Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
In the 87 weeks I’ve been writing this column, I’ve learned two things about X-Fans: They love Marvel’s merry mutants and they love writer Vita Ayala. As a result, I’ve wanted to connect readers and the fan-favorite author for quite some time–I was just waiting for the right opportunity. And sure, they’ve appeared here and there in the column, but there’s never been an X-Men Monday with JUST Vita. So, with Vita taking over the ongoing New Mutants series as part of Reign of X–along with the long-awaited Children of the Atom just over the horizon–now seems like an eXcellent time for them to answer a few fan questions… wouldn’t you agree?
I thought you would. So without further ado, here’s Vita!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Vita! Before we dig into some X-Fan questions, I was curious–how does New Mutants, its cast and history appeal to you as a writer?
Vita: They are kind of the circle of the Venn diagram of my interests, storywise: headstrong teens/young adults, the potential for horror/heavy stories, found family dynamics, and a true variety of characters (in terms of gender, ethnicity, orientation, etc.). A gold mine from the jump!
History-wise, I think that they got all of the things about the X-Books that make them compelling, while still being allowed to be experimental and weird in a way that a flagship book doesn’t often get to. (X-Men as a line is an exception, I guess, but New Mutants has always felt even more strange!) Being able to draw on things like [redacted] and [redacted] moving forward is an absolute gift!
AIPT: Apologies for the redactions, X-Fans–you’ll just have to wait and see what Vita’s truly talking about! OK, we’ve got a question here from M.O.D.O.K. Head Games writer–and New Mutants superfan–Jordan Blum (who, funny enough, appeared alongside Vita in X-Men Monday #57). Jordan wants to know, besides “Demon Bear,” what other stories do you think define the New Mutants?
Vita: I think that the story that stands out immediately for me is losing/finding Karma. The way losing her weighed heavily on the team, changed how characters acted/thought was so impactful to me as a reader. And then the saga of her return, holy smokes! For me, it was not only powerful, but felt very singularly New Mutants.
I’m a big fan of the Zeb Wells run, as well. The crossover/event issues aside (because they don’t count toward his New Mutants run as much as to the X-Line at the time), the story about Limbo there, and about the kids, and how the New Mutants reckon with all that… chills.
AIPT: That was a great story–happy to see Zeb back in the fold telling new tales. Our next question comes from X-Fan Jonah. What exactly the Wild Hunt is has been a mystery ever since it was mentioned in House of X. How much did you know about the Wild Hunt going into your run and what ideas of your own did you bring to the table?
Vita: I don’t want to get too much into it, because I loathe to spoil anything, but it was immediately something I was curious about, because what an intriguing name on an island that is already so primal and wild! And I was given a lot of freedom to shape and explore as I dug in.
AIPT: Looking forward to learning more! X-Fan Chris Monsoon was curious to learn whether your New Mutants run will continue to have a rotating cast of younger X-Characters or if it’ll feature a set team.
Vita: We will have a core cast and then secondary lil mutants who cycle in and out. We wanted to be sure that the book (and thus, the readers) felt like there was a center/foundation to the team, but one of the exciting things about Krakoa is that almost anyone is fair game…
AIPT: Speaking of foundation–you can’t have the New Mutants without Dani Moonstar. X-Fan Zey wanted to know what we can expect from Dani in your New Mutants run.
Vita: A lot, honestly. I love her so much–she’s been one of my favorite mutants since I accidentally read the first issue of “Demon Bear” as a kid, haha! To me, she is a leader, but also a community-oriented person. And there is a lot of community-building that happens when a new nation emerges…
AIPT: And, obviously, we’ve got some new New Mutants in the mix. X-Fan Pame asked, what made you want to add Warpath to the cast?
Vita: There are a few things that Leah Williams and I are cooking up in tandem that made me want to have him. A lot of this arc centers around me trying to answer questions I personally have about the “new normal,” and the place that people have in it.
I also have a kind of ’90s-era view on team building sometimes. You need a big, strong, hard-to-take-down tank. There are arguments to be made that Magik also counts, but she is filling my teleporter and magic-wielder slot!
(Also, I wanted to dig down into his core and see what makes him tick… double also, he’s REAL easy on the eyes!)
AIPT: And then there’s the mutant formerly known as Honey Badger. Scout is a surprising addition to the cast. What can you tease about the way Gabby will interact with the rest of the New Mutants?
Vita: Gabby historically is very comfortable hanging with people that are older than her. She’s always been the baby, among her sisters and then extended family. I try to play with that a little!
AIPT: A fun one from X-Fan Syl–we know the New Mutants used to watch Magnum P.I. together back in the day. Nowadays, what contemporary TV show do they watch together?
Vita: Depends on who is in the living room at the time/who is choosing!
Whole group: Chopped, and they are yelling at the finalists not to make a bread pudding.
Dani picks probably a Miyazaki movie, honestly; Magik picks Forged In Fire; Warlock picks Adventure Time; Rahne picks Raised By Wolves (ha ha) or Star Trek: Next Generation; Karma picks Xena: Warrior Princess; Warpath picks Repair Shop on Netflix, or Stargate: Atlantis (he seems the type).
AIPT: And a question about your recent–and fantastic–Storm story in Marauders #13. X-Fan Bananulphe Moucherat asked, how do you view the relationship between Ororo and T’Challa?
Vita: Complicated, as all real and meaningful relationships are! They are both leaders of their people, both have the weight of the world (universe?) on their shoulders; sometimes that brings them together, and sometimes that puts them at odds.
And the great thing about comics is that such relationships are ever deepening and changing, to give us rich, complicated, compelling stories.
AIPT: And another question related to your past work–Krakoa Discord asked if there’s any chance we’ll see a Bishop and/or Shard cameo in New Mutants. The Krakoa Discord really appreciated your spin on these two in Prisoner X.
Vita: Well, thank you! I can neither confirm nor deny, but I am chuffed to hear you enjoyed my take on the Bishop siblings. There is always a chance, Krakoa being so interconnected…
AIPT: Unfortunately, we got news recently that Children of the Atom has been delayed a bit longer. What can you tell X-Fans about these mysterious kids to tide them over in the meantime?
Vita: That these kids are going to be getting into exactly the kind of trouble that contemporary kids with access to wild abilities would, and that I think their friend dynamics and earnestness will hopefully make folks love them as much as I do.
AIPT: Our final question this week comes from X-Fan David Aaron. If you set up a pod on Krakoa, what would be the first amenities you ask for?
Vita: Listen, Krakoa can grow anything, so I would absolutely beg for a hot tub and a himemaru rice cracker snack tree for my room…
Also, a really nice sunroof so I get good lighting!
AIPT: That all sounds pretty nice, but unfortunately, we need to go! So, Vita, thank you so much for taking the time to chat about New Mutants and Children of the Atom! New Mutants #14 goes on sale this Wednesday and Children of the Atom #1 is set to release March 3. Hopefully, we’ll get to talk again after we’ve had a chance to meet those new characters. And speaking of–here are some eXclusive preview images from Vita’s upcoming series, illustrated by Rod Reis and Bernard Chang!
So eXcited for more Rod Reis art. Be sure to return to AIPT next Monday as Al Ewing stops by X-Men Monday to answer YOUR S.W.O.R.D. questions. Until neXt time, X-Fans–be like the amazing cast of S.W.O.R.D. and wear a mask!
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