'Fall of X' Declassified: Steve Foxe Breaks Down 'Dark X-Men' #1
Take a walk on the wild side with writer Steve Foxe as he brings together an unlikely team of mutants looking to step up their game during 'Fall of X.'
With the demise of Krakoa and the eradication of its mutant champions, the world needs new heroes. Instead, they'll get the DARK X-MEN.
Led by Limbo's new ruler Madelyne Pryor, this eclectic group with questionable moral fiber came together in DARK X-MEN (2023) #1 by Steve Foxe, Jonas Scharf, Frank Martin, and VC's Clayton Cowles. In their first issue together, they struck back against Orchis, but not without cost.
Speaking with Marvel.com, Foxe broke down the DARK X-MEN's maiden voyage, including Maddie's motivation, the decisions behind this particular lineup, and that shocking reveal on the last page.
STEVE FOXE: Alex Summers hasn't had the easiest time on Krakoa in general, and now with the attack on the Gala, he's lost everyone he's ever cared about… except Maddie. For someone already in a bit of an unhealthy relationship dynamic, that's not making matters better. He's ready to follow her anywhere, but that doesn't mean he's prepared for the consequences.
Maddie… she's tried to kill the X-Men herself. She's never necessarily been at the forefront of mutant rights. But the X-Men finally did right by her, just in time to go get wiped out by these petulant human upstarts. That's not something she can condone or tolerate.
MARVEL.COM: Specifically, with Jean Grey seemingly gone, how does Madelyne move forward?
STEVE FOXE: There is no Madelyne Pryor, quite literally, without Jean Grey. But Maddie is also her own woman, and I don't think that's ever been in doubt. She's not someone who's going to mope. She's someone who's going to make things right, by any means necessary. And god and the devil help anyone who stands in her way.
MARVEL.COM: How did you select the eclectic cast of mutants that make up DARK X-MEN?
STEVE FOXE: In the world of the book, Madelyne didn't exactly have ample options. Of the scant few mutants left alive on Earth, most have no skills or experience, and those who do are scattered among Synch and Talon's makeshift team, Alpha Flight's northern resistance, and Steve Rogers' Unity Squad, among others.
I don't think loyalty is a concern for her—she's confident anyone stupid enough to betray her could be put down—so she's looking at who's useful and powerful. Plus, as we see in #1, some of the key cast members of the book are victims of fate thrust up against Madelyne's perverse band of would-be saviors.
In the real world, where I had to pitch a team to [editor] Jordan [White] and all my colleagues, I knew I wanted the worst of the worst. The X-Men have a long history of former foes joining them for the sake of the cause, so I wanted truly nasty monsters like Azazel and Emplate, who would never otherwise call themselves X-Men, and chaotic players like Zero and Albert, who aren't motivated by any recognizable moral compass.
On the other side of that, you've got folks like Havok and Gambit, who've walked the razor's edge between good and evil, and characters like Carmen Cruz, who's never been up against this kind of evil. It makes for a really tantalizing mix of unsavory characters as a writer—and, hopefully, for the reader, too!
MARVEL.COM: So many of the characters in this book, not the least of all Maddie, are used to being the "bad guys"—how do they feel about taking up the X-Men mantle?
STEVE FOXE: As we're going to see over the course of the series, for some, it's a title that means something. For others… they'll discard it in a second if it benefits them. What have the X-Men ever done for them, after all? Don't trust every Dark X-Man—I'll say that much.
MARVEL.COM: Will we still see more of Havok and Archangel moving forward in this series?
STEVE FOXE: Hmm, now why would you ask that...
But yes, absolutely. No one who appears on the covers is in just one issue of this book, though I can't promise they'll survive all five intact. There are eldritch forces at play on every side of this conflict. Don't expect to see the last of anyone so early as the debut issue.
MARVEL.COM: What can you tell us about the specific branch of Orchis we encounter here?
STEVE FOXE: What makes Orchis so dangerous is that they're not just the newest anti-mutant force on the block. They're kind of…all of them? As Maddie calls them in #1, they're a "maddeningly sophisticated alliance of humans [who] have finally accomplished the eradication they've long sought."
