Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
The second week of the Hellfire Gala has come and gone — but the questions remain! Lucky for us, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White is back to answer them. And if you happened to miss Jordan talking about Week 1 of the Hellfire Gala in X-Men Monday #108, here’s a handy link. Alright, let’s get back to the party!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! In our Hellfire Gala Week 1 recap, we talked about the telepathic concert and what a cool concept that was. In X-Men #21, we got the equally cool telepathic election. Could you talk a bit about how this idea came about?
Jordan: We knew that the new team was going to be announced at the Hellfire Gala and we didn’t know exactly how the election was going to work. We were like, “Yeah, we’ll figure it out.” And at some point I just said, “Wait, they’re mutants. Why don’t they all just telepathically link up?” And Jonathan [Hickman] was like, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” And I think he nailed it.
And I think we’ll hear a little bit more about it. Gerry [Duggan] is going to kind of refer back to some of the details that we were not privy to yet in the X-Men book. But yeah, the idea that they all just kind of get together mentally and make their case and make their decision, it’s pretty sweet
AIPT: And there’s no chance for fraud.
Jordan: That’s true, that’s true. So that does mean that as much fun as we had with those election strips that we posted, there’s a bit of the conceit that they were a little bit fake in the sense that the idea that the other nine people were running — they weren’t like running, but you know what I mean, people weren’t having campaigns, at least not for this one. It was just kind of like, some people would probably like to be on the X-Men. “I think I want to do this.” And then they all got together and did the thing and they went nuts.
AIPT: Yeah, I figured those were a bit out of continuity now.
Jordan: No, but that’s the thing — I think they count. I think they were written in such a way that they fit.
AIPT: OK, X-Fan marvelfan1992 asked if the idea of having Scott and Jean lead an X-Men team was developed in the early stages of Jonathan’s planning or if this was an idea that came together later on.
Jordan: Not specifically, like, “And then step 27, Scott and Jean lead the X-Men.” Like, no, not like that. I mean, I’m sure that Jonathan was like, “Well, obviously at some point we’ll have an X-Men team and the natural choice to lead would be this person, this person, or that person,” you know? But I think the reason it actually turned to the two of them — much like I’ve said this a bunch of times when we talk about the way things have developed — Jonathan’s plans shift to accommodate what everybody else is doing and to incorporate what everybody else is doing. I think that a big part of why Scott and Jean are leading the X-Men together is, well, to be fair, Jonathan started the family-oriented concept of Cyclops in his current life.
And then Gerry really ran with it in Cable. We got to see Scott and Jean as a couple — well, as parents really, and then as a couple doing stuff. And I think that the way that played out in X of Swords is what really sealed the deal as the two of them are making decisions based on the fact that their son is in danger and their moral compass is what lead them to say there needs to be an X-Men and we’re making it happen. And so I think that’s the real reason. And I think in a sense that could have just as easily, you know, if the stories of the last couple of years had gone differently, I think there could have been a version where it’s just Jean doing it, or it’s just Scott doing it, or whoever — Colossus is like, “There has to be an X-Men.”
And I mean, again, it makes sense that it’s Scott, because Jonathan put a lot of focus on Scott at the beginning of his run. And so I think in that sense, yeah, I think he always knew Scott’s going to be the one to do stuff because he’s a big deal in the history of the X-Men, but the way it happened, and the fact that it’s him and Jean together for sure is because of how it played out in X of Swords.
AIPT: Speaking of X-Couples, X-Fan Kristen said Gambit and Rogue have been side by side since their wedding. Now, they’ll be transitioning into having an extreme work life/home life shift to the point they largely will not be living together. How did the decision play out to put them in different books? And similarly, X-Fan Scott Evans asked if the X-Men Election caused Tini Howard to have to change her plans for Excalibur.
Jordan: It wasn’t a real election. [Laughs] There was only the one character that got actually elected in real life — we just picked who was going to be on the team for those other six characters. So you know, when we started planning the book, Gerry was like, “Hey, I’d like to use Rogue.” And Tini was like, “Cool, that sounds neat.” And that was long enough ago that Tini didn’t have to blow anything up.
As for Gambit, there was some back and forth on that, actually. Like, what should happen to him? If Rogue is going to join the X-Men, should he go live there as like, a little househusband or what? And there, Tini was like, “Actually I do have stuff I would want to keep doing with Gambit and I think it makes sense for him to stay here in Excalibur and do these things.” And we went great, it’s not a problem. And don’t forget, this is Krakoa, they have gates. They can walk from New York to England…
AIPT: No, they can’t go to England anymore!
