Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Thanks again to everyone who helped celebrate last week’s X-Men Monday #175. I’ve seen a lot of positive responses to the conversation and teases, and hope you enjoy this week’s interview just as much.
If X-Men Monday #175 was the main event, then X-Men Monday #176 is the after-party — shaped by two observations from X-Men Monday #175.
- X-Fans submitted a lot of great questions to X-Men Monday #175, and there just wasn’t enough room for them all. I wanted to make sure a few of the questions left on the cutting room floor got the answers they deserve.
- X-Men Monday #175 dropped right after New York Comic Con 2022… but due to timing, didn’t feature any discussion around all those new X-series announcements. While all of those series will surely be discussed a lot more in X-Men Mondays to come, X-Fans crave new information now — so that’s what the first half of this interview’s all about.
So, without further ado, let’s get things started with our after-party guest of honor, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! We haven’t had a chance to talk about all those NYCC 2022 announcements, so let’s talk about all those NYCC 2022 announcements! First up, you’re known to be a big fan of Brian Braddock’s classic Captain Britain adventures. What has you most excited about Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain?
Jordan: Well, I’ve been excited about Betsy being Captain Britain since we made that change. I mean, both of those characters are characters I love. I think making her Captain Britain was a really great way to give her and Kwannon some distinction while still allowing us to use what makes both of their characters great.
In addition, I’m a fan of classic Brian Braddock stories — one of the most notable ones is about Betsy being Captain Britain — and it goes extremely poorly for her. So it’s been nice to give her some redemption on that. I wouldn’t say 100% she was a woman in a refrigerator in that story, but it’s certainly refrigerator-adjacent to the extent that it’s a story about her failing. So that’s unfortunate. It’s very much that her being hurt is there to elicit an enormous emotional response in Brian.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the spoiler. It’s a classic story where Betsy becomes Captain Britain and Brian is retired from it. He’s like, “Fine, I’ll just go and hang out with my girlfriend Meggan.” And a character named Slaymaster comes up and is fighting Betsy Captain Britain and he pokes her eyes out and blinds her. And Brian, upon hearing this, is enraged and tracks Slaymaster down and kills him. I think Brian smashes his head in with a giant boulder.
It’s nice now to be able to bring her back as Captain Britain and redeem her and be like, “No, she’s not an incompetent character.” Now, obviously, she’s been through a lot since then. She rose to being a huge member of the X-Men in the time since then. But it’s nice that she gets to be Captain Britain again and show that she can in fact handle it. I’m also glad that we figured out a place for Brian, making him Captain Avalon. He’s very much a big part of this series. Tini Howard has been doing a great job shaping Betsy’s destiny over the last few years.
And it’s nice that this time, instead of featuring her in a team book, this is a book about her and gets to really spotlight her and focus in, as well as showing her newly formed relationship with Rachel — a thing that was kind of bubbling in the background of Excalibur and Knights of X that then came to the forefront in Knights of X and now gets to be an official thing that they are an item. I’m really excited for that. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another X-book that was led by an LGBTQ relationship. Obviously, we’ve had a number led by people who are engaged in a straight relationship. We have one that we just announced — Rogue & Gambit. But it’s exciting that this one gets to be so front and center.
AIPT: Well, speaking of… Rogue and Gambit have had a few series — most recently Mr. & Mrs. X. What, in your opinion, makes the upcoming Rogue & Gambit unique compared to this iconic X-couple’s past outings?
Jordan: Well, this is spinning out of the X-Men title. First of all, since Rogue joined the X-Men, Rogue and Gambit were separated a bunch, but then we have featured them together in the X-Men title, and we got that great scene of Rogue and Gambit on a mission that Destiny was there interfering in. And that family dynamic of Rogue, Gambit, Destiny, and Mystique that we haven’t really seen explored as much was very exciting to us. So that’s something that we very much wanted to spotlight in its own book.
Editor Sarah Brunstad reached out to Stephanie Phillips to see if she was interested. And she very much was, and they cooked up a real fun story that I think will be an awesome and fun part of the X-line, but also one that is serving a specific purpose that I can’t go into yet.
AIPT: The family element you mentioned is very appealing. Around Inferno, a lot of X-Fans had questions about Rogue, Mystique, and Destiny.
