Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Well, X-Factor #4–part 2 of X of Swords–sure did serve up an uneXpected twist that left many Rockslide heartbroken. And, understandably, a lot of you had questions about the all-new, all-different Santo.
- Is the Rockslide we all knew and loved truly “dead” or is there hope he’ll return one day?
- How many alternate versions of Rockslide make up this new Rockslide?
- Will we see reactions to what happened to Rockslide from Anole and his Academy X classmates?
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
Good questions? Sure! These are definitely thoughts X-Fans have while reading X-Men comics, just as they wonder if we’ll ever learn more about Moira’s many lives, if Cyclops and Emma Frost are more than just friendly exes, what the future holds for Broo and Vulcan and, well, etc. etc. etc. In addition to being eXcellent questions, they serve as proof of engaging stories, as X-Fans are fired up and in a speculative mood. BUT, X-Fans submitting questions to X-Men Monday also need to remember that X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White isn’t going to spill all the beans in a column that’s free to read.
As Head of X Jonathan Hickman said in the now-classic X-Men Monday #32: “These all sound like stories to me. And we don’t tell them for free.”
So with all that said, you’ll see I did ask Jordan a few of those “spoiler” Rockslide questions–and you probably won’t get a lot of mileage out of the answers–but let’s find out together, shall we?
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! So, every week, we get questions about the nature of Apocalypse and Rictor’s relationship, and X-Factor #4 only raised more questions. I figured it was time we gave the people what they want. For instance, we saw Apocalypse appear to care as Rictor passed away, and we saw Julio appearing in Apocalypse’s head. X-Fan x-poc (@chuvadelex) wanted to know what you can tell us about the nature of Apocalypse and Rictor’s relationship, and Pame (@bc_leecomics) asked if Apocalypse feels affection for Rictor.
Jordan: It sounds like you just told me everything. Rictor appearing in his head–just to clarify that a little bit, I definitely feel like I saw people understand it, but I want to make sure everybody does–that was Rachel attacking him in his head. But he was seeing her as different people–as his children and then as Rictor. So it wasn’t actually Rictor doing that. That was Rachel. And he was like, projecting Rictor onto her. That’s why.
But what’s their relationship? I think it’s all there on the page. I think it’s right there for everybody to read and think about and interpret as they will. I think they have a very interesting relationship and I think if you had told people how intrigued and connected to Apocalypse Rictor would be a year ago–wasn’t he like a bouncer at a punk club or something?
AIPT: Yeah, in the Shatterstar mini-series. Well, is it safe to assume we’re going to see more of Rictor and Apocalypse’s relationship before X of Swords is over?
Jordan: Well, before the event’s over? Yeah. Or at least, well, I mean, now that you say that, that’s a good question. It sort of depends on how it goes for each of them. Because it’s not looking great for Apocalypse right now. And as you know, resurrections are stopped right now, so we’ll have to see.
AIPT: We will indeed. OK, while on the topic of feelings toward Apocalypse, we’ve seen Magneto growing increasingly frustrated with Apocalypse in X of Swords. I feel like Charles Xavier has been more openminded and accepting of all mutants whereas Magneto has retained his pre-Krakoa cynicism. How would you say Magneto views Apocalypse?
Jordan: Well, they’re both very willful guys. I mean, I guess all three of them are really, but Charles was always much more willing to reach out and say like, “Can’t we come together?” And Magneto was always much more, “No, we should come together when you agree with me.” Apocalypse is almost more like, “I don’t care if you agree with me or not, it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m just going to do what I want.” So I think they’re coming from those positions. When Magneto and Apocalypse butt heads, it’s very difficult to come to an agreement. And I think that is why you need Charles in that relationship for it to work and to make there be a balance.
