Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
To quote Iceman, “Well, you were promised fireworks.” I’m, of course, referring to last week’s Planet-Size X-Men #1 written by Gerry Duggan, with art by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia.
I loved it.
On top of breathtaking artwork and literal worldbuilding, the creative team delivered a brilliant case study in how former adversaries can put aside their differences and work together toward a common goal. And, you’re reminded that mutants are simply superior to humans. Sorry, Elon Musk, while you’re showing off slick concept art, Lactuca’s transporting millions of mutants to Mars — err, Planet Arakko — in minutes. It was mutants’ “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook” moment and it was awesome.
Clearly, this comic had an impact on me — and many X-Fans based on the questions X-Men Monday received last week. Fortunately, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White is back to dig into the third week of the Hellfire Gala with us.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! Let’s talk Planet-Size X-Men. In X-Men Monday #106, Gerry said “the pitch doc goes back to autumn of 2019.” Could you talk a bit about how this story came to be? Was the idea of mutants terraforming Mars the initial idea, or was it always something designed to follow X of Swords and give the mutants of Arakko a home?
Jordan: It was all about terraforming Mars at the time, when Gerry thought it up. But you know, one of the fun things about having big pieces like that is you can then figure out where it fits in and it elevates everything around it. The version that saw print is different than the version that Gerry pitched originally in a bunch of different ways. But the core of it was them showing off and terraforming Mars — the reason was different. I think even some of the characters that were doing it were different.
But you know, it’s kind of like what Jonathan [Hickman] has been doing, in the sense that he has big ideas about what he wants to do, but he doesn’t force everyone to conform to them. He looks at how to fit them into what everyone is doing and work with everybody. And the same was true with Gerry. This is something he’s been wanting to do, but he figured out a place that fits and it elevates everything, like I said, and it works with what we’re doing rather than against it. And as soon as he said, “I think this is where we should do it,” everybody got on board. It was like, “Yes, that’s perfect.”
AIPT: Yeah, I was going to ask about the other X-Writers’ reactions. It’s one of those big ideas that makes you pause and go, “Should we do this? Can we do this?” And now it’s just canon that the X-Men terraformed Mars. Was there any hesitation?
Jordan: In the X-Office? It was very positive. Everybody was like, “Hell yeah, that’s amazing!” I will say, it was definitely super fun — the first time I had to pitch it to the rest of the [Marvel] editors and writers, because we’re just like, “So then this happens, then this happens and then they claim Mars and declare it the new capital of the solar system.”
AIPT: It’s a little bit like the X-Office claiming Mars, too.
Jordan: [Laughs] A little bit, a little bit. I think everybody was blown away by the scope of the story and how fun it is. But I definitely think there were people going, “Wait, can they do that?” They’re very similar to the reactions we saw in the comic.
AIPT: I loved a lot about this comic, but got a real kick out of seeing how calmly it lays out how easy it is for omega-level mutants to make Mars habitable. Did Gerry do a lot of research to see what would need to happen on Mars to sustain life?
Jordan: Well, first of all, let me point out that we actually did get at least one email already telling us that we got the science wrong. And they pointed out a way in which the science was wrong. I won’t get into why, but I will say, I was disappointed because I was ready to tell them how wrong they were. Because I’ve verified that people can move things with their minds and they can communicate telepathically and they can teleport through plant gates. All of that is 100% real, but they found the one thing that didn’t make sense and I couldn’t defend it.
No, the truth is obviously, listen, it’s science fiction. Gerry did do a bunch of research and it’s based on that research enough to sound plausible. But if you were to talk to actual serious scientists and say, “Hey, would this work?” They would go, “No,” in the same way a real scientist would tell you Spider-Man doesn’t work and Captain America doesn’t work.
AIPT: I don’t know what scientists you’re talking to…
Jordan: [Laughs] So yes, it’s super based on true things, but is it actually 100% scientifically feasible? No, of course not. But it’s grounded enough to be fun, believable science fiction. I think Gerry does have contacts in the science field and at NASA. Is that true? I think. I don’t want to out anybody that’s friends with Gerry Duggan if they don’t want to be, I think he has at least one friend at NASA. So yes, he has talked to people about it, it’s just that obviously no one can go, “Yes, that is 100% true.”
AIPT: I saw a lot of talk related to Lactuca. In fact, X-Fans martinceld and PyroFN were curious if you could clarify what exactly Exodus, Jean and Lactuca did and how they accomplished it.
