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X-Men Monday #25 – X-Tra-Sized Anniversary X-Travaganza

It’s our milestone 25th X-Men Monday, with special guests Gerry Duggan, Benjamin Percy, Bryan Edward Hill and Tini Howard!

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Hello and welcome to the all-new, all-different X-Men Monday at AiPT!–just in time for the column’s 25th edition! Hey, comics love to celebrate those milestone issues, so you better believe a column about comics on a comic book website’s going to do the same.

But comics fans are a savvy lot–especially our beloved X-Fans, without whom this column wouldn’t have lasted 25 weeks! Right now, they’re wondering, “But Chris, what eXactly is so different about the new X-Men Monday at AiPT!?” (Yep, they capitalized the “X” and everything).

Well, you’ll notice we’ve retired the classic X-Men Monday logo and introduced a look more in line with what you’re seeing in Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X–inspired by Tom Muller’s Modernist design work. And your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that is indeed Krakoan lettering. You… do speak Krakoan, don’t you? Anyway, I love the fresh look, which comes courtesy of AiPT!’s Content and Media Manager David Brooke, who always transforms my crudely drawn concepts into fully realized images!

Also, you’ll see some Hickmanesque text and numbers spread throughout the column…

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I wonder if those letters and numbers mean anything. Hm, someone get Xavier Files on the line, we may need a Hox Pox Tox for X-Men Monday moving forward…

Now, if I could get sappy for a second, I just want to say as someone who’s been buying X-Men comics consistently for more than two decades, getting to do this column has meant so much–and something I never thought would be possible when I started writing for AiPT! back in 2015. In the 25 weeks I’ve been doing this column, I’ve met and interacted with so many passionate X-Fans, had a chance to include countless X-Creators from the past and present in the column and learned what “Jott” and “Scemma” mean.

Probably could have done without that last one.

Either way, it’s been a wild and crazy ride and everything about that is so X-Men–so thank you to all the supporters for making my Mondays so memorable!

Don’t worry–I’m not forgetting the most important person in this equation. I have to give a HUGE thanks to X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White. I’ve never seen Jordan’s Marvel contract (though I keep asking), but I’m pretty sure nowhere in it does it say “Let Chris Hassan ask you questions every week for X-Men Monday at AiPT!” and yet, Jordan takes the time out of his packed schedule to make all this possible. So thank you, Jordan, for giving comics’ most passionate fanbase a level of accessibility you won’t find anywhere else in the industry… even if it’s never spoilery enough for some fans.

OK, now that I’ve written enough to qualify for that “X-Tra-Sized” in this edition’s title, on with the show with a few words from Jordan himself–and a special treat!

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Jordan: Hey, everyone! Congratulations on 25 weeks of X-Men Mondays! That’s a lot of Mondays, so… how about a lot of X-Men to celebrate? Or more than that, how about A LOT of MUTANTS? Presenting the six “EVERY MUTANT EVER*” covers by Mark Bagley, John Dell and Israel Silva! They are six connecting variant covers that will span the six new launches for Dawn of X–X-Men, Marauders, Excalibur, X-Force, New Mutants and Fallen Angels! This was a truly Herculean effort on the part of Mark, John and Israel as well as Annalise Bissa who had to wrangle reference for all 378 characters on these bad boys!

 *It’s probably not actually every mutant ever, but it’s a lot, and there are some real obscure ones on there.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: So awesome, Jordan! And here they all are together:

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: OK, Jordan, so as we’re celebrating 25 weeks of X-Men Monday at AiPT!, I have to ask, what has been the best part of all this fan interaction?

Jordan: The best part of fan interaction is always being able to share the thing you love. I didn’t get into comics for the money (HA!) I did it because I love comic book storytelling and more specifically, I love Marvel Super Hero stories. I have been reading Marvel books since I was able to read. I have often said that Spider-Man fills the role in my life that religion fills for a lot of people, and… that’s not a joke. So, just getting to talk about the medium that I love so much that I devote most of every day to it with people who also love it, that’s by far the best.

