Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler Conclude the 'Age of X-Man'
Get the writers' behind-the-scenes take on the mutant event that ended an era!
Over the last six months, six AGE OF X-MAN tales have emerged, evolved, and ended—each trapping the Children of the Atom in a metaphysical prison of cultish deceit and unreality. But, as the event has unfolded, it's been revealed that the worlds of APOCALYPSE AND THE X-TRACTS, THE MARVELOUS X-MEN, PRISONER X, NEXT GEN, THE AMAZING NIGHTCRAWLER, and X-TREMISTS are real. The AGE OF X-MAN isn't a prison of the mutant mind; it's a prison. And in the OMEGA, they have to find a way out.
The architects of the entire event are Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler—two writers fresh off their first-ever Marvel work, CABLE (2017), for which they wrote a five-issue arc that culminated the series. So how did these young minds come to helm a massive cross-title X-Men event during a year billed as one of the biggest for Marvel's mighty mutants in recent memory?
Well, they're really, really good. And they also During a recent visit to Marvel HQ, they explained.
"The first thing we ever talked to Marvel about—they were like, 'What do you want to write?' And we were like, 'X-Men stuff.' We would write anything, but X-Men’s where our heart is," explains Nadler. "And they were like, 'Okay, we want you to pitch on LEGION.' And we were like, 'Okay. Hell yeah, we love Legion.'" Nice, okay, here we go, guys!
"...But by the time we had even sent in the pitches," adds Thompson, "they had already hired Peter Milligan to write it." Ah. Right. "And we were like, 'Well, rightfully so.'” I mean. It is Peter Milligan. So, yeah.
"And then after that we were kind of like, 'Well, I guess we’re never doing anything for Marvel,'" says Nadler. "Then it was a few months later, and they needed someone to write CABLE, and it wasn’t even like a 'Do you have a pitch?' It was like, 'You guys have the job. Now pitch us.'" Wow. Pressure's on!
"Because we pitched something with X-Man actually, originally," notes Thompson, "I think that sort of opened the door to even floating us as people who might be able to take the job. And we’re pretty good friends with Ed Brisson. I don’t know if he had any help in helping that happen, but he was the writer who was leaving the book, but up until that point we had only written four issues of a creator-owned book. And so we were just like, 'If we’re going to do Marvel, we've got to %$#!&^@ dunk it as hard as we can. Like, let’s shatter the backboard.'
"We always try to think about what is the way we can make ourselves the most scared in doing this? So [with CABLE,] it’s like, let’s tell this backwards and do one-offs—both things we had never done before—and when we were outlining it, we were like, 'We’re idiots. This is the end. It’s over.' And I think we wrote that first issue of CABLE in like two or three days."
"Oh yeah," remembers Lonnie, "because we did that, we wrote the first pitch, and that got approved, then we wrote the issue, and then [CABLE editor] Darren Shan was like, 'Well you've got to throw this out!' And we said, 'Okay!'
"And he was like, 'I need you to come up with a new pitch and then I need you to write the script and I need that all before the weekend,'” he laughs. But what started with that time crunch turned into one of the best five-issue runs of the year.
"CABLE was done before our second creator-owned book was even finished," adds Zac. "So it was just like we were thrown into the deep end very, very quickly, but it kind of made us learn on our feet, and we were probably much better for it, I think."
"Then X-MEN: BLACK fell into our laps," Lonnie says of the five-issue collection for which they wrote an Apocalypse backup story, laying early groundwork for the character that would later be paid off in AGE OF X-MAN. "And they were like, 'Yo, here’s Apocalypse,' and we were like, 'Well, I guess we’re the ‘90s X-Men guys!' We had heard rumblings from Matt Rosenberg that there was a big X-Men event coming. Then we got an email from Darren and [X-Men group editor] Jordan D. White that was like, 'Hey, do you guys want to hop on the phone?'"
"Then it's also just like, 'Oh @&^%! Jordan’s involved,'" says Zac, still with an air of giddy disbelief. "Like, we hadn’t talked to Jordan up until that point. We really thought it was going to be a one-shot or something small, and then they’re like, 'Hey, we have this event do you guys want to showrun this event?' And we were like, '...Us? Okay! Fine! Yeah! Sure!' And then that became our entire summer!"
"We gave them the team members," explains Nadler, "and a one paragraph thing that was like, 'Here’s what we think this book should be about,' and then we built like the bible for the world. 'Here are the rules. Here’s why it’s this way.'” And from there, Zac, Lonnie, Marco Failla, Ramon Rosanas, Tim Seeley, Salvador Espin, Vita Ayala, German Peralta, Ed Brisson, Marcus To, Seanan McGuire, Juan Frigeri, Leah Williams, Georges Jeanty, and dozens of other mighty Marvel creators built the AGE OF X-MAN.
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