Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
No matter where in the world you’re reading this from, it’s likely your community has a ways to go before it can return to something resembling “normal” (whatever that means anymore). But comics fans have something to smile about this week, as all-new, physical Marvel books will be back on shop shelves this Wednesday–including Marauders #10!
To celebrate, I figured it was high time we checked in with X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White, who hasn’t appeared in this column since X-Men Monday #54. Way too long of an absence! Read on to learn what Jordan’s been up to during quarantine, his thoughts on COVID-19’s possible impact on storytelling, new tidbits on the highly anticipated X of Swords event and so much more!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! Much like new comics, you’ve been missed. So I have to ask: How’s “quarantine life” been for you?
Jordan: It’s crazy. It seems like there are two kinds of quarantine experiences. There are the folks for whom quarantine is like, “Oh, I have so much time!” Then, there are the folks who are like, “Oh, now I have no time!” And I’m more in the latter–not a ton of time in that I’m still doing my job but I’m also watching my son a lot of the day, almost every day. So I see people going, “Oh man, I binged like three TV shows this week” and I’m lucky to watch the same amount of TV as normal.
With that said, I’ve made an effort to relax sometimes and I’ve watched some movies. I’ve been working my way through the Hulu horror movie series Into the Dark. It’s a Blumhouse horror anthology series. They’re a lot of fun–especially Pooka!, which was great. And I watched all the Daniel Craig James Bond movies–three out of four for the first time. And the other big thing is I’ve become a huge fan of R.E.M.!
AIPT: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. How did that happen?
Jordan: I can’t explain why this happened because there’s no good answer. All I know is over the course of a few days right at the beginning of quarantine, I heard a couple of R.E.M. songs or probably more specifically covers of R.E.M. songs. The only one I know for sure was on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist–which is great and I highly recommend. If you don’t know the concept, it’s this jukebox TV show where this girl has developed this physic power, basically, and hears people singing pop songs that express their inner feelings. Then she has to help them with their life problems by figuring out why they’re feeling that emotion. And in one of the episodes, “Everybody Hurts” plays and I was like, “Yeah, that’s a good song.”
I was never that into R.E.M. Whenever I tried their albums in the past I thought the hit songs were good and the other songs were fine. So for absolutely no reason I said, “I’m going to try to get into them and see what happens” and I listened to every one of their songs and I love them now. While I’ve been working over the past two months, I’ve almost exclusively listened to R.E.M.
AIPT: So what’s your favorite R.E.M. song?
Jordan: That’s a really hard question because there are so many good ones. One of the amazing things about R.E.M. is their songs are like gibberish. If you asked me what an R.E.M. song’s about, there are like five I can go, “I think I got this.” But the rest, “I don’t know, man, there’s a line I kind of get.” But if I had to pick a favorite… I did a cover the other day of “Bad Day” and I really like it. “It’s been a bad day, please don’t take a picture.” Great song–love it.
“Imitation of Life” is also such a great song… But again, I have no clue what it’s about. I’m also reading this great biography on them. Though biography might not be best word for it–it’s more of a workography since it really focuses on them as a band and not their personal lives. It’s called Perfect Circle and it’s really good.
AIPT: What about their albums, do you have a favorite?
Jordan: That’s another I’ve gone back and forth on. In the end, it has to be Automatic for the People. Some people say their first few albums are the best and I really think their second album, Reckoning, is a contender and is almost a favorite, but at end of day, Automatic for the People has “Everybody Hurts,” “Man on the Moon,” “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite,” “Find The River.” So many good songs, so I’m going to go with that album.
AIPT: OK, moving away from R.E.M., you mentioned you’ve been pretty busy. And on Twitter you’ve posted a few updates that show you’ve been reviewing scripts and approving artwork. So I feel like it’s safe to assume you’ve been able to carry on your editorial duties completely remotely.
Jordan: Oh yeah, like I said, it just made me more busy and made it more difficult. But I’m still working full time at Marvel Comics. Yeah, tons of stuff.
AIPT: In the past, you’ve talked about how beneficial the lead time on House of X and Powers of X was and how you’ve been trying to achieve something similar with X of Swords. Has this downtime had any positive effects on the stories that have been delayed? Has it allowed for any additions or revisions to improve quality?
