Welcome, X-Fans, to the final uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT of 2019! And, as this is not just the last X-Men Monday of the year but the decade, I figured I needed to make it eXtra special. So, you’ll be getting an eXtended interview with X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White, in which we reflect on 2019 and then look ahead to some of the things X-Fans can expect in the new year.
But first, the results of AIPT’s recent Year of X survey, featuring the things you loved the most about the X-Men in 2019!
Overall, just over 400 X-Fans submitted answers–and boy did those answers cover a lot of ground. The love went in multiple directions, but for the sake of time, I’ll only be sharing the top three answers for each of the five survey categories. So without further ado…
What was your favorite X-Men storyline of 2019?
1. House of X/Powers of X – 313 votes
2. Dawn of X – 19 votes
3. Age of X-Man – 5 votes
What was your favorite X-Series of 2019?
1. House of X/Powers of X – 182 votes
2. Marauders – 39 votes
3. Excalibur – 33 votes
Who was your favorite X-Writer of 2019?
1. Jonathan Hickman – 247 votes
2. Tini Howard – 25 votes
3. Kelly Thompson – 21 votes
Who was your favorite X-Artist of 2019?
1. Pepe Larraz – 185 votes
2. Marcus To – 26 votes
3. Rod Reis – 23 votes
Who was your favorite X-Character of 2019?
1. Cyclops – 68 votes
2. Moira MacTaggert – 46 votes
3. Emma Frost – 42 votes
Isn’t it crazy to see Moira, a character who until a few months ago had been dead in the Marvel Universe since the early 2000s, top the likes of Wolverine, Jean Grey, Gambit and Storm in a popularity contest?
Such is the power of Hickman–your favorite X-Writer of 2019! Anyway, thank you to all who submitted answers–especially to the sixth question: “What do you hope to see more of in X-Men comics in 2020?” Some of the answers I received for this question informed a portion of my interview with Jordan.
Speaking of, let’s just get into it, shall we? It’s a long one, after all, so you better start reading!
AIPT: Thanks for taking the time to talk, Jordan! I wanted to start with a question I feel is super specific to X-Men Monday. Readers have gotten to know (a portion) of your old Marvel office pretty well thanks to the picture featured in this column (above). But you and the other Marvel editors recently moved into a new office. So how do you like it so far?
Jordan: It’s a nice new office. I used to have a window in my office and now I don’t, which is a bit of a bummer, but other than that, it’s a very nice place. This is kind of a ridiculous and stupid thing to say, but I’ve worked at Marvel for a long time, so I was at that building the entire time Marvel was at that building, which I think was nine years, if I remember correctly, which means that I built up a lot of junk. So it’s been an opportunity to not keep that junk around. So I brought a lot of stuff home. I think I literally brought home six long boxes of trade paperbacks, which is kind of absurd, but I did do that. But yeah, the new offices are nice. I’m still sharing an office with Annalise Bissa and Chris Robinson and I’m directly across the hall from Tom Brevoort and next door to Jake Thomas and yeah, it’s a really nice place. It’s about a half a block from our old place.
Mostly set up. Still need my tack boards mounted. pic.twitter.com/GveP3ioeqZ
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) December 10, 2019
AIPT: Does Jonathan have his own office for when he comes to town?
Jordan: Oh no. First of all, he doesn’t really come to town–he comes to town when there’s a summit, and then we’re not in offices, we’re in some sort of conference place. But no, if he came to town and was like, “I really need an office,” we’d find him one.
AIPT: OK, so you became the editor of the X-Men line around March of 2018. Now that you’re about a year and a half into the job, do you feel like you’ve hit your stride or are you in a constant state of stress?
Jordan: Um, I mean both? Right now, people who aren’t in the comic book industry probably don’t realize this, but the end of the year and the holiday season is probably the most stressful time because the last couple of weeks of the year, the printers shut down for the holidays. Which is great, obviously–we want everyone to have a holiday, but that means there are multiple weeks where we have to send more than one week of books to press. So this year, there were actually three different weeks: One week right before Thanksgiving, then two now in December. And we’re done with them all now, but it was an incredibly stressful time. And you know we have a lot of books right now and a lot of those books are already double shipping, so it was a lot to get through. That said, you know, content wise, I feel great about it.
