Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! This week, we’re talking about…
(Everyone’s old enough to get that reference, right?)
Why space? Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention the last 57 years, the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe has played a pretty big role in the X-Men’s history. Magneto’s iconic space base, Asteroid M, first appeared way back in 1964’s X-Men #5, for example. Not long after, in X-Men #11, the Stranger kidnapped the master of magnetism and Toad and took them to the stars.
Also, there was that story about Jean Grey meeting a cosmic space bird–not sure if you’ve read that one.
The point is, space is just as essential to the X-Men’s DNA as the X-Gene, and based on Marvel’s solicitations for March 2020, the X-Men have more space-themed fun coming their way in the form of the Brood, the Shi’ar, the Imperial Guard and the Starjammers in X-Men #8 and #9.
In anticipation of this upcoming story, now is the perfect time to pick X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White’s brain about all things space… and the X-Men, of course! So without further ado… 3, 2, 1… BLAST OFF!!!
AIPT: Happy New Year, Jordan, and welcome back to X-Men Monday! Let’s kick things off with a question from Vendetta (@Eman419Boyd). What’s your favorite X-Men space story?
Jordan: It’s the easy answer, but I think it’s gotta be “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Them getting pulled into a trial and then having to fight the Imperial Guard for Jean’s life is pretty classic. It also has the great thing of being something that starts relatively small and then goes cosmic—that story starts with Jean just getting messed with by the Hellfire Club, and ends with an intergalactic trial by combat, with all sorts of cosmic shenanigans in between. It’s a classic for a reason.
AIPT: No argument from me. Moving right along, Scott Redmond (@ScottPRedmond) said cosmic-style stories don’t always work with many characters or teams. So what, in your opinion, is it about the X-Men that makes cosmic stories work so well for the team?
Jordan: I am not sure I agree with the premise. I don’t think things are that hard and fast. There are stories where characters went cosmic that have not worked, but I think concluding “That character doesn’t work in that context” is a false conclusion. The same is true in the opposite way—I think people believe the X-Men work in a cosmic context because there are stories that pulled it off. And going back to what I said in the last answer, I think a lot of why the classic cosmic X-Stories worked was that they were pretty solidly rooted in the character drama and soap opera of the series.
Although, as I think about it… yeah, it’s probably easier to pull off a cosmic story with the X-Men than Spider-Man because Spidey’s ongoing story is very rooted in a “real life” existence of living in a city and going to work and being late for dates, while the X-Men tend to have a much stranger existence. In many ways, their life at the School in the old days was similar to college but, as with all X-Men metaphors, it’s not a 1 to 1 match. Because the “normal” part of their lives are less grounded, it is less of a stretch to have them go to space for a few months. Or move to a giant vegetable island, I guess.
AIPT: The cosmic side of the X-Men has led to some of the most revered stories in X-History, according to Jake But With An X (@MadClops). How does it feel to enter that territory and live up to those expectations? Is there an extra consideration toward a legacy to expand on?
Jordan: If we were worried about not living up to the amazing stories in X-Men history we would never be able to put out a book. There have been so many great X-Tales, in space and earthbound… but you just gotta believe in yourself and give a try. At least that’s what I tell Jonathan every day.
AIPT: Well, speaking of Jonathan Hickman–he certainly hasn’t shied away from space with New Mutants and the upcoming Brood story in X-Men. Do you have any insight you can share into Jonathan’s decision to go to space right out the gate and expand mutants’ footprint in the universe?
Jordan: I cannot say too much, but what I can say is that Jonathan is very deliberate. None of the stories he works on are throwaway. If he’s writing something, it’s probably because something about it is important to his plans. And I think people fail to appreciate just how far reaching his plans really are.
AIPT: Similarly, Cyclops and his family now live on the Moon. I’m curious… what are the origins of this idea? And is there any significance to the Summer House being located in the Blue Area of the Moon… where Jean famously died in “The Dark Phoenix Saga”? You’d think Scott and Jean would want to forget one of the most tragic moments in their young lives.
Jordan: I think that’s exactly why they are there. Jonathan and I have not really dug into the whys of this because… well, I think when he said it, I knew it was right and didn’t question why at all. But, to me, everything about it resonates with them rising above things. They literally have risen above the struggle against humans for whether they can exist. And they have risen above the concern of death, so much so that they live in a posh dream house on the site of their most traumatic moment. They’re over it. They have bigger things to worry about.
AIPT: Speaking of the Phoenix… You’ve made it clear you’re a fan of Rachel Summers–especially during her Phoenix/Excalibur years. As the X-Men Senior Editor, how do you view the Phoenix as a plot device? Is it the victim of overuse or a concept that can never be extinguished?
Jordan: I think the Phoenix Force is one of those story concepts that is SO COOL and interesting while you’re in the middle of a story about it, but which is extremely difficult to really fit into the world on an ongoing basis. There are a LOT of different mythologies, legends, and back stories to the Phoenix Force, and it has a LOT of different powers. And if you really take all of those into account at all times and give that power to one of your heroes… they are basically a god. And why is a god on a team with knife-hand guy?
