Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! Only five installments to go before we reach X-Men Monday #100!
If you’ve learned anything about me in my time writing this column, it’s that my love for Cyclops and Jean Grey as characters–and a couple–is unwavering. So for an X-Fan like myself, who started reading X-Men comics shortly after Scott Summers and Jean Grey tied the knot, the Krakoa era has been a breath of fresh air. The fact that we now get Summers family adventures–something I never thought I’d see–is just icing on the cake!
So when it came time to plan this year’s Valentine’s Day edition of X-Men Monday (following Rogue and Gambit last year), there was no better X-Couple to focus on than the heads of Krakoa’s first family–and the new leaders of the X-Men–Scott and Jean! Fortunately, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White knows a thing or two about these classic characters and was game to chat about all things JOTT, including all the eXcitement the pair’s stirred up thanks to their first-ever X-Men Election.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! Our first X-Fan question this week comes from Matheu-X (from the Krakoa Discord), who said, as leaders, Scott and Jean have traditionally worked independently. In the Krakoa era, they act not only as a couple–but as a unit in the X-Men. Matheu-X wanted to know how this new status quo was conceived and discussed by the X-Office.
Jordan: Oh goodness. Well, obviously, it didn’t quite start out that way because Jean was over on X-Force, but now that she’s not, them coming together to really say they want to make sure there is an X-Men and that they are the heroes of Krakoa just felt like the natural next step considering how much Jonathan [Hickman], and Gerry [Duggan] as well, have been portraying them as a family. Since X-Men #1, there’s been a lot of Summers family. I don’t want to say we’ve never seen this before, because obviously, there was the old X-Factor book, which presented them together.
But I don’t know–I feel like it’s been a long time, let’s say, and I think that’s been missed. So I think Jonathan kicked it off just by presenting them in that way. And then, as I said, Gerry latched onto it for Cable and has been, through Cable, showing that family. And it just grew from there now that they are not on separate teams, it seemed like the natural thing for them to come together and lead the next phase.
AIPT: The family aspect is especially interesting to see. In superhero comics, there’s often been the concern that a character like Spider-Man getting married or having children ages them and makes it harder for young readers to relate. Was there any concern over how Scott and Jean’s new status quo ages them? Or do you think the X-Men franchise allows for more flexibility than Spider-Man?
Jordan: Both–100% Both, which I know is not possible, but that’s how it is. That’s been defined logic, because first of all, let me start by saying, I agree with those fears for most characters–and aging them up is a big part of it. But also, I think the other part of it is that it changes what their story is about. And I know because if Spider-Man is married or has a kid, people respond by going, “No, being married is not like all easy. It still is difficult. It’s just different challenges.” And it’s like, yes, 100% true, but the kinds of challenges Spider-Man faces are essential to what Spider-Man is and what the book is about.
By changing what the challenges he’s going to face are, you run the risk of it not being the thing that people like or the thing that it is at its core. Clearly, Peter Parker in the mainstream Spider-Man comics and Peter Parker in the Spider-Girl series that they did–those are the same character, but they have different concerns. They are about a different thing.
AIPT: [Laughs] I feel like we always go off on Spider-Man tangents.
Jordan: Let’s shift back to X-Men and say that risk is present in X-Men, especially with children, in my opinion, because when you have a baby, it should and does change your priorities. You can’t be doing incredibly dangerous, world-saving things every day, because you have to take care of this baby.
AIPT: Well, that’s not true. In X-Factor, Scott and Jean kept the baby in a protective bubble.
Jordan: You’re absolutely right. It’s definitely a weird thing, but you’ll also notice that they then went, you know, how can we get rid of this baby? And a big reason we can do it here is because of that cheat–the children in the Summers family are not children. They are adults because of time-travel shenanigans that don’t make any sense in real life. So we get to sidestep the biggest part of that problem, which I think is that the essential changes you must make to your life with children. Marriage also is an issue for solo characters, especially, but again, the X-Men also don’t function as solo characters almost ever. There are a few notable exceptions, but most of the time, they work best in the team environment. And I think that’s also an interesting puzzle to crack.