Content wise, House of X and Powers of X hit absolutely as well as we hoped. We were very confident in it–me and Jonathan–and people really responded to it and that’s so great. And since then, Dawn of X. I don’t know what people expected from it, but I think people were surprised in what direction it went and how it’s going, but I think in a good way. We kicked off six books and I think every single one is different, you know? They’re all part of Krakoa and they’re all part of X-Men as a whole, but they all have a very different focus and a different feel and a different topic and I think that’s great. The fact that when I asked on Twitter a few weeks ago which series is your favorite and I got responses for every book–you know, some of them got more responses than others, but every single book was somebody’s favorite and I think that’s important because I don’t want to make six X-Men books that are the same. I want to make six books that maybe six different people will love and that’s fun.
With 2 issues out from all six Dawn of X books… which is your favorite? #xspoilers
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) November 27, 2019
AIPT: You and I first spoke in November 2018, and during that interview you said “2019 is gonna change everything for the X-Men.” I remember at the time, people were critical of that comment (shocker!), saying that’s what Marvel’s always saying, but you weren’t kidding!
Jordan: Oh yeah, [Laughs]. I mean, we were planning it for a long time. I knew it was going to be crazy, whether it was successful or not. I’m thankful we seem to have pulled it off–in most people’s eyes we pulled it off.
AIPT: When you look back on the work you and all the X-Creators put out throughout 2019, what are you most proud of?
Jordan: You want to know something funny? This was not on purpose, but looking back on it later, I kind of went, oh, the previous Uncanny X-Men run in some ways was kind of a warm-up for House of X and Powers of X in the sense that we did a 10-part weekly comic and then followed it up with a series of miniseries that all connected together and intertwined and I was like, oh that’s kind of the exact same thing we did when Jonathan came on.
We did two series that were one, so 12 weekly issues–then launched six ongoing series that connect to one world, which is very funny. I’m really proud of all of those things. We put out 22 issues of Uncanny in, I think, nine months if I remember correctly. That’s a crazy number of issues–that’s an insane number of issues, you know? Matt Rosenberg on his own, if you include the War of the Realms tie-ins–he did 15 issues in six months. Yeah, that’s impressive. I’m super proud of all the work we did on that. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I think that looking back on what happened in that run, knowing that Matt did everything he did in that run knowing that House of X and Powers of X were going to be happening and what was going to be happening in it, generally speaking, I think that informs why we did it a bit more. I saw some people kind of have looked at it that way and kind of gone, “I think I understand it a little better,” which is not to say I don’t think it stands on its own–I do–but from our production standpoint, we were producing it knowing what it was coming before, which no one else could possibly know.
I’m really proud of X-Tremists. I think that was a really, really good book. Working with Leah Williams has been terrific. I worked with her first the year before on X-Men Black, but I was super happy to get her into the Age of X-Man as well and I really like that book a lot. What else… and then launching Dawn of X. Like I said, the fact that all the books are so different is such an awesome thing. We’ve had two X-Men summits over the year of 2019 and both of them were really interesting and we came up with such great stuff. The first one is the one where we kind of very roughly cooked up what the books would be–the six books for Dawn of X. And then, the second one had to do with the second wave of books, which are starting to get announced now and also the next kind of big X-Men story, which hasn’t been mentioned–but there’s going to be another big X-Men story. That’ll be next year sometime and the seeds of that got sewed and that’s starting to come together real well as well. I’m really happy about it.
I’m also just really happy about my relationship with Jonathan forming because he’s a really great guy, he’s a really smart guy, he’s an incredibly talented guy. I talk on the phone with him every day probably from like a half hour to an hour almost every work day because he’s really involved with everything–and plus, I have to nag him to get him to write things–so it’s a really enjoyable relationship and I’m really thrilled to work with him.
I also do want to shout out Marauders because I love that book. It’s so great. That one’s been a real ride too because Gerry Duggan pitched that so early on–he pitched that sometime in 2018. Well, I should say he pitched what became it–it wasn’t like, “Here’s the finished book.” He knew about Krakoa and he immediately was like, “There should be a black market pirate book. I want to do a book about pirates sneaking things in and out of Krakoa, sneaking things in and out of countries.” I think his first pitch for it, he said maybe Longshot should lead it and then shortly there after the name Bishop came up and I don’t remember how much later it was suggested Kitty–I mean Kate.
