Welcome, X-Fans, to an edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT that’s more than uncanny…
In fact, it’s more than astonishing. It’s our GIANT-SIZE 50th edition of X-Men Monday! Time sure does fly by when you’re sorting through X-Fan questions and sharing eXclusive preview images.
X-Men Monday #1 launched just over a year ago (on February 25, 2019, to be eXact), and boy have I learned a lot about X-Fandom over the past 49 editions. For example, I learned that even if you ask for non-spoiler questions, some X-Fans still really want spoilers. I learned that purposefully vague Twitter teases can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth. Oh, and I also learned that, despite some X-Fans saying they’re over the drama surrounding Cyclops, Jean Grey and Emma Frost, mentions of them and said drama always translates to good clicks and let’s say… spirited debate.
Seriously, though, since this column kicked off, I’ve met and interacted with so many wonderful X-Fans on Twitter–many of whom have become good friends of mine. And seeing how often beloved characters pop up in the questions I’m tasked with sorting through has pushed me to fill in the gaps in my X-Knowledge. I didn’t know much about Wind Dancer a year ago–but after reading series like New Mutants and New X-Men, yeah, she is pretty cool and I really hope she shows up on Krakoa soon, too!
X-Men Monday has allowed me the opportunity to conduct X-It Interviews with the Uncanny X-Men and Age of X-Man creative teams, pick the brains of Jonathan Hickman and the Dawn of X writers, and interview X-Legends like Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Neal Adams. Oh, and Donny Cates and Tom King because… why not?
My point is, I’m incredibly lucky I get to produce the X-Men Monday column, and I’m constantly thinking of ways to keep it feeling all-new and all-different. I also realize it probably wouldn’t have made it to #50 if not for the eXtraordinary level of support you’ve shown it since that first edition where we talked about Baconators. So a GIANT-SIZE thank you to everybody out there who visits AIPT every Monday in search of the latest X-News and insights.
And of course, this column wouldn’t be anywhere near as special if X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White wasn’t willing to make time in his packed schedule to provide a level of access you don’t see anywhere else in the comics industry. Speaking as an X-Fan–we’re lucky to have you, Jordan. And speaking as the guy who writes the X-Men Monday column–I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime!
As X-Fans are the most passionate fans in all of comics, they deserve something eXtra special for X-Men Monday #50. Fortunately, Jordan was game to do an eXtended interview on all things X. So without further ado…
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday #50, Jordan! First, how was C2E2?
Jordan: Oh it was a blast. All the folks working on the X-Books are terrific to work with, so we had a really good time getting everybody together–well, everybody we could. Zeb Wells couldn’t make it. But everybody that could make it–it was a lot of fun to see. Plus a lot of other people like Donny Cates and Al Ewing. We had our big panel, everybody was very excited about all the swords, which was great. Then we had an X-Men summit on Sunday afternoon and all-day Monday and that was terrific–kind of hammering out the rest of the year in X-Men. It was a lot of fun.
AIPT: So before the summit, you kind of had a rough idea of where you were going, but this was a chance to solidify the plans?
Jordan: Yeah, I mean, we didn’t know what was going to happen next issue–it was really scary. [Laughs] Obviously, yeah, we knew everything for sure through “X of Swords,” but we put the finishing touches on that. And everybody had a rough idea of what they wanted to do after that, but we all came together and talked about it as a group and went over all the books and really confirmed it.
AIPT: And was that an omelette station in the picture you shared on Twitter?
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) March 2, 2020
Jordan: It was an omelette station in the picture! I was very surprised, I was not expecting that. They were very good omelettes.
AIPT: Who surprised you with omelettes? Was that Marvel? Jonathan?
Jordan: It was Marvel. Because that was just a meeting room in the Hyatt, so it was catered by the Hyatt and they had terrific food.
AIPT: Very nice. And a little plug for the Hyatt in X-Men Monday. So, what was the funniest thing that happened during the summit?
Jordan: Oh jeez… oh god. I mean, the funniest things are spoilers…
AIPT: Do they involve swords?
