The soon to be reborn Marvel Comics series "X-Treme X-Men" may share a title with a previous comic starring the renegade mutants, but writer Greg Pak and artist Stephen Segovia's "X-Treme" will be telling the story of a team that's practically brand new. Spinning out of Pak's recent "Exalted" arc of "Astonishing X-Men" and announced Saturday at WonderCon, the July-debuting ongoing focuses on a group of mutant heroes from an alternate timeline (as well as one very familiar face from the core Marvel U) on a mission to save all realities.
"As X-Men editor Nick Lowe and I worked on the story for my 'Astonishing' arc, we realized how awesome it would be to keep going with this team of alternate reality X-Men. I crossed my fingers, Nick worked his magic, and now here we are," Pak told CBR News of the book's origins. "I loved working on that 'Astonishing' story because its alternative world gave me the chance to push the biggest characters in the X-Men to their limits, to bend and maybe even break 'em to see what they're really made of. I particularly loved where we ended up going with Xavier in that world -- and how that pushed 'our' Cyclops to rethink, define, and defend his own mission and life.
"That's the thrill of alternative reality stories -- especially when they eventually link back to 'our' universe. They let us cut loose and find out things we'd never learn otherwise about characters we love. 'X-Treme' is going to live up to its name and go absolutely wild with this opportunity. We're hitting all the red buttons, knocking down the warning signs, and pushing our characters to the brink. And eventually we'll twist this back to the Marvel Universe proper with some revelatory repercussions on characters you know and love."
To start, the core of the team starring in "X-Treme" will be the rough cowboy-ish take on Wolverine called Howlett, the capricious Kid Nightcrawler and Alison Blaire – the glittering mutant pop star Dazzler from the core X-Men series.
"Howlett is former Governor General James Howlett of the Dominion of Canada and Viceroy of Her Majesty's Expedition to Shangri-La," Pak explained of his team leader. "He's clearly achieved a position of more respectable, mainstream authority in his world than Logan has in ours. But he's still a rowdy wild card. He looks older than "our" Wolverine -- about fifty, with a pulp adventurer's fedora, duster, and handlebar mustache. And instead of adamantium, his skeleton is laced with golden adamantine, the metal of the gods. What the heck's that all about? Pick up 'X-Treme' and find out!"
As for the young take on Nightcrawler, the writer said, "I love that Wolverine-Nightcrawler relationship in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Kid Kurt lets us take that hugely entertaining and endearing contrast between the Wolverine and the Elf to the extreme. Kid Kurt is a ten-year-old from an alternate universe in which grade schoolers take classes on Quantum Mechanics and the Practical Uses of Infinity. He's got a Spider-Man lunchbox, a purple belt in taekwondo, and he is awesome. He does indeed have some major tragedy in his backstory -- but that fifth grade nerd swashbuckler attitude makes him a huge amount of fun to write."
And when it comes to the cast member most X-readers are already well familiar with, Pak bristled with enthusiasm. "DAZZLER!" he declared. "It's kind of hard for me to contain how much I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS CHARACTER. As soon as I started writing her, all the lights went on (pun intended). She's wry and funny and tough and vulnerable and the Marvel Universe's greatest showbiz surviver turned superhero and SHE WILL SAVE THE WORLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL. Shine on, people. Shine on.
Though it shares a name with a different series, "X-Treme's" most direct ancestors is the dimension-hopping "Exiles."
"So how'd we get here, you wonder? When I got together with the X-Office to discuss the book, we all knew we wanted a big hero from 'our' world to play a big role in the book. And the conversation kept turning back to Dazzler. And the more I thought about it, the more perfect I realized it was. Cyclops was the central character in my 'Astonishing' story -- he made sense as a natural leader who could bring together this band of alterna-X-Men and he had tremendous emotional issues that an alternate universe adventure could bring to the foreground in some fascinating ways."
"Dazzler's the perfect character to throw into a similar scenario, but with some delicious and surprising twists," he noted. "First, her power set puts her in the right league to lead -- like Cyclops, she can generate tremendous amounts of energy and even can fire powerful solid light bolts, which aren't too far off from Cyclops's optic blasts. But more importantly, she's a hero on the verge. She's gone through an insane number of ups and downs -- she's seen and survived enough to fill an entire season of Behind the Music docs, but she's also still figuring out just where and how she fits into her own world. Plunging her into the massive crises of this alternative reality storyline will test her on every level imaginable. We're about to discover who Alison Blaire really is. And it will be awesome."
Followers of Pak's "Astonishing" story with Mike McKone should find themselves right at home when the series starts. "Our story opens with Cyclops and the X-Club figuring out how to reestablish contact with the X-Men he met during his alternate reality adventure in 'Astonishing,'" the writer explained. "But they need our girl Alison. And within seconds, everything goes haywire. Again, I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers, but Dazzler, Howlett, Kid Kurt and company are in the fight of their lives against an opponent that could wreak havok on all their realities -- including ours."
Joining Pak for the ride is Segovia, who he's had the pleasure of establishing a creative rapport with in the past. "Stephen has a brilliant affinity for big, wild, sci-fi action. We had a tremendous time working together on the 2011 'Silver Surfer' mini, and he's going to tear 'X-Treme' apart," he said.
And that's not all that awaits "X-Treme X-Men." Pak promised more cast members from "Astonishing" and beyond. "We'll see the steampunk Emma Frost from Warren Ellis's awesome 'Ghost Boxes' short story. And the scarred Armor from my 'Astonishing' run will play a big role. I won't say much more for fear of spoilers, but every single issue of this series will feature surprising new incarnations of big X-Men who might just shock you into thinking about your favorite heroes in entirely new ways.
"And let me emphasize again that everything in these stories is real and canon, and in the fullness of time, the tale will twist back to hit "our" Marvel Universe right in the face, which major repercussions for the X-Men. Get in on the ground floor here, folks!"