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Monday, March 8, 2004


By Rob Allstetter/The Comics Continuum

ORLANDO, Fla. -- OK, so maybe he's not as big as Joss Whedon, but Tony Bedard's name as part of Marvel's X-Men "Reload" certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Bedard, who has gained a following with his work at CrossGen, takes over as writer of Exiles with #46, which, along with #47, reaches stands in May.

The Continuum caught up with Bedard at the CrossGen booth at MegaCon over the weekend, where he talked about his new book and plans for his old ones, too.

THE CONTINUUM: How did the Exiles gig come about?

BEDARD: Well, I knew Joe Quesada from back at Valiant. I met him when he was drawing Ninjak and I was editing over there. And I just kept in touch with him and Jimmy (Palmiotti) over the years.

When it looked like things were going to take a bad turn (at CrossGen) as far as the staff was concerned -- I kind of had an inkling there were going to be some layoffs and stuff -- I called up Joe to see if maybe Marvel had some places for these people to go. Because almost every single one of the people that worked at CrossGen I really liked and liked their work, and I knew they would be a benefit to either Marvel or DC.

As it happened, Joe was down in Florida to see his dad, who was sick, and he drove over to see us. And in the midst of meeting and finding assignments for all of these guys, I guess it occurred to him to check on my behalf. There was an opening on Exiles, and it was a good fit.

It's a really small community, as you know. Everybody goes back with everybody else.

THE CONTINUUM: What's your hook on Exiles going to be?

BEDARD: You know, I think Judd Winick did such a good job with it. They sent me all the issues because I hadn't read the series. I knew what the basic premise was about and it was a very enticing one. Because anything goes and you can have it be as close to or as far away from the continuity as you want.

But Judd did such a good job. When I started reading through those issues, I started to get intimidated. He hit all the high points, he didn't pull any punches. He had Galactus and Doctor Doom, all the naturals that you want to see, playing a big part in the stories. He hit all those notes.

What I want to do is the same types of stories as Judd. Basically, I don't want to lose the audience that was there. I want to live up to that. If I can do any better than that, then so be it. But I already have such a high opinion of the original run. If you're an Exiles fan right now, know that if ain't broke, why fix it?

THE CONTINUUM: Are there certain characters you seem to have a stronger affinity for?

BEDARD: Yes. It seems like to me that Morph and Mimic and Blink are the real heart of the team. And even though, you have a lot of cast changes, and even Blink dropped out for a while, those are the ones that I would be real hesitant to replace.

I also like the fact that there's a rotating cast as you go through the storylines. In fact, my first issue features an all-new character. At the end of Chuck Austen's story, only five move on. So they'll arrive with the new member at the beginning of my story.

THE CONTINUUM: You can't say too much about the new member?

BEDARD: Yeah, I don't want to give away too much. This is an all-new character to the story. Although a lot of these characters tend to be an alternate version of another one, so it's hard to say if it's an all-new new character.

By the end of the first story arc, they will pick up another new member who is an established character.

THE CONTINUUM: Is it fun writing a super-hero team?

BEDARD: Yeah. Negation was a big cast, a large team, and I got used to shifting the spotlight and giving everybody a moment -- but not all in the same issue because that's a mistake some people make. It's like you got to have everybody say a line and by the time it's over, you don't know anybody.

So I'm looking forward to doing that. After the initial story arc, there's a one-shot that really focuses on Morph. Following that, there's a multi-parter that focuses on Mimic. I'm consciously trying to, once again, dote on a character here and a character there.

THE CONTINUUM: Aside from Exiles, you're still writing the CrossGen titles?

BEDARD: I'm still doing Negation, Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) and Route 666.

THE CONTINUUM: Isn't Negation ending with the War?

BEDARD: Yeah, but we're trying to figure out exactly what do to with it. It'll end maybe for a relaunch. Because we're not doing away with all those characters and that setting. There will be something to work with there. It might benefit from a relaunch.

THE CONTINUUM: But basically you're not done with those characters?

BEDARD: No, we're not going to kill the best characters, either. But there will be some major deaths and stuff in the War story.

THE CONTINUUM:: So your plate's pretty full...

BEDARD: Yeah, although there might be one more thing to add on to that.

THE CONTINUUM:: Your CrossGen stuff has been well received...

BEDARD: I'm excited about how Kiss Kiss has gotten off to a good start. Sometimes I'll look at the covers that I haven't look at in a while, the covers that are upcoming, and it kind of strikes me, "This looks kind of styling, you know? It really looks like its own thing."

Which is the thing I always wanted to see more of with CrossGen. A little less of the over-arching deal. There was a real group feel to the books at a certain point. I like there are books like Ruse and Route 666 kind of had their own personalites. So I feel good about Kiss Kiss on that score. And it's kind of subversive, so that's fun.

THE CONTINUUM:: Have you gotten any feelers from Hollywood about that?

BEDARD: They're shopping it around, but I haven't heard anything real solid on it. I just know our Hollywood guys got very interesting when they first saw the thing. It's something you could do, clearly, and you could sell it. People understand it.

THE CONTINUUM:: It doesn't involve people with blue skin...

BEDARD: Right, you don't have to put yourself in an alien mindset to understand it.

With Route 666, #24 will be the end of the current storyline. But we've always had a longterm plan for where Cassie's going and we're going to stick with it. We'll probably just relaunch it under a different title with the same creative team. There was a point in which the story jumped ahead to a very different setting, and I think it's a natural break point that we'll just use to relaunch the book.

It does well. It's certainly well reviewed. But we've got to reach the point where we get stronger sales there.

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