Jordan: No… well, only in the sense they’re connected to “X of Swords.” OK, let me see what I can tease. The funniest story bit involved Doug Ramsey. It was a thing that was completely not planned to be in the story, came up organically in us talking about it and is awesome and great.
And the other funniest thing was Gerry Duggan pitching a book as a joke, which ended up being everybody’s favorite idea. So, we’ll see how that goes.
AIPT: OK, moving past C2E2 and the X-Men summit… we’re no longer in the Dawn of X, right? I think I saw you say that on Twitter.
Jordan: I’ve kind of relaxed on that, but we’re still in the Dawn of X. Originally, when we started talking about Dawn of X, it was the first six books for the first six issues. So, you’ll see that there was a little notation for the first six issues of the books, so in my mind, that was Dawn of X. It was those–what’s six times six–those 36 issues. Oh my god, that’s a lot! [Laughs] But as we’ve gone past that, in every other person on Earth’s mind, Dawn of X just means the Jonathan Hickman era of X-Men. So as we’ve launched Wolverine and now Cable and all the books after that, everybody keeps saying, “Wolverine enters the Dawn of X.” It’s like, alright. With that said, we have thought about whether there will be a point when it’s officially no longer the Dawn of X and what it becomes next, so keep listening. But for now, yes, we’re still in the Dawn of X.
AIPT: Is there a single issue you’ve put out since House of X and Powers of X that you’re especially proud of?
Jordan: Oh jeez, so many. There are so many I really, really love. I mean, X-Men #7 seems kind of obvious, but it was a really big deal and it was so emotional. Reading the script was like a punch in the gut, then the art was so good.
The terrible tragedy at the end of Marauders #6 was also a really great one and again, the art absolutely nailed it and made it more emotional. I love the Horticulture, so I love issue 3 of X-Men. Every book has had such awesome moments that I could definitely pick favorite moments from every single series, but if I had to boil it down to one, I’d say X-Men #7 is the biggest.
AIPT: So, something I’ve wondered about… when Bryan Edward Hill announced that he wouldn’t be able to continue Fallen Angels due to other commitments, it felt like Hellions and Cable came out of nowhere very soon after. Were those series always in the works? Or were they reactions to Fallen Angels ending so that Psylocke and Cable’s stories could continue?
Jordan: If I remember correctly, I think Cable was already in the works for a while. It’s a little hard to remember the exact timing. We did know for a while that Fallen Angels was going to end at #6, we knew where the story was going and said, well it seems like a good place to do it then. We want to have books that exist because the stories are compelling the book to exist. We don’t want to drag books on past the story being told or vice versa, or hurrying to tell them too quickly. So circumstances conspired and that was the end of the story. So we went, alright, let’s call it off there.
If I remember correctly, I don’t think Psylocke was in Hellions–the pitch–but at some point we said she’s not going to be in the book but she would actually be a really great fit for that. It was still pretty early on, though, because you’ll see when you read Hellions that she is pretty baked in. I don’t think she reads like, oh she got tacked on there–it’s very much like, oh that’s part of the story because it was pretty early in the process of the pitch.
But we were always cooking a bunch of new books. I mean, that’s why we double-shipped all those books at the beginning, so we could then start prepping a second wave of the line for later, and when we stopped double-shipping, start rolling out the new books. So we were always cooking books, but Cable was one we were prepping for a while. Hellions was, I think of all the books we’ve announced, the last we came up with, even though it’s starting slightly earlier in the second wave. That’s just how the timing worked out. But yeah, that was the last one that was pitched. Zeb reached out and said he wanted to pitch something to us, we said of course and we loved what he brought to it.
AIPT: So that confirms that X-Factor and Children of the Atom have been in the works for some time now.
Jordan: Yep yep, they were.
AIPT: In general, how far in advance are you working?
Jordan: Well it varies. Again, when we started working on House of X, it was very far in advance. And over the process of making all the books, we ate up more and more of the lead time, so we’re doing our best to get it all back on all the new launches, which is part of the reason they’ve been kind of staggered– to give them all some runway to get more done ahead of time. So the answer is not as far ahead as I’d like. [Laughs] But again, we just had a summit and we planned out roughly the next year of books and some plans that go past that we’re very locked in on, so fingers crossed we’re getting back into the longer planning.
