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Exclusive Interview: New Character Designs for ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN

Mark Paniccia, Brian Wood, Jorge Molina and Paco Medina answer our questions about the future of ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN.

The Ultimate Universe isn't quite what it was a couple years ago. Besides all the talk about the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, there's been other drastic changes. After the events of Ultimatum, the attitude towards mutants has gone to an all time low. Mutants are now locked up and forced to live in camps. Chances are, this isn't going to last long, especially if you've been reading ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN.

Marvel has given us an exclusive first look at some character designs for some of the members of the X-Men. Click to enlarge.

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WIth this new look for the characters, we also had the chance to talk to Mark Paniccia, Brian Wood, Jorge Molina and Paco Medina about the new designs and the future for the Ultimate X-Men.

== TEASER ==

Comic Vine: We've seen an uprising in the mutant population at Camp Angel, does that have anything to do with the costume redesigns?

Mark Paniccia: What’s happened at Camp Angel and the Southwestern States definitely feeds into a shift in attitude and purpose for Kitty. But you’ll see in issue 13 (Brian’s first) an event that serves as a catalyst for their mission and the reason we wanted to give them a new look.

Brian Wood: Like Mark said, its a factor and probably more of a factor as time goes on, to be honest. What happens in #13 is more of a personal thing for Kitty, a shift in how she sees things and how she wants to be seen. It sort of expands out from that.

CV: Whenever characters get costume updates or tweaks, we don't always hear who was fully responsible. Can you tell us who designed each character's new look?

MP: Jorge Molina based Kitty’s design from notes that Brian gave. Brian wanted a sort of non-uniform. Something white that would create contrast on covers and allow the cover artists an extra element to play with in compositions. We weren’t certain that the rest of the characters would get new costumes at the time but Sana [Amanat] and I talked about something that could still visually tie them together, something that would signal that they are part of a team, a family and a revolution. We mentioned the armbands to Brian and he really liked it. And once we had our notes together on what to focus on for the other characters, Paco took over and nailed each one.

BW: a non-uniform, a no-brand, an anti-look. A really broad way to look at the idea of a superhero costume is to call it a disguise, or at least an altered identity. When the costume goes on, the person turns into something else. Kitty's going through a big reinvention, and the Shroud no longer made sense to her - she didn't want to hide, she wants to be as open and "plain" as possible. My initial mental image was for her to be in a white outfit with absolutely no detail, but Jorge made it more of a tracksuit (and those sneakers! so awesome) which I liked a lot.


Jorge Molina: From the notes Brian and Mark gave me, I did a couple of quick concepts. The main idea was to present Kitty in a different light to the fans and get the attention with the new design and the composition. I knew Brian had this cool idea of this all white outfit against a dark scene; so I though some type of sportswear would work to represent her new attitude and being ready to battle. At first we had her with a tank top and short pants, but the long sleeves worked better in the end since it has more contrast with the red armband.

Paco Medina: My first look on this new era for ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN was through Jorge's design and my contribution from there was to develop the rest of the team... Jimmy, Bobby and Rogue, they not longer feel part of the human race or Charles Xavier´s dream. So the change in the costumes reflects that feeling and a search for their new identity. Brian's vision is amazing, definetly this new era is great for the X-Men and I know that the readers will love the new attitude and look of the team.

CV: Why has the time come for the costume redesigns? Will Kitty, James, Rogue and Iceman get involved with the mutant revolution? Also, does the armbands signify more of a unification as a team on their part?

MP: Since this event is taking the characters into a new direction (and wait till you see what Brian Wood has cooked up for what’s left of mutantkind after DIVIDED WE FALL), it just seemed like time to refine some of the visual elements that worked well for the characters so far and exemplify them. We all really liked Jimmy’s (Wolverine Jr.’s) rugged vibe and decided to refine and define it a bit. And it’s reminiscent of Wolverine’s garb in the ever-classic DAYS OF FUTURE PAST so I couldn’t help but like it. For Rogue we wanted to reign in her look and give it more of a militaristic vibe, to go with the mission, and Bobby is a goof and I wear a Bolivian-style ski cap like that in winter. It was a suggestion that took and worked with his personality.

BW: The armbands suggest a militancy to the team that's right in line with the story - this was an important element for me, and it allows all of them, not just Kitty, to be open in their identity and not be "hiding" behind logos or emblems. The X on the arm is subtle in that way but no less powerful than if it was huge across the torso. I might argue its more powerful this way.

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CV: Are we going to see a set roster of characters in the book or will it continue to switch back and forth to the many mutants around?

MP: Who said there would be many mutants around?

BW: Ha! All I'll add to that is I'm spending the next little while focused on Kitty and this core team. Beyond that, we'll see.

CV: Does Bobby really need boots, shorts and a hat? Why don't they freeze up with the rest of him?

MP: The simple answer is yes and no. ;)

BW: Are you suggesting that comics really needs another blue naked superhero?

CV: Uhm...for now, everyone should be sure to check out ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #11 on sale Wednesday, May 9, 2012.