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Interview: X-Men: Gold’s Writer Marc Guggenheim

 

Credit: Ruebensramblings.wordpress.com

If you are a fan of comic books and comic book television shows and movies then you have undoubtedly heard of Marc Guggenheim, the current executive producer of such DCTV shows as Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Earlier in 2017, Guggenheim added a new, ongoing comic series to his already impressive writing and producing regimen when he kicked off the X-Men: Gold bi-monthly series for Marvel Comics.  This summer, we had the honor of interviewing Marc about his new series. See what he shared with us about his history as an X-Men fan and his approach to writing this exciting new series.

GGP: Television fans might know you more for your work on DC TV projects, but you have done quite a few books for Marvel Comics too!  Can you tell us how you got involved on X-Men?  

Marc Guggenheim: I’ve been writing comics for almost 13 years now and I’ve always dabbled in writing X-Men-related titles.  About two years ago, I did an arc on the “adjective-less” X-Men title (the all-female team) and I guess it sufficiently impressed Daniel Ketchum — one of the X-Men editors — that he recommended me to write the X-Men Gold book as part of the “ResurrXion” relaunch.  I couldn’t be more thrilled.

GGP: I have heard that you are a long time Kitty Pryde fan.  What about the character appeals to you?  What qualities do you desire to highlight in your depiction of Kitty?

Marc Guggenheim: Well, the very first X-Men comic I ever read was Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1, No. 139, which was when Kitty officially joined the team.  So there’s a large, nostalgic factor for me because I feel like I joined the book when she did and, as a reader, I’ve had the opportunity to watch her grow up.  She’s also one of the few Jewish characters in comics, which is certainly an appeal.  But fundamentally, I just like her.  She’s strong.  She’s smart.  She’s funny.

I’ve certainly tried to accentuate her strength and intelligence in my depiction of Kitty, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t feel as if I write her so much as listen to what she has to say and write it down.  For example, while I knew she would make a great leader of the X-Men, one thing that came out in the actual writing was that she’s a very good field tactician.  She commands from the front in a much more strategic way than Cyclops or Storm ever did, in my opinion.  That wasn’t a creative choice on my part.  It’s just the way Kitty was acting.

GGP: I am intrigued by Kitty’s physical appearance in X-Men: Prime. It strikes a strong resemblance to Kate Pryde in X-Men Days of Future Past (X-Men 141 and Uncanny X-Men 142).  Can you talk about the development process of her physical appearance?

Marc Guggenheim: I wanted each of the characters — with the exception of Old Man Logan — to have something new about their looks.  At the same time, however, I’m a sucker for Kitty wearing a variation on the classic black-and-yellow costume.  The problem is there’s only so much you can change up of that from a design perspective, so I thought… well, maybe she can rock a different hairstyle?  It was Ardian Syaf who came up with the short hair.

 

Credit: Marvel

GGP: Can you talk a little about how you came about choosing this specific team roster for X-Men: Gold

Marc Guggenheim: To be honest, I just went with my favorite X-Men.  It’s probably not surprising that the lineup reflects the X-Men I grew up with:  Kitty, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm and Logan.  Those were the X-Men I met in [X-Men] 139 and they still hold a warm place in my heart.  At the same time, however, I felt there needed to be one more woman on the team.  I had a really great time writing Rachel during my adjective-less X-Men run, so she seemed to be the obvious choice.

GGP: From what I saw, Lockheed does not make an appearance in X-Men: Prime.  Will he be appearing in X-Men: Gold? If he won’t be appearing, where is he?

Marc Guggenheim: I love Lockheed and would love to bring him into Gold somehow.  Like you, I don’t know where he’s been hanging out.  Whatever he’s doing, I hope he’s happy.

GGP: Your wife Tara Butters was co-show runner on Marvel’s Agent Carter and with Agent Peggy Carter herself Butters wrote a character who is a major role model to people of all ages, but especially to girls and women. From Joss Whedon, we know that Kitty Pryde inspired him to create a similar cultural impacting character in Buffy Summers. Now Kitty is leading the X-Men, placing her front and center as a role model once again. How does this influence the way you write Kitty?