AIPT: I want to revisit X-Men #7. At times in X-History, series like X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold have offered more straightforward superhero stories, but didn’t stir up discussion among fans like the current X-Books. You’ve got mini-series like X-Men/Fantastic Four and single issues like X-Men #7 and I’m wondering, do you personally think this is how the X-Men should be? Thought-provoking and maybe even a bit controversial?
Jordan: I mean, it feels right to me in the sense that I think these stories are great. I’m enjoying them and I think the fans are as well. Whether or not I think that’s what X-Men should always be–that’s a toughie because X-Men has been a lot of things over the years and, like you said, there have been times when X-Men has been more superhero-y and that goes all the way back, you know, and then other times it’s fluctuated into more controversial and thought-provoking territory.
I was just working on the frame sequence for the God Loves, Man Kills extended edition we’re doing and in the back, there was an interview with Chris Claremont where he’s talking about working on the book. And that’s a book where they went out of their way to really tackle some things that they weren’t necessarily doing in every issue of the regular book. I mean, obviously it’s a book that sometimes deals with those things, but they really wanted to focus on it in that one and not just do straight-up superhero stuff.
But then there were other times in the Claremont run where it was super superhero-y and that’s part of the fun of X-Men. And I think even in the Hickman era if you will, or whatever you call it, I think there will be books that are more straightforward superhero books and other books that are thought-provoking or controversial or whatever you call it. In fact, I think I know that for a fact. I think there are some books we’re working on that fall a little more into the superhero-y feel and again, that’s great.
I said this when we had the six books and I think it’s even more true that we have more beginning–our goal is to have books for all sorts of fans. Listen, we’re thrilled if you buy every X-Book, but if you just like a certain one of them, that’s great too. That’s why we do as many as we do and that’s why we do them as differently as we do.
So the answer is, I love it. I think Jonathan is doing some of the best X-Books I’ve ever read. Gosh, I hope so. I’m so glad the fans are reacting so well to it, because they give us the opportunity to keep doing stories like this.
AIPT: Speaking of specific types of stories, both Jonathan and Russell Dauterman’s recent Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1 and the upcoming Giant-Size X-Men anniversary special could be viewed as covers. As someone who enjoys covering songs on the ukulele, do you find these projects especially appealing?
Jordan: So the Jonathan and Russell issue I was nervous about. Are people going to be happy with this? Is this going to be OK to do this? The thing is Russell is so amazing, he makes that issue absolutely work, even though it’s the same idea of a psychic rescue that ends with them saying what they learn. It was 100% obviously a reference and was meant to be, but he makes it looks so great and tells the story so well that I think it works and I’m really happy. I was really, really impressed by him on that.
For the Giant-Size X-Men tribute, that was my idea. I just thought that would be a really fun thing to do because, as you said, I do love cover songs. This is a book everybody loves, it’s the 45th anniversary of the book–so what can we do to honor it and celebrate it? And the idea of artists paying tribute to it by redrawing the pages in their own style just seemed really neat. And every single artist I reached out to about it felt the same way. They were all just like, “Oh that’s so cool” and as the pages come in it’s awesome.
Oh, you know what? I’ll give you a scoop. It’s not that big of a scoop, but I’ll give you a scoop. Other than two names–there was a mix up as to who was doing what page–but other than two names, which are swapped, the names as listed in the solicitation are the order they appear in the book. So Alex Ross drew the first page and so on. So it’s been really awesome. Alex Ross on page one was so cool. I was talking to some folks and they were like, “Oh man, it’s going to be like the best page then what’s going to happen when they turn to page two?” And as I was having that conversation, the panels from page two from Kevin Nolan came in and they look so great. I said look at this and they were like, “Wow, OK.”
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) February 27, 2020
AIPT: And it’s all the original script? Nothing was changed?
Jordan: No no, we’re not going to rescript it. That seemed like a step too far and a little weird.
AIPT: So no nods to Krakoa’s status in the Hickman era.
