The Gene Genies
Over on Marvel’s website, writers Matthew Rosenberg, Ed Brisson and Kelly Thompson just talked about why the Uncanny X-Men characters mean so much to them and here’s that chat…
Ryan “Agent M” Penagos: I wanted to ask each of you, what makes the X-Men so special to you in particular?
Matthew Rosenberg: It’s the X-Gene.
Ryan: You are a monster!
Matthew: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. … That’s all I know about them. No, I feel like the X-Men occupy a space that no other Super Hero team occupies. There’s nothing else at any other publisher. And part of it is the outcast, but part of it is the blend of heroics and peril. Like, they’re in danger. They’re saving people that are hated and feared. It’s the outcasts. It’s all that, but all of that is a set dressing for a very intricate, elaborate soap opera. And that’s sort of what makes them stand out. At the end of the day, a lot of the best X-Men stories are a framework to tell interpersonal soap opera stories. I feel like Chris Claremont especially was writing a daytime soap opera and set dressing in this brilliant way, where it felt like [there was] this thing about teenage kids [that] people identified with.
But what they were identifying with was this very human thing that I think a lot of Super Hero books don’t have. It’s a family story, and it’s a story of friendship. And it’s a story of all these things. So the outcast thing is something, but I think the outcast thing is a bigger thing and that is the dynamics of what the X-Men are. And how many of them [dynamics/relationships] there are…. And finding the relationships.
Kelly Thompson: I also like that they’re outcasts. I mean, I think all of the stuff that Matt said is true. I think, for me, it draws down a little more to misfit families. I’m very into that, people who don’t have a home and who band together and become a family together. But I think that ties directly into the soap opera stuff. Who becomes brother and sister? Who becomes romantically involved? Like all of that is so fascinating and sort of beautiful. That people have to run from something or even if they don’t have to run from something, just that they find something beautiful together is sort of wonderful. You hear a lot of things from fans like, “I don’t understand why the X-Men are feared and hated when people like the Inhumans or they love the Fantastic Four.” I think there are stories that maybe get away from why mutants are scarier. But the thing is [that] it’s so intrinsic to who they are. And it’s sort of beautiful and important. It’s one of my favorite parts about the X-Men. And the reasons they’re still feared and hated even though they’re beautiful is because they’re different from humans.
Ed Brisson: Everything they said is true. For me, when I was younger, I was always an X-Men kid versus an Avengers kid. It always felt like the Avengers were more about the heroics than the X-Men. I just liked that they were really messed up people that were weirdly trying to fix themselves by helping other people. But also, just screwing that up just as often as they were doing it properly. It seems really weird, but I like character failure. Like when they can actually fail and then get up. And I don’t mean fail in a way that they get punched in a fight. Stryfe punches Wolverine—that would never happen. Just to say that…. Then, Wolverine gets up and dusts himself off. They have real, massive personal failings and screw up… I feel like the X-Men screw up half the missions they go on.
Kelly: It makes it very relatable.
Ed: Yeah, exactly. So you’ve got these broken people trying to fix the things around them, never fixing themselves. And this is all soap opera-y stuff that I love.
Ryan: In some ways, they’re the most Marvel-y of Marvel characters.
Ed: Yeah, yeah. They’re Spider-Man as a family.
Kelly: Yes. That’s good. Are you a writer?
Ed: Not really.
Kelly: I’m going to read some of your books. I don’t care what you say.