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Blowing the Roof off the X-Mansion

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"No more mutants!"

Whose words are those? They were first uttered by Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, during House of M, but come tomorrow, they might very well be the Hulk’s. You see, the green goliath is out for revenge against the Illuminati, the band of Marvel heroes that decided to send him off to space. Assuming Professor Xavier was part of that group, the Hulk comes knocking on the Academy for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, looking to blow the roof off the X-Mansion.

How that story unfolds is something only Christos Gage knows, so BF turned to him looking for some answers on what’s going down in the three-issue World War Hulk: X-Men limited series.

BROKEN FRONTIER: With a bad, mad jade giant paying a visit to the X-Mansion, sparks are bound to fly. Without giving too much away, how does the fight play out—I mean, now that Xavier has his powers back, what prevents him from mentally wiping Hulk's slate clean, like he did with Magneto back in the day?

CHRISTOS GAGE: The Hulk's mind has always been unusual—he can see astral forms, for one thing—and he's always proved difficult to control mentally.  We'll see if Xavier has any luck in issue #1.

BF: Structurally, how much of the series is spent between the Hulk and Xavier? After all, Hulk doesn't know Professor X wasn't among the group of Illuminati that banished him to outer space…

CG: Hulk finds out that Xavier was supposed to be part of the group that decided his fate, even though he wasn't there.  To the Hulk, that only makes Xavier marginally less of a target than Iron Man and the rest.  He wants to know what gives Xavier the right to decide what to do with him, and how he would have voted if he'd been there.  And he will get to pose that question to the Professor at some point.

BF: Where do the X-Men themselves come into the story? And which team members did you include?

CG: Basically, the Hulk arrives at the X-Mansion demanding answers.  At that point, the only senior instructors home are Beast and Xavier.  What the Hulk doesn't realize is that, due to M-Day, the mansion's students represent about 25% of the entire mutant population.  If Hulk stomps his foot too hard and drops the roof on those kids, it's genocide. 

So, it's a very dangerous situation, a major threat to the mutants. Beast puts out a general distress call to the other teams, and he and the New X-Men try to stall the Hulk as long as they can while Xavier gets the youngest students to safety. 

Eventually, the other teams do show up—most of them, anyway.  Not included are the "adjectiveless" team, Storm (who is with the FF), and most of Excalibur, who are far off in London… but Juggernaut will be showing up!

BF: Related to that, are there any X-Men in particular that play a key role in the mini-series?

CG: Mercury from the New X-Men; the aforementioned Juggernaut; Wolverine and Cyclops; the Professor… I tried to give everyone a moment to shine, but those are some of the major players.  But hopefully, fans of every character will have something to enjoy.

BF: You've got Andrea DiVito on art, who's accustomed to drawing big (barbarian) fight scenes—just check his breakout work on CrossGen's Brath, and most recently, the main Annihilation limited series. Is Andrea delivering this time too?

CG: In a big way!  I was thrilled to hear that Andrea was on board because I knew he could handle the huge number of characters and still keep the storytelling clear and the characters distinct.  He's doing exactly that… and delivering some pretty awesome art in general!

BF: The mini series marks your first time writing the X-Men. How did that make you feel? Are you a big fan of the mutants?'

CG: Oh yeah… I still have a copy of Uncanny #107 that I bought as a wee lad, and #139 was the issue that got me hooked on comics for life.  So to get to write the X-Men at all—and getting to write virtually all of them, fighting the Hulk, my first time up to bat—was a fanboy's dream come true!

BF: What's your overall impression of Planet Hulk, and how Greg Pak and Marvel turned that into World War Hulk?

CG: I loved Planet Hulk.  The epic feel to the story was great, with a wonderful mix of sci-fi and fantasy.  Greg Pak was brilliant about keeping just enough Marvel continuity in there—such as appearances by the Silver Surfer, the Brood and the Stone Men—to keep it firmly placed in the Marvel Universe.  And, of course, it was the perfect setup to World War Hulk! 

It would have been easy to just have the Hulk go on a rampage and fight the rest of the Marvel heroes if that's what they'd wanted to do, but instead we've got a poignant backstory, enough motivation to make Hulk angrier (and thus more powerful) than ever, and a cool supporting cast.

BF: Do you have any more Marvel work in the planning stages besides this, your two issues on Iron Man, and the Annihilation Conquest: Quasar mini starting in July?

CG: Yes, but the only thing I can mention just now is four chapters of the X-Men: Endangered Species weekly event.  But keep an eye out for an announcement coming soon about a project that reunites me with my Union Jack artist, Mike Perkins!

BF: We will!

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