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X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

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X-Men Monday #186 – Jordan Blum Reflects on ‘X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X’

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

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

And Happy New Year! We’ve got some great conversations lined up on the road to X-Men Monday #200 (!!!), starting with this week’s chat with writer Jordan Blum!

There are some spoilers ahead for the recently wrapped “A World Without X,” so if you’re behind on X-Men Unlimited, you may want to catch up before you proceed. If you’re caught up — or just love to be spoiled — enjoy!

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Jordan Blum

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Jordan! Your first appearance in this column was X-Men Monday #57 in May 2020. Since then, you’ve managed to sneak a few mutants into Marvel series like M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games and the Spider-Bot Infinity Comic (both excellent, by the way). But now, with the “A World Without X” X-Men Unlimited arc, you’re officially an “X-Men writer.” First, congratulations! Second, how much does that mean to you as a lifelong fan?

Jordan: It is insanely surreal. The X-Men have taken up permanent headspace since probably the mid to late ‘80s. It’s the most pressure I’ve ever felt writing anything. It’s like trying to make a best man toast at 20 of your friends’ weddings and hoping to capture what makes each of them so special in your speech. In a very serendipitous moment, I was recently helping my parents clean out their garage and found some drawings I did of the X-Men during the “Age of Apocalypse” story. You could say I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Jordan Blum

AIPT: How did the opportunity to write a six-issue X-Men Unlimited arc come about, and was this story something you pitched or did the X-Office come to you with a rough idea?

Jordan: Jordan D. White and I had discussed a few different projects and he pitched the idea of Professor X doing an It’s A Wonderful Life in the Age of Apocalypse. My eyes immediately lit up. I feel like we’ve only really seen Charles as this sort of messiah figure in the Krakoan era. I loved the idea of exploring who he currently is by transporting him into his ultimate nightmare — a world where he never existed. Having done the Spider-Bot series already I had a good idea of how to write for the Infinity Comic format so it was easy to make it an X-Men Unlimited arc. The limitation of six-page chapters made me really cut the fat and keep the story moving cliffhanger to cliffhanger.

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Staying on the format for a second, you’ve written for television and you’ve written for the classic comic book format. How does the Infinity Comic style differ?

Jordan: You don’t have the same dramatic tools. No page turns, splash pages, etc. You reveal information by scrolling down. You can use the length of the panels for playful layouts or reveals. It’s just a different way of thinking but just as fun. Any time you write comics you should be questioning how to push the medium.

AIPT: Charles Xavier is the protagonist of your story. Given his long, complex, and occasionally controversial history, I can’t imagine this is an easy character to write. How did you go about getting inside this 60-year-old character’s Cerebro helmet?

Jordan: He’s a very difficult character to write. He’s both noble and selfish, altruistic and also egotistical. He’s not just grandpa X-Man, he’s a complex guy who has done a lot of good and sometimes terrible things in his life. That was the starting point, despite him succeeding in uniting mutantkind and creating a world-changing mutant nation, we needed him at a low point to do a proper It’s A Wonderful Life

So yes, he did all these things but you often hear of people like lottery winners experiencing depression or winner’s remorse. He built this haven but what if it started to thrive and move on without him? What is his purpose after the dream is realized? Also it came at the cost of losing his two best friends and fellow architects — Moira and Magneto. Charles thought the three of them would ride off into the sunset and oversee their kingdom together. It leaves him incredibly lonely and uncertain about what he has left to offer. 

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: You and I are the same age, which means we both got to experience the original “Age of Apocalypse” in real time. (What?!? X-Men is over?!?) What was your take on it as a young fan?

Jordan: I remember reading in Wizard Magazine that the X-Men were getting canceled. Back then, we were not media savvy so I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I was so disturbed by that graphic image of Xavier’s wheelchair destroyed and them telling us it was over. Then they released that X-Men ashcan which had a preview of X-Men Alpha with all the redesigns and reimaginings. Cyclops is a bad guy? Wolverine only has one hand? Teen Cable?! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!!! 

