Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Did you have a chance to read October’s Phoenix Song: Echo? Spinning out of Jason Aaron’s Avengers story, “Enter the Phoenix,” Phoenix Song: Echo focuses on Maya Lopez’s struggles as she comes to grip with her new cosmic powers. Obviously, the mini-series has the Phoenix — but it also has a few other ties to the X-Men.
Sounds like a good time for Phoenix Song: Echo‘s writer — and New York Times bestselling novelist — Rebecca Roanhorse to make her X-Men Monday debut. Fortunately, Rebecca agreed!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, Rebecca! First, I was wondering if you were an X-Men fan before getting to write Phoenix Song: Echo, and if so, what was your first X-Men eXperience?
Rebecca: My first exposure to the X-Men was the animated series. I loved that show and later was thrilled when the X-Men made it to the big screen. I’m less familiar with the comics, but I’m coming up to speed.
AIPT: How did the opportunity to revisit Maya Lopez in Phoenix Song: Echo come about? Is this something you pitched or did Marvel reach out to you?
Rebecca: Marvel reached out to me. It took a while for us to find the space to take on the series, but I’m so happy we made it work.
AIPT: You first had a chance to write Echo in Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices. Obviously, a lot’s changed for Maya since then as a result of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run and she’s in a very different place. How does it feel getting to write Maya at this important period in her publishing history?
Rebecca: Great! And challenging. In her earlier iteration, Echo is very much a street fighter. Now, she’s a cosmic force. Very different stories to tell.
AIPT: Beyond “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” there have been a lot of other Phoenix-focused stories. I’m curious, did you read or revisit any before writing this series? And if so, do you have a personal favorite?
Rebecca: Yes, I always try to do my research and it felt necessary to understand where the Phoenix had been in order to know where she’d go. I loved Jason Aaron’s take on the “1 million BC” Phoenix, Firehair.
AIPT: The Phoenix has had many hosts. What, in your opinion, makes Maya such an exciting host from a storytelling perspective?
Rebecca: Maya has both untapped history and untapped potential, and while she has been a superhero, she’s really been more of a street fighter. Mimicry is a talent, not a superpower, but now she’s got a superpower like no other. The question is, can she handle it?
AIPT: In Phoenix Song: Echo #1, Maya tells Forge “I’m not Jean Grey, and I don’t need you to control me!” Jean’s been known to be stubborn herself, but how do you think Maya views Jean and her history with the Phoenix?
Rebecca: If you look back at Maya’s history, she’s been manipulated by a lot of men, Kingpin being the most memorable. So I think her reaction is more about Forge and less about Jean.
AIPT: Well, speaking of, what made you choose Forge as the X-Men character most eager to confront and contain a Phoenix-powered Echo before things got too out of hand?
Rebecca: For me, Forge is old school. One of the classic Native characters in the Marvel Universe and one of the most interesting, to me, overall. I wanted to include him in this story, and it seemed a natural way to do it.
AIPT: You’ve written short stories and novels, and you’ve written for television. How has writing comics been so far and are there any challenges inherent in the medium you didn’t expect?
Rebecca: I’ve enjoyed writing for comics, which is a much more immediate and visual medium for storytelling. It’s truly amazing to collaborate with artists like Luca Maresca, Kyle Charles, and color artists Carlos Lopez and Brian Valenza. The way they interpret and bring a writer’s vision to life is an honor. Amazing stuff.
AIPT: We met River in Phoenix Song: Echo #1, and you’re set to revisit the character in Marvel’s Voices: Heritage #1. What can you tell us about your Heritage story?
Rebecca: If you have any doubts about who the bad guy in the series is, River’s Heritage story will clear those up. It also gives you some of River’s backstory and reveals him as more complicated than he first appears.
AIPT: Finally, the X-Men are on the cover to Phoenix Song: Echo #2, so for the eager X-Fans reading, what can you tease about the next issue?
Rebecca: The cover is fantastic and an acknowledgment of the Phoenix’s history, but Echo will take the story and the power in a new direction. Keep reading to find out what that is!
AIPT: Will do — and thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Rebecca! And before we wrap up, X-Fans, how about an eXclusive look at pages from Phoenix Song: Echo #2 (on sale December 1) by artist Luca Maresca and color artist Carlos Lopez?
And one more — this one by artist Kyle Charles with color artist Bryan Valenza!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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