Welcome to an all-new edition of X-Men Monday, X-Fans! And you read correctly, this one’s all about those fan-favorite characters we’re always getting questions about. Your time has come, Maggott fans! X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White has a lot to say this week, so let’s get started!
AiPT!: We received quite a few Rictor questions, so Julio’s up first! gene slime (@geneticghost) was curious, do you think Rictor is an Omega-level mutant considering his powers can level cities and make people explode?
Jordan: No, I don’t.
First off, let me go on a slight tangent and talk about power creep. It’s a pretty natural side effect of our style of storytelling, the kind where you’re telling endless stories about the same group of characters. Writers are going to need stories, and one of the natural places to go is stories where heroes and villains use their powers in new and surprising ways. It can be a really great thing for a story, suddenly the character figures out a way to turn their power on its head, or they level-up in some way, and suddenly you can see them in a whole new light! The problem is that over DECADES of those stories, pretty much every X-Man is a walking lowercase “a” apocalypse. It’s a hard thing to reign in.
Which is not a slam on Rictor at all, but just to say that at this point, I feel like every X-Character has been said to be able to level cities. Beak’s beak is probably so beaky he can peck a city to rubble.
But to the actual substance of your question–is he Omega level? No, not Beak, although I did raise that question when Jonathan and I were discussing Omega status recently. But no, neither Rictor nor Beak are Omegas and you will get more information on why that is and what Omegas are pretty soon.
AiPT!: Interesting… Now, in the past, you’ve shared your feelings about characters like Emma Frost and Magneto who straddle the line between heroism and villainy. Dream Weaver (@Ikilledkenney7) wanted to know how you feel about Quentin Quire. Does he work better as a hero or a villain?
Jordan: Oh, I really like this question because it allows me to reconsider my opinions.
WAIT, WHAT’S THAT? SOMETIMES I RE-EVALUATE AND EVEN CHANGE MY OPINIONS?!? Yeah, sorry gang, I don’t share all the opinions today that I did when I started at Marvel 12 years ago, let alone when I was a child. Every comic I work on that I care about affects me and yeah, sometimes I change my mind about how mutants are. I used to be pro-Peter and MJ’s marriage, and now I am SO GLAD it was undone. Things change.
Anyway, wow, I really am all digression today, aren’t I? Man, I love Quentin. He’s a jerk, is stuck up, and screws up a lot. I liked him as part of Wolverine and the X-Men a lot, despite him being… well SORT OF a villain before that. He was definitely an antagonist. And if one is able to follow the patterns of my opinion, then I must want him to stay a villain like I do with Magneto and Emma!
And the answer is no, I don’t. Emma and Erik are complicated characters, and “villain” is a shorthand, so even that part of it is not fully true. I don’t think they are HEROES in the traditional sense, and neither is Quentin right now.
You know, this question ALSO brings up the aging issue as well, in that Quentin’s youth is a big part of why I don’t think he is locked into being bad forever. Young people can screw things up majorly without us judging them as harshly forever. Maybe that’s not fair, but it’s true. That’s also why it’s important that Spider-Man not get that old. As it is, 27 is a bit long in the tooth for someone whose central story is learning to take responsibility. Quentin is a kid and as such, I feel like there is a lot of room for him to do messed up things and come back from them. That said, I also don’t want him to grow old enough that he matures, how boring would a mature Quentin be?
AiPT!: Adam Reck (@arthurstacy) asked, just how powerful is Tempus?
Jordan: Depends on who is writing her. Honestly, probably too powerful to be useful unless you have a very specific idea for her.
AiPT!: If Adam-X the X-Treme ever came back to the main X-world… who would he hang out with? Gossip Girl (@danthemcmahon) wanted to know.
Jordan: Pretty sure him and Vulcan are best friends.
AiPT!: Forrest With Two Rs (@Forrest_txt) was wondering who the most obscure character that you think could carry a standalone title or arc by themselves is and why?
Jordan: It’s all a balancing act. When it comes to a new project, there is a triad of main factors to consider–the Three Cs: Character, Creators and Concept. Those are the three key elements to sell a book, those are the three things you can juice to make people want to buy the book. Between the three of them, they need to have that something, that spark that makes something sound cool. If you’re working with a popular character, that gets you a good amount of the way right there. A super popular creator does that as well.
