Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! You’re in for a GIANT-SIZE treat this week, as the Head of X himself, Jonathan Hickman, is here to field your questions about Giant-Size X-Men–a collaboration between the acclaimed writer and some of the best artists comics has to offer. As Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey + Emma Frost #1 goes on sale next week, there’s no better time to chat about these two telepathic titans, along with Nightcrawler, Magneto, Fantomex and–well, you’ll see who else is getting the Giant-Size spotlight later in this article. It’s not the only bit of news Jonathan drops in this week’s X-Men Monday!
And before we get going, you’ll notice there are six eXclusive images from the Giant-Size X-Men series sprinkled throughout! In addition to finished panels, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White thought it’d be cool to share some roughs for a behind-the-scenes look at how this series is being assembled.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jonathan! Now, in a recent Marvel.com interview, Russell Dauterman said the first Giant-Size X-Men issue was created in “Marvel Style.” As a meticulous, long-term planner with a clear sense of what you want to achieve, how was it adapting to this more spontaneous style of storytelling?
Jonathan: Well, I just got finished doing this for five years on East of West, so it’s really not much of an adaptation at all. It’s just one of the ways I work, and honestly, I like it a lot because it usually results in books that are more visually dynamic and it gives the artist more authorship, which is always a good thing. It also doesn’t really affect long-term planning or anything like that–it doesn’t change where we’re going–it just makes things a little more improvisational. Which is, again, good. You don’t want to hold on too tight to anything. That never works.
Anyway, in this instance, when we were talking about what we wanted to do, Russell brought up New X-Men #121 as one of his favorite issues ever, so we both said, ‘screw it, let’s do our version of that.’
I guess that’s a spoiler.
AIPT: Spoilers are more than welcome! Speaking of that iconic, silent issue, its two stars have, obviously, been through quite a bit since then. So, mr. g (@invisiblelad007) wanted to know, are Jean Grey and Emma Frost rivals, frenemies or friends?
Jonathan: What’s it called when you respect each other, and intimately share a lot of things in your life, but refuse to visit the other person’s house? Whatever ever that’s called is what they have going on.
AIPT: Chris (@strictlyworse) was curious to learn what was behind the decision to make Giant-Size X-Men a separate series, rather than have them be single issues of the main title, which while ongoing, has an episodic flare.
Jonathan: We actually weren’t going to do Giant-Size one-shots, they were going to be five annuals, written by me, of all the other Dawn of X titles. However, there was some kind of concern about numbering, or solicitation, that would complicate that, so we switched to the title “Giant-Size,” which then led to some other problem I can’t remember and we eventually landed on Giant-Size: Character name.
Which really only partially reflects the content of the books. I dunno what to say, this isn’t a perfect world we live in.
AIPT: It definitely isn’t, but that’s a great transition to our next question from Scott Redmond (@ScottPRedmond). What was the process used to choose the mutants that star in this series? Was it character you already had some ideas for or were the artists involved in choosing who they might want to draw or spotlight, or was it something else?
Jonathan: For the most part I just leaned on what the artist wanted to draw. I would listen to what characters they wanted to use, I’d go off and think about it, then come back to them and propose a story that wrapped around this characters, we’d shoot that back-and-forth a bit, and then I’d give them an outline for what might happen in the issue that they were free to freelance/noodle on with the only caveat being we need to end up “here” on the last page.
The challenge for me in this whole thing was finding a way to make all five stories actually end up being part of the same larger story (and lay down some track I want to use in other places). Which was fun.
AIPT: Fantomex is one of the mutants set to get the spotlight. As far as I can tell, this is a character readers either really love or just don’t get. What makes the character appealing to you?
Jonathan: Grant Morrison.
AIPT: Morrison’s certainly known for taking storytelling risks. RoArGo (@Ro1Argo) wanted to know if you think this series gives you the opportunity to do more experimental stories and storytelling?
Jonathan: I think it’s a break from the full script nature of most Marvel work, but as far as experimentation goes, I kind of just do what the story calls for. If I think the story needs something that’s narratively nontraditional, then I’ll do that.
I generally do asymmetrical things in order to tell a story, not to just try something different.
