Interview: Dan Abnett, part 2: New Mutants

In part two of our interview with Dan Abnett, we learn about his pending run on Marvel’s New Mutants series, beginning in May with issue #25.

Rebel Rikki: It was recently announced that you’ll be taking over New Mutants in May. I know you can’t give any specifics, but what would you say is your core concept for that team? How do you visualize the New Mutants as they relate to the rest of the X-Men universe?

Dan Abnett: The New Mutants, like the cosmic books, were a real treat because they represented something else — the X-Men — that Andy and I had been huge fans of as readers before we were ever professionals. So, being asked to write it, we suddenly realized how much we wanted to. We’d not actively campaigned for writing this book — we’re very happy doing the things we do — but when Nick Lowe came and asked us if we wanted to do it, we suddenly realized a dream we hadn’t dared dream about. It’s like meeting old friends, dealing with the New Mutants characters, because they are terrific. Our approach is really to build on the great basis they’ve had already in the last run of the book under Zeb [Wells, Marvel author].

One of the interesting things Nick said to us is that the New Mutants these days are regarded as just an X-Men team. They’re not the New Mutants, they don’t refer to themselves as the New Mutants; the New Mutants is simply the title of the book. They are another one of the teams that Cyclops can deploy, and therefore the cross-pollination with ongoing X-Men continuity is immediate, direct and constant. We’ve got characters that you would think of as being X-Men rather than New Mutants in our book right from the word “go.” It allows us to focus our attention very much on the characters specifically associated with New Mutants without losing any team members. We’re sort of just changing the emphasis of the roster slightly and doing interesting things that we think will work rather nicely.

The title of the first story arc, as a pointer, is “Unfinished Business.” They become the team that Cyclops charges with cleaning house. The X-Men never get time properly, in his opinion, to stop and sort out the aftermath and the consequences of some of their big adventures because the next thing’s happening. So there’s all these lose ends that need to be tidied up and that’s what the New Mutants team is going to be doing. They’re going to go out there and they’re going to look for people who’ve fallen between the cracks. The first thing they’re going to do is to try to find Nate Grey — X-Man. It’s great because they essentially become, in a way, the continuity police for the X-Men books, which is a really exciting thing to do because it means we can delve into all sorts of interesting things.

RR: If any book could use a continuity police, it’d be X-Men.

DA: Yes, because it’s very very convoluted; in places it’s ridiculously convoluted. We actually had a scene that I think will come through to a final published episode where somebody tries to explain the relationship between Nate, Cyclops and Cable. We just sort of played it for laughs, because after awhile everybody who’s having the conversation realized how silly it is.

I have to say, however, that my admiration for Nick Lowe is immense. As a line editor, a senior editor controlling the X-Men books, his oversight of how everything fits together, where everybody is and what certain characters are doing at certain times across all the different books is astonishing, and we’ve had the most brilliantly positive and useful feedback from him, because you ask him a question and he knows exactly the answer. I was kind of scared that we would be up against that continuity all the time, but immediately relieved because you know that you can ask him a question and he comes back with the right answer because he knows where all the pieces are.

RR: I feel like that’s one of the unique things about the X-Men franchise — and I’m kind of taking this from Grant Morrison — but it seems like they’re one of the only comics that’s helped by having that convoluted, soap-opera-y storyline.

DA: I agree, and I have to say that as time has gone by I’ve become more and more and more aware that what I’m interested in doing, no matter what I’m writing, is doing stories that are essentially completely character-driven. So they could essentially be called “soap opera” if you were going to go that way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the X-Men or a Warhammer novel or whatever, it’s the people that I’m interested in most, so to write one of the most people-oriented parts of the comic industry, one of the X-books, is a terrific thing to do.

Nick Lowe says he wants lots of kissing in there, taking the soap opera thing very seriously.

Come back Friday for the final installment, when we grill Dan about all things IDW and Transformers!

tags: dan abnett, interview, new mutants

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