Comics

'Uncanny X-Men': The Writers Share Their Favorite Heroes and Villains

Writers Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, and Matthew Rosenberg have some common ground on their X-favorites -- and some friendly disagreement!

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The latest lineup of Marvel's mutants is here -- UNCANNY X-MEN #1 made its debut last week and is available now! To celebrate the occasion, writers Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, and Kelly Thompson sat down for an interview with This Week in Marvel host Ryan "Agent M" Penagos to talk about the new series and everything they love about the X-Men. Here is part of their interview, as they choose their favorite heroes and villains:

Ryan "Agent M" Penagos: I know it’s sort of standard, but it helps inform where you guys approach some of these characters and stories: Who is your favorite X-Men team member? Kelly, let’s start with you.

Kelly Thompson: How dare you do this to me? I mean, I have to say Rogue, and that is going to come back and bite me so badly because I’m writing [for Rogue and Gambit (MR. AND MRS. X)]. It’s got to be Rogue. I love Gambit as well, but I think I connected to Rogue. Matt, I can see you making faces out of the corner of my eye. Rogue I really connected to as a kid, in so many ways, which was also—before that UNCANNY X-MEN issue came into the house—the reason it came into the house. My brother and I saw the X-Men animated series like so many people of a certain age. And literally, we turned on the TV and she was in the mall, punching that Sentinel. And I mean it was just over for me. I was in love.

Matthew Rosenberg: That was Cottonwood Mall if I’m not mistaken.

Kelly: It was.

Ryan: Matt?

Matthew: My favorite X-Men… Ok, so, this is my… I’m going to pick two, which is cheating.

Kelly: No way! I had to pick! I had to pick.

Matthew: It’s a toss-up between Magik and Havok, but I’ll give this confessional thing that I’ve come to realize, which is very sad and pathetic, so it evens out that I cheated. When writing the X-Men, I spent a long time trying to figure out why I like Magik and Havok so much. And I realized [that] growing up… I’m a little brother. My older brother is great. He’s very cool. He’s very smart. He was great in school. And everyone loved him. And I was just the worst little bratty kid.

Kelly: It’s so subtle. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Matthew: Yeah, there’s a twist coming up. And it turns out, now that I’m an adult, I’ve reevaluated that Magik and Havok are both the much cooler, much more powerful, but much less respected younger siblings of very well-known X-Men. And eleven-year-old me really latched on to that. And me in my 30s finds it very pathetic, but that’s where we are now, so, yeah… They’re my favorites, and I love them. And they’re great. And they’re the best X-Men.

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Ryan: Wow. Ed?

Ed Brisson: It seems like such an obvious answer, but mine is Wolverine. He’s the coolest character. But also, for me, growing up, I’m Canadian. Most of the media we consume in Canada is American media. And so, when there was this character in the X-Men who’s not only Canadian but also just cool as hell, it was like a double whammy. And so… Wolverine. Ever since early on, he’s been the guy.

Ryan: He’s pretty good. He’s pretty good.

Kelly: I haven’t even heard of him. Is he around? Is he the best there is at what he does? Is that a thing?

Matthew: Are you talking about Northstar?

Ryan: All right. What about favorite X-Men villain? Matt, you go first.

Matthew: Oh, wow… I mean… Magneto. It’s the sort of obvious answer, but he’s the quintessential X-Men foil to me. It’s like he is the other side of the coin, and sometimes those sides are not so differentiated. I love the points where if you read X-Men comics and Magneto is not this hand-wringing, world-ending guy, you have to be like, “He’s making some pretty compelling points.” I love that. I think it’s good that he keeps the X-Men on their toes and challenges them. And he’s a very sympathetic character. He’s got this tragic life. He has all the makings of being a great leader of the X-Men, which he has been. But he’s also, I think, their best villain.

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Kelly: I would say Emma Frost, but I don’t really see her as a villain. I see her more as an anti-hero. My sort of dark horse favorite villain is Callisto, just because I think the Morlocks have the best freaking point ever. I think we don’t see more stories with them because it’s really uncomfortable for the X-Men. It really shines a light on the hypocrisy, and I say that in love. I love the X-Men. They’re my first and last loves. But they don’t deal with that problem well, at all. And there are a couple really cool stories, including the Storm and Callisto story, that are phenomenal.

Ryan: Ed, what about you?

Ed: I think, unfortunately, I’m just copying Matt’s answer. It’s Magneto, who, until I was 20, I thought his name was Magnet-o [pronounced Magnet-O].

Ryan: That’s okay.

Ed: When the cartoon came out and they said “Mag-Neat-O,” I was like, “How did they screw this up?” And then somebody told me I’d just been wrong for the previous 20 years.

Matthew: I want you to say the names of all of the X-Men right now.

Ed: Well the others… we talked about this before… I thought Rogue [pronounced Roh-ge] was “Rouge” [pronounced Rooj] for a long time. That’s the influence of growing up in a house with a French father I think. I [like] Magneto just because he has such a rich and tragic past. Like Matt said, he’s not just a mustache-twirling villain. He’s a really sympathetic figure and really complex. I kind of like that he’s playing both sides sometimes. He’s good, bad… He’s got the most compelling backstory of all. I wanted to say Stryfe, but he has almost no backstory. But looks cool as hell.

Ryan: I was going to say that’s the correct answer, Stryfe.

Matthew: I love the look of Stryfe.

Ed: No points awarded this round.

Ryan: Yeah, correct.

Kelly: I have a real problem with the villains, both as a reader and a TV viewer, and as a writer. And it’s something I struggle with because when you cut away to the villain, I’m instantly bored. … To me, that’s one of the reasons Magneto and characters like Magneto, they don’t ever just feel like a villain. They feel like one of the characters, and you’re invested in that story—good or bad. I think he’s one that really transcends it. I’m always looking for ways to do that with my villains.

You can hear the full interview on This Week in Marvel below!

UNCANNY X-MEN #1, written by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, and Kelly Thompson with art by Mahmud Asrar, R.B. Silva, Yildiray Cinar and Pere Pérez, is available now online and at your local comic shop!