Marc Guggenheim:  Character development and the aging up of characters are relatively rare in long-form serialized super-hero comics because of the need to keep the characters generally consistent.  But Kitty is a wonderful exception.  She’s literally grown up over the years and is a very different — and older — character today than she was when Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced her waaaaaaay back in the day.  I think that’s part of what makes her such a compelling role model.  That said, I’m not conscious of writing her differently as a result.  As I mentioned earlier, I don’t even consider myself as “writing” her per se so much as opening myself up to how she would respond to the circumstances I throw at her.  I’ve read so much Kitty Pryde over the years she comes as close as possible to a character that “writes herself.”

GGP: Returning to Kitty’s characterizations, my favorites include Warren Ellis’s run on Excalibur (including the limited series Pryde and Wisdom) and Chris Claremont’s MekaniX series. One thing that intrigued me about MekaniX is Kitty was seeing a therapist, Dr. Maureen Lyszinski. Aside from an issue of X-Factor, I had never seen the mental health of a character addressed before.  Do you have any favorite characterizations?

Marc Guggenheim: Of Kitty?  I really liked future Kitty — Katherine — in Days of Future Past.  And I really liked the way Chris Claremont wrote her in her appearances in New Mutants.  The issue where she spoke out against anti-mutant bigotry was particularly impactful for me.  Plus, the New Mutants stories gave her a chance to interact with Illyana and I thought that was a wonderful friendship.

GGP contributors Dawn Bourn and Jennifer Redelle Carey meet with writer Marc Guggenheim

GGP: Every member of X-Men: Gold (Ororo Monroe, Kurt Wagner, Piotr Rasputin, Rachel Grey, and Logan) has a personal connection to Kitty.  And in X-Men: Prime we see her with her other long term bestie Illyana “Magik” Rasputin. Will we see connections to Kitty’s and her team mates’ shared pasts?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s always there in the background, but with one exception, I’m not planning on weaving any story out of it.  The aforementioned exception is an upcoming issue that focuses on her past and present with Peter.  By that point, they will have each risked their lives for each other and I’m looking forward to exploring their shared history, romantically and as X-Men.

GGP: Any specific references to other past lovers (Pete Wisdom comes to mind)

Marc Guggenheim: I don’t think I can improve on my reference in X-Men Prime to the fact that majority of Kitty’s romantic history is with men named Peter.

GGP: And family and friends (Stevie Hunter and Doug Ramsey)?

Marc Guggenheim: If I’m not mistaken, Doug is dead.  As for Stevie, I’ve thought a lot about getting her into Gold somehow.  Just haven’t figured out a way yet.

GGP: Also what about Kitty’s relationship to Erik Lehnsherr?  Her depiction in Uncanny 199 with him at the Washington National Holocaust Museum remains one of my favorite character interactions of all-time.

Marc Guggenheim: That’s a wonderful issue.  (Though I don’t think it was set in Washington.)  Chris Claremont remains the all-time champ at writing, not just the X-Men, but character moments like that one.

GGP:  X-Men: Gold seems to be reeling back the X-Men, allowing them to be active instead of having others act upon them. What in the new series are you looking to appeal to the older and newer readers of the series?

Marc Guggenheim: I’m approaching the book as something of a Trojan horse:  It presents itself as a deep-dive into nostalgia, but if you stick with me, you’ll see that I’m slipping in a lot of new characters and concepts.  At the same time, however, I’m trying to present the nostalgia in such a way that it doesn’t alienate new readers.  If I’ve done my job properly, you don’t need to be an X-Men aficionado to read, understand and enjoy the stories.

GGP: Can you give us any hints of things to be looking for beyond the first issue of X-Men: Gold? Will you be introducing any new characters?

Marc Guggenheim: The New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants includes new incarnations of Avalanche and Pyro, as well as a completely new character, who we’ll learn is named Kleevus.  The second arc introduces an amalgam of nanotechnology and Sentinel AI who I’ve been calling “0101.”  Finally, you’ve already met Lydia Nance, who will be a thorn in the X-Men’s side for many issues to come.

Thank you for your time, Marc!  We can’t wait to see what else is in store for the X-Men: Gold team.

 

The seventh issue of X-Men: Gold by writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Ken Lashley and is out this Wednesday, July 5th, 2017. It ties into the Secret Empire storyline that is happening in Marvel.

From Marvel.com:

SECRET EMPIRE TIE-IN! When Manhattan is besieged, the X-Men open their doors and repurpose their school as a safe haven for any human or mutant in need of sanctuary. But little do they know that one of the humans they’ve welcomed in is the all-new X-CUTIONER! And he’s about to make the Xavier Institute the last place mutants want to be…
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