Jordan: Well, the reason there were so many questions about it was because Jonathan Hickman specifically was like, “I was going to put Rogue in and then I had to cut her out because it didn’t have enough room.” In the original pitch, Rogue was very much a part of it and did a bunch of very specific things that — I don’t want to rile people up by going, “This is what she was going to do” and then going, “That would’ve been so much better.” It would’ve been really exciting for people who like Rogue, very much so. But he had to cut something. He only had four issues and he had a lot of stuff to put in there. So it was a bummer. It was definitely a loss that Rogue didn’t get to do that. But she’s going to get some love and attention now.
AIPT: X-23: Deadly Regenesis — based on the cover and title, should Laura fans expect a series set in the past?
Jordan: I’m just going to say yes. Yes, this is a book set in the past. I guess that wasn’t said when it was announced, which is fine. But it’s not like that’s a secret you’re not going to know before you start reading it. This is a book set back when she was called X-23. Erica Schultz is writing it, Mark Basso is editing it, and he reached out to Erica and again, they cooked up something really, really exciting that gets back to — I mean, I want to say the classic X-23 series — but it’s not that old.
So I feel weird calling it “classic,” but that’s what’s fun about this to me is that we’ve done a bunch of these kinds of nostalgia-themed books, these retro books, right? But a lot of times they are retro books that are from 40 or 30 years ago. This one is slightly more recent — we’re flashing back to earlier this century instead of the previous one. So that’s fun.
But I think that is a super valid thing to do because Laura has grown a lot. We don’t want her to go back to being X-23 in the present. She’s Wolverine and she’s been through a lot since then and she’s changed a lot since then. So I think it’s totally a smart thing to do to say, if we want to explore that kind of story, let’s jump back into the past and explore that kind of story so that we don’t turn back the clock on her.
AIPT: Finally, Bishop: War College has a lot of X-Fans excited. For this question, I’m pulling straight from Marvel’s solicitation: “WHAT EVEN IS THIS BOOK?” Well?
Jordan: [Laughs] Well, again, this is another one that spun out of seeds that were planted by Gerry Duggan. Gerry has been kind of teasing this idea of a Bishop War College since he was writing Marauders. I think he did a data page with Bishop going, “Here’s what I want to do. I want to set up a War College to teach people.”
In the past, me as a reader had a problem with the fact that like, for a while there, it felt like Cyclops had this attitude that all mutants are conscripted into an army basically, back in the Utopia era. And I was always kind of uncomfortable with that.
But the idea of Bishop going, “I want to train people who want to be trained in this,” — that’s totally great and valid and almost better, right? I mean, he’s a great fighter, a great tactician, and now the Captain Commander of Krakoa. So it makes total sense for him to be doing this. And again, this is one that we’ve been wanting to do for a while and I’m glad we finally were able to get it off the ground.
This one again, Sarah Brunstad is editing, and Sarah reached out to J. Holtham, and he came up with a really bananas story, as you can see from the cover of issue one. We’ve got an all-Black X-Men team there and what on Earth is going on with that? Well, I can’t tell you, you’re going to need to read the book. It’s a pretty intriguing concept, so I hope you check it out.
AIPT: And Bishop also has an X-Men Legends arc coming up. It’s a Bishop renaissance.
Jordan: Yeah, Bishop is in X-Men Legends as well. Whilce Portacio, co-creator of Bishop, has an absolute huge affection for the character and was really excited to revisit him and tell a new story with him. I actually just read the first issue of that one — Mark Basso was editing as well. It’s really terrific and I’m excited to read the second one soon.
AIPT: OK, now for a few questions we didn’t have the space for in X-Men Monday #175. X-Fan Scott Redmond said a lot of characters have ended up in new positions or received a major spotlight for the first time. Who has been your favorite character to emerge or be explored in new ways over the last year or few months?
Jordan: I mean, the answer is so many. I love that this era, in general, has been able to reposition so many people and put them in new places where they get to show off different aspects of themselves. In the X-Men book, obviously, Synch has been an absolute joy. He’s been rising to the position of one of the main members of the X-Men Team. It’s been a real great showcase for him.
It’s nuts to me that the fans picked Firestar, but it’s been really fun having her in the book. And I’m working on the X-Men Annual that really gets to showcase her, which is really neat.
