Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
It’s here, X-Fans, my favorite time of year: Valentine’s Day. The holiday itself, I could care less about. But the opportunity it presents to ask creators ridiculous questions about the X-Men’s messy personal lives and character flaws — that’s the type of thing that makes my heart swell with joy.
So here we are with the third and final Valentine’s Day special of the Krakoan era. In case you missed them, here are the 2022 and 2023 editions. In addition to X-Office regulars, I invited back a few guests from previous years and some recent X-Men Monday guests.
Also, this edition’s something of a collector’s item as it features Marvel Executive Editor and incoming X-Men editor Tom Brevoort making his first-ever X-Men Monday appearance.
What do Tom and everybody else have to say? Let’s get started so we can find out.
AIPT: Welcome to the 2024 X-Men Monday Valentine’s Day Special, everybody! In your opinion, what is it about the X-Men franchise that makes it such fertile ground for iconic romantic moments, heartbreak, messy love triangles, fan shipping, and so on?
Jordan D. White: In thinking about the X-Men and specifically in a conversation with Annalise Bissa a few years back, we came to a bit of a revelation — that it’s “a school” but where the classes are not at all the important bits, the important bits are self-actualization and found family… X-Men is kind of about going to college. And what is college without some serious soap opera drama and romance?
Drew Baumgartner: The X-Men’s high school origins make it a logical hotbed for young love — both the positives and the negatives. Obviously, some mutants are too old for that kind of thing, and the franchise only sometimes shifts into that teen soap gear, but I don’t think there’s a way to throw a bunch of hormonal teens together and not have some amount of romantic drama bubble to the surface.
Russell Dauterman: I think X-Men, at its heart, is a soap opera. Part of what makes the X-Men special to me is the relationships — you come for the powers and fights and narrative about mutants protecting a world that hates and fears them, but you stay for the romances, family dynamics, friendships, and drama.
Christopher Cantwell: Because all of the characters, no matter who they are, are able to easily strike a pose like they belong on the poster for the John Hughes movie Some Kind of Wonderful. There is no class for smolder at the Xavier school. It’s a requirement for admission.
Gerry Duggan: Those living closest to the edge of life/death live the best and most exciting lives.
Phillip Sevy: When living your life is an act of defiance, every action you take is threatened by the outside world. So the choice to love and be loved is radical and revolutionary. Those stakes heighten all relationships and make them dramatic and powerful and beautiful and tragic and everything that they can be. The combination of soap opera and persecution makes for an incredible ongoing saga of love and heartbreak.
Jordan Blum: When staring down a tomorrow full of Sentinels, brood eggs, and Sinister clones you gotta love hard and love fast. Also, X-Men starts as a boarding school drama. Romance and heartbreak are baked into its foundation.
Jason Loo: X-Men is the OG Temptation Island, but all the contestants have superpowers. They’re all hot and sexy individuals under one roof. And on missions when they’re wearing tight revealing outfits, how can they not take a glance at their teammates and not have certain feelings? And their annual swimsuit parties? Maybe that was more frequent in the Krakoan era.
Jay Jurden: Ironically, the mutants’ humanity and the very human desires to love and be loved make it so much fun to watch them battle giant robots and then battle heartbreak back at home. The comic started with everyone having a damn crush on Jean (except for Bobby), so from the beginning, it’s been a bit of a soap opera. Also, spandex suits and proximity. The idea of a marginalized group of people dealing with their very insular romantic issues appeals to so many queer X-Men fans because that’s just an undergrad theatre department.
Steve Foxe: The practical answer is that it’s an ensemble project where the primary actors usually live together and rarely have solo books requiring their “real” story to happen elsewhere. The cheekier answer is that Chris Claremont set the randy, romantic, risque template and we’ve all followed in his footsteps.
Al Ewing: I think Chris Claremont did everyone a big favor in that regard. At the point X-Men really needed to come out swinging, he was the right writer at the right time with the right passions, obsessions, and skills — including a serious talent for high emotional drama that grabbed readers who maybe weren’t expecting that from a comic at the time and never let go. And this carries on through all his artistic collaborators — very much greats themselves — in a run that goes on long enough that he’s not just planting seeds the rest of us will come back to forever, he’s changed and enriched the soil everything grows in.
