Welcome, X-Fans, to not just another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AiPT! but our milestone 10th installment of this weekly series!
10 weeks of X-Men Monday–it’s a great reason to celebrate! But of course, a series that centers around fan questions wouldn’t exist without all you loyal X-Fans who submit questions or just follow along week after week. We thank you and we celebrate you! Cyclops, start slicin’ that cake!
Oh yeah, and we’re also celebrating X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White, who always takes time out of his busy weeks in Marvel’s X-Office to field those questions and share eXclusive sneak peeks. Hey, speaking of Jordan, why don’t we dig into some questions?
AiPT!: Stuart (@UncannyStu) said that several series were planned out before you joined the X-Office as Senior Editor. How much of what we’re reading now is “where you wanted to get to” versus “transitioning to your vision”?
Jordan: That’s a very complicated question. The simple answer is that everything being worked on was conceived after I came on board. Or rather–there are still a few books like X-23 or Mr. & Mrs. X that existed before I came on, but the arcs they are up to were not planned out. The more complicated part is that, like I said, I knew relatively early into my time back in the X-Office that Jonathan was going to come on with House of X and Powers of X, and I knew how much that was going to impact any and all plans I had for the X-Men (Hint: it’s a lot). If you’d come to me the day after I became the head of the X-Office and asked me what I thought should happen with the line, I would have given you a very different answer than where we are right now, and also a very different answer from where we will be when HOX & POX wrap, because I don’t think I would ever have foreseen Jonathan’s story. But that’s collaboration–I am really happy with where we are going with the line, it’s somewhere I would never have come up with on my own, and that’s the point. I am not sure we will ever get to something that should be labeled “Jordan D. White’s vision of the X-Men” because my vision of it, really, is helping the writers tell the best stories they can.
AiPT!: That’s cool to hear, Jordan. Now, Eric Hughes (@comicsncats) was curious, if you could have one past Uncanny X-Men creative team reunite for one more story arc, who would it be?
Jordan: Interesting. By saying “Uncanny X-Men creative team” you knock out both Whedon/Cassaday and Morrison/Quitely, which would be delightful options if you’d merely said “X-Men creative team.” I am tempted to answer “Stan Lee & Jack Kirby” both for the massive societal implications of proof of life after death, but I know that is not the point of your question, so I will refrain.
I think I’ve said many times how much I loved Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men run, so I’d love to have him back on the books. Unfortunately, his run didn’t have the most consistent art duties–lots of different folks drew it at different points. Leafing through my old jpgs from that run, I think one artist who worked on it that I would love to see work with Kieron more was Daniel Acuna. So, let’s bring back Gillen/Acuna for a story arc! Presumably about them facing Mister Sinister again.
AiPT!: Since we’re celebrating 10 weeks of X-Men Monday, I want to take a second and let you celebrate your own accomplishments. So, is there a single issue from your time as X-Men Senior Editor that you’re particularly proud of? And if so, why?
Jordan: I’ve only officially been a Senior Editor since January 1 of this year, even though I was pretty much doing the job ever since I moved into the X-Office. So, I might have said X-Men Black: Emma Frost #1 which I thought did a great job of repositioning Emma in a way that was super true to her nuanced character with a creative team I think nailed it. Or I might have said The Merry X-Men Holiday Special #1, which played with the comic book form, something I had so very much fun doing and am extremely proud of. But I was not actually a Senior Editor when they came out, alas!
So, talking about books that came out this year, I will choose the Uncanny X-Men Annual from January. The purpose of the annual was to tell the story of HOW Cyclops was alive again. It was long planned (from before me taking the X-reins) that Cyclops would be back at the end of Extermination as a result of Kid Cable’s machinations. When we started working on “Disassembled,” we knew we would (unfortunately) have to start releasing that story before Extermination came to a close, so we knew Cyclops would not be in that without spoiling things, so he had to come back into the X-Men fold after that wrapped. As plans for the story that “Disassembled” became solidified, we came up with the story you’re reading now–Cyclops coming back in time to pick up the pieces after the X-Men are destroyed. The one part that was missing was the “how” of his return. In Matt Rosenberg’s book, Cyclops was going to be dealing with the death of the X-Men and what that means to him and his mission, it didn’t seem like it would fit to spend a lot of time in that explaining how he got there–that wasn’t his concern anymore, dealing with the death of the X-Men was. So, I wanted to make a space to tell that tale.
