Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT—
Oh, don’t act so surprised, X-Fans. If you read X-Men Monday #57 this past May, you got to know Jordan Blum–your fellow, longtime X-Fan-turned-television writer. Since then, the American Dad and Community scribe has become a comic book writer alongside writer, actor and stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt.
You have been reading their eXcellent M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games mini-series, right?
Thank God. Then you know that at the end of issue 2, new mutant Gwenpool entered the fray. Where does Gwenpool live again? Oh, that’s right: Krakoa. To celebrate M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3–on sale February 17–and its ties to the X-Men, I invited Jordan back to X-Men Monday to share what it feels like to be a published comics writer, why X-Fans should be reading Head Games and more. We also chat about his and Patton’s upcoming Hulu M.O.D.O.K. series, and I get Jordan to reveal one of the X-Villains set to appear on the show. (Here’s a hint: He really digs capes.)
Plus, despite a very busy schedule, Patton was kind enough to make his X-Men Monday debut to field a few X-Questions.
Clearly, there’s a lot to get through this M.O.D.O.K. Monday–and there’s so much more I didn’t even mention–so let’s get started!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! When we last spoke, you teased possible comic book projects. Now, you can stroll into comic shops (with a mask on) and pick up two issues of M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games. So, how does it feel to be a published comics writer?
Jordan: I mean, it’s crazy to me. It’s bucket list-level dreams coming true. I’ve tried to appreciate every stage of it and geeking out over the littlest things. The other day, we got a lettering pass back on an issue and there was an editor’s note caption box from Jordan D. White and just that–having an editor’s note in a book you wrote, I just love all the things that go into making a book. That kind of stuff makes you feel connected to the history of comics.
So it’s been unbelievable. It’s the most fun I’d ever had writing anything. It’s so freeing. I love how collaborative it is. I love how immediate it is, how you can send the script to [artist] Scott Hepburn and within weeks get his pencils and inks back. And it all happens in such a short period of time. Then suddenly you’re holding it and it’s real. I love making TV, don’t get me wrong, but it takes so much longer.
AIPT: Well, speaking of art, I saw that Scott has some original pages for sale over at Cadence Comic Art. Do you have any of the original art or plans to buy any?
Jordan: Patton and I have been fighting over and calling dibs on many pages. Scott’s got a stack–he’s waiting to ship them all together for me when the series ends. I mean, that’s one of the only downsides of writing comics is wanting to own every piece of it. I don’t know if other people have this issue, but I had a really hard time deciding which ones I get. The one I landed on was the splash page in issue 1 where you’re seeing M.O.D.O.K. kind of tear through the A.I.M. agents. It’s an ode to the Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X cover of the trade. So that’s the one that I had my eye on. That’ll be the one hanging in my office.
AIPT: That’s awesome. As a lifelong comics fan, was there anything about the comic-writing process that surprised you or you didn’t expect?
Jordan: Well, I think the thing I prepared myself for was that the job of a comic writer is to showcase the artists–to write what they want to draw and set them up to do amazing work and kind of step back. I think in television, it’s a lot more writer-driven, you know? You’re on set, you’re editing the thing, you’re overseeing your own work. Where here, you’re really kind of giving this suggestion to an artist and they’re going to do incredible, amazing things with it. So I think it’s about kind of getting out of your own way and really working toward the artist’s strengths. I love just brainstorming with Scott, talking to him about the things he wants to draw or the things that excite him and really kind of letting him just go and then being amazed at the pages you get back–how they’re always a thousand times better than what you imagined.
AIPT: And what’s it like writing with Patton? What’s your collaborative process?
Jordan: It’s fantastic! We’re both huge comic readers. I think we’re both at the store every Wednesday picking up our books. What’s nice is we’re each other’s comics community, making suggestions to each other like it’s our own little reading club. But on top of that, as far as the writing goes, we’ll break out the story together. And then we outline, which was more fun to do pre-COVID in-person. As we’re outlining, we’ll put in any dialogue lines and stuff as we’re going along and eventually we have a pretty dense document. Then we divide it up and figure out who’s excited to write what scene, then split it up and go off and then come back and trade our scenes back and forth until it just kind of all blends together into the script. It’s a blast because it’s like doing improv with one of the funniest people on the planet. Lots of yes and-ing while trying to top each other with obscure references to weird Alpha Flight comics from the ’80s.
