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X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

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X-Men Monday #134 – Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Plus, 6 eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men Unlimited issues!

Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!

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There’s a lot to be eXcited about with X-Men Unlimited (which is eXclusive to Marvel Unlimited), and what it means for the future of comic book storytelling. Fortunately, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White is back to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how X-Men Unlimited is made and what’s to come.

Also, be sure to read until the very end for some very eXciting Destiny of X news!

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! The first two arcs of X-Men Unlimited have been very different. So my first question is, does this series have a mission statement? 

Jordan: No, not really. I mean, just kind of to do cool X-Men stories that we’re not doing elsewhere. We went to Jonathan Hickman to start it, and he and Declan Shalvey did that crazy arc. Gerry Duggan proposed doing the X-Men Green story, which he had actually pitched before. This is an idea he had cooking for a while and it seemed like this would be a good place to do it. And the next one, [Deadpool and Juggernaut in Paradise Lost] I went to Fabian Nicieza to see if he wanted to do one and that’s what he pitched me. It’s really fun stuff. I think the series is much like its namesake, the original X-Men Unlimited — a place where you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to get, other than it’s going to be a cool X-Men story.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Yeah, I was wondering if X-Men Unlimited provides a place for stories and characters, like Nature Girl, you don’t always have room for in the ongoing X-Men titles but still feel are important to tell.

Jordan: All of the above. I mean, it will be used for that. Other times, it’s just a different kind of story. Or sometimes, we just go to a creator and they want to tell a specific story.

AIPT: I think what you’re saying is the possibilities are… unlimited.

Jordan: Ahhh, exactly, hence the name.

AIPT: I loved the reading experience Jonathan and Declan created with the first story arc. I’m curious, was the creative process completely different from what you use for print comics or pretty much the same with some adjustments?

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: You know, Jon and Declan went into it knowing they were launching the Infinity Comics experience for Marvel. So they went into it going, “We want to make the most of this, we’re thinking about it every step of the way.” Jon was doing real three-dimensional chess, where he was writing it for Infinity, but also writing it for print as well to go like, “Here’s how you do it this way, here’s how you do it that way, and here’s how you can draw it in a way that works for both.”

So it was very unique. I don’t know if Declan’s talked about it anywhere else yet, but I know for Declan, in particular, because his comic book style in print comics tends to be much more wide and tall, he had to put a lot of consideration into it. Instead of doing wide panels, he had to do tall panels — or at the very least, non-wide panels sometimes. So he drew it on paper and then for those crazy-long panels, he would scan them in and then stitch them together digitally.

AIPT: Declan actually has talked about it on the Battle of the Atom podcast, and some of his original art went on sale over at Cadence Comic Art. So did you review the final product on a phone?

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Cadence Comic Art

Jordan: I always look at it on a phone. To me, that’s really important. My work setup is two monitors and one of them is sideways, which is so awesome. It’s great for working because when I read a PDF of a comic, I put it up on my sideways monitor. It’s bigger than a comic book, but it still reads great.

But that creates odd things as well because if I do it just normal-size, I’m seeing way too much of it at once. I’m seeing like five screens worth of it or something. If I have it fill the screen, then it’s overwhelmingly big. It’s too big. So what I tend to do is I always send it to myself by secure means and read it on my phone — but I still have the PDF open on my computer so I can do the notes there. But I always review it on the phone for sure, because that’s the reading experience people are going to have and I want to make sure the storytelling works.

AIPT: The scene where Logan keeps punching the A.I.M. soldier — that could certainly be laid out on a single page in a comic, but it wouldn’t have the same comedic impact you get through scrolling. As an editor, does the storytelling potential in this format excite you?

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: Oh yeah. No, super excited. I love comics so much and these are still comics to me. And that’s why I think it’s really exciting to go, “Oh, this is still comics — it just works differently. What can we do with that?” Honestly, I felt the same way about Infinite Comics maybe seven years ago or whenever, when we were doing those. I adored working on those. It’s like, this is still comics, we just do new things with them and we can do them in a new way. And unfortunately, those didn’t really take off. I think these are going to get a million times more readers and they already are doing great, to be honest with you.

And you’re right. I think that sequence will work in print, but I think that it’s a different read. Like I said, Jon and Declan were very much thinking about how it would work in digital and how it would work in print. But all the books we’ve done since then, our emphasis is always to say don’t spend too much time worrying about print — worry about making the best Infinity Comic you can, because that’s the primary goal for these things. And I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all going to be gimmicks — it’s not. It’s about telling a good story.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Does Marvel plan to eventually print these?

