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X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Comic Books

X-Men Monday #177 – Charlie Jane Anders Talks ‘New Mutants’

Plus, 6 eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men comics!

Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders first appeared in X-Men Monday #175 alongside her peers in the X-Office. But with New Mutants #31 now on sale, it’s the perfect time for Charlie Jane to talk a bit more about her history with Marvel’s mutants, her co-creation Escapade, and what X-Fans can expect from her New Mutants arc.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon/Portraits to the People, courtesy of charliejaneanders.com

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Charlie Jane! Let’s go back to the beginning — what was your first X-Men eXperience?

Charlie Jane: When I was first getting into superhero comics in a big way, I discovered Peter David’s epic Incredible Hulk run, which had already been going for a long time. I became pretty obsessed with PAD’s version of the Hulk, which occasionally crossed over with X-Factor — which David was also writing. So I hunted down David’s issues of X-Factor from the 1990s and eventually the 2000s relaunch, and I especially grew to love his take on Madrox and Strong Guy. Later, I got the three-volume hardcover omnibuses of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men from a used bookstore, because I was (and am) a huge Morrison fan. And that really supercharged my interest in all things X-Men, because Morrison’s take was so bold and intense and utterly weird. After that, there was no looking back.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: You’ve said you were a fan of everything Vita Ayala and Rod Reis were doing on New Mutants. What’s your relationship with the New Mutants, in general? And do you have an all-time favorite New Mutants story?

Charlie Jane: Going back to Peter David’s X-Factor… David wrote a lot of stuff with Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane, so she was my way into learning about the rest of the New Mutants. So I ended up reading a few of the trades of some of their bigger storylines — but it wasn’t until recently that I really delved into the whole history of the series.

I got a used copy of that 1,200-page omnibus of all the early stories by Chris Claremont, Bob McLeod, Bill Sienkiewicz et al., and I loved getting to read the whole saga from the beginning. The first issues are so great, both for how they introduce the characters and how they play with the then-current situation where Professor X was being taken over by a Brood Queen, making him the most untrustworthy mentor of all time.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Vita’s run is probably my favorite, especially now that I can see how they honored years of storylines. And I love their idea of having the original team turn around to nurture a group of younger mutants. But I also really love Jonathan Hickman’s first storyline, in which the New Mutants just go off on a totally irresponsible space adventure and commit grand larceny — I hope to bring that same chaotic energy to some of my comics writing.

And I’m a huge fan of Zeb Wells‘ run from the early 2000s, in which Dani Moonstar has lost her powers and needs to prove that she’s still a total badass, and Magik has time-traveled back from an apocalyptic future. It’s brutal and heartfelt, and Wells has a great feel for the characters and their relationships. I’ve learned a lot from reading all of these.

AIPT: For the X-Fans who missed Escapade’s debut in Marvel’s Voices: Pride, what do they need to know about Shela Sexton, their new favorite mutant?

Charlie Jane: Shela is a young trickster, who commits daring robberies using a collection of high-tech gadgets. Her mutant power, which also feels very trickstery, is the ability to swap places with anyone — and not just their physical location. As she explains it in New Mutants #31, she can also take someone’s situation: “If you’re the best banjo player, I could be the best banjo player. If you just won a cheese-eating contest, I could make it so I won instead.” Shela’s best friend since childhood is Morgan Red, whose mutant power is turning small amounts of any organic material into chocolate. Shela and Morgan were happy pulling off heists together, until Emma Frost and Destiny showed Shela a terrible vision of the future: she’s going to lose control of her powers and cause the death of Morgan. She’s determined to do anything to change that fate.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: X-Fan Owen was wondering, what was the process like for getting Escapade into not just New Mutants, but the wider X-Men mythos? Essentially, how did this opportunity come about?

Charlie Jane: I’d been having meetings with folks at Marvel for several years, and at some point we started talking about having me create a new character — which is such a cool opportunity. We kept chatting back and forth, and meanwhile I got to try my hand at writing She-Hulk (in a War of the Realms tie-in comic) and Squirrel Girl/Black Widow (in a Women of Marvel comic.)

