Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Can you believe it was February of this year when we first learned about X of Swords at C2E2? At the time, we were treated to this dynamic Mark Brooks promotional art and the promise this X-Men event would kick off in July.
Well, we know what happened in between then and now. The important thing is we made it to the end of this Otherwordly tournament, as this coming Wednesday sees the release of the final three chapters of this latest, greatest X-Men event. Shocking no one, X-Fans had questions after each and every chapter, and that was certainly true of this crossover’s penultimate week. So without further ado, here’s X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White with answers to your X-Force #14, Hellions #6 and Cable #6 questions.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! Last week, we got to see the full range of Saturnyne’s contests. How did you arrive at those specific challenges? Knowing the X-Writers, I feel like the contest brainstorming could get quite unruly very fast.
Jordan: Yeah. I think we had a big meeting and everybody threw out ideas and we kept the ones we liked. There were the bigger ones, the more important dramatic plot-turning ones. Those were the first ones we really locked in, obviously. But the quickies–people threw out a ton of ideas. So there are ones in X-Force that were created by pretty much everybody. Ben and Gerry kind of picked out the cream of the crop and pumped them in there.
AIPT: Do you have a favorite challenge?
Jordan: Oh, that’s a toughie. I don’t know. They’re all really fun. I think I like the Cable and Bei one a lot because it has a real emotional punch to it that I enjoyed a lot. And of the like real quick ones, I mean, Magik spelling “magic” wrong is pretty, pretty classic.
AIPT: Nice. So X-Fan Maggie asked, which Otherworld realm was the most fun to create and flesh out?
Jordan: Oh, I mean, first of all, we’ve just begun fleshing them out, but that’s a good question. There was a lot of fun information in there about them. Dang, it’s a real hard choice. I guess the Crooked Market because it’s nutty. But also the whole stark difference between Merlin and Roma’s realms is pretty terrific. And then Sevalith is real interesting-looking and has a lot of fun ideas to it. So I mean, so many of them, but if I had to just pick one, I’d go with the Crooked Market just because it’s nutty and dangerous and that’s fun.
AIPT: Speaking of fun, was the Pogg Ur-Pogg reveal in the works from the get-go or was that an idea that came later in the game?
Jordan: Yeah, it was always in the works. And I don’t know, I’ve heard some people say that makes them like him less and other people say that makes them like him more, so, I don’t know. I don’t know what the final verdict is on Pogg Ur-Pogg just yet now that people know that about him. But yeah, that was always part of the plan because, you know, you could see it from the beginning. We said the name of his sword was “Pogg Ur-Pogg.”
AIPT: How does that work? He just climbs into that suit?
Jordan: I mean, listen, we don’t have it worked out, but yeah, basically this guy’s in that thing and somehow that works. And I’m pretty sure he goes back in, doesn’t he? I think we show him back in it after that. So it’s not like he never goes back in. Magik just took the opportunity to kick his butt.
AIPT: OK, this next one’s an actual X-Fan question. Rakurai wanted to know if the kitten was really killed or if Captain Avalon surrendered to spare its life.
Jordan: OK, let me look at the outcome we wrote down because I don’t want to make a mistake here. Oh yeah. Also, this makes me remember that it was a lot of fun to come up with the names for all of these battles. That was a good time. That was me and me and Gerry on a call going, “What should we call this one? Uh, ‘a Contest of Cups.'” So the fact that we just called it “Kitten Killing” is pretty amazing. Arakko won, so I’m going to say he probably did not kill the kitten, but that probably means a kitten was killed. I’m sorry, blame War. It’s all on War.
AIPT: The second part of Rakurai’s question was can the kitten be resurrected?
Jordan: Is the kitten a mutant? And also it wouldn’t be the same kitten because it died in Otherworld.
AIPT: This is a real tragedy.
Jordan: Yeah, it’s a real tragedy. That was basically a permanent death.
AIPT: Death is final for Uncle Ben and this kitten.