Jordan: Well, walk from Krakoa to Braddock Isle in 5 minutes. Like, they can see each other anytime they want. And I think they mentioned they have a little place on Krakoa where they can go and meet if they want privacy.
AIPT: X-Fan Emmanuel Boyd pointed out that Gambit revealed he has his own plans. What can you tease about these plans and how soon might we see them?
Jordan: Keep reading, keep reading. It’s in Excalibur. Tini, like I said, does have stuff in the hopper for Gambit. And it’s going to be playing out there. So if you want to see what mischief Gambit’s up to, that’s the place to look. Although, they’re husband and wife. So he makes appearances in other places. He will appear at least a little bit in X-Men. I’m not saying he’s in every issue of X-Men, but I do know there’s at least a scene in X-Men that I’ve seen drawn already that is pretty great.
AIPT: I know you mentioned the newly formed Braddock Isle just now. X-Fan Junebird asked if Braddock Isle is inspired by Mont Saint-Michel?
Jordan: No — actually, I can’t answer that. I hadn’t made that connection. Whether Tini had or not, I couldn’t 100% say, but that’s interesting.
AIPT: They’re similarly shaped, I noticed.
Jordan: Sure, sure. That’s true. It also could have been Marcus To who was inspired by it. So I hadn’t made that connection, but that’s a really great connection. So we’ll have to check with them, I guess.
AIPT: I’m curious, now that the new X-Men team has been revealed, what do you, personally, love about this particular line-up?
Jordan: Well, I think part of the fun of X-Men since the Giant-Size team has always been the fact that it’s kind of a disparate combination of characters who have to get to know each other and start working together. And over the years, they just keep getting kind of shifted around and recombined. So I do think it’s always exciting when you get that new mix where you’re like, “Oh, what’s this going to be? What are the connections that form here?”
I mean, as much fun as it is to get the Original 5 back together again, you do already know most of what the relationships are. And there are always going to be surprises, there’s always going to be a shift. All of a sudden, I don’t know, Beast and Cyclops hate each other — that could never happen.
But when you’re sitting there going, “Well, hang on, this group of seven people, like, what is that?” That’s fun. Synch being on there is such a neat twist too, because he hasn’t interacted with the large bulk of them, except Laura. So what is that going to add to the team? What is he going to bring to the table that will shake everything up? I mean, again, I think everybody’s met everybody for the most part, but I don’t know what sort of a relationship Laura and Sunfire would have. I don’t even think I know what kind of relationship she would have with Polaris, or Polaris and Sunfire. Have they ever been on a team together?
AIPT: I think they were both Horsemen, right?
Jordan: They were both Horsemen — you’re right! So they were on that team together. I’m sure they can bond over that. Speaking of Gambit, because he was there too.
AIPT: Yeah, that was a rough period.
Jordan: [Laughs] But yeah, just a ton of it. It’s neat to see a new grouping of characters learn how to work together and learn how to be X-Men. But they have to relearn kind of what this mutant circuit is, so to speak. And I think we see some really fun stuff with that in the first issue.
AIPT: I’m so excited for that book. The art looks amazing.
Jordan: I love the trailer that just came out. I was so impressed when I saw it for the first time.
AIPT: So, X-Fan Kat asked if now that Jean is the co-leader of the X-Men, will her codename change from Marvel Girl to Marvel Woman? This, along with Jean’s costume, is something X-Fans debate a lot. And the return of the Marvel Girl codename is an interesting choice, because I remember growing up, reading about how the Invisible Girl eventually became the Invisible Woman — probably in Wizard Magazine — and that just made sense. So in that context, it is a bit weird that Jean is going by Marvel Girl. Could you talk about this decision?
Jordan: Oh, sure. Yeah well, first of all, I don’t think Marvel Woman sounds good.
AIPT: I read The Infinity War trade paperback a year or two ago, and in that series, Jim Starlin refers to Jean as Marvel Woman. I think that’s the only time I’ve seen it used.
Jordan: Yeah. Just, I don’t think it sounds great. I mean, the reason she’s called Marvel Girl is because Jean doesn’t have a lot of great codenames. She has, as far as I’m aware of, three I can think of off the top of my head. The third one was just Jean Grey. Now that’s the easiest one to probably just go back to if we were going to change it. There’s Marvel Girl, obviously, which she was for many years, and then there’s Phoenix — and she’s not Phoenix right now. So that was the deliberate choice that was made. We are not going to the Phoenix well, that’s why she’s not dressed in her Phoenix costume, obviously.
And a secret: that’s why she’s dressed in this costume. This is the costume that she put on when she rejected the Phoenix.