AIPT: Yeah, don’t make people angry, Jordan! It’s Kate!
Jordan: Well, I hope Gerry doesn’t mind me saying this, but it was my suggestion to have her change her name to Kate and I think part of the reason I think that’s so interesting is that’s a very real thing. And also I think it’d be almost impossible for all of the X-Men to call her Kate forever. I mean, that’s the thing–if that’s what she wants, they’re sure going to try, but they’ve known her as Kitty for so long and the fans feel the same way, so I think people still instinctively want to call her Kitty, but she’s growing up, she’s become a Kate. And what does that mean? I’m really excited about everything Gerry’s doing with her. And that book, again, people had no idea what it was going to be. We announced the name Marauders and people were like, “I don’t understand,” and we showed them on a pirate ship and how does that fit into the X-Men and we said trust us–it matters, it’s important and I think now that it’s out, people are getting it. I love it–it’s such a fun book.
AIPT: It really is. And you’re right–even when I’m writing this column, I sometimes have to stop myself from calling her Kitty.
Jordan: People have read a lot into it. It’s just based on a very simple thing. If you have siblings, a lot of time you call them by the diminutive version of their name and eventually they’re 25 years old and go, “Can you not call me that?” [Laughs]. “But I remember when you were 2 and it’s hard!”
AIPT: So you mentioned Longshot, a character I know you love. How did you stop yourself from keeping him in Marauders crew?
Jordan: I love Longshot. Still, it is currently my belief that Longshot is not a mutant. It’s one of those toughies… whether or not characters are mutants is very not clear-cut because there are times in Marvel’s publishing history when it was in their best interest for every character to be a mutant, and there were times where it was in their best interest for fewer characters to be mutants and some of them are very, very messy. There have been a number of characters we’ve come across in working on these books and go, “Wait, are they mutants or not?” One of them I thought was particularly interesting–and connected to Longshot–is Spiral, because she is referred to on panel as a mutant a lot, but she’s not. Like, they called her a mutant witch, if I remember correctly. But if you know her origin, she was a regular human being with powers who got turned into a six-armed magic user. She was a stunt performer–Ricochet Rita and got taken by Mojo and turned into Spiral, but there is no indication that Ricochet Rita was a mutant. I think it’s just one of those things where a character appears in an X-Book and everyone just goes, “Well they’re a mutant then.”
AIPT: Yeah, like Lady Deathstrike isn’t a mutant, right?
Jordan: I don’t believe she is, yeah, I mean also prominently Deadpool–the movie didn’t help because it said he was one.
AIPT: So, obviously, many X-Men fans are very passionate and don’t hold back when they have something to say–whether it’s positive or negative. What’s your approach to processing all this information and separating the genuinely constructive feedback from the usual internet rants?
Jordan: That’s a very good question, but it’s tough. I mean, first of all, you kind of have to dismiss anything that is done in a rude or jerky way. You just have to. Listen, I’m a relatively sensitive person, so people saying mean things to me gets to me. I don’t have very thick skin, so it’s tough. So if people are attacking me personally, it’s hard. When people are trying to engage in a discussion, that’s something worth noting. It doesn’t mean I’ll always respond to it, but I do look at stuff, and I think about stuff because I can’t help it. I mean, realistically, you don’t want to let the audience change what you’re doing–you want to do a story because it’s good, not because someone is telling you it’s good or because someone is telling you this is what I want and you give it to them–that’s not really a good recipe for making good stories.
You know, the history of comics is full of series that people on the internet say are amazing that didn’t sell enough copies to stick around, so that’s another part of it. We have to walk that line of actually selling enough copies to people to continue publishing while still trying to be good, and I think, generally speaking, doing it for literal pats on the back and applause isn’t a good way to do it. That’s a good way to do a thing in a theater of people just to please them, but in this kind of large-scale stuff, it’s not generally the way you want to approach things.