And I hope someday, maybe we will. To me, the whole team versus solo thing, it comes down to storytellers have cracked what a Wolverine story is. If somebody says, think of a Wolverine story, people know the kind of story to think about. If someone says, think of a Cyclops story, the story that people think of is a story about a leader or in a context of a team. We don’t have a go-to, “Here’s what a Cyclops solo story is.” And I think that is true for most of the X-Men. Not all of them, but most of them, and I think that once we crack that nut for any of the characters, they will all of a sudden have a solo series because everyone will know what that is. But we’re not there.
AIPT: Interesting stuff. OK, back to the X-Fan questions. In your eyes, what are the biggest ways Scott and Jean are similar and different as individual leaders? X-Fan houndsofluv from the Krakoa Discord gang wanted to know.
Jordan: I think Cyclops feels the burden of leadership. It’s a thing that presses down on him, but someone has to do it and he knows he’s been prepared for this job this entire life. He has the responsibility and he will stand up to it and do what he’s asked to do. Whereas, I feel like Jean leads more with optimism, in the sense that she wants to make a difference and make things better. So she takes the initiative to do it.
Cyclops’ journey to being the leader he is today has been fraught with more angst and trepidation. He did not want to lead the X-Men multiple times. He’s walked away because it was too much for him, but he always has to come back to it because he feels that responsibility. Again, it seems kind of close to the Peter Parker ethos of “I have this responsibility because I have been put in this position, so I have to fulfill it.”
Whereas with Jean, I don’t feel like she was set up to be the leader the way he was. You know, Xavier back in the early days was telling her a lot of secrets behind the scenes. And he wasn’t telling anybody else, apparently, but he wasn’t like, you know, putting this burden on her the same way he was putting it on Scott, probably as a product of it being written in the ’60s. So her growth into being a leader came for her character more naturally because it was a growth, not a thing that was put upon her. And that’s why I think, as a result, she’s able to keep a more positive outlook on it.
AIPT: What’s your opinion of the psychic rapport Scott and Jean have shared off and on throughout their publishing history? Also, how do you think it works? I’ve always wondered…
Jordan: I mean, I don’t know. It reminds me of Superman and Lois Lane, with the whole kind of concept that if she just whispers certain words, he’ll go no matter what because he’s always vaguely listening for her. And I think it’s got to be the same way, right? That, you know, Jean is such an incredibly powerful telepath that she’s just kind of always sort of knowing where Scott is at all times. So that at any moment they can, you know, fire up that walkie-talkie.
AIPT: Yeah, I never knew if it was like speed dial or if it’s just always on… because I think you’d go crazy if it was the latter.
Jordan: Well, I mean, I think she’s very skilled at filtering out everything and everyone, all the time. So I think it’s probably more like she keeps the radio of Scott on very, very low in the background. And if certain things come on, she’s like, “Well, hold on, what’s that?” That’s how I think it must be.
AIPT: Well, speaking of telepathy, X-Fan Billy-Vell had a question about the often-complicated relationship between Jean and Rachel. It seems like we only see either Jean and Scott with Nathan or Scott with his two kids, but not any form of Jean and Rachel. Where do you think their relationship stands, and what should it be?
Jordan: I think they have a good relationship. I mean, I think you’re right. The last time we really actively saw them, like hanging out together, would have been back during X-Men Red. So that’s been a while. They do live together and I think they do have those family interactions. It’s just that the context we’ve seen Rachel in most often in this time has not been as the lead until she joined X-Factor, which again, doesn’t have any of the other Summers in it. So I think it’s just that’s where we’ve seen them. It’s not actually like a statement on them not getting along or anything.