Ed Brisson had a lot of hoops to jump through on this one. We didn’t want to invalidate the comics that came before–meaning Scott’s death in Death of X or his appearance in Phoenix Resurrection–we wanted to create something that could weave through those and still result in Scott coming back to life. I think Ed came up with a clever idea, and told the story in a fun way, giving us one last teen Cyclops story in the past, showing how Cable used his knowledge of the past to thread this needle of letting Cyclops die when he needed to but then bringing him back intact. I was really happy with how it turned out. And the art is gorgeous! Carlos Gomez did some great work on it, and I am very happy to be working with him on a few more books right now–issue #17 of Uncanny and then the Secret Warps annuals in July.
AiPT!: You mentioned Phoenix Resurrection, which brings us to Sad Slime Boy’s (@sadslimeboy) question. Jean Grey has been there since the beginning and is finally back among the living. In your opinion, how does Jean being alive help the franchise more than hurt it?
Jordan: Well, I like Jean Grey, so I would rather have her around than not. I think that her long history in the franchise is part of what she brings to it–the fact that she has been through so much, that she has done so many things that have been tentpole moments in the history of X-Men storytelling is part of what makes having her as a character so great. She brings a lot to every story she is in. Though, I do have to say, she actually did a lot for the franchise when she was dead as well. More than most dead people do. Anyway, I am happy she’s back, I missed her.
AiPT!: Me too! Been Jammin’ (@krallbd) needed your opinion on this very important question: Who gets more Tinder matches? Glob or Doop?
Jordan: Glob doesn’t get a lot of matches, but Doop doesn’t go on Tinder, he just goes to bars and women line up to buy him drinks.
AiPT!: I’m curious, does the X-Office have a running list of dangling plot lines or mysteries that you inherited and have the power to resolve or ignore as Senior Editor? Fans can’t be the only ones tracking these things!
Jordan: No, there is no document or spreadsheet of plot lines… we just keep it in our heads, mostly. That’s one of the reasons a book can benefit from having one editor over a long period of time, as the creative team changes, the editor can keep things as steady as possible regarding characters and ongoing plot concerns. Sometimes when there are editorial changes on a book, those things can fall between the cracks as they are mostly only protected by the force of our will.
AiPT!: Interesting. Also interesting, Chris Serwacki’s (@chriswacki) question: It feels that because series move at a brisk pace from event to event, there’s not always time for them to grapple with event consequences. How do you manage the need to show character reactions/interactions versus moving into the event expecting readers to assume it happened off page?
Jordan: I don’t know that there is an answer to this, other than “You do your best.” There is a balance that needs to be struck always, and sometimes things tip one way or the other because we didn’t quite pull it off. The realities of publishing our comics is that we need to do splashy things to boost interest, so there are big line-wide stories we tie into, there are big storylines that make big things happen, and we do what we can to tell the best story possible through it all.
When I was editing Deadpool, working with Gerry Duggan, I think we tied into every big event we could. Original Sin, Civil War 2, Secret Empire, Axis, Secret Wars… there might be another one in there I am forgetting, but yeah–we always wanted to find a way to tie into and reflect the story of the main book in some way but we also did everything we could to make sure what happened in the crossover furthered our mains story. I think that’s the ideal way to do these tie-ins. Right now, with the War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men story, that’s what we tried to do. The timing of the event against our ongoing meant it fit better as a mini, but it’s still part of the overall story of this team.
