Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! And would you look at that–we’re in the triple digits, baby!
Before we begin, I would like to take a minute to thank everybody who helped us celebrate X-Men Monday #100. Throughout March, four readers were gifted a total of 24 digital codes to recent X-Men comics, one lucky winner was mailed a package stuffed with single issues and trade paperbacks, and over $1,000 was raised for the Hero Initiative through our original art auctions with Todd Nauck and Joshua Cassara. Hope everybody had fun!
On with the main event: Welcoming writer Steve Orlando back to X-Men Monday! Now, a few of you are out there going, “Back?! Steve’s stopped by X-Men Monday before?!” And the rest of you are going, “Um, yeah. Steve appeared briefly in ‘X-Men Monday #23 – Terrificon 2019.’ Duh.” And I’m like, “There’s no need for that tone, here’s the link for those who missed it!”
Seriously, though, it’s a short and sweet chat with Steve in which he talks about his favorite X-Men story, Maggott and what he’d do with the obscure mutant Lifter if given the chance. (Don’t worry, plenty more Lifter talk in this interview.) Speaking of this interview, let’s get started!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Steve! For the X-Fans who are unaware, what’s your history with the X-Men as a reader?
Steve: It’s a long one, going back to renting Pryde of the X-Men almost weekly from Video King back in the day. You’d excuse me for being surprised when X-Men ’92 started and Wolverine was Canadian instead of Australian! I was a fan early on, playing Dazzler and Colossus in the arcade game, and then following the second cartoon and toy line obsessively. From there, I started following the main books via Waldenbooks, including a series Professor Xavier and the X-Men, featuring original Stan Lee scripts redrawn by one of my friends and favorite artists, Jan Duursema. I was in, and in deeper as I got into collectible cards, and CEMENTED when I met my future mentor, Steven T. Seagle, when he and Joe Kelly were on, you guessed it… the X-Line.
AIPT: Now you’ve got me all nostalgic, thinking back to all the X-Men comics and trade paperbacks I picked up at Waldenbooks in the ’90s. And speaking of nostalgia, you recently tweeted the cover of Captain America Annual #4, featuring Magneto and the mutants who would go on to become Mutant Force. When we spoke at Terrificon in 2019, you mentioned your desire to use one of these characters–Lifter. Now, you’ve got Heroes Reborn: Magneto & The Mutant Force #1 on the way. What is it about that classic Jack Kirby story that resonates with you?
Steve: I’ll say this! I DO love Mutant Force, and Lifter especially! But the influence of that annual on Magneto & the Mutant Force is NOT found in those characters… but instead, someone stranger! You’ll see very soon!
But as for the King, I have always thought he was ahead of his time, and this annual is no different. The issue features an argument between Magneto and Captain America over who gets to decide a mutant’s fate. Cap considers himself the moral authority, but Magneto argues it should fall on a mutant to judge the actions of another mutant. As a human, even an enhanced human, Cap doesn’t have the context or authority to judge a mutant’s actions. And of course, it blows up into explosive Kirby madness, but the core idea there is one that’s still relevant today when it comes to respecting and listening to cultural boundaries and lived experience. And here was the King, working through that theme decades ago!
AIPT: What should readers going into Magneto & The Mutant Force #1 know about mutants in the Heroes Reborn universe?
Steve: If we do our job right, you should get everything you need just in this issue! But with that in mind, Heroes Reborn examines a Marvel Universe without the Avengers. Instead, the Squadron Supreme of America is the world’s premier superteam. With that twist, the entire history of mutants is changed, along with the histories of everyone else in the Marvel Universe. For the mutants, specifically, folks will see quickly that after a massive clash with the Squadron, mutant numbers are dwindling worldwide. And morale is maybe even lower than the population. Magneto has done all he can to inspire and protect the world’s surviving mutants, but after years of struggling along, he’s desperate for a way to even the scales against the Squadron. And as our story opens, he finds it in the most unexpected of places… the recesses of his own mind!
AIPT: Funny you should mention, because when Magneto & The Mutant Force #1 was announced (right here at AIPT), you mentioned the Heroes Reborn event is a nod to epics like Age of Apocalypse and House of M. You also warned there was a psychic rescue in progress. Should X-Fans expect a few winks to the X-History they’re more familiar with in this alternate-universe tale?
Steve: You absolutely should! Everything’s changed in the world of Heroes Reborn, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see ripples and reflections of events we know. As far as Age of Apocalypse and House of M go, those events speak to Heroes Reborn as a whole, since the books take place in an alternate present created by one twist in the past. But as far as the psychic rescue, or the Mutant Massacre, or other benchmark moments… we’ll definitely be examining them inside the pages of this story, and showing you how dangerous this strange new world is for our favorite mutants.
AIPT: It was fun to see Sabra alongside X-Men A-listers like Magneto, Rogue and Emma Frost on the one-shot’s cover. Could you talk a bit about why you chose to include her in your story?
Steve: I’ve always been intrigued by mutant heroes who don’t generally associate with the X-Men. That goes for Whirlwind, or Namor, or Typhoid Mary, or in this case… Sabra! So that’s where the core idea came from, using the alternate world team of mutant freedom fighters to showcase a different type of roster. But Sabra specifically made sense for this team as a strategist and mercenary, and someone who shares a cultural background with Magneto, someone he would look to as a confidant and advisor. She brought the right amount of independence, power, and skill to what is mostly a ragtag team of survivors. And for those survivors, she’s the one guarding the door, keeping the dangers at bay.