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I always say that the X-Men function best in hopeless situations and this world was their greatest nightmare realized. I bought every chapter — the stakes felt so dire, so intense. It was such a well-thought-out and cohesive crossover, the art was done by all the heavy hitters of the time and the action figures were epic! As relieved as I was for the 616 to return, I also never wanted to leave.

AIPT: Taking what Jonathan Hickman did with Moira MacTaggert and applying it to the Age of Apocalypse is such a brilliant way to revisit the AoA and still make it feel fresh and unexpected. Since we didn’t get a sprawling chart, can you confirm that we’re on the second life of AoA Moira?

Jordan: One hundred percent. Moira had died in X-Men Omega so it gave us a fresh start. I know we’ve gone back to the AoA well a few times and even I can’t keep things straight so I thought this would allow us to “play all the hits” while still packing in a few new surprises. I also was interested in seeing characters from post-AoA stories like the Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis, and Krakoa eras reflected in this version. It also tied a lot of thematic elements to what Xavier was grappling with on present-day Krakoa.

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Which “new” AoA character were you most excited to introduce and write?

Jordan: Krakoa as Doug’s arm instead of Warlock. Moira-neto with lil’ Eric. Quentin Quire as Sinister’s Omega Gun. I love them all. And I got to use Manikin from Alpha Flight — my favorite underused mutant. Marvel, let me write more obscure Alpha Flight characters PLEASE!

AIPT: Now for the interview’s most important topic: Rusty Collins’ resurrection. What took so long? This kid was in the ‘90s cartoon and in a major motion picture. Show some respect, Krakoa!

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jordan: After bringing Skids to Krakoa in M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games I felt it was my responsibility to bring Rusty back as well. I can’t tell why people hate him so much but I feel like he’s become some sort of Twitter joke. Well, here’s your justice for Rusty! If you’re wondering what happens next you should listen to the Skids episode of Cerebro I did with Connor Goldsmith. 

AIPT: And what was it like writing for artist Salva Espin? Salva knocked it out of the park on X-Men ‘92: House of XCII — what a treat to get another all-new story from him so soon!

Jordan: He’s so great at drawing X-Men, especially from specific eras. The goal was for this to sound and look like a comic from the original AoA and I think Salva nailed that. Also, his design work was so spectacular. I loved his body horror take on AoA Xavier as well as his terrifying Apocalypse reborn in Warren’s body. I threw so much reference at him and he was total pro with my weird demands “X-23 needs less of a nose so she looks more like feral Wolverine after his adamantium was ripped out!” 

Also enough can’t be said for Israel Silva’s incredible colors. The AoA never looked so vibrant.

[Here are two, eXclusive looks at Salva’s Xavier designs, courtesy of Jordan and Marvel Comics.]

AIPT: “X-Men Unlimited” — “Limitless mutants, traversing endless dimensions, saving infinite worlds.” This sounds like a pitch for an excellent new comic. You probably can’t say whether anything related to this idea’s cooking behind the scenes, but could you share how you arrived at this new dream for Charles?

Jordan: The whole Krakoa era has been about forward thinking. Mutant nations, mutant planets, etc. I wanted to give Charles something new to dream towards. As for future stories, the literal Krakoan gate seed has been planted. We’ll see if Marvel plans to tend to it.

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Finally, it’s a new year. Where should fans of Jordan Blum’s writing look for more Jordan Blum goodness? Also… any chance more X-stories await readers this year?

Jordan: There’s a story Jordan White and I talked about that I’d still love to do, so if you’re reading this, Jordan, CALL ME! For more of my comic writing, go check out Minor Threats from Dark Horse. It’s a creator-owned book I did with Patton Oswalt and Scott Hepburn. The fourth issue wraps the series up in February.

I’ve got another Marvel project dropping soon and hopefully I can announce some cool TV/movie stuff soon in the new year.

AIPT: I hope you get the call — and then you can come back and tell us more about it. But on that note, thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday, Jordan, and best of luck on your upcoming projects!

X-Fans, here’s the first batch of eXclusive preview art for 2023, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #186 - Jordan Blum Reflects on 'X-Men Unlimited: A World Without X'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Cheers to you too, Doc!

Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!

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