Welcome, X-Fans, to not just another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT, but the final installment of 2021!
What a year! X-Men Monday celebrated 100 editions in March — and then 125 editions in September (watch out, #150 — you’re next). A number of first-time guests stopped by, including Simon Spurrier, Anthony Oliveira, Valerio Schiti and the legendary Louise and Walter Simonson. And, of course, we were lucky to get the departing Head of X Jonathan Hickman to answer a few farewell questions not once but twice. Oh — let’s not forget that time M.O.D.O.K. took over X-Men Monday with help from Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt!
Pandemic aside, it was a pretty eXcellent year for X-Men Monday and I’m eXcited to see how the column continues to mutate in the new year as we enter the Destiny of X era alongside the X-Men.
But before we look too far ahead, let’s quickly revisit the year that was via X-Fans’ responses to the X-Men Monday 2021 Survey, featured at the end of X-Men Monday #135. Below are the top three responses to each question. Fear not, no meddling took place when reviewing the responses — I made sure Jean stayed far away.
Favorite X-Series of 2021
Favorite storyline of 2021
- The events unfolding in Inferno
- The Hellfire Gala
- The overall Hellions saga
Favorite moment of 2021
- Terraforming Mars and establishing Planet Arakko
- Destiny returns and joins the Quiet Council
- Storm is revealed as the Regent of Mars
Favorite X-Writer of 2021
- Jonathan Hickman
- Zeb Wells
- Vita Ayala
Favorite X-Artist of 2021
- Pepe Larraz
- Rod Reis
- Valerio Schiti
Favorite X-Character of 2021
- Emma Frost
Breakout X-Character of 2021
Favorite X-Couple of 2021
- Psylocke and Greycrow
- Mystique and Destiny
- Cyclops and Marvel Girl
Thanks to everyone who participated! As you’ll soon see, a few of these results factored into my conversation with X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White. It’s a lengthy one, so let’s get started!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! In 2020, due to the pandemic, the X-Office adapted to working remotely and new ways of collaborating on comics. 2021 brought another year of COVID-19, unexpected shipping delays and other challenges. Looking back on the past 12 months, what are you most proud of as X-Men Senior Editor?
Jordan: I think the Hellfire Gala is super awesome and I’m really proud of it. It was another project with a lot of moving pieces that came together — I thought — really well. It was a different challenge, too. It wasn’t the same challenge as X of Swords, which was something like 26 parts. So obviously, that was crazy and took a lot of coordination. This was a very different animal. It’s all one event in the literal sense — one party. It was 10 different stories that all have to kind of interweave and work together. And we got 60 different costume designs to make sure the characters look the same across it all. It turned out really fun and I think people really enjoyed it, from the designs of the characters to the story itself. I think people really dug it.
AIPT: Is there a single issue from the 2021 X-Line you’re especially proud of?
Jordan: Wow. I mean, the last few issues of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men were pretty epic. I’m trying to think which of them I would even pick. It’s a tough call. I’m juggling between the story inside the Vault and the story of Nimrod coming online — they were both pretty great.
AIPT: So let’s say the conclusion of Jonathan’s X-Men run.
Jordan: Oh, but also Planet-Size X-Men! Like, that’s one issue and it’s an amazing, epic issue. Oh, that’s tough, too. Gosh. If I had to pick a favorite, I guess I’ll go with Nimrod coming online. It was really good. It gave us a great, in-depth look into both Orchis and Mystique and it really galvanized the fans and it was exciting. It was exciting to see that happen — how emotionally it resonated with everyone, which is awesome.
AIPT: Is there an X-Men character you developed a newfound appreciation for in 2021 thanks to creators’ work on them?
Jordan: Oh, Synch — definitely Synch. Jonathan’s Vault story brought him to the forefront of mutantkind and Gerry Duggan was thrilled to grab a hold of him and use him as much as possible in X-Men. So I think he’s resonating in a way he never has before for me. I don’t want to dismiss the previous stories, but I’m excited about him now being in comics, for sure. And that makes me excited to see what he does next.
