On March 14, class is back in session with the release of NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS! Writer Matthew Rosenberg joins artists Adam Gorham and Michael Garland for a six-issue limited series that finds Magik, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Boom-Boom, and Strong Guy diving headfirst into the creepier corners of the Marvel Universe. And to start, they’ll be fighting a horde of zombies after a hurricane…and that’s just the appetizer.
Before this team clashes with agents of the undead, however, we spoke with Mr. Rosenberg about his fondness for the underdogs contained within the group’s ranks, the challenges they’ll be facing, and their unique legacy within the pages of Marvel Comics.
Marvel.com: Characters like Magik, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Boom-Boom, and Strong Guy aren’t ones we see very often. Can you do a quick rundown of each member and the strengths they bring to the team?
Matthew Rosenberg: First of all, if you aren’t hearing about these five very often it means you aren’t hanging out in my house. Which is good. That would be weird.
The X-corner of the Marvel Universe is particular, in how rich and full all of the characters are. Even the ones who aren’t household names are really unique, fully-formed characters that people identify with and love. So these are some of my all time favorite X-characters, and I know they are a lot of other people’s too. But if you aren’t as up on them as you should be, here’s what I can tell you:
Magik. Illyana Rasputin. The team’s leader. Most known for being a member of the X-Men and the New Mutants. She’s a teleporter, knows some magic, is sometimes the demon queen of the realm known as Limbo, has a giant sword, is Colossus’ little sister, is way goth.
Rictor. Julio Richter. The team’s biggest weapon. Most known for being a member of X-Factor, X-Force, and the New Mutants. He makes earthquakes, has some problems with authority even though his heart’s in the right place, is in a relationship with Shatterstar. Very snarky.
Wolfsbane. Rahne Sinclair. The team’s scout and moral compass. Most known for being a member of X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, and the New Mutants. She’s a Scottish werewolf, has strong convictions, is incredibly loyal, is very religious, has some issues with Strong Guy, and has a great accent.
Strong Guy. Guido Carosella. The team’s Strong Guy. Most known for being a member of X-Factor. He’s very strong and can absorb kinetic energy and channel it into himself. Despite the way he presents himself sometimes, he’s quite smart. He lost his soul for a bit and did some things that he’s trying to atone for now. Loves his friends fiercely.
Boom-Boom. Tabitha Smith.The team’s firepower. Most known for being a member of X-Force, X-Terminators, Nextwave, and the New Mutants. She makes bombs out of mental energy, is basically a jerk (but a lovable one), is maybe the coolest X-member and all the other X-Men know it. Blows #$!% up. Looks good doing it.
Marvel.com: Without giving too much away, what kind of paranormal threats will the New Mutants be facing in this limited series?
Matthew Rosenberg: When the team starts out, they are in over their heads and facing off against some unknown dangers. The first issue has them facing down zombies in the wake of a hurricane. But as is always the case with this stuff, things aren’t quite what they seem. There is some supernatural stuff, some stuff from ancient realms. But as they go through their seemingly random encounters with these threats, a pattern will emerge. There is a big bad who starts to become clear, working behind the scenes. It’s someone with a very long, and slightly complicated, history with the New Mutants. I can’t really say much more. But folks who know their NEW MUTANTS history might be a little shocked.
Marvel.com: How creepy does the story get?
Matthew Rosenberg: It’s not really a horror book. When we started out that was a goal for us, for sure. But as we worked on it we realized that this team, they are full on super heroes. There is definitely a way to make it a horror book, go down more psychological paths, and we explore that a bit. But more than not it’s a super hero book about them dealing with the supernatural. We got some creepy stuff in there, but you should be okay. I think.
Marvel.com: How will these mutants deal with the challenges ahead? And, for you, what was the most challenging part about writing this title?
Matthew Rosenberg: Honestly? They won’t deal with them that well. This team has some issues to get through. Trust issues. Leadership issues. Honesty issues. They are going to be put through the ringer on this and they aren’t necessarily going to come out the other side better. They may not even all come out the other side.
As for the biggest challenge in writing this? NEW MUTANTS is a dream project for me. It’s one of my favorite series of all time. I think the biggest challenge for me was channeling that. I had so many big ideas, so many plans, and distilling that down to six issues was pretty tough. Also, I wanted a book that felt fresh and new, but paid tribute to the rich history of the title and the characters. I wanted folks who’ve never read a NEW MUTANTS book before to be able to pick this up and get it. But I also wanted the nerds like me who’ve read every issue to feel like this is a worthy addition to the legacy.
Marvel.com: What is the legacy of the New Mutants? And how did you look to honor what came before in DEAD SOULS?
Matthew Rosenberg: I thought about that a lot going in. For me, the New Mutants real legacy is three things. First, the New Mutants are the team that fights out of their weight class the most. They are constantly the underdogs, constantly in over their heads. They were the backup team when they started, and they fought a lot of fights they shouldn’t have had to. That often means fighting foes you can’t just punch. It often means confronting fears you keep a secret. All of that is key to understanding them.
The second thing I consider key to the New Mutants is how ever-changing it is. From the days of wide-eyed kids learning to use their powers, to a skilled X-team, to Cable’s soldiers, to teachers and elder statesmen of the mutant world, the New Mutants are ever-changing. Adding members, losing members, changing focus. That was a big part of what this book is about. What would the next step for the New Mutants be? Could they look forward or are they going to be dragged back?
And lastly, they are a family. They may not all like each other. They may fight. They may leave for a while or turn on each other, but in the end this is a book about how strong the bonds of shared experience can be. The New Mutants care about each other in a way that other teams do not. And maybe that’s a product of being young and growing up around each other. Maybe it’s a way to deal with the constant change in turmoil in their lives. Maybe it’s just who they are. But the strength of this team is each other. And we are going to test that strength. I hope this family can make it through.
Start the journey with NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #1, by Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Gorham, on March 14!