So, if we’re talking about what obscure character could, just by their nature, carry a book? On their own, none. If I were to say, “Hey–we want to do a Maggott mini-series,” and that was all I said, I would be met with a resounding “No.” If the TOP CREATORS IN THE INDUSTRY wanted to do a Maggott series… yeah, maybe that could happen. But if it was pretty much anyone else, to overcome the character being so obscure you’re going to need to have a dynamite concept. Something you can summarize in that first solicit to make people go, “Oh wow–that is an awesome idea, I am buying that.”
AiPT!: Speaking of Maggott… as the X-Men Senior Editor, what are your thoughts on mutants with really out-there mutations, like Maggott or Fantomex? Is there a need to make their powers easy to explain for new readers, or are the more outrageous characters just part of the fun of comics?
Jordan: Both? Which is to say, yeah–the crazy mutants with super weird powers ARE really fun, and I love seeing them. But at the same time, yes, you DO need readers to understand them so if their powers are super weird, it can become difficult to use them regularly in a book. Storm is called “Storm” and she flies around on the wind and makes lightning happen, it’s all pretty directly suggestive of her powers. Maggott is a lot trickier, especially with the extra “T” for no reason. I think you’ve got to explain him over and over, so making him a regular is hard.
AiPT!: Regarding the young X-Men characters, Facundo Neiras (@facuneiras) asked if you prefer they have their own team or that some of them be assigned to the “main” X-Men teams?
Jordan: I don’t think there is a good answer for this. I think I would prefer them having their own team, but I don’t know that it would sell enough to keep it going at which point they have their own team no one is telling stories about. Regardless, everything is about to change, so… who knows what will happen! Well, I mean, I know. But I am not telling yet.
AiPT!: Now a question about a fan-favorite team! Suzene Campos (@Heartsib) said Alpha Flight is generally viewed as an X-Men spinoff, but is it actually under the purview of X-Office? There’s certainly some overlap with a character like Northstar.
Jordan: The original team is actually split up between offices right now. A bunch of them were in the new Captain Marvel-led Alpha Flight which put them squarely in Tom Brevoort’s clutches, hence Sasquatch in Hulk and such. Northstar and his sister are definitely mutants, so they are definitely in our control. Beyond that, I think it’s on a character-by-character basis. That said, our office is doing the Alpha Flight: True North one-shot coming in September, so we’ve got a pretty good claim to them! 😉
AiPT!: No two X-Fans seem to have the same favorite character. What is it about the X-Men that, in your opinion, inspires such devotion to even the most obscure characters?
Jordan: I can only guess, but maybe it’s a combination of the fact that X-Men attracts a very diverse readership based on the themes it explores and the fact that there are 876 characters who all live in the mansion together. Such a wide pool of characters to choose from encourages people to really go granular on them, really delve into the differences and which speaks most to them personally. ALSO, because there are so many different characters showcased in all different places across the history of the series, every volume has it’s own “minor” characters who get a big showcase, who get to be the underdog among underdogs, and depending on which series you fell in love with, you end up having a very different fave.
AiPT!: Well, speaking of those various faves, Nir Revel (@revel_nir) asked what’s a healthy way for fans to try and raise awareness or try and get more attention to characters that they love? Like Surge, for example.
Jordan: I am not sure how to answer this because I am not REALLY sure what I am being asked. How to raise awareness of the character for who? If you mean how to raise awareness among fandom… I don’t think I am the right person to ask. X-Men fandom has its own feel and rules and cliques and ins and outs. If you mean raise awareness with creators… I would say just be respectful when you bring up the characters and try to talk to them about what their thoughts are on them, but know that there is every chance they will say they don’t care for that character or have a different take on them than you do, and know that that is not a personal affront to you or to the character. Honestly, I think talking about what you love and why is always a good thing, it’s when it turns negative that it’s not productive–calls of not buying anything until so-and-so appears or whatnot.
AiPT!: Phoenix Egg (@thePhoenixEgg) wanted to know why there isn’t stronger emphasis on using lesser-known characters. Writers want to use the A-List, but surely an editor can say “pick a C-lister you like and build them up.” Phoenix Egg said isn’t the point of the comics, these days more than ever before, to generate new ideas?