AIPT: Synch was actually X-Fans’ top pick for the breakout character of 2021 in the survey I conducted.
Jordan: That’s great. So we’re aligned — I got the answer, right.
AIPT: [Laughs] Yes, all of these questions have right and wrong answers. Nanny and Psylocke were in second and third place, respectively.
Jordan: Oh yeah, listen — I should actually give an extremely honorable mention to Hellions as a book. Hellions is amazing. Every script that I read, I loved. And then when I saw it come together as a final issue before it went to press, I loved it.
AIPT: There was quite the Hellions sweep in the survey. It was X-Fans’ favorite series of 2021.
Jordan: But that guy Zeb sucks because he left us.
AIPT: He’s into Spider-Man now.
Jordan: Yeah, he’s a traitor — don’t listen to him.
AIPT: OK, let’s talk Destiny of X. When this new era was announced, you said, “It’s time for mutantkind to reach for their destiny.” That makes me think conquering Mars was mutantkind just warming up. Without spoiling the end of Inferno, what themes would you say are at the core of Destiny of X?
Jordan: That’s the thing about destiny though, right? First of all, in the quote we sent out, Destiny’s saying there is no destiny. Your destiny doesn’t mean your plan. It means what’s going to happen. So they had a great plan for Planet-Size X-Men — they came up with something awesome. And they’ve got more plans, but just because they’re reaching for their destiny, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the thing that they’re trying to achieve. There are going to be ups, there are going to be downs.
AIPT: For this next question, we’re going to tap into Destiny’s power: Several months into the Destiny of X era, who are some of the X-Characters X-Fans will be talking about?
Jordan: Well, Destiny is one of them. She’s far from done. And it probably won’t shock you after last week to hear Cassandra Nova is going to have some people talking about her, which is very exciting already.
We’re going to continue talking about Synch. We’re going to continue talking about Wolverine — Laura. I have to say that to distinguish, because I didn’t mean Logan — but we’re going to talk about Logan, too.
It’s hard to do this without spoiling things because I know places where there are going be shifts and I don’t want to tell them. There’s one big name that people are going to be talking about, but I really, really can’t say it.
AIPT: Before the Reign of X era, Nightcrawler and Storm were teased as characters to watch — and obviously, big things came their way.
Jordan: Storm has got some big stuff coming up for her, for sure. Well, I mean, so still does Nightcrawler, as well as the Professor. The entire Council, really, but the Professor, Sinister and Destiny. Oddly enough, Deadpool. And Beast and Brand. There’s going to be a lot of exciting stuff.
AIPT: Based on the survey, X-Fans’ top three X-Couples of 2021 were Psylocke and Greycrow, Mystique and Destiny, and Cyclops and Marvel Girl, respectively. First, what’s your reaction to hearing Psylocke and Greycrow are the year’s hottest X-Romance?
Jordan: Well, that’s the continuation of the Hellions sweep, which again, I totally understand. It’s an amazing book. It made us feel things about characters we didn’t expect or want to feel things about. I mean, you just said Nanny was the No. 2 breakout character. Who could have predicted that? I’ve said this before, but when I got the pitch, I was like, “What do you mean? How could this be the pitch?” And the answer was because Zeb was able to nail it. He was able to make it resonate from issue one. Take a handful of characters that — I mean, I’m just going to go and say, no one cared about — and made us care so deeply for them. So yeah, Greycrow and Psylocke got into their heads and earned it.
AIPT: Second, can X-Fans eXpect any new and uneXpected X-Romances in the Destiny of X era?
