Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AiPT! And that’s right–this week’s all about romance, X-Men style!
After 10 weeks of X-Men Monday, we decided to mix things up a bit and put out the call for questions about X-Couples. The response was astonishing–X-Fans sure do love love! Wish we could have answered them all, but X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White’s a busy man. Maybe we’ll revisit X-Couples in a future edition of X-Men Monday at AiPT! For now, let’s see what Jordan has to say about this first batch of questions!
AiPT!: We can’t talk about X-Couples without first asking Caleb’s (@GokaiDoctor) question. So, Jordan, what’s your favorite X-Romance?
Jordan: Oof, that’s a toughie. My first instinct is always going to be to prefer the ones I’ve worked on. Like I LOVE Deadpool and Shiklah’s relationship, for all their problems. But that probably does not count as an X-Romance. There was a while there where I was pulling for Quentin and Idie, but that seems so long ago, now. Besides, he’s into Gwen now, and I cannot blame him.
Oh–you know who is probably up there for me? Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller. I was really happy they were able to get themselves worked out, and I was SO HAPPY to be able to leave them in peace on that farm at the end of X-Factor. Fans would write in and ask when we would see them again, or ask at conventions, and I would always answer, “Are you trying to ruin their happiness? If they come back, it is not going to go well for them.” Sure enough, after I was out of the X-Office, Madrox came back into comics and was killed off, thus ending their wedded bliss and leaving their child without a father. I am glad we have A Madrox back, even if it’s not Layla’s Madrox… and I was very encouraged to see them interacting in recent issues of Uncanny. I hope this new and slightly less enlightened Jamie is able to get his #$%& together and find himself back into Layla’s good graces. Fingers crossed.
AiPT!: OK, now we turn to James0018675309’s (@idkwhat2typenow) question. What’s your favorite alternate universe X-Romance?
Jordan: I guess it would be kind of cheap to say Betsy and Blob in Age of X-Man: X-Tremists, right? But I do really like that one a lot, I feel like it did a really good job pulling you in and making you like them both.
Other than that, back in Jeff Parker’s Exiles, there was a version of Beast who, in his home reality, was in a relationship with Wonder Man. Those are both characters I love so I have always wanted to see more about them.
AiPT!: Speaking of alternate universe X-Romances, Jean and Bishop in the Age of X-Man is an interesting one–definitely more “out of nowhere” than Jean and Logan in the AoA–but it’s still interesting to think about their dynamic! How did that pairing come about?
Jordan: It was always in Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler’s pitch that Bishop be caught in a forbidden relationship in the first issue of Age of X-Man, knowing that he was going to be whisked away to the Prisoner X series, but I think originally it was with Storm. I think we ended up shifting it to Jean mostly because we have seen Jean in so few relationships that it would be a more surprising reveal for Jean and Bishop to be the secret couple rather than Ororo and Bishop. That said, I think Jean and Bishop make a really interesting pair. Personality-wise, I can see them getting along. It’s too bad we saw so little of it.
AiPT!: You knew this one was coming sooner or later, Jordan. Brace yourselves, X-Fans… @KodachromeBoy wanted to know who you think the love of Scott Summers’ life is–Jean Grey or Emma Frost?
Look, you asked for me to answer, and I did. I answered truthfully. If all three of them are ever alive and in the comics together at the same time and Scott has to choose between the two of them… I think Jean is his endgame. I know Emma loves him, I am not saying she doesn’t, and he loved her, too… But you know what? Emma can do better. Nothing against Scott–he’s great. But I think there’s someone out there for Emma that could really make her her best self. Any suggestions?
Of course, that’s only if he has to choose. Why does he have to choose? If Archie can go this many years dating two women, why can’t Scott? And then Jean and Emma can get a book about how they are best friends most of the time except when it comes to this one thing. It would be great. Emma is the Veronica, obviously.
AiPT!: Obviously, Scott’s relationships are anything but smooth sailing. And you know what they say about dating co-workers… Forrest With Two Rs (@Forrest_txt) asked, do you think the high highs and low lows of the love and relationships of the various X-Men are ultimately good or bad for their teams? It seems like it could almost go either way, with people caring too much about each other.
Jordan: If we’re talking as a story, it’s obviously great for the books. A part of what makes X-Men itself over the last 50+ years is the soap opera aspect. If we’re talking about in-world, is it good for them running their squads? Yeah, I think it is. First off, I would object to your premise in that the X-Men are not co-workers, they are a chosen family. The deep love the X-Men have for one another is one of the biggest differences between them and other superhero teams like the Avengers. The Avengers are co-workers. The X-Men are a family. Uh, not that you should date your family. But like I said, the family you choose, a tight knit group of friends with that sort of extremely close love that can sometimes spill over into romantic love. And yeah, I think that is good for them. It means they always are fighting for love in addition to whatever specific cause they are championing that day, and that makes them stronger.
