Greg Pak Explores Marvel's Infinite Universes With 'X-treme X-Men' [Interview]

Are you ready for an all new, all different X-Treme X-Men? As announced yesterday at WonderCon, writer Greg Pak is spinning off the alternate universe X-Men from his recent run on Astonishing X-Men into a new ongoing series, with art by Stephen Segovia. Along with Howlett (basically cowboy Wolverine), Kid Nightcrawler, and a few others we’ve already seen, the team will join up with none other than the one and only Dazzler to fight crime throughout all the Marvel Universe’s many dimensions.

That’s right: Dazzler.

To find out more, including whether this is a secret Exiles series, whether we might see any other familiar faces on board, and if this might cross over with another alternate universe X-Men series, read on:

MTV Geek: So Greg… This is a not-so-secret Exiles series, right? Because that would be awesome. Right? That's a question, right, you guys?

Greg Pak: When I was working with X-Men editor Nick Lowe on my alternate universe storyline for "Astonishing X-Men" #44-47, we definitely talked about the glory that was "Exiles." But since we were working on an "Astonishing" story, we had the nifty opportunity to feature alternate versions of the biggest X-Men we could dream up. Going into "X-Treme," we're able to take those heroes along with us -- and build a mind-bending adventure that will eventually twist back around to have a massive impact on key characters in "our" Marvel Universe.

Geek: For those who didn’t read your arc on Astonishing X-Men – and shame on them – who are Howlett and Kid Nightcrawler?

GP: Howlett is our alterna-Wolverine -- former Governor General James Howlett of the Dominion of Canada and Viceroy of Her Majesty's Expedition to Shangri-La. He looks like a burly, fifty-something pulp adventurer, with a fedora, duster, handlebar mustache, and golden, adamantine claws. He is also AWESOME.

Kid Kurt is a grade schooler who comes from an advanced alternate universe in which ten year olds take classes on Quantum Mechanics and the Practical Uses of Infinity. His hero is Spider-Man -- he even has the lunch box.

Howlett and Kid Kurt -- along with the steampunk Emma Frost from Warren Ellis's "Ghost Boxes" short story and an alternate Armor -- are about to learn about a massive threat that could affect all of their realities -- and ours, as well!

Geek: Wait, this is also a Dazzler series? Huh? Wha? What makes her the crux of this book, and what’s it been like to write her?

GP: From the beginning, we knew we wanted to have a great character from the current Marvel Universe play a central role in the book, and for some crazy reason, we kept circling back to Alison Blaire. And now I LOVE HER SO MUCH YOU CANNOT BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND IT. But let me try to explain...

Cyclops was our POV character in my "Astonishing" story, which was perfect. He fell right into place in the alternate universe as the natural leader of the group -- and on an emotional level, he had some massive baggage from "Schism" that he could work through in the context of this crazy new world.

So now Dazzler is in the Cyclops role for "X-Treme." And it's just perfect. First, when you take a minute to think about it, she has a comparable power set. She generates massive amounts of energy that she can fire in all forms -- even a solid light form not unlike Cyclops's optic blasts. But more importantly, she's got incredible potential for character growth and an alternate universe story like this is the perfect place to cut her loose and she what she's really capable of.

I'm so in love with writing Dazzler right now -- she's a rock and roll survivor who can look back on the insane ups and downs of her life with wry humor and a bit of real wisdom. At the same time, she's fumbling through her life looking for her true mission. And baby, she's about to find it. AND SHE WILL SAVE US ALL THROUGH ROCK AND ROLL.

She's ridiculous and fun and true and everything I love about comic books and heroic storytelling. And that's what X-Treme X-Men is all about.

Geek: Since we are seeing the group crossing to different dimensions, what’s your take on alternate realities? We’ve seen things before where, “It’s the Marvel Universe – but everyone is The Lizard!” and then takes far more complicated than that, where there are massive changes in many small ways. What’s your approach here?

GP: I'm definitely running wild with that crazy "What If" fun of alternate realities. But there's a purpose to every new world we're creating -- we have a big emotional story that everything serves, and we're going to see how these seemingly random alternate universes all relate back to the characters, plot, and themes of the story.

There's also a huge way in which things will twist back to have a big impact on major characters in "our" Marvel Universe. So dontcha dare miss a single issue, True Believers!

Geek: What can you tell us about the threat that brings this new team together? Does it have anything to do with Saviour – the villain from Astonishing – or is it someone/thing new?

GP: Savior may pop up again. But the big bad is someone/something new and shocking. And yes, it will have real repercussions on the 616 Universe before the tale's told out.

Geek: I realize this title may have no connection to the previous X-treme X-Men series, but I’ve gotta ask, as there’s one character who was the centerpiece of that older book: are you bringing back Bishop?


Geek: Who else might we see on the team? Any familiar faces? Or familiar faces with slight makeovers?

GP: There's a strong possibility that fans of some of my other work may be extremely happy with one particular direction the story will take.

Geek: Any chance of a crossover with the new Age of Apocalypse book? I only have five more fan/panel level geek-out questions to go before I get to some actual reporting, so no worries.


Geek: What’s it been like working with Stephen Segovia on this project? I imagine you must be challenging him to come up with a lot of different iterations of a lot of different characters

GP: I had a blast working with Stephen on our 2011 Silver Surfer book. He has an amazing feel for big, mindbending comic book action, which feels just right for the trippiness of "X-Treme."

Geek: Last, and definitely least: what makes X-treme X-Men so x-treme that fans will want to pick up x-tra copies?


Actually, I'm not even kidding there. The "X-treme"-ness of the book is that we're going to do ridiculously fun and unexpected things that will reveal shocking new aspects of characters you adore. It's also worth noting that "alternative universe" doesn't mean "What If" story. All of these stories, characters, and worlds we're introducing are absolutely real and canon in the Marvel Universe -- and these stories will end up having a real impact on the 616 Universe.

I'm suddenly realizing that there are some parallels with "Planet Hulk" here. We're sending our characters into an insane new world where anything can happen -- and where transformative, character defining experiences can occur. And eventually worlds will collide!

X-treme X-Men #1 launches in July from Marvel Comics! Check out the full sized cover to the first issue below:

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