Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
It’s a new year, and that means new X-Men titles are coming in hot. On February 8, Bishop: War College #1 hits your local comic shop. First announced at New York Comic Con 2022, it’s a mini-series X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White described as “really bananas” in X-Men Monday #176. How could we not invite writer J. Holtham here to talk about his story (with art by Sean Damien Hill and covers by Ken Lashley)?
Read on to see what J. has to say about Bishop: War College, his relationship with the X-Men, and more!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, J.! Let’s start at the beginning — what was your first X-Men experience?
J: X-Men comics were the first comics I started collecting, back in the ‘80s. And they meant the world to me. New Mutants basically saved my life. I’d just moved to suburban New Jersey from Brooklyn, New York, and felt completely out of place. Having this team of teen misfits to follow made me feel like I belonged to something.
AIPT: Now, the beginning of Bishop: War College — how did the opportunity to write this mini-series come about? Is this something you pitched to the X-Office, or was it pitched to you?
J: It was kind of a combo platter. Sarah Brunstad and I had worked on a Sam Wilson story for Marvel’s Voices and she approached me about writing a Bishop book. We kicked around some ideas and settled on the story of the book together.
AIPT: For readers who are learning about Bishop: War College for the first time, what can they expect from this mini-series?
J: My whole thing is an entertaining story. You should expect some action, some fun, but a real beating heart underneath. I wanted to show some different sides of Bishop than what we’ve seen before. It is a Bishop book, so there’s some timey-wimey stuff in there, of course.
AIPT: What is it about Lucas Bishop as a character that resonates with you?
J: He’s a man out of time and I’ve often felt like a man caught between worlds, as a Black artist. I also feel the pressure of history on your shoulders and the sense that you have to save the whole damn world all the time. Bishop carries so much weight, so much anger and hurt with him all the time. Working on this character really helped me explore my own past and expectations.
AIPT: X-Fan Grey said Cam Long and Aura Charles were both in the Bishop-focused mini-series Prisoner X. What drew you to incorporating these characters into Bishop: War College?
J: Like I said, the New Mutants are always nearest and dearest to my heart. As we were talking about the cast for the book, I turned to Vita Ayala’s run and really connected with the young lovers, who are so different and so perfectly matched. I wanted to explore their relationship a bit more.
AIPT: A wider student body question from X-Fan Mark Floor: With so many young mutants to choose from, how did you decide to use characters such as Armor, Surge, and Amass?
J: Bishop already had a connection with Surge and Armor, so that was an easy fit. With Amass, we hadn’t really gotten to see them in action, get a full sense of their powers. Since the Threshold mutants are new to this time, Amass seemed like a great character to throw in the mix and get an outsider perspective on things. Plus their power set is really fun.
AIPT: Cyclops, who Bishop replaced as Krakoa’s Captain Commander, made training younger mutants for battle a priority in the 2010s. X-Fan 1407 Greymalkin, the living memory of the X-Men asked how Bishop’s War College differs from what Scott was doing?
J: Bishop is really focused on protecting Krakoa. It’s the mutants’ home, their safety net, their haven. Bishop sees all the threats aligned outside of Krakoa and is working on, not just battle, but protecting their home. It gives him a little extra edge and it gives the students a little extra focus.
AIPT: Based on covers and preview art, fan-favorite mutant Tempo features in your mini-series. What can you share about Heather’s role in Bishop’s War College?
J: In some ways, Tempo is the key to the whole series. I did mention “timey-wimey” stuff, and that’s what Tempo brings to the table. But she’s also someone with a complicated and painful past, which makes her an interesting partner/foil for Bishop.
AIPT: X-Fan Carl, Son Of Sobunar was wondering if there are any past stories you think are worth reading to prepare for Bishop: War College.
J: Definitely X-Men: The Times & Life of Lucas Bishop. That was one of my big touchstones.
AIPT: Finally, as time travel plays a role in your story, X-Fan Mr Shoebill wanted to know what your favorite time travel stories are (in or outside of comics).
J: Well, obviously, “Days of Future Past.” Duh. Outside of comics, you can’t beat Back to the Future, Looper, or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’m also a big fan of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And, as will be clear once you read the book, any alternate timeline shenanigans are my jam.
AIPT: Sounds like we have a lot to look forward to. But on that note, thanks so much for swinging by X-Men Monday, J.! Remember to pick up Bishop: War College #1 on February 8, X-Fans.
As for the more immediate future — as in this Wednesday — things are about to get sinister. To help ease you into Mister Sinister’s new reality, here are 10 eXclusive preview images from Sins of Sinister #1, courtesy of Jordan D. White!
Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!
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