AIPT: And you’ve got another X-Men one-shot on the way. X-Men: Curse of The Man-Thing introduces readers to Magik’s Dark Riders. First, X-Fan Douglas Yung wanted to know what made you choose to dust off that name and use it for this team? And second, X-Fan Pandafarmer asked how you chose this eclectic cast of characters to fill out Magik’s team.
Steve: When it comes to the name, it’s all about context! Magik’s wit is razor-sharp, and her humor often grim, her charisma wild. So thinking of a team she might lead, and thinking of how Dawn of X has repositioned older names like the Hellions and the Marauders for new purposes, the Dark Riders felt to me like the right name for a group of monstrous mutants Magik is mentoring.
As for the roster itself, again lining up with the Dawn of X era, it felt right to pull members from a variety of past teams, heroic or villainous, and give them a fresh shot. So we pulled characters from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s, and brought them together under the unifying theme of monstrous mutants working to manage their wildest instincts. These felt like folks who would not only bounce well off each other and have things to learn from Magik, but ALSO who would challenge her in interesting ways if the team does eventually return for another adventure.
AIPT: Marrow, who’s on your Dark Riders team, is getting a lot of love from X-Fans after being a candidate in the recent X-Men Election. You once mentioned Marrow was your Kitty Pryde. Could you talk a bit about what the character means to you?
Steve: Marrow IS my Kitty Pryde, she was the character I identified with most when I was younger, reading the X-Line. It was probably SUPPOSED to be Jubilee? But what can I say? Marrow’s rebellion, her struggles with self-image and anger, and early tendency for jaded self-sabotage, all really connected to me.
I was an early cynic, wrestling with this thing inside me I didn’t understand–which in my case was my sexuality–and which I thought meant I would never fit in. And more so, because of that, much like Marrow, I was slow to trust people. I wanted them to be cautious around me, just like Marrow back then. So, her struggle to understand she’s worth it, and has value, was something I was going on in parallel to the character. And she’s stuck with me to this day, especially now that she’s found some balance and comfort in being exactly who she is.
AIPT: That’s awesome and I can’t wait to see how you use her. Another X-Character you’re writing is Daken, who’ll appear in Marvel Voices: Pride #1. What appeals to you about Wolverine’s son and what can readers expect from your story?
Steve: If Marrow is someone I identified with as a teen, then Daken is someone I identify with as an adult. Which is not to say I share his violent tendencies, but it IS to say his lack of care for who likes and dislikes him, his absolute confidence in who he is, what he likes, who he loves, is something I’ve learned to find in myself. He knows who he is, and doesn’t need to justify it. But he WILL defend it when challenged, with a ferocity and assured passion that makes him an icon. Being one of the loudest, most vulgar, brashest bisexuals in comics, Daken just always seemed like someone who would find his way onto my desktop. And for Pride 2021–he’ll be there!
AIPT: And while we’re talking about Marvel Voices: Pride, X-Fan Uncanny X-Man was curious who your favorite LGBTQ+ Marvel character is.
Steve: It’s a hard decision! Based on what I was talking about above, I would be HARD PRESSED not to say Daken. He’s someone who walks through the world the way I wish I could, without a damn given to what anyone thinks about him. But as someone whose first comic ever, EVER, was West Coast Avengers #16, I’ve always had a love for Avengers Obscuria, and couldn’t let this list pass without mentioning Living Lightning, perhaps one of the first queer Marvel characters I encountered, and someone who I still think is damn cool today!
But REALLY, my FAVORITE is probably the one we’re introducing to Krakoa in Marvel Voices: Pride…
AIPT: An eXciting tease! Finally, are there specific X-Characters on your Marvel writing bucket list you hope to write sooner than later?
Steve: Well, Lifter is still near the top! It’s also no secret I think Storm is one of the greatest comic characters of all time, and even writing her for a moment in X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing, was great! But I’d love to delve deeper.
I also think there’s huge potential to Graymalkin, same with Fixx, and having mentioned I love outsider mutants, would love to drop Collective Man, Vanguard, or Typhoid Mary into the mix. As headliners go, I’ve always been a guy that loves Beast, Dazzler, and Colossus, and the Blob… as you can see, the list is ever-growing!
AIPT: Hopefully you’ll get an opportunity to use them all and more! Thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday, Steve! I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming X-Stories, starting with X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing #1, on sale May 5. X-Fans, take a look at these Andrea Broccardo preview pages, which recently debuted on Marvel.com–with an eXtra, eXclusive page added to the mix!
Also hitting shelves in May: Heroes Reborn: Magneto & The Mutant Force. Here’s an eXclusive look at Bernard Chang’s art on the series, which goes on sale May 19.
But wait, there’ll be more! Make sure to return to AIPT later today to get a peek at some of Chang’s character redesigns for the Heroes Reborn tale.
In the neXt edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT: Not one but two legendary comics creators! That’s right, just in time for X-Men Legends #3, Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson will be making their X-Men Monday debut April 19! I’m certainly eXcited and I hope you are too!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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