'Sins of Sinister' Writer Kieron Gillen Heralds 'the Nightmare Future of Krakoa'
Writer Kieron Gillen and editor Jordan D. White explain why 'Sins of Sinister' isn't quite an alternate timeline, tease the event's real impact on the Marvel Universe, and more.
The SINS OF SINISTER era is almost upon us. Beginning this Wednesday, January 25, the three-month X-Men event will propel mutantkind into a future created by Mister Sinister at 10-year, 100-year, and 1000-year intervals… and it all starts with SINS OF SINISTER #1. Now that he has successfully killed Hope Summers, Sinister's grand plan has been set in motion, and the Marvel Universe may never be the same.
Speaking to Marvel.com, SINS OF SINISTER mastermind Kieron Gillen and editor Jordan D. White looked ahead to the Marvel Universe's Sinister future. They explained why SINS OF SINISTER isn't quite an alternate timeline and teased how this storyline will "change everything" for mutantkind moving forward. They also described Krakoa as "kindling" for Sinister's dream, weighed in on the concept of Krakoan immortality, compared all four Sinisters to one another, and much, much more.
KIERON GILLEN: The alternate future or present is one of those core X stories for lots of reasons—some speak to Super Heroes generally, and others to X specifically. X-Men is about how the world could be, for better or worse. It’s about the future, and what we’re going to make it. It’s no wonder it’s turned up a bunch.
That said, I may question the question a bit. I don’t really think it as an alternate timeline. It’s a fork in the road, and it happens to the people we’ve been following and continues all the stories in the books you’ve been reading. This is the extension of where the story is right now. It’s as real as everything else that’s happening in the Marvel Universe.
JORDAN D. WHITE: Good point! Yeah—with "Age of Apocalypse" or HOUSE OF M or the recent HEROES REBORN over in the AVENGERS line, we jump sideways to a world unlike our own. This one is a story about our world going through something, but the start of it is right now, the exact status quo of the X-Books of this moment.
KIERON GILLEN: Now, you can presume that there’s an end to this path—that we have the Moira engines will give people a guess of what must happen at some point, right?—but it doesn’t change the nature of this world.
JORDAN D. WHITE: You’ve said too much!
KIERON GILLEN: I think of SINS OF SINISTER as a loop in Marvel continuity. It blossoms out from the side, reaches its end, and then loops back in. Along the way, we have 1000 years of future, sure, but it’s still part of the story, not parallel to it.
I suspect this is a bit philosophical, right? In reality, we have all the good stuff from alternate timeline stories too—seeing how people could go, and what they could become. The ability to really go for it, as you know you’re in an enclosed story with a start, middle and end.
I think Si [Spurrier], Al [Ewing], and myself use that. I also think the thing which will most strike people about SINS OF SINISTER is the scale. In the +10 stories, it’s an alternate future, sure. It’s grounded. It’s invasions of the bodysnatchers with notes of cyberpunk. By +100, you’re getting something that’s shaking the whole galaxy. By +1000, you’ve got something that’s ground the galaxy down to a pile of quivering, tentacle, screaming living hell.
At the same time, what holds it together is our perspectives. We’re taking characters and walking them through this long story. We talk about Krakoan immortality a lot. This is what it could look like if it all goes wrong.
JORDAN D. WHITE: Yeah—it’s like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. The pages with the terrible endings had to get written and printed on paper just like the good ones. And everybody tries to read all the different paths and then pick the best one, right? That’s just what you do.
MARVEL.COM: Mister Sinister is a man with a plan. What devilish designs are in store for the Quiet Council and the rest of mutantkind?
KIERON GILLEN: I mean, bad ones.
JORDAN D. WHITE: Again, Kieron giving away our entire story before it even comes out. Maybe he actually has great ideas; did you ever think of that?
KIERON GILLEN: It’s so hard talking about the big storylines, because I want to keep the beats as powerful and fresh as possible. People didn’t really know what SINS OF SINISTER was about until the last panel of IMMORTAL X-MEN #10. When you’re hyping stuff months in advance, it’s an impossible job. My urge is always to protect the story for the readers, even if it makes it harder to sell the story.
However, Sinister has been up to something all along. Way back in HoX/PoX, Jon [Hickman] noted he was in the game for nearly as long as it’s been played. What has he been trying to do? We know the Moira engines, and likely guess it’s some kind of dominion… but why? The biggest hint we’ve had is in IMMORTAL X-MEN #8, where the original Nathaniel Essex talks about his desire to beat the AI. Presumably, it’s something to do with that. But what? And how?
We’ll show all those cards in SINS OF SINISTER #1. For now, I’ll say this: his aim is to turn the whole of mutant civilization to achieving his goals, using Krakoa as kindling for his dreams. Sinister is a colonialist and an exploiter, and now that he’s got the keys to the world, he’s going to do exactly that. As far as he’s concerned, the whole planet is just a factory to manufacture what he wants…
MARVEL.COM: Of course, Mister Sinister isn't one of a kind. We've met a handful of different Sinisters across the Krakoan age, especially in the lead-up to SINS OF SINISTER. What did that allow you to do with the event that perhaps you couldn't have if you were working with the original alone?