They’re not avoiding each other, but again, their relationship is a relationship that doesn’t exist in reality–anywhere for us to point to. The closest thing you could probably find to it in the world is, you know, like if you’re in college and you become friends with a person who’s like 30 years old and you’re like, oh, they have like sort of a motherly quality in our relationship. Jean doesn’t have any memory of her as a child. She met her as a fully grown person and Rachel knew her as a younger version of her mother, but Jean did not know Rachel. So I think that she likes her and probably even loves her and accepts her as her child.
But also, it’s a weird situation. For Jean, it’s more like a “the daughter I never had” kind of situation rather than her actual “I raised this girl” daughter, because she didn’t raise her. But they are still close and they do still think of each other as family. You know, when Scott went dark for a while, Rachel reacted kind of negatively toward that and changed her name to Grey because she felt more close to her mother.
Although, that was when he started dating Emma, wasn’t it? That’s not when he went dark.
Jordan: OK, sorry.
AIPT: You just upset all the Emma fans.
Jordan: That’s not what I meant, Emma fans, that’s not what I meant. It was a little bit later, when he became more militaristic and stuff. It was earlier, it was when he started dating Emma, which again, was a weird thing to do, except that Jean was on board for it, so it’s all copacetic. You just didn’t know that at the time.
AIPT: Another question about an alternate-reality Summers-Grey child. X-Fan Tidinha Meneghel said for a couple who are so bent on keeping the family together nowadays, don’t you think Jean and Scott are neglecting Nate Grey? Sure he’s in another dimension, but with Otherworld in the picture, that shouldn’t stop them from catching up with their third child. I think we’ve got an X-Man fan here, Jordan.
Jordan: Well, that’s an interesting question, but first of all, he is the least their child of any of these people–and not just because he’s from another dimension. But also because in that other dimension, he was a genetically created person through science experiments, not through, you know, the normal methods. So neither of them was aware that he existed. Which again, it’s not to invalidate the connection that they have genetically or anything like that. But I feel like he became a family member sort of through the fact that we know Cable, who is much more of their child than he is because he’s an alternate version of Cable. He kind of gets family status.
And I don’t think any of them really think of that connection as familial as they do to Cable or to Rachel. That said, I also think he’s doing OK in the sense that I don’t think he was unhappy in that other world. I think that he created that world and it was very flawed and our people were unhappy in that world. The X-Men were very unhappy in that world and that’s why they left, but he’s still there and he’s trying again. So what happens there is a story that remains to be told, but I think they know he was willing and he wanted it. So they’re not going to go yank him out of a place he wants to be.
AIPT: Yeah, he’s chilling with Magneto.
Jordan: Yeah, what’s the deal with that? I don’t know how that works. We’ll see. Maybe someday we’ll find out.
AIPT: Another great X-Mystery–have Jean’s niece and nephew Gailyn and Joey been resurrected? X-Fan Austin Gorton was curious, and if so, also wanted to know how they feel about chillin’ on Krakoa along with their one-time kidnappers, Nanny and Orphan-Maker?
Jordan: Oh gosh almighty. I don’t know that I know enough about that story to really answer. I would say if we haven’t shown them, probably no, they haven’t. But you know, that’s a question for the kind of resurrection protocols that are being established in X-Factor. I know they’ve talked a lot about how there are literally millions of mutants to resurrect. So I know that some folks have jumped the line for various reasons, but I don’t think that Jean has forced them to jump the line for them.
So, they probably will be unhappy to be there with Nanny and Orphan-Maker, but in the same way that Angel’s unhappy to have been there with Apocalypse for a little while. And we know the Morlocks are unhappy to be there with Greycrow. And I’m sure everybody’s unhappy to be there with Sinister, but those are the compromises they made when they made this deal.
AIPT: Well, while we’re talking about Krakoan culture, a more general romance question for this Valentine’s Day edition of X-Men Monday. X-Fan Adam Reck said Krakoan law decrees “Make More Mutants.” So far, we have yet to see a pregnancy or any characters decide to have or adopt children. Are Krakoans breaking the law by defying one of the three core tenants of their nation-state?