Jordan: Unexpected romances. Yeah, you know, we’re talking about what we can do about that. I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of them — and there’s a lot of people who have strong feelings about them. I mean, the two that came in second and third are long established. They’re not new romances. And we’ve got a few more established ones that are currently happening, but yeah, there’s going to be some new stuff. I can’t tell you what. Obviously, there was a brief appearance of a kind of strange Synch and Laura romance, but it’s been awkward because only one of them remembers it and he doesn’t know what to do about that. And we don’t know how she feels about that fact. So we’ll see what happens there. But yeah, there will be new stuff as well.
AIPT: Finally, can we expect to see more of Betsy and Rachel’s burgeoning relationship in Knights of X?
Jordan: The two of them are in that book together, so that is definitely the place to go if you want to see them interacting. Absolutely.
AIPT: We know X-Men and New Mutants are continuing with their current numbering. Will the same be true of series like X-Force and Wolverine, or can we expect new No. 1s in the Destiny of X era?
Jordan: X-Force and Wolverine are going to go back to their same numbering. It’s an extension of the same story — they just kind of paused. I mean, time has passed, because events occur between the December and April issues, but it’s still going to be Ben Percy on them.
AIPT: At the same time, new series like Knights of X, Legion of X and X-Men Red are evolutions of Excalibur, Way of X and S.W.O.R.D., but I’m curious, are these new titles designed to be new-reader-friendly and fresh starts?
Jordan: We definitely want them to be new-reader-friendly. Absolutely. That’s the point of shaking things up like that because we could just put out another issue of the old series, but the point of doing a refresh on the series is to go, “Hey, come check it out, this is different now. This is new and exciting and awesome.” So yeah, If you didn’t check those series out before, obviously I recommend checking out the trades, the digital copies or the physical issues, if you can get them as well. But if you want to just jump on here, it’s a great place to jump on with Destiny of X.
AIPT: And I’m assuming we can eXpect cast shakeups in these new series?
Jordan: Oh yeah, you can expect to see some different characters everywhere. I mean, some of them you’ve already seen. Legion of X — that teaser revealed quite a number of characters. Some of them were in Way of X and some of them were not, and the same is true for all these other ones. There are new directions, so there are going to be new characters popping up.
AIPT: Looking ahead to May 7, Free Comic Book Day 2022, it looks like dramatic changes are on the way for the X-Men and Avengers’ always interesting relationship. Should X-Fans be on the lookout for clues to this mysterious upcoming event? Maybe in Kieron Gillen’s Eternals?
Jordan: Absolutely, you should be on the lookout for clues. And that’s a great place to look. Listen, if you haven’t been reading Kieron’s Eternals, you should be. It’s great. Kieron is awesome. And obviously, we’ve just established he’s been working on X-Stuff with us for a while. So I’ve been privy to his Eternals plans for a little while now, and they are great. Very dramatic and probably my favorite version of the Eternals. The Eternals are not characters that always resonated with me in all of their incarnations. Kieron’s really good at taking stuff that’s removed from everyday life and making it work in a relatable way.
While I’m singing his praises, I’ll just mention that he wrote the mini-series that started Marvel’s Warhammer tie-ins, and I have never read or played anything Warhammer in my life. I know zero about Warhammer, but I was riveted by that series because he was able to write an in into that world for me that, even though I didn’t know what all of the details meant and all of the minutia, it was extremely relatable and told a great story. So he’s able to do that there, he’s able to do that with Eternals, and obviously, he’s able to do that with X-Men as well. So honestly, I recommend anything with his name on it.
AIPT: So X-Fans should read Warhammer.
Jordan: So check Warhammer for clues. No, no, no. I mean, you should read his Eternals because it’s great, but also, it’s not a bad idea to read it for clues.
AIPT: OK, as it’s our last edition of the year, I’d like to pivot to Weezer (as one does). X-Fans, you weren’t aware, but in off-the-record moments before and after my interviews with Jordan in the latter months of 2021, he’d update me on his deep dive into Weezer’s discography. I’m sorry, but they’re my favorite band and these Weezer opinions were too good to keep off the record!