Although it’s funny because in some ways, you think of it as the balance is meant to be between Charles and Apocalypse, right? Because Charles is the good guy. Apocalypse is the bad guy and Magneto is the in-between–sometimes good, sometimes bad. So he should be the swing vote, so to speak. But I feel like instead, what ends up happening is the two of them–Apocalypse and Magneto–are like implacable. And then Charles has to be the one to facilitate any cooperation. I mean, I think much like Magneto with everyone, I think he would mind Apocalypse less if Apocalypse agreed with him more–seems like he kind of has that opinion of people.
AIPT: Interesting. Now, John Wyatt was wondering if you’re able to clarify Saturnyne’s current power levels?
Jordan: No, I can’t.
AIPT: [Laughs] Well, we have seen quite a range in her abilities since Excalibur.
Jordan: Well, she didn’t have the job she has now. She’s now the head of all of Otherworld. I mean, she used to answer to Roma. Now she answers to no one and I think that she is more powerful in addition. You’ll note that her power is magical in nature, which is not to say, therefore, it can be anything. No, I meant in the sense that, as opposed to mutant powers where they need to follow, like in the sense of–the powers are based on weather, so Storm can do this and she can do this because that is connected to weather in this way. Saturnyne’s powers are magic-based. Therefore, she can gain power through study and ceremony. They don’t have to be linked in the chain of power the way that a mutant’s powers tend to, if you know what I’m saying.
So the fact is, yes, she is more powerful now than she was in the old Excalibur comics. I think in part because she has, like I said, a different role in Otherworld and also because Otherworld itself has changed since it was destroyed and then brought back in the aftermath of Secret Wars. So yeah, she’s very different. And I think that her powers are probably beyond our comprehension.
AIPT: X-Fan Wengchini pointed out that there was an interesting and somewhat sinister panel in X-Factor #4 where Unus was shown to be back from Otherworld. Is Unus’ role in this story over or is there more to come, including insight into what happened to him in Otherworld?
Jordan: I think it was there because that was their goal. They went in to save him and that mission was resoundingly successful. But that panel is not foreshadowing anything.
AIPT: Isn’t it crazy that in 2020, you’re getting X-Fan questions about Unus the Untouchable?
Jordan: He had a very small role to play in the story and it’s like, I don’t want the very hardcore Unus fans, who I’m sure are reading this, to be holding out hope for the rest of the event for his big moment. I’m sorry to say, that’s pretty much the end of him in this story.
AIPT: Maybe offscreen he went to go treat himself to some cake.
Jordan: I’m trying to remember if he even shows up, like in the background or something. I mean, it’s possible, but that’s the end of his role. But he deserves some cake. You know, Krakoa probably has a cake tree.
AIPT: Living the dream. Another question about an early scene in X-Factor #4, X-Fan Heroine Addict (@MutantMusesX3) asked if the immediate effect on Polaris when the Otherworld gate closed was the result of Saturnyne’s mental implant or Lorna’s recently revealed connection to Krakoa? Is it the correct reading that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Polaris and the island?
Jordan: Well, anything is possible. I don’t know that that was my read on it. No, I think it was much more connected to the specifics of this issue and what was happening with her in this issue. The connection that you’re referring to, I understand what you’re talking about, though. It’s from X-Factor #1 when she kind of communes with the island to build their base, which I think is really cool. And she kind of draws upon, well, oddly, she kind of draws upon a connection as one of the main people who defeated Krakoa.
AIPT: I was going to say I was reminded of that reading the Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein & Cockrum the other day.
Jordan: Yeah, absolutely. She’s one of the main reasons they beat Krakoa because she was able to like, literally help lift the entire island out of there and throw it away. So I think that in X-Factor #1, yeah, she draws upon that and kind of like, her and the island sort of have a bit of an understanding even though she can’t understand it the way that Doug does. But they kind of come to a meeting of the minds so that it can make for her specifications, the space that they need for X-Factor.