Jordan: [Laughs] No, no, of course not. That’s ridiculous, but I’ll tell you what. I actually just recently, earlier this week, read a script that deals very actively with this question. Very actively. And you know what? I’ll just go right out and tell you–it’s in Way of X that they are definitely planning to look into the laws of Krakoa and what they mean and how it will come up there. It will also come up in other places that we have plans for right now.
In regard to us not having seen any babies, we haven’t seen any babies among like the big X-Men. Now again, that mostly has to do with meta reasons of it being not a great idea for our superheroes to have babies with them a lot of the times, but it also has to do with the fact that they have other stuff they’re doing. But I think that there are people having babies in the background and we did show a baby having been born in Cable.
Although now that I think about it, those two didn’t live on Krakoa, did they? I’m trying to remember if they were back and forth or I think they were weirded out by it. But I think we can believe that babies are happening, but it will be dealt with more directly both in Way of X and elsewhere.
AIPT: As we wrap up, X-Fan Harpsikord asked what song you relate to Scott and Jean as a couple.
Jordan: Well, the big one, obviously, is U2’s “One,” which was played at their wedding. If you say “song” and “Scott and Jean,” that is immediately what happens in my mind–that song starts playing.
AIPT: And finally… do Scott and Jean realize how much trouble they stirred up on the internet because of their X-Men Election?
Jordan: Oh, hilarious. Well, no, because in-world, none of our fans would actually be allowed to vote. But I think they do know how much trouble they stirred up on Krakoa. And I think they were trying to make good trouble, as the phrase goes, because they saw that the system, as it stood, was good, but also not entirely fair and not perfect. And they thought this was a way to improve it and they’re doing their best. And we’ll see how it works out.
I mean, I know the results of the vote, but I’m not telling.
AIPT: Well, what was it like for you all, watching all the debates and campaigning?
Jordan: Oh, it was super thrilling. I mean, as far as the campaigning goes, that was one of the things we were most excited about. Before it even happened, the idea that we knew people will be choosing favorites. People will be out there, you know, stumping for their choice. But even knowing that, we were still so impressed by the work that was done–the posters people designed and, you know, there’s all sorts of crazy stuff. It was so thrilling. And so every day, you know, we were all touching base about it. We were getting the results in behind secret doors and stuff and checking out who was winning and who was moving up, who’s moving down. And yeah, it was absolutely a thrill.
AIPT: Can you share who you voted for?
Jordan: Oh yeah, I voted for Tempo. So am I happy? Am I not? We’ll find out.
But I voted for Tempo for two reasons. One is because I think time powers are interesting and they are difficult, but they are really interesting. And also because–of the 10 characters–I think she was the most of a blank slate. So it kind of gave us the most room–not room for growth, because anybody can grow–but you know what I mean, the most to make her into a fully-fledged character. And I thought that sounded really fun. So we’ll see what happens. That said, every single person on that list was awesome. And we wouldn’t have put them on that list if we weren’t 100% willing to put them on the team and give fully to them. So we are very into it and we are very happy with the results overall.
And I think there was some question I saw, especially early on, over whether this was real or whether it was nonsense. I saw people going, “Yeah, right.” Like “They’re not working on it.” But I think if you look at the timeline now, and the fact that when we’re saying we’re going to reveal it, it’s a little bit off, it’s a little ways from now. And that’s because this is real. Like, this vote is for real and we know who it is. We are able to solidify our plans and move forward.
AIPT: We’re living in eXciting times. On that note, thanks for taking the time to talk all things Scott and Jean, Jordan! And for all you readers who just can’t stand these two, here are some eXclusive preview images that don’t feature them at all!
In the next edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT, we’ll talk to the writer who married Scott and Jean–The legendary Fabian Nicieza–about his upcoming, two-part X-Men Legends story, which kicks off this month!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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