Jordan: Yes! Without going too much into it, yes, it certainly has given us more time to make sure X of Swords is the best story possible. But we did also take the opportunity to make it a bigger story. I’m pretty sure when we first announced it, we said how many chapters it will be. It’s going to be more chapters than that now. Originally, every book of X of Swords was going to be out in July. Now it’s going to take more than a month to tell this story, but I think it’s very good and everybody working on it is very excited for it.
The first issue is totally drawn and mostly colored. Every person who sees the art is blown away. Pepe Larraz is so good. He’s so good. And because this is what I like to call a proper X-Men-style crossover with it hitting every book, we’ve got a ton of great artists working on it. But as a result, we’ve had to share Pepe’s art with a lot of people and they’re all like, “Oh my God, that’s so amazing, this guy’s the best!” It’s going to be a cool story and it’s going to have a lot of beautiful art.
AIPT: So with all the delays, how far ahead on the books are you now?
Jordan: Well, not as far ahead as we could have been because we did take the opportunity to double our efforts on this rather than moving forward faster. We’ve put more into X of Swords now than we would have been able to before. What we had planned to do and what we’ll end up doing–there’s a world of difference between them and I think it’s an improvement.
This is a terrible catastrophe the entire world has taken on, and there’s not a lot we can do to help the world but do what we do the best we can–make the best X-Men stories we can so people who pick up these stories, in these terrible times, can enjoy them and go, “Yeah, this was worth my time and money in this crazy world we’re struggling through.” And I think it will be.
AIPT: That’s great to hear. Marvel just released its full July shipping plans and X-Factor #1, for instance, is scheduled for the final week of July. Do you or the creators have any say in when the delayed books are scheduled or is that out of your hands?
Jordan: I do to some extent and I’m making sure the story is unfolding the way it needs to. Other than that, there are a lot of factors that go into what goes on sale when, so I get to weigh in but it’s not just up to me. Someone else is making the final call, but I can go, “Oh, how about this.”
AIPT: Got it. So you recently shared a picture of what looked like a massive X-Creators video call. What was that about?
Jordan: It was about X of Swords and we’re going to do another soon. We talked about doing it weekly but I don’t know if Jonathan wants to commit to showing his face weekly. In the past, we used to regularly have in-person meetings with other editors (naturally), but when we’d meet with multiple creators, it was a big deal–it was a summit and people had to stay in hotels and we got meals. So when we needed to have a summit on X of Swords, it sort of occurred to me–this isn’t any different than meetings we do every day now. We don’t have to make this a rare thing anymore, we can just say, “Hey writers, get on a video call,” because that’s how everyone is communicating now.
Had a very productive X-Men call today. pic.twitter.com/olMEhNY2rF
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) May 15, 2020
AIPT: Right now, so many of us are learning how to navigate video calls. So I have to ask, who on that call went off on the most tangents?
Jordan: That’s a good question. That’s a really good question. And I probably shouldn’t throw people under the bus… should I? I don’t know if I have a great answer except to say the reason I took that screencap wasn’t to show off–the reason was Ben Percy’s video was messing up and he was like, turning into Max Headroom, doing this crazy twitch thing. He said his kid was playing Fortnite or that’s what he suspected, but that was probably the biggest digression because we all went crazy. I was in the middle of talking–or someone else was–then I was like, “Wait, are you all seeing this?” Nobody had noticed and then we were laughing. So I guess I derailed us the most!
AIPT: And why was Gerry Duggan wearing sunglasses indoors?
Jordan: Oh, because he was facing a window and it was too bright. Everybody in the meeting commented on it first thing, “Oh, Gerry’s too cool for us.”
AIPT: I remember around the time we all realized we’d be stuck at home for some time, you mentioned to me “Quarantine” was your first Uncanny X-Men arc as an Assistant Editor. Has the pandemic had you reflecting on that story arc at all?