Jordan: Again, I think you’d have to talk to an actual NASA scientist to get the real details, because this is obviously super real and it’s just above my head. No, listen, they teleported an entire island. They did it by like, warping space around it or warping it through a gate. Because obviously, it was a giant island full of people going through a gate that is not nearly the size of it.
What did they do exactly? Good question, I don’t have a great answer. Lactuca’s powers involve knowing exactly where everything is. Jean’s are both telekinetic and telepathic. Exodus’ are similar. I think we’ve said that he’s got stronger telekinesis than she does, but she’s got stronger telepathy. And the External Gate itself is magical in nature. So it doesn’t have clear science to it at all. It’s very weird and I wish I had a great answer. They did something weird and funky and it resulted in them teleporting it all. That’s all you really need to know. It’s not going to come up that many times, I don’t think.
AIPT: X-Fan Nat said one of the most shocking scenes was Jamie Braddock literally giving birth to a space station. Only in comics! Nat wanted to know how this idea came about and what the reasoning behind it was.
Jordan: Well, we wanted to have a second Peak station. They’ve got two planets that they’re protecting now. Well, two habited planets, I should say. And you know, a bunch of different ideas were floated as to how to duplicate the station. I think at one point we were joking about growing Madrox to an enormous size and having him hold onto it and duplicate himself. But the fact that he’s not an omega-level mutant, we were like, well, we don’t want to include him for that reason. Nothing against him, he’s amazing. But we were like, “No, this is an omega-level job, this is the omega circuit.” So we left him out of it. But again, we’ve got so many reality warpers in this. It seems pretty easy to figure out a way to do it and they did. And the fact that it’s Jamie meant it’s going to happen in a weird way. And I think it was kind of a delightfully and painfully weird.
AIPT: That it was. X-Fan Daniel asked, in your opinion, who has the more powerful set of omega-level mutants, Krakoa or Arakko?
Jordan: Oh, geez. Well, I don’t know if I should say. I mean, that sounds like the kind of question that might come up at some point. Obviously, everybody on the Great Ring is an omega-level mutant. I should clarify, that does not mean that there are only that many omega-level mutants. It just means that they are all omega-level mutants.
AIPT: And the mutants we met — Lactuca, Sobunar and Xilo — are they all members of the Great Ring, right?
Jordan: They are, they are, all three of them. So all of them are, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more omega-level mutants on Arakko, because there’s going to be a lot of great content coming up. We’ve been talking a lot about it and how it works and the history thereof. So there’s a lot to learn there. But definitely, it’s clear that there are more than that. So I don’t know. I don’t know that we know for sure who has more omega-level mutants.
I think our Krakoan team is pretty powerful. But so far, we’ve seen a lot of nuttier powers from Arakko — more unexpected stuff. So regardless of who is more powerful, I think it’s going to be quite an adjustment. I mean, again — oh, actually, hold on, what am I talking about? They’ve got Isca. What can you do? Yeah. In any competition, she’s going to win. So there you go.
AIPT: OK, I feel like there are some clear clues in Planet-Size X-Men, but for the Storm fans, when do we finally get to learn what the future holds for Ororo? How soon?
Jordan: Soon. Very soon. And wait, sorry, and to which I will add — this is the thing I was talking about. I’m sure that’s clear, but a long time ago, I said we came up with an idea for Storm that I’m so excited about, and it was a billion years ago and every time Storm appears anywhere, everybody’s like, “Is this going to be it?” This is going to be it.
AIPT: Perfect! X-Fan Inhuman Ambassador — though, maybe they’re not an X-Fan if they’re an Inhuman ambassador — was wondering if the Inhumans weren’t invited to the Hellfire Gala. Are mutants still mad at them?
Jordan: Are they alive?
AIPT: [Laughs] I had the same thought. I’m honestly not sure.
Jordan: There was a big thing where most of them died. They didn’t all die. I’m not sure where they physically are right now. I don’t think they’re on Earth. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think they are on Earth. I don’t recall a comic they’ve appeared in in a very long time. I’m pretty sure they’re still out there in the solar system somewhere recovering from most of them dying.
That said, to the meat of your question, have they forgiven them? I think the answer is yes. I mean, obviously, every mutant is their own person so they could forgive or not on a one-to-one basis, but I think as a whole, yes, because I mean, that was the thrust of the ending of Inhumans Vs. X-Men. The Inhumans literally gave up everything that made them special and they gave up their birth right to save mutantkind. So, while they did unknowingly hurt mutants for a while there — well, knowingly or unknowingly — they made a huge sacrifice to stop it. So I think that, generally speaking, mutantkind has forgiven them as evidenced by the fact that you don’t see a lot of Exodus ranting about how terrible they are.
