Marvel announced today that beginning in November, Greg Pak and Mike McKone will be taking over production duties on Astonishing X-Men. In addition to this news, they have also released a shocking image of Cyclops and Storm in a rather lurid embrace.
Greg Pak, the fan-favorite writer of World War Hulk and Magneto: Testament will have some big shoes to fill. Popularized by Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men has been a major title since its inception, impacting the X-Men Continuity in huge ways. During the series’ run, we’ve seen the return of Colossus and watched Kitty Pryde trap herself in a giant interstellar bullet to save the world. The current storyline, written by comic book legend Warren Ellis (whose credits include The Authority and Transmetropolitan) has the X-Men in space battling the Brood alongside Abigail Brand and S.W.O.R.D.
Like Pak, McKone (known for his work on Marvel’s iconic Exiles series) will also be following succeeding some all-star talent on Astonishing. John Cassaday created some iconic images during his run with Whedon before making way for Simone Bianchi, who gave the book a much darker tone with his gritty style.
However, it is not the announcement of a new creative team that has drawn the strongest reactions from fans. Rather, it is the teaser image that Marvel released alongside the announcement that has served as something of a lightening rod. Pak remains cryptic, but when asked about the kiss in an interview posted on Marvel’s website, he says:
After Xavier, the X-Men’s two greatest leaders are Scott and Ororo. They’ve borne responsibilities few others can conceive. And just those experiences alone should provide them [with] reasons to bond. But maybe they’ve just never had a moment to consider it; each has always seemed to be wrapped up in a wild romance with someone else. The current Scott/Emma and Storm/T’Challa relationships are amongst the most passionate in the Marvel Universe. So yes, what the heck is going on? I’ll just say that everything that’s happening is utterly inconceivable, but completely real, completely in character, and completely in continuity.
What are Greg Pak’s plans for Astonishing X-Men? For now, all we can do is speculate, but I for one am excited to have him aboard. I’ve always considered Pak a fantastic writer, and his work with both Hulk and Hercules demonstrates why. On top of that, he has experience with the X-Men, having written both Phoenix: Endsong and Phoenix: Warsong. Yes, Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis are tough acts to follow, but if anyone can do it, it’s Greg Pak.