Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Unless you’ve been trapped on Arakko (or missed last week’s GIANT-SIZE X-Men Monday #75), you know that the latest, greatest X-Men epic, X of Swords, has finally begun! And while most comics can be devoured in 10-15 minutes, it’s likely you read last week’s Excalibur #12 and X-Men #12, and then immediately reread them again… and again… and you’ll probably read them one more time ahead of this Wednesday’s X of Swords: Creation #1.
There was A LOT to absorb in those two issues, and many X-Fans had questions. Fortunately, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White has answers!
AIPT: Welcome back, Jordan! This week’s first X-Fan question comes from Nandes, who wanted to know whether X of Swords will be one grand, continuous story like “Messiah Complex” or if each title will have its own storyline. Or a mix of both.
Jordan: Overall, it’s one grand story. It’s chapters 1 through 22 of one story, which is what has made it very difficult for everybody involved. We’ve been working so hard on it, but yeah, it’s all one thing. That said, you know, some issues might be read better on their own than others. And we always are keeping in mind the larger narratives of the series as well. And hopefully, in your collection for each series of ongoing titles that we’re doing, when you get to this point, if you were rereading it, you then need to reread the entirety of X of Swords, because it’s all very important for every book. So a little bit of both, but the main answer is yes, it’s all one story.
AIPT: X-Fan Terry Rope said some of the various X-Series ended their final pre-X of Swords issues on major cliffhangers, especially X-Force. Terry asked whether some of those storylines continue through X of Swords or if we should expect to revisit them after the crossover has ended.
Jordan: After the crossover has ended for the most part. Specifically X-Force, yeah. I mean, they did lock up Colossus and Omega Red. And I’ll tell you, Omega Red and Colossus aren’t in X of Swords because they are sitting in a cell the entire time going, “When are they going to get back to us?”
AIPT: And we certainly saw signs of that in the December solicitations that were just released.
Jordan: Yeah, I mean, I think the events of X of Swords, once they kick off, are pretty driving. So people are focused more on dealing with that stuff than they are with whatever they were doing at the moment beforehand. But they will, we will get back to everything else as well.
AIPT: Obviously, X-Fans were hit with lots of new information in Excalibur #12 and X-Men #12. Our next question comes from Lilith, who was curious if you could clarify the role Otherworld plays in the Krakoa/Arakko/Okkara situation. Lilith asked if Arakko is lost on the same pocket dimension as Otherworld, or if Arakko is only accessible through Otherworld, which works more like an intermediate point.
Jordan: I think you will know the answer to this a lot more clearly two days from now. X of Swords: Creation #1 should hopefully answer any questions you have about what Otherworld has to do with it and where Arakko is relative to everything else.
AIPT: Fair enough! Now, X-Fan Miguel2004 was wondering what the process was for creating such a large mythology for Arakko and Amenth. Was all that mostly Jonathan Hickman or a more collaborative effort?
Jordan: That’s a great question. It was a collaborative effort–I mean, I think the people who did the heaviest lifting on that were Jonathan and Tini. A lot of the Amenth and Arakko stuff was Jonathan and a lot of the, well, there’s another big section of it that was Tini–I don’t want to say too much of what it is yet. You’ll see shortly. But as with all things in our current X-Office, everything is pretty collaborative. So while Jonathan was the main font of Amenth information, people were always throwing in ideas. And when Tini started generating mythology for a number of things that you’re going to see shortly, yeah, again, people would chime in and go, “Oh, but what about this too?” And we’d work it in. It’s been great. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. We learned a lot of things in X-Men #12 about–I don’t know what to call it, but history? Legends, I guess? Of fables, parables? I don’t know. Really interesting stuff. And there’s a lot more to learn. So, keep your eyes out.
AIPT: You just said “fables.” Does that mean what Summoner told us in X-Men #12 may not be 100% accurate?
Jordan: No. I mean, well, we’ll see, obviously. But it is just a character telling it to us. We didn’t see the events. I mean, we did see them–we saw depictions–but we didn’t go back in time and see it as a narrative. We heard a story somebody told, so it’s hard to say.