Cassandra Nova being a member of the Marauders is bananas and shouldn’t work at all, but I think it’s really fun.
Similarly Tempo. It’s great to actually get Tempo out there. Again, I voted for her when she was running for the X-Men, and I was super thrilled with Polaris being on there because again, Polaris is another one who was completely unexpected, but Gerry made great hay out of her being on the team. But I had voted for Tempo, so I was really excited for the idea of Tempo getting a showcase. It’s great for that to finally be happening.
Who else? I mean, again, there really are so many. I’ve loved Sage for a long time, ever since I worked on New Exiles very soon into my career here at Marvel. So I like her getting the showcase in X-Force, even though it is a very sad showcase in many ways. [Laughs] A very unpleasant time for Sage. But again, sometimes it’s fun to read stories about people suffering terribly. [Laughs]
Oh, and basically everybody on the Quiet Council. Oh, Storm! Again, I know she’s been royalty before, but to me, the position she’s been put in on Arakko is totally different from that. It’s challenging her in ways that allow her to shine in the best ways possible and show why she is one of the absolute greatest X-Men of all time. X-Men Red showcases her better than I think any book in a really long time. So I absolutely love her there.
Yeah, so many.
AIPT: X-Fan Murphy Alexander (@murphyalxndr) missed seeing X-Men in casual/streetwear clothes and loved the costuming in X-Terminators #1! Is there potential to see more of that in other books, to share the love around?
Jordan: Yeah, of course, it’s always possible. I mean, at the beginning of the Krakoa era, we very much made a specific decision to say they don’t wear human clothes. There was a lot of talk about rejecting the human ways. Let’s be honest and forthcoming for a moment and say, I think that was a choice made to be slightly provocative. In actuality, the mutants and the X-Men, specifically, have not actually rejected all of human society and human ideas like clothes. [Laughs]
I’ll be real, they do often wear their costumes because they’re their iconic looks and because they don’t have secret identities like some superheroes do. They just are themselves all the time. It makes sense to them — them in “mutant clothes,” or spandex, a lot of the time.
X-Terminators is absolutely a book about people kicking back and relaxing and also going out and having a good time on the town with their friends. So it makes sense that they are dressed casually, but also kind of for show as well. It will happen again, I’m sure. In fact, you can already see this in the trailer for “Dark Web.” You get to see them a little bit in winter clothes. Now, I think those winter clothes are over their costumes. [Laughs]
AIPT: [Laughs] Yeah, I was going to say…
Jordan: Again, X-Terminators is a very specific book with a very specific idea and feel to it. But that being said, no, it’s not out of the question in the slightest. There’s no actual edict that people can’t wear non-spandex clothes. So it’ll happen more.
AIPT: Speaking of “Dark Web,” X-Fan H-E-D asked if there was a need for any inter-office communication to bring mutants not traditionally situated in the X-Office into the books? Such as Judas Traveler in Marauders and Madame Web in X-Men ‘92: House of XCII, both traditionally Spider Office characters.
Jordan: Absolutely. The way it works at Marvel is that each office does have characters that “belong” to them. They are under their purview. And if you want to use a character from the other offices’ purview, you ask for permission. So when Nightmare showed up in X-Men a bunch of issues ago, we reached out to the editors of the Dr. Strange book, which is Darren Shan. And we say, “Hey, is it cool if we use Nightmare?”
With Judas Traveler, who hasn’t shown up in many years — I don’t think — we went to the Spider Office and said, “We’re interested in using this character. What do you guys think? Is that cool?” And they said, “Yeah, absolutely.”
Madame Web we didn’t ask about, because that’s an alternate universe book and no one else is doing books set in that universe. So we were confident we could use any character from any “office” in that universe. But yes, in the proper continuity, we absolutely double-check all that stuff first. And they do as well. They’ll come to us and say, “We want to guest star this character, we want to guest star that character.”
In some ways, it’s become difficult for them and I feel bad — so many of our mutant villains have become mildly respectable in the Krakoa age, so it’s been slightly harder for them to use our villains as much. But I mean, again, that leads to juicy conflict in our books. I can’t say I regret it in any way.
