Tuesday Q&A: Christos Gage

Tuesday Q&A: Christos Gage

By Jim Beard

He didn’t mean for it to happen, but writer Christos Gage finds himself on both sides of the  Avengers Vs. X-Men argument, and there’s no going back.

Gage writes both X-MEN LEGACY and AVENGERS ACADEMY, key books in the over-arcing war between the Marvel Universe’s premiere super teams. His personal involvement begins in AVENGERS ACADEMY #29, out May 2, and in X-MEN LEGACY #266, out May 9. Ducking shrapnel, we risked life and limb to present our questions on these important issues to the writer—prepare to be boarded. Incoming!

X-Men Legacy #267 preview art by Rafa Sandoval

Marvel.com: In a way, Christos, with X-MEN LEGACY and AVENGERS ACADEMY you’re smack dab in the middle of the fighting. Are you able to step back and say who is right, Cap or Cyclops?

Christos Gage: Both think they're right, and both could be right. The Avengers have precedent on their side—the whole Jean Grey disaster—but if Hope is indeed the mutant messiah, she could be the only one who can control the Phoenix Force and save the world. The problem when you're dealing with the Phoenix is you only get one chance, so it better be the right one! If I had to pick a side, I'd probably lean a bit toward the Avengers; history has not shown the Phoenix to be a particularly controllable thing.

Marvel.com: When you write your AvX event tie-in issues, how do you maintain the various points of view in your scripts? How do you present it in a strong, compelling, passionate way for both sides?

Christos Gage: You just have to understand both sides and get their arguments and viewpoints across. For the Avengers, they're trying to keep the world safe from a deadly threat, while these deluded fanatics are willing to risk the lives of billions of people for some pipe dream. Meanwhile, the X-Men think they have it covered—they can both save the world and give mutantkind a new start—and these arrogant outsiders who have no real knowledge of them or their people are trying to force them to do something they think is a really bad idea.

I don't have a problem portraying either viewpoint because both are potentially legitimate. It's not like I have to make The Red Skull sympathetic!

X-Men Legacy #267 preview art by Rafa Sandoval

Marvel.com: Good point! Let’s talk about both sides, X-Men first: what members of the faculty in X-MEN LEGACY will be most involved in the AvX tie-ins and how will they be impacted the most?

Christos Gage: Rogue, primarily. Also Frenzy, Gambit, Mimic, and Kitty [Pryde] will be in the mix. They'll be impacted by Avenger fists! And vice versa!

Marvel.com: That’s gotta hurt! So, now Avengers: which members will we be seeing in X-MEN LEGACY and have you found yourself gravitating towards any one of them in your scripting?

Christos Gage: Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Falcon and a surprise Avenger. I was surprised how much fun I had writing Moon Knight, both in general and specifically fighting Gambit. She-Hulk vs. Rogue is a blast as well!

Marvel.com: So, given Rogue’s history with the Avengers, how does she handle the overall AvX conflict?

Christos Gage: Rogue was introduced in the all-time classic AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, in which she pretty much beat the Avengers to a pulp by herself; she took out Cap, Thor, The Vision—it was brutal. She was a very different person then, full of anger and hostility. The very idea of fighting Avengers bothers her because she fears slipping back, even a little, into who she was then, while her teammates are all like, "Hey, girl, this is totally your wheelhouse!"—I'm paraphrasing—that's at the core of our story.

Of course, sometimes no matter what choice you make, fate has other plans…as do creators who like to see super heroes smacking each other.

X-Men Legacy #267 preview art by Rafa Sandoval

Marvel.com: What about Frenzy? What will be revealed about her past in X-MEN LEGACY and how does it tie into the larger story?

Christos Gage: We will see Frenzy's origin for the first time—well, she's a mutant, that's her origin, but we'll learn about her background and see how her powers manifested. As far as how it fits into the larger story, I can't say right now or I'd be spoiling some serious spoilage!

Marvel.com: You’re an honorable guy! Now, how do the Avengers justify the seizing of the Utopia kids and sticking them in the Academy? And how do they manage to keep them there?

Christos Gage: Well, they rationalize it as being for their own good, to keep them out of a potentially very dangerous conflict. And from the Avengers' POV, Wolverine supports it, so they don't see it as totally like kidnapping. Wolverine runs a school for mutants and it's kind of his idea. As for keeping them there, well, they ask the Academy kids to make sure they don't leave. Which of course makes things just a bit tense between the two sides.

Marvel.com: Once inside the Academy, what will be the greatest single source of conflict between the characters?

Christos Gage: It turns out one of the residents of Avengers Academy is a Sentinel, a robot built to kill mutants. That gets awkward. Sebastian Shaw going on a rampage doesn't help either.

Marvel.com: So, what are the greatest similarities and dissimilarities between the two groups of kids?

Christos Gage: Similarities? They're the same age, and in this situation, they are affected by the actions of their elders despite having no say in what's going on. Dissimilarities? There's a choice to being an Avenger, whereas nowadays, if you're a mutant, you're an X-Man. So the X-kids feel like the Academy kids are kind of playing dress-up, while they are in a fight for their very survival as a species.

Avengers Academy #29 cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Marvel.com, To bring this all home, as a young fan, what did you think of super hero battles in general? Which classic Marvel battles did you like the most and why?

Christos Gage: The first Marvel trade paperback I ever bought was MARVEL'S GREATEST SUPER HERO BATTLES, and I still have it and treasure it to this day. The Hulk/Thing fight from FANTASTIC FOUR #25 and #26 was, to my 10-year old eyes, like seeing the Avengers movie recently: I couldn't believe something so beautiful and perfect had actually been made. And the Daredevil/Sub-Mariner fight in DAREDEVIL #7 blew my mind because it was so brutal, and the title hero actually lost the fight, but he came off as the winner because he fought so hard against impossible odds. Man, do I love that book.

Another early hero battle I was exposed to was Spider-Man fighting Nightcrawler in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #161. Yeah, that's right, I'm old enough to have bought a comic off the rack in 1976; I was really little. I had never seen Nightcrawler before and he looked scary, like a demon, but I ended up really liking him. That was my first exposure to the X-Men, I think. I still have that, too. I've kept it for 35 years, which should tell you something about the impression it made on me.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com this week for more with Christos Gage on AVENGERS ACADEMY plus exclusive debut art!

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