Some days feel harder than others. You know the ones. You miss your bus. You forgot your lunch. You lose your credit card. You have to fight a god. The usual garden variety bad day.
What? Oh…the last one seems unusual to you? While that stands to reason. Not everyone lives the kind of lives the X-Men do. For them, that situation becomes very real on January 3 in X-MEN: GOLD #19 as the team must battle a deity in the Negative Zone.
We found writer Marc Guggenheim researching alien theology and he kindly gave us some of his time to talk the X-Men’s very bad, no good, horrible deity-battling day.
Marvel.com: By X-MEN: GOLD #19, the team has now been in the Negative Zone for three issues. How, simply put, are they doing? How are they handling the environment, being away from home, and the grind of ongoing conflict?
Marc Guggenheim: Some are faring better than others. Everyone gets kicked around pretty badly in this issue, but I’d say Kurt and Logan are definitely taking the brunt of it. Kurt is in dire straits after the end of #17 and Logan, well, he’s not as young as he used to be. Oh, and the X-Men are fighting a god—so nothing is easy.
Marvel.com: Yes, right. About that god…what can you tell us, without getting too deep into spoilers, about this antagonist?
Marc Guggenheim: The guy’s name is Scythian. He is an “old god of the ancient texts” of the planet the X-Men find themselves on, which is called Dartayus. For the moment, he’s a figure shrouded in mystery. He doesn’t have any dialogue in this issue—and that’s by design. I wanted to keep him as inscrutable and mysterious a figure as possible because, well, that’s generally how deities roll.
Marvel.com: We discussed previously, when we talked about issue #16, how various artists helped craft aspects of the story. How did the look of this god figure come together and how does Lan Medina realize it on the page?
Marc Guggenheim: Scythian was designed by Ken Lashley, but I really think that Lan did a remarkable job of bringing him to life, so to speak. There are some huge panels in this issue depicting Scythian in all his horrific glory and Lan just knocked them out of the park.
X-Men: Gold #19 cover by Ken Lashley
Marvel.com: Widening the focus on the artist, how does he handle the alien world of the Negative Zone and the X-Men’s new temporary appearances via their specialized suits?
Marc Guggenheim: Everything looks great. Lan’s pulled together the artistic visions of a multitude of artists into—what is, to my eye—a seamless whole. I’m really looking forward to when these issues are collected in a single trade. I don’t think you’ll feel all the artist changes—we’re telling one cohesive story.
Marvel.com: With what we discussed in the first question above and this new incredibly powerful antagonist, where do the X-Men find the reserves of strength—physical, emotional, psychological—to not only press on, but to take their efforts to the next level? Where do they find the ability to challenge a god?
Marc Guggenheim: I wanted to place the X-Men in a situation that they couldn’t just punch their way out of. Scythian is far too powerful for the X-Men to just take down by force. They have to use their wits and Kitty comes up with a plan that, I think, is not only unexpected—un-X-pected?—but that also requires the X-Men to work in concert with each other, utilizing their specific skills.
Marvel.com: Once again, when we discussed this arc a month or so ago, one of the things that you were excited about was taking the X-Men to a place they haven’t really been before. Now looking at them in this space for the past three issues, how does it feel to realize that goal? How much has the storyline met or exceeded your expectations?
Marc Guggenheim: Every project I write has elements that exceed my expectations, but also many which fall well short of them. Every project. That’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever written, in any medium, that didn’t have a few things—sometimes, many things—I wish I could go back and change.
That said, I’ve been very pleased with the work done by Ken and Lan and the rest of the art team and I’m very excited about how the end of #19 sets us up for #20, which is not only something of a “departure” issue, but also ends with a real game-changer moment that sets up things for at least the next 10 issues of GOLD.
Cheer on the team in X-MEN: GOLD #19 on January 3 from Marc Guggenheim and Lan Medina!