Like, if you need to up the threats to a level where they are a challenge to the Phoenix Force, what is the hairy big-footed guy or dude-with-wings going to do? As a result, you end up with a yo-yo of people getting the power then getting depowered then getting it then depowering… We’re definitely making an effort in this era to break the cycle of those types of stories as much as possible.
AIPT: A break from the Phoenix makes me happy. Something else that makes me happy: Space lawyer Murd Blurdock’s hilarious inclusion in New Mutants! How did the idea to use this comical character come about?
Jordan: Basically, Jonathan turned in a script that referred to Berto’s Space Lawyer, and I was like, “I know a guy.” If you have not read Al Ewing and Adam Gorham’s Rocket series, please do yourself a favor and check it out. When I called Al up and asked him to do a Rocket Raccoon series, he literally said to me, “I want to do it as a Parker series but in space with a raccoon.” It’s a crime comic masquerading as a space comic. And the TECHNET are in it! You gotta get this book.
AIPT: The character of Xandra. Nir Revel (@revel_nir) was wondering if you could expand on how she came to be? Was she part of the setup for Hickman’s run or did Kelly Thompson just come up with her at the best time?
Jordan: That was all Kelly. Jonathan saw what she did there and decided it was a great piece to use and worked it in.
AIPT: Let’s talk about another character with an “X” in their name. Adam-X is pretty much a space character, right? For all of the character’s X-Treme fans out there… can you say whether he’s come up at all in any recent X-Summits or in the X-Slack Channel?
Jordan: Yeah, we like to joke about a lot of silly things that will never happen.
In all seriousness, Adam’s “many” fans should be plying Chris Robinson with gifts as he advocates for him all the time. He has tried and tried to convince me that making someone’s blood catch on fire is cool, but I cannot wrap my head around why. Like… just light the person on fire the old fashioned way.
AIPT: Of all the alien races and space-based teams the X-Men have encountered, what’s your personal favorite and why?
Jordan: The Technet. They are a super weird group of alien creature with interesting powers, but at the end of the day, they’re just doing their jobs. I love when they show up. Sorry, Starjammers, sorry Legion of Imperial Guardians, sorry, Broccoli heads.
AIPT: Since we’re talking about space, it’d be silly not to touch on your time working on Marvel’s Star Wars line. Are there any lessons you learned while editing Star Wars comics that you carried over to the X-Men?
Jordan: I had to unlearn everything I learned there. Really though, Star Wars is kind of its own beast? It has space ships and lasers so in some ways it seems like sci-fi, but honestly, it doesn’t REALLY work like sci-fi. Planets in their galaxy work like cities on our planet. It’s a lot more fantasy with some tinges of sci-fi and war and crime stories. So I can’t say I learned any real space-related lessons that carry over… but there is plenty I learned from my time working with such talented folks, both the creators of the comics and the story group over at Lucasfilm.
OH—I also learned how to sign my name in Aurabesh, which was like prep for trying to learn it in Krakoan. Still working on trying to sign with it, though.
AIPT: One more Star Wars question–Kevin (@MagnetoRocks) asked, if the X-Men travelled to a galaxy far far away, what Star Wars character interactions would you be most interested in seeing?
Jordan: Magneto versus Vader–see whether the Force or mutant powers are more powerful. Wolverine versus Darth Maul–that would be a brutal fight… and I am now very interested in what wins in Adamantium versus Lightsaber. Cypher and R2-D2 going on an adventure would be great, and Threepio would get super jealous, but I think he could hang with Doop for a bit. And obviously Jar Jar should join the Quiet Council and call for a Vote of No Confidence in Xavier.
AIPT: Well, now that’s a crossover I have to see. Finally this week… the cover to March’s X-Men #9 looks pretty epic. What can you tease about the latest, great X-Men space story?
Jordan: I definitely don’t want to give away too much. But I will mention that that cover was inspired by a specific movie poster. It’s not a one-to-one homage, but it was directly inspired by it, and I have not seen anyone talking about that if they noticed. Maybe I just missed it.
AIPT: It sounds like X-Fans have a new mission. Find. That. Poster!
Oh, and one more mission: I need X-Fan questions about Cyclops… and Storm… and Cable… and Banshee… and Emma Frost… and Havok… and Rogue… and Kate Pryde… and Charles Xavier… and Magneto… You see what I’m getting at here, don’t you? In our next edition of X-Men Monday, we’re celebrating X-Men leaders (one of our most-requested topics)! There have been many mutant leaders, so if you’ve got questions, get them ready for the official prompt on AIPT’s Twitter page tomorrow morning (1.14.20) at 8 a.m. EST.
In return for all these missions I’ve given you, have some eXclusive preview images! And as always, have an eXceptional week, X-Fans!