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X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

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X-Men Monday #215 – Gerry Duggan Talks ‘X-Men’ at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Plus, 6 eXclusive preview images from upcoming Fall of X X-Men series!

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

Heard any GIANT-SIZE X-Men news lately? Me neither — too busy planning future editions of X-Men Monday. Speaking of editions of X-Men Monday, you did catch my FAN EXPO Boston interview with Steve Orlando, right? This one went live last Wednesday, so I totally understand if you missed it. I just assume X-Men Monday readers check AIPT on Mondays and then stay offline until the following Monday. In fact, that sounds like the key to happiness. (I’d certainly see a lot fewer Deadpool 3 rumors I never asked to see — I should try that.)

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

Anyway, Steve wasn’t the only X-writer to visit Boston’s Seaport — Gerry Duggan, THE X-Men writer, was also there. It was great to finally meet Gerry in person, bump fists, dig into X-Men #25, and a whole lot more. Let’s get started so you can see what we discussed.

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Gerry Duggan at FAN EXPO Boston

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Gerry! X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 is finally in the rearview. X-Fans have read it. The world of the X-Men will never be the same. But how does Gerry Duggan feel now that the Fall of X is finally here?

Gerry: I feel pretty good because, like Ozymandius, I did it a long time ago. We looked at these Hellfire Galas like act breaks — the first act being exactly what we needed it to be, which was camouflage for Planet-Size X-Men. Nobody asked anything. And we also knew that this Gala would be not quite like The Empire Strikes Back, but we knew that we were being very good to our villains and that they deserve to succeed for how hard they’d worked. We’re not just writing the heroes, we’re writing the antagonists and I hope we’re generous to them. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

The thing I take a lot of pride in now — what little chatter I see among readers — is that people are very excited to see Orchis have their dick kicked.

AIPT: We, of course, need to talk about Kate Pryde. You made her a pirate and now a ninja. What is it about Kate that makes her such a fluid character, just ripe for reinvention?

Gerry: Well, for a long time, she was the lens character for some of the fandom, if you’re of a certain age. And then obviously those lenses changed, whether it be Cannonball or later, Jubilee. That was the fun thing that I don’t know if anyone picked up on, but at the Gala, even though there are some strong feelings about the way that newly elected team got wiped, many of them were lens characters. I wanted everyone to have skin in the game. I didn’t want to just make sure there was one age range. I tried to pick as many on-ramps as possible to make sure that I load balance the pain around. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

And now that we’re in a place where ninja Kate has returned, I think it’s fun to mine our own continuity. We gave Kate her most outlandish dream come true in making her a pirate. She was made a ninja more or less against her will. In X-Men #25, she suffered a surge and the breakers flip and she reverted back to her training and she obviously can’t be Captain Pryde right now. And there is no need for a Red Queen right now. But there is a desperate need for the X-Men to have a Shadowkat. And that’s the fun thing — she’s been exactly who we needed her to be at every turn. 

And it’s very fun. Now, it’s almost like I have this rock off my chest about getting there because there was a time when I could have sat down with you at a show years ago and said in three sentences what her journey was, and I’m not 100% sure it would’ve made any sense then, you know? But having gotten to this place where we have — I’ll say third-act Kate Pride — wow, that feels exciting now. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I hope I’ve been as good to Kate as she’s been to me because it’s been a lot of fun to experience writing the X-Men and getting to write her a little bit. 

AIPT: While shocking, Kate’s murderous takedown of the Orchis squad in Jerusalem in X-Men #25 seems to have received universal praise from X-Fans. Following everything Orchis did to Krakoa at the Hellfire Gala, it’s certainly cathartic to watch Kate get her revenge. But after putting the X-Men through hell, how cathartic was it to actually write that sequence?

Gerry: After the Gala, I had to write that more or less really quickly because that was Stefano Caselli’s X-Men farewell. Stefano has been such an important part of my X-Men experience that I was so grateful he was there for X-Men #25. 