AiPT!: Very nice. Also nice–you’re very lucky in that you know what exactly Dawn of X has in store for X-Fans. What, in your opinion, separates this coming era from everything that’s come before?

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Jordan: I think mostly the scope. The ideas Jonathan is bringing are so big and go right to the fundamental core of the books, so the Dawn of X relaunch is very tightly coordinated, with everyone pulling in the same direction. The books all tell their own stories, but those stories all fit into the larger narrative of the X-Men universe very specifically. It’s a level of coordination I am not sure we’ve ever attempted in the past. We compared it to the other seminal moments in the X-Men’s history, the big moments that set the stage for the eras that followed, like the All-New All-Different era or the New X-Men era, and I think those really are apt, as everything you’re going to see in X-Men for the foreseeable future starts here and now. That means it’s a big job, laying down the new fundamentals… but these folks are up for it.

AiPT!: Before we get into our Dawn of X celebration, a little music to set the mood! Jordan, after 25 weeks, you’ve more than earned the right to recommend a song without a prompt–so what would you like to share?

Jordan: Aw, that’s sweet of you. I think I will go with a song I don’t think nearly enough people know. It’s called “Fireball” and it’s by Rob J. Madin, and it’s a lovely song that touches on nuclear war.

And now, here’s a few folks I would want to be caught in a fireball with, Gerry Duggan, Benjamin Percy, Bryan Edward Hill and Tini Howard, writers of the Dawn of X titles Marauders, X-Force, Fallen Angels and Excalibur, respectively!

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AiPT!: Welcome to X-Men Monday, all! I’m confident you’ll survive the eXperience. Let’s start at the beginning. What was the first X-Comic you read?

Gerry Duggan: Uncanny X-Men #133. Digging through a longbox turned up a character I didn’t know about who appeared to have the power of stabbing up against some faceless enemies that freaked me out. Welcome to the X-Men, young Gerry, hope you survive the experience.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Benjamin Percy: The first issue I read and the first issue I remember reading are no doubt different. I was four years old when I started pulling comics off the spinner rack. But Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine #2–published in 1988, when I was nine–is my first distinct memory of the X-Men universe. I read it again and again–until it was rumpled and torn and falling apart–and I’ve held on to that same soiled copy all these years. This is when I first fell in love with the writing of Chris Claremont and the art of John Buscema and Klaus Janson. This is when I first learned about Madripoor and Adamantium. And from there I branched off and began actively collecting new and old issues of X-Men, X-Factor, and Excalibur.  

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Bryan Edward Hill: Don’t remember the number. It was a New Mutants book I picked up in an airport (remember when you could buy single issues in an airport?) Longshot on the cover, shooting arrows from a convertible.

It gave me life goals.

Uncanny X-Men 224

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: Looks like you may actually be talking about Uncanny X-Men #224, Bryan!

Tini Howard: I want to say the first dedicated X-Men comic I read was a Civil War tie-in. I grew up watching the X-Men cartoon (and playing hours and hours of X-Men: Mutant Academy, which is part of why I still harbor resentment toward Havok,) but I wasn’t a reader of super hero comics ’till my adult life. I was too good for the four-color rack, you see, I read real comics. 

…Now I’m obsessed with super heroes. 

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Anyway, I’d just started to read super hero comics with some regularity and Civil War was happening, and I decided to read everything. 

AiPT!: Confession: I’ve never read the Civil War: X-Men mini-series. But it’s on the to-read list! Enough about me, though–what’s your favorite X-Men story of all time?

Benjamin: That’s not an easy call–“Dark Phoenix Saga”? “Days of Future Past”? “E is for Extinction”?–so I’m totally going to cheat and say the Uncanny X-Men omnibus volume–that kicks off with “Second Genesis”–is the book I consider the X-Bible.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Tini: Probably “They Keep Killing Madrox,” from X-Factor. I love reality-hopping in the name of big character work. It’s like It’s a Wonderful Life but you know, way cooler ’cause mutants.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Bryan: That first year of the Jim Lee run in the ’90s. That foldout cover. Magneto, Magneto, Magneto. I still want to have my own asteroid and a throne.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Gerry: Uncanny X-Men #190 and #191, the Kulan Gath saga. It was a story I never imagined or saw coming, that transformed Manhattan into Hyboria, and featured shocking deaths in sacrifice plays that saved the day. The X-Men once again snatched the world from certain doom… and the world never knew what they did. Classic X-Men.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: Such eclectic picks–love it! Now, who is your favorite X-Men character and why?

