How did X-Men 2099 come about?
John: With the success of the
first 2099 titles, an X-Men 2099 book was inevitable.
However, the book was not going to be under Bob Harras's
editorial purview so there would be no reference to the
contemporary X-men characters or any of their future
timelines. Like the previous 2099 books, a slew of writers
were commissioned to write proposals for the book. My
proposal was a dystopian western called "Brand X" (whose
spin off book would have been titled Not Brand X of course).
I don't think I have a hard copy of that proposal anymore,
but I know I tried to avoid the usual X-book structure. My
group peers that weren't students of an older authority
figure, and they weren't direct descendants of any
None of the submitted proposals including
mine hit the mark for editors Joey Cavalieri and Mark
Gruenwald. Joey and Mark then created a series blueprint
with the original characters (Xi'an, Bloodhawk, Cerebra,
Skullfire, Meanstreak, Metalhead, Junkpile and Serpentina--all
very early 90s superhero names) and Xi'an's role as a kind
of Malcolm X figure in this future. I believe the
assassination of Xi'an was part of that proposal.
When I was given the assignment, I took
their guide and built upon it.
What recollections do you have about working
with the artists on X-Men 2099: Ron Lim, Jan Duursema (also
worked with you on X-Factor). Also Kyle Baker on the Duke
Stratosphere short? Graham Higgins on the Halloween Jack solo
John: Before Ron was given the
X-men 2099 gig, I tried to convince Mike Mignola to do the
book with me. (I think he had done an issue of X-Force early
in its run.) He passed saying that he was working on his own
project with monsters and Nazis which of course became Hellboy.
I hadn't worked with Ron before X-men 2099, and it was
always a pleasure to see his pencils arrive via fedex or
fax. The characters were primarily his design, and whatever
input I provided, he made better. One of the unexpected joys
of doing the book was seeing that the toys were faithful to
Ron's designs. I would have been happy to finish the book's
run with Ron, but editorial wanted a new artist as a
promotional tool, a commercially sound decision, but
Jan only worked on the final handful of X-men 2099 issues,
and did an admirable job jumping onto a book that was in
editorially turbulent waters. I can't look at those books
without wishing I could have finished the book (or my run on
it) without having to incorporate the bullshit end of the
Kyle's a friend, and I was happy he agreed to draw the Duke
Stratosphere origin story. He made the story vibrant and fun
and look like we'd brought Mad magazine sensibility into a
I wrote the Halloween Jack script without an artist in mind
beyond Dr. Seuss of course. Graham Higgins brought my silly
Cat in the Hat pastiche to life. .
What recollections do you have about creating
the graphic novel, Oasis, and working with the Hildebrandt
John: I was a fan of the
Hildebrandt's fantasy illustration, and I was blown away when
Joey told me that they wanted to do an X-men 2099 project. I
met with them in Joey's office and they were both really
great guys. I think they said they really liked Bloodhawk,
so I knew he'd be a major player in whatever story we
developed. They didn't enter the project with a lot of
conditions. They seemed genuinely happy to get to play in
this corner of the Marvel universe.
I can't remember ever writing a full script for any of my
Marvel work. I gave them a plot and some time later received
Xeroxes of pencil art (Hildebrant art!) to dialogue. Then it
went back for them to paint, and they did a phenomenal job.
I only wish that it could've been published before the 2099
line was axed. It was a beautiful book that I think was
sadly under promoted.
The bulk of your Marvel work consists of X-Books, were you a
big X-Men fan to begin with?
John: I discovered Dave Cockrum's
Legion of Superheroes when I was in elementary school, and
then when I saw his work in my friend's copy of Giant Size
X-men #1 I was hooked. I started buying the monthly book
with issue #99. In high school, during the Claremont/Byrne
era), I was a member of X-APA, an old school fan collective
(or amateur press alliance) that collated its members'
mimeographed or Xeroxed fanzines into a larger whole. Mary Bierbaum (who later wrote the Legion with her husband Tom)
wrote a Starjammers comic that I illustrated when I was 16
Do you recall, or have any idea, why the One Nation Under
Doom story line was cut short?
