Astonishing X-Men: A Man Called X

Ever since Cyclops apparently killed Professor X back in 2012’s AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11, Charles’s consciousness has been forced to cling to life in the astral plane. What kind of impact has this had on him? How will it affect his decisions moving forward?

On January 3, writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto begin to answer those queries with ASTONISHING X-MEN #7! In “A Man Called X,” the mutants finally get their reunion—but it may not be exactly what they’ve expected.

We contacted Soule via telepathy to hear more about what to expect in the new issue.

Marvel.com: How has Professor X changed since we saw him last? Will we see a different Charles when he returns?

Charles Soule: As we’ve seen in ASTONISHING X-MEN thus far, Xavier’s spirit, or soul, or life force (depending on how you want to think about it) got taken after his death by one of his oldest and most powerful adversaries—Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King. Farouk brought Xavier’s spirit to his home, in the bizarre parallel dimension called the Astral Plane, where anything you imagine becomes real. So, since his death, Xavier has been held prisoner on the Astral Plane, with The Shadow King toying with him in all sorts of terrible ways. Even worse—time runs differently in Farouk’s dimension, so even though it’s only been a few years since Cyclops killed Xavier in the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN story, for poor Professor X it feels like it’s been millennia.

Marvel.com: What can you tease about how he’ll make his comeback?

Charles Soule: When we pick up the story in ASTONISHING X-MEN, Farouk and Xavier get embroiled in a sort of psychic chess game, with a group of X-Men (Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit, Bishop, Angel, and Mystique) as the pieces. The Shadow King plays the game to pass the time, and also to hopefully build himself a pathway out of the Astral Plane so he can wreak havoc in our world. Xavier does his best to beat him…but The Shadow King holds all the cards. We’ll see how it goes.

Marvel.com: Charles has a plan…but it sounds like not everyone supports it. What kind of push back will he face?

Charles Soule: As the story has developed, we’ve seen that the battle on the Astral Plane has had effects that have rippled out into our world, especially in London, where the story takes place. Some sort of psychic infection has been spreading rapidly among the city’s populace (including Bishop!), and the human authorities with the British Ministry of Defence look set to take drastic action to stop it from going any further. Beyond that, Gambit and Logan have both been possessed by The Shadow King and have gone around murdering people, and Archangel looks to be on the verge of losing his mind.

So…things are bad. If Xavier might somehow fix all this, it’ll take drastic measures. We’ll see if the cure will be worse than the disease.

Marvel.com: A lot of readers consider Xavier a favorite. What have you enjoyed about bringing him into this story?

Charles Soule: I like the fact that he’s really very morally grey. He’s not Magneto, but he’s not as far from him as he’d like to think—and the stories we’ve seen with him really bear that out. Xavier is brilliant, incredibly gifted, and always 10 steps ahead. That’s the kind of character I love to write. Also, I just missed him in the stories. Professor X is cool.

Marvel.com: What else would you like to mention?

Charles Soule: We have some fantastic artists coming up on the series for its back half, including my longtime partner on the POE DAMERON series, Phil Noto, for issue #7, and someone I’ve been dying to work with on issue #10—ACO.

Issue #6 ends Act I of the series, “Life of X,” but then we move right into Act II: “A Man Called X,” which flips the story a bit and makes it about something new that will feel completely organic with what we’ve already seen. And then there’s Act III…which will be the culmination of the whole thing. It’s been a blast to construct a series like this, and I hope people enjoy seeing where it goes.

Witness the return of Charles Xavier in ASTONISHING X-MEN #7, by writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto, on January 3!