. Sinister would happily freeze Pop Culture as just whatever he liked, forever. Pop Culture would be over. Petri Dish Culture would rule. If you don’t like the Enigma Variations, you’re screwed.
AIPT: Finally, readers get to explore Year 10 this month. What can you tease about what awaits X-Fans in the first installments of the SoS series?
Kieron: Oh, it’s fun. +10 is the tightest period in time and space, so it just motors, from issue to issue to issue. Storm & the Brotherhood of Mutants picks up with the big question from Sins of Sinister — who stole the Moiras? Nightcrawlers picks up with the first meeting of the other three Sinisters, and it’s explosive. Immoral X-Men luxuriates with the excellence of its pun title and is so full on Evil Mode Dominatrix Emma that I nearly dedicated it to Chris Claremont. This is pure (i.e. impure) Hellfire Club energy. We saw at the end of Sins of Sinister #1 that Sinister realized he was screwed. We now see exactly how screwed he is. And not in a good way.
Fun stuff ahead, I think. It only gets worse, so only gets better.
AIPT: Wouldn’t have it any other way. But on that note, thanks for swinging by X-Men Monday, Kieron! Can’t wait to see what comes next.
Speaking of what’s next, here’s a tease via eXclusive preview images, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
Oh, Tempo, if only you could speed up time so it was already next Monday. But alas…
Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!
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