AIPT: Many creators talk about how limiting the length of the average comic book can be. As a writer, do you prefer extra-sized comics that allow you a little more wiggle room to expand on ideas?
Jonathan: Sure. And I have a bit of wiggle room there anyway, but these things generally need to ship on time and there are only so many days in the month. I try to be practical with my freelancing. I fail a lot.
AIPT: Joe Glass (@JosephGlass) asked if you would describe these issues as character studies or major event issues that happen to focus on the title character in question?
Jonathan: Maybe both. As I stated above, the Giant-Size: Character naming convention we’re using isn’t completely accurate. For some of them it is, for others it is not. The Nightcrawler issue has lots of Nightcrawler, but it’s a team mission that he’s leading, whereas the Magneto one is more of a one-shot because of the type of issue that is.
Look, I know all this sounds confusing, but it’ll make sense in the end. Or, you know, it won’t and you can throw rocks at me.
AIPT: Hopefully it won’t come to that. Let’s run through some more character questions. @krakoattilan wanted to know what you think makes Jean’s telepathy different than Emma’s.
Jonathan: Oh, I have a theory about telepaths. I think, because of all the minds they’re open to when their powers are emerging, that early on they tend to either become very closed off and cold (see: Xavier, Emma, Monet), or either overly open and very emotional (see: Jean).
It’s really defined by how protective of yourself you are, or how you’re willing to sacrifice that because you think other things (and other people) matter more than yourself.
Some people read being emotional, vulnerable and open as a weakness. Other people understand it’s a different kind of strength.
AIPT: Soldier X (@TROCKSTANSCABLE) said that in the past, Exodus worshiped Magneto. That eventually stopped. How do they feel about each other now that they are both on the Quiet Council?
Jonathan: I think that, along with many, many other things on the Council, has yet to be seen.
AIPT: Dave Flynn (@Dave_K_Flynn) asked if you plan to address the Fantomex-Xavier body swap from Astonishing X-Men. And X-Men but Gay (@xmenbutgay) asked if it’s assumed the body swap was fixed as a result of the same process that has been resurrecting other mutants.
Jonathan: The Xavier we saw in HOX/POX and up to X-Force #1 was the Astonishing Xavier. Post resurrection is Charles in Charles’s body. We’ve drawn him ever so slightly skinnier.
But, you know, not for long, Chuck is working out.
AIPT: Great to finally have some clarity there! Chris Monsoon (@ckgarcia07) asked if there are any artists you would have loved to work with on Giant-Size X-Men that you couldn’t make work because of schedules? Or did you get everybody you wanted?
Jonathan: Well, I don’t know if you’ve looked around at the quality of artists working in comics right now, but there are some scary, scary talented people doing some pretty great work that I’ve never gotten to work with.
So the list is long and ever-expanding.
Oh, on the artist front I should point out that you may have noticed that we swapped the order of Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto and Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler. The reason for that is because Ben Oliver had some stuff come up and couldn’t do the book. So because Alan was so far ahead, we swapped them and I’m happy to say that Ramon Perez is going to do the Magneto one now.
So Ramon comes off the list of awesome people I’ll haven’t worked with yet and, unfortunately, Ben goes back on.
AIPT: Thanks for letting us know a little more about that scheduling change. Finally, I’m wondering if you could tell us who the star of the last issue of Giant-Size X-Men will be.
Jonathan: Our last issue is a bookend by myself and Russell Dauterman. We’re doing Giant-Size X-Men: Storm. (Which pays off the first issue and also features more characters than just Storm).
It really sets up what we’re going to be doing with her for the next couple of years.
AIPT: And there’s your eXclusive first look at the cover to Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1 by the incredible Russell Dauterman! You just made a lot of Ororo fans very happy, Jonathan. Also, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions–and thanks to all the X-Fans who submitted them!
Just a reminder, X-Fans: AIPT’s Jean Grey + Emma Frost Week kicks off next Monday. We’ve got some fun interviews and original articles planned, so be sure to visit AIPT from February 24 through March 1 for daily content!
That’s it for this X-Men Monday. Have an eXceptional week, X-Fans!