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X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

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X-Men Monday #221 – Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk ‘X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga’

Plus, 3 eXclusive preview images from the next issue of ‘X-Men Unlimited’!

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

I know you’re still recovering from last week’s eXclusive Original X-Men reveal, but… we’ve got another: An eXclusive conversation with Dark X-Men writer Steve Foxe and Astonishing Iceman writer Steve Orlando to coincide with their new, six-part X-Men Unlimited story arc: “The Redroot Saga”. The first chapter’s already up on Marvel Unlimited, but here are the details if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet:

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X-MEN UNLIMITED #106

Writers: Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando
Artist: Lynne Yoshii
Colorist: Fer Sifuentes-Sujo
Editor: Jordan D. White

New arc! Sunfire goes on a mission to Otherworld’s Crooked Market to save the mutant Redroot, first introduced during X OF SWORDS. But the proprietor of the Market, Mad Jim Jaspers, offers Sunfire a trial instead…

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I know a lot of X-Fans will be excited to learn what happened to Sunfire in Otherworld. Since the storyline was first teased in 2021’s X-Men #9, many X-Fans have submitted questions asking when we’ll learn more about Redroot’s fate. That time has come! What do the Steves have to say about the epic adventure to come? Read on to find out.

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Steves! The new X-Men Unlimited arc has its roots (no pun intended) in 2021’s X-Men #9. We all know how far in advance the ultra-collaborative X-Office plans. When Gerry Duggan planted the Sunfire/Redroot seed (again, I swear, these puns are not intended), was it always the idea that you two would continue the story, or did that decision come later?

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Steve Orlando: The plan was for sure to pick up the story in the future, within the office. But as we had our biweekly Quiet Council meetings and the plan began to come together for Fall of the House of X and Rise of the Powers of X, it became clear that a series like X-Men Unlimited would be indispensable to tie closer into the main line than ever before, and flesh out the stories and characters waiting for a home in a format that was challenging, new, and exciting, and also as part of the Marvel Unlimited service, making access easy.

Steve Foxe: I’m also a pretty well-documented Sunfire fanboy, so when I was first added to the X-Slack and the notion that someone was going to tell this story on Unlimited came up… well, the phrase “shameless pick-me-ism” comes to mind. There was definitely some degree of, “Oh boy, whoever gets to do this is REALLY lucky, hahaha, WINK WINK.”

AIPT: Haha, Foxe, as soon as I saw your name on this story, I immediately thought back to your Sunfire comments in this year’s X-Men Monday Valentine’s Day Special. Now, we recently got a glimpse of Sunfire’s adventure in Otherworld in X-Men #24, where we saw Magik drop Shiro off and then jumped X months into a bleak future. What can you share about the shape of your six-part story?

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Orlando: This is a full-on quest narrative for Sunfire, with all the harrowing threats, monsters, and unrelenting heroism. And not just that, it’s a rescue mission! As such, we’ll see Sunfire battling his way through Otherworld and facing down some of its most dangerous faces. And if he can stick it to Orchis on the way? Even better.

Foxe: Yeah, we got a unique challenge picking up from X-Men #24, because in a very short page space, readers see what Shiro sets out to do and where he ends up. But the quest itself was largely undefined, so Steve and I had a lot of fun drawing on some of the esoteric corners of Otherworld seen during the Krakoan era. Shiro’s not a character who often gets solo stories, so we wanted to make sure we made this opportunity count and give him the biggest adventure we could despite the bookends to it already being known to readers.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Sunfire has received some long overdue attention in the Krakoan era. What do each of you love about Shiro as a character?

Orlando: Sunfire’s power has always appealed to me — and I don’t just mean in a trading card sense. So for me, from his first appearance, he’s been someone of strong, focused, convictions. Everyone may not agree with his stances, but even if they don’t — they respect his drive. Sunfire gives his word and keeps it, and he gives all of himself in service to his mission. That, to me, is always a fun character to interrogate and challenge.

Foxe: I became obsessed with Shiro pretty early on because he was always a little out of reach. His cartoon appearances were really brief, he floated around the margins of books like Alpha Flight when I was a kid, and his biggest spotlight up until that time came in an alternate universe. So here was this hot-head with a couple of really memorable costumes and a power not otherwise covered by core X-Men who just would! Not! Stick around! I think he’s also suffered from — in what little progress he made in various runs — often got walked back because he just never stayed around long enough for his growth to stick. I like to think Gerry and co. have broken that curse, and it’s been great to build on Gerry’s characterization in addition to the proud, principled Shiro we’ve seen for decades.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: When Otherworld and its kingdoms were reintroduced in “X of Swords“, both creators and X-Fans were excited by the story potential Avalon, Sevalith, and other locations had to offer. How much fun is it to set an X-Men story in the Crooked Market?