Jordan: I’m sure they will be printed someday, and we’ll figure out how. I mean, back when we did Infinite Comics, it took time and it did lose some of the experience. But I’m sure more people have read Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet in print than read it as an Infinite Comic. It was designed to be an Infinite Comic and you lose some awesome effects and some neat storytelling tricks that we did if you don’t read it that way. 

AIPT: And it’s safe to assume there’s a lot more X-Men Unlimited on the way beyond Fabian’s story?

Jordan: Oh yeah, this is basically an ongoing.

AIPT: I have to ask, was the M.O.D.O.K. Mainframe losing the copies of the original Star Wars trilogy your idea?

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: [Laughs] No, it was Jonathan’s. It’s hilarious. I love it. Well, I don’t know if I inspired it or not, because I certainly talk about Star Wars more than most people he talked to at the time, I would think. But yeah, it was hilarious. It was a great line. I was so happy when I saw it.

AIPT: So when can we expect to learn where the third captured mutant is?

Jordan: Not too long. I don’t think I should say exactly when yet. Like I said, this is an ongoing book and that story will continue. And we’ve teased that X-Men Green will continue. And the plan is for both of those things to be back.

AIPT: Including Jonathan Hickman?

Jordan: We’ll see.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Circling back to X-Men Green — this was such a bold story with actual consequences for Nature Girl — how did it come about?

Jordan: Oh yeah. This is another one of those stories that when Gerry pitched it, I went, “No, of course, we’re not doing that!” [Laughs] I can’t remember when he pitched this. This was very early in our planning of the Krakoa era after starting House of X. He came to one of our summits and he pitched the entire concept of the first chapter of X-Men Green. The turtle dying and the bag and going through the gate and murder. And again, I was just like, “No, what are you talking about? How could we do that? That’s crazy!” But first of all, Jonathan loved it. Jonathan was like cackling the entire time Gerry was telling it. Second of all, as he talked through the story beyond that — it got really cool and interesting. And it was just, obviously, very dark, but a fascinating place to go with that character. He won us over and we said yes.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Nature Girl was… right? What do you think — is Nature Girl a villain?

Well, I think that’s the complication. And I think that’s a question that’s been asked about a lot of characters over the course of the X-Men. I think that this is a much more extreme one. Her purposes are purposes that, obviously, a lot of people would agree with. She’s saying we’re damaging the Earth and this is a problem, and we’re damaging the environment and this is a problem. Her solution involves scissors in necks, that’s not great. [Laughs]

To say she’s not right is a complicated thing. I don’t think she’s right in the sense that her solution is bad. You know, what’s the best way to stop humans from polluting the Earth? Well, if you kill all the humans, that would do it. Does that make it the right thing to do? NO, there’s a balance. She’s not killing everyone. She’s killing a lot of people, though. So no, I don’t think she’s right. Is she a villain? Yeah, probably. I mean, isn’t that Ra’s al Ghul’s motivation?

AIPT: In the Krakoa era, she’s one of the mutants to break one of the island’s three laws and stand trial for it.

Jordan: And that’s the problem with the terminology like that — “villainous,” right? She has broken the laws of Krakoa flagrantly, 100%. She doesn’t do it for traditionally villainous reasons like power or money. Again, she’s going about it from a worse place, but she’s almost more like the Authority, right? Are the Authority villains? Well, no, but they do sort of take over the world. Is that good?

AIPT: Cyclops and the Phoenix Five, too.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: In literary terms, we would call her an anti-hero. I can say this with definitive confidence — you are not supposed to read X-Men Green and go, “That sounds great.” You’re not supposed to go, “I am now inspired, I will go do these things.” No, you are supposed to know she is on the wrong path, whether it’s for the right reasons or not.

AIPT: But it’s a story. And in the story, she’s more in touch with nature than others due to her powers — so she has a reason for doing what she did. And you see Krakoa too isn’t in favor of the Council’s ruling. Doug is sympathetic, as well.

Jordan: Right. It’s probably darker than most of the things we’ve done, but she’s not alone in the current era as being a kind of anti-hero who people can read about and decide whether they root for her in the story or not.

I mean, right now a lot of people are very excited about what Mystique is doing. Let’s not forget what Mystique wants. What she wants is her wife back. Totally great. She’s not doing great stuff all over the place to make that happen. And also, she’s a very selfish person. She’s killed a lot of people, too. And she would not hesitate to do it again.

AIPT: Madelyne Pryor’s another example.