Jordan: So that’s what we brought her back to. Now, you’re right. The fact that she’s called Marvel Girl is interesting. I mean, Rachel has been Marvel Girl at one point, wearing a kind of similar outfit even. When we started the Dawn of X books, we were actually making a deliberate effort to try to come up with codenames for the characters who didn’t have them. It didn’t really work out. I won’t go into the whole thing, but there were efforts made to kind of go, “We’ll call this character this and we’ll call that character that,” and the one that stuck most was Jean as Marvel Girl, because, well, I think because she was Marvel Girl for so many years that people do, on some level, accept that as her name.
But you’re right. It’s weird.
We were talking about Weezer [before the interview]. And that just makes me think about Weezer because Rivers Cuomo is a 51-year-old man who does still sing songs to “girl” all the time. And it’s a little like, “huh.” I mean, he just means lady, but… I think calling her Marvel Woman seems unlikely. I think if we were going to change it, it would probably change either to a new name or Jean Grey, because Marvel Woman just doesn’t sound good to me.
AIPT: Well, I appreciate you clarifying those decisions. Jonathan addressed Jean’s costume in this very column, but like mutants, certain X-Fan debates can’t die. Moving on, X-Fan Skylar Citizen of Krakoa said that last week, you mentioned Iceman is an omega-level mutant and Sunfire isn’t, which made Skylar want to ask: How do mutants determine omega status? Through testing their powers in controlled conditions or via Cerebro? Something else, maybe?
Jordan: That’s a great question. I don’t know that the answer has been determined. The answer is we know it’s an omega by whether Jonathan put them on that list in House of X #1. That’s another thing — that was us trying to wrestle with omega-level mutants. Before Jonathan came on the X-Men, it was a thing that had been thrown around a lot and what it meant, and who it would apply too, was very variable. Because again, you know, the idea had been around for many, many decades and had been written by a zillion different writers to mean a zillion different things. So Jonathan kind of went, “I’m putting a nail in this. Here’s the definition of what it is.” And he gave it a very clear definition for maybe not the first time, but, you know, the first time in a long time, at the very least in a clear definition. And then also, here’s the list of omega-level mutants.
So how in the world do they determine that? Yeah, I don’t know. I want to say that there’s a version where Cerebro can tell it, because I do remember — but that’s going back to stories that don’t always make sense. I remember stories where they’d go, “We’ve got a ping on Cerebro and it says it’s an omega-level mutant,” which clearly indicates that there’s something innate about them, that you would just go, “Oh, omega-level.” All you do is move coins with your brain, but it turns out you’re omega.
So I want to say that it certainly has been established, but then again, if you actually look at what Cerebro has and has not done over the years, it doesn’t make any sense. When I read all of those ’60s comics, it was pinging people who were just definitely not mutants, not remotely mutants. And it would go, “Oh, there’s a threat coming.” A threat? Cerebro just detects threats? And I don’t mean in a way that it’s like, “There’s a guy coming toward the house who wants to kill us. And Cerebro has seen him on the security cameras.” It was like Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense in computer form — something bad is going to happen, says Cerebro. It doesn’t give us any clues in any capacity. The thing that detects mutants just says a bad thing is going to happen.
So anyway, to actually answer your question, I don’t think right now that has been really shown, I think it has to be some sort of combination of testing and readings being taken. Because I think his definition was something to the effect of a mutant whose powers have no upper limit, or rather, maybe they are at the upper limit of that power being used. Something to that effect. So the point being that, they can do as much with that power as is possible at all levels.
And sometimes we have had some fun conversations as a result of that in the X-Slack where we’re going, like, “What’s the omega version of this power. What’s the omega version of that power.” Here’s one: What’s the omega version of bone claws? And I don’t know the answer. Maybe Wolverine is omega-level — they’re as bone as they get!
AIPT: I think the answer is hot claws.
Jordan: There you go, there you go.
AIPT: We’re nearing the end. X-Fan Ariana M. asked if you think Coven Akkaba’s opinion on Betsy is somewhat justified. Ariana said, truth be told, she hasn’t exactly been a great Captain Britain and has been making a lot of mistakes. Definitely more wrongs than rights. Jordan, I think we’ve got a Coven Akkaba fan here.
Jordan: Ohhh, well first of all, the answer is no, they’re not right. What’s the job of Captain Britain? The job of Captain Britain is to protect reality, right? So she’s done a pretty decent job of that. And she’s been manipulated a bit, but she’s doing her best. And from a certain point of view, she is all or most of the Captain Britains now. They are like, 99% Betsys at this point. So they’re doing pretty good. Coven Akkaba… well, aside from just being evil! [Laughs]
AIPT: [Laughs] Yeah, they’re pretty terrible.
