Al Ewing Paves the Way for Genesis War with 'X-Men: Before the Fall – Heralds of Apocalypse'
Writer Al Ewing unpacks his 'Before the Fall' one-shot and teases the war to come in 'Fall of X.'
Spinning out of X OF SWORDS, X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE (2023) #1 by Al Ewing and Luca Pizzari reunites readers with Apocalypse and Genesis as they set their sights on Arakko. In a conversation with Marvel.com, Ewing revealed how X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE came together and teased the Genesis War that promises to tear Arakko apart in X-MEN RED (2022).
MARVEL.COM: HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE catches readers up with Genesis and Apocalypse, who exiled themselves after the X OF SWORDS tournament. How have they changed since readers saw them last?
AL EWING: It’s not so much how they’ve changed since readers same them last as how they changed before that. Between their parting thousands of years ago and their meeting again in X OF SWORDS, both went through a lot that the other didn’t see. Not to mention that memories change over time as well. So now they’re together again and relearning one another, and we’ll see if they can surmount their differences or at least work through them.
Unfortunately, this couple operate on a grander scale, so the definition of "working through things" might involve a planet-wide war.
MARVEL.COM: This issue opens and closes with fascinating insight into the etymology of Apocalypse’s name and his self-prescribed sense of purpose. What exactly does it mean for Apocalypse to be the "Revelator"? What is he looking to reveal?
AL EWING: Apocalypse has learned from the Krakoan era, as much as he’s helped to teach. His "survival of the fittest" ethos has evolved, and he’s eager to display his new thinking. This isn’t a face turn, because in his own mind, Apocalypse is beyond simple considerations of "heels" and "faces"—so it may not be good news for the people of Arakko, or for the people of Earth.
MARVEL.COM: In HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE, readers bear witness to Genesis’ conversation with Annihilation, which reveals some of her motivations. Annihilation asks her, "If the war does not end, can you win?" What does winning look like for Genesis?
AL EWING: Absolute domination, essentially, with a side of personal glory. We kind of saw this in the history of Arakko. Eventually, it wasn’t enough to win every battle that came to her; she had to go out and destroy her enemies. Which, strategically, was the right action—but done far too late, because it was for the wrong reasons.
MARVEL.COM: There’s a flashback sequence in this issue where Genesis and Apocalypse discuss the names of their children—Famine, War, Pestilence, and Death—and they both interpret these names in differing ways that reflect their personal ideologies. Why did you decide to create this particular schism between Genesis and Apocalypse?
AL EWING: It’s the schism that was established by Jonathan Hickman in X OF SWORDS. Genesis sees Apocalypse as weaker. That can be interpreted as a basic matter of power, but I chose to interpret it as being less willing to see what Genesis considers the harsh realities of life—despite their life experiences at this point being very different.
MARVEL.COM: The differences between Genesis and Apocalypse explode into an all-out sword fight in this issue. How did you approach crafting this duel between them?
AL EWING: The swordfight punctuates the conversation, so I choreographed it accordingly, and made it a framing sequence for the flashbacks. Obviously, they could both fight with mutant powers, but that would get messy very quickly in all senses, including visually. A swordfight is a clean, clear metaphor, as well as one that calls back to how we met Genesis in the first place.
MARVEL.COM: In HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE, you expand upon the history of Okkara, the land that was once both Krakoa and Arakko before they were separated into two entities. What was it like to flesh out this relatively unexplored corner of the Marvel Universe?
AL EWING: It was fun, but really, I was just extrapolating from things already laid down. Still, it’s nice to at least catch a glimpse of the culture of the island and show the origin of one of the swords we saw in X OF SWORDS.
MARVEL.COM: In both HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE and X-MEN RED (2022) #12, Purity, the White Sword’s weapon, is shown to be an item of great power and importance. What can you reveal about its role in the upcoming conflict?
AL EWING: It’s the best sword there is, but also it’s got a symbolic quality—when it’s finally used will be a big moment.
MARVEL.COM: At the end of HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE, Genesis returns to Arakko, and in X-MEN RED #12, she is not impressed with what she finds. You’ve teased that this will lead to a mutant civil war. How would you best describe what each side is fighting for?
AL EWING: Storm believes that the path Arakko has taken, from terraforming and settling Mars onwards, is the right path. Genesis doesn’t. As far as she’s concerned, Arakko took a serious wrong turn as soon as they were out from under her thumb, and for their own good, she needs to be back in charge. And since one of the things she thinks they were wrong about was not conquering Earth, we should probably hope Storm wins.
MARVEL.COM: Storm is one of the most powerful mutants, both on Krakoa and on Arakko. Throughout X-MEN RED, you have not held back on displaying her Omega level abilities to their fullest extent. As a writer, how do you create scenarios that challenge her level of power? And what challenges might Storm face as the FALL OF X descends on Arakko?
AL EWING: We’ve seen Storm fight Death. We haven’t seen Storm fight Death, Famine, Pestilence and War—at once. That said, her greatest challenge might not be a matter of destruction, but creation.
MARVEL.COM: The Genesis War, which will unfold in X-MEN RED, will undoubtedly bring Storm face-to-face with Genesis. What are you most excited for readers to see about their eventual confrontation?
AL EWING: What they come into battle on. That makes no sense now, but it will.
MARVEL.COM: From GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, to SWORD, to X-MEN RED, you’ve spent a lot of time in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. How did you manage to create such distinct tones across these books while narratively working in such close proximity to previous plot points and characters?
AL EWING: It’s a mix of two working philosophies. One is that each book creates its own tone as you put it together and work out what it specifically needs. That’s the case even when I’ve gone in with a specific tone in mind; it ends up modulated by how the book develops. (Which is why interviews like this should never be taken as gospel—often, they’re done towards the start of a project, before the whole has fully revealed itself.)
The other, and this is often a rod for my own back, is that open plot points should be resolved where possible—which leads to a kind of tapestry across my work that, like a lot of my choices, is somewhat in the spirit of the Marvel '70s, when the line was treated as a whole tapestry and story points would often merrily travel with writers to their next destination. But if there’s one thing that’s going to tie off a whole bunch of threads, it’s FALL OF X…
Plant the seeds of the Genesis War with X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL - HERALDS OF APOCALYPSE #1, on sale now!
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