The size and complexity of Orchis also means they're a labyrinthine organization with all sorts of offshoots. The folks we're dealing with—Agents Krol, Vallens, and their "special projects"—are barely on the books at all. They're independent contractors, hired for their skill in obtaining esoteric assets. Even amongst Orchis, these are shady, off-the-books actors and their actions reflect that over the course of the series. You'll find out a lot more about them in #2.
MARVEL.COM: What can you reveal about the character on the last page of the lead story?
STEVE FOXE: I do want to keep this reveal close to the vest, but we've seen her—and her pet—before. So if you've read those stories, great. If you haven't, #2 tells you every single thing you need to know to understand their part to play here. And I think you'll find that she's the only person I could imagine who could stand toe-to-toe with Madelyne Pryor and give her a real scare.
MARVEL.COM: What does Jonas Scharf bring to the table as a collaborator?
STEVE FOXE: Jonas, along with colorist Frank Martin and letterer Clayton Cowles, make the book. This isn't the first volume of DARK X-MEN, but it's the first version of this title that's pitched as a horror book. Jonas and co. deliver on that demonic top to infernal bottom. His work here marries classic X-Men soap opera acting and action thrills with a high gothic atmosphere and some absolutely chilling images, like the last page of #2, or the awful fate of a relatively innocent character near the end of #4.
Even when I threw swoon-worthy rooftop romance at him, Jonas just nailed it. I'll forever be grateful I got to work with this team for this premise—a horror-loving X-Men nerd's dream (or nightmare?) project.
MARVEL.COM: How was your experience with the rest of the creative and editorial team?
STEVE FOXE: It's really just been a thrill through and through. Jordan and [associate editor] Lauren [Amaro] were supportive every step of the way and made sure we had the tools we needed to tell the story we wanted to tell. Gerry Duggan is such a collaborative spirit and has encouraged everyone working on the FALL OF X books to reach for cool toys. I even got to coordinate some sly crossover with Si Spurrier and Steve Orlando for UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN and ASTONISHING ICEMAN, respectively, so you'll see just how much the mutant world is connected during FALL OF X.
I should also give a special shout-out to Stephen Segovia, who has provided our action-packed covers. Since Maddie made her Krakoa-era return in HELLIONS, it feels really special to have that connective tissue facing front on shelves. I'm sure I'm forgetting folks, but I can't speak highly enough about how smoothly putting together this violent, mean-spirited, absolutely horrific book has gone.
MARVEL.COM: The backup story drawn by Nelson Daniel has a much more humorous tone amidst a heavy first issue and heavier overall event. What was it like putting this together?
STEVE FOXE: The backup story came a little later into the process, after the main story was in motion and after I got to write the MARVEL'S VOICES: PRIDE short featuring Carmen Cruz, which helps set her up for her time in DARK X-MEN. Jordan, Lauren, and I talked a lot about what made sense for these 10 extra pages, and something a little lighter just felt right.
DARK X-MEN is a grim book. The tone doesn't ever really let up, though there are moments of dark humor throughout. So turning back the clock to the early days of the Limbo Embassy helped us establish the cast and Embassy more while also bridging the often lighter tone of DARK WEB (Rek-Rap!) with the oppressive doom of DARK X-MEN.
And after the events of DARK X-MEN #1, a little tension valve felt useful. I was thrilled we got Nelson Daniel to illustrate it, since he's got so much experience with darker subject matter but also a real knack for comedic gestures and levity.
MARVEL.COM: What can we look forward to in DARK X-MEN #2?
STEVE FOXE: DARK X-MEN #2 will give readers a lot more information about the threats facing Maddie and co., as well as see them branch out on some new mutant-rescuing missions. We'll learn the fates of a few mutants who ended #1 looking worse for wear, while another mutant gets a new codename. We're making sure you get a lot of terror-fueled bang for your buck here!
DARK X-MEN #1 is now available, while issue #2 hits on September 20!
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