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X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

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X-Men Monday #257 – Alex Paknadel Talks ‘X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic’

Plus, an eXclusive look at the next ‘X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic’ story arc!

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

In a new era overflowing with surprises, one of the most exciting was the news that Alex Paknadel would be writing a new X-Men series, exclusive to the Marvel Unlimited app. Even better, the first issue of X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic was available the same day X-Men #35 went on sale!

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

I invited Alex back to X-Men Monday to dig deeper into the scrolling series’ horror-tinged first arc, its stars Cyclops and Phoenix, what comes next, and more. Let’s see what he had to say.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Alex! 

Alex Paknadel: Thanks for having me, Chris!

AIPT: The launch of X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic was a welcome surprise. You’re certainly no stranger to the scrolling Marvel Unlimited format, having written for this series’ predecessor, X-Men Unlimited. But I’m curious to learn how the opportunity to write this new digital title came about.

Alex: I’m thrilled to be back, although I have to say I feel extremely privileged to have made a very small contribution to the Krakoan era. As to how this all came about, I think it’s a combination of luck and good timing really. The announcement went out that Tom Brevoort was relaunching X, which has always been my white whale, so I hopped on a call with a pro pal to nerd out about it. Aforementioned pro pal basically bullied me into dropping Tom a line on the spot. I’d done plenty of work for Marvel at that point so it wasn’t a cold email per se, but I’d never worked with Tom. Anyway, I wrote him and said I’d love to be involved in the relaunch in some capacity, and to my great surprise I received a very warm reply a day later thanking me for registering an interest. It all spun out from there.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Wow! See, everybody, it never hurts to ask. Now, being the sole writer on an X-Men anthology series sounds both awesome (the chance to spotlight so many great characters) and challenging (a lot of coordination bringing the gaps between two X-eras). So with that said, X-Fan Daman608 was wondering how much creative freedom you and your artistic collaborators have to carve out your own stories with these characters. And how much communication was needed with the writers and editors to pull this off?

Alex: Thanks for the great question, Daman608! I have to say, I’ve pitched some pretty wacky stuff and it’s all been approved, so I’m enjoying myself. The only thing is, I’m drawing on characters and situations from a disparate group of editors and creators, so we quite rightly consult with them first to make sure no plot points are being blown and no toes are being trodden on. The last thing I want to do is blow a reveal or have someone acting out of character, so communication really is key. But everyone’s been super collegiate and very kind indeed — both with their time and their willingness to share their toys.

Overall, I suppose the biggest challenge — particularly as From The Ashes ramps up across the line — is making sure key characters land where they’re supposed to. In some respects, my job here in these first arcs is to bridge the gap between Krakoa and the new status quo. If you’re picking up the first issue of one of these new books and a character’s situation has changed drastically from when you last saw them, chances are I’ll be backfilling that in From The Ashes.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

My whole career at Marvel has been punctuated by these dives into continuity to either cast a fresh light on characters or rationalize certain behaviors, so this really just gives me a license to do that on a more consistent basis. In other words, my fellow X-writers tell me where character A needs to be in their book, so I go away and try to find an emotionally resonant explanation for why they landed in that situation after the shutters came down on Krakoa.

AIPT: I love that that’s something the new X-Office is even thinking about. Somewhat related, in terms of what we can expect from X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic, X-Fan George Sokas asked whether major plot points will take place in this series or if you’d consider it more “slice-of-life” stories.

Alex: Hi, George! You can indeed expect major plot points to drop in this series. That said, I’ll be writing some slice-of-life stories too because I honestly believe that some of the most affecting and effective Marvel stories ever made have been drama-forward. Iron Man #182 is my favorite Marvel comic of all time, and it’s basically an entire issue of Tony Stark at his lowest point, trudging through the snow looking for redemption or annihilation. That approach is very powerful to me, so there will be a couple stories in this run that try to replicate that visceral emotional punch without necessarily leaning into cosmic stakes. Overall, I’d say you can expect major, MAJOR character points in terms of why certain characters wound up where across the line as a whole. That deep, character-focused connective tissue stuff is ambrosia for me, so I’m having a blast.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: OK, let’s talk about Cyclops and Phoenix, the stars of your first story arc. I was recently reminded that 2024 is the 30th anniversary of Scott and Jean’s wedding in X-Men #30. As a writer, what do you enjoy the most about this iconic X-couple — as a married couple and individual characters?

Alex: Firstly, I remember that wedding issue, which means I’m officially a mummy I guess.

As a married couple, I love the fact that Scott and Jean are literally inseparable. The universe has thrown death, flame, betrayal, Emma Frost, multiple near-immaculate conceptions, and a couple swimsuit specials at them, and they’re still rock solid — not because they’re staid or boring, but because they balance each other out perfectly. Scott is the platonic ideal of control and restraint, whereas Jean is the embodiment of raw power and abandon. Each has what the other lacks, and in the absence of one, the other can sometimes go off the rails pretty spectacularly. It’s just one of those fictional relationships with endless potential for tragedy and romance.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

To answer your specific question — and I swear I’m not being facetious here — what I enjoy about them as individual characters is what makes their relationship so dramatically potent.