Jordan: Madelyne Pryor as well. I mean, even Apocalypse, right? We spent a lot of time with Apocalypse on our side before and during X of Swords. But he’s done some reprehensible things. We gave him his amnesty. He hasn’t broken the laws of Krakoa, but he certainly doesn’t do things nicely. Anyway, you are correct that Nature Girl murdered multiple people, knowing it was against the law and not caring.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: And Curse — she’s definitely bad news.

Jordan: I love Curse. That’s a character I’m really happy became a thing because she grew out of nothing. Her first appearance was not, “Oh, this is Curse, here’s what her deal is.” It was literally just Gerry writing a scene where some kid says something to Kate. We liked that scene. It was delightful. And therefore, she kept coming back.

AIPT: So, while we’re talking about whether characters were right or wrong, I have to ask… did Jean Grey meddle in the X-Men Election?

Jordan: Did she meddle in the election? No, she just changed Polaris’ speech, that’s all. There are ways to interpret it. I saw people interpreting it in various different ways. I don’t interpret it in a dark way.

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Now that said, Jean has a history of using information that she has gotten telepathically that she probably shouldn’t have gotten telepathically, but she’s a telepath. What else are you going to do? Generally speaking, 95% of the time, when she’s using her power, the person she’s using it on is not going, “Yeah, totally read my mind.” Like maybe not 95%. That’s a bit much, because they do use it to communicate a lot, but you know what I mean. When she goes out to fight a villain or is even just in public like, “Oh, what’s happening?” Her power is going into people’s heads.

And also, one side note: I did see people saying like, “Obviously that’s the wrong thing to do, that’s why the X-Men don’t just go around changing people’s minds all the time.” I was like, have you read the X-Men comics, because they do that quite a bit.

AIPT: We just talked about that a few weeks ago with the Frankenstein issue. Professor X has Jean shove a museum guard and then they tamper with his mind.

Jordan: In those old books, half the stories end with Xavier going, “Oh, I just made 50,000 people forget everything.” Like, what? A bunch of them do end with him literally going, “That villain is no longer a villain because I have made them not evil anymore.” Now, obviously, we don’t do that as much anymore.

AIPT: It has been called out on the page. In “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” Jean plays around with Kitty’s parents’ minds and Scott and Ororo are like, “Whoa, not sure about that.”

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: Yeah, over time, opinions shifted on that. But I think what Jean did with Lorna is not super comparable to those things. It is much more close to somebody talking to one of their friends that they know really well and you know, they know what the friend wants because they’re close with them. And then the friend says the opposite, they go, “No, the real thing.” That’s vague because I can’t think of a great example that is super effective, but like, she knows that her friend has a crush on someone and then that person says, “Do you want to go with me to dinner?” And they’re like, “No, no, no.” And then Jean goes, “Actually, the answer is yes, she does want to go.”

AIPT: New series right there: Jean Grey: Krakoa Matchmaker.

Jordan: [Laughs]

AIPT: Speaking of new series, since we last spoke, it’s been revealed that Destiny of X is what lies ahead for the X-Men. Now that we’ve seen a few teaser images, what can you tell us about this next phase?

X-Men Monday #134 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Men Unlimited

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: You’ll learn a bit more today. You’ll learn a bit more because we’ll be releasing another piece that will feature more information. I mean, we’ve talked in the past about how stuff has kind of been put on hold or on pause during X Lives/X Deaths of Wolverine in the same way that most of the line went on pause during House of X and Powers of X. And obviously, when that’s done, we’re going to come back strong and we’re going to come back with a full line of books and we’re going to be in the Destiny of X era. What will that mean for the books? Great question.

AIPT: Finally, in the last edition of X-Men Monday, Assistant Editor Lauren Amaro dropped a mention of Immortal X-Men. I think a lot of X-Fans thought that was an accident that slipped through. Can you shed a little more light here?

Jordan: I’ll miss Lauren…

AIPT: [Laughs]

Jordan: No, we’ve teased a lot of things in this column.

AIPT: We teased Sabretooth.

Jordan: Yeah, we teased Victor LaValle being in there. We teased Al Ewing working on books before he ever did. Yeah, we’re happy to. We’ve teased some books that are never going to happen.

AIPT: [Laughs] I remember those too.

Jordan: Again, you’re going to know more later today, so I shouldn’t confirm or deny too much.

AIPT: Well there you have it, X-Fans. Keep refreshing Twitter throughout the day and be on the lookout for that new Destiny of X information. Here are a few eXclusive preview images from new X-Men Unlimited adventures to tide you over until then.

Thanks for the images, Jordan, and thanks for taking the time to chat!

Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!

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