Jordan: Yeah, I think so, I think so. Unless we get a Winter Kitten kind of situation here.
AIPT: [Laughs] OK, do you think there was a genuine attraction between Storm and Death, or were these just two opponents simply sizing one another up? Because X-Men adversaries have a habit of falling for Storm.
Jordan: I think that there was definitely an attraction on the side of Death. I don’t know that I could 100% say that there was on Storm’s side. I mean, she definitely recognized it and reacted to it. But I think she stayed in control the entire time. If she had a genuine attraction for him, I think she kept it close enough to the vest that we can’t really tell.
AIPT: What can you share about the Locus Vile and how they came to be? X-Fan Roberto (from Brazil) was curious.
Jordan: Zeb. I mean, as a group, we came up with the idea for what the Hellions were doing on their mission to steal the swords. And then Zeb said, “OK, when they get to Arakko, I want them to meet like the Arakki X-Men, basically.” And we were like, “Great, that sounds great.” Then he came up with all of those characters himself and they obviously got worked into the mythology of Amenth and Arakko because there is some allusion to them in X-Men #14. I think there was an allusion to the Vile schools in #14, and if it wasn’t #14, it was #13. So you know, they were mostly Zeb’s brainchild–well Zeb and Carmen Carnero for the look. They’re delightful and awful and very effective.
AIPT: Do you think we’ll see them again?
Jordan: I mean, it would be such a waste if we didn’t.
AIPT: You mentioned they were like the Arakki X-Men. So the Xavier vibes I picked up from Tarn the Uncaring were intentional?
Jordan: Not in the sense of like, an alternate universe version, but in the sense of, you know, they are the premier super beings of that place. But I think the Xavier part was very intentional. It’s not like it’s one-for-one on everybody else.
AIPT: Next up, X-Fan Heroine Addict was wondering if the way Sinister finished off the Hellions will raise red flags with the Quiet Council. Heroine Addict pointed out that a bullet to the head could make things messy for Mr. Essex.
Jordan: I mean, listen, he’s Mr. Sinister–he’s got his angles covered. You think he’s going to get found out? I don’t understand why anyone would doubt him. I mean, he took care of it. Just because he shot somebody in the head–you don’t think he can’t get rid of that body? They’re probably dissolved in a bathtub on Krakoa by now. He put them in the stuff that dissolves all the food off the plates, and he just got rid of the whole body.
AIPT: Speaking of dissolving Hellions, X-Fan Emmanuel asked what was up with the device Sinister pressed to dissolve Greycrow. I figured that was because Sinister created him.
Jordan: Yeah, because he has the Marauders–the classic Marauders. Sinister’s Marauders have died and been reborn as clones many times. I think that very much says for certain that the Greycrow we’ve been following was a creation of Sinister, which is not to say he’s not a real person, but rather, you know, just the body was a cloned body. I don’t want to confuse people. I think there’s a real Greycrow out there. Like, I think all of the Marauders have died and come back through Sinister’s means a number of times. So probably they’re all like copies of copies of copies by this point, but he’s got that instant self-destruct that he must’ve built in, which is, I guess again, sensible. He’s got it covered, right?
AIPT: He’s got this. Absolutely nothing will go wrong. So, last week we saw Jean ignoring Xavier’s telepathic calls. Were Jean and Scott keeping tabs on everyone on the behalf of the Quiet Council or was this just the act of two concerned parents worried for their son?
Jordan: They can’t keep track of everyone. The distance is too great. I think they allude to it in there. When Cable contacts them, they’re surprised that he was able to reach them all the way from Otherworld. It took an extraordinary depth of desperation from him.
AIPT: But that’s something they’re doing alone, not for the Quiet Council?
Jordan: No, they’re doing it for themselves. They’re doing it because they’re worried about their son. And again, it’s not like they were sitting there watching the tournament. They aren’t, they don’t know what’s happening. But they’re worried. They’re worried about their kid, which I think is a sensible thing to be–he’s in danger. He very nearly died.