Anyway, I hope it was cathartic. I rarely, rarely, rarely go back and reread anything, but I did reread X-Men #25 after it was printed, and I was like, “Whoof, I wonder if we went too far.” And that’s literally never something I ever asked myself. And I was like, “Well, we’ll just have to see.” 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I wanted to make sure — had Kate ever killed canonically? I know there were sort of other versions of Kate who had taken a life. And it’s funny, I had initially put that scene at the top of the issue and then I cut to 10 weeks later and there was a complete draft of that book. And luckily I figured out with Jordan D. White — oh, it’s way more effective to bounce that to the end of the issue and just hit with the mystery upfront about where they were, what they were doing, who survived, what were they wearing, who were they saying they were, who were they pretending to be.

It is whiplash to move from the Gala to that. And we also load-balanced it so that it happened a week apart. That was deliberate too. You actually have to wait a couple of weeks to see Tony and Emma. But it’s been fun. 

You know, obviously, Kate was trained as a killer and never ever really executed on that, but she says it herself in that scene: If there’s no state, there are no laws, right? And thinking about what she suffered that night, I hope that violence and that moment is earned and not gratuitous. She gave Orchis every chance to surrender. She really did treat them like they were subject to the Geneva Convention, which I’m not sure Krakoa ever signed necessarily, but they were always trying to kill no man. And that’s really what I wanted you to come away with, not just feeling this moment of catharsis, but for Kate, I think it’s a real moment of innocence lost, even though it’s sort of silly to say that now after she’s been through so much. But she’d always managed to not put that red ink in her ledger.

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Well, again, every reaction I saw online was very positive. There’s so much for people to be frustrated with in everyday life — and not a lot of instant solutions to problems — so seeing Kate take out Orchis like that so efficiently was a welcome sight.

Gerry: Good, good. Well, what I will say about being online, though, is it’s bad for the creative brain. We’ve trained our audiences to binge. I’m sitting in front of a collection of collections. I’m not sitting in front of a collection of floppies. So people get very frustrated at what they might be reading issue to issue. And you’re telling your story. You have confidence in your story. Your editors believe in your story. Your collaborators believe in your story. And I think the worst thing you can do is be beholden to anyone other than the people you’re making the material with. So if you’re a creative person making something, obviously you want to have a good relationship with the press. You’d like to have a great relationship with your fans. But there’s only one steering wheel and you have to drive whatever you’re driving, like a rental car that’s all fully insured. 

AIPT: Moving onto the group Kate’s hanging with — we’ve got a very interesting new X-Men team. What do you love about writing this unique mix of mutants?

Gerry: Well, I have maybe the most eclectic X-Men team. In the last few weeks, I’ve written Polaris, I’ve written Sunfire, I’ve written Rogue, I’ve written Rasputin, I’ve written Ms. Marvel, I’ve written Kate. And the only reason I can do all of that is because we’ve been planning this for years. It’s a large team and hopefully super fun. What I’m looking for is the most dynamic team in the world. Synch and Talon, I’m writing their next issue and that’s going to be another hard one to write.

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Well, speaking of Synch and Talon, how do you think they differ from Cyclops and Jean Grey as X-Men co-captains?

Gerry: Honestly, they’re more experienced. And also, Scott and Jean showed that they were having trouble balancing their lives with the team’s needs. The arguments they were having were sort of proxy arguments. You know, the Brood wasn’t just about the Brood, but that’s what’s great about writing relationships, about writing characters who are personally invested in each other, but also depending on each other to save themselves and save the world. 

Scott and Jean were always my favorites, but when Jonathan Hickman and Mahmud Asrar showed up with that Vault story, and all of a sudden those characters were hundreds of years older, what a gift that was to be able to see things in a new way. And Scott and Jean didn’t get to follow through on stepping back necessarily — or maybe they did in unintended ways. But what’s interesting to me is what you’ll see play out — those are the leaders the X-Men need right now. They’ve been through worse than what you’re experiencing. And yeah, a lot of that was off-panel, but it was all real. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I hope nobody has lost hope over this era. We felt like there were a lot of folks that felt like this was the end of something rather than potentially a new beginning.

AIPT: And speaking of Scott and Jean — I need to confront you about something, Gerry. If you knew Scott would have his back broken and eyes sealed shut, and Jean would be reduced to a very fashionable skeleton, why did you have to put their marriage through the wringer in their final weeks together? Heartbreaking!

