The X-Men face the aftermath of the 'Battle of the Atom'
(CBR) [SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR "BATTLE OF THE ATOM" #2, AVAILABLE NOW]
The X-Men have always had a difficult relationship with the future. As a team, they battle evil to forge a better world for both mutant and human kind, but no matter what they do, when they're given a glimpse of what lies ahead, it's a nightmarish, dystopian world where mutants are exploited, abused and murdered. Despite that, the Marvel's mutant heroes fight on and try to forge a better tomorrow for both mutants and man
When writer Brian Michael Bendis kicked off "All-New X-Men," the future became even more complex thanks to the Beast meddling with their past, bringing the team's five original teenage members to the present. This set up a series of events which culminated in "Battle of the Atom," a crossover between "All-New X-Men," "X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men" and "Wolverine & the X-Men." The crossover also marked legendary mutant team's 50th anniversary, bringing the X-Men of the past, present and future crashing together for one epic adventure.
The event came to a close last week with "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" #2, the bulk of which came from writer Jason Aaron and artists Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli, though it featured epilogue chapters by several all-star X-Creators. We spoke with Aaron about the events of the issue, what they mean for the larger X-Men Universe, and how they'll impact his X-Men titles, "Wolverine & the X-Men" and the upcoming "Amazing X-Men."
CBR News: How does it feel to have run the anchor leg on the story celebrating the X-Men's 50th anniversary? Was it a little easier knowing you had artists like Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli backing you up?
Jason Aaron: Yes, and I got to work with Chris Bachalo on one of the book's epilogues, which was cool. We haven't worked together since the early days of "Wolverine & the X-Men."
These kinds of crossovers are always hard to coordinate between the different writers and the editors. Plus Nick Lowe [The editor who oversees the X-Office] was having a baby. So it was a crazy time and you always have to tip your hat to the editors who pull everything together. This issue, had a lot of different writers and artists on the epilogues and that's never easy to coordinate, but I was very happy to be a part of it.
Before we get into the event's aftermath, let's talk about one of the big reveals in the crossover, that the team readers originally believed to be the X-Men of the future were in fact a future incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Who came up with the idea that the first set of future X-Men we meet were actually the Brotherhood in disguise?
I don't remember who specifically came up with that. We had a mini X-Men retreat last year or early this year -- I forget -- where we talked about this. Then, of course, there were many phone calls back and forth. Everybody threw ideas in and threw things out that affected their characters and books.
Then we cobbled everything together into a story that would have ramifications for all the main X-Books. We pretty quickly put together the basic framework for the two months. We knew it kicked off by focusing on the kids, the All-New X-Men, and the X-Men thinking, "We need to get these kids back to their own time. It's too dangerous for them to be here." Out of that, suddenly, this group of X-Men from the future have arrived and they say, "You're right. You do need to get these kids out of here." Things escalate from there, and we knew at the end of the first month we'd have yet another group from the future show up and turn everything we thought we knew upside down.
Now that "Battle of the Atom" has wrapped, the Brotherhood of the future is still around in the present day for all the X-writers to play with, correct?
Yes, the ones that survived are still on the loose in the present day.
Can you hint as to where they might pop up next? And what sort of state of mind is Xavier's grandson in as he leaves the battlefield at the end of "Battle of the Atom" #2?
I think that's good question. We obviously still have a lot of questions left by the end of "Battle of the Atom" about these characters, so there's still a lot to explore with him.
As to where they'll pop up next -- since "All-New X-Men" is about time-displaced X-Men from the past, it might make sense that that they'd cross paths with time-displaced X-Men villains from the future. So, you might want to watch for them there, but they'll probably pop up in other places as well.
Hank McCoy was one of the members of the Brotherhood of the future, and Beast regularly appears in "Wolverine & the X-Men," so he's a character you write on a regular basis. Now that "Battle of the Atom" is over, I'm curious about how he felt about the revelation that his future self has joined the X-Men's arch enemies. Will he be haunted by this moving forward?
I think that kind of rolls off the back of present day Hank McCoy. He's seen this before, with Dark Beast from the Age of Apocalypse, so he's not as affected by this. He knows who he is and feels pretty confident in that.
Now, young Hank McCoy might be different. I think seeing his evil future self did shake him to the core.
So the present day Beast knows that there is darkness in him, and knows what he needs to do to control that.
Yeah, I think he's more comfortable with who he is. He knows he's got the potential to go down some dark roads, and he's always on guard against that.
The present day incarnation of Iceman went through a great amount of drama in both "Battle of the Atom" and a recent arc of Marjorie Liu's "Astonishing X-Men." What's your sense of Bobby at the end of "Battle of the Atom?" Has what he's seen, undergone and endured over the past few months caused him to grow or change?
Yeah, I think so. I think Bobby is a guy who's changed a lot over the last few years. He tries to hide it, but I think he's grown up a lot just by being at the Jean Grey School. That's given him an increased responsibility and visibility. There's also his relationship with Kitty Pryde. I think all that stuff has changed Bobby over the last few years. The question now is, where does he go from here? I think as long as I'm writing the X-Men in one book or another, he'll be one of the characters I want to focus on and keep trying to take to new places as well as make him more and more of a force to be reckoned with among the X-Men.
If Iceman's future self is any indication, you also want to give him a beard!
[Laughs] Well, I'd like to try and give every Marvel character a beard at some point or another. I gave one to Hulk, Thor and I'm sure I probably gave Wolverine a beard at some point. Maybe at some point I can assemble them all in book, the Beard Avengers.
[Laughs] I'd read that! Cyclops and Wolverine were also confronted by some disturbing revelations about their future in the form of the future self of the woman they loved, Jean Grey, who had joined the Brotherhood. In "Battle of the Atom" #2, she verbally tore into both of them. How did it feel for Wolverine to face an evil version of Jean?
Those scenes, to me, were about looking where the X-Men have been these last few years, going back to "Schism," and where that's at in relation to their entire history. Obviously, "Battle of the Atom" represents a big anniversary event, so the whole idea was for us to do something with multiple tips of the hat and nods to our favorite bits of X-Men history while also looking forward. This was literally a story that involves the X-Men of the past, present and future, coming together in one big fight.
Ultimately, it's not about looking back and eating the bones of X-Men stories of the past. It's about moving forward. I think Scott and Logan are at a crossroads. Things will continue to come to a head in the post-"Battle of the Atom" landscape, and now it's a question of, where do they go from here? This story was a big deal in that it's the first time we've really seen Cyclops and Wolverine stand side by side since "Schism." I think it represents a major point in their ongoing relationship and it really affects the X-Men universe as a whole.
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