Comic books are a fast-paced medium, so for the most part, the best way through things is forward. If you do something that doesn’t connect with people, I feel like the best thing to do is keep making stories and keep working as best you can and do try for the best. There’s another comic out next month and there’s one right after that–sometimes more than one. There’s not a lot of time to litigate past stories. Without getting into specific details, there will definitely be people online who go, “No, you have to do a story to fix this thing” and, generally speaking, no. Generally speaking, we’re much more interested in telling stories going forward or at best, we’ll find a way to make it a different story rather than just go back and go “Here’s how that story is fixed, here’s how we undo that.” That said, I’m sure there are people hearing me say this going, “Well I can’t wait for them to undo the stuff they’re doing now.”
AIPT: We’re still at the beginning stages of the new X-Men era, but what lessons have you already taken away from the big risks you took and the positive fan, critical and financial reactions to it?
Jordan: Oh sure, I mean, I think the challenge is always to take the right ones. That’s the Hollywood thing, right? A movie’s successful and then Hollywood makes five more movies exactly like it, only they’re not. They learned all the wrong things. “Oh, it was successful because there was a horse in it.” Well, I don’t think that was the thing. Hopefully, we’re taking the right lessons and I think we are because Jonathan’s an incredibly smart guy. Everything he did was super deliberate and very considerate.
If anything, I think the one thing that’s sort of a bummer is we had huge lead time and now we’re in the grind, so to speak, of making monthly comics and it’s a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to continue making good comics when you have to do it on a real high schedule. Yes, we put out House of X and Powers of X weekly and I’m not going to lie, every issue on some level, was finished right as it went to press. But there was also a lot of work that was going for months before that and we don’t have that luxury as much anymore and we’re trying to figure out ways to build that lead time in when the stories are important and when the stories are big. I mentioned the next big X-Men story and hopefully we have enough runway for that and we’ll be able to land that in the same way.
I mentioned Jonathan being very deliberate, he set out to change what X-Men was not at its core but at the surface level in every way. It’s still the same on the inside, but on the outside it looks completely different, so now it feels similar and different at the same time. It can certainly be argued that X-Men tried to come out of what I called the “Extinction Era” before, but I don’t think they ever successfully got out of it. Something would always happen to drag it back to that place to where mutants are not really a minority so much as an endangered species. They’re almost certainly on the way out, they’re doomed and everything was very dour all the time and there were bursts of light–then it’d go down again. And this isn’t a knock on that era really, because there were lots of great stories told in that era and in that specific story, but I think it went on a long time and I think the fans were ready to move past it and I think Jon really put it behind us in a big way.
The challenges that face mutantkind are very different after House of X than they were before and I think that that’s important to note that while it is important to keep the core of a superhero story going and be about the thing it’s about, it is also important not to let it. It needs a refresh every once in awhile to get excitement back and get the fans back and I think they came back. I’ve heard so many great things from retailers saying people who don’t buy any other comics but came in and said I just want these and started pull boxes just to get back into X-Men because they heard about it and that’s so exciting.
AIPT: The new Cable series was recently announced, as well as Hellions. There are a lot of new X-Books on the way in 2020. In the past, one of the biggest problems with having multiple X-Series was that the titles eventually lost their voice and just became another X-Men comic on the stands. Is that a concern you and the current team of creators share?
Jordan: Absolutely. I mean, we don’t want to tell stories just because they’re there, we want to tell stories because they’re the story we want to tell. There’s a lot of talk about what’s an ongoing series what’s a miniseries. I think that conversation isn’t really helpful in the sense that no series is ever going to be ongoing forever ever again. Currently, I don’t foresee any book being published this month–and I don’t mean in the X-Men line, I mean in the comic book industry–I don’t see any of them going without a relaunch or some sort of break or something for I don’t know, 10 years from now, let’s say. I don’t know that any of them will be–maybe Savage Dragon [Laughs]. It’s just not the world we live in anymore and that’s not the style of publishing. Maybe in five years things will change and we’ll get back to that, who knows. Right now, that’s not where we are.