Jordan: Honestly, we thought about it, but it was just like, when you redraw it, that’s a different artist’s interpretation of the same event. It’s still the same thing happening. If you rewrite the words, then it becomes a–wait, so is this what happened? Or is this a different world? We’re just going to keep the words as written, but it’s so cool. It’s really exciting to work on.
AIPT: While we’re talking about Krakoa… who came up with the design for modern Krakoa? All those red eyes we see on the island…
Jordan: I think the red eyes come from the original design. The big monster form at the end has big red eyes.
AIPT: But the idea to seed them around the island and the Krakoan technology.
Jordan: I think Pepe Larraz kicked it off by drawing Krakoa the most at the beginning, with RB Silva also doing some scenes there. So for the most part, people were following Pepe’s lead and over time all the artists who have worked on it have kind of added to it, but he got the ball rolling on that and it looks so cool. I’m trying to remember if the cover was drawn first or some of the interior stuff with gates, but yeah, he put those big red circle eyes or red orbs on the gates for sure.
AIPT: It’s all cool. Also cool was the news that Fabian Nicieza would return to the X-Books to write Juggernaut and Zeb would write Hellions. The current lineup of writers is a nice mix of veterans and rising stars like Leah Williams and Vita Ayala. How do you and Jonathan go about recruiting writers to the Krakoan cause?
Jordan: Well, some of them are people whose work we really liked, so we reached out to them, and other ones are ones who really liked our work and reached out to us, so we’ve definitely had both. In the ones you specifically referred to there, I reached out to Fabian about Juggernaut because we knew we wanted to do a Juggernaut book and that it was a non-mutant book, so it was off to the side a little bit from the X-Men stuff. But I’ve worked with Fabian a bunch and I really like him, so I thought let’s give it a shot. And it was really fortuitous because when I reached out to him, he was like, “Oh man, I love Juggernaut–I absolutely want to do a Juggernaut book.” I love that book, it’s super fun. On the other hand, like I said, Zeb reached out to us and was like, “I want to be a part of this, want to hear a pitch?” I said yeah, of course I do and he knocked our socks off. Leah and Vita I guess are kind of like halfway in between in the sense that we worked with them both on Age of X-Man and they impressed us so much we said you want to be part of this as well and cooked something up. So it really happens all sorts of different ways.
AIPT: Now I’d like to run through some rapid-fire questions. Is it safe to say Cable’s going to be an action-comedy book, similar to Jonathan’s New Mutants issues?
Jordan: Oddly enough, I don’t think it’s as comedic as that. You would think–well, this was supposed to be rapid fire–I think in that specific instance, Jonathan was leaning heavily into comedy and Gerry is leaning more toward action, but it’s still funny because Gerry’s always funny.
AIPT: Which of the new Children of the Atom characters is your favorite?
Jordan: Oh, see, you’re trying to trick me!
AIPT: [Laughs] I am trying to trick you. I know you can’t say their names…
Jordan: I came so close. Uh… the one that looks like Cyclops.
AIPT: Can you say why?
Jordan: No! [Laughs] Here’s an easy answer–because the cover of issue 3 is so awesome, how can she not be everybody’s favorite? But also having read the book, she’s my favorite.
AIPT: Who do you think will be X-Factor’s breakout character?
Jordan: Oh that’s a good one. Oh, that’s a toughie. Oh man… I’m going to go with Polaris. Although, the other secret real answer is–because Excalibur #8 came out right? Yeah, so the real answer is also Amazing Baby. But Polaris is great as well. I mean, honestly, every character is pretty awesome, but really it would probably be Polaris or Northstar and I’m going to lean toward Polaris for now, but it’s a toughie.
AIPT: What was your initial reaction to Nanny and Orphan-Maker becoming regular cast members in a modern X-Book?
Jordan: That was definitely a “Wait, what? No!” at first. I was like, wait–are they mutants? And then I was like, OK, they are and that’s confirmed. How is this going to work? And then Zeb showed me how that was going to work and I went OK, never mind, I like it. They’re the best. Everybody’s going to love it.
AIPT: Has Nanny’s lipstick been explained in any interviews yet?
Jordan: [Laughs] No! But I mean, she wants to look good, right?
AIPT: She looks good!
Jordan: She feels good!