Now, that said, it’s also worth noting that the same is sort of true in other places, which is not to say that it wasn’t done on a grander level in that way. But we have heard about Nightcrawler talking about how it feels like his home was built for him. And, you know, Scott being like, this is what I wanted. Like, I don’t think that Scott–maybe I’m wrong–I don’t think Scott like drew up blueprints for the Summer House and like, went, “Here you go, Krakoa, do this.” I think most of the buildings are made with some sort of collaboration between the land and the people. But I think Polaris was able to amp that up and again because she gave and devoted so much to it and had that like intense communion overnight, that’s how she was able to do it very quickly and all at once in a very dramatic way. But the gate closing, I think had much more to do with Saturnyne’s manipulations.
AIPT: OK, let’s dig into the week’s big controversy. Tell me, was Glob originally going to die in Otherworld–and–how much did Ed Brisson pay you to replace him with Rockslide?
Jordan: Uh, no. It was never planned to be Glob. Last time, I alluded to the changing of that picture being that we had to do that page really early, and that’s a fact and we really just kind of threw people on it and went, “Yeah, that sounds like the kind of people that’ll be in this story.” And mostly, we were right. And in a couple of places, we were wrong. The reason Glob was replaced with Rockslide was because when we decided it was going to be Rockslide that this happened to, we needed Rockslide to be on that card. And the easiest person to replace with him was Glob. So that’s why he replaced Glob.
AIPT: Well, what went into the decision to kill Rockslide? X-Fan Jake D. (@JD_ComicNerd89) pointed out that the Academy X kids hold a pretty strong place in many X-Fans’ hearts, and they have been through so much already.
Jordan: A lot of names were considered but we ended up on Rockslide for various reasons. I mean, I don’t want to get too into the details of why we picked this character or that character, because there’s a lot of factors. There are a lot of factors about, you know, story stuff that I can’t get into. But yeah, a lot of names were bandied about and listen, I’m not going to lie, Glob’s name was one of them, but it didn’t get the momentum. So we didn’t stick with it.
AIPT: I was surprised to see there’s a lot of anti-Glob sentiment among X-Fans.
Jordan: I mean, if people are going around going, “I wish Glob had died,” that’s a great reason for it not to have been Glob. Because we don’t want this death to have half the audience go, “Phew.”
I understand people liking Glob, I understand people not liking Glob. He’s had great moments. In the holiday special we did two years ago, I put the page of Glob with the mistletoe on my birthday because I liked it so much. I loved that page and I went, “That’ll be the page that runs on the day of my birthday.” So yeah, Glob’s great. He’s had amazing stories. He’s had less amazing stories.
And the same is true with Rockslide. Is it an absolute bummer that Rockslide is dead forever and there’s absolutely no chance of him coming back? Yes, of course, it is. Of course, it is. He was a really good dude. I mean, because if I remember correctly, tell me if I’m wrong about this, he basically started as like a background gag, right? Like he just was like a big dude who looked like the Thing.
AIPT: Yeah, a gray Thing.
Jordan: And it was like, don’t worry about it. He’s not a character. And then he became a character and the character he became was absolutely a very moving character because he was good. He tried to do what was right. He was very heroic. Him and Anole–the two of them are absolutely a great pair and they would be superheroes together. Like, it was awesome. And those stories are still awesome. And I’m sorry, he’s dead.
AIPT: So, I got a bunch of questions about Rockslide I feel like you can’t answer, but I’m going to throw them at you anyway.
AIPT: Well, speaking of Anole, X-Fan Pod asked if we’ll see reactions from any of Rockslide’s friends.
Jordan: You’ll see.
AIPT: Troia asked how many versions of Santo make up this new Rockslide?
Jordan: You’ll see.
AIPT: Does Rockslide know what Krakoa is and have a sense of his surroundings, or is he a blank slate?
Jordan: You’ll see! [Laughs] Those are all very “you’ll see” questions.
AIPT: I tried, Rockslide fans! OK, well here’s an interesting one from AIPT’s own Content and Media Manager David Brooke (@Nosocialize). We now know that if a mutant dies in Otherworld, they return as a brand new character with a fresh start, we assume. So, forget X of Swords–you can give any mutant the Rockslide treatment–who do you choose?
