Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
We now conclude Marauders Monday with what you X-Fans have been waiting for — new Marauders writer Steve Orlando answering your questions! If you missed today’s earlier articles, click here and here. Now, without further ado, let’s get started.
AIPT: Alright, Steve, X-Fans Diego Iriarte and X-genenotincluded were curious to learn which crew dynamics you’re most excited to write.
Steve: Well, the cop-out answer is I’m excited for all of them because I picked the crew. But what has been the most surprising one for me is Psylocke because I had an idea about the character, but it wasn’t until I went back — and shout out to Hellions, which did amazing work with her. I’ll admit, until I did all my research, I wasn’t sure where she was coming from. I’m 36 years old. The character that now is named Psylocke kind of was broadly offscreen for most of my X-Men reading when I was younger. So once I found out how she fits in, and especially sort of her journey to an evolving self-concept, and the fact that she will be getting guided from unexpected places we’ll say in the team, it’s been really, really fun.
And, you know, Bishop is Captain Commander of the War Captains, and Psylocke’s one of the War Captains. That certainly creates some tension between them. You’ve heard too many chefs in a kitchen. We maybe have too many captains on a ship. But she’s someone who doesn’t suffer fools and we’ll have at least one old lady that’s a big-time fool, or at least seems to be on the team. So she’s been really, really exciting to write.
And again, I’m never going to say I’m not excited to work on Somnus because he’s our audience stand-in in many ways. He’s new to Krakoa and these things that are mundane — dying, coming back to life, going into space, going through time, you know? Everything is a wonder to him. Three months ago in comic time, he was sitting at home in Canada, you know, watching Bob Barker, and now he’s traveling through space. So his wonder is our wonder and that’s always been very exciting to me.
AIPT: X-Fan Chandler wanted to know if there was a character you wanted on the team that was unavailable to you.
Steve: I mean, we’d be here all day. What I’ll say is yeah, of course. First of all, because you need to dig pretty deep to find the next character that isn’t interesting — maybe digging forever. But as a kid, I loved Colossus — I’m part Russian. So if I could have taken him, I would’ve. But at the same time, what Ben Percy has planned for him is fascinating. So I wouldn’t want to take away from that, and he’s on the Council now.
Of course, I would’ve also liked Marrow. Everybody knows I love Marrow. I think it’s why I put her in the Dark Riders, and I want to get back to Marrow again. It just wasn’t the right fit at the moment, but I love her and I’d love to get back to her. I also think there’s a ton of potential in Graymalkin’s story. I don’t think he’d be a fit for this team, but I want him for a team.
The real question is who do I want for a team that Al Ewing hasn’t already snagged because he wakes up eight hours ahead of me in Europe. That’s the real question.
AIPT: Gotta watch out for that guy. Now, X-Fan Dusk of the House of X Discord was wondering what made you choose Cassandra Nova as your wildcard member.
Steve: Because Cassandra blows everything up, from a character standpoint, by the way — sometimes literally. Look, I had taken a couple years off X-Men and then I came back for Grant Morrison. I was on and then I left after Steven Seagle and Joe Kelly left, because Seagle was already my mentor. I was salty over him having to leave. I was also 12, so I thought that my opinion mattered to Marvel. When I left X-Men I was like, “Never again.” And then I read JLA by Grant and then they came to do New X-Men and I was back. So I mean, there are few characters as iconic as Cassandra where I’ve been with them from moment one, you know? She was in the first issue of X-Men after my return for three years basically.
So I’ve always had a strong connection to her. And also, it was clear, based on “Here Comes Tomorrow” and Grant’s commentary and interviews and things that they had planned to sort of bend her toward a less antagonistic role. I’m never going to say heroic with her because I don’t think she’s a hero. I think she’s done some terrible things, but that being said, I love the dynamic that she brings to the team. I mean, you always need someone on a team that will walk up to anyone in the room and either literally or metaphorically kick them in the crotch and that’s Cassandra. I’m fascinated with the way she fits into the team in the current moment because we want to honor everything that’s happened with her.
So yeah, she did the things that happened in “E is for Extinction.” Of course, Apocalypse has also killed hundreds of thousands of people over the years. And so has Sinister — who literally stole a real mutant’s genes and appropriated mutanthood with Thunderbird’s DNA. And they’re on the Council. She actually makes a joke about that in the first issue, that when these people do terrible things, they get a Council seat and she gets house arrest. So Cassandra is not a good person but she is a good character for the team because she will potentially blow up any scene she’s in.
And also, she respects cunning. So I think that it’ll be surprising for folks who she eventually does form a grudge of respect with because right now she doesn’t respect anyone. The only thing that’s changed about her personality-wise is that — and you’ll see the specifics of it — Jean Grey did something to her. What Jean did to her at X-Men Red was not as effective after the initial shock as it might have seemed, but something has changed and Cassandra’s still Cassandra, but she is now a Cassandra who will do everything she would do before but in defense of mutantkind.
And that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s any less dangerous, because if she thought that it was best for mutantkind, for example, for her to just kill Magneto and Charles, she would certainly do that because she’s not really taking opinions on what the best course of action is. But she was someone who could really cut through the story and when you see the people that do get the edge up on her, it’s going to be really satisfying when the time comes.
AIPT: X-Fan Heartsib is a longtime Alpha Flight fan who very much enjoys your comic work and is thrilled you’ll be writing Jeanne-Marie. You’ve mentioned we’re going to get to see her shine apart from Northstar — could you go into a bit more detail as to how you’ll approach that?
