Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
The Destiny of X era continues to impress. After speaking with Kieron Gillen about Immortal X-Men #1, it’s Al Ewing’s turn to discuss the equally eXceptional X-Men Red #1. And boy is there a lot to discuss. What’s going on with Magneto? And Vulcan! A Mars-based team of X-Men and a new Brotherhood?! So many questions — good thing Al’s here to provide answers and, of course, tease a few things to come.
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Al, and congratulations on X-Men Red #1! Our first X-Fan question comes from Justin, who was curious to learn what made you want to make Storm, Magneto, and Sunspot the trinity of Arakko?
Al: The short answer is that I like all of them.
Storm is one of the top-tier X-Men for me, and we’d built her up through the first Hellfire Gala as having a big role in space and on Mars, so she was obviously going to be the hub of the book. Aside from that — I really enjoyed writing Sunspot last time I got a serious crack at him back in New Avengers, and I like the idea of him as a counterpoint to Abigail Brand, someone with a lot of schemes and secrets going on that you maybe don’t know all about. Which leaves Magneto, who I just love writing, it turns out. It almost surprised me how quickly he became one of my favorite X-characters to write once I started writing in his voice — something about that mix of age, sadness, and operatic archness really gets under my skin. That’s probably not good news for Magneto — I have a habit of dragging characters I really connect with through the fire, and he’s no exception.
AIPT: Let’s dig a little deeper into that trinity, starting with Storm. X-Fan Omegastorm said Storm continually rejects being a monarch. She rejected Wakanda, Kahn’s interdimensional empire in X-Treme X-Men, Asgard, and so on. Then she jumped at the opportunity to become regent of Arakko, only to redefine the role. Why has she embraced being a ruler on her terms?
Al: I’ve seen a couple of people get very happy at the thought of Storm crushing all dissent under her heel and ruling over Arakko like a tyrant, which… isn’t really who she is, I don’t think. Storm’s someone who always impressed me as questioning authority, even her own if necessary. She was always as hard on herself as anyone else, and crowns and thrones represent a kind of unquestioned, unrepresentative power that I just can’t see her being tempted by at all. But she’s not shying away from her responsibilities, either — to the planet or to the people. We’ll see where that leads.
AIPT: X-Fan butterflykyss said Ororo talks of bringing balance to the broken land, which brings to mind her goddess title Hadari Yao (she who preserves the balance of all natural things) as well as Tarn’s suggestion she may be of Amenth in S.W.O.R.D. Is it possible we may finally get some goddess Storm action?
Al: I think Tarn was speaking metaphorically in terms of Storm being from Amenth — that’d be a twist on her established origin I’m not really interested in doing. I’d say what Tarn meant is that Storm has a certain capacity for ruthlessness — as we’ve seen once or twice in the past. As for the goddess status… I will say we’ve seen the last of powerless Storm for a long time, I think — as nice as it is to remind people occasionally that Ororo’s more than a trading card or a set of numbers on a spreadsheet — and I would put her on that level in terms of what she can do. Is there a difference between being goddess-level and being a goddess? That’s one for people to argue about on the internet — just don’t bother me with it, I’ve got work to do.
AIPT: What’s that saying? “Nothing is certain but death and taxes and people arguing about X-Men on the internet.” Anyway, X-Fan W J has become a huge Magneto fan because of the Krakoa era and asked, what makes X-Men Red’s Magneto different from other phases in the character’s life span?
Al: He’s reeling from some major failures and disappointments, including one that we’ve yet to reveal that really cuts him to the core more than even the Moira revelations did. He’s doing a lot of brooding in his castle — I’m a sucker for Magneto when he’s journeying through a dark night of the soul, I’ll admit — but then, there’s always that steel core in him, that he’ll occasionally reveal like a sword sliding an inch out of the scabbard, and you never quite know which way that’s going to go. Magneto is an open wound in this book, but he’s at his most dangerous when he’s wounded — and obviously, I also mean dangerous in the sexy way.
AIPT: Now for the final member of the trinity — X-Fan Dexter said Sunspot has been depicted as a playboy who has no sense by some writers and a strategic genius and leader by others. How do you reconcile the various depictions of the character?
Al: I think they reconcile themselves, to be honest — once you’ve established that a character is always working on something behind the scenes, long periods of him having fun and goofing off start to carry an air of tension. What’s he up to? And there’s nothing stopping Roberto from taking a day off, either. Maybe he really has got nothing going on right now. Maybe he really does want to bring disco to the Broken Land. Maybe he’s not going to pull everyone’s strings in the least expected ways. Maybe he’s not secretly one of the [REDACTED], and hasn’t been since [REDACTED]. I mean, anything’s possible.