AIPT: X-Fan Avatarkyungsoo wanted to know how artists are assigned to series. Do the writers request artists, does Marvel or perhaps an editor assign where artists go? And in the case of rotating artists, how is it decided which issues or arcs they will handle?
Jordan: This is a great question, and it’s a question about editing comics, which is rare — especially in X-Men Monday. So to all the X-Fans who are reading, you can skip to the next one.
AIPT: [Laughs] Yeah, enough of these words, where are those preview images?
Jordan: [Laughs] But it’s a great question. The answer is all of the above in lots of combinations. Typically speaking, we have a writer on a book before we have an artist, but not 100% of the time. Sometimes we’ll cast them at the exact same time. Sometimes they’ll come as a pair, like these two want to work together on something. But most often we are working on the concept for the book from the writer before we have an artist involved. And so, having worked with a writer on what the tone of the book is going to be, what the feel of the book is going to be, and what the story of the book overall is going to be, we will then set out to cast the artist on that.
How we get those names is a few ways. First of all, as a person who’s made a lot of comics and read a lot of comics, I know a lot of names and I know a lot of people that I’ve worked with or that I just have liked the work of. So I might just think of names and just go, “Oh, how about this person? What are they doing now?” Other times, it would be that I’m working with an artist who I know is finishing something or is just about to be done with something, and I’ll go, oh, you know what? This person would be great. We can bring them over. Sometimes the writer will say, “Hey, what about this person?” Whether that’s someone they’ve worked with in the past or that’s just someone whose work they envy.
Then, the other way we get them is we have great folks in our talent management department who will suggest people to us, like new people that we haven’t worked with. “Hey, here’s a person who’s given us samples recently who’s really strong and we want to try them out somewhere.” Or they’ll say to us, “Here’s someone who was working in the Avenger’s Office and just finished a gig, or is about to finish a gig when this will be starting. What do you think about them?” And we look over all the options that we’ve put on the table, and we try to match someone up that will work well with the writer and match the idea and tone and feel that we’re going for in the book.
Tom Brevoort, Executive Editor at Marvel, who’s been here a zillion years and is super good at his job, he always says that casting a book is more like alchemy than science. That you’re taking a couple of elements and putting them together and hoping that magic happens. You’re trying to have a feel for it — it’s not as simple as a math equation, like this person plus that person equals this outcome. Sometimes you’ll put a writer and artist together and they don’t gel the way you want them to. Other times you put a writer and artist together who have never met and never worked together and they become an inseparable team that people want comics from for years and years to come.
I always have a little sense of pride when an artist and a writer that I paired up go off and create their own book together. Obviously, that’s kind of Marvel’s loss because we want more work from those books too. But I always feel a little bit like I helped make that happen. Like I didn’t work on that book in any capacity, but they know each other because I was like, “Hey, you should work with this person.” So yeah, it’s a place where real magic can happen, but because of that, it’s not a thing that always happens the exact same way. We just are feeling it out as we go.
AIPT: As we wrap up, X-Fan Bri-Guy asked, does Professor X still believe in his dream of coexistence between humans and mutants?
Jordan: Yeah, of course. Krakoa doesn’t actually preclude coexistence. It’s just a place where he’s trying to make things as good as possible for his people. Krakoa is not trying to conquer the world, or at least not officially. There are some evil people who would probably like it to, but that’s not Professor X’s idea of it. People who are on Krakoa can go out into the world at any time. Like, there’s nothing saying that a mutant can’t have a house in New York. There’s nothing saying a mutant can’t go hang out in California for a while.
Krakoa is not meant to say you’re on Krakoa now, forget everything else. It was just a rejection of the box that humanity was putting mutants in. In pursuing his dream of coexistence, mutants very frequently met resistance that said, “No, you can only be this. You can only have this much. You can only expect this much equality.” Krakoa represents mutantkind saying, “Well, we reject your proposal, we’re going to make our own way then.”
But the idea of Krakoa is always designed to work with the human world as well. Again, that’s why it doesn’t start by going, “We’ve taken over the world and you have nothing you can do about it.” It started with Professor X saying, “Here’s my gift to help you because we’re not trying to destroy you. We want everyone to prosper.” In Professor X’s mind, does he think the best possible outcome will happen? I don’t know. But I think the best possible outcome to him would be that in mutantkind creating Krakoa, creating a kind of better world for themselves and sharing bits of that better world with humanity, that humans’ attitudes towards mutants would change from being “I hate them” to impressed that things could be better, to being aspirational. “Wait, there’s a better way? We would like to be part of that better way.”
