Marvel's X-Men line is heading toward the first major crossover of the current 'Dawn of X' era in 'X of Swords', but for the last few months, something else has been building in a series of five Giant-Size X-Men that focus on individual characters – with a techno-organic virus that has wracked Storm serving as the throughline for the stories.
Now that story will arrive at some resolution in September 16's Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1, which returns artist Russell Dauterman, who kicked off the one-shots with Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1, to the X-Men fold alongside writer Jonathan Hickman.
Newsarama spoke with Dauterman about drawing another of Marvel's weather-controlling heroes after his long run on Thor, what's up with Storm's virus, and how this story will lead into 'X of Swords.'
Newsarama: Russell, you're bookending this series of Giant-Size X-Men one-shots, first with the Jean Grey and Emma Frost story that established Storm's techno-organic virus and now the Storm one-shot that follows that up. How does it feel to be spending so much time with the X-Men?
Russell Dauterman: I love it! The X-Men are my favorites — and Jean Grey and Storm are my favorite characters ever — so to be drawing books that star them is amazing.
Nrama: On that note, these one-shots are done Marvel style. Outside of the order things are done - plotting, then art, then scripting – what big differences does that mean for your part of the book? What are you doing differently when putting together a page in this style?
Dauterman: The biggest difference is there's an added step for me, before drawing layouts. Usually, scripts are broken down per page and per panel. These outlines have been broken into sections of the book, with 'three-four pages" or 'six pages' included as a guide for how long each section should be. Then I break that up into individual pages and panels, which gives me more leeway with storytelling, composition, and pacing.
Nrama: What can you tell us about what Storm's facing in this story?
Dauterman: The issue picks up where Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost left off. The Children of the Vault have infected Storm with a techno-virus that's killing her. And so, Storm leads a team on a mission to save herself.
Nrama: Storm has had some big developments recently, thanks in part to you, and it seems there's more on the horizon. How does this story set up her role in the upcoming 'Dawn of X'?
Dauterman: I’m excited that Storm's getting this Giant-Size spotlight — I think she's one of Marvel’s best characters and deserves to be front and center.
I can't say much about what's coming up, but both Jonathan and [X-Men group editor] Jordan D. White have said that big things are coming for Storm. So this issue should be just the beginning.
Nrama: Now that you've worked with Jonathan Hickman a few times, how has that dynamic evolved? How closely did you work together on what Giant-Size X-Men: Storm would entail?
Dauterman: Working with Jonathan has been great — I love both of these Giant-Size stories that he’s written, and I’m a big fan of what he’s done with the X-universe.
The Storm issue is more involved with Jonathan’s larger X-plans than the Jean and Emma issue. With Jean and Emma, Jonathan and I talked before the story was written and I was asked what characters I wanted to draw, etc.
Most of the Storm plot was set before I came on board and ties into things Jonathan’s set-up previously. My main plot contribution was suggesting Monet for the team.
Nrama: Having drawn Thor for many years, you're used to upping the ante on lightning and weather effects. How does it feel focusing on another weather Goddess, Storm?
Dauterman: Feels great! Drawing the weather effects — lightning, clouds — is usually the most fun I have when drawing interiors. I can be a little more free with that stuff.
Nrama: With these one-shots now completed, what can you tell us about what's next for you? Can we expect more X-Men in your future?
Dauterman: Yeah, I’m still drawing Marauders covers, which I’m really happy about. And I’ve been doing a bunch of other covers — including some fun X-Men ones. I love the X-Men, and I’d love to keep drawing them.
Nrama: What's your favorite thing you drew for this one-shot? What was the most challenging?
Dauterman: My favorite is a panel with Storm and Jean — unsurprising, I guess!
The most challenging was an establishing shot that involved a bunch of strange elements for me to design. (Matt Wilson’s colors on that page really blew me away!)
Nrama: Bottom line, what do readers need to know going into Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1?
Dauterman: I think you’d just need to know that Storm is awesome and is going to do whatever it takes to fight for her life. And if you’ve read the other Giant-Size issues, there are things that tie into this — and if you haven’t read those, I think you can go in cold and still enjoy it.