Bryan: Magneto. When you’re a black kid growing up in Saint Louis and you feel like the world is trying to get you, Magneto makes a WHOLE LOT of sense.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Benjamin: I live in the north. I’m a hairy, musclebound, smelly, grumpy, whiskey-sipping loner whose company is best suited for the woods. So… Goldballs, obviously.

In all seriousness, I’ve been lucky enough to write the Marvel audio dramas–Wolverine: The Long Night and Wolverine: The Lost Trail–and I’m geeked to continue to follow everyone’s favorite Canucklehead in a team environment on X-Force.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

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Tini: Half of my brain is like ‘how dare you choose’ and the other half is like ‘Rictor.’ Part of why I love him is because he’s spent an extended period of time without his powers, where he became sort of the audience-viewpoint of what it was like to be a de-powered mutant during that time. I love that his powers are simple, but vague and fun to play with–his connection to the Earth can be very scientific or very mystical. I like that Rictor is someone we’ve seen as super vulnerable–on the page we’ve seen him go through breakups, a coming out, a passionate reunion or two, possible fatherhood, losing his powers, depression, a crisis of faith… Maybe it’s ’cause I was raised Catholic and also had a coming-out story, but he’s always been my #1.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Also Leah Williams really wrote him as a ‘riot gay,’ which is such an essential description of who he is.

Gerry: Right now the White Queen because REDACTED.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: And now, without spoiling too much, what X-Character are you currently having the most fun writing?

Tini: I’m not regularly writing Kitty Pryde, but I wrote her for a few sentences, and maybe it’s the amazing work Gerry is doing in Marauders, but she just sings right now. It’s hard to not have a blast writing Kitty.

Currently, at this very moment, I am writing a very fun Rogue scene.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Betsy is my favorite to write but I wouldn’t describe her as fun right now. We’re working through some stuff. She’ll be OK.

Gerry: The women of the Marauders are the voices I hear the loudest at the moment. Kate was first. You’ll understand why in the first issue. Then Storm, and lately it’s been Emma’s turn. It’s a team book. The spotlight will move around. Uncanny Avengers with Stegman and Pepe was a good sea trial.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

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Bryan: Psylocke/Kwannon. I’ve always identified with her severity and her discipline. I started studying martial arts during that ’90s run and there was a young woman in my class that looked JUST LIKE HER. She was an amazing martial artist, a black belt, and she helped me understand the forms and gave me sparring tips. Shout out to Yumi, wherever you are. I’m still watching my balance. I didn’t forget. Power comes from the shoulders, not the arms. Hit with the first two knuckles. Follow through and watch your breath.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Benjamin: Another hard call. And a hard challenge, given that I’m not supposed to give anything away. Black Tom Cassidy has been a blast, because the new role he’s taken on (ssshhh) has fried his nerves and made him a little neurotic. Quentin Quire is such a supremely confident ass that he’s a blast to throw into a group setting, because he’s wildly valuable as a resource but severely obnoxious as a person. Domino has a really interesting arc in the first five issues as a secret agent out for revenge. I could go on.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

AiPT!: Why should X-Fans and non-X-Fans give your new Dawn of X series a shot?

Benjamin: Because Joshua Cassara and Dean White are going to make you wet yourself with pleasure–their art is so, so tremendous in its staging and texture and energy. Even Jonathan Hickman–who is not known for being particularly demonstrative or flattering–is like, “Damn. That art is amazing.” He may have even used an exclamation mark at one point, but I can’t be certain.