I think Professor X would never say, “No, I slap you down, get back where you belong” the way that, unfortunately, humans have said to mutants the whole time. He would be much more willing to say, “Yes, of course, let’s over time figure out how to all work together to all build a better world.” But I think it’s clear that a new approach was needed because it wasn’t going well in the old version. He hasn’t changed his goal, he’s just changed his approach.
AIPT: That’s not what Orchis told me.
Jordan: [Laughs] You’re right, you’re right, there are two sides to every story.
AIPT: I’ve been watching a lot of very convincing videos on YouTube.
Jordan: I saw a little flyer that they handed out recently and it was pretty persuasive. You’re right.
AIPT: Finally, X-Fan Abdullaah asked who would be on Krakoa’s soccer team? Would they qualify for the World Cup?
Jordan: OK, so regarding soccer, I’m like a total soccer poser in the sense that I do enjoy watching the World Cup, but then I don’t know anything about it in the years in between. So I’m excited to start watching it again relatively soon.
Would they qualify for the World Cup? This is a great question. So first of all, I think there’s no reason to exclude them because they are a recognized nation. So I think if they formed a team, they should be able to play. Then the question becomes, does the fact that they have powers mean they could be disqualified? Are they going to say, you can only play if you don’t use your powers? Obviously, you want to say Jean Grey would actually be pretty great at soccer because she can really control where that ball goes and stuff like that. But is touching it with your mind against the rules?
AIPT: I think Jean played soccer on X-Men Evolution… it’s all coming back now. Also Roberto — his origin was on a soccer field.
Jordan: He could probably charge himself up and then kick it way harder than he would otherwise, but if he doesn’t activate his powers, he’s just really good at it. So I think probably yes, they would end up giving them some sort of restriction going like, you can’t play unless… see, it’s so hard to monitor.
AIPT: You can put Leech on the field?
Jordan: Oh, there you go. Maybe. The thing that’s hard, though, is these are not unnatural abilities, right? These are natural abilities. They are birth abilities. So to some extent, genetically speaking, by which I mean, not that the genes are different, but I mean, genetically speaking, there’s no difference between Jean Grey’s powers and a person who, genetically speaking, has the predisposition for being fast and strong and things like that. They both have honed their powers. They both have trained for a long time and sharpened their abilities. So to some extent, that’s not fair to say. Again, I just keep saying Jean, but to say Jean can’t use her powers, maybe Jean’s not the right example because again, you might be able to say that touching it with your mind is like touching it with your hand and you’re not allowed to do it.
This is really complicated. I feel like, honestly, this would end up being some sort of international incident where FIFA is like, “You can play, but you all have to wear dampening collars.” And then the mutants would be like, “We’re boycotting the World Cup until they recognize mutants as valid human individuals.” So probably that’s what would happen because yes, if they are allowed to use their powers, yeah, of course, they’re going to win.
AIPT: Clearly Krakoa needs to have its own games.
Jordan: Yeah, they can have Krakoan League Football so they just have lots of teams on Krakoa. By the way, this is one where Jonathan Hickman wishes he was still doing the books because I’m sure he has lots of opinions on this. He probably has a team drafted already.
AIPT: I think you’ve got your next big crossover.
Jordan: AVX Soccer. Let’s do this. I want to read that comic. You know what? No, I want to watch it on TV. I don’t want to read this as a comic.
AIPT: Well, before we wrap, I need to annoy readers. Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo is a huge World Cup and soccer fan. Have you heard their soccer song, “Represent?”
Jordan: Oh yeah. I have both versions, but I can’t really tell the difference between the two. It’s a fun, catchy song. I mean, admittedly, it is from the era that is kind of thought of as lesser Weezer.
AIPT: The Raditude era.
Jordan: But it’s a fun, catchy song. I enjoy it. If it shuffles onto my iPod, I don’t click past it.
AIPT: It’s a solid workout song… but I better shift back to X-Men before people riot. Jordan, always a pleasure and thanks for taking the time to chat. Now, where are those eXclusive preview images!? Oh, here they are!
Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!
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