Jordan: I am kind of confused by the question. We’re wrapping up a huge storyline that centered around X-Man. Glob Herman was prominently featured in four different titles in the last year. Blob just had a romance plot. In X-Men Gold, you had the new Pyro and Ink. X-Men Blue had Jimmy and Bloodstorm. Generation X featured lots of obscure characters.
Obviously, your mileage may vary regarding whether you think we’ve successfully built the characters up, but I am kind of surprised to hear you feel people have not been trying to. Pretty much every writer who has worked on X-Men over the last 10 years (and more, really) has used more minor characters, but that’s the downside of having 1,742 X-Men–there are so many that very few people love the same obscure ones. Looking back over the last decade of X-Books, it seems to me the character who has most successfully gone from relative obscurity to appearing in comics regularly is Quentin Quire. He’s been pretty regularly featured since Schism. Other than him, characters come and go in waves–a writer will bring them in, use them a bunch, maybe they will appear in another series or two… and then they will fade back into the background as someone else comes forward.
Let’s look at a hypothetical. Let’s say upcoming WRITER A wants to use… I don’t know, Bliss and her gross tongue situation. So they are making Bliss an interesting character such that you don’t even care how gross she is by their end of their run. Then WRITER B is going to come onto the series next… and WRITER B would want to use like… Mercury. Should I go, “Actually, please don’t use them, we really need to keep focus on Bliss”? And yeah, you can say “why don’t they use both?” OK, so then WRITER B uses both Bliss AND Mercury. Now here comes WRITER C who really wants to bring back Icarus. NOW can I let them not use Mercury and Bliss? Because, look… as good as writers A & B are, I am skeptical that they will have written a Bliss that has the popularity of Rogue or Iceman, let alone Wolverine or Cyclops.
Which is all to say we DO use obscure mutants and will continue to do so… but if it was that easy to get them to catch on, they wouldn’t be obscure.
AiPT!: Well said, Jordan. Finally, for this week’s music question, I’d like to spotlight your two original tunes about fan-favorites Maggott and Adam-X! For those who weren’t around when you released these, how long did it take you to write them… and, when can we expect an official X-Men Monday theme song from you?
Jordan: I think those songs took a long time in terms of how long between me promising them and me delivering them… but in terms of actual work on the songs, neither took that much time–maybe an afternoon each. Once I got myself to sit down and work on them I was able to make them happen pretty quickly. I started with lyrics first, sitting with a notebook and working out the ideas. For Maggott, the first thing that I thought of “They call me Maggott, but it’s not right–two Ts” because of the sound alike idea of “it’s not right to tease.” From there I knew I was going to retell his origin and death so I wrote that. Often when I am writing lyrics a general melody and tone will come with them, and so it was for this song. When I finished the lyrics I grabbed my ukulele and locked in the chords and melody, then I recorded it.
For Adam-X I knew I did not want to do more research for a song, so I decided to write the song about the fact that I don’t know much about him… and then I hit on the idea to describe other mutants in fun vague ways, and the song pretty much rolled off my pen at that point. Also, someone really did tweet at me about blood burning like fire, so I made sure to put that in.
As for an X-Men Monday song… it’s not a bad idea, but I play the ukulele a LOT less nowadays than I used to because of spending time with my little son. I will think about it… although I’ve also been toying with doing a track for the Hickman books… so we will see.
AiPT!: Yes, yes we will! And with that, we bring this edition of X-Men Monday to a close. I hope you all enjoyed it. We didn’t get to cover every fan-favorite character, but Maggott came up more than once and there were three pictures of Mercury, so hopefully that counts for something!
Now that it’s July, Comic-Con International: San Diego is fast approaching–and that means major X-Men news! But July’s special for another reason–no, not the fact that it’s my birthday month–the current X-Era is officially coming to a close. Before we enter the House of X and learn just what the heck Powers of X means, we’ll spend the next two installments of X-Men Monday celebrating with some special guests! First up, on Monday July 8, we’re reflecting on the Age of X-Man, so start thinking about what you want to ask about Nate Grey’s fantasy world and look for the call for questions on AiPT!’s Twitter tomorrow morning (Tuesday July 2).
Rest up! Two consecutive Mondays of X-Men partying are coming your way!