In the recent X-Men: Hellfire Gala, Orchis launched a multi-prong attack that destroyed the mutant nation of Krakoa and appeared to kill most of its populace. It marked the beginning of a new era known as The Fall of X, but longtime readers of books like writer Kieron Gillen's Immortal X-Men know that Krakoa's destruction came to fruition thanks to many of the misadventures and machinations of the nation's ruling body, the Quiet Council.
What becomes of the Quiet Council now that Krakoa is no more? Which of their members will try to preserve their fallen nation's legacy? Which ones will try to profit from its downfall? And how does a former and extremely powerful member figure into things? For the answers to these questions and more, CBR spoke with Gillen about the new arc that kicks off in Immortal X-Men #14 by him and artist Lucas Werneck. Marvel also shared some preview pages from Immortal X-Men #15, drawn by Paco Medina and colored by David Curiel and some of Lucas Werneck's uncolored pages from Immortal X-Men #16.
CBR: Now that Fall of X is here, what was it like being part of the lead-up to it? What are some things about the mutants' new status quo that you find especially exciting?
Kieron Gillen: Part of the idea from Sins of Sinister to Fall of X was a lot of the small things going wrong. Obviously, what happened at the Hellfire Gala was big, but those events are based upon a series of small catastrophes that added up. If you read all the books, you see the pieces moving into place. So the machinery of it all is interesting.
As we head into this new point, I'm enjoying the feeling of a new act. I think we might be at the end of the third act of a five-act structure, or we might be at the end of Act 4. [Laughs] That's me overthinking the act structure of the Krakoan Age, though.
Krakoa and its Quiet Council no longer exist, and Immortal X-Men has been a book that has primarily focused on the members of the Council. What does that mean for the series moving forward?
Issue #13 ended with this sense that Quiet Council was ruined and that they were going to announce to the world that they made a mistake. Now, that chance has been taken away from them. That's the kind of dramatic irony I'm always interested in. This sense of, "Oh yeah, we were wrong," but it's too late to make up for it or even confess it.
I want to follow that. That's what the book is about; failure of leadership. It's about these 12 people collapsing in on themselves. I'm concentrating on certain members. What interests me is the question, "What does leading Krakoa mean now when there's no more Krakoa to lead?" Plus, there are a lot of things I can't talk about.
I can say this is a story with two dovetailing narratives. One, I can't talk about yet, but that's revealed quite quickly, and the other is Xavier. He's a focus. He's the last living man on Krakoa. You've got people in the Pit, but they don't count.
As we said in Issue #13, Xavier sold out his dream to try to get this to work. Now, after all the sacrifices, it's come to nothing. He believes he's killed everybody. For everybody who's been following Immortal, you saw that Xavier had decided he needed to let go. He couldn't let go, though. In that final moment, Xavier decided to hold on to the controls and did what he did. He knows it too.
I think about that side of the story like the film Castaway. It's Xavier by himself on an island, being really, really depressed. And, of course, people won't leave him alone. Because on the other side, we have Sebastian Shaw and Selene, new members of Orchis, who are trying to exploit Krakoa. Xavier doesn't really want Krakoa to be exploited because he thinks of it as a grave.
That's half the plot; the war between Shaw and Selene fitting into Orchis and trying to get what they want, and Xavier trying to stop them. Then there's this whole separate plot about, "What does leadership mean, and can we have a better form of it? What is government? What do we owe each other? Why do we protect each other?" I really want to tell you more about that stuff, but it would ruin the fun. [Laughs]
What's it like picking up Xavier after the Hellfire Gala?
He's none too happy! And the question is, what we will he do to protect the final dignity of his fallen people? That's what I think the compelling thing is. We broke Xavier. So what will he do now? What can he do now that maybe he wouldn't have done before? That's the tension of the story.
I don't want to say Xavier's my only lead because he's not. Xavier, in some ways though, is the heart of Immortal X-Men. He's the last person standing on the island, wondering, "Can we build another Krakoa? And what would it even look like?" He even said in Issue #13, "The main architects are Moira; a killer robot, Magneto; dead, Apocalypse; off doing family stuff, Sinister; complete bastard." [Laughs]
He, and possibly Emma, are the only people left. Having Emma as part of the supporting cast is fun because she's obviously up to her own stuff. She's like a telepathic Jiminy Cricket for a lot of this arc. I keep her off panel quite deliberately. It's also part of being a telepath -- always having people you know within arm's reach. We all have a bit of that. We can text people. [Laughs] So telepathy as a hyper WhatsApp group is something that's been on my mind.
What's it like writing Selene and Shaw? What else can you tell us about your plans for them?
When I took Selene in Issue #1 and had her give that speech, a lot of people were like, "You should have included Selene. She made a lot of good points." She, of course, did, but the thing that's missing is [that] Selene is a narcissistic, self-serving monster! And she was never going to do any of the good stuff. So now, she's back as the Black Queen -- ruling, chewing the scenery, [and] eating people. It's a lot of fun.
Shaw is abstractly winning, but we find out quite quickly [that] he's in for a terrible time too, which is nice. I like giving people what they want and having it be like, "OH NO!" That's completely my energy.
I feel like Shaw and Selene have a history of working with mutants and the groups that hate them. Because didn't the Hellfire Club help launch the Sentinel program?
One of the first lines I wrote for Shaw when I wrote his solo issue was, "People ask, 'Do you regret investing in the Sentinels?' And I say, 'Of course I do. If I would have gotten in earlier, I would have made even more.'" [Laughs] That's Shaw.
I'll reveal this line because it's probably in the preview. Shaw says, "I was never a mutant. I just had a mutant gene. That speaks exactly to who Shaw is. He has no class solidarity. He thinks that's nonsense. He's an egotist and a full-on, proper mutant billionaire in the worst possible way.