Jordan: That’s a weird one. Man, that’s a weird one because like, does that mean, on some level… isn’t that saying what character do you think has a terrible personality? And you’d like to just get rid of everything about them and start over except for their powers? I don’t know. I mean, probably somebody with a really convoluted history. So let me think about that. Who’s the character with the most difficult convoluted history?
AIPT: I think most of them.
Jordan: I mean, a lot of them do, but that’s tough. That’s a tough question. It’s hard because it’s the reason that it is sad that this happened to Rockslide because when I think of a character I like a lot, what you think about is what they’ve been through and what they’ve done. So to say like, well, let’s have it happen to Wolverine, it’s like, well then, so none of Wolverine. Like he doesn’t remember any story that you’ve ever read with him. That’s a bummer. And then is he still the character? I feel like I would really have to think of a character I don’t like but has good powers. And I don’t know. I don’t have any of those at the top of my head right now.
AIPT: I guess it’s a chance to revamp a character who never had a strong publishing history. Someone like Adam-X.
Jordan: I don’t think he has good powers! Sorry. Listen, me and Chris Robinson would have this argument all the time because he would tell me–man, I’m just going to make everybody so mad when I say this, but oh well. Chris would say to me, “Adam-X is awesome.” And I’d be like, “What, why?” And he was like, “He’s got an awesome power to make your blood burn.” And I’m like, “Yeah, and Sunfire can just make everything burn.” Who cares? Why blood? He has to bleed? I don’t understand. Just have a burning character then. And now I’m just imagining how mad Fabian will be–I’m sorry, Fabian. I’ll make it up to you.
AIPT: [Laughs] OK, so do you have a character? We need to keep this train moving.
Jordan: I don’t. I’m sorry.
AIPT: Well, it was an opportunity to talk Adam-X, at least.
Jordan: All right. I’m just going to pick one at random. You know what I would do is all the other Academy X kids.
No, I’m kidding. That was a joke, that was a joke. All right… No, I pass. I can’t think of one. I like the characters too much. I don’t want this to happen to them.
AIPT: It was a good effort. Now I have a storytelling question about X-Factor #4. In modern comics, I feel like we don’t get inside characters’ heads quite as much as we did in classic comics, so it was refreshing to see what Polaris was thinking. In contrast, in Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, for instance, we don’t see what Cyclops is thinking in thought bubbles. As a comics editor, how do you feel about that storytelling technique?
Jordan: I mean, they’re both perfectly good ways to do things. It’s just, what are the different tools in your toolbox and when do you want to use them and when do you not? Jonathan writes a very particular way, but not everybody writes that way. This isn’t the first time we’ve been in the character’s head in this era. At the very least you’ve got Wolverine, who’s constantly narrating his book. And I’m sure if I look back at it, there are other times too, like, did Kate really never narrate a Marauders issue?
AIPT: But am I correct in thinking that modern comics have kind of moved away from that?
Jordan: What we have 100% moved away from is thought bubbles. And that’s a bummer. I think because there should be a difference between narrative thought captions and thought bubbles because a thought bubble is the thought that you were thinking in the moment in the same way that you would speak something out loud in that moment. That thought bubble is thinking it as you throw that punch. You’re thinking, “Ah, here we go, here’s this punch.” Like, that’s not a good one, but that’s where you get my point. Whereas a narrative, a thought caption, like a running narration of a character isn’t necessarily in that moment.
Sometimes it’s written in the past tense, so you can tell it’s them reflecting on it. Sometimes it’s still written in the present, but it’s written in. I don’t even know if there’s a term for it. There probably is, but it almost feels like, I mean, it’s not omniscient because it’s limited to the one character, but it’s not bound by time. In the sense that it’s the person throwing that punch. And there are 27 captions, you know, “What am I doing? Throwing this punch? Like how am I even going to deal with the fallout from this? Like, I shouldn’t be punching Cyclops in the face. He’s such a good guy. Normally he loves me.” You know what I mean? You’re going on and on. And you can’t actually think all of that in that moment, except you kind of can, but not in words.
