Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
How’s everybody’s stress levels? It’s only the day before Election Day here in the U.S. No pressure. Not much on the line (you know, except everything).
BUT, even though your average X-Men Monday article may elicit reactions normally reserved for politics, we’re here to have a good time and dig into X of Swords: Stasis #1, which was also a good time! So tune out everything else and join X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White as we run through X-Fans’ latest round of burning X of Swords questions.
AIPT: Welcome back, Jordan! So, as you explained in the last edition of X-Men Monday, readers are learning about a whole new version of Otherworld. Based on Saturnyne’s interactions with the representatives from Mercator in Stasis, is it safe to assume she herself doesn’t know everything about the post-Secret Wars Otherworld she oversees?
Jordan: It is very safe to assume that. She has never been in there. I’m pretty sure if you go back to the data page about Mercator, it talks about how it used to be a different kingdom. So she knew about that. But something has happened that has taken over that realm and has sealed it off. And no one from outside has been in since then. So she doesn’t know what happened in there since that time.
But it does have a familiar name.
AIPT: Well, funny you should say that because that was my next question. Since the first mention of “Mercator,” I’ve received weekly questions about a character called Mr. M, or Absolon Mercator, from the District X series. I’ll admit, that series is one of my X-Men blindspots, but is there any connection here?
Jordan: I mean, it certainly has the same name as him. That’s a weird coincidence.
AIPT: X-Fan Vincent asked if people should be going back to reread District X. Or, in my case, read it for the first time.
Jordan: They’re good comics.
AIPT: [Laughs] OK. Moving on, X-Fan Ryan, also reclaimed from Amenth, asked what inspired Pepe Larraz’s designs for the thrilling new characters from Arakko and Amenth. Ryan is curious to learn whether it was intentional to create such stunning and androgynous looks, and are they all meant to be what we would consider ‘people of color’ (aside from being red, blue, scaly and green).
Jordan: There were varying degrees of input for various characters. Like I’ve said, Pogg Ur-Pogg was left to Pepe to kind of like go crazy and draw some sort of interesting monster. And he came up with a very interesting monster. On the other characters, there were varying degrees of input of “Here’s what they should be like,” you know?
But I mean, they were always from various places, some of which are the place that Apocalypse made or rather, was in with his family. So I think a lot was drawn from the fact that Apocalypse comes from a very different place than well, not that all the X-Men, but some of the X-Men, and to kind of draw on that. So yes, I think there was a conscious effort by Pepe and I guess Jonathan and Tini and whoever was talking about each of the characters to go in that direction.
I don’t know that I agree that all of them are androgynous. Bei is a warrior and I think can easily be mistaken for a man. I actually have seen people mistake her for a man. But we didn’t say like, “Make her in a way that she could be mistaken for a man.” I think they just said she needs to be a big warrior woman and he came up with a great design that doesn’t necessarily emphasize her femininity.
But yeah, Pepe designed a zillion things. I mean, again, I’m sort of surprised. I guess because we’ve seen the Swordbearers on covers and things so much already that I don’t think of this as the issue where they debut, but it is the issue where they debut. So that’s silly of me. Because when I think of the stuff he designed for this, I think of all the Otherworld stuff. He designed so many kingdoms and representatives. He’s done such amazing work on these three issues. And we keep asking him–I think it just builds. I think if you look at all the stuff he did in Creation, it’s like, wow, that’s a lot of stuff. And then it’s like, you look at the stuff he did in Stasis and it’s like, “Oh, create all of these kingdoms, create entire worlds.” We throw out all these other characters and he does it.
[Laughs] And then we ask him to do even more in Destruction. There are a number of emails we got from him saying, “Why do you hate me so much?” But the answer is we don’t hate him. We know how amazing he is and we want to get every drop of his talent out of him! And when you see it, you will be blown away. He’s done drawing it at this point. And it is amazing. The stuff he pulls off is so great. Like you guys are going to be knocked out
AIPT: And obviously, Mahmud Asrar was a big part of Stasis as well. X-Fan Josh Link asked how Mahmud became involved with the issue.
Jordan: Because he’s amazing. He was already drawing the X-Men issues and we have this, you know, little interlude with the Swordbearers and it seemed like the best and easiest thing to have someone else work on it. And Mahmud is great. We just couldn’t be happier with his art. So we said, let’s bring him on there. And it was great to have him.
AIPT: So, I’m sure I’m not alone in loving Isca’s silent introduction in Stasis. Do we Isca fans have more badass Isca moments to look forward to?
Jordan: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that’s the amazing thing–every one of them is great. Like, it’s really hard to pick a favorite, but yeah, Isca is pretty up there. And I probably have said she’s my favorite at different points. Yeah, she’s terrific. She’ll show up. I mean, obviously, she shows up a bunch and she’s got some great, great beats, so absolutely. Absolutely.