So Jordan, in only the second edition of X-Men Monday, from March 4, 2019, I asked you for your thoughts on Weezer and you said, “TL;DR, Weezer is a band whose work I sometimes LOVE, and sometimes completely pass on. That’s very weird, for me.” But in 2021, like with R.E.M. in 2020, you did an extensive deep dive into the Weezer discography. So, has your opinion of Weezer changed and why did you embark on this Weezer adventure?
Jordan: They changed enormously because now I pretty much love all of it. Why did I do it? That is a really tough question. And I don’t 100% know the answer. I mean, I came back to them at a really good time because they had just put out two really great albums this year and I liked them both a lot. I think what inspired me to do it is that at some point I just was like, “Oh, let me check out one of their new singles,” and thought, “This is really good.” And then I checked out more. And like I said, they had both albums out — OK Human and Van Weezer. So I just dove into those two albums, listening to them a bunch. Then I went, “Why did I never listen to all the other stuff? I should just do it.”
One of the things I’ve found is Weezer fans are real hard on Weezer, and I think that’s the other fortuitous thing about coming back to Weezer when I did, because those two great albums that they had just put out — they are extremely different from each other, and one of them is extremely different from anything they’d ever done before, while the other is just straight-up rock music. So as a result, when I dove back into the albums that Weezer fans hate for the first time — I’m talking about Raditude, Hurley, Pacific Daydream and The Black Album — I didn’t have to have the fear that Weezer fans had. I didn’t have to listen to them going, “Is this what they are now?” I go, no, what they are is they do whatever they want. They do an album like this, and then they do an album like that, and then they’ll do whatever they want. And sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re less good, but I will say, I don’t even think any of them are that much less good.
I was so scared of The Black Album because I’ve heard so many bad things about it. People who are big Weezer fans were telling me, “I only listened to it once,” and I’m like, whoa, that’s intense. And then I put it on and I was like, yeah, it’s just a different style. It’s still fun. “Can’t Knock the Hustle” got stuck in my head and I was like, “I want to listen to it again.” And “High as a Kite.”
AIPT: “High as a Kite” is so good.
Jordan: That’s a good song. The production is really different than their classic stuff, but it’s still really cool and the same with the previous song. “It Feels Like Summer” is fun. It sounds more like a radio song than a Weezer song, for sure, but if that song came on the radio and it wasn’t Weezer, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I’d be like, yeah, that’s fun. It’s good.
AIPT: “It Feels Like Summer” is actually really good live. I’ve seen them play it twice, I think. Lots of pyrotechnics.
Jordan: That’s the other thing — I feel like they explore stuff. I love the live version of “All My Favorite Songs” they just put out — it’s super cool. I mean, I love the regular “All My Favorite Songs” so much, but the fact that they were like, “Well, let’s do ‘All My Favorite Songs’ Van Weezer style.” I’m like, yeah, that’s great. Honestly, I’d love to hear that across the board. I want to hear all the Pacific Daydream and Black Album songs in classic Weezer style. But I also am interested in seeing what The Blue Album would sound like if it was The Black Album, that would be fascinating, too.
AIPT: Who’s scarier? Weezer fans or X-Men fans?
Jordan: Well, the X-Men fans are scarier to me because they care about what I do. Weezer fans do not care what I do. But again, all fans are intense. I mean, that’s the thing, they are fans. The really passionate fans are passionate all over the place. I don’t remember if I’ve said it here before, but I had wonderful and really pleasant experiences with all the Star Wars fans that I interacted with when I was in Marvel’s Star Wars office. But also, that was before certain things happened that caused a disturbance in the fandom of Star Wars.
So every fandom has its ups and downs and its intenseness and its passion that can get — well, let’s be honest and say sometimes frightening. Again, I think it’s weird that Weezer fans get really intense and hate an album. Like, “That album stinks!” And it’s like, no, it’s just not as good as their best albums. That’s all. Like, it’s fun. They like to do dopey songs. They do dopey songs on their best albums.