Steve: First of all, in a bizarre twist, perhaps, Jeanne-Marrie is not the only ex-Alpha Flight character that will be appearing early in the run. So, a teaser for the annual. But I really enjoyed the radical acceptance that she was practicing with Akihiro in X-Factor, it’s one of the things that we’ll be carrying over. They’re not people who are ignoring the faults in each other or each other’s struggles, but they are two people who again, radically accept and support each other. So, Jeanne-Marie will continue to have the confidence she had in X-Factor — perhaps a bit more, but that does not mean that we’re going to act as though, you know, as with anyone who struggles as I have, as many of us have with, in her case mental illness, but any number of things, chronic pain — you take your pick. The point is, the reality is that it’s a day-by-day process and it’s a process of managing.
And again, as soon as we can, we’re going to show that she is in a great place and she is in a confident place and doesn’t have to be anyone but herself around Akihiro. But that doesn’t mean that she does not still need to manage and practice maintenance and self-care and things like that. And due to the twistings and windings of Marvel events, we are actually going to have a great opportunity to show that within the first 10 issues. So I’m excited for it.
And featuring by the way, in my opinion, provided I get it off the ground, which I will, one of my favorite out-of-left-field returns: the upcoming action psychiatrist of Krakoa. That’s almost definitely happening. So I can’t wait for you guys to see it. Finally, I get to write an office that looks like the office from Hannibal, but this one has a giant fricking gun framed in the back of it. So if you can guess who it is, God love you. I won’t confirm until it comes out, but the people that will be treating the Marauders — it’s not Doc Sampson, but it certainly is an allusion to that issue of X-Factor.
AIPT: Nice! X-Fan Luke was curious to learn how you’ll handle Daken’s two names. Luke said Akihiro was what his adoptive family named him but he rejected that name and took ownership of the insult Daken. Most recently, Aurora seemed to exclusively call him Akihiro. Any thoughts?
Steve: I think there’s a lot of opinions on his first name. I tend to have a lot of people call him Akihiro in the book, and that said, I am never a person who is going to overwrite the work of my peers as creators. And that has been a name that has been attached to him for a long, long time. So I think we will see it used when it feels like the moment fits, but I think his friends call him Akihiro, certainly.
You know, the phrase is loaded for sure. Every time I go looking for an explanation about the one sort of final answer on it, I’ve not been able to find one. So we’re certainly focusing on him being called Akihiro. But the interesting thing, if you talk about continued teases, is that he’s never really had a codename, he’s only had a nickname… so something to consider.
AIPT: We love teases here at X-Men Monday! NeXt up, X-Fan @bway3rd said that this Marauders cast is very queer. How much does queerness anchor the story?
Steve: You know, folks will not be surprised to hear me say this — it is not the point of the story because I never write a character for whom being queer is the sum total of their characterization. There’s a place for that, of course, but I personally find that kind of insulting, because you know, it feels like tokenism to me. I’m more than just a bisexual person, for example. But that being said, don’t despair with my harsh realism, because at the same time, to do my job, I have to know the core of a character, and being queer is core to most folks’ identity.
It’s not the only thing, but it’s a core facet and a character’s core is the lens through which you find the plot. So how will it be centered? It’s going to affect how each character, whether by the way they are or straight, but for the queer characters, it’s going to affect the way they view the events of the book. It’s going to be a book that questions how we engage with our history. This is going to be a book that questions, especially through Somnus, how we reckon with our elders. And you can’t answer those questions as yourself without factoring in your queerness. So it of course is going to be a core part of all those characters and it will affect their decisions, it’ll affect the way they view other characters and their actions and the events of the book.
But starting with Midnighter, I’ve always said that we want these characters to be multifaceted. So it won’t be the only thing about them, of course, but will it be central to each character’s decision-making and points of view? Absolutely. Because if you think of a character’s core as one of those kaleidoscope things, that is a chief lens that you drop into that kaleidoscope and that’s how you figure out how any character does anything when you’re doing the job right. And while maintaining the fact that they’re true to who they are.
I mean, I could have a character do anything. I could write anything in a book. But my job is knowing the core of these people. And it’s a lot of work before you get into scripting to figure that out. And for things to ring true, you have to decipher that. And for the queer characters, it’ll always be part of who they are and it’s always going to affect how they move through this world going forward.
AIPT: Finally, in X-Men Monday’s 2021 X-Fan Survey, Psylocke and Greycrow were selected as the year’s top X-Romance. So I have to ask this question for X-Fan Braxer — will we see any scenes featuring these two lovebirds?
Steve: Well listen, I try to give people the truth. Greycrow is not on the main roster and a lot of the book takes place off Krakoa. But if I have my way, you will see some scenes between them, because I took to heart Greycrow’s comments at the end of Hellions about opening a restaurant.
As a matter of fact, if folks are interested in that, there’s a great documentary on Prime called Gather, which is about this chef Nephi Craig, who is trying to resurrect a lot of indigenous and native folks’ cooking styles. I watched that with the express purpose of yes, if I have my way, we will find time at minimum for her to visit Greycrow. I mean, they are seeing each other when she’s on the island, but we’re going to be off the island a lot.
But folks who know my work know that I love a good cooking scene. She’s absolutely going to be visiting his restaurant.
AIPT: Perfect. Save me a seat at that restaurant. But on that note, Steve, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions. Let’s do it again real soon.
And X-Fans — one more treat before we go: Artist Eleonora Carlini’s Erik the Red designs.
I hope everybody enjoyed Marauders Monday! Remember to pick up Marauders Annual #1 — Steve’s first issue — this Wednesday, January 26. Look for Marauders #1 on March 30.
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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