AIPT: Well, something X-Fan Pame (@bc_leecomics) knows for sure is that in Excalibur #12, Rictor became a hyper-powerful mutant–an equal to the Externals. Is that Rictor’s new status quo? Or is it just a temporal effect from the ritual?
Jordan: I think the ritual had a lot to do with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s over, you know what I mean? And I think that Apocalypse is working with him for a reason. And I don’t necessarily think that that would have happened with any character. I think that’s something that is in him and, you know, he’s not the new god of Krakoa or anything like that, but obviously there’s more to him than he thought. And I think that’s something to explore with him.
AIPT: So, this next question, from X-Fan Lily, is probably one you never thought you’d be asked: Who is your favorite External and why?
Jordan: Oh, gosh. Yeah, no, that’s not a question I was ever considering. I mean, the obvious answer is Apocalypse. That’s a super cheat. And the why is most likely because we’ve done a lot of fun stories about him and I’ve thought about him a lot due to X of Swords. If you don’t count him, I’d probably end up going with Selene because she’s so dark and creepy. And she’s a crazy goth vampire lady who sometimes dresses like a nun. So that’s fun.
AIPT: Growing up, the External Krule was an X-Character I knew nothing about and one of the only ’90s action figures I didn’t have. It all came rushing back when I read Excalibur #12. I was like, “See, now I need him!” Or maybe not considering what happened to him.
Jordan: Well, you can get a nice crystal and that can be your Krule action figure.
AIPT: Cruel, Jordan. OK, speaking of Excalibur, X-Fan Brittany Ingham said Saturnyne has made it clear that being a Captain Britain is more than picking up the Amulet of Right and swearing to serve the British nation. After 12 issues, Betsy still comes off very unsure and lost in the role, even less edgy than she naturally is, which is a direct contrast to her role as Psylocke, where she seemed more comfortable and sure of herself. Is this something Betsy truly wants?
Jordan: That’s a good question. And I think that’s a question that will be put to Betsy, right? She didn’t choose it at all. It was thrust on her and she reluctantly took it on. Is it something that she’s going to want to stick with permanently or will she eventually see the opportunity to say, great, let me go back to being myself and–well, I mean, she’s still herself, but you know what I mean–to going a different direction and give being Captain Britain back to someone more apt to it or somebody who wants it. And I think that’s very fertile ground for a story as well. And maybe we’ll see some of that in X of Swords.
AIPT: Another character question from X-Fan Emmanuel Boyd (@Eman419Boyd), who said Apocalypse is really showing this interesting side of being a hero/savior to his people. But how does everyone who isn’t an X-Man or X-Men ally/villain see him, especially with him trying to prepare them all for the worst? What do the mutants who aren’t fighters think of him? Because most of them see Magneto as their hero–like their Captain America when it comes to inspiration.
Jordan: I think they don’t know him that well, you know? Because so much of Apocalypse is, how do I put this, like a mythology. I mean, again, he’s been around for thousands of years and the X-Men know a lot about that and about what he has been in that time and what his goals were and what they’ve done to fight him. But I don’t know that the average Krakoan citizen knows, well, this is what that guy’s really about at his core. And this is what that guy’s like actual, you know, principals are so to speak.
And obviously, even the X-Men were immediately like, “This guy of all people?” But, you know, they made the deal that everyone would get a fair chance and that everyone would be granted that amnesty to start again on Krakoa and they’ve lived by it. So I think probably your average person sees him and thinks that guy’s incredibly intimidating. You know, there are all those children that run to Magneto and that hang on every word of Exodus. I think they just kind of run away from Apocalypse when he walks by.
AIPT: But he looks good in a suit.
Jordan: He does, he does. It was a nice suit.
AIPT: In X of Swords, we’re basically seeing the secret history of Apocalypse revealed one chapter at a time. Why do you think Apocalypse is so central to so many major X-Men events?
