Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
When X-Men Monday launched at AIPT, way back in February 2019, there weren’t many rules around what X-Fans could ask about. But… there are only so many things you can say about those Academy X kids, so we introduced a little more structure to the column. However, it’s become clear over time that a lot of X-Fans have questions that don’t always fit neatly into the X-Men Monday theme of the week. That’s why we’re launching XMA: X Me Anything.
XMA captures the spirit of those early editions. You never know what — or who — X-Fans are going to ask about! You know, aside from Hellion and the rest of the Academy X kids.
So read on to see what X-Fans truly care about — and what X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White has to say about it! (And, if your question wasn’t asked, set it aside and submit to the neXt XMA!)
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday XMA, Jordan! Before we get into X-Fans’ questions, I need to ask about Knights of X #4 and that kiss between Captain Britain and Askani. It’s a moment that many X-Fans have been waiting for since the Dawn of X, and in Rachel Summers’ case, something they’ve wanted confirmed for decades. What can you share about how all this came to be?
Jordan: I’m thrilled that we were able to make this happen. Like you said, it’s something that we’ve all wanted to happen for a long time. And it’s through the efforts of a lot of people. Obviously, Tini Howard is a huge proponent of making this happen. Sarah Brunstad, the editor of the book, is a proponent of it as well. I’m really thrilled that they got to make this happen and that this got out there. I wish we could have done it sooner, but I’m glad we got to do it.
AIPT: While we’re on the topic of romance, X-Fan William Rose was wondering what connections the upcoming Love Unlimited: X Loves of Wolverine story will have to the Destiny of X era?
Jordan: Well, Mark Basso, who is the Wolverine editor, is editing that book. He shared some of the scripts with me and I’ve been reading it. It’s a fun series, and since it’s the folks who do the Wolverine book, it’s going to be connected. I don’t want to spoil what it is exactly, but you know, it’s about his “X Loves,” right? So what does that mean? And is that a story that takes place entirely now? Well, maybe, maybe not — you’ll see. The point is, it’s a story that is actually happening and is part of the Wolverine lore and it’s going to be super fun. But expect some romance.
AIPT: And from X Loves, we now move to X Deaths. X-Fan Travis wanted clarity around whether Krakoa gave Moira cancer in X Deaths of Wolverine. X-Fans James Harper and MoiraStan789 also asked questions related to Moira’s cancer.
Jordan: Great question. I don’t know that we know the answer, exactly. It’s certainly connected to the fact that she was living in a No Place, which has itself been described as kind of a tumor on Krakoa. But is it something that there’s just a chance of? Is it something that is overwhelmingly likely, or did it increase her likeliness of getting it?
Obviously, in another reality, she lived for thousands of years and never got cancer. So it’s not like she was definitely going to get cancer one way or the other. Is it because she was living as a human at one point? Is it something that would happen to anyone? Because we haven’t seen it happen to anyone else, but no one else has spent that much time in a No Place. So I think the answer is we don’t quite know yet. I think it would remain to be seen if we do more interactions with No Places and such.
Of course, now we also know No Places are not as safe for your secrets as we once thought because Doug and Warlock are in there listening, so I’m not sure how useful No Places would be at this point.
AIPT: Another X-Fan in search of clarity (X-Fans love clarity), Uncanny X-Man wanted to know what the deal is with Jean Grey’s codename. Did Jean ditch the Marvel Girl moniker?
Jordan: She certainly seems to have, yes. She specifically said, “I was Marvel Girl. Now I am Jean Grey.” I think this is a hard one to answer without talking about the real world, right? In the reality of X-Men, Jean’s a weird character because she’s one of a few who don’t have a name that sticks. We tried to go back to Marvel Girl and it seems not to have taken or stuck. We had specific reasons for doing it. We’ve talked about them before — and they’re the same as the dress, which, obviously, also didn’t stick quite as long. In people’s brains, she’s wired in as Jean Grey. For some, she’s Phoenix as well, but obviously, she doesn’t have the Phoenix Force now, so we’re not calling her Phoenix. The other characters like that…
AIPT: Emma Frost comes to mind.