Anthony Oliveira: When I was a kid, I read an anthology of X-Men short stories to pieces, and it was introduced by Stan Lee, and I’ve never forgotten what he said: The secret to the X-Men is that it’s only pretending to be a superhero story; it’s actually a soap opera. I think that’s a key truth really unlocked by Roy Thomas in those early years of glorious mod outfits and sweaty dating troubles, and once Claremont comes onboard it’s never looked back.
The X-Men are so much about romance because the X-Men are so much about community – how do we relate to each other, how to relate to the outside world, and how does that outside world relate to us? Romance is one of (though not the only) crucible where those questions are examined: Do we share the same values? Can we build a life together? Where do you and I intersect, and where do we differ?
That’s why they’re the horniest, and that’s why they’re the messiest.
Tom Breevort: Over the last few years, it’s been a few hundred mutants all crammed together in close quarters on an island with nothing else to do but Make More Mutants. I mean, Krakoa doesn’t even offer cable packages. Prior to that, it was a series about young people boarding together at a school. The “fastball special” is an unofficial Xavier Academy tradition.
AIPT: Who, in your opinion, is the most romantic X-character? (And why?)
Christopher Cantwell: Xavier. Everything originates from his sexy bald head and his eyebrows that are constantly reaching outward for a better world. He dashes his heart and the hearts of others repeatedly in service of a dream. What’s more romantic than that?
Phillip Sevy: Wolverine, no doubt. Look, he’s not exactly the most conventionally attractive person in the group, nor with a sparkling personality, and yet — AND YET — that dude gets more action than any other character. He’s got to be just a Casanova.
Al Ewing: I think Havok. It takes a lot of work to sub on his level.
Gerry Duggan: Truly this changes for me all the time. I guess I really would’ve been welcomed on Krakoa. Right now it’s Emma, but it rarely has been during my time in this chair.
Russell Dauterman: Maybe Cyclops? From his earliest characterization, he was in love with Jean — they went from high school sweethearts to co-leaders of the X-Men and Jean being “the only one who can judge him.” And when Jean was gone, Scott fell in love with Madelyne and later Emma — he seems like a romantic, relationship guy.
Steve Foxe: My gut instinct is Storm because she gives herself so fully to the romantic entanglements she chooses, BUT she doesn’t *need* a partner. While there are more overt flirts and lotharios among the X-Men, I feel like Ororo strikes the perfect balance of loving herself but being able to intensely, passionately love others (who are good enough to deserve it).
Jordan Blum: Mystique. A willingness to burn the world to the ground in the name of love is the ultimate romantic gesture. And she still has love to spare for both her children, Rogue and Nightcrawler.
Jay Jurden: Mystique was willing to burn everything down on Krakoa to bring her wife back and I don’t think it gets more romantic than that.
Drew Baumgartner: Rogue, but back before she could touch anyone safely. That’s capital ‘R’ Romance if I’ve ever heard it.
Kieron Gillen: You know, Beast in the timeline where my S.W.O.R.D. got past issue 5 would have been good for this, but the timeline we ended up in had (er) somewhat less romance interested Beast. Perhaps someone could go back in time and try and do something about it. “We have to time travel to save Beast!” “Why? Is it all his genocides?” “No, he has to carry on devotedly making blueberry muffins.”
Tom Brevoort: Back in the day, it was the Beast, before he threw over human needs and desires in favor of science. Nightcrawler also had some moves, but he doesn’t really use them as often anymore. So these days, Gambit is the clear winner. Angel wants to be, but he’s mostly all talk. But Gambit thinks about this stuff.
Jason Loo: Gambit. He knows his way around to charming a woman’s heart. Especially a tough cookie like Rogue through all these years, and all his efforts paid off. Married with cats, there you go!
Anthony Oliveira: It’s a tie between Gambit and Nightcrawler, I fear! They both fall head over heels in besotted, horny love, and are willing to make absolute fools of themselves to show you how wonderful you are. Nothing more romantic than that. They’ll bend the world and break their backs to let you glimpse yourself the way they see you – because they have no room in their corny little hearts for irony. True love dares the self to leave the self behind.
(The Claremont scene where Wolverine finds Kurt on his knees in prayer and they talk about the senses vs imagination and then slink off to ‘find a beer’ the night before they die is one of the hottest in comic history, precisely because Kurt dares Logan to give up the cynicism and the grim detachment and admit some honest vulnerability – there’s a reason that’s the scene that launched a thousand ships, at least one legendary Esad Ribic cover, and one of Hickman’s career-best death scenes).
AIPT: Which X-character does everybody go to for relationship advice?