John: I don't know. Possibly
because there was editorial pressure to create the next
"Event" which would have been the time jump that Joey was
working on before he was fired.
Did the quick end of the One Nation Under
Doom story affect your plans for the X-Men book? Did you have
more stories planned for the team in Halo City?
John: Halo City was
designed to give the characters a temporary home. I didn't
really intend for the book to become about governing a city,
but it played into the idea that these characters were
activists, trying to change the status quo of the corporate
governments. The group would have fractured because of
politics of the city.
Do you recall anything about plot lines which
were left unfinished:
- Meanstreak, where did he go and what were
those flashing lights?
John: I wanted to distinguish
Meanstreak's abilities from other speedsters like
Quicksilver and the Flash. It would have been revealed that
he was siphoning energy and inertia from another dimension
(comic book physics), and that by doing so, he was creating
pockets into that other dimension. The lights were creatures
of that dimension.
- La Lunatica (her ‘other relatives’ and her relationship to
John: Sometimes your drop hints of
relationships or events that haven't been worked out yet.
Luna, despite her name, was fairly sane as comic book
berserkers go. Any blood relation would have been more
- What was Book’s plan/objective?
John: All I remember about
Book is that I wanted to create a mutant who was physically
disabled. He had a superior intellect and computer like
retention of everything he read, but his size meant that he
was confined to a low gravity environment.
- What was Morphine Sommers’ plan for the X-Men?
I inherited Morphine from Warren Ellis
but I didn't have much mapped out for him.
-Vulcann, what was the Shaper’s Guild all about? Book's
reference to someone named “Essex”
John: I don't remember any
of that. The Shaper's Guild might have been a collection of
mutants who could manipulate physical objects like Forge in
the regular X-continuity.
-Joaquim (Rosa's baby boy)....was he meant to be the Mutant
Messiah being searched for in X-Nation?
I didn't have a lot to do with X-Nation.
Rosa gave Eddie someone to protect. I didn't have any long
term plans for her baby.
- Puzzle Samurai, they appear briefly in X-Men 2099 #29.
These made it into the unmade 2099 video game, was there a story
to these characters or was it just a cool design that got
borrowed for the game?
John: I'm not sure if I
came up with the name Puzzle Samurai or it was a name Warren
referenced in Doom 2099 that I latched onto. Had we seen
them again, they would have been like toys. Their body parts
were expendable and interchangeable.
What are your recollections about the end of
John: I was sad that Joey was let
go. He was a great editor and a good friend. His enthusiasm
jump started the 2099 line and kept it going through his
tenure. I debated whether to leave the book with Joey, and I
still don't know if I made the right choice staying.
I know that editorial and creative teams always change in
mainstream comics. It was disappointing not to have a chance
to finish the book cleanly. Instead all the books were
saddled with the flood that led into the single 2099: World
of Tomorrow book.
Bob Harras never liked the fact that there were X-titles out
of his control (and I understand that). I believe X-men 2099
and X-nation 2099 were on life support as soon as he became
editor in chief of the entire Marvel line. The book was
still selling relatively decently in that declining market,
so it was foolish to cancel it. It could have been saved by
making it part of the real X-men continuity, something that
was finally possible with Bob heading editorial. .
Joey was planning an event called “Fast
Forward” to jump 2099 two years into the future into 2101. Did
you have any plans for the X-Men in 2101?
John: I'd like to say I had an
entire year's worth of story plotted out, but I was always
writing close to the last possible deadline. The time jump
would have given me an opportunity to shake up the book. I
might have tried to make the stories stranger and less
Of your 2099 characters (both Doom and
X-Men), do you have a favorite?
John: Halloween Jack's my
favorite. Ron's design made the character sing, and he was
the most fun to write. Plus, Toy Biz made a Halloween Jack
toy that still sits on the file cabinet by my desk.