Jordan: I mean, I certainly thought about that arc when this all started but it’s pretty different because, here’s the thing: I’ve been saying the word “quarantine,” as we all have. That arc used quarantine the proper way, which was that the X-Men were sick, therefore they were quarantined and not allowed to leave the island. Whereas we’re all–hopefully–not sick and not allowed to leave our islands, so to speak. So it’s very different in that way. I thought, should I go back and read that arc? Is that going to be weird? I haven’t been jumping into “illness media.” I know a lot of people have–so many shows about pandemics and epidemics have become super popular. I haven’t jumped in. Not because I’m super against it, I’m just not feeling that.
AIPT: Well, I was actually going to ask you about that. As an editor, do you feel like there’ll be a desire to steer away from coronavirus-like stories from a sensitivity perspective? Or do you think many creators will steer into it based on personal experiences? The stories that came about in the post-September 11 world across media come to mind.
Jordan: Oh man, so I have thought about this a lot and it’s such a tough, tough question. What it all comes down to is, one of Marvel’s mottos is that the Marvel Universe is the world outside your window. Yes, Reed Richards has invented all these crazy things, but it’s still basically your world, just with super heroes. As a result, the answer is yeah, of course, whatever changes happen to our society as a result could be reflected in our stories. But that’s a real hard thing to quantify beforehand. I’m not going to lie–when the books start coming out again, like all the TV shows going up on Netflix or Disney+ that were made before this–they’re all going to be comics about people standing next to each other and slapping each other on the back.
Even the stuff we’re making right now–a lot of it was planned before all of this. I know our writers are thinking about it. But I have the same question about all my favorite TV shows–the ones that aren’t shot. When they come back, will they exist in a post-COVID-19 world or during one? Here’s a real dumb example, but my wife and I watch Riverdale and the season was cut short. And this was the season where they’re supposed to graduate from high school. I guess it should end with them not having a graduation, right? I think it’s a really interesting question. We’re going to see artists the world over struggling with it and working with it. If you’re doing ongoing stories, do you incorporate it in some way? This is entertainment, after all. It’s a tough call and I think a lot of people will come out in different ways on it.
AIPT: It’s going to be interesting. Going back to Uncanny X-Men, when I was revisiting “Quarantine,” I realized you also worked as Assistant Editor through the end of the first Uncanny X-Men volume. I remember being shocked at the time Marvel was finally ending Uncanny–I thought that was the one series immune to relaunches.
Jordan: Oh yes, that was the last Marvel book to be relaunched. The thing Tom Brevoort always brings up is that that’s only true if you don’t count the time before Giant-Size X-Men when the series had no original stories. Other than that, it was the last Marvel book to have original Marvel numbering. I was definitely like, “Guys, we shouldn’t do this.”
I totally understand why people feel strongly about old numbering and I have felt that strongly in the past, but I’ve kind of come to terms with it. It’s a fact of life in publishing now. What’s done is done and you can’t erase it. And you can say here’s new legacy numbering but in real life, that’s not going to make anyone’s longboxes any less confusing–they’re already confusing, and I think we all know it’s just a matter of time before someone comes along and reboots it again. There was a time when I was working on Deadpool and I realized Deadpool had the highest number of any book at Marvel and DC and it wasn’t legacy numbering. It was legit numbering later in Gerry’s run. But yeah, every book had been rebooted more recently than Deadpool, so we had the highest number.
We’re Marvel Comics. We’ve put out a bajillion comics and at the end of day, more people are more likely to buy a No. 1 issue than one that says #576.
My first issue of Amazing Spider-Man was around #300. I never said, “I’ll be lost.” You just picked it up and did your best. But that was a world where soap operas were a thing and you didn’t have an opportunity to watch every episode. You just watched what was on. So that was a world where people were more accepting. But today, it’s not as easy with story arcs like Amazing Spider-Man or Uncanny X-Men. Of course, it can be done the same way you can suddenly decide to listen to every song R.E.M. has ever done. I love that and I’m on board for that, but I also know most people don’t want to commit to huge blocks of fiction before joining up with it. We try our best to make those new No. 1s jumping-on points.
Personally–and this is a personal thing for me–when I have a No. 1, I don’t want a recap page. There are No. 1s with recap pages, and I understand why. But if at all possible, unless you have a good stylistic reason–like with the recent X-Books–try to put everything you need in a new first issue in the pages.
