Brian Wood is being very clear about his approach towards making women more prominent in X-Men #1. The chemistry, camaraderie, and chaos is au natural. It is not forced. It is not planned. From what it sounds like, Wood sits back and lets the ladies do their thing as we would expect them to as they’re carrying the torch for Xavier’s legacy. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive, Brian Wood tells us that he knew the gig was a good one. The X-Men would take care of themselves. No consulting was necessary.
PREVIEWSworld: Chris Claremont's run on Uncanny X-Men reinforced strong female characters like Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, and Rachel Summers to name a few. Did you by chance look at what Chris did in the 80s and use that as a sort of compass for this new series?
Brian Wood: I didn't overtly go take a look as a way to prep for this new series, now. I try not to do that, mostly to avoid consciously or subconsciously mimicking any other writer's approach. But I've read Chris Claremont's X-Men work in the past, sure, and he set a high bar as far as this goes.
I do feel like he did it right; too often I see a female character called "strong" simply because she can beat up some people and sort of act like dudes. Chris wrote powerful women, sure, but they were strong because they were that and also smart, complex, and feminine.
PREVIEWSworld: You've said that the X-Men women in your team for this series have a history with each other so that they come together in a time of need. Could you be more specific about the nature of the relationships between these women? Could you reference certain past issues or storylines that show when these women have worked together so well that the synergy was obvious?
Brian Wood: Those comments weren't meant to reference past stories or situations... I actually think that level of attention to continuity details can get in the way of writing a good story.
My comments were general ones that just acknowledge that these six characters all have histories — much of them shared — and are stronger for it.
I think sometimes in comics you see teams put together into a book that don't always make a lot of sense, and perhaps they were put together for reasons that are forced or contradictory in some basic way. I think we avoided that here.
PREVIEWSworld: In a USA Today interview, you alluded that Jubilee is the focus of the book. I thought this was an interesting take, as you've got such heavy-hitters like Storm and Rogue in the team, and one would assume they would command most of the star power for the book. Why was Marvel keen on giving Jubilee the nod? Is she figuring into a future movie role? Is writing more about an active young female character something Marvel thought would benefit the "X-Men" brand?
Brian Wood: It's tricky to get into too many details on this without giving away any more of the first story arc than I have, but while Jubilee is a focus of that first arc, that's not the same as calling her the focus of the series. The book is very much an ensemble type of book, and while everyone involved loves Jubilee and recognizes she's been out of the spotlight for too long, it’s not Jubilee and The X-Men, ya know? Beyond that, this team we've assembled isn't a formal sort of construct with a defined leader, and so on, but a group of X-Men who band together as needed to deal with stuff that jumps up. Storm may take point in one case, but someone else might later on. Its a little fluid as far as hierarchy goes.
All that said, I think the idea of a proper Jubilee movie role is a great one!
PREVIEWSworld: In your previous run on X-Men, characters are pulled in different directions to pick sides. Will you take these struggles to the next level in this series, and make loyalty a more prominent theme in your drama? As a writer, how much do you dwell on drawing such lines for the characters to cross? What does this bring to the table in terms of enriching your storylines?
Brian Wood: I'm not tracing a direct line between my X-Men stories of pre-Now! and this new series here, not as far as storylines go. I'm not erasing any of that in the past, but we're forging ahead with new stories now. You'll still recognize my Storm, for sure, though.
PREVIEWSworld: Having the women take the lead in this title is a fresh start for an “X-Men” book. What brought about the approach? Is this Brian Wood unchained, or have you been weighing different attitudes about where one could go to plow new frontiers?
Brian Wood: While I like this idea of me being all "unchained," all credit has to go to Marvel and to my editor Jeanine Schaefer for thinking this up and making it a reality. I was just smart enough to see a good thing and want to write it. But beyond that, we were both pretty much in synch with what this book should be, beyond the sort of wow factor the lineup gives us. All of these characters are X-Men, and have been for decades, and this is a pretty pure X-Men book. The cast's gender doesn't change that — this is a high action-adventure comic with all of the hallmarks of a great X-Men book.