And because I’m putting all of my heart and muscle and brainpower into every issue, trying to create a balance of emotional resonance and awesome mayhem. Readers should know that this isn’t your standard X-Force set-up. The black-ops squad is now a kind of CIA for the mutant nation, so we’re treating it like a procedural–with an intelligence unit and wet work squad. It makes for some morally complicated situations, clever investigative work, and monstrous battles.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

And because this is a team effort. We’re all–the editorial and creative teams for the books–telling individual stories that are also one story, a collective narrative. You’ll read something in the first issue of X-Force, for instance, that will ripple wildly across every title.

Gerry: Readers will not fully understand why this book exists until they’re finished Jonathan’s story. The world of Marauders won’t come into focus until you get to enjoy the first issue, and then the world expands continually. It’s a bigger story than anyone has so far guessed. Fans will be getting what our great Dauterman/Wilson covers are selling, but they will also be getting a larger story that we haven’t teased in any way until now. I’d really urge anyone that read House of X and Powers of X to stick around and pre-order the wave one books. They’re all taking big swings and are coming together superbly.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Tini: It’s hard to read House of X and Powers of X and look at the Excalibur cover and mission statement and wonder how it’s gonna fit in. But it does–pretty beautifully if I say so myself. We’re merging the spirit of Excalibur with the Dawn of X. There are swords and kissing and a lighthouse and the legacy of the Braddocks–who are, person for person, one of Marvel’s most powerful families, I said one of, settle down, Summers fans–carries on.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Bryan: Fallen Angels is getting a lot of personal truth out of me onto the page, a lot of thoughts I don’t often share in a story that’s ferocious. We explore levels of Psylocke and X-23 that haven’t been touched yet and anyone that feels set against the world, anyone struggling to find their identity and purpose, anyone trying to make themselves better in times that try us every day should get something out of this one.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Comics, for me, have always been about the bleeding edge of storytelling. Comics are the punk rock and hip-hop of modern literature and that energy is flowing into Fallen Angels. It’s a HAMMER of a book and I’m swinging with both hands.

AiPT!: Damn, what a visual, Bryan. OK, final question: Working on an X-Men comic is something many of comics’ greatest writers and artists have done. What does working in the X-Men universe–with these iconic characters–mean to you?

Benjamin: I realize it’s corny and cliche to say this is a dream come true, but hey, it’s also true. I’m grateful to be a custodian of these legacy characters and hopefully I’ll leave a memorable, fanged, and bloody mark on the franchise.

Tini: More than that–we’re getting to establish a new status quo for the X-Men. We’re building a nation, a culture and an entirely non-human way of life. That’s honestly my favorite stuff–when we’re all together brainstorming: what is human and what is mutant? What can the superior shed and leave behind, and how can they improve, not just genetically, but culturally, spiritually. That’s what I’m about.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Also I used to put on sunglasses and a raincoat and run around pretending to be Jubilee as a little girl, so that’s pretty amazing too.

Bryan: I think for anyone that’s lived through intensity, anyone who’s been torn apart by it and put back together, the X-Men have a special place in your heart. For me, that world has always been about finding the power in what might destroy you if you’re not careful, about growing that power and helping other people with their struggles. It’s the world where the weird kids like me had a home and found a purpose. These stories tend to find us when we need them. They’re like lighthouses that get us back to shore. There’s an importance to the X-Men and what they can represent to people, what those characters say about who we are and what we can be. 

I’m just a small part of a long legacy, sharing what I can in a story, but I’m proud of the work and I hope it can do for someone else what those stories did for me. 

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Gerry: I’ve spent a lifetime reading, and pondering the world of the X-Men and now it’s my time to join in the fun. I’ve sailed close to the X-Men over the years, but X-Fans should raise the red flag because Hurricane Gerry is coming ashore as a Cat 5. X-Fans’ reputations have preceded them, and so far I have not been disappointed. You are all wild. We’re all going to have so much fun. Well, some of us will. Good luck to you, and those you stan. See you onboard.

AiPT!: What a way to end the column, Gerry! All aboard the Dawn of X! Thank you, Jordan, Gerry, Benjamin, Bryan and Tini for taking the time to share your X-Men history and tease what’s to come.

That’s it for this week, X-Fans. Thanks for celebrating with us and we’ll see you next X-Men Monday. Until then, have an eXceptional week!

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