When I talk to those working on recap pages, I tell them to think about readability–it should be something people want to read. Hickman’s data pages in the X-Books have a thematic, stylish element that makes us look at them differently and I think that helps a lot.
AIPT: This reminds me of a thread I saw a few months back on Twitter where you were talking about how you wrote the replies on the New Exiles letter pages.
Jordan: Yeah, back in the day, one of first jobs I had at Marvel and the first books I had a credit in was Exiles #99 from the original series–#99 and #100. I worked on them and then I worked on X-Men: Die by the Sword, a crossover between Exiles and New Excalibur, then onto New Exiles. I probably didn’t reply to letters pages for the entire series, but at the very beginning at least. It was my idea to have Chris Giarrusso do the cute little drawings of the characters reading mail. I think I have original art for those. Sage in her very, very weird pirate outfit and Betsy cutting a letter open with physic letter opener. I wrote in-character answers there and that’s where I named our reality Earth-1218.
AIPT: I love when comics get creative with letter pages and recap pages. Brian Michael Bendis did something similar with the Defenders recap pages, right?
Jordan: Yes he did! The ones where it was like a big splash page and character talking. Yeah, that was good.
AIPT: OK, it’s safe to say X-Fans are starved for some news. Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski recently revealed a teaser image for X of Swords: Creation #1. What’s that?
Jordan: It’s the launch issue. It’s chapter one of the entire story. I won’t say the names but there are three one-shots spaced at the beginning, middle and end of the story. The issues of our ongoing series are set in between the first and second and then second and third one-shots. That’s the physical structure of it.
So Creation is chapter one and I’m not going to say what the other chapters are. You’ll find out when you see how many chapters there are. Some people have asked if Creation is like an alpha issue. Yes, but first I think that name’s been used a lot–alpha, omega. We have three, so what do you call the other? But we went with another approach to naming ours, and I think it works well for what we have planned.
AIPT: Can’t wait! Now, anytime we have one of these eXtended chats, I love to do a round of rapid-fire questions.
AIPT: Are Wolverine, Synch and Darwin still in the Vault?
Jordan: Oh, you confused me by saying Wolverine, but yes.
AIPT: Based on how things are outside, are they better off in the Vault?
Jordan: Than us out here on Earth-1218? Yeah, probably. But so far, the mutants on Earth-616 seem to be fine.
AIPT: Can we expect to see more of the Green Lagoon in future comics?
Jordan: Sure, yeah. In fact, definitely yes. I can think of a comic where it appears.
AIPT: That Summers and Logan family vacation to Chandilore–are we just going to keep talking about it or will we ever get to see that in the comics?
AIPT: Last one. A couple of chapters into X of Swords, which X-Men character will everyone be talking about?
Jordan: A couple chapters in… what X-Character… well, depending on how you define “couple,” I think there’s a good chance it’s Storm.
AIPT: Alright, a nice treat for Storm fans. Thanks for playing, Jordan! Finally, I feel like we’ve all learned a lot over the past few months. For instance, I learned that people really value haircuts. But on a more serious note, has this period made you realize anything new about the comics community or your role in it?
Jordan: That’s a good question. I know that this has been a really scary time in the world and I know it’s been a really scary time in the comic book industry. Every industry has had a very frightening time because of so much uncertainty. But I think seeing how much people care about comics, how much people care about helping the comic books stores and their local shops stay alive, how much they care about supporting the creators they love and working on supporting each other, and creators supporting each other–the entire industry has been working really hard to make sure we all make it through this as well as humanly possible.
I know that comics will always be a thing because it’s an art form, and it’s a great one, and it’s a resilient one that’s been through a lot and will continue to go through a lot. But I also think our comic book industry–the one that we are all invested in and the one we all believe in–I think that one will come through this OK because it has so many people who love it, both inside making the comics and outside reading the comics. I know every single one of them is pulling for us and hoping for the best, and I know that many people working together can make good things happen.
AIPT: Well said, Jordan. And thanks for taking the time to catch up.
And a special thank you to artist Adam Reck, who created this week’s X-Men Monday feature image art! If you’re not familiar with Adam’s work and online X-Men trivia nights… well, use your quarantine time well and get familiar!
That’s it for this week, X-Fans. Until neXt time, stay smart, safe and have an eXceptional week!