You Only Live ∞
Come Out 2nite
Immortal X-men debuts.
I think I was first asked to do this book at the beginning of last year? I’ll have to check my e-mails. It was pretty simple: “Hey, Jon’s leaving X. Interested in doing a Quiet Council Book building off where Inferno will leave it?” As such, I’ve been working on this forever, from the original huge idea download, to integrating with the pirate ship crew of the X-slack, to eventually writing the bloody thing… and now it’s here, on shelves, in people’s hands.
It almost crept up on me: oh yeah! People will be reading this and having opinions about it. I hope they like it.
In interviews I’ve described it as a book where some of the cast think they’re in West Wing, others think they’re in House of Cards and at least one who knows they’re in Veep. In other words, a political book, which moves into various modes – idealistic, cynical, parodic. There’s a fair few more in the mix too - historical, black ops, romance. It’s about the internal politics of Krakoa (as highlighted in the first issue) and the external relations with the rest of the world. Smart people, playing games. Smart people being out played. Smart people falling on their faces. Smart people getting back up.
As the first book to debut from the wave of Destiny of X books, I wanted to try and act as an introduction to as much of the mutant status quo as I could. In other words, this is dense. If I had a primary worry about the issue is that it’s got significantly more captions than most modern books do, picking up from the techniques I was using over in DIE. I’ve described this as Neo-Claremontism – each issue is narrated by one character in the story, which basically gives us a chance to get closer to their thoughts and perspective, captions as thought balloons. It’s my way to try and do tight character work, both revealing truths (about the narrator) and concealing them (about anyone other than the narrator)… and, in this first issue, giving a big download of where we are, by a character who is (er) spectacularly in the know.
(The plan is to rotate the narrator around the council as long as it’s useful. I’ve said I’d abandon it the second it gets in the way, but I think it’s worked great for the six issues I’ve written, and I’m pretty sure I can land I for the next ones too. I suspect this big idea is another worry of the book – that the first issue is a tight focus on one character may make folks think it’ll be like that every issue, when it’s much more Hang Around, If You Don’t Like This Guy, Another Will Be Along Next Month.)
As someone who came to comics late, I very much want to try and provide a way in for the uninitiated. Still - I wonder how much I succeed – the current X story is gloriously dense, and I’ll be interested to see how folks who are jumping on clean get on with it. But I also knew it was worth having a recap of the status quo for the initiated too -who knows what, and (most importantly) a new Krakoan map. Jon may be gone, but the maps MUST continue. If this is the new season for the X-line, let’s all get on the same page.
A glance on twitter reveals that folks seem pretty excited. I’m especially pleased the big beats weren’t spoiled before it came out. When we released that the inciting incident is “Magneto Leaves The Quiet Council – now what?” I was hoping it would allow us to hype the book without showing more of the games we’re playing.
I suspect by the end of the issue folks will realise it’s a book that thinks 5-dimensional chess is for flatscans. We do things bigger here.
It’s a hell of a team. I think Lucas Werneck is doing career best work here. It’s a book which could feel cold, but he makes it flirty and glamorous, with the whole cast having the sort of charisma actors would kill for. Look at how he handles things like the comedy and tension of the Council scenes, and how he gives entrances to the characters, and one particular panel which seems to be me trying to torture him to death with forty two speaking characters. David Curiel’s colours add to the pop thrill of it all – look at the choices in the opening historical sequence which make it feel strikingly alive. Clayton has, once more, decided to deal with my nonsense, and brings some A+ choices throughout – there’s a Sinister outburst which is memeworthy. The new design work by Tom Muller sharpens what was already the cutting edge. Mark Brooks’ covers are just audacious in their conceptualisation and breathtaking in their execution. And on and on and on.
I’m happy with it, in short. Here’s the playlist and here’s a three page preview of the opening…
It’s available from all comic shops, digital or otherwise. I hope you survive the experience (trad).
On this coming Monday April 5th, I’ll be on the Image Panel at Waterstones along with Zoe Thorogood, Lee Garbett, Ram V, Dan Watters, Caspar Wjingaard and Simon Spurrier, moderated by Chiara Mestieri . This is actually my first public outing since iris joined us, so expect me to be impressively frazzled state on stage, especially if I have a drink beforehand. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone enormously.
Next week, I think. Don’t call it a comeback, etc.
The cold is just leaving the household, and the eternally evolving new-normal continues to evolve. I’m finding ways to just about stay ahead of deadlines, which I’m just about doing? That’s a load-bearing question mark. You can imagine my editors looking at me with side-eye, if you wish.
I’m hoping once I’m past this narrowing things get easier again – I got what should be the hardest issue of AXE: Judgment Day over yesterday, and should be getting over another issue of Immortal X-men over tomorrow, or Friday latest. Plus there’s extra cognitive load from writing the big Event for the Summer – trying to find ways to line up everyone’s books into this narrative tapestry is certainly not easy, but it’s certainly interesting.
I’m six issues into Immortal X-men at the moment, and have learned from the process. As the issue is only out today I’ll spare you the insight, but writing 4-6 made me realise something I specifically like about writing this book. One main bonus of trying to do an issue which uses a character as a lens means you dig deeper into their thoughts than you would otherwise, and I’m discovering stuff which actively surprises me, which can then be reintegrated into the work. Some of it makes me want to use the word Proustian, but I’ve never read Proust, and I’d be faking. One of my big hopes is that issues show you a character in a way you haven’t thought about them before. If it’s doing that for me, I have hope it’ll do it for other people too.
We’ve also reached a point in childcare where we’ve claimed enough space to actually watch dramatic narratives. Now, we haven’t completely devolved, as there’s more significant stuff we’re watching by ourselves (I’m on the Alan Moore BBC Maestro right now, which I’ll likely write about another time) but to find an hour where both our brains are working enough to follow a story across multiple episodes has been elusive. A major step about a month in was when we managed to concentrate for an hour and a half to rewatch Glenglary Glen Ross. A couple of weeks later, we handled the astounding Pig. Anything more than an hour and half was pushing it.
But now we’re following a story! Yeah, we’re on Bridgeton. Which isn’t exactly Twin Peaks: The Return (I note: C is watching that by herself) but it’s a story. It’s a story which I think of as basically alt-dimension phonogram (a fanzine writer distributes their scandalous and witty zines at parties and tries to avoid repercussions – it’s even set in Bath but pretending to be London) and C has described amazingly as “Dangerous Liaisons by way of Daphne & Celeste.” It’s not quite season 1, but we’re enjoying it.
Yes, my brain is basically the consistency of cake, which is an improvement over soup.