Jordan: Emma and Kate Pryde are the two big ones. Well, I mean, has Emma really tried? Other than the White Queen, which to be fair, did kind of stick to her even when she was not the White Queen of anything for a while there, but you’re right. Now, she’s probably more known as Emma Frost. With Kate, Shadowcat stuck for a while. When I was reading Excalibur, I definitely thought of her as Shadowcat. But once Excalibur ended. It seems like that name fell away.
AIPT: And Rachel, too — just like her mother.
Jordan: Oh yeah. Rachel is a problem.
AIPT: But now she has a new name.
Jordan: Yes, Askani is another attempt to give her a name, and fingers crossed, this will stick. I think it’s a good one. I think especially because it has that backstory to it and a rich history and she’s interacting with the idea of it now. So again, it makes sense to call her that now, whereas it might not have made as much sense during some of her previous eras. Because, yeah, she was Marvel Girl for a while, too.
AIPT: And Prestige. She got a cape!
Jordan: Yeah, another one that, unfortunately, just didn’t stick. So yeah, that’s the real behind-the-curtain reason.
I mean, honestly, we made a deliberate effort to try to give people mutant names. I don’t think we’ve ever said this like that. That is part of the reason that Kate became the Red Queen. I mean, it’s not the whole reason. It works as a story as well. But it was like, she’s the Red Queen, the way that Emma is now the White Queen again and Shaw is the Black King. So those can be their names.
And to some extent, I remember going to Jonathan Hickman, “Well, that’s a little weird because that’s their jobs, and they can leave their jobs and that will no longer be their name anymore.” And he was like, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” [Laughs] So we rolled with it from then on.
But I think over time, it didn’t fit with Jean. I think it worked out though because it fits with where Gerry Duggan was going. Storywise, he was doing this arc over the year of her — I want to say her redeeming herself for the evils of Dark Phoenix. Now, before anybody jumps and says, “She already has done that many times over,” I understand that. But for her to herself.
So, as we’ve discussed in the past, Jonathan bringing her back to the dress and to that codename was linked to the time after the Trial of the Phoenix when she was like, “This is when I was most me.” Now again, that wasn’t Jean. Well, it sort of was — it’s complicated. We’re not going to get into all that right now. I can get into all that but we’re not going to do it right now. But because of that, Jean can be linked to it. But over the course of that year of X-Men that Gerry wrote, it was sort of her doing great feats and coming to see she has and is making good for that all the time and she can just be herself. And so she doesn’t have to be a version of herself before Phoenix. She can just be herself now and that’s enough. And that has kind of come out in that she did get this new costume and she did decide to just be Jean Grey.
AIPT: Before we move on, you mentioned Jean’s dress — has the whole idea of mutant clothes, and the X-Men wearing their different costumes based on what artists want to draw been abandoned?
Jordan: Oh yeah, good question. Yeah, it’s been a while since we talked about that. I think it’s a tough one because it’s a cool idea and it is true in the sense that they don’t change their costumes and then burn the old ones. They’re people, right? They’ve got a closet and their clothes are in there. And actually, we’ve shown in the past that there are Krakoan clothes that can shift. So they could probably just go, “I want to look like that now.” But at the same time, it is kind of about branding in the sense that a lot of times the characters’ looks and costumes do end up getting worked into their story.
For example, an easy one to point to is Storm. Storm was wearing that awesome X-Men Red costume for a very long time — the Mahmud Asrar costume she wore from X-Men Red all the way through the beginning of House of X through the Dawn of X era. And once in a while, she would wear other costumes. Like you said, somebody would go, “I’d rather draw her in this one.” Great. But generally, that was what she was in. In the new X-Men Red, it’s very specific — “I am going to dress differently because something different is happening with me.” And so does that mean she can’t go back to the other costume? No, of course she could. But because so much of her story is about her being and feeling this specific way, it makes the most sense to keep her consistent in that way.