AIPT: It is interesting to think about. Like, with comics and film fandoms, there could be anger over what Jean Grey’s wearing, or what Luke Skywalker’s doing. But with Weezer, it’s anger at Rivers Cuomo for not writing songs that sound like Pinkerton, or whatever.
Jordan: That’s another thing that happens in fandoms a lot right now, especially. It probably always has, but what I’ve noticed more and more is that they love to project a narrative onto the art, by which I mean, they’d want to project a narrative onto the creators. They want to go, “Oh, this happened because of that.” Or, “They wanted to do this, and then somebody wouldn’t let them, and then they did this,” or “Rivers is doing this because he really feels like this” or Kathleen Kennedy, etc.
Again, it’s across the board at all of these places. And what I can say, being involved intimately in the creation of the X-Men comics, I see these things being said, and I’m like, “This doesn’t really connect with reality that much.” Like sure, once in a while, they’ll have something right. Usually, because somebody will say something in an interview that gives it away or whatever. But 9 times out of 10, there is a projection of, “Here’s why this comic is this way” that I go, “Well, that’s not true at all.” So I would guess that the same is true with Weezer. I would guess that when I go online and people are like, “Well, the reason that this album is like this and sucks is because Rivers was blah blah” — it probably has no basis in what actually happened.
AIPT: It’s funny you say that, because even with X-Men Monday, I’ll see people misinterpreting the tone in answers — viewing them as attacks on fans — or cooking up strange reasoning for why we did a particular interview. It’s like, no, I just said “Hey Jordan, can we do this?” And you went, “Sure!” Anyway, now that you’ve reevaluated your Weezer opinions, do you have a new favorite Weezer album?
Jordan: Oh, I mean, my favorite is still Pinkerton. It’s not going to change that drastically. I still love that. That said, if you take out Blue and Pinkerton and say, what’s your favorite one? After that, it actually gets quite hard because it probably would either be OK Human or Make Believe, which I also think gets maligned.
AIPT: Make Believe — that’s a controversial pick!
Jordan: It’s so funny that it’s controversial though because again, it was controversial because people were like, “Oh, they sold out and he’s just trying to write pops songs.” It’s like, now you’ve heard The Black Album. You think this was pop?
AIPT: “Beverly Hills” did pretty well.
Jordan: Honestly, “Perfect Situation” is up there among the best Weezer songs. I think the fact that it starts by ripping into an awesome guitar solo just gets me pumped every time I put it on. I actually just showed the music video to one of my best friends yesterday, because I was like, “Oh, have you seen the video? It’s real funny.” And I was devastated when I realized they cut the opening guitar solo. What is going on?
AIPT: The Radio edit — radio edits always take out the best parts. But yeah, I like Make Believe a lot. “Beverly Hills,” “Perfect Situation” and “This is Such a Pity” is an amazing three-song start to an album. What, in your opinion, is the most underrated Weezer album?
Jordan: I would probably have to say The Black Album because people are like, “I hate it.” And I’m like, “No, you’re stupid. Don’t hate it. It’s fun.” There are good things on it. It just wasn’t The Blue Album. Like, don’t worry about it.
AIPT: This is a really tough one. What’s the best Weezer b-side.
Jordan: This is another one where I’ve listened to all these new Weezer songs since then and it still hasn’t changed. It’s still “I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams.”
AIPT: So good. For me, it’s “Susanne.”
Jordan: A very good one. “Susanne’s” great. But yeah, “I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams” — was that on “The Good Life” EP? I bought that back when I was a teenager and it means so very much. I love it.
AIPT: OK, pop quiz. Which X-Men character is canonically a Weezer fan? They’re wearing a Weezer t-shirt in Uncanny X-Men #325.
Jordan: Oh no. This is like a test.