AIPT: OK, as this is an X-Men column, let’s talk about this month’s M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3. Why should X-Fans add this comic to their pull lists?
Jordan: If you know me, you know I’m ride or die X-Men. They are my everything. So, knowing that this might be the only chance I ever get to write a Marvel comic, I made sure to write a scene set on Krakoa with Gwenpool and a few other mutants. One of them–our shared favorite [Cyclops, duh], and also, one of my more favorite obscure characters who’s yet to have their first Dawn of X first appearance. It’s in M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3. So yeah, it’s absolutely 100% a direct tie-in to everything happening in the X-Men books! You must read this or you will have no idea what’s happening in any of the other X-Books and you’ll be so left behind! It’s totally the lynchpin to the entire line! But seriously, it’s got some fun cameos, so if you’re an X-Men completist like myself, you won’t want to miss this issue.
AIPT: I know you were already reading the current X-Men titles as a fan. How did it feel getting to write a scene on Krakoa in a series overseen by Jordan D. White?
Jordan: I felt like a kid trying to dip my toe in the pool and see if anyone would yell at me. And weirdly, no one did. Jordan was fantastic. He really let us tell the story we wanted to tell and do this specific scene. We even incorporated his notes in the scene in sort of a heightened way, which will make more sense when you see it. With Gwenpool, things get very meta.
But honestly, I think the X-Books are the best they’ve been in years. And Jordan is a huge part of that. So when I found out he was the editor of our book, I was ecstatic. I mean, this is the guy making the books that I am devouring. It was such an honor to get to work with and learn from him. Also, our amazing Assistant Editor Lauren Amaro, and Associate Editor Annalise Bissa, who was on the book earlier. What was really nuts was I was in town for New York Comic Con when I pitched the book to Jordan. I got to come into the offices and see some of the art hanging in there and my eyes kept drifting off, trying to seek out spoilers as an X-Fan while trying to pitch him a M.O.D.O.K. mini-series. My ADD was truly tested.
AIPT: As such a die-hard fan, was it challenging writing X-Characters in M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games? Obviously, you’re a professional writer… but deep down you’re also an X-Fan with the keys to the kingdom.
Jordan: Well, I think the M.O.D.O.K. TV show was good training, even though you’re playing with the toys you grew up with, and you want to play with all of them, you need to make sure that they serve the story and that you’re using them to move the story forward. I think we were able to show just enough restraint to keep the focus on M.O.D.O.K. and his journey. And I think Gwenpool was specifically chosen because they have a history. If you go back to her first full series, she kills M.O.D.O.K. and takes over his evil organization.
The other thing that we’re dealing with in this issue is how M.O.D.O.K. has been all these different kinds of variations–he’s been comedic, he’s been a serious threat, he’s been B.R.O.D.O.K.! There’s all these different incarnations of the character. And that’s kind of the central mystery of the book–him trying to make sense of all of these and, specifically, a life he doesn’t remember living. So the idea of investigating inconsistencies and characters on a metatextual level means Gwenpool is the perfect guest star for that. She even started as like a cover gag who then turned into this fan-favorite character. So not only does it kind of reflect their history together, but she helps us dig into these themes and ideas about how characters are written differently throughout the years and how we wanted to take that Grant Morrison approach to the character. Like what Morrsion did on Batman, that it all counts. So Gwenpool helps, from readers’ POV, sort through M.O.D.O.K.’s history and make sense of it.
AIPT: Nice. So let’s say X-Fans really dig M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 and go back and read the first two issues. What can they expect from the final issue, on sale April 28?