So for the most part, yeah, we don’t say, “Just draw her in whatever you want.” We go, “Draw her in this because this is what she’s about right now.” It’s sort of the same with Magneto in that he would wear the different outfits. We talked about story reasons why he wore the different outfits rather than just what the artist feels like drawing that day. I do think when we design new costumes, it feels weird to then go, “But you don’t have to use them.”
Jordan: Because it’s like, no, we want the new costume to get some momentum, ideally.
AIPT: Right, right. OK, back to the X-Fan questions — David E was curious what plans there are for Rogue now as she isn’t in any of the current books.
Jordan: Well, I can’t tell you that. [Laughs]
AIPT: It’s ask you anything — that’s what David E wants to ask!
Jordan: She’s retired from superhero life and she won’t be in any more comics ever again. No, I’m joking. That’s not the case. You’ll see, there are specific plans for her, but we’re not ready to announce them yet. You’ll see them relatively soon. I don’t think it’ll be too, too long before we announce them. But what I’ll say is, for sure, comic books featuring Rogue extremely heavily are being written as we speak.
AIPT: Well, she has to go to Gambit’s funeral at some point, right?
Jordan: What happened to Gambit? I didn’t hear about this.
AIPT: Speaking of things to come… X-Fan Mark Floor said Alyssa Wong is in the X-Office. When will we get to know something new about her secret project?
Jordan: Extremely soon, extremely soon. It will be announced momentarily. I don’t know the literal date that it’s being announced, but I know that it is going to be extremely soon. I’m excited for everybody to hear about it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
AIPT: X-Fan Marcos wanted to know how it’s decided which characters get X-Men Unlimited stories on Marvel Unlimited. Are there already stories in play or are they just pitched by writers?
Jordan: I believe all of it has been pitched by the writers with the exception of the X-Men Green story, which we wanted to keep going. And so we’ve gone to different people to say, “Hey, you want to take over the X-Men Green story?” But first of all, X-Men Green did begin with Gerry pitching, “Here’s a nutty thing I want to do.” And I guess, technically, I went to Fabian Nicieza and said, “Why don’t we do something?” I think the thing I pitched is different than what he ended up doing.
I was about to spoil one. I was going to say, “Well, this one that you guys haven’t heard about yet was me saying, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?'” [Laughs] You’ll hear about that one very soon too. I will just point out I’m not announcing anything, but you’ll probably hear something soon because we’re getting up there in numbers. We’re getting up there to a pretty big number in X-Men Unlimited, and hopefully, we’ll do something neat for that.
AIPT: Very nice. X-Fan SweetsP said one of the highlights of the Krakoan-era X-books are the variant covers. Are there any upcoming cover artists on these covers fans should get excited about?
Jordan: Hey, I’m glad you’re excited about the variant covers, and yeah, you’re absolutely right — we have so many great artists working for us on them. I will tell you, variant covers are not something I involve myself in a lot, mostly just by choice — by which, I mean, it’s not because editors don’t do that. It’s a thing that I mostly hand off to Associate Editor Lauren Amaro to do because she seems to do a great job on it. Although we also have folks in our talent management department — Emily Newcomen, most notably, who does some of the variant covers as well. So the variant covers tend to be split between some of the folks who work in our talent management department and the editors themselves. It’s just that I tend to go, Lauren, “Why don’t you handle this?” [Laughs]
I do still work directly on the trading card variants for X-Men. I do enjoy doing those. So that does mean that yes, I tend to be the one who writes the text on the back. If they are a character who had a card in the original ’90s set of X-Men cards, I tend to base the text on the text on those at least somewhat. But then I’ll update it and change it. And the same with the stats. I look at the stats there.