AIPT: I think the thrust of the ending of IVX was Emma getting that sweet helmet.
Jordan: But she’s abandoned it, so I don’t know, it’s hard to say.
AIPT: So, last week, we saw that the original Mastermind is now an X-Corp CXO. He’s pretty despicable. Was there any hesitation around putting Jason in such a prominent role instead of one of his daughters?
Jordan: No, bad characters are great. Characters who are awful people are interesting. And especially in the mix with good characters. I mean, that’s drama and conflict. That’s why Apocalypse was on a team instead of just being a guy they fight. It’s interesting — and that’s why so much of the Council is really kind of questionable at best. That said, I think it only takes the right story to make people start sympathizing with a character.
I mean, for example, there is a character that has pretty much across the board throughout their history only done really kind of terrible things in their own self-interest and now everybody wants her to get her wife back.
Jordan: And rightly so, it’s a very compelling story. But you know, it’s a compelling story for a character who has done some pretty awful things to a lot of folks, including, you know, some beloved characters. Her own daughter. Didn’t she try to sleep with her daughter’s boyfriend — now husband?
AIPT: As Foxx, right?
Jordan: Yeah, when she pretended to be Foxx — I’m talking about Mystique, obviously.
AIPT: This is the second week in a row Peter Milligan’s X-Men run has come up.
Jordan: That’s pretty funny. You know, it was an era that people remember for sure.
AIPT: Back to Mastermind, if you’re unfamiliar with the character’s history and go into X-Corp #2 fresh, he doesn’t seem too shady.
Jordan: You know, I think he’s trying to take advantage of the opportunity that Krakoa affords him. He’s been given this amnesty. His slate’s been wiped clean and he’s still not a great guy, though. Maybe he feels like they have a use for a guy who’s not a great guy. In a corporation? How could that be possible?
AIPT: Yeah, there are no bad people in corporations. Especially on boards. Alright, so X-Fan Pame was wondering, with Shatterstar back, what can we expect? Is he becoming a regular or making cameos in Excalibur or other books?
Jordan: He’s not becoming a member of Excalibur right now. No, it is a guest appearance a little bit. But there are plans for him, in general. I know where he’s going to be appearing and where the next level of his story will be playing out. We’re just not there yet.
AIPT: Finally, X-Fan Dante The K9 said, “What the Hell is Kurt drinking and where can I get some?”
Jordan: I mean, it’s alcohol. It’s pretty readily available. I don’t know how old you are. It’s possible It could be Port Genosha, which is their specially-aged-by-Tempo whiskey. So it could be that, but beyond that, you know, they’ve got a full bar there.
AIPT: Let’s go a little deeper. I mean, obviously, it’s pretty deliberate that Kurt is stumbling through the various chapters of the Hellfire Gala. What’s going on with Kurt?
Jordan: Well, his issue comes out this week, doesn’t it? Way of X #3. Again, the whole Hellfire Gala is planned out, everybody’s telling their own stories, but the stories are interconnected. And that was definitely a fun point that they wanted to have of what Kurt does at the party and how that turns out for him.
AIPT: And we haven’t seen that scandalous romance you teased yet. I wonder if that involves Kurt…
Jordan: You’ll see.
AIPT: Anything else you want to tease before we wrap up?
Jordan: I guess I’ll just say that that is this week. That romance. “Romance” might be a bit much, but pairing — that pairing.
Anything else I want to tease? Did you see that amazing art in Planet-Size X-Men? It is so beautiful. Pepe Larraz with Marte Gracia are, in my opinion, the best comic book art team in comics right now. They nailed it. They drew so well and colored so well, and that is the caliber of art you’ll been getting in X-Men, the ongoing series. The first issue is already off to press.
It’s so beautiful. It’s so much fun. It’s got so much cool stuff in it. If you liked the art in Planet-Size X-Men, you’re going to love the art in X-Men as well. Definitely pick it up in. Gerry is absolutely nailing it on the writing as well. These are a very different X-Men than we’ve seen in a long time. And I love it.
AIPT: Can’t wait — and very nice of you all to drop X-Men #1 during my birthday month! Thanks for that, thanks for taking the time to chat and thanks for these eXclusive preview images!
Someone check on Nanny.
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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