KIERON GILLEN: That’s a good question, but gets me thinking. How much are the four Sinisters’ of a kind? The Fantastic Four all share an origin, but we don’t consider them the same, because they’re so different. Clearly, there’s more connections between the four Sinisters, but in SINS OF SINISTER, we really get to see how they’re different… and why they’re the same.
JORDAN D. WHITE: I do think, though, that it’s fair to say the Sinister plans that are about to play out are very much the product of there being more than one different Sinister, for sure.
MARVEL.COM: How important do these spare Sinisters become to SINS OF SINISTER?
KIERON GILLEN: Hugely. In the same way we show Sinister’s cards, we show a lot of the other Sinisters’ cards. The big issue there is NIGHTCRAWLERS #1, where you get to see the other three meet for the first time.
To state the obvious: if Sinister is winning, they’re losing. They can’t be having that. The question is, what are they going do about it?
They’re Sinisters. They’re going to do bad things. They’re going to do enormously bad things.
JORDAN D. WHITE: Doing bad things suits them. KIERON, you missed that pun and I got there first! I cannot believe it.
MARVEL.COM: As we jump further and further into the future, we meet a host of new characters. Who are you most excited for readers to meet, and why?
KIERON GILLEN: I think I’m going to have to shine a spotlight on Jon Ironfire. The joke we’ve been making earlier in the process is calling him Logan 2.0—we wanted a new character who filled that role on the team, but finding a new, 21st century way to do it.
He’s a new take on a classic bad-ass archetype, and I think Al, Paco [Medina], Andrea [Di Vito], and Alessandro [Vitti] have done wonderful work with delineating him. He becomes hugely important to the story—across the 1000 years, it’s us seeing the birth of a new Marvel legend, from the young, angry man to his King Conan stage. When I first got to write him in my +1000 issue of IMMORAL X-MEN, it was just natural—he’s got his own voice, which is really satisfying.
JORDAN D. WHITE: Also, while it’s not QUITE accurate to call Rasputin a new character… she is appearing in a new place, in a new way, and with extremely different circumstances, so it’s a very new experience of her from her previous appearances in POWERS OF X.
MARVEL.COM: We get to stick with a couple of our longtime characters on this journey, as well. Just how sinister does this future look for them?
KIERON GILLEN: Oh, this is awful. I’m sitting here and wanting to say the good stuff, but I also want it to be a surprise along the way. I keep on writing teases and deleting them. What can I safely say?
JORDAN D. WHITE: Proceed with caution.
KIERON GILLEN: Firstly, Storm. Her stepping out of the Resurrection protocols is a boon—and she is the main figure of resistance against the age of Sinister. She’s the paragon for everyone who rejects this, and won’t give up. In a 1000 years’ time, the Storm System is a final bastion.
Secondly, Nightcrawler. His continuing mutation protects him from Sinister. It may leave him as a feral beast, but it means that Sinister can’t corrupt him… but it doesn’t save him from an even worse fate.
Thirdly, everyone who is vaguely loyal to Krakoa? It is a bad time for it. They mostly are really enjoying it, which makes it worse. It’s called the IMMORAL X-MEN for a reason.
JORDAN D. WHITE: All this checks out.
MARVEL.COM: What are you most excited for readers to see?
KIERON GILLEN: Si, Al, and myself are just going for it. Every issue is just packed with ideas, characters, emotions, explosions, and a strange diversion where I write about tea for about three pages. We’ve been handed the keys to the Marvel Universe for 11 issues, and we’re going to see exactly how fast it can go.
But that’s not answering the question, so let’s make a choice. When I had the idea for where Emma Frost is in +1000, it delighted me. Seeing what Al did with it in STORM AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF MUTANTS #3 is a joy.
JORDAN D. WHITE: I think it’s like a page and half about tea… and thankfully, you did not touch on what I now know is the hottest debated issue of whether milk goes in first or second.
I will tell you, I am also really excited because we did something so interesting with the form of the story. The fact that it’s three series that tell one story together, that they all time-hop into those three eras, the fact we have one artist per era rather than one artist per series… I really like trying new things and pushing at the form in interesting ways, and I think SINS OF SINISTER does that. So I am really excited to see how everyone enjoys that.
MARVEL.COM: What kind of impact will SINS OF SINISTER leave on the Krakoan age?
JORDAN D. WHITE: I think it all goes back to what Kieron said at the start of this—SINS OF SINISTER is NOT an alternate universe. It’s the next stage of the plan Sinister has been setting up since Krakoa began—for him, it’s the culmination of the Krakoan age.
KIERON GILLEN: I would describe the SINS OF SINISTER as the nightmare future of Krakoa—exactly how bad it could get. When you wake up from a nightmare, you’re sweating and petrified, glad it wasn’t real.
But this nightmare happened. It was real. And that can’t help but change everything.
The nightmare future of Krakoa begins in SINS OF SINISTER #1, on sale this Wednesday, January 25!
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