Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! Only eight installments to go before we reach X-Men Monday #100!
Following check-ins with Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan to see what the Reign of X has in store for their series, the X-Men Monday spotlight now turns to Excalibur. And you can’t talk Captain Britain, Rogue, Rictor and all the other mutant magic that takes place in the pages of Excalibur without its writer, Tini Howard. So, let’s see what Tini has to say, shall we?
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Tini! In X-Men Monday #86, which you made a surprise appearance in, Jonathan Hickman used the word “expansion” to describe the Reign of X. So with that in mind, what does the Reign of X mean for Excalibur?
Tini: Duty. We’re watching mutantkind expand into all of these new arenas, and Otherworld has been proven to not be very safe for mutants. Excalibur very much sees protecting and defending Krakoa’s connection to the kingdom of Avalon as part of their role.
AIPT: Our first X-Fan question this week, from Adam (@EyeBoyBestBoy), is about the new Captain Britain Corps. How much of the design and character creation in the reborn Corps was you and Jonathan and how much of it was just letting artist Pepe Larraz run wild? By the way, Adam’s a big fan of Dino Betsy.
Tini: I had a few I specifically asked for because I’m always planting seeds of things to come, but dynamite superstar Pepe Larraz just went above and beyond like he always does and delivered so many things that BECAME seeds of things to come and inspired stories already. I love Dino Betsy, and Swan Betsy too. I think it was Jonathan who suggested a swan, but I really lost my mind for what Pepe delivered on that one. Swans are mean.
AIPT: Eagerly awaiting you and Jonathan’s Violet Swan mini-series. Now, a question about our Betsy from X-Fan Lance. We’ve seen humans react to Betsy as Captain Britain. And, of course, we know how Saturnyne feels, but what about the mutants of Krakoa’s views on Betsy brandishing the colors of another nation? Lance was curious, how do you see Betsy’s relationship with her fellow mutants as it pertains to her current status as Captain Britain?
Tini: As always I’m treading a line here, I don’t want to spoil my books, or set things up: but we’ll see a lot of Krakoa for a few issues, and we’ll see more of Excalibur’s function on the island of Krakoa and within the lighthouse. We’ve cemented that Krakoa and Avalon are beyond allies at this point, they’re sister kingdoms, and that’s the status quo. Much in the way that Captain Britain the comic went from being about the Captain of Britain to being about reality-warping and the Corps… we’re doing similar stuff here.
AIPT: Obviously, Apocalypse was such a huge part of Excalibur. So, X-Fan Leah James wanted to know how it feels to write the series and cast without Apocalypse in the picture?
Tini: You know, I loved the idea of losing him. It made every bit of his story important and it was one of the elements that really galvanized the story for Jonathan and me–we were both really into it ending that way, and it made the whole thing feel really special.
But I really loved writing Apocalypse and I miss him very much.
AIPT: Speaking of people who miss Apocalypse… X-Fan Pame asked what made you choose Rictor as the cast member who would become interested in learning about and using mutant magic?
Tini: He seemed like the perfect inheritor to Apocalypse’s very old style of magic. There’s a long cultural history of loners, sad folk, the ‘touched’ being able to be more open to the spiritual or magical world. I don’t think that’s always as obvious as ‘babbling at the sky,’ I think sometimes it just means that a quiet guy with really bad depression spends a lot of time in the vicinity of a certain kind of emotional rawness. It’s meant to feel ancient and fulfilling–you aren’t broken, you’re just meant for a role that doesn’t exist anymore, we can remake it for you. And in that he finds power.
And that ties to his ability to feel the core of the Earth. They live on a living island, too, you know? Seemed significant.
AIPT: X-Fan AppleJ pointed out that Gambit and Rogue are two characters with a history of going their own way. Post-X of Swords, what would you say is keeping the couple a part of Excalibur?
Tini: Rogue is very central in this upcoming arc and it’ll be clear why. It’s the same kind of thing that always keeps Rogue around and fired up, you know?
AIPT: A question from X-Fan Chris Freeman about the former Captain Britain. Has Brian Braddock’s powerset changed now that he’s Captain Avalon?
Tini: The answer to this is ‘maybe, but I can’t and won’t tell you until it happens.’ I’m so sorry. I hope you didn’t pay too much for your question.
AIPT: I cover all the X-Fan question costs (I’m generous like that). I actually have a question, though. What’s the best thing about writing Maggie Braddock?
Tini: It’s that she has the vocabulary of an adult but not the maturity of one. She’s a toddler-sized AP student.
AIPT: Back to the X-Fans–Adam (@BiokineticGold) was curious, given Rachel Summers’ occasional appearances in Excalibur and the fact Betsy gifted Rachel Amazing Baby, is there something brewing between these two characters?
Tini: See [the answer to the Captain Avalon question] and thank you so much, again, truly sorry.
AIPT: Foiled again! In the stories to come, is it possible we’ll see other mutants who had no previous connection to magic–like Rictor–take an interest in mutant magic? X-Fan Ferro wanted to know.
Tini: It’s absolutely possible. I think it’s also important to distinguish the way we think of magic as humans versus how mutants are coming to embrace it. For humans, magic is an old-fashioned thing that we mostly grew out of, but have found that it might be useful to us once more. Mutants have never had this kind of culture, so they haven’t grown out of their magic. They’re in the thick of it, in its prime. It’s not about learning old forgotten methods of throwing fireballs, it’s new infant ways of joining together that redefine the limits of what they’re capable of as a species.
AIPT: On a similar note, Post-X of Swords, we now have the mutant magic of Arakko, in addition to Krakoa’s version. X-Fan Veitha from the Krakoa Discord was wondering if we can expect to learn the differences in these forms of mutant magic at some point in the future.
Tini: I don’t know that I’d say to ‘expect’ that or not. I’d say I’m excited to hear people thinking this way, it’s a fantastic anthropological exercise. See above for more on this kind of thought.
AIPT: Finally, a simple, easy-to-answer question. 16 issues into your Excalibur run and one GIANT crossover later, what ONE contribution to the X-Men mythos are you most proud of?
Tini: That two-page story in Crazy I wrote where Stryfe called Nathan Summers “basic Cable.” Thank you for asking.
AIPT: You’re welcome! But truly, all thanks go to you for taking the time to answer these X-Fan questions! Also, additional thanks to X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White for these eXclusive preview images from upcoming Excalibur adventures. Although, I guess that last one of dapper, black-and-white Warren Worthington III could be from another series. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Thanks for the Tini Howard questions, X-Fans, as well as the questions you’ve already submitted for next week. Be sure to return on the final Monday of January for Zeb Wells, who’ll let us know what the Reign of X has in store for his fan-favorite series, Hellions!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay 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!