Orlando: It’s a blast! And there’s always more to explore. I feel like we could’ve spent a nearly endless amount of time exploring Otherworld — but the war at home is waiting, and provided Sunfire completes his mission as planned, he and Redroot will be needed back home. But I love the raw creativity of Otherworld, and with a realm of such mysticism and danger, the storytelling possibilities have no ceiling.

Foxe: Yeah, this is something Steve and I talked about just recently, with everything just about finished now for this story — we really could have done this tale at 10 times the page count without running dry. One of my early inspirations was stories like Berserk, and I think Otherworld has that on-and-on quality as a setting. Every turn you take is going to give you a different vibe, a different challenge. We start in the Crooked Market, but we cross other realms and spend most of the story in one of my personal favorites.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: What can you tease about Sunfire and Redroot’s relationship throughout your story?

Orlando: We’ll really be getting to the heart of their relationship as characters.  

Foxe: PUN GROAN. You really can’t throw a rock in the X-Slack without hitting someone with an affinity for puns. Anyway, Redroot’s not a Chatty Cathy, so I’d say their relationship is as much about what she represents to Shiro as it is about Redroot herself.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: You’ve collaborated before on Aftershock’s Rainbow Bridge. How would you describe your collaborative process as co-writers? It must be a blast to jam on a franchise and characters you each love so much.

Orlando: It is! And really — the process on this is not too different from an original like Rainbow Bridge (Eisner nominated! Get your copy now!). We dig in and cook on the outline, trace all the character arcs, the motivations, and payoffs — then we divvy up the nuts and bolts of writing depending on each person’s schedule. With existing characters, there IS more research involved and context needed, but in the case of Sunfire and the X-Men, we’ve already got decades of reading under our belt, so that was no problem at all.

Foxe: Steve left out all the fisticuffs, but otherwise covered it pretty well. There are some duos in comics who pretty much exclusively write together, which doesn’t describe the two of us — we’re very good friends who have co-written quite a bit but also do our own stuff. I think we have very different strengths as writers, so working on something like X-Men Unlimited is a fun way to see what we can each bring out in the other.

AIPT: Finally, what can you share about collaborating with artist Lynne Yoshii and colorist Fer Sifuentes-Sujo in this scrolling tale?

Orlando: Lynne and Fer have brought this story to life in a gorgeous, even unexpected way. The fresher, more animated style they’ve created isn’t always what folks might expect from a fantasy quest adventure. But that’s the best part! Just like with Krakoa in-story, there are no rules here, and mutant stories should define themselves on their own terms, just like the mutants that star in them. So, to me, Lynne and Fer are the perfect team for what’s really an old-school sword and sorcery quest — their work is high energy, it’s modern, and has incredible, expressive character work. It’s the perfect take to blend old and new into something surprising and kick-ass.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Foxe: Yeah, I really can’t say enough good about working with Lynne and Fer. They’re both very engaged in the project — sometimes, collaborators show up and do the job and that’s it, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but it’s more exciting when everyone is really digging into the story. Readers might think the Unlimited format is pretty rigid, but Lynne’s found lots of fun opportunities to rebreak the action we write and frame moments in different ways, and Fer found such a complementary approach to coloring her. Lynne’s also had some great story feedback, like a moment where she felt that Sunfire, even though he’s kind of an asshole (in a way we all love!) would still bow to someone upon meeting them, just out of his cultural conditioning. It’s really been a team effort to tell this story and celebrate Sunfire on his own.

AIPT: And I’m sure so many die-hard Sunfire fans appreciate that. But on that note, Steves, thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday to discuss “The Redroot Saga”. X-Fans, to get a sense of what comes next for Shiro, check out the eXclusive preview images below, courtesy of our friends at Marvel.

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #221 - Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando Talk 'X-Men Unlimited: The Redroot Saga'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

A hot plasma blast to the face — that’s gotta hurt.

Until next time, X-Fans — avoid that type of thing — and stay exceptional!

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