Sins Of Sinister time! Thought Bubble is over for another year. The tables are being packed away. Usually, at this time, I would be exhausted, unable to put finger-to-keyboard and would be resigned to be slumped in a chair being drip-fed vodka and diet coke in the hotel lobby until I was able to raise myself to stumble to my Air BNB in the vain hope that this one won't have burned down. But this year, things are different, this year I was able to find a gap in my schedule on the Sunday, and this year I went to The Ivy two doors down from Betty's for the best shepherd's pie I have had in my life. And I have been transformed. Was it the amphetamines in the gravy? I couldn't tell you. But it did give me the opportunity to get a little of the X-Men panel in front of your eyes tonight.
Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier and Al Ewing led the Professing X: An X-Men Panel, the writers of Immortal X-Men, Legion Of X, and X-Men Red, hosted by Elizabeth Sandifer at Thought Bubble. In which they showed off – and talked about – the upcoming Sins Of Sinister event.
We were reminded what we knew, Sins Of Sinister, is a crossover event which spans a thousand years, as Powers Of X did. Kieron Gillen writes the Alpha and Omega bookends, and then we have three sets of three issues of the transformed titles Immoral X-Men, Storm & The Brotherhood Of Mutants and Nightcrawlers, across three separate timezones, ten years in the future, a hundred years in the future and a thousand years in the future, with three artists across all three books, drawing one timezone each.
Kieron Gillen started saying there would be one trade collection for the whole thing, all eleven issues, eventually. They talked about how they wrote the series very much out of order, and about the X-Men version of the collaborative chat programme Slack, which they dub X-Slack as being very useful and rewarding, but also the issue of the three of them having brains of a perversely competitive order, try to compete to be the most outlandish. Sins Of Sinister is the result – emphasis on the plural – of the worlds that have been created because of Sinister's actions.
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Al Ewing, man of the people, told us of Storm dressing in the manner of Magneto, and in this depiction, immediately after a cataclysm, presumably caused by one of Mister Sinister's many sins.
Si Spurrier, in his cookie monster jacket, talked of the character he nicknames Wagnerine, one of the first generations of chimaera, a private army of assassins, made up of crossing any deadly mutant with Nightcrawler and getting even deadlier mutant, dubbed the Legion Of The Night,
Kieron Gillen, cosplaying as Jamie McKelvie this show, told us of his new Captain America, "perfectly normal, nothing wrong at all, he'd just grown a moustache, that's great, doesn't necessarily mean he's bad." Save that he's obviously Steve Rogers' DNA mixed with those of Mister Sinister… but this description would become a theme.
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Si: "It's Nightcrawler, nothing to be seen here… he is twenty feet tall." In current issue of Legion Of X, Nightcrawler has grown horns. Is this how he has continued to mutate?
Kieron: "I see his horn problem, hasn't gone away…. this is a Mister Sinister, cyberpunk, bodysnatchers, dark future. I call it Shit Head Star Trek. I don't want to see that as the headline, Rich." Fair enough. Clearly, we have a Colossus/Sinister mix. Originally Sinister was modelled on Colossus…
Al: "I'm doing Star…. something else. Cable is looking incredibly normal, though he is known in a hundred years as Xible. having merged with living history of Arakko, Xilo, which has done him the world of good. He has a completely regular personality, the Cable you know and love." Lots of chin-stroking is necessary for that one.
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Kieron: "Remember Powers Of X? Remember Rasputin? She's a high-level chimaera."
Al: "Some people have speculated that this is Odin. It's not. He's a new character, the staff is based on Storm's headdress, we will introduce this new character in Sins Of Sinister, this is how he will end up after a thousand years, a weird King Arthur figure ruling over a forgotten kingdom, wait till you see how he starts out. Ironfire is just his surname."
Kieron: "I described it like meeting Wolverine for the first time as Old Man Logan."
Al: "I refer to him on the Slack as Logan The Second. I'm aiming high."
Si: Auntie Fortune, she was a Nightcrawler/Domino hybrid and has been dead for a long time, she has an incorporeal spirit attached to a floating brain in a jar. She is a navigator for Nightcrawlers, in a really disgusting way."
Kieron: "Sins Of Sinister is operatic in its scale of awfulness, but very funny as well."
Elizabeth: This is why they gave sins Of Sinister to a bunch of Brits who grew up on 2000AD
Kieron: I was channelling my inner Kevin O'Neill.
We learned that, though Sins Of Sinister was Kieron Gillen's idea, the approval of it was Jonathan Hickman's leaving gift to the X-Slack, Kieron telling us that Sinister is a genetic colonialist, and it's all about what you can do with genes if you forget about morality.
Si Spurrier also told us about another yet-yo-be-seen member of the Nightcrawlers who is a combination of his character from The Way Of X, Lost, who controls gravity wells, and Nightcrawler. They have to steal Mjolnir, from Thor, she reasons that even though no one can pick up Mjolnir, a "hammer has to fall somewhere", and just makes Mjolnir fall in the direction she wants, so she can walk out with it falling by her side. Si told us that reducing characters to their utilities, to muck around them, is just fun.
Al Ewing also came up with another in the bar, a chimaera who combined the power sets of Magik and Cyclops, and can open stepping discs to the punch dimension that powers Cyclops optic blasts. "The problem is we're not allowed to mention Cyclops power has dimensional holes to the punch dimension." It was an addition to the Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe that the editors don't like to reference – which also explains how the Hulk puts on mass, having access to a "meat dimension".
Kieron Gillen recalled wanting to have the Young Avengers access the meat dimension, hacking the way through it, until Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk and sucked them through back into the Marvel Universe as part of his body. Don't worry, Kieron, I won't have "Hulk Wanted To Suck Off The Young Avengers" as a headline either…
More from this panel to come… maybe I need another shepherd's pie.
Thought Bubble is the UK's largest comic art festival; a week-long celebration of comics, illustration, animation, and more that culminates in this weekend's comic convention. Focused on those who create comic books, specifically the artists, and the writers, it is especially supportive of small press. The festival was founded in 2007 by Yorkshire artist, Lisa Wood, also known as Tula Lotay, and was organised as part of the Leeds International Film Festival to raise the profile of comics in the area. The first Thought Bubble was held on Saturday, 10 November 2007 in the basement of Leeds Town Hall and was attended by a couple of hundred people, but has grown a little since then. The convention originally ran throughout Leeds but, in 2019, due to issues with Leeds City Council and the need for more space, the convention moved to nearby Harrogate. And earlier this year, Lisa Wood stepped down from the role of director to be taken by Travelling Man's Nabil Homsi. This week's events are already underway and the convention begins on Saturday the 12th of November until Sunday the 13th of November. Bleeding Cool will be reporting from the show all weekend long. Do feel free to say hi!