The New Danger Room of ‘Age of X-Man: Prisoner X’
Writer Vita Ayala and artist Germán Peralta take us inside a utopia’s prison.
While the utopian Age of X-Man ushers in Professor X’s dream of peace, there are still those that don’t fit into the idyllic new world. Especially those who break the law – but what to do with troublemakers in an era of peace? Once a place of training, the Danger Room now acts as a penitentiary holding the meanest mutants, including its newest prisoner – Lucas Bishop!
Marvel.com chatted with writer Vita Ayala and artist Germán Peralta about how they approached updating the Danger Room and what’s ahead for the lawbreakers in AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1, available now!
Marvel.com: Tell us a little more about AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 and who is on Patch Zircher’s cover.
Vita Ayala: PRISONER X is a mini-series that spins directly out of AGE OF X-MAN: ALPHA. It primarily follows Bishop, who is spirited away by the secret police in that issue. He arrives in a prison – which does not officially exist in the utopia he believed himself to be living in – and has to unravel the mystery of where he is, and even WHO he is to an extent.
On Patch’s cover we have Bishop, Gabby, Forge, Polaris, and Beast. They are five of the seven characters that readers will know and love (or hate)! They are not who we know them to usually be, however…
Marvel.com: How did you have to rethink the infamous Danger Room as a prison, and what were some of the starting steps?
Vita Ayala: On my end, it was important to do something interesting with where these people would be imprisoned. I think we have seen a lot of prison narratives that are about how a person reacts to the oppression of the space, but fewer about how the space interacts with the prisoner.
I don’t think I can say more about it than that right now, but just know that we looked both into making the space make sense in context of the X-Men as a whole, but also to the individual characters being imprisoned.
Germán Peralta: I love taking references from previous comics and including Easter eggs, but in this case I went down a totally different path. This is a whole new scenario, and what you will see is my attempt to capture what Vita had in mind.
I love when writers provide the references to try and convey to an artist what they have in their head, but also they give artists absolute freedom of creation. Within the reference I got for this there were songs, which is the first time that someone sent me reference in audio format to contextualize, and I really loved it
Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Lucas Bishop and how he, historically an ally of the X-Men and follower of Xavier’s dream of peace, ended up in prison? How did you have to approach his character differently?
Vita Ayala: Bishop is in prison because of events that take place in AGE OF X-MAN: ALPHA, which is centered around the world created by Nate Grey/X-Man.
It was an interesting puzzle to try and find a balance between making Bishop – who is one of my favorite X-Men (especially mullet Bishop) – recognizable, while still having him make sense in the context of the event. In terms of writing him, I talked with Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler about who he was in their world, and also how his mind would react to what is happening to him and the world around him.
But, to be honest, Germán did most of the heavy lifting here! He really found a way to express the nuance that Bishop would be feeling in his body language and expressions, and he did a lot of really amazing work with layouts and angles that further pushed the emotion driving the character.
Germán Peralta: I always say that I am lucky to draw characters that I like, either because of their history or because of how much I love their design. As a child, I was a fan of the X-Men designs of the ‘90s, and Bishop was one of those characters that I liked a lot.
This time we will see a different Bishop. I decided to dig a little deeper into his human side because I always try to find a look that the readers can empathize with. It is important for me that reader experience through the art that the character is not only muscles and superpowers, but also a person who feels the same as us. In this case, Bishop will go through moments of great uncertainty, and I hope to express that correctly through the pages.
Marvel.com: Who else might make an appearance in the Danger Room and what are their roles?
Vita Ayala: I don’t think I can reveal the last of the characters, but I CAN say that Danielle Moonstar is also a prominent character!
Marvel.com: Vita, how has your work on other Marvel books, like MARVEL KNIGHTS and SHURI, informed your approach on PRISONER X?
Vita Ayala: I think being able to get into the head of T’Challa in MARVEL KNIGHTS was really helpful, especially because that story dealt with a sort of “very different but still canon and real” world like this one does. It helped me figure out how to walk some of the lines regarding characterization and small moments that have larger implications.
SHURI was very important too, especially because of the team dynamic aspect and a little of the perspective work. Getting into the head of different folks and how they literally view the same situation was a fun challenge there, and then to be able to push that further in PRISONER X was great!
Marvel.com: Germán, you have worked within the X-Universe before on CABLE. How did that experience inform this book?
Germán Peralta: Truly, working on Cable was one of the most rewarding experiences I had, for two reasons. First, obviously I felt great pleasure of being able to give life to a character that has such a rich history and design. And second, working with the great team that accompanied me during those five chapters. I think I had told them a thousand times, and I won't ever get tired of saying it, I will be eternally grateful for how good they made me feel in that project, editors, writers, colorists. Everyone.
That is something that always positively impacts the next projects. Artistically we take the risk of showing a different Cable, more vulnerable, more emotional. The result was very positive, and that also gave me the confidence to repeat that scheme when it came to showing all the characters that we will see in this series.
Marvel.com: Who is your favorite character to bring to life and why?
Vita Ayala: I think I am supposed to say all of them here, but honestly, it is Bishop and Gabby. Bishop was one of the reasons I started reading X-Men, and Gabby has been one of my favorite characters, especially after reading the X-23 series by Mariko Tamaki!
Also, selfishly, there are some new mutants Germán designed that were a joy to write (especially Julia Madden and Alec Walsh).
Germán Peralta: I enjoy drawing Beast, simply because I love that character and everything that makes him up.
Marvel.com: What do you want readers to know about this story, the art, and where it’s headed?
Vita Ayala: I want readers to know that this starts as a sort of “slow burn” mystery, but by the end it is absolutely bananas in the most riotous way. To me, Bishop is the perfect mix of historian/detective and action hero, and I wanted to reflect that in the shape of the story.
Germán Peralta: I want readers to feel what the characters feel. I want them to feel confused and constantly want to find answers. I want them to be intrigued to know what's going to happen in the next panel, on the next page, in the next issue.
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