And then the conversations got more serious, and we started developing Escapade to premiere in last June’s Pride issue. Just getting to introduce Escapade was incredibly cool, and I sweated over every page of that story — but then I was told that Vita Ayala was stepping away from New Mutants, and there was an opportunity for me to bring Escapade to that title. Since Shela is a young mutant, who still has a lot to learn, having her show up in the definitive title about young mutants and growing up felt utterly perfect.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: X-Fan Peter W. had a question about Escapade’s powers. Do Shela’s switching abilities only work with natural abilities (e.g. can’t use her switching powers to suddenly wear the Iron Man suit or wield Mjolnir)?

Charlie Jane: Shela could absolutely wear the Iron Man suit, and she could probably wield Mjolnir — but there are some catches. First, she has to be within six or seven feet of someone to use this power, and it only lasts a few hours. Because the notion of trading situations with someone is so subjective and subject to interpretation, there are many ways it can go wrong.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Like, if Tony Stark was wearing his armor and eating a sandwich, she might end up with his sandwich instead of his armor. I have no idea how her power would interact with finicky Asgardian stuff. I mentioned Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Man, above — I thought about him a lot when I was figuring out Shela’s power, because he also has a power that could be almost limitless. He could spawn tens of thousands of duplicates that could work their way into important positions in companies and institutions all over the world — but Madrox’s power often seems to go a little wrong, especially when he overdoes it.

AIPT: X-Fan James asked, who has been your favorite New Mutants character to write?

Charlie Jane: Rahne Sinclair. Hands down. She’s just endlessly fun. I love seeing how innocent she was in the original Claremont/McLeod New Mutants run, and how much she’s grown and gained confidence without losing all of that naivete. She’s so optimistic and believes in people. You can put any character in a scene with Wolfsbane and it’s gonna be fun to watch.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: X-Fan Justin Dixon asked, will the younger mutants like Anole have more chances to shine in this run?

Charlie Jane: I do have some fun with Anole, especially in issue 31. There are two other young mutants from Vita’s run that we spend way more time with in these issues, though: Cerebella and Leonara Eng. Cerebella in particular felt like a gift, since she’s just gotten a new body and is experiencing the world in a whole new way. I’m pretty obsessed with exploring how our bodies shape our view of the world. And I had a lot of intense conversations with a friend who’s a therapist about the ways that your body is involved in processing trauma, and how Cerebella’s new body might actually bring up a lot of stuff for her about her past. (And of course, Martha has some history — to put it mildly — with the U-Men, who are back to cause more trouble.)

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: X-Fan Jefferies Garrett-Tube pointed out that in X-Men Monday #175, you expressed fondness for Si Spurrier’s conceptualization of The Spark. How likely are we to see similar notions of mutant ideology and creativity explored in your run?

Charlie Jane: I would say that in these issues, I have fun putting two characters together in a mutant circuit, who’ve never done one before, and it leads to some pretty surprising and delightful effects. But I’m also super interested in delving into how mutant resurrection changes things for everybody — if you really believe that death isn’t permanent and that you might live forever, how does that affect the way you live your life?

AIPT: X-Fan Storm_4life asked, what is it you’re hoping readers take away from your New Mutants arc?

Charlie Jane: I’m hoping they feel like they got taken on a fun, entertaining ride, first and foremost. But also, there’s a thread running through these issues about how we deal with the scary upsetting stuff that has happened to us — and also the scary stuff that we know is going to happen to us. Martha is confronting her previous experiences with the U-Men, while Shela is struggling with the prophecy that she’ll cause the death of her best friend, so both the past and future contain horrors. What matters is how you deal with them, and what kind of person you decide to be in the face of them. 

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Finally, outside of comics, you’ve achieved a lot. If X-Fans dig your New Mutants run, what other work of yours do you think they should check out?

Charlie Jane: Thank you for asking! I’m writing a young adult trilogy that comics fans would probably get a kick out of. It’s about a teenage girl who’s secretly the clone of a dead alien superhero, and her attempts to reclaim her heroic destiny, but it quickly morphs into a very New Mutants-esque story about a whole group of young characters discovering themselves in the middle of a galactic civil war. It’s the most bonkers thing I’ve ever written — and the first book, Victories Greater Than Death, is out in paperback. (The third book, Promises Stronger Than Darkness, is out in April.)

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Tor Publishing Group

AIPT: Excellent! Charlie Jane, thanks so much for taking the time to chat about New Mutants! And X-Fans, if you want to learn more about Charlie Jane’s work outside of comics, just head over to her website.

Before we go, here are this week’s eXclusive preview images, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White.

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #177 - Charlie Jane Anders Talks 'New Mutants'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!

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