AIPT: OK, let’s talk about swords. They’ve been everywhere since the Hickman era began. Was “X of Swords” part of Jonathan’s original pitch? How far back does the planning for this go?
Jordan: No. No, absolutely not. Part of the way that that is proven out to be true is that the story you’re going to see in “X of Swords” grows out of two places most of all. One is some of the stuff Hickman has been seeding since House of X, but the other part of it is stuff Tini’s doing in Excalibur. In a big way, both of those are a big part of it. So it does connect all the way back to things Jonathan was pitching from the beginning, but this specific thing wasn’t “And then we’ll do the ‘X of Swords’ things”–that definitely wouldn’t have existed if all the other books hadn’t come into play the way they are. I mean, again, Jonathan is a big planner, but he really is a good collaborator. He has not dictated to everybody what they are going to do. There have been places where he has had a strong opinion about what they’re going to do or has given suggestions about how to make what they want to do a million times better, but he didn’t go “You do a book about this and you do a book about this.” They all really brought their own ideas to it and once they did, he incorporates those ideas into the larger design. So yeah, the book that is “X of Swords” would not have come to pass if most of all Tini, but really the whole group hadn’t come together and done the books they’re doing.
AIPT: So if X-Fans haven’t been keeping up, should they definitely go back and read Excalibur and X-Men?
Jordan: Well, if they haven’t been keeping up with all the titles, they should really check out the Dawn of X trades that collect all the titles together in one awesome line, so you can have the entire Dawn of X line on your shelf as one thing that’s super awesome. But if you haven’t been reading Excalibur, definitely check it out. It’s going to be important for “X of Swords” for sure.
AIPT: Jordan, be honest… have you just been playing a long con on us since moving from the Star Wars office? Because Cyclops appears to have a lightsaber now. Are you just turning X-Men into Star Wars?
Jordan: [Laughs] I can’t comment too much about the image because obviously, again, it’s a teaser image in much the same way we did the Mark Brooks image at C2E2 last year. There were a lot of things that made people ask some questions and a lot of them were super relevant and a lot of them might not have been.
AIPT: You’re talking about lobsters and Baby Havok?
Jordan: Lobster is delicious no matter what. But you know, sometimes there are some misdirections, sometimes there is exactly what you’re promised. So there are a lot of swords on that and I can’t really comment on which are the most important swords.
AIPT: Can you tell me what your favorite pop culture sword is?
Jordan: Oh interesting. Gosh, that’s a great question. I mean, if lightsabers count–lightsaber. I mean, the first thing that came to mind when you said that was the Sword of Omens, but I don’t really have that strong a connection to that, I just watched that when I was a kid. The second sword that came to mind was the really elaborate one from Princess Bride, but then as soon as I thought of lightsabers I’m like, no listen–it’s going to be a lightsaber. And if it’s one lightsaber, I mean it would probably be the Anakin-Luke-Rey lightsaber just because it has such a storied history. I feel like it’s weird to pick a lightsaber, right?
AIPT: Honestly, I figured you’d pick a lightsaber.
Jordan: All right, well if you figured I would, then let’s not disappoint you. [Laughs]
AIPT: You mentioned Gerry’s joke idea at the summit and how quickly it was embraced by everybody. It makes me wonder if “X of Swords” started out the same way. Because the idea of X-Men–but with swords–sounds like an awesome but comical pitch.
Jordan: Not exactly like that, but yeah, we knew it was fun when we first started talking about “X of Swords.” I mean, I can’t do a voice for a text interview, but it wasn’t like, “Alright everybody, let’s figure out this story, what’s going to happen? Well obviously we need a bunch of swords. Alright good, that’s sensible.” No, they’re just going to have a bunch of swords. It’s going to be great and again, there are some fanciful sword ideas on that image because we were pitching some awesome swords! [Laughs] It’s a good time and we know it’s a good time. We want to do awesome stories as well as deep stories and emotional, impactful stories. And that’s not to say those are separate things. It can also be a fun story that has an emotional gut punch in it. Fingers crossed, hopefully it will.
AIPT: Hey, swords can stab, people can get hurt.
