Juggernaut is the odd man out in the X-Men's 'Dawn of X' era, and his upcoming limited series will delve into that - and how he fits in the mainstream Marvel Universe as a result.
Veteran X-Men writer Fabian Nicieza is reuniting with artist Ron Garney for this new five-issue series which debuts September 23. Nicieza tells Newsarama that 'Dawn of X' puts the X-Men in "a very interesting place" - even more so for Juggernaut, who Professor X being his stepbrother and the fact his longtime villainous ally Black Tom Cassidy has made it onto one of the core X-Men teams is among the few X-Men villains not welcomed with open arms into the X-Men's island nation of Krakoa.
In this five-issue series, Juggernaut will go on his own journey of self-discovery to find out where he belongs in this new X-era. Each issue will be self-contained according to Nicieza, but with ongoing subplots revealing the villain's escape from Limbo, how he acquired his new armor, and his interactions with the organized mutant nation.
Nicieza and Garney spoke with Newsarama ahead of Juggernaut #1's debut about the series.
Newsarama: Ron, Fabian, what made you want to work on Juggernaut?
Ron Garney: Couple of reasons. I love drawing big larger than life characters, and that character in particular - cool looking, a challenge not to make the outfit look clumsy, and it's just plain fun. And getting to work with my old pal Fabian. We've known each other for the entirety of our careers mostly and it was a great opportunity.
Fabian Nicieza: I kind of never was 'away' to return. Even though I haven't worked on many direct market shop comics for them since the Age of Apocalypse Secret Wars limited series a few years ago, I had been doing some bits and pieces, plus a lot of involved custom comic work for them on a fairly regular basis.
When they called, and it interested me, I said 'Yes.' Sometimes they called and it didn't interest me, so I would say 'No.' That's a perk of being a legend. But there was always active communication.
It was a bit of an 'out of the blue' call last September when [X-Men group editor] Jordan White asked me if I wanted to work on a Juggernaut limited series. I've always loved the character and had been reading the Powers/House X series last summer, which had left his status quo up in the air, but in a very interesting place.
Nrama: Fabian, will your story tie into any of Jonathan Hickman's X-Men plans, or is it a stand-alone story?
Nicieza: It isn't just a stand-alone story, I'm rolling the dice and risking the wrath of the modern reader by doing five stand-alone stories in a five-issue series!
Each issue is self-contained but has a few on-going subplots that build through the course of the series, including flashbacks showing us how a powerless Cain Marko escaped Limbo and how he got his new armor.
Juggernaut #1 preview
All of it exists within and because of the current X-storylines, but it is peripheral to it since Cain isn't allowed on Krakoa. So, it's more, "How does Juggernaut exist in the mainstream Marvel Universe when he isn't allowed to co-exist in the X-Universe?"
That's some fun fodder right there!
Nrama: Will we have him interacting with Professor X at all, if nothing else since they're related?
Nicieza: Yes. I mean, not like they call each other up asking what they're going to wear to school tomorrow, but yes in that they do interact a few times throughout the series.
Nrama: The solicits read that you'll be taking Juggernaut in a "bold new direction." What can you tease about this?
Nicieza: It is a direction that the solicit writers have deemed bold and new. But my real tease is that it ends up being a wonderful thematic twist to the then-new status quo I tried to set up for Juggy the last time I wrote him!
Nrama: In the second issue, you have Juggernaut going up against the Immortal Hulk - why did you want to bring this particular match up to the book?
Nicieza: Because the Immortal Hulk is really cool. The characters have a long history with each other, and yes, the fact it was Cain and 'the dumb Hulk' plays a part in the story as well.
Nrama: Juggernaut has skirted on the line of good and evil since his creation - where does his moral compass lean towards in this mini?
Nicieza: He is trying to pay rent and not rob banks doing it. Simple as that. Cain is kind of rudderless in the series, so it's actually other characters who point him in directions they know will help themselves, but they think will help Cain, too.
By the end of the series, I think you can comfortably say that Cain knows what he wants to do and how he wants to operate, and that will take into account aspects of both the good and the bad that he has done.
Nrama: Ron, what was the collaborative process like working with Fabian, a writer who's also an artist?
Garney: Fabian gave me a lot to work with and was very careful to leave room for me to do some over the top visuals...him being an artist probably did help, however, I sort of knew he had the experience ether way and knew what to do in the scripts and he proved me right.
Nrama: Besides Juggernaut were there any characters, in particular, you really enjoyed drawing?
Garney: Well it was a blast drawing the hulk again, after how many years? I think the last time I got to draw him was in 1999 so that was fun. And Sandwoman, that was a challenge and I think it turned out pretty nice and Matt Milla did a nice job with the colored effect. And hell don't get me started on Arnim Zola, that was cool. The only thing missing would have been Cap.
Nrama: All the X-Men books have had a distinctive look as Jonathan Hickman has taken over the franchise. Were there any changes you had to make to your style to work on the franchise?
Garney: I just get in there and do my thing. I certainly wanted to inject a lot of energy into the finished rendering, so that was definitely a conscious element.
Nrama: Would you like to do more Juggernaut stories?
Garney: Yeah sure if the story is something that appeals to me, sure. I got a kick out of redesigning his costume, so my stamp is on it, with Fabs help of course. Maybe someday, and I can never say never...again. ;)
Nicieza: Absolutely, if the interest is there from the readers, from Marvel, and my schedule allows! I'm a world-famous-in-my-own-mind book writer now, don'tcha know.
He's a great character with a great visual - thanks to Ron Garney and Matt Milla - and there are lots of interesting stories that can be told with him.
Nrama: Are there other X characters you'd like to take a "stab" at following this project?
Garney: Hmm, Well. I've done so many, Colossus was always one of my favs. I got to illustrate him and Illyana (Magik) a few years ago in a story, and he turned into that big spikey Juggernaut cyttorak thing - serendipitous! I'm sure if I dug through the list I'd find more than a few that would be great fun to write and draw myself, that said who knows what lies in the future. We shall see!
Nicieza: Is that an 'X of Swords' joke? Is it? It's adorable you phrased it that way, though you might not know why for a long time.
So, the diplomatic answer is, I'm always willing to listen when they call and maybe they called recently and I listened!