Jordan: Well, I think because he has that history in him. And I mean, fake history. [Laughs] Like Magneto has actual history, where he’s been in a zillion stories before that. But, like his backstory is that he is well, he’s been said to have been the first mutant. And then other times, other people have been said to have been older than him. So not necessarily the first mutant, but one of the first mutants. And, as we learn more and more about them in different ways, one of the most important mutants, especially of early mutantdom and, I think that there is a weight to that. You know, as I read the early X-Books, which we’ve mentioned before, it’s clear that they didn’t think of mutants as something that had been around for a long time.
It’s very clear that mutants are a new development that just started in the ’60s, or at least just started being known. But even beyond that, you know, it doesn’t seem to go back very far. And I think Apocalypse was one of the big places where that was turned on its head. Guess what? This guy has been around for thousands of years, mutants have been around for thousands of years. This guy was super powerful and important. And, you know, it calls into question some of the things at the same time as affirming them, that mutants are important and everlasting, but at the same time, this guy has been a mutant for a zillion years and they didn’t replace mankind. And what does that mean? And I don’t know, I think there’s that push and pull about it, which again, is something that got emphasized in a big way in Powers of X and House of X, where it’s like mutants are the next stage of evolution. So they’re going to take over, but are they? I don’t know. I think Apocalypse really resonates with those ideas.
And also, he’s just a big, giant bad-ass.
AIPT: Can you confirm whether the original Four Horsemen are actually the children on Apocalypse and Genesis? Or are they their children the way the X-Men are Charles Xavier’s “children.”
Jordan: Yeah, no, I believe they are his actual children.
AIPT: Because I know Summoner calls him “grandfather.”
Jordan: No, they’re his kids. He’s a Papa.
AIPT: An Apapalypse. So, we know how much the pandemic impacted X of Swords and Marvel’s shipping schedules, in general. X-Fan Kas (@dinobat2020) was curious, with Children of the Atom having been set to come out before X of Swords, and now coming out after, will it be rewritten to fit a post-X of Swords timeline or is it staying the way it was planned?
Jordan: Not in a significant way. None of the issues that would have been happening during or after X of Swords had been done yet before the moves all happened. So, in that respect, we’re fine. And the issues that were already done still fit very well into what we’re doing. I mean, there are going to be some major status quo changes to elements of Krakoa from X of Swords. But because these characters start in a place different from that, the beginning of their story doesn’t have to change.
AIPT: That’s good. I know we ran some preview art in pre-pandemic editions of X-Men Monday that wasn’t colored, so the series obviously wasn’t too far along. But you never know when Jonathan said last week you tore up the initial X of Swords plans.
Jordan: He was exaggerating a little bit. I mean, we did tear up a bunch of plans. That’s not a lie, but I think the general structure is the same as it was back then. It’s just expanded out in a lot of big ways with more fleshed-out versions of the idea and bigger versions of the idea. Like we didn’t literally throw out everything we thought of, we scrapped how we were going to do it because again, we were going to do it in almost half as many issues before.
AIPT: OK, now for a question I’ve wanted to ask all week. Did Jean Grey recuse herself from the Quiet Council meeting to decide whether Madelyne Pryor should be resurrected?
Jordan: [Laughs] I knew this was going to come up. I was like, well, it’s not part of X of Swords…
AIPT: [Laughs] I could do an entire X-Men Monday about this one subject.
Jordan: [Laughs] I think I’m going to recuse myself from the answer.
AIPT: Well, then a two-part question. Did you know that one scene at the end of Hellions #4 would blow up the way it did online? And is it safe to assume we’re going to dig into this more later and this isn’t just a throwaway scene?
Jordan: I mean, it’s definitely not a throwaway scene. It’s a very huge deal. It’s an impactful scene. It’s a scene that I knew was going to be an effecting scene, in general, because of its content. It’s a gut punch. It was when issue 3 came out, though, that I realized how much, because of how much they loved her. And I said on the X-Slack, “Oh, all of these people are going to be heartbroken. These people are going to all be devastated,” and everybody was like, “Yup, it’s going to be great.”
AIPT: I know we’ve talked about this before, but could you clarify who or what this latest version of Madelyne was? Because I’ve seen a lot of people online trying to figure that out.