And to me, the important distinction is narrative captions, whether they are an omniscient narrator or whether they are in the mind of the character that we’re following, serve as narration in the same way that they do in a book. In a novel, you have the narrator and then you have moments where a character thinks something. Those are not the same thing all the time. But for some reason, thought bubbles have fallen out of fashion. I think it was a thing that started in the Frank Miller era of the ’80s because he shifted. I might be wrong about this but I think he shifted a lot to the first-person narrative captions, which didn’t work as often before that, even though I’m sure everything I’m saying is wrong. But I’m pretty sure it started around there. And ever since then, less and less. There have been people who’ve tried to bring them back. I remember a time specifically when Bendis was like, “I’m doing it, I’m putting in thought bubbles again.” And he did for a little while, but it just didn’t really catch back on.
AIPT: So it’s definitely not mandated by Marvel, no thought bubbles?
Jordan: No, no. Sometimes, somebody will throw it in and you’ll just go, “Yeah. All right. There we go.” But it’s more just like a fashion thing. Like they just aren’t in style.
AIPT: Well, as I said before, it was refreshing to see.
Jordan: I mean, again, we went with captions, but it is nice. The other thing that’s tricky about it, of course, is that most of the books are team books. Which isn’t to say you can’t have a single narrator. Of course you can, but it can be confusing if you’re switching from one character to the next and only one of them is narrating or even more. So it can be confusing if you’re switching from one character to the next and they’re all their writing. So I think it probably happens slightly less in team books for that reason as well.
AIPT: One other stylistic choice in X-Factor #4 was Doug deciphering the prophecies at the end of the issue. Maybe it’s just the fact that I write for a comic book website, but was that in any way commentary on news sites’ weekly speculation articles?
Jordan: Oh, no, I can understand that interpretation, but no, we weren’t going, like, “Let’s eat these folks’ lunch.” It was more a case of whether someone is going to do that or not. Honestly, we didn’t think about what articles would be written about it, but that needs to happen for our story. They get these riddles and they need to think about them and figure out what they mean. So it seemed like rather than having a scene of everybody going, “So what are you guys thinking, blah, blah, blah.” And like drawing, wasting art pages that we’re paying for of a bunch of people sitting around talking about some riddles, we went, let’s just do it in this form. Bam. Here’s what our thinking is on this.
AIPT: Well, Doug robbed the internet of a few clickbait articles.
Jordan: I’m sure that’s not true. I’m sure some other piece of information was able to be turned into clickbait as a result.
AIPT: As we wrap up, I was thinking. Rockslide can fall to pieces then reassemble himself–like LEGO bricks! You’ve been building a bunch of Star Wars LEGO sets lately. What’s up with this new obsession, Jordan?
Bought my first Lego set since I was a child. I’ve been advised that it is good for stress. The hard part is going to be working all day instead of breaking it open right now! pic.twitter.com/EfY2dNZ0HP
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) August 21, 2020
Jordan: It’s been a stressful time. And some folks said LEGOs were real relaxing, including at least one of the X-Writers who specifically recommended them. And I’ve been really into Star Wars and I’ve been watching the Star Wars LEGO cartoons with my kid and I kind of went, “Yeah, you know, making a Star Wars vehicle out of LEGO seems really fun.” And so I now have done four Star Wars vehicles. I’ve done Luke’s speeder, Han’s speeder from Solo–well, that’s not really his, he stole it. I did Anakin’s podracer and Anakin’s starfighter from the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. And it’s been a lot of fun. And I will tell you, there are so many incredibly expensive and amazing-looking sets that I have to go like, “Don’t do that.”
AIPT: Yeah, I was going to ask if the addiction’s growing because they have like, a gigantic Millenium Falcon.