I’m going to take the opportunity to just do this right here. People who are mad about Iceman’s stats — I based them on the old ones, but yeah, I’m the one who okayed them. And what I’ll say about that is there’s no stat for cold generation. If there was, he would have an omega level stat. There’s also no stat for the slowing of molecules. I don’t tend to think of the thing about his power that makes him an omega as being energy projection, which I believe is the stat that’s on there. Like, that’s not what Iceman is about, but maybe that’s just me. And it’s not like it’s 100% my decision. There’s a whole handbook crew that generates stats for these characters. So it’s not like I just make things up. I check and I double check.
The one thing that me and Lauren go over is we usually have a decent conversation about the characters’ weight, because some of them were kind of egregiously low. So we’ve been trying to nudge them into more realistic realms.
AIPT: OK, this neXt one’s from an X-Fan who sounds a bit frustrated. Grey said, “Howdy, Jordan! I keep asking, but never get an answer. Why don’t the Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc. try to put a stop to organizations like Orchis?” Do you finally have an answer for Grey?
Jordan: This is a question that is kind of commonly asked, not just about Orchis, but throughout the history of the X-Men. And in fact, I’ve often felt that X-Men fans are unfair to the Avengers because they do like to talk about that and go, “Well, look at all these horrible atrocities that mutants have faced and where were the Avengers? Why weren’t the Avengers there?” And my answer is they were in their book doing their own stuff. Do you want to read X-Men books about the Avengers saving the X-Men? [Laughs] Because that doesn’t sound ideal to me.
Like, I understand we’re creating a real reality, 100% So you want to say if the Avengers are heroes, they should be looking out for mutants as well. That’s totally true, but it’s not going to be as satisfying to be an X-Men reader. The X-Men need to stand on their own so that their victories can be theirs in their own book. That said, Orchis becomes a bigger threat all the time. So I would not be at all surprised to see other heroes becoming more aware of them in the future.
AIPT: Frustration is fun — one more. X-Fan Joshua Russo said, “Why can’t we get the Moira series by Al Ewing? I know that Hickman changed his plans for her, but wouldn’t the series take place in her previous lives? Why would what she does in life 10 affect what she did in lives 3, 6, or 8?”
Jordan: So that’s an interesting question because what I feel like is an unstated assumption is the idea that what happened in her previous lives is a thing that we are reporting rather than making up. [Laughs] So what happened in her previous lives would be vastly different if it was written before Jonathan changed his plans. That said, the totally valid question that you’re asking is what about what changed in Jonathan’s plans makes it so you can’t do a Moira series? Nothing. It just wouldn’t be the one Al pitched. The series that Al pitched would not work now. It would not make sense. And it would be pointless. Like the point of it is gone.
Could a Moira series still happen? Sure. But we no longer have a narrative need for it the way that we did at one point. So it would really be more about if there’s an amazing pitch. I’m not sure how many people are really calling for a Moira series at this point. I mean, again, I’m glad you’re excited about the concept. But again, the book that we were talking about back then couldn’t happen now. Al would be writing an entirely new book, which would be brilliant, because he’s Al and he’s great. So I’m not going to fault you for wanting another Al Ewing book. I do too. I just don’t know that having him go back and create a new idea for a Moira book is the best use of his abilities right now. We no longer have the need for it because we’ve just gone past the thing we were going to do. We’re just not there anymore.
AIPT: Jonathan’s come up a few times during this interview. Do you know what his new secret Marvel project is and are you eXcited about it?
Jordan: Oh yeah. Oh, I’m extremely excited. I know exactly what Jonathan’s working on and I’m super excited about it.
AIPT: As we near the end of XMA, an Academy X question. X-Fan Chris G. said with the resurrection protocols, should age really be a deterrent anymore regarding the Academy X characters growing up and having a bigger presence? Previous reasoning was editorial didn’t want to age up the iconic characters. But with resurrection, you could always just keep them 27 the way you like. Just an inquiry and Penny for your thoughts.