Gerry Duggan: These characters are all disasters.
Phillip Sevy: Cable. He’s the ultimate Dad (and Daddy) of the X-Men family. He just wants all his kids to be safe and be OK. Plus he knows the future and could help you navigate potential pitfalls. And, according to the most prolific Cable writer (Fabian Nicieza), Cable is from a future where things like orientation and gender are nonissues; Cable has a well-rounded, open, and healthy understanding of relationships.
Kieron Gillen: Emma, though I suspect she’s a classic “good at advice, perhaps not always good at following it.”
Russell Dauterman: Emma was a sex therapist for a while, right??
Anthony Oliveira: If you want the truth, you go to Emma. But nobody wants the truth. So they go to Jean, who can throw you a reality TV and ice cream pity party like you wouldn’t believe. She has those top-of-the-line flowy pajama pants that facilitate conversation, you know? Worst is Hank McCoy, who has been giving bad advice for decades before his war criminal era. One time he took Angelo Espinosa on a car trip that bummed me out so bad I’m still thinking about it 30 years later.
Al Ewing: This is tricky because there are a whole bunch who you’d think would be good at dishing out relationship advice until you look at the burning wreckage of their own relationships. I’m going to say Roberto — it’s never serious on the surface, but it’s always somehow exactly what you need to hear.
Steve Foxe: I think Rogue’s the ideal gal pal for lending an ear. She’ll drop in some good Southern wisdom while always putting her pals first — if she senses you need to hear a guy get dragged to dust, she’ll do it, then carry you off for a girls’ night out. Alternatively, I’d never ask Remy for real advice. That man is LUCKY he landed the lady he did.
Christopher Cantwell: Chamber. I feel like he’d be honest with you. You’re steering clear of Morph from X-Men: The Animated Series. We know why.
Jason Loo: Storm will have sage advice. She’s been in a royal marriage and everything else in betwe—below that. Sorry, Forge! As for who I’d stay clear from… Mojo. What a sleazebag.
Mark Basso: Logan. He’s lived a long time, he knows what’s up!
Jordan Blum: Wolverine probably has the best advice which is “never tell your arch-enemy your birthday so he can’t murder your loved ones every year on that exact date.”
Jay Jurden: I think a lot of X-Men go to Wolverine’s dad (Logan) for advice because they THINK he’s been around so long he has to know something. But if you look at his track record, you can see why that might be a mistake.
I think Charles Xavier constantly tries to offer up relationship advice but EVERYONE says, “No thank you!”
Drew Baumgartner: It seems like Talon and Synch have figured things out — they have hundreds of years of experience working through their problems together, after all. Throw in their status as leaders on the X-Men, and I could definitely see folks going to them for advice (Talon’s current whereabouts notwithstanding).
There are way too many bad options to choose just one (honestly, it’s hard to imagine many X-Men seeing fit to offer relationship advice, even if asked). But I have to imagine Scott Summers would give particularly unrelatable advice like, “Get over your dead fiancee by marrying her clone,” and, “Leave your clone wife when it turns out your fiancee wasn’t dead, after all.”
Tom Brevoort: I think most everyone turns to Storm for her level-headedness — to the point where she kind of wishes that they’d stop. But she’d never turn away someone in need of advice. Everybody steers away from Professor X because he thinks he has all of the answers but he really doesn’t, as his own dating history proves. But the person they avoid asking ever is Cable, due to his straight-ahead tendency to jump ahead into the future and then come back and tell them how the relationship all went wrong. (95% of the time, it’s all Apocalypse’s fault! APOCALYPSE!!!)
AIPT: Comic books only have so many pages and there are just so many mutants to focus on. So with that said, which X-character would you say has the most active off-panel love life?
Gerry Duggan: This is a trap.
Drew Baumgartner: Nightcrawler. He’s too much of a gentleman to kiss and tell, but Nightcrawler.
Steve Foxe: Northstar and Kyle. And I don’t mean holy matrimony. C’mon. We all know they’re perched at the Lagoon making eyes across the bar when they like someone’s vibe. Where do you think Pyro 2’s been since Krakoa started?
Russell Dauterman: Doop.
Phillip Sevy: Doop. He’s DTF anyone and anything. Plus a very considerate and generous lover.
Jason Loo: I think whatever Marrow and Feral have in the Krakoa era seems to be blossoming. Their courtship must be intense.