Did another one. This is getting addictive. pic.twitter.com/L4WttqrHUB
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) August 23, 2020
Jordan: Well listen, you say the Millennium Falcon. First of all, there’s like 20 of them. And there’s one I would particularly like–the Lando-style Millenium Falcon from Solo where it’s like white and blue and it’s got the front that comes in or out. And it’s all clean-looking and beautiful. And I kind of want to get that, but again, it’s expensive. And then, I don’t know if you know this, but there’s also like a $1,000 version that is like the super, super big one. They have a Falcon, they have a Star Destroyer. Both of which are enormous and are like, seriously, $1,000. I don’t think I’m going to be getting that.
AIPT: [Laughs} You say that now…
Jordan: Who knows? The big one, the really awesome-looking, expensive one that I’m most tempted by right now is the one they just announced, which is the Mos Eisley Cantina.
It’s incredibly enormous and I think like, $300 and comes with like, I don’t remember–like 15 of all the different kinds of dudes. You can literally close it, just see the outside, you can open it and have the entire bar and all the little booths. And it has that weird little like space pod outside. It looks amazing and I want it so bad. And at the same time, I’m like, that’s way too expensive. And where would I even put it? I don’t even know what to do with these ones. They’re just kind of sitting on a table over here. I like looking at them like, they’re fun, but I’m like, what am I going to do with it?
AIPT: That’s how I am with the Marvel Legends figures. I have no room for them, but they keep putting out new ones and I keep buying them.
Jordan: I just got a Marvel Legends figure. I don’t buy those very much, but I will buy the ones that are related to stuff that I worked on. I have this one, which I just got–Shiklah, Deadpool’s, well, I was going to say ex-wife but technically they’re still married. So Deadpool’s wife and I have the Deadpool Back-in-Black Symbiote figure.
Look who finally arrived! pic.twitter.com/1V3XL3ZUi9
— Jordan D. White (@cracksh0t) October 1, 2020
AIPT: And they just revealed some of the House of X and Powers of X figures coming.
Jordan: Yeah, that’s true. Xavier with the helmet is pretty tempting. I don’t know.
AIPT: OK, so this is a big week for X of Swords. What can you tease about this week’s three chapters–and, what can you tease about Storm’s involvement? Because Storm fans have been begging for some Ororo details.
Jordan: Marauders #13 is an awesome issue. That is going to be very Storm-centric, as you can tell from the cover. I think it’s great. It’s really well done. And then, you know, she’s an important part of the series. She’s one of the Swordbearers of Krakoa. So, you know, she’ll be all over it. And like I said a while ago, even bigger things are in the future, but not during X of Swords, but even awesome or bigger things, which I guess I just spoiled that she doesn’t die in this or at least not forever. Oh well, sorry. Guess what? Storm isn’t dead forever at the very least.
AIPT: And then we’ve got new issues of X-Force and Wolverine.
Jordan: They’re all great. They’re all great. In Wolverine, you’re going to meet the first of the Swordbears of Arakko. I think we’ve announced that Solem is going to show up, so you know, it’s all kicking off. And it’s just going to get crazier from here. We just finished up X of Swords: Stasis. So we’re officially completely done with the first half of this beast and are very, very far along on the rest. I’m trying to think how many pages of art are left to be drawn in X of Swords. It’s not a ton. Like it’s mostly drawn at this point. I mean, it’s really been a beast, but I think it’s super worth it.
AIPT: I’m very eXcited for the triple dose of X of Swords–especially after Marvel dropped that trailer featuring the Swordbearers of Arakko in all their swaggerific glory!
Also eXciting, these eXclusive preview images of what’s to come this Wednesday–three of which are sure to electrify Storm fans!
Thanks for the pictures, Jordan, and thanks for taking the time to chat!
X-Fans, we’ll do this again with X of Swords parts 3-5 in Wolverine #6, X-Force #13 and Marauders #13, so be sure to read them as soon as possible this Wednesday. Then, look for the official call for questions on this very website at 9 AM EST that same day (October 7). You’ll be able to fill out the questions form between then and 5 PM EST the next day (October 8). And remember, no spoiler questions!
Until neXt time, X-Fans–stay safe and continue to be eXceptional!
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!