Gerry: I’ll give you the same thing I tell everyone, which is, I think most folks tend to misunderstand my job. I think what happens to every human soul that is tortured is a real crime. Except I make my living as a sadist. I wake up every morning and I gently tap a keyboard and something terrible happens to characters I love. And I do it with such joy. I have often felt that I don’t really write the heroes — I’m just writing the villains and the heroes are just reacting. And you know, it’s kind of a wink that we say that, but it’s more or less true in that if you’re writing your villains well and you have them act with purpose and conviction, this job is very easy and fun.

AIPT: I won’t hold a grudge, Gerry.

Gerry: It’d be OK if you did.

AIPT: You wrote some great Scott and Jean moments. They had a good run.

Gerry: I appreciate it.

AIPT: And now they’re dead. Well, Scott’s alive.

Gerry: Scott’s alive and Jean… is Jean Grey.

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Now, what inspired the creation of everyone’s new favorite X-Man: Woofer?

Gerry: Is he everyone’s new favorite?

AIPT: [Laughs] For the sake of this interview question, yes he is.

Gerry: He is now! I hope so. Well, under the hood, I don’t mind telling you that I like to plan for every eventuality. I have no idea who’s ever going to win the X-Men vote. I voted three times, did not get what I wanted three times, and then was wrong three times about who I thought would win. I felt Woofer would’ve been a really interesting person to have on the board if Dazzler had been voted onto the team. That’s a circuit that could potentially create an unlimited amount of energy. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

And I’m not saying that maybe someday they don’t get to connect, but I also needed someone that I could establish on Earth that would visually be visible when on Arakko, that someone could go, “I recognize that character and that character is important.” That character met the X-Men on Earth, was saved by the X-Men, and then just had a blood-covered ninja go, “You’re on the X-Men now — act appropriately.” I think that’s exhilarating — maybe once in your life when you get to be a hero. Maybe Woofer will be good at it and maybe he won’t, but he’s got such an unfortunate power set that it makes me laugh. I think if you write someone that’s flying and punching it makes matters a little bit easier. You have to be a little bit more crafty when you have Woofer’s power set.

AIPT: Finally, in X-Men Monday, I got supreme pleasure from asking about the wedding of Emma Frost and Tony Stark every chance I got, because the fan reactions were so panicky and extreme. (And this is comics.) Be honest — do those X-Fans who couldn’t stop stressing about a potential wedding bear any responsibility for what’s about to happen?

Gerry: Well, the real honest answer is, years ago Mark Waid and his collaborators were looking for some juice at the end of History of the Marvel Universe. I don’t think that showed up until letters. And I just said, absolutely they can do that. Not that I was giving them permission, I just wasn’t casting a no-vote. But what I said was, please just don’t expect me to act on it. And that was the end of it. 

Except that when I knew that I was going to be writing Invincible Iron Man, there was a really good chance that Emma was going to have a part to play. This was a great way for these two characters — who really hate each other at the top — to interact. And I’m not saying that they get together, and I’m not saying that they don’t get together. I’m just saying. 

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I thought it was hilarious when fans were like, “How could you have Emma Frost and Tony Stark fall in love? They hate each other!” And I was like, “Have you met most married people?” That’s how that works, that checks out. Relationships have ebbs and flows. My own parents were married 17 years, they were apart 17 years, and they were together 17 years again. So I think of things a little bit differently and believe in longer games, and it’s benefited my work in comics. 

Emma and Tony — I think now people are starting to get a sense of how they work. It’s a really great, like Shane Black back and forth. I hope you all check it out. They are getting married. I promise no shenanigans. Beyond that, I don’t know what you’re going to get. 

AIPT: I guess we’ll find out soon enough. But on that note, thanks for taking the time to chat, Gerry!

And while X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White wasn’t at FAN EXPO Boston (though he did call Gerry in the middle of our interview — a little X-Men Monday trivia for you, X-Fans), he was nice enough to provide a few eXclusive Fall of X preview images.

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #215 - Gerry Duggan Talks 'X-Men' at FAN EXPO Boston 2023

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Curse just can’t wait until next week’s all-new edition of X-Men Monday. Can you blame her?

Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!

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