Jordan: Issue 4 is very much us diving into the actual origins of M.O.D.O.K. and revealing that there’s more to the story than the original Stan Lee-Jack Kirby origin we got in the ’60s. We’re not undoing anything as much as we’re building on it and introducing some new characters and some new ideas to the M.O.D.O.K. mythos. And then you’ll get answers on who this family is and what their future is in M.O.D.O.K.’s world. Also, there’s tons of carnage and mayhem and some insane Scott Hepburn splash pages that will blow your mind. So I think there’s a lot to look forward to. And if you aren’t going back to the previous issues of M.O.D.O.K., you should! There’s tons of X-related Easter eggs littered throughout the series. In the first issue, M.O.D.O.K. ends up falling through multiple floors of A.I.M. like Wolverine in the Dark Phoenix Saga.
It’s a nice little ode to that Chris Claremont/John Byrne moment, as well as him arming himself with lots of tech in the A.I.M. armory, including several X-related weapons. And in issue 2, he and Iron Man attend the supervillain tech convention in Vegas, where there are some other X-related cameos and big villains. Lots of those characters in that issue will be appearing on the M.O.D.O.K. TV show, including multiple X-Characters. So, you know, that’s a good kind of Easter egg hunt to see who will be possibly popping up in the M.O.D.O.K. show.
AIPT: You know, X-Men Monday’s known for its eXclusives–with that capital “X.” You’ve mentioned before that Lila Cheney will be on the show. Are you able to drop another X-Character reveal that’ll blow X-Fans’ minds?
Jordan: OK. Let’s see. All right. I’ll just give you a big one. There’s a Mister Sinister role on the show that is one of my favorite bits in the whole season. And it’s not just like a background cameo thing. He plays a pretty significant role in the episode. So if you’re a Mister Sinister guy, like me–and I love the way he’s being written in a lot of the books right now, especially Hellions–you’ll want to tune in.
AIPT: And here’s your first, eXclusive look at Mister Sinister’s design from the upcoming Hulu M.O.D.O.K. series!
The only thing better than Mister Sinister is Mister Sinister holding a cocktail! I cannot wait for Sinister to return to television. And yeah, I saw him in issue 2.
Jordan: He’s in there. Yeah. And then speaking of Lila Cheney, again, we were also trying to give more clues about the show in that issue. So in the scene where M.O.D.O.K.’s daughter Melissa is talking to M.O.D.O.K.’s wife Jodie, about breaking up with her girlfriend, there’s this gorgeous Lila Cheney poster hanging on her wall. I would kill to own that poster should Scott or Marvel ever decide to sell it.
AIPT: So, I’m curious… and you don’t have to reveal any specifics… but how many pitches do you have in mind for X-Men mini-series or full series?
Jordan: I have a lot, I would love to be a part of what they’re doing right now, but at the same time, it’s funny, like as much as we’ve talked about Cyclops being our favorite character and, you know, a lot of the other bigger X-Men, I think I’m much more excited to write more of the B-list or D-list characters. I think there’s a lot of pressure to writing and getting Wolverine right. And also trying to find something new to do with him. Obviously, if given the opportunity, I would take it in a heartbeat and do my best, but I think I’m more excited about like, can I write the definitive Skids story or Lila Cheney story? Ooh or Boom-Boom! I love those characters, the ones on the outskirts that are fan-favorites, but maybe haven’t been kind of dusted off in a while. So I think those would be the characters I’d love to pitch on.
AIPT: You can always tell which random characters are creators’ favorites because like, suddenly, Stilt-Man’s legs show up on panel.
Jordan: Well, you know, what’s insane is Stilt-Man was one of the few characters that Marvel was like, “No, you can’t use them in the show.” We have a whole episode that is set at the Bar With No Name and we’re like, who should be the perfect bartender? Oh, what if it’s Stilt-Man! So if you ask for top-shelf liquor, he just kind of zooms up to get it. And we’re like, oh, this is no problem, we’ll get this character easily. And they’re like, “No, you absolutely cannot use Stilt-Man.” And we’re like, really? Like, we can use Mister Sinister, but we can’t use Stilt-Man? I assume it had to do with Daredevil rights being tied up.