AIPT: And speaking of Isca–based on Tarot’s reading at the end of Stasis, things seem pretty dire for Captain Britain. What can you tease about Betsy’s future?
Jordan: What can I tease about Betsy? I love Betsy. I’ve been a fan of Betsy for ages. I think I’ve been a fan of her for a long time, but my fandom for her grew because she was a very prominent character in one of my first ongoing gigs at Marvel, which is the book New Exiles.
She was a cast member in that. Her and Sage were the two 616 characters in that book. And as a result, both of them have become very close to my heart. Just because, again, I’ve been reading Marvel Comics my whole life and getting a job at Marvel was an absolute dream job. So I was very, very excited, and to jump on New Exiles–as my first issue was Exiles #99, but you know, we were already working on the relaunch for New Exiles at that time. And yeah, it really bonded her to my heart. She’s terrific.
That was one of many times when we tried unsuccessfully to give her pants. Once in a while we go, “Why don’t we put pants on Psylocke?” And we do it, but then time passes and she just stops wearing them. I don’t know what the deal is.
AIPT: [Laughs] You pivoted from teasing her future to talking about her past and then pants. So, what can you tease about her future?
Jordan: So obviously, we’ve got big plans for her. I don’t know what your readers consider spoilers. I mean, there’s an interesting cover, but it also doesn’t quite answer the question.
AIPT: Are you talking about the one where Betsy appears to be the Queen of England?
Jordan: That’s the one. Well, again, I wasn’t saying it, because I don’t know, some people consider a few upcoming covers to be spoilers. But yes, I’m talking about the cover of Excalibur #17 where she seems to be the Queen of England. But then the question is, is that her? That’s a good question. There are important things going on with her and I hope everybody enjoys them.
AIPT: Alright, I got a few questions about Doug, Gorgon and their Tarot cards. For instance, X-Fan Lilofirst asked if that’s Gorgon on Doug’s card, while X-Fan Nosocialize mentioned we never get to see what’s on Gorgon’s card. Did the two have the same card? What clarity can your provide here?
Jordan: I can provide some clarity there in the sense that, there’s two parts to that answer. The first one is it’s not supposed to be clear who that is. And the second part is, Gorgon got a card and went, “My eyes are covered. Why would someone give me a thing I’m supposed to look at?” And he throws it away. So he doesn’t look at his card. So, I can just say sure, that’s not Gorgon. Yes, it’s ambiguous who it is, but I don’t think any of us were anticipating that people would think it was Gorgon. So I’ll just tell you, no, it’s not.
AIPT: Something a lot of X-Fans did anticipate was Doug being revealed as “The Fool.” But it was young Cable all along! How did you all arrive at this reveal?
Jordan: Well, everybody weighed in. Again, Tini is our resident Tarot expert. So she did a lot of the heavy lifting in regard to these things, but it was a big conversation. She came to us with “Here’s what I’m thinking for each character and why.” And it became a discussion. And, you know, Gerry had a lot of thoughts on what people should be as well. And there are–I mean, I feel like it goes without saying–but there are specific reasons why each of the characters got what they got. And if it’s not clear now, hopefully it will be clear by the end because it’s clear to us knowing the whole story.
AIPT: Well, while we’re talking about the whole story, are the Tarot cards accurate glimpses into the future, or can we never truly trust anything from Saturnyne?
Jordan: That’s a really good question. I think that, yes, of course, Saturnyne does mess with people, but I don’t think she’s stacking the deck, if you know what I’m saying. Like, I think she is using this Tarot deck that she, you know, had to destroy a sun, I think to get–it’s a big thing.
She is doing the proper reading that said–well, I don’t want to say as with all Tarot cards, because my belief on how, or whether Tarot cards work in real life is a separate matter entirely. As with Tarot cards in fiction, always, I think the future is in motion and et cetera, et cetera, you know, like, just because it says something will happen doesn’t mean you can’t avoid it, or you can’t change it. And also, as Tini has often pointed out, Tarot cards are not usually telling you, “Hey, tell me what is going to happen in the next three days.” It will be this, this, this, this–it’s more a reading of what the forces of the world are aligned toward, you know? And so it’s telling you about now and where now is headed, but that can then be changed. It’s not a locked-in reading of “Here is what happens in the future.” It’s, “Here’s what will happen from now.”
That’s a little confusing, but hopefully, it made sense.
AIPT: You know what isn’t confusing? A pile of Pogg Ur-Pogg questions! If you had to provide an accent reference for Pogg-Ur Pogg, what would it be? It sounds kind of Jersey to X-Fan Danny.