Anthony Oliveira: Every few years some lady pulls up to Charles Xavier and goes, “Hey I haven’t seen you in years; this is your kid” and 0% of anyone is surprised. That man had a baby with the Shi’ar empress, who hatched from an egg. He is on a level that is unmatched.
The other one is Magneto, who has at all times somewhere between zero and five kids, and also dated Cyclops’s ex-girlfriend and Rogue somehow, and occasionally defrosts ancient purple twinks who proceed to draw hearts around his name in their 12th-century illuminated trapper-keepers. Those two old guys just pulling endless people into their weird folie-a-deux, two queer elder dads siring the next generation of mutants.
Jay Jurden: I think Shatterstar is a multi-dimensional slut to a degree that we can’t even fathom.
Jordan D. White: I was disappointed to never get any super-buff Snot fan art after we talked about it, so I am just going to throw it out again here — Snot gets it. You have NO IDEA how much action the boy gets. Errr… got, before he died? Oh man — his funeral was a collection of the most gorgeous people you have ever seen. Which is not to say he is superficial! He sees inner beauty, but his attention is so beautiful and inspiring that people are left changed inside, brimming with newfound confidence that shines out from them, making them gorgeous.
Jordan Blum: Numbers-wise I have to imagine Multiple Man pre-marriage. But the answer is obviously Storm. Everyone in the Marvel universe has at one time fallen in love with her including Dr. Doom and Dracula!
Christopher Cantwell: I imagine Caliban builds his own dating app for “overt mutants” which explodes and garners several rounds of huge VC investment. And he becomes the face of it everyone embraces. And he’s like, going to get fashion deals out of it and sponsorships and celeb invites and sports cars, etc. But then he gets in trouble for matching with mutants within 25 miles of him without them even knowing he’s made profiles for them on the app, because he sensed them nearby with his power, and then there’s a backlash, and he doesn’t really apologize and is kind of a jerk about it, and then he buys Twitter.
Al Ewing: All the ones I can’t admit to without having to take a phone call the next day.
Tom Brevoort: Beak. Beak f*cks.
AIPT: Well, on that note, it’s time for the final and most X-rated question in X-Men Monday history! Which X-Couple has the best sex life?
Al Ewing: Now it’s a phone call the SAME day.
Christopher Cantwell: Puck.
Phillip Sevy: It’s gotta be Mystique and Destiny. That’s all I need to say about that.
Kieron Gillen: My brain just went, “They call him the Multiple Man for many reasons” so I’m going to write that and step away from the keyboard.
Gerry Duggan: Scott and Jean. His powers are not the only thing she can choke off.
Jordan Blum: Apocalypse and Genesis are omega-level mutants with an omega-level sex life.
Steve Foxe: Deadpool and his hand. If he cuts it off first, it’s a very singular sensation.
Jason Loo: Havok and Maddie. ‘Nuff said!
Jordan D. White: Tragically, Havok and Polaris — that is why they kept coming back even though it wasn’t a good idea for them. And they will never find that again, even though they know they can never get back together.
Jay Jurden: Psylocke and Greycrow might be the sexiest newer couple and I can only imagine how intense two former mercenaries get in the bedroom. Rogue and Gambit have had years and years of buildup and setbacks which I guess just feels like edging. But the BEST sex life has to be Nightcrawler and his current flavor of the week! And yes the tail is involved.
Drew Baumgartner: Rogue and Gambit, surely.
Russell Dauterman: Gotta be Rogue and Gambit, now that Rogue can control her powers!
Anthony Oliveira: It’s Gambit and Rogue. They couldn’t even touch skin-to-skin for years, so they had to get creative early and the stakes were high. “Every time we do this one of us might die and be permanently absorbed by the other”??? They’re on a level most humans can’t even imagine.
Tom Brevoort: Rogue and Gambit pretty well have to be a lock on this one. Emma and Scott worked hard and tried their best to go beyond them, but could never quite manage it, and Havok and Madelyne are surprisingly vanilla. (And Wolverine tends to get all weepy after doing the deed, which makes him kind of a downer in the bedroom.)
AIPT: Oh — I guess that it! Sorry, X-Fans, I’m still thinking about “Beak f*cks.” But a huge thanks to everybody who answered the call to participate in this very sexy edition of X-Men Monday. As always, this was a blast!
And before we wrap, how about a few eXclusive preview images courtesy of Jordan D. White?
Magneto knew he was appearing in the Valentine’s Day edition and decided to strike a pose.
Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional and Happy Valentine’s Day!
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