And then the other one that was baffling is that we wanted to use Turner D. Century. Are you familiar with that character?
AIPT: Haha, no.
Jordan: He’s like a Spider-Woman villain who looks like this ragtimey-era guy who rides an old, turn-of-the-century bicycle. And he’s got this horn that can kill anyone under the age of 40. He hates the way that society and culture have changed. Anyway, he’s fantastic. We had an actor picked out who would have been perfect to play him. In our mind, we’ve got this home run and they’re like, “No go on Turner D. Century.”
AIPT: Cue 100 speculation articles about Turner D. Century coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jordan: Yeah, surprise, he’s getting his own Disney+ show! That was kind of a funny thing. You expected to get your hand slapped when you’re reaching for the big guns, but we were allowed to pretty much use almost everyone we wanted, except those two characters.
AIPT: That’s hilarious. Finally, as you’ve spent so much of your life as an X-Fan, I was wondering if you could share your one X-Men fan opinion you refuse to back down on. The type of opinion you’d battle Jordan D. White about on the internet.
Jordan: I mean, my big one is I think Dani Moonstar should be a huge part of the X-Men’s leadership and inner circle. Dani and Cannonball I feel like are still downplayed a little as kids or students, like, “Oh, they’re just off with the New Mutants having wild adventures.” Whereas they should be in the Quiet Council. I feel like they’ve earned their spot over the years. And you know, in a way maybe they’ve been overshadowed by Cable, but I believe that they deserve a seat at the table when it comes to making big decisions for mutantkind.
AIPT: I’m confident you’re not the only X-Fan who feels that way. Oh, and before I let you go, who’d you cast your vote for in the not-at-all-divisive X-Men Election?
Jordan: Mine was for Boom-Boom because she’s the Beyonder’s best friend, an ex-Fallen Angel, survived almost being put into Fin Fang Foom’s purple pants and is easily the best-dressed X-Man. I mean she straight-up rules!
AIPT: Alright, thanks for taking the time to chat, Jordan! Always a fun time. Now, we welcome Patton Oswalt to X-Men Monday!
Patton, in the now-classic Parks & Recreation filibuster clip, you namedrop several X-Men–Wolverine, Cyclops, Colossus, X-23.
Clearly, you know your X-Men. Who’s your favorite X-Men character and why?
Patton: I know it’s weird, ‘cuz he was kind of a villain for a while, but Magneto has always been fascinating to me. The fact that a comic book wrestled with the idea of how monstrosity creates bigger monsters, and then sometimes maybe the monsters it creates have a point? That’s pretty deep stuff for a comic book. Plus, I mean, come on, his powers ARE cool. Being able to pull planes out of the sky but also manipulate the iron in your blood… Wow!
AIPT: Do you have a favorite X-Men story of all time?
Patton: I loved Brian K. Vaughan’s whole run on Ultimate X-Men, the focus on all the secondary characters, and how they were struggling and affecting the Marvel Universe. I love that stuff.
AIPT: Finally, you’ve got a livestream comedy special coming February 20. As Krakoa makes it possible for mutants to focus more energy on extracurricular activities, which X-Men character do you think could really find success in comedy?
AIPT: I bet Fantomex has some amazing comedic chops but no one would get any of his references.
AIPT: That tracks. Thanks for taking the time to field those questions, Patton! Before we wrap up, we’ve got one more treat this M.O.D.O.K. Monday, X-Fans: Six eXclusive preview images from M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 illustrated by Scott Hepburn, featuring a few familiar faces.
Next week, X-Men Monday resumes its regularly scheduled programming as we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our other favorite Jordan (of the D. White variety) and dig into X-Fans’ Cyclops and Jean Grey questions.
AIPT will also have a cool, X-related announcement tomorrow I think will eXcite a lot of X-Fans, so be on the lookout for that.
Oh yeah, and voting on the X-Men Election closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 2, 2021–so get out and vote! (Spoilers for who I voted for below.)
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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