Jordan: Well, I mean, yes, as long as we keep killing them on a regular basis, they can.
No, listen, you’re right. And you know, congratulations, you’ve seen behind the curtain. Yes. This was absolutely part of the thinking. Just one of the many benefits of resurrection is that it does mess with the age problem in a way that is helpful. I know that no matter how much I tell them they’re wrong, there’s a huge segment of the audience that believes Cyclops is like 37 years old. And he’s not, I’m sorry, but don’t worry about it. He’s 27 because of resurrection, right? That’s why I don’t want the characters to talk about their ages.
That said, you know, it’s funny. We were just having a conversation about aging in comics yesterday — a bunch of the editors. We weren’t talking about an X-character, but we were talking about another character. I’m not going to tell you who right now, but we were talking about the fact that a younger character is being kept kind of young. And we were saying we felt like that was a really good thing, because so much of what makes that character special is their youth. And once these characters age up, they’re just like all the other characters. Honestly, I never thought about it this way. But if you look at who are the youngest group of mutants, they’re the most special in a way.
The problem for the Academy X characters is not that we force them to stay too young. The problem is that we introduced more young characters and now the Academy X characters are not the new young characters who are learning about this stuff. And they’re not the classic old characters that everyone knows. They’re this weird in-between. And them getting older took away some of what put them in the spotlight and kept them in the spotlight. Now, they’ve joined the pool of 735 mutant characters that a writer could go for. That’s why they don’t get picked as much because they’re just in that pool. They don’t have the spotlight on them anymore. And that’s unfortunate. Whereas if we can keep the characters young who are young, they are special because they are the young characters.
Never say never. Anything’s possible. Characters can become hugely popular, so don’t give up your dreams. But on some level, I feel like they’re never going to compete with characters from the ’60s and ’70s, right? Those characters have been around so long. They’ve got so many fans because they’ve had decades and decades of stories, spotlighting them before there were 700 mutants to choose from that gave them the opportunity to become so many people’s favorites. You know, Storm is so many people’s favorite because she came in when there were like seven mutants before her. The spotlight was on her and she was special and she continued to be special for a very, very long time. And it’s very self-perpetuating. The more stories there are about her, the more people want to do stories about her.
And I think for all the generations of younger mutants, that is a tricky thing to defeat because while they are the young mutants, they have the natural spotlight. There are the fully grown people and then there are the younger people who are learning about it and they have that extra attention to them. And then as soon as they are no longer that, they’re competing with the unbeatable icons.
How many books are there where they call the New Mutants the New Mutants, even though they’re not new? [Laughs] Like the classic New Mutants group back together, but the book’s called New Mutants. Vita Ayala’s doing an amazing job of doing a book called New Mutants that features the New Mutants, but also is about them reaching out to new mutants. And I know that also happened to bunch of them in the Academy X era. Those New Mutants were a bunch of their teachers.
So I think the Academy X characters’ problem isn’t that they haven’t been able to age, it’s that they aged and now they are less special as a result of it. I don’t want you to think that means I don’t think that they’re good or like they’ve been ruined and that’s why I’m like, “Don’t use them, everybody.” That’s not the case. There are some great characters in there, but in the same way that I don’t force people to use my favorite characters, I don’t force people to use any characters. People use the characters they want to use. Yes, they run it by me and if I think it’s an egregious misuse of the character or they’re ruining the character, obviously, I step in. I’m not saying I don’t do anything as an editor, but I don’t tend to force people to use characters. So those characters will come back out as we have good stories for them. And we want to do them hopefully sooner than later, but I can’t promise anything.
AIPT: Finally, X-Fan KingdomX asked if you could describe the status quo of the X-books post-Judgement Day in three words.
Jordan: Sinister, Sinister, Sinister.
AIPT: A very ominous way to end an X-Men Monday — love it. But Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time to participate in XMA. We’ll have to do this again real soon. Before we go, X-Fans, how about a few eXclusive preview images?
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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