AIPT: But yeah, with X-Men, half of X-Fans usually love something and the other half hate it. When “X of Swords” was announced, it was like there was a universal “OK, this is cool.”
Jordan: Who doesn’t like swords? Especially like, very neat ones that are thematic? Which one was your favorite on there?
AIPT: I just like the idea of Cyclops with a lightsaber. I call it the optic blastsaber.
Jordan: Because he doesn’t have laser eyes so why would he have a laser sword? That doesn’t make any sense. Although, I guess if it’s still a sword made out of force, it still has the Star Wars connection [Laughs].
AIPT: It can punch a hole in a mountain, that’s what I know.
Jordan: A sword made out of punches–that’s even weirder. I love it.
AIPT: As we wrap up here, a random political question. Which X-Man would you want to run for president?
Jordan: President of United States or president of Krakoa?
AIPT: United States.
Jordan: Well, as we know, Kitty already threw her name in the ring, but she’s not old enough.
AIPT: She’s also dead.
Jordan: Oh yeah, she is dead, isn’t she? Dang, I guess she’ll never be old enough. God, it gets worse all the time. Well actually, there’s a secret trick hidden in this question which is, if you ask me, most of the X-Men are not eligible to be president and then the fans get mad at me for saying that they’re not 35. Let’s imagine that rule was gone–anyone over 18 can be president. Then in that case, we’d go with–nope. The first person I thought of was not born in the United States, so they also cannot run. It was Nightcrawler. Can’t run, sorry, who else we got? You know, I’m going to go realistic. I’m going to go really, really realistic in a sad and hopefully not too unfortunate way. The answer is Beast, because he’s such a good guy who makes great decisions.
Jordan: And that’s how it goes with presidents. You elect people who have good intentions.
AIPT: He’s got some time crimes. Wait for those to come out…
Jordan: I don’t think he would win.
AIPT: He was the Secretary of Mutant Affairs in the X-Men movies.
Jordan: That’s true, he was, but you’re appointed to that. And you know what? He’s the head of the Krakoan CIA and wasn’t George Bush head of the real CIA? So it all fits.
AIPT: Final question. After 50 editions of X-Men Monday, do you have anything you’d like to say to all the X-Fans who are reading?
Jordan: First of all, I’m just going to thank you for not having the question be, “We did 50 of these, so who are your top 50 X-Men?” That would have been difficult.
What would I say to the fans? Well I would say thank you so much for reading both X-Men and X-Men Monday. You know we couldn’t be doing the books if you guys weren’t reading them and enjoying them and that’s why we wanted to do X-Men Monday–to share a little bit of that excitement with you and show you how much we love the X-Men and how much we are thrilled to be working on them and want to tease little bits of things that we’ve got coming up that gets you as excited about them as we are. If I’ve ever said anything in these to make you angry, I’m sorry. I know it happens because A) I like to tease, and B) I also have strong opinions about them and I try to be honest about those opinions. But I know at the end of the day, the reason that people sometimes do get aggravated with my answers is because of how much they love the X-Men, and that is wonderful.
I honestly believe that X-Men fans feel closer to the X-Men than most comic book fans feel to their favorite characters. And now I’m making all the non-X-Men fans mad at me, but you know, people love the Hulk, people love Spider-Man, people love Captain America, but I feel like X-Men fans feel more personally that they associate themselves more closely with those characters. So that’s why when I make a joke about Adam-X or Maggott, somebody goes, “That hurts my feelings.” Listen, I am sorry–I don’t actually mean anything bad about you or those characters and the fact that you love those characters makes you guys the best, and the best fans we could possibly hope for.
AIPT: Well said. And you’re totally talking about Fabian getting hurt by the Adam-X jokes, aren’t you?
Jordan: [Laughs] I think he is the one who is annoyed–that’s true. But you know what? I gave him a job on Juggernaut.
AIPT: I’d say you’ve been more than fair. And you’ve been very gracious, letting me pick your brain for X-Men Monday #50–so thank you again, Jordan! And X-Fans, you’ll surely want to thank Jordan for going above and beyond this week and providing one eXclusive preview image from every X-Series for this special occasion. Enjoy and, as always, have an eXceptional week!