That said, it’s important to us to tell stories because they need to be the stories that we want to tell so it’s pretty likely there’s going to be an X-Men book called X-Men or something similar to it every month for the foreseeable future, but all the other books will tell the story as long as they need to be told. If we’re done telling Fallen Angels, we’ll stop telling Fallen Angels. If Excalibur comes to a conclusion, we don’t have to go, OK what is it going to be about now–now that we’ve completely finished with the thing that we started we have to have a book still so just throw some people in there. I don’t think we want to do that if we can help it. We want to tell stories because they are important to the X-Men line and to what we are doing going forward, so fingers crossed we’re going to do that.
AIPT: The current Dawn of X series have a reading order. Is it safe to assume new series like Cable and Hellions will be part of that, telling one giant story?
Jordan: That’s a tough question. I don’t think it’s one giant story in the sense that you absolutely have to read every comic. If you’re not interested in Marauders, you don’t have to read Marauders. If you only like Marauders, you can just read Marauders–that’s fine too. They are a complete world and important things to the world will happen in different books. There could be an X-Men crossover in 2021, let’s say, that has one of its important roots in Marauders or Hellions and ideally that crossover will still be accessible to people who just read the main X-Men book–we’ll explain what we need to explain, but for people who like the depth of the universe, who like to explore the interconnectivity of it and, “Oh hold on, where did this start, where did this character come into prominence, where did this plot point begin?” They’re not all going to be in X-Men, we’re going to do important stuff in every book where possible.
AIPT: Speaking of new X-Series, when can we finally expect announcements regarding all the new titles that have been teased? The Moira comic, the Leah Williams comic, the Vita Ayala comic, the resurrection comic, another Hickman comic and X-Corp?
Jordan: Kind of the corollary to only telling the stories that we want to tell, we also want to make sure they’re ready before we put them out. So some things you’re going to hear soon and other things you’re going to hear further away because Jonathan’s a long-term planner. So some of these things are longer term plans. Of the things you mentioned just now, some of them will be announced soon, others you’re going to be waiting a bit, but it’s worth it.
AIPT: In the survey AIPT put out a few weeks back, we asked what X-Fans wanted to see more of in the new year. Obviously, many of the core X-Men themes appeal to readers from the LGBTQ community, and many of these fans really want to see more representation in X-Series in 2020. Is there anything you can say to these X-Fans about the comics to come?
Jordan: It’s definitely a thing that me and the writers are aware of and are pushing for and are trying to make happen. There are places where I know we’ll be making improvements in that area coming up, so definitely keep an eye out.
AIPT: Many X-Fans were also curious to learn whether there’d be deeper exploration of the first Mutant Laws, including the desire to make more mutants. Will writers be digging deeper into these ideas in the comics to come?
Jordan: 100% for sure, every part of Krakoan society is going to be explored more. I think Jonathan alluded to a book that will explore the resurrection protocols. Yes, the answer is yes. That said, it probably won’t answer all your questions immediately or simply because they’re complicated and we’re in it for the long haul, so I don’t expect that there will be a Laws of Krakoa one-shot, but it’s an ongoing concern. I don’t know that this is 100% canon, in fact I know this to be true–the three laws are the three major guiding laws–that doesn’t mean there are no other rules. There are other rules of Krakoa but those are the big ones. So yes, the answer is yes they will all be explored in depth for a long time.
AIPT: Yeah, Tini Howard has especially done great job of seeding in those new aspects of mutant society. Also, the pace of the books has really helped cement the new status quo.
Jordan: Yes, that’s why we’re doing that. And people have asked “Why are you overshipping these books, it hurts my wallet,” but that is the reason because everything is so different and we really wanted to hit the ground running and set this era apart from ones before. As we speak, we’re about to put out issue 4 of five books, five of six this week that would have taken four months normally and next month we’ll be at six issues of all of them and that’s important to us. We want to get those first arcs out there and show this is how everything is.
But now you’re adding more and the answer is yes, but the thing I’ll say to that is again, I edited the X-Men books before House of X and there were a lot of them. Now I think there were fewer people worried about buying all of them before House of X. I think there were certainly books where people were like, “Well I’m certainly not buying that,” but I’m just saying the X-Men line before House of X was more issues per month than we’re doing currently and we’re adding more–but we’re adding more as we ramp down the double ships. There might be the odd month here or there where we’re publishing more issues than we’re currently publishing, but not by much because by the time all these books we’re announcing now launch, there will be few double ships. Then eventually, hopefully, no double ships when we have a more robust line.