Jordan: I mean, I think that’s part of the interesting debate. Again, you didn’t see the scene of the Council, but I imagine the scene in the Council was a lot of the same debates that people are having about this, because what is she? What makes her different from Jean if Madelyne was made from a piece of Jean’s soul?
OK, so let me get this straight. I think this is true. A piece of Jean’s soul was taken by the Phoenix so that it could be her, right? While she slept it off at the bottom of the bay.
So it took a piece of her, right? And then it went Dark Phoenix and got killed on the Moon, right? And then Sinister, I believe, captured that piece of her soul and made Madelyne. And then Madelyne “lived” with a fake life.
So she lived, she married Scott, she had a baby. “Inferno” happened. And I believe that piece of her soul was reabsorbed back into Jean. So now, the essence that made Madelyne live lives in Jean.
AIPT: With all her memories too.
Jordan: With all of her memories. So what is this new Madelyne? And I don’t know the answer because… did a soul spontaneously come into existence? Is Madelyne–before she just died–the thing that HOX/POX skeptics said about all of the X-Men–is she a soulless copy? Honestly, I don’t know the answer. And I think that’s all part of the debate. And I definitely saw people talking about how Storm was friends with Madelyne and I think that’s true, but also Storm knows that friend of hers lives on in Jean.
So that’s complicated. And I’m not saying therefore Storm would be like, “Forget this lady.” I don’t know. We didn’t show that scene. And I think part of the reason we didn’t show that scene was because we want people to be able to have this debate and this conversation, but we did tell you the end result, which is that the Council voted no. And what is that going to mean? And what is that going to do? Those are great questions and we’ll see where it goes.
AIPT: One more question from recent comics you probably can’t answer. So, we all read Powers of X. We all know what the Phalanx look like and come to Earth to do in one of Moira’s lives. We saw Doug’s Warlock combat suit and how he was talking to the sentient techno organic virus that’s been separated from Storm at the end of Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1. Doug is going to doom the human race, isn’t he?
Jordan: [Laughs] Poor Doug! He’s such a good boy. Why would you think that? Doug is a sweetie. Is he going to doom the human race? Like wouldn’t he be the one to allow us to communicate with them or something?
AIPT: Was I correct, though? Was he talking to the sentient techno organic virus that was separated from Storm?
Jordan: Well, I mean, that’s probably a good interpretation. I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens.
AIPT: [Laughs] I’ve read enough Jonathan Hickman comics to know every scene matters, nothing is by mistake.
Jordan: I mean, Jonathan has a lot of plans, so I think there are a lot of plans and he lays down a lot of track to be able to be utilized later. Sometimes it’s stuff that’s super obvious and other times it’s stuff that’s a lot more subtle. A lot of the stuff that happens in, I mean, every issue of X-Men and Giant-Size for sure is–I mean, again, hopefully it’s all entertaining stories on its own, but it’s also setting stuff up that I look forward to getting to.
AIPT: And me as well. Alright, before we wrap, could your tease this week’s X of Swords: Creation #1?
Jordan: So, Creation is an enormous issue. And even the things in it that you’ve seen, you haven’t seen it exactly as they are. So, there’s so much in it and so many new ideas and so many new directions and also stuff paying some stuff off that we’ve been setting up. It’s part 1 of 22, so get ready for a lot of awesome chapters because there’s so much awesome stuff ahead of you.
AIPT: We all saw Unus at the end of X-Men #12. Are we getting Unus the Untouchable vs. Isca the Unbeaten?
Jordan: That’s a fun one. The answer is sadly no.
AIPT: Sorry, X-Fans! I guess you’ll have to settle for these eXclusive preview images from X of Swords: Creation #1 by the ridiculously talented House of X art team of Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia!
I don’t know about you, readers, but I’m definitely eXcited! Thanks for the images, Jordan and thanks for taking the time to field all these questions from week 1 of X of Swords!
X-Fans, we’ll do this again with X of Swords: Creation #1, so be sure to read it as soon as possible this Wednesday. Then, look for the official call for questions on this very website at 12 noon EST that same day (September 23). You’ll be able to fill out the questions form between then and 5 PM EST the next day (September 24).
Until neXt time, X-Fans–stay safe and continue to be eXceptional!