AIPT: Interesting. Switching gears, it was great to see Thunderbird still holds a grudge against Cyclops from the ‘70s. How much fun was it to revisit John Proudstar’s disdain for Scott Summers (and, apparently, even his relatives)?
Al: We’ve talked a lot in the X-Slack about John, what to do with him, how to play his return, etc. — we didn’t want him to come out of the egg and have nothing to do. So he’s been in a few places, he had a great scene in New Mutants, and there’s Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird coming out, which is a must-read for new and old fans of John. And his business in X-Men Red isn’t finished either.
But one of the things we chatted about was how abrasive John was, and how time might have softened people’s memories of him, and now he’s back and kind of rampaging through this idealized image people have of him because he’s been dead all this time and he’s still exactly the same person he was then. So that’s fun. But also… Charles Xavier was not characterized as needing a Thunderbird-size boot up his butt in the ’70s in the way he arguably is now. So maybe this is also the perfect time for Thunderbird to come back and tell Krakoa where to shove it. And of course, we didn’t really get a chance to see the whole person back then, so there are sides of him we’ve never had a chance to get a look at. There’s a lot of potential there.
I think what we’re finding — everyone who writes something with him in it — is that while we’ve lost this great martyr of the early X-years, this character whose only function was to be dead, we’ve gained a living, breathing character and now we get to have fun seeing what makes him tick, what’s under this guy’s hood. I honestly think John’s got the potential to be as popular as Logan.
AIPT: It’s great to have him back. Speaking of the Summers, you’ve mentioned you’ll be playing with a few of the seeds Jonathan Hickman had planted for Vulcan. Cable alludes to a “long story” involving Petra and Sway, and the fact that Gabriel is no longer welcome at the Summer House. What can you share about what’s been happening to Vulcan since we last spent time with him in X-Men #10 and what’s the current state of his relationship with Scott and the Summers clan? Things were going so well… ish!
Al: I can say you’ll find out a lot more in X-Men Red #2 — which has, unfortunately, been the victim of the ongoing Supply Chain Blues, so there’s going to be a wait to continue the story. This is something that’s happening all over, in multiple industries, and it’s not something we have control over. If you have patience, though, we are getting back to those three mysterious aliens… and the cracking shell of Vulcan’s good-guy persona. What’s their deal? And what’s Vulcan going to do when he falls apart completely? Let that question be the fuel you need to get you through this unscheduled break in transmission, true believer.
AIPT: X-Fan DarksideEternal wanted to know what the creative reasoning behind the Brotherhood name coming back was. DarksideEternal said it’s a very loaded term, especially when you have someone like Magneto hanging around.
Al: The creative reasoning is that it is loaded — if Storm turned up on that last page and said, “We’re going to call ourselves Factor Three,” it wouldn’t hit so hard. (Although Factor Three is a pretty cool name — we should bring that one back too.) In-world, Ororo is sending a message to Brand — and maybe to anyone else from Krakoa who might be thinking of pushing Arakko around. We shall see.
AIPT: Staying on the subject, X-Fan Mark said, so far, the members of the new Brotherhood are mostly Krakoans. How will this influence how the Arakkii feel about their defenders?
Al: We’ll see in X-Men Red #2 — a big part of it is whether Ororo’s team walks the walk as well as talking the talk. Are they going to be part of Arakko society, or are they another team coming in from outside? And we’ll be meeting the X-Men of Mars then as well, so there’ll be a contrast of approaches. Not to mention that we’ll be seeing some new members as we go along.
AIPT: Finally, X-Fan Emeka said that from House of X and Powers of X, we know that Cerebro classifies who is an Omega-Level mutant and who isn’t. How do the Arakkii know who among them is an Omega?
Al: Well, Omega mutants are defined right now as having an undefinable upper limit to their power, so I imagine it’s probably just weeding out the ones who seem to have limits. But I can also imagine Arakko having some kind of gadget of their own, for a more fantasy-oriented place — what’s a sword in a stone but a Cerebro for detecting kings? So there’s every chance of seeing something like that, some magic sphere or Vile engine that can do it. There’s a lot of Arakko yet to reveal, after all.
AIPT: After this interview and its many teases, it’ll be hard to wait a little longer for X-Men Red #2, but we’ll survive the eXperience. Thanks for taking the time to chat, Al! X-Fans, to help heal those Supply Chain Blues, here are a few eXclusive X-Men Red preview images, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
NeXt week, Steve Orlando returns X-Men Monday to discuss Marauders #1!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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