Jordan: They seem to be talking about Captain Britain like Captain Britain is the mascot of England. And I think Captain Britain would object to that in the same way that Captain America would object to that over here, when the government of America has done things wrong or has gone about things the way that he doesn’t approve of, Captain America goes, “Yeah, I may be Captain America, but I’m not your photo opportunity. I do what I think is right in the spirit of America.” And the same is true with Captain Britain — she’s doing what she thinks is best.
And listen, by the way, Brian screwed up all the time. Like, I love Brian Braddock. I love him. But he screwed up. He was an alcoholic who mistreated his wife terribly. Like, she’s doing all right.
Betsy’s done her best. I do think she’s a good Captain Britain. And I love Betsy. I’m very happy to see her getting to do some the exciting things she’s doing. Also, she’s doing a lot better this time as Captain Britain than she did the first time. I mean when she got her eyes poked out, which didn’t go well.
AIPT: OK, final question, you knew it was coming — how did the Kevin Feige cameo in X-Men #21 come about?
Jordan: Oh yeah. I mean, that’s pretty straightforward. We talked a little bit last week about the celebrity appearances, in general. And obviously, we have a contact in with Kevin, so when the idea of doing these things came up, we approached folks over at Marvel Studios and everybody seemed like, “Oh, this would be a really great opportunity.” So we went for it. And let me tell you, how amazing is Lucas Werneck at likenesses?
AIPT: Yeah, it was uncanny.
Jordan: I mean, Kevin looked great. So did that splash that had Eminem and George RR Martin and Patton again. Also, I don’t know if anybody knows this, but the guy asking for drinks…
AIPT: Yeah, I couldn’t figure out who that was.
Jordan: That’s the Marvel Unlimited fan.
AIPT: Oh, wow!
Jordan: Remember there was a chance to appear at the Gala? Well, that’s the winner right there. I don’t know if they announced that — maybe they didn’t. I’m not sure if they did. I hope that I’m allowed to say that. [Laughs]
AIPT: I’ll announce it, I’ll take care of it. [Laughs] I think what’s interesting about Kevin’s cameo is that, for the most part, these celebrity appearances have been pretty harmless. But Kevin is actually engaging with Cyclops, and their conversation is serving as a bookend to the scene between Scott and Xavier in the first issue of X-Men.
Jordan: Well, that’s all Jonathan being an amazing writer and incredibly skillful. Again, I’ve talked about him incorporating stuff from other writers. He incorporated this too. We came to him and said, “Hey, we’re going to have an X-Men contest winner, a fan who is going to be in this book.” And he could have said, “Yeah, OK, put them in the background, I don’t care.” But he went, “Oh, OK, I can do something with that.” And the same with when we said we want Kevin in it, he was like, “I got it, I can handle that, I’ll write it in.” And he made both work incredibly well and like you said, made it important. It’s not just, “Oh, there he is, don’t worry about it.” It’s relevant.
If you don’t know who he is, it’s fine — it’s thematically still an important moment for the reasons that you said, because it is a bookend to the beginning and end of the series. It is Cyclops talking about what he’s learned from this whole run. And if you just think there’s a gentleman in a baseball cap, that still works. And if you know who it is, you go, “Ah.”
AIPT: It’s also the wink-wink of Kevin learning about the X-Men so he can go and put them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because that’s all anybody talks about.
Jordan: Well, the problem is there was another page in there where Kevin talks more and he goes, “Ah, that’s not a good story. Forget it.”
AIPT: [Laughs] “Oh, there’s the Fantastic Four. I’m going to go talk to them.”
AIPT: Have you had a chance to meet Kevin?
Jordan: Yeah! He’s really nice guy. I mean, you know, I can’t say too much about corporate stuff, but it’s pretty public knowledge that we work under their umbrella now. So we’ve done a lot more stuff where we talk to each other about what we’re doing and it’s really nice. He’s a terrific guy.
AIPT: Well, now that he’s an official X-Men character, he’s always welcome here at X-Men Monday! On that note, thanks as always for taking the time to talk, Jordan — and thanks for these eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men comics!
I spy a few sneak peeks at this week’s Planet-Size X-Men by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. Cannot wait. And speaking of waiting, you won’t have to wait long for the neXt edition of X-Men Monday. Return to AIPT this afternoon to read the second half of our Marvel’s Voices: Pride edition, featuring Anthony Oliveira and Steve Orlando. If you missed the first part, featuring Terry Blas, Kieron Gillen and Leah Williams, click here.
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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