AIPT: It’s the issue where Storm rips Marrow’s heart out.
Jordan: That’s a long time ago. I have no freaking clue.
AIPT: Its Jubilee. She’s wearing a Weezer t-shirt while they’re playing baseball.
Jordan: Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Though that gets confusing with Marvel time.
AIPT: [Laughs] Which album is she a fan of?
Jordan: Right, exactly. Because I think of Jubilee as too young to like Weezer — except not, because at that time she was the right age.
AIPT: With the sliding time scale she’d have gotten in with what, Pacific Daydream?
Jordan: Exactly. With the sliding time scale, that’s what she was a fan of. She’s like, “I only like when they do pop stuff, what are all these guitars?” But what’s Jubilee’s Fan Club number? That’s the real question.
AIPT: I’ll do some digging. I’ll email Rivers.
Jordan: That — sorry, sorry — one more Weezer aside. I’ll tell you what, I would love to do a story where it’s revealed that Rivers is actually a mutant and has been hiding it the whole time.
AIPT: What would his mutant power be? Can a regular human truly write that many catchy songs?
Jordan: That’s a toughie. I don’t know. I mean, I kind of want to let him pick. So Rivers, if you’re reading this — well, when you read this — because obviously, we know you’re an X-Men fan, so you must be reading — when you read this, reach out.
I don’t know what it should be. Should it be based on one of the songs? You know, if he looks just like Buddy Holly, is he a shapeshifter? Does he destroy people’s clothing with his mind? That’s a little weird.
AIPT: Codename: Sweater Shredder.
Jordan: Maybe he has fire powers to be El Scorcho.
AIPT: [Laughs] That’s good. Also, his name is Rivers and we’ve overlooked water powers. But anyway, final question: Weezer-Dazzler collaboration — when?
Jordan: Oh God, again, I’m ready. Reach out. Listen, I have done an X-Men-rockstar collaboration. The Flaming Lips and the Toadies played at a Lila Cheney festival.
So yeah, man, Weezer and Dazzler — that makes perfect sense. Although I guess given the way that they tend to do stuff, it would make the most sense for her to do a remix and be featured, right?
AIPT: No, I think Rivers would jump at the chance to co-write a disco song with Alison Blaire. He went through a heavy co-writing phase several years ago. He wrote an unreleased song with Katy Perry!
Jordan: There was that song he did with Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. I put the song on and I went, “This sounds like The Darkness, what’s going on? Why is he writing this song like The Darkness?” And I looked and was like, “Oh, Justin!”
AIPT: OK, those were all my Weezer questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say about Weezer?
Jordan: No. I’m very, very happy to have gotten back into them. I now have four of their albums on vinyl and it’s very exciting.
AIPT: Final question before we call it a year — is there anything you’d like to say to X-Fans as we head into 2022?
Jordan: Thank you so much for your support over the last year. It was epic. It was a lot of fun. I know the delays mean you’re not quite at the end of Inferno yet, but I know that you’re going to love it when it lands and it’s going to blow you away. And we’re not going to stop there. Don’t be afraid of the future. We’ve still got a lot of awesome plans that we can’t wait to share with you.
AIPT: And I’ll tell you what, X-Fans — you get a sneak peek at some of those plans right now. For the last X-Men Monday of the year, Jordan picked out these eXclusive preview images from so far into 2022, they’re not even finished yet! And you know what else? There’s art in here from a book that hasn’t been announced yet.
Start speculating, X-Fans! Thanks for the art, Jordan, and thanks for taking the time to chat about X-Men and Weezer!
And thank YOU, loyal readers, for supporting X-Men Monday throughout 2021. Unfortunately, there’ll be no new edition neXt week (Monday, January 3), but we’ll be back Monday, January 10 with an eXclusive you don’t want to miss.
I’ve already said too much — but remember to mark your calendar. Until then, X-Fans, stay eXceptional and happy new year!
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