Jordan: Oh, that’s a ridiculous question. I don’t know that I’ve heard his voice very clearly in my head, in that way. The problem is I’m going to end up hearing our X-Writers. I mean, I don’t know if you know this but I think Ben Percy and Gerry Duggan have been competing to provide a voice to Pogg Ur-Pogg. So I definitely think of him that way. Honestly, there’s something about the way he rhymes that makes me think of like, faux Shakespeare. So then I do end up thinking of it in some form of a British accent, but that’s weird, man. That’s weird to think about it. So that can’t be right.
— Benjamin Percy (@Benjamin_Percy) October 22, 2020
AIPT: So Pogg Ur-Pogg is Shakespearean.
Jordan: I mean, I feel weird saying his dialogue is like Shakespeare because that’s a bit hearty of a claim, but faux Shakespeare, let’s say.
And that said, as much as I love Gerry, I mean, Ben takes it, right? If you’re going to have to cast one of the X-Writers as him, it has to be Ben. Sorry, Gerry.
— Gerry Duggan (@GerryDuggan) October 26, 2020
AIPT: Well, that brings up an interesting side question. When you read X-Men scripts, what voices do you hear for the characters? Because some may go with the ’90s animated series voices and others may go with the movie voices. Do you have specific X-Voices you hear?
Jordan: I mean, I definitely do, but I don’t often think about it very closely. I think that the voice I hear in my head is, and again, this also sounds a little weird, but it’s me acting the roles. I know, listen, I know that’s ridiculous, but first of all, I used to do a lot of voice stuff before I was at Marvel in the various things I worked on. So that’s part of it. But yeah, I think I mostly ended up hearing them in variations on my own voice. But that’s off the top of my head. Honestly, I think it’s one of those things that if I think about it much, I can’t do it. Right? Like, you know, if you’re like, “Hey, how do you breathe?” You start thinking about it and you’re like, “I can’t remember how to breathe! What’s going on?” It’s sort of like that. Like it happens automatically if I analyze it too much, it ruins it.
AIPT: I hear you. OK, back to the Pogg talk. X-Fan Vincent asked if we’ll eventually learn how to translate Pogg Ur-Pogg speak ala Krakoan?
Jordan: I think that the reason you’re asking this question will be answered by the end of this.
AIPT: Well, a similar question comes from X-Fan Matthew Perpetua, who asked if there’s internal logic to the syntax of the Pogg Ur-Pogg prophecy along the lines of “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo,” or is Matthew just fruitlessly driving himself crazy trying to figure this out?
Jordan: I love the “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” sentence. That’s the best. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, please do yourself a favor and look it up. It’s a ridiculous, I guess, linguistic joke. I love it.
Is there internal syntax? I think the answer is–and you’re going to hate this answer–but no, it was us being fun and silly. Come on. And the answer can then be sure there is because we wrote it down on paper. So, therefore, it is the only established syntax that exists. And, therefore, when future scholars build this language out from this one page, they have to follow this. So, there you go. There will be, but there actually isn’t–sorry.
AIPT: Finally, X-Fan Nathaniel asked if you confirm his theory that X of Swords would be over in three issues if they gave Pogg Ur-Pogg a gun.
Jordan: I cannot confirm that–I will not confirm that. Wow. If Pogg Ur-Pogg had a gun, what would the world be like? I think we’d all be in a very different place than we are now. So I think that sounds like not just an issue of What If, but maybe a series of What Ifs.
AIPT: You heard it here first, folks–What If: Pogg Ur-Pogg–coming soon. OK, what can you tease about this week’s X-Men #14 and Marauders #14?
Jordan: What can I tease? Let’s see. Well, X-Men is going to tell us the truth about some things and Marauders is going to–let me see…
AIPT: Based on the Marauders preview, it looks like the various Swordbearers are at a pre-tournament meet-and-greet.
Jordan: Yeah, yeah. Because what I was checking was, I think Saturnyne alludes to it. Yes. In Stasis, when they arrive at the Citadel, Saturnyne alludes to the evening’s feast and in Marauders, we get to see it and we get to see the Swordbearers interact with each other for the very first time, aside from Wolverine and Solem.
AIPT: So they’re all civil with each other.
Jordan: Are they?
AIPT: The perfect tease to end on! And speaking of teases… how about some eXclusive X of Swords preview images, X-Fans?
Good stuff! Thanks for the images, Jordan, and thanks for taking the time to answer X-Fan questions! Jordan and I are taking next Monday off, but that just means we’ll have even more comics to talk about in the next edition of X-Men Monday!
Until then, X-Fans–stay safe and continue to be eXceptional! And, if you’re able to and haven’t done so already, PLEASE VOTE TOMORROW! Thanks!
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 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!