A side note, though, is that I think the word “event” is a problem in discussion of these things, because I don’t think we have an agreed upon definition for the term. At this point, I see fans call any story with a title an event. Which, going by the simplest definition of the word, “a thing that happens”… then yeah, every comic book is “an event.”
AiPT!: Based on the House of X preview art we’ve seen, we can expect some pretty dramatic costume changes for our favorite heroes (Magneto, Jean, etc.). Will any or all of these be explained in the story? Oftentimes new arcs begin with new costumes but the decisions behind them aren’t explained.
Jordan: Yeah… there’s not going to be a lot of time spent talking about why they’re wearing what they’re wearing, no. Sometimes there are specific reasons characters wear new outfits–a team design, a specially equipped outfit, etc. But sometimes, they are just updating their looks. If I remember correctly, we didn’t get explanations for the Jim Lee ’90s costumes… the O5 rejoined the X-Men, the teams were all shuffled, and some of them got new outfits.
AiPT!: While we’re on the subject of HOX, I’m sure Hickman’s story will be its own thing, but are there any past X-Men runs–or comic runs, in general–it reminds you of?
Jordan: Morrison’s New X-Men is the closest just because of how many new ideas and new takes on the old ideas were in there.
AiPT!: So, you know a thing or two about X-Men. If Kevin Feige came to you for tips about getting the X-Men “right” in the MCU, what advice would you give him?
Jordan: Stay off the internet.
In all seriousness, that’s a really difficult one. I think one thing I would say (and I can feel free to say this publicly because I don’t think I am in danger of being in this hypothetical meeting any time soon) is to not lean too heavily into the school idea. That the school worked best when it was the COVER for the X-Men, not the truth about them. Yes–Xavier was training the O5 and later the New Mutants… but not classroom style like we saw in the previous films or the comics that followed. The All-New squad was also ostensibly based at the school for years and years… but that was the lie that gave them reason to all live in a place together between adventures. I think getting too caught up in the trapping of the school part takes away too much storytelling freedom for the characters.
AiPT!: You’ve talked a lot about your role as X-Men Senior Editor this week. As we wrap up, what advice do you have for people who want to become a comics editor like yourself? Where do they start?
Jordan: I’ve got two pieces of advice on this. First, the piece of advice I give to anyone aspiring to work creatively in comic books–don’t wait for Marvel. There are more comics being made today than ever before, and the means of making them are more accessible than they have ever been. Find a way to do what you want to do on your own if someone is not willing to pay you for it yet. If you want to write comics, draw comics, color comics… find people who want to do the other parts and start talking. The same goes for editing–lots of folks are out there making comics. If you’re good at running projects, wrangling people, working on improving stories, giving advice on how to do something better… I am sure they would want that help. For myself, I wrote and drew my own comics for a while, but I think my art was terrible. I then shifted to radio serials, where I was writing, recording, producing, and editing shows on a schedule, wrangling other writers and actors for the shows to get these projects all in on a deadline every week. That was where I honed the skills I needed for editing comics. Oddly, a lot of comic editors have theatrical backgrounds.
My second piece of advice on going into editing is that you should only do it if you really want to edit. I would not recommend getting into editing because you really want to write, which is something I have seen folks do in the past. It’s a creative job, but it’s not writing, it’s its own thing, and I think you will be better off and happier in the job if you know that going into it. Which is not to say one person cannot be good at both! Just want to be clear that they are very different.
AiPT!: Good advice! Finally, since we’re celebrating 10 editions of X-Men Monday this week, what’s the best party song for the occasion?
AiPT!: I can honestly say I’ve never heard that one (or seen that video), but that’s what music recommendations are all about, right? Anyway, that brings this week’s very special X-Men Monday at AiPT! to a close. Thank you to Jordan and the X-Fans who submitted questions, and look for the next X-Men Monday prompt on AiPT!’s Twitter tomorrow morning (April 30).
Here’s to 10 more!