AIPT: While on the topic of dying, X-Fan Cifrazinho wanted to know how Gorgon was chosen to basically save Krakoa in the tournament?
Jordan: I think if you really want to look for the root of it, I think it’s because Jonathan thinks that he is amazing and was just like, of course he would win. Like, he will destroy everyone–he’s Gorgon. So I think he proposed the idea.
Again, there were times when we went back and forth on who’s going to fight who and what’s going to happen when they do. And when we hit upon the idea that Gorgon would fight the White Sword and the White Sword would go, “Cool, I’ll send in my 100 guys, that’ll be fun.” The idea of Gorgon plowing through them and getting points for doing so just seemed to work really well and be very much in keeping with what we know of that guy and how in the Dawn of X world, I think he’s only done like super bad-ass things.
AIPT: Is Gorgon’s story truly over?
Jordan: Well, he died in Otherworld, so we’ll have to see what happens there.
AIPT: Him and the kitten.
Jordan: Maybe he’ll come back as a kitten, you never know.
AIPT: On the subject of characters coming back from the dead, X-Fan Gabriel Miller asked, why can’t Jamie Braddock just resurrect characters like Betsy and Gorgon who died in Otherworld for the X-Men? He’s been shown to resurrect characters before.
Jordan: Great question. I mean, I guess he could. Jamie has been shown to definitely be able to bring people back from the dead. I mean, I think he did it in Excalibur when Brian died for a moment there. Although that was more of a resuscitating–a death of someone who just died through reality warping means rather than fully bringing back a person who’s been dead. First of all, that might be splitting hairs. But second of all, he’s also been shown, if I’m remembering correctly, to literally create people from scratch. Just be like, “Hm, there’s a person now. Aha. I’m crazy.” I don’t know that that’s the same thing for the people of Krakoa in the sense that–well, it all gets into the question of why they come back differently and what it is that has changed and affected them. I think even among the writers of the X-Office it’s been a discussion.
You have slightly different theories and they all add up to the same thing because, you know, what happens happens. But the why is a bit of a mystery at this point, and I’m not sure that we’re going to fully define it. That said, something happens, right? So if we’re saying that if a mutant dies in Otherworld and they get brought back through resurrection, which is a means that Krakoa is fully on board with and believes in. I’m sure there are people who have their doubts. I’m not saying that every person is 100% onboard. But generally speaking, Krakoa is fully on board with and believes that this resurrection process brings back the person down to their essence and what makes them them. Right?
But Otherworld interferes with that. Then I think that that would open up questions about the process that we all are subscribing to brings them back differently and this other process would bring them back normally, is it the same thing? Like would that Betsy that Jamie makes from scratch be the real Betsy if bringing back the real Betsy through the means that we have said would bring back the real Betsy doesn’t bring back the real Betsy, do you know what I’m saying? Is whatever that thing is that got messed up by her dying in Otherworld, is that essence in the version that Jamie makes or not? Definitely I know I can’t say the answer in an interview because the best place to answer that is in the comics. And at least to some extent, that conversation will come up.
AIPT: I was listening to your recent appearance on the Cerebro podcast and it reminded me how much you love the original Excalibur run, which X of Swords has been compared to. As an editor and a fan, how does it feel to have brought a little of that magic you loved so much growing up to modern comics?
Jordan: It feels great. Although, first thing I want to say is I don’t want to take all the credit. In the same way that I don’t stop people from using characters I don’t like, I also don’t force them to use characters. Obviously, if we’re putting together an ops team and there’s a question of who should be on it, I can go, “You know who’d be good? Sage.” Like, yeah, that’s because I think about Sage and I like Sage, but I didn’t say to Ben, “You have to use Sage.” He went, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” And then he used Sage. And the same is true for this. It’s not like I was like, “Well, guys–the clock’s ticking, when are we getting to Saturnyne?”