AIPT: OK, so… from what I can tell, the ongoing ambiguity of Scott and Jean’s relationship is a major source of stress for many fans. What advice do you have for fans who are on the edge of their seat over all things Jott?
Jordan: [Laughs] You know what, let me give this advice to Jott fans, let me give this advice to Scemma fans, let me give this advice to fans of any combination. Just think right now about the relationship you care about. And now I’m going to use my telepathic mutant powers to read your mind. OK, I’ve locked on to just you. Just you. That one is real. Read the book like you’re right, because you are.
AIPT: As we near the end of our chat, tell me, Jordan, what can we expect from the X-Men universe in 2020?
Jordan: More of the same. No, I’m kidding!
AIPT: Nope. Done. Question answered.
Jordan: No, I’m kidding. Obviously, Jonathan will continue to be the mastermind behind X-Men and we’ll continue to try and make it as big and crazy as possible. It would be crazy to do a shakeup as big as House of X and Powers of X after having just done House of X and Powers of X, so I don’t expect we’ll do anything as nutty as that. That being said, there’s a lot that’s not quite as nutty as that we can do and we will try to do things that are unexpected and we will try to do them in unexpected ways because I think that’s part of it. Again, the fact that we canceled the entire X-Men line and replaced it with a weekly series was bananas. I don’t know if anyone’s ever tried anything like that. And the fact that it was delivered in an interesting way and a thoughtful way–that is the stuff we’re going to keep doing as much as possible. Again, that’s not to say expect all the books will go away–don’t expect anything. That’s the whole point. Hopefully we’ll have announcements that make you go “Wait–really?” and then check it out.
AIPT: I saw that there’ll be an X-Men Free Comic Book Day title… is it safe to assume that ties into the upcoming event you’ve been alluding to?
Jordan: Maybeeee. [Laughs] Yes, it will help lead into that, absolutely.
AIPT: Do we know what it’s going to be about already? Maybe from Mister Sinister’s Red Diamond?
Jordan: There are seeds being laid for sure. I don’t think anybody would–I would be pretty shocked if somebody was like, “Well, they’re going to do this.” I don’t think it’s been made that clear from anything we’ve done–but the beginnings of it have already started to be laid out for sure.
AIPT: Finally, something completely unrelated to X-Men–but just as important. Do you have tickets to one of the They Might Be Giants Flood 30th anniversary shows? I’ve got mine for one of the Boston shows.
Jordan: I don’t! So why? Well that’s a great question. I really should, I just kept putting it off. I’ve seen them do Flood a couple of times and it’s always great. I love listening to the album. I play it a lot for Darien, my son, and I also love the live versions. I think I have two live versions. If you search the internet, I’m pretty sure they gave away Flood live in Australia for free. They do the album backwards, so they start with “Road Movie to Berlin” and go to the “Theme from Flood.” One of my favorite things about when they do Flood live nowadays is the song “Dead”–they’ve made it into a full band number. I think it’s just piano and voice but now they do bass and drums and it sounds really cool and has a fun feel to it. I go back and forth on this but “Letterbox” may be my favorite They Might Be Giants song of all time. It’s a very quick song but I just love it. So hopefully they’ll add another show or, hopefully, they’ll reach out to me and say be our guest of honor.
AIPT: They’d be crazy not to, Jordan! As a thank you for the time you set aside to do this interview, please enjoy this live version of “Letterbox” from 1989 I found on YouTube.
And with that wonderful song from the two Johns, we bring our GIANT-SIZE final X-Men Monday of 2019 to a close. On a personal note, I’d like to thank everybody out there who’s read this column and shared it with others since we launched in February 2019–it means the world.
And we’re just getting started.
So, what’s next? Well, for our first X-Men Monday of 2020, Excalibur writer Tini Howard will be stepping through a Krakoa portal to answer YOUR questions about the most magical Dawn of X series.
The call for questions will go out tomorrow (1.31.19) at 8AM EST on AIPT’s Twitter, so be sure to reply to the prompt with your burning questions! Then, check back Monday January 6 to see what Tini has to say.
Until then, have a safe and eXceptional New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you in 2020, X-Fans!