X-Men writer: Checking in on the mutants with Kieron Gillen

Aug. 29, 2011 | 7:19 p.m.

Kieron Gillen is one of the guiding hands of the X-Men franchise (in comics) right now as the writer on Uncanny X-Men.  As DC nears the relaunch of most of its revered titles, Marvel’s mutants are also preparing to go in a bit of a different direction.  Uncanny will end its long run in October as a result of upcoming ordeals. With new books touting new lineups, returning characters and an ongoing storyline that has pitted longstanding teammates against one another, Hero Complex thought it was time to get some things straight — just finding out what’s going on now and in the immediate future. Contributor Jevon Phillips chatted with Gillen about the happenings in the X-universe.

JP: First, let’s talk a bit about the state of the mutant world as it stands. Big topic, but after M-Day a while ago, when the mutant population shrank from millions to hundreds, things have been different.

KG: To be flowery, the species was tottering on the edge of a chasm called extinction. Cyclops managed to unite almost all the remaining mutants, and set up their home off the shore to San Francisco in their island home they call Utopia. That they were nearly extinct caused an enormous opportunity to the groups who’ve always wanted all mutants dead. They gathered. And they lost. While Cyclops was involved in all sorts of hard decisions — some of which were definitely morally gray — he had managed to pull the mutants through this dark hour.

The war itself was caused by a girl called Hope, who was the first mutant born since M-day, who grew up in the future and returned as a teenager. The mutants (generally) hoped she was a messiah figure. At the end of the war — called Second Coming — five new mutants emerged on Earth. It seems the species isn’t dead after all.

In other words, a long dark night which they’re starting to emerge from.

X-Men: Schism (Marvel)

X-Men: Schism (Marvel)

JP: The current Schism storyline rises out of a growing disconnect, mainly between Wolverine and Cyclops, but also between how the world views mutants and how mutants react to that. What are the ideological differences that lead to the split?

KG: Not wanting to spoil the story, the core disagreement is about how much of the present should you be willing to give up for the future. As I said, Cyclops made all sorts of hard, leaning gray decisions — which he’s doing to make sure the mutants have a future. Wolverine, while involved in most of the gray decisions, thinks that Cyclops is still working in some kind of bunker-siege mindset and acting against principles which should be sacrosanct. In the issues that [came out last week], the only mutant present to stop terrorists is a 14-year-old girl. Scott gives her the order … and she’s now a murderer. Logan thinks that kids should never be in that kind of situation. Kids should be kids. Cyclops thinks that in the current state, that’s a luxury they simply can’t afford.

JP: Just to throw the spotlight on someone new, can you describe how Idie, the aforementioned girl, and Hope, a kind of mutant messiah, affect Schism and future X-events?

Generation Hope #10 - Idie Okonkwo

Generation Hope's Idie Okonkwo. (Marvel)

KG: Heh, I preempted this question. Idie is the troubled girl at the heart of Schism. She was inspired by the witch-children situation in parts of Nigeria where her emerging powers were read as witchcraft. She was tried to burn … and wouldn’t. The girl who wouldn’t burn. But, as she put it, “I can’t burn in this world, but I’ll burn in the next.” She views her mutant powers as a sign of her own monstrosity. She is damned, and she’s made her peace with it. It’s just how it is. Seeing that a girl like this is one of the things which shocks even the pretty damn hardened Wolverine.

And Hope’s the mutant messiah. Or, if you listen to other people, she could be the mutant anti-Christ. Her second coming seems to have precipitated new mutant births — except their powers are deformed and crazed until she manages to touch them, which stabilizes them. And also seems to lend some manner of uncanny personal loyalty to her. Hope’s literally Messianic, and that’s scary. The five mutants are beginning to realize that this instinctive control she has over isn’t right, and pushing against it — and the events of Schism bring that into sharp focus. By which I mean, open confrontation and shouting.

But for better or worse, Hope is central to the future of the mutant race.

JP: As Schism ends, what’s going on with the new Regenesis storyline?

KG: Regenesis is the morning after. Schism leads to this fracture between Wolverine and the X-men. Wolverine has a plan to do something else. The Utopia mutants have a plan to do something else. People choose sides, and then go and do it. A bad divorce would be a good metaphor. They’re not openly warring groups or anything — they both believe they’re doing what’s best for mutants — but there’s an obvious tension between them.

The Regenesis special is basically everyone choosing their side … and saying why. Schism is specifically about the conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine. Regenesis is the response of everyone else.

JP: Will the X-Men unite again anytime soon, or will this split and ideological difference inform the mutant universe for as far as you can see?

KG: This is a schism. It’s a break. Could it heal eventually? Maybe. But not in the current context and not with the key players in place. There is bad blood between them. I’d say it’s more likely to cross over into violence in the near future than any kind of reconciliation. The best they could hope for is some manner of detente.


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5 Responses to X-Men writer: Checking in on the mutants with Kieron Gillen

  1. Tom F says:

    I hate that the whole X event is about two characters. I hope after this Schism some focus can be brought onto other equally popular characters like Storm, Gambit etc…

  2. Mike says:

    I haven't read an X book since Grant Morrison wrote new X-Men. Are any of them worth it? I seem to recall the continuity being thick as maple syrup and I just didn't care enough to read five booksa month to get the "whole" story.

  3. Zep says:

    The relaunch of Uncanny is completely unnecessary. I hate its ruining a lengthy run. They should be proud of this high number, not try to keep up with DC.

  4. michael says:

    IF you are not reading "Uncanny X-Force" then you are missing out on 1 of the best books out there….BAR NONE!

  5. whoah this blog is wonderful i really like reading your articles. Stay up the good paintings! You already know, lots of people are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

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