AIPT: When writing a once-again Phoenix-powered Jean Grey, X-Fan GREY was wondering how you keep her grounded despite her immense power levels.

Alex: Hi Grey! At least in part, this first story’s about that vast power asymmetry between Scott and Jean. It’s been explored before, of course, but it has archetypal resonance because trysts between gods and mortals rarely go well in myth, right? That said, Jean recently discovered that she really is the Phoenix and always has been. There’s a confidence that comes with that — a fully consummated sense of self — and I wanted to foreground it as much as possible here. She can be a cosmic entity and get slurring drunk with a hotel bartender if she wants to. When you can do literally anything, literally anything includes keeping grounded. She can transcend all contradictions, like a god that can jump over their own shadow.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Cyclops has a reputation for being one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest strategists, so it’s always fun when we get to take a peek inside his mind — and revisit that Black Bug Room of his. I’m curious — you allude to this in your narration, but would you say all that time Scott’s spent with powerful psychics has given him a mastery over his own mind others without his life experience might not have?

Alex: That was the idea, yes. In essence, Charles taught him how to repurpose his black bug room into something useful. The addition of the daubed red triangle psychic defense protocol on the door was my little nod to Krakoa, so I hope it put a smile on a few faces. Overall, Scott being in that room means that the threat Scott’s facing in this story is powerful enough to banish him there and prevent him from leaving. That should be a scary prospect.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: It seems like whenever they get away from the X-Men, Cyclops and Phoenix have wild adventures. Traveling to the distant future to raise their time-displaced son, traveling to Victorian England to witness the birth of Mister Sinister, and now traveling to a remote cabin in frigid Norway for a horror story. What made you want to drop them into this mystery?

Alex: Honestly, horror is kind of where I live, and I’ve always felt that mutants flourish in the genre, from the Demon Bear saga to the various Brood storylines. Mutants and scary stuff just mix really well, and this story afforded me an opportunity to do survival horror, which suits me down to the ground. In terms of using Scott and Jean for it, I think I wanted to put them in a pressure cooker to really stress test their relationship before they go off to their respective books. That’s just scope for great drama in my book.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: As you write one script for the scrolling Infinity Comic format after another, do you find yourself experimenting more or finding new ways to play with the format? Or do you leave that to Diogenes Neves and other artists?

Alex: I’ve learned to leave it to the artist for the most part. I’m all for formalist pyrotechnics in the scroll format, but my tremendous (and patient) editors, Darren Shan and Noah Sharma, were very keen for me to lean into drama with this series. Accordingly, I’m trying not to be too tricksy because it can only detract from the drama.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: In a recent edition of his newsletter, Tom Brevoort teased that Madelyne Pryor would show up in X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic. Anything you can tease about her appearance? And related, X-Fan Jordan wanted to know if you could tell us who gets the spotlight next.

Alex: Hi, Jordan! I can’t say too much, but I think I’m OK to say that the story with Madelyne is going to lead directly into one of the core X-titles and is therefore not to be missed.

The spotlight falls on Daily Bugle reporter Sally Floyd in the next arc. She has a long and storied history in the Marvel Universe, and there will be revelations aplenty.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

AIPT: Finally, when you’re not torturing Scott Summers, you’re sending comics back to printers. I’m of course talking about the recent news that Cult of Lamb #1 sold out and is getting a second printing. What other current Alex Paknadel comics should readers check out?

Alex: Thank you! Well, I’m just coming to the end of a short run of Detective Comics backups with the estimable Ram V. I have some Flash stories coming down the pike, including Absolute Power: Task Force VII. On the creator-owned front, I recently released an Image graphic novel with Caspar Wijngaard called All Against All. I think my work on Declan Shalvey’s forthcoming Old Dog: Operations book has just been announced, and 2000 AD just let me do a Rogue Trooper story for their 2025 annual, which is another one off the bucket list for me. Plenty of other stuff in the hopper too, including some to be announced fairly imminently.

AIPT: Well, it sounds like you’re pretty busy, so it’s best to let you get back to the keyboard. Thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday, Alex!

X-Fans, for this week’s X-Men Monday eXclusive, a little more about that next X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic story arc Alex teased above, which hits Marvel Unlimited July 1, 2024.

X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic #4
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Diogenes Neves
Colorist: Arthur Hesli

“What Charlie Did…”

In the wake of Professor X’s betrayal during the battle against Orchis, reporter Sally Floyd investigates the X-Men’s founder, only to discover his dark history of crimes and manipulations.

Juicy! And here’s an eXclusive look at some of Diogenes’ art for the story.

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

 

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

In the next edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT: Writer Stephanie Phillips returns to discuss the new Phoenix series. Click here to submit a question to Stephanie by 5 PM ET today (June 24, 2024).

X-Men Monday #257 - Alex Paknadel Talks 'X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comic'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!

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