Thanks SO much for all the support you’ve given us over the past few months. If the sales numbers, reviews and letters to the editor are any indication, DECIMATION has been a hit with you guys. We’ve been excited about our new direction for a long time here in the office, but we’re so happy to see that you have been just as excited. Expect only better things to come.
For the first few questions, I enlisted the aide of trusty SENTINEL SQUAD O*N*E writer, the uncomparable John Layman! Take it away, John…
Trevor -- What’s the backstory behind the Sentinel SQUAD O*N*E characters? We’ve been introduced to a few of them in Milligan’s X-Men run. Why did they choose to be the first group to get to try out a manned Sentinel?
Layman -- The backstory of Sentinel Squad O*N*E will be extensively chronicled in their upcoming limited series of the same title, written by myself--teen-dancing sensation John Layman, with excellent art by Aaron Lopresti. The story will follow the team who came to be assigned the X-Mansion, and how they went from wet-behind-the-ears recruits to seasoned Sentinel pilots--and the best pilots the O*N*E group has to offer.
Of course, one sad reality is this group got the assignment because they SURVIVED. As readers of the limited series will learn, the original Sentinel Squad program was much bigger, and many other recruits, for various reasons, were ELIMINATED from the program.
Trevor -- Okay, we’ve so far met Alexander Lexington, Briggs, Slayton, and an unnamed woman. These four along with one more are supposed to be the ones that are “babysitting” the X-Men’s home. I’d like to get a good who’s who answer on these four characters, full names, and what motivations drive them?
Layman -- Alexander "Lex" Lexington is the leader of this Sentinel Squad, though, as you will see in the upcoming Sentinel Squad limited, he's perhaps the last person that the O*N*E agency, or even Lexington himself, imagined would be leader. He's X-military, and he's a cynic. He's also a problem solver, and willing to break the rules to do what's right--even go behind the O*N*E's back and defy their orders. He got some sympathies with mutants too, for reasons that you won't know unless you read the series.
Jake "Slayer" Slayton was fighter pilot before joining the Sentinel Squad program. He was a jock, and a bit of a loudmouth. But after making some bad first impressions among his teammates, he proved himself. He also made a great sacrifice (which will be chronicled in the Sentinel Squad series) and that he has chosen to persevere despite what happened to him has earned the respect of his teammates.
Nathaniel "Bulletproof" Briggs is the odd man out in this team. He doesn't like mutants, and he doesn't particularly care for his teammates. He's ambitious, but not particularly loyal, and will back-stab anybody who gets in his way to help his career. You'll get a better idea just how terrible a person--and a soldier--Briggs is when you read the limited series.
Tracy "Sky" Skylark is new to the team, after being the sole survivor of a different Sentinel Squad that met with a tragic end. Her teammates don't know her very well because she keeps to herself, but she has a good attitude, and seems to be fitting in.
Rajani "Joni" Dhama has a fiery temper, and enjoys busting heads. That makes her a perfect match for the brawler Sentinel, as she is able to take out her aggression by taking on bad guy and blowing s*** up. She was originally assigned the recon Sentinel, but was since reassigned to the brawler. Ever since then, she has excelled as a Sentinel Squad pilot. She and Lexington and Slayton have become close friends as a result of the adventures and tribulations they shared in the Sentinel Squad mini.
Trevor -- General Lazer seems to me like he will be the protagonist against Val Cooper. What is his story and what can fans expect to see from him in upcoming issues?
Layman -- General Lazer is a bureaucrat, and not so much a people person. He's interest in results, and getting a job or mission done with maximum efficiency. Sometimes that means people die, and Lazer is okay with that--as long as he gets his results. He is not evil, but he is a mercurial. Sending young Sentinel pilots is not something he enjoys doing, but it's certainly something he's willing do to. This may lead to some conflict with Val Cooper, who is closer to the team as individuals. Cooper is also sympathetic to mutants, while Lazer is, like many people, a bit fearful and prejudiced.
Trevor -- X-Men #179 comes out this Wednesday and shows a, now, powered up Bobby Drake. What’s going on there? What can fans expect to see out of their coolest mutant?
Marts -- Most readers know that Bobby has been permanently stuck in his ice form for a while now…the events of M-Day affect Bobby in such a way that he’s now able to finally revert back to human form once again…but of course, there are side effect…
Trevor -- We’ve seen Erg, Peepers, Mammomax, and Outlaw at the Mansion, using it for shelter. Who else can we expect or will these refugee mutants be coming in and out as the story calls for them?
Marts -- In X-MEN: THE 198 #1 we see many more mutants who have answered Cyclops’ offer to seek sanctuary at the Xavier Estate. Toad, Fever Pitch, Arclight and Lorelei (from DISTRICT X) are just a few of the new 198ers.
Trevor -- Apocalypse’s return was foretold, now that he is back what is on his agenda?
Marts -- It’s easiest to put it like this—Apocalypse, at his core, has always been about ensuring that the mutant race is strong enough to survive whatever hardships it might encounter. Now, after the events of M-Day, the mutant race is at its all-time low…so if there was ever a time where the mutant race needed a savior, it’s now. And En Sabah Nur intends to be that savior.
Trevor -- Can we expect to ever see the return of a new set of Dark Riders?
Marts -- Yes, look for them in CABLE & DEADPOOL #26-27, which serve as a prequel to “Blood of Apocalypse”.
Trevor -- Annihilation was just announced this past week. What, if anything, can fans expect to see happening in the world of their X-Heroes thanks to this event? Maybe an appearance from the Starjammers
Marts -- Though the events of Annihilation will be extremely far-reaching across the cosmos, this super event won’t directly affect the X-Men anytime soon. But that’s not to say we won’t see the Starjammers some time in ’06.
Trevor -- Ever since your live chat at CBR fans have been hounding me to ask you about your comments regarding Jubilee. What’s the X-Offices stance on her (is she being axed or not) and what can the fans expect to see from their former-crackling girl-wonder?
Marts -- Axed? As in “dead”? Did I give that impression? If so, I am sorry. Jubilee is de-powered (see GENERATION M), but she’s alive and well.