But with Tini and Jonathan, these are characters that they’re into as well. Like I’m not the only person in the X-Office who loves classic Excalibur, not by a long shot. So I’m thrilled that the folks that I’m collaborating with love it as much as I do and want to bring it into things in the same ways that I do. But it feels terrific. Because it’s definitely something I thought about a lot–what makes Excalibur Excalibur, and is it possible to preserve that while still being part of the X-Men line? Because, you know, the most Excalibur Excalibur things that existed were very separate from X-Men. They took place in a time when the entire team of Excalibur thought the X-Men were dead for most of it. And then even when they found out, for another 20 something issues, they still didn’t really incorporate into ongoing X-Men continuity that much.
And I mentioned on the Cerebro podcast that when they’re fully integrated into X-Men continuity, I thought, “Oh, this is going to be great.” But I ended up being real disappointed because it ended up robbing Excalibur of so much of what made it special. So how to keep Excalibur feeling Excalibur is something we’ve definitely thought about. So far, I think it’s going well and I’m thrilled to be able to bring in so much Excalibur and Captain Britain-related stuff because I do really love that stuff, but again, I’m not the only one. Tini does, Jonathan does.
AIPT: OK, so what can you tell me about the final three chapters of X of Swords this week?
Jordan: Yeah, there are only three more chapters. When we made them, we were well aware that they’re all coming out on the same day. So I think they definitely read best straight-through, which is not to say you couldn’t take a break if you wanted to, but there’s a lot that happens. And it all happens quickly from the point we start at. I think a lot of people could’ve guessed that at some point this tournament would come down to Apocalypse and Annihilation having to have it out. But I think there are still a couple of surprises up our sleeves.
And I’ve mentioned it multiple times, but I’m going to do it again. Oh my God. Pepe Larraz is so good. We asked completely unreasonable things of him in this series. We would give him the most difficult things to draw that we didn’t literally say, “What are the most difficult things to draw?” But if we had, I don’t know if the stories would be significantly different. We piled burden upon him by asking him way too much and he delivered so well. It’s so gorgeous. I think people are going to be super impressed.
In addition, X-Men and Excalibur both feature Mahmud Asrar, who has stepped up to do so much of this story as well. He worked on every issue of X-Men that’s part of this. And he also did a bunch of this Excalibur issue. Most of it. He is amazing as well. I’ve been working with him a bunch since, you know, X-Men Red, I guess, would have been the first time I worked with him. I think it was. But yeah, he’s great. And he has a deep love of the X-Men and mutants of all kinds. And I think the care and affection that he puts into the pages absolutely shows as well. So there’s a lot of great looking stuff in everybody’s future on Wednesday and hopefully an exciting story.
AIPT: When people get to the last page of X of Swords: Destruction and close the book, what will they feel? A sense of closure? The beginning of the next chapter in the Krakoa saga?
Jordan: I think a little bit of both. I think there will be a feeling of closure because something crazy and epic just ended, but they’re still there. It is definitely a turning point in many ways. And yes, there will be more to say on that once it’s over.
AIPT: Will readers be able to focus on their turkey the next day or will they be preoccupied with what comes next?
Jordan: No, no, no. I think they’ll be able to focus on their turkey because they will feel like they have been through the gauntlet of a mad tournament and good things and terrible things. And all of that has finally ended. And I think they will be able to take a bit of a breather before stumbling forward into a brave new world.
AIPT: I can’t wait to see where we go next. X-Fans, for a peek at the immediate future, check out these gorgeous, eXclusive preview images:
Thanks for the images, Jordan, and thanks as always for taking the time to talk X of Swords! I know no readers need the reminder, but be sure to pick up Excalibur #15, X-Men #15 and X of Swords: Destruction #1 this Wednesday.
Oh, and keep an eye out for an eXtraordinary announcement later this week. This very website and AIPT’s Twitter are definitely good places to look.
Until next time, stay safe, have a wonderful Thanksgiving 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!