Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
So, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the X-Men are about to be all-new and all-different… again! I know, I know — you’ve heard it countless times before. But seriously, we’re meeting an all-new team of X-Men at next month’s Hellfire Gala, and they’re all-different because it’s the first time mutants have elected their champions.
Also, the X-Men are about to change the universe in a little indie book called Planet-Size X-Men.
We’re living in eXciting times, X-Fans. Fortunately, I found the perfect person to guide us through them — the writer of June’s Planet-Size X-Men and July’s X-Men #1: Gerry Duggan!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Gerry! Let’s start with next month’s Planet-Size X-Men. Marvel’s really keeping this story under wraps, but in X-Men Monday #105, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White did say this is an idea you came up with and the X-Office had to find the best way and time to pull it off. So my question is, how far back does the idea at the center of Planet-Size X-Men go?
Gerry: The pitch doc goes back to autumn of 2019. A bunch of it went into my X-notebook on a plane back from our first X-retreat and not long after it was basically a spec script. I had a year on everyone else because I’d heard Jonathan [Hickman] tell his X-Men story in autumn of 2018 and I became extremely pregnant with his story and all the possibilities that spun out of it. The first Marauders ideas were in a doc called “X-Men: Buccaneers” which I knew was just a placeholder title. The first ideas for Planet-Size were in a document with that title. It was there from the very beginning, and while the core was there, the rest of the pieces took time to come into the right orbits. In their own ways, all the current writers have contributed to this one, and especially Jonathan. There were a few big pieces the pitch for Planet-Size was missing until some of our story played out in Dawn Of X.
AIPT: So, “Planet-Size.” Is this just a new unit of Marvel measurement, like “Giant-Size” and “100 Page Monster” … or does this title allude to an actual planet in the story. Maybe even one in our solar system?
Gerry: You’ll tell us after. We don’t give story away.
AIPT: Well, I tried. Now, obviously, artist Pepe Larraz and color artist Marte Gracia are so talented they could turn the phone book into a top-selling comic book. But I’m curious how you approach collaborating with them and playing to their artistic strengths.
Gerry: If you gave me three different artist names for the same assignment it would result in three different scripts. Pepe’s got such a big imagination that I try to just get him excited by being as simple and as loose as possible. If he’s excited, I’m excited, you’re all excited. I tell Pepe what I need. It comes back better. Pepe and Marte are not just the best one-two punch in comics right now… but they’ve made the case that they’re Hall Of Famers. A good deal of that starts and ends with Pepe. We jump on a call after he roughs the issues, and we discuss what changes he might have made. They’re always better. I know he and Marte chatted before the colors, too. I’m basically in a “No notes” stretch with both artists. The work comes in, and you look at it, and it’s perfect. No notes.
AIPT: So much eXcellent art in our future. And speaking of the future, let’s talk a bit about the newly elected team of X-Men. In Cable, you’ve been writing Cyclops in more of a supporting role, as our young hero’s Philly cheesesteak-loving father. How does writing Scott Summers, co-leader of the X-Men, differ?
Gerry: Cyclops is the coolest. We love him. We always loved him. Has anybody paid a higher price and worked harder to see this day dawn for mutants? And yet, he remembers where he comes from. Not an island, but a team. He’s been a part of the X-Men since the beginning, and they’ve saved the world more times than he can count, and I think the team has saved him, too. He’s got such a big story over the course of the next year. I’m really happy to get to tell it.
AIPT: Marvel Girl, more than some characters, has been through a lot since the start of the Krakoa era. Jean’s been a founding member of the Quiet Council and also resigned for the greater good in X of Swords. She’s been a part of X-Force and came to blows with Beast, one of her oldest friends. Now, alongside Scott, she’s brought democracy to Krakoa. Where is Jean’s head at going into X-Men #1?
Gerry: I think you have to be very specific about the details of some of the orbits of the characters these days. The election of the X-Men was democratic. The governance of Krakoa is something different than the X-Men and will be explored in ways that we’re not revealing just now. Marvel Girl has as much to do as the boundary between the council and the X-Men as Cyclops. She’s leaving the government of Krakoa to take an even more critical job: making sure there is a world for Krakoa to exist on.