It also sounds like, given their narcissism, it's possible that Selene and Shaw are overestimating their ability to manipulate Orchis.
I don't want to say too much, but if you go back to those early issues when Selene entered the Hellfire Club for the first time, Shaw was petrified of her the whole time. Having them as a double act is fun in different ways because, in some ways, Shaw looks a bit better. At least you can deal with Shaw. Selene might just eat you for the fun of it
Shaw is a businessman, and he's had several stories where he's been heroic. Selene might be doing a good thing at the moment for some capricious reason. Maybe she liked your hat. She's that much a creature of passing desire.
We're carrying on with the single narrator focus in this arc. It changes a bit because the narrators are not the sole focus anymore. There's two plots dovetailing, but only one person narrates each issue. So Issue #15 has Selene as the narrator as part of the story. It's a great chance to step into that cavernous, dark, and shadowy mind.
Will flashbacks continue to be a part of Immortal X-Men?
The flashback structure is different in these five issues, but there are flashbacks to various bits. It's just not the full-on across time and space stuff. That steps up a gear in the next bit.
For instance, for Issue #17, I had to become Al Ewing, in that I'm researching Marvel history for this, and I'm using emotional collage.
Is there anything else you can tell us about the other side of your plot?
I wish I could reveal more, but I can say it comes from my frustrations with the Krakoan age. I don't mean that as a bad thing. It's one of the problems about telling stories in superhero comics. I think that's warped our perspective of Krakoa -- the sexy cool superheroes get all the panel time. So this other side of the story is me, at this late stage, going, "What about the rest of Krakoa?" What were they about? We'll get there.
Will we see some of that in September's Immortal X-Men #15, which has Wolverine on the cover?
We see it in Issue #14. This whole arc is basically two plots dovetailing. One is Xavier on Krakoa, and the other is where everyone else is. What is friendship? What is loyalty? What is mutantkind?
Lucas Werneck is drawing Issue #14 and October's Issue #16. What's it like having him with you as you enter this era for mutants?
I love him. He's the artist whose done the most issues of Immortal. He is Immortal in a lot of ways. He could step off the book now, and he'd probably still be the artist who is probably most connected with Immortal.
What I love about Lucas is he draws these incredibly cool sexy people, and that's very shallow. He makes this high glam, though. A lot of this book is people sitting around tables, and he's such an amazing superhero artist that I feel frustrated that I'm not giving him more meat to chew. He has people serve looks, and I think he's having fun with that, but I always try to fit in something more action-oriented or explode-y. He does anything I want, and he does it so well. He's great.
Krakoa may now be a desolate wasteland, but it sounds like he still has some glam to bring to life in the parts of the story with Selene and Shaw.
Absolutely. There's a lot of that, but Xavier is on an island. So, Selene and Sebastian are still throwing looks, but Xavier has got a full-on, "I'm depressed" beard, and it just feels wrong. Seeing Xavier with hair is just wrong. It's like the anti-Hellfire Gala in terms of him being in a right state. [Laughs]
Paco Medina is drawing September's Immortal X-Men #15.
Yeah, Paco is great. He did our Sinister special, which I consider part of Immortal. He did our +10 issues of Sins of Sinister. He did most of Sins of Sinister: Dominion; him and Lucas split that issue.
Since the nature of comic production means you have to switch up artists, I like to try and keep It to people in a similar aesthetic place and as few people as possible. There are stories like Sandman and WicDiv [The Wicked and the Divine] where changing the artist and seeing what happens is part of the point. There are stories like Immortal, though, that are rolling dramas that you want to have a similar tone. Lucas and Paco are very different, but they are in a similar place on the map.
In October's Immortal X-Men #16, you and Lucas put the spotlight on the most immortal of the Immortal X-Men, Apocalypse.
YES! Interesting, isn't it? What's going on there? More than I can talk about! [Laughs] As you can imagine, I can't talk about at least half of that plot. But yes, Apocalypse with a gold phoenix bird looking awesome! What's going on there? [Laughs]
We wanted to have every member of the Quiet Council be on our covers at some point, and Apocalypse left before we could. Then I realized I could do this, and we got an Apocalypse issue. I don't want to make any promises, but this is a very unusual use of Apocalypse. It's fun and pretty brutal.
Finally, one of the biggest mysteries from the Hellfire Gala is what exactly did Mother Righteous do to Krakoa and its populace? Can you comment on that at all? Is this a mystery that you'll tackle?
I think Mother Righteous has wandered into the area of Immortal. Between the end of Sins of Sinister and our last three issues, I sort of picked her up from Si [Spurrier], and I'm running with her.
In some ways, she's another antagonist. She's very much along the lines of Selene and Shaw, and she's been messing with the gates. If you go back, you'll see she was very interested in those gates beforehand. She's also made deals with Shaw and Selene. Mother Righteous is a busy lady with a ridiculous Essex accent.
It's really good to pick up from Si, too, because he had such a defined personality and modus operandi for her. I've built upon it and twisted some stuff around. Mother Righteous is up to the bad stuff though, because, as she puts it, "She's a right cow."
This storyline puts everyone in a different position. As I said earlier, the tragedy of Immortal is these people realized they messed up, and it all went wrong before they had a chance to fix anything. That's the sadness of the Immortal bit of Krakoa, and now, things are really desperate.
As a writer, I'm never happier than when things are bad because I believe in heroism. I believe in transcendence that is bought by survival. And I believe that nothing is easy. So in some ways, this is the perfect time for me, and the story being as dark as it is allows me to ask some really fundamental questions. Things are going to get larger, more exciting, and messier. There are so many big reveals and emotions and even some new characters.
Immortal X-Men #14 is on sale now.