WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: NYX
Tuesday, March 6, 2001
Tuesday, March 6, 2001
So, ever wanted to see what a mature-reader version of Jubilee and other X-Men characters would have been like? Well, too bad for you, cause Marvel's not going to let Brian Wood's NYX get made. The planned mature-reader title would have centered around humans and mutants living in New York trying to get along and live a good life. The title would have stared Jubilee, Gambit, and Rogue in a series of out-of-continuity stories. It was to have art supplied by David Choe. But then Marvel decided that the title would not have worked and scrapped the idea.
That's the short version of the story.
The long version shows how a group of fans who are now angry at Marvel for not letting this great story idea get made. It envolves two creators who put a lot of work into their story, only to see it never get made.
It started with an interview over at PopImage.Com with David Choe. When asked about what his upcoming project with Brian Wood would be, he said "The X-Men New York Stories. It's gonna be out in August under Marvel Comics new Mature Line. Wood's writing, I'm rocking the covers, and my boys from 38th street and the Crabshack Project will be taking care of the guts with my help. It's taking place in New York, and Rogue, Gambit, and Jubilee are the key players, that's all you get for now."
But the following day Brian Wood posted a message on his forum, Wood revealed the devastating news. "In an interview at PopImage, artist Dave Choe mentions a Mature Readers X-book he and I are developing for Marvel. Shortly before this interview went live, the project was killed.
"The book was to be called NYX, a cute little abbreviation for New York X-Men. It was designed to be a real life drama, young mutants in the city, scrambling to exist. They weren't part of a team, or any sort of group. Some of them didn't even know they were mutants yet. They were just kids down on their luck, scamming to eat and to have a warm place to sleep. No costumes, no villains. Just survival.
"We were to mix normal humans in with the mutants, and explore that relationship. How do mutants and normals that aren't part of the whole Xavier/Magneto equation act around each other? If they are all living under one roof, depending on each other, how do their differences play out?
"The main characters of NYX were: Rogue, Gambit, and Jubilee. Dave Choe and I created three other characters, normals, to round out the cast. Since this was part of the Mature Line and therefore out of normal continuity, we were given some leeway with the mutant characters. We were able to tweak their looks a bit, their backgrounds and histories, as long as they were still, at their core, Gambit, Rogue and Jubilee.
"I think the general impression was that we went too far and made them a little too "different", even for a Mature Readers title. In my mind I delivered just what I was asked for at the start, but the project was axed as I was writing the plot for #1.
"Now, this sucks. This was a truly special book, not only because of the non-Marvel creative team of me and Dave Choe, but because it was such an honest, real book. I wrote them as real as I could, drawing on personal life experiences, and those of friend's and family. This was a book about race and class and power, and about loss and sorrow and poverty. It was a love story, with Gambit and Rogue. It was about politics and anger and homelessness. It was everything I wanted to do with Gen X but couldn't. It was in many ways a "dream project" of mine. Dave and I were ready to kick out the jams with this. It would have been this smart, lush, painfully real look at what its like to be young and on the edges of society. I had such great plans for this book. We both did.
"I gotta thank Jenny Lee and Mira Lew, my co-editors who were involved in this, especially Jenny who spent seven straight days with me at the end refining and tweaking and really making a huge push to make this book happen. She was the one to break the news to me, as I can tell she is just as disappointed as I am.
"But this book will happen. Dave and I will do this, under a different title and with a modified cast, but its too great a book to just drop. Not with the couple dozen pages of plot material and character designs here. It can't die."
A bit later in the week, Joe Quesada, Marvel's editor-in-chief, decided he should tell the public his version of the story over at the Marvel Comic forums. "NYX was originally developed way back when I started as EIC (6 months ago) as an idea by Bill Jemas as our fourth and final Ultimate title. Bill was looking for a real urban book with powered down mutants mixing in with normal kids. The idea was that while to others the big villain in life was Magneto, to these kids the big villain was "how do we get money for food?" I came up with the name NYX and the whole Alphabet City, squatters angle. We looked at it and then we took a look at the "New" X-Men line and figured that it was going to be redundant with all the other stuff we were doing, so we scrapped it. At one point I called up Paul Jenkins and asked him if he would like to try his hand at it, to see if he could find an angle that would separate it. We wrestled with it for a bit, even toying with the idea of using the kids from Inhumans #2 instead of some of the young X-Men characters. Anyway, it just didn't fly.
"As we started to look for concepts for the adult line we revisited NYX not sure if we should try to incorporate it in the adult line, the regular Marvel U or back into Ultimates. We sat with Brian for an hour or so and came to the conclusion to make it a mature title. We asked Brian to give us a treatment and we asked David to do concept sketches. This happens all the time when your proposing a project. That leads me to the answer some of you are asking for.
"NYX was not canceled, it wasn't even a book yet, it was a proposal! An idea that we were digging into! We have hundreds of proposals that come down the line and near hundreds that get rejected. Brian gave us a treatment and we passed, it happens all the time. I've got unused proposals on my desk from some of the best creators in the industry sitting on my desk, it's part of the biz.
"So now we have fans hating books before they've read the actual stories and at the same time hating us for canceling stories they've never read. You can't win in this biz, folks!
"There was nothing in NYX subject matter wise that we objected to, as a matter of fact you'll see much harsher and direct stuff in the new imprint. Truth be told, you will probably see the NYX concept come to pass somewhere down the road, just not at this juncture."
Now our story must return to Brian Wood's message board, as he then put in his thoughts about Quesada's comments. "This confuses me even more, because not only were we talking to colorists for the book, it was also placed on the publishing schedule for late September and I was asked to write the plot for the first issue (as well as an outline for the first 6-issue arc and notes for the next arc). In my experience those things aren't typical at the initial proposal stage.
"We were all moving ahead with this project with every indication that it was approved. If it was in fact NOT approved, no one I was in contact with seemed to know anything about it.
Back over to the Marvel Comic's forum, as Quesada replies to that message.
"This book has been placed on the publishing schedule from time to time as we toyed with the idea. When we all decided to go for the Mature Readers imprint it was placed in a September slot with all the rest of the Mature titles, even those that may not hit the September deadline or may not hit at all.
"I'm sure Brian or David discussed colorist with the editor, we were thinking about moving ahead, that's what you do with proposals that you think you might go with, but as I said, we have many projects like these that never see the light of day. You can call it a canceled idea but not a canceled comic. I'm also sure that Brian was asked to start on a first draft of a script. This also happens many times, as a matter of fact I have a few canceled concepts with first and sometimes second issue plots in my drawer (mostly X-Men stuff). That's why we have kill fees.
"Brian and David are talented guys who we would love to work with in the future. It's unfortunate but NYXwas just something that, at the end of the day, we decided not to go with.
The story ends there... for now. More news as it comes.
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