AIPT: You’ve got some history writing Rogue from your Uncanny Avengers days. What do you love about the character and how does it feel to be writing her again?
Gerry: Rogue’s always been a favorite. She’s got a messy start. Like all the greats. The state of the Marvel Universe at the time that Ryan [Stegman], Pepe and I were wrenching on Uncanny Avengers really cleared the stage so Rogue could shine. Rogue was a great Avenger, but she’ll be an even better X-Man. Our love for her is true.
AIPT: Speaking of your past series, you wrote Sunfire in a brief cameo in 2014’s Deadpool #28. First, is it safe to assume you’re a longtime fan of the character? And second, has Krakoa mellowed Shiro at all, or is he still very much a hothead? (Sorry.)
Gerry: Huge fan of Shiro. Again, another complicated rearview, great powerset and killer uniform. Great potential. It’s going to be a hell of a fun team. He’s always been searching for something. Fans of his will be pretty happy with X-Men # 2 in August, I think.
AIPT: There’s no denying both Logan and Laura are great characters. But… only one of them made the new X-Men team. So, why, in your opinion, is Laura the superior Wolverine?
Gerry: It’s not for me to say, but you’ll hear from others with strong opinions. I will say — I’m excited to write her because I never have. My approach is pretty simple for every character: swing hard like I’m never gonna get another at bat. If I hadn’t written any Logan after (the Deadpool arc) “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” that would have been enough.
AIPT: In just three issues of the current X-Men volume, Jonathan Hickman increased Synch’s storytelling potential eXponentially. I imagine it’s quite the gift to you, the character and Everett’s fans — but can you confirm that the best Synch stories are still to come?
Gerry: There are certainly big Synch stories on the way.
AIPT: In the X-Men Election, Polaris beat out a lot of other mutants. I’m curious, knowing that Lorna’s the character the most voters want to see on the X-Men, do you feel eXtra pressure to do her justice as her new writer?
Gerry: I don’t feel the pressure of fans, just my own expectations and that of my collaborators. If CB [Cebulski] and Jordan are happy, and my artists are happy, the fans have every shot at happiness. I can’t unmake a fan of Polaris, I can only make them not a fan of mine, and I’m only trying to deliver ideas to my artist to turn into moonshots. So, yes, sure, as you said. Lots of pressure in the Polaris business.
AIPT: Looking at this new X-Men team, there are a few characters who have worked together before, but this is definitely a line-up we’ve never seen — with a lot of big personalities. We know they’re dedicated to saving the world… but they’re also an X-Men team. What can you tease about their dynamic?
Gerry: The world needs the X-Men, we can talk more about this stuff as this year progresses. They volunteered. To fight for this world.
AIPT: Finally, X-Men #1 looks pretty epic based on the preview art we’ve seen. When you sit down to write big, superhero action — X-Men-style — what inspirations do you draw from within comics and beyond?
Gerry: Well, X-Men comics of course, which everybody knows are the coolest comics. Beyond that, my interest in photography comes into play, as does everyone I ever put in my brain. So, again, I feel the weight of my own expectations for myself, but I have Pepe, Marte and a lot of other great brains behind me that are very supportive both at Marvel and our virtual writers’ room. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a fan of X-Men comics. The books that you’re going to get beginning next month have been years in the making, and one day, the art will hang in a museum. Hope everybody enjoys the ride. I know if I were coming in cold, I’d have my hair blown back. Thanks again to everybody pre-ordering, and see you when I see you.
AIPT: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Gerry! X-Fans, remember to reserve your copies of Planet-Size X-Men, which goes on sale June 16, and X-Men #1, on sale July 7!
And while you’re here, check out these eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men comics, courtesy of Jordan.
Those images make it clear: the Hellfire Gala is almost here! Sounds like the perfect time to chat with superstar artist — and the designer behind some of the Gala’s hottest looks — Russell Dauterman!
The good news is Russell will be answering your questions in the neXt edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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