Notes on A+X 5

This story came from Jordan dropping me a line, asking if I had any interest in doing an A+X story. He suggested Loki and Sinister, which amused me, but I didn’t think it’d work. Both characters are fundamentally trolls, and work by winding up the other people in the room for whatever purpose they’re up to. Who’s the straight man?

I was kicking around a Magik/Loki suggestion, but realised for that to work it’d have to be an insert into AvX history, as I’d like Kid Loki to really make that work (As Kid Loki would be petrified of Magik. One of those minor pieces of characterisation in JIM was that while he was fine with Freya and Gaea, Loki was petrified of Idunn. He’s got a 13 year old boy’s nervousness around attractive, confident women).

And then the core of the story clicked – an expansion of the “what can determinism determine” theme I was doing with Sinister. Something that speaks to both characters. Immediately the Loki cloned material came up and… well, STORY!

“Our” cover
By Mike Del Mundo, who’s great. Currently doing pretty much my favourite mainstream covers over on X-Men Legacy, and showing a really playful style here. Hurrah for that.

Er… that’s not much of a note. Nice Thor Plug? Yes.

Page 1
Joe picked up a Warren Comics vibe from the short, and is working that horror short story vibe throughout. This is a sequel to my first arc on Thor, LATVERIAN PROMETHEUS, and that had a similar gothic vibe to it. That was working off a Doom-as-Frankenstein Thor-as-Lightning sort of set up.

Anyway – a castle in the rain, and a whole bunch of text. Too much text? Probably.

Courier font chosen to give the impression of a typewriter.

Blank eyes too, which is a Joe choice, I believe. Dehumanizing Sinister, which is something I was always after.

Page 2
The thing about the mass of letters, it does mean that at this point you’ve got a pretty good handle on Sinister, yeah? He’s such a “pure” X-men villain, and one that I’d done a fairly big rework on, I wanted to make sure the readers who are more A than X “got” him.

He also waffles a lot, so it’s in character. Also, monologuing.

Page 3
And here comes Loki, with his Umbrella. For those who care about the timeline, I’d put this one after the end of JIM but before the start of Young Avengers. Much like .1, this is Loki running around and trying to sort bits and pieces out.

Notice that in the horror style, Loki is a much less comforting figure than he tends to be.

Page 4
Due to the nature of the story (Loki as something that Sinister can’t understand) it means that the troll relationship is primarily Loki —> Sinister. Sinister is the authority figure that Loki gets to needle… and underestimate. The French gag still makes me smile.

Alison Blaire is Dazzler. You know, I pushed a load of ideas into Sinister when I reworked him. Big hefty thinky ideas. Now that I’ve left the X-men, I actually think the most useful thing I did was this kind of stuff – Sinister as the mad scientist who weaponizes the X-men’s genes into neat devices. That’s the sort of approach I could see other writers having fun with, as it immediately gives Sinister a unique power hook. Pretty much “What is this guy going to pull out his cloak next?”

The powered cane-sword is actually something I was trying to work in throughout my X-run, but never quite visibly made the page. People were wondering how Sinister Clone melee weapons were deflecting powered beams in Uncanny. That’s how.

Hey, nice glowy speech bubbles. Who did it? Why, it’s Clayton Cowles, YA letterer. Hurrah for him.

(Unless it was by Jim Campbell, the colorist, in which case hurrah for him. But I think it was Clayton)

Page 5
I really like what Joe did with the characters throughout. Loki’s a roller-coaster of emotions – he really doesn’t want to do. Sinister, even at his low points, is still obviously a bit sullen. Compare and contrast the last panel.

Personal annoyance: repeat of the word “fool”. Pah.

Page 6
Joe really turned this into a horror story. The ones on the right are my fave in terms of the staring eyes of clones who’ve seen too much. The guy on the left is pretty neat too.

My wife told me that the pun in the final panel doesn’t work. I suspect that’s exactly the sort of pun Sinister would use. It’s a nod to the charge of the light brigade, as suits Sinisters 19th Century-isms.

There’s a man trap in issue 3 of YA too. Why are Mantraps on my mind, eh?

Page 7
The “plugs” on the cloned summers eyeballs was Joe’s awesome addition.

Page 8
When laying out this story, I realised I had a problem. Sinister had to block Loki’s teleport power, or else he’d just run. However, without Loki’s ability to speak, how could Loki convince Sinister to help him?

Clearly, Loki has a prepared card that says TRUST ME. Of course he would.

Great expression here by Joe.

The spell is, as YA readers may recognise, “ELSEWHERE.”

Page 9
Oh, Symarkia, always facing the dual problem of being a neighbour of Latveria and not really existing.

Loki as troll again, and Sinister absolutely biting. I still smirk at Sinister’s response being OH NO HE ISN’T. Sinister is a bit Panto.

Page 10
We tossed back and forth on having a one-liner in the first panel here, but it really takes away from the immediacy of the teleport. A line would imply more time and imply a Sinister too incompetent to run Loki through before the spell kicked in – and while Loki’s teasing Sinister, I didn’t want to diminish him.

In a team-up battle like this, the question of “Who Wins?” is really in here. Both characters seemed to think they’ve won. The story implies Loki is right, just by giving him the last word. But there’s always the chance that Loki could be wrong (Though Sinister was burned with a similar problem during my AvX run). Like most team-ups, they come to understand each other a little better… except in this case, I think that only Loki has. Hmm. Anyway, they’re both happy to monologue to themselves, which at least gives them a shared interest.

I joked on twitter this is my passive aggressive pitch for a SUPERVILLAIN TEAM-UP revival, except it’s not really a joke.

It’s amazing how much you can tell in 10 pages. Really enjoyed this issue, and it’s great to be able re-read it with these notes. Thanks for putting these up. :D