AiPT!: David Brooke (@Nosocialize) wanted to know if the Xavier School has a policy about students dating.
Jordan: I think the school encourages it, that’s the only thing that would explain how prevalent it is. But seriously, I think there are no rules about dating… but I guess, with underage students on campus, there must be some rules in place…? I am kind of happy that we have not had to go into detail on that so far.
AiPT!: And while on the whole school topic, Zack Jenkins (@XavierFiles) asked how often the X-Kids gossip about what teachers are hooking up with each other.
Jordan: You gotta think constantly. Not only about the present, but think about when they find out about the past! “I heard he left his wife and baby for her, but it worked out because the baby was kidnapped to the future and the wife was just a fragment of her soul anyway.” “Did you know he was dating her when she was 14 and dumped her for a dead alien he didn’t speak the same language as?” “Ok, get this–this guy is that guy’s father, but this one is a clone made from that one’s DNA… and the mom somehow forgot she was ever even pregnant.”
AiPT!: Robert Secundus (@RobertSecundus) said that it seems like not just the X-Line, not just comics, but pop culture generally is finally willing to tell stories again about couples beyond the exhausting (and exhausted) will they/won’t they or get together/break up cycles. Rogue and Gambit getting married is just one example. What do you think motivated this shift?
Jordan: Honestly, I think it all depends on how it’s done. I think the reason everyone has been so shy to answer those “will they/won’t they”s with a hearty “they will” is because doing that has ruined a lot of stories, and it’s a hard bell to un-ring. Personally, I think hooking up Mulder and Scully is where The X-Files went from being a show I loved to being one I was constantly disappointed by, and when they brought the series back, their relationship hung over everything in a way that really turned me off to it. That being said…in X-Men, I think there is a lot lower stakes on each individual relationship, though, because none of them are THE relationship the whole thing hangs on. Rogue and Gambit had a lot of heat back in the day, but then for many years they were not a thing. Now, they are back together and married, and I think we have that leeway to try that with them because they are not the lynchpin of the line, we can get a little experimental.
AiPT!: Vendetta (@Eman419Boyd) wanted to know how romance with X-Men characters works? Does a writer bring an idea to get two X-Characters together and run it by you to get the permission?
Jordan: As with all story elements, there is definitely a degree of collaboration. So typically, yes, the writers would be the ones suggesting bringing in a romance between two characters, but there have definitely been times when I’ve suggested a pairing to a writer in the past, but in the end it all depends on them having a story to tell with them. Like, when I pointed out that now that he was in a younger body, Xavier is finally age-appropriate to be in a relationship with Jean, everyone told me I was a horrible human being and should stop making suggestions for the rest of my life. Rude, but fair. In all seriousness, I think the MOST fun relationships are the ones that we don’t even plan, the ones that start just from a spark in an interaction of two characters that you didn’t even see coming, and that you can nurture into something more.
AiPT!: Finally, I know there’s so much you can’t say about the approaching Jonathan Hickman era of the X-Men, but is it safe to assume romance in the X-Line isn’t going away anytime soon? Or is Hickman against love–X-Men style?
Jordan: Hickman is very much in favor of love, though he is also interested in redefining what “love–X-Men Style” is…
AiPT!: As we wrap up this week, it’s interesting to learn what may be inspiring the creators behind the X-Men. So let’s look outside of the X-Men universe for a moment. What are some of your favorite pop culture romances in other media?
Jordan: I am currently in the process of rewatching one of my favorite shows of all time, Hannibal, and… the romance on that show between Will and Hannibal is amazing for so many reasons. First of which is that it’s so amazingly ballsy to take what would be, in so many shows before, a fan-based ship and it made it canon, it put it on the screen. They started out just knowing one another, became “friends” and then became a romance. It helps that Mads Mikkelsen is amazing and could probably make everyone on Earth fall in love with him. I know it worked on me.
Another one that got me very emotional was Anya and Xander in Buffy. I really honestly do not know why I got so invested in their relationship, but I really did. I guess I just loved both of their characters so much, and I was really invested in Anya’s redemption. When (SPOILER!) their marriage did not happen, I was FURIOUS! I was so mad at Xander for being a coward and screwing up that relationship. I don’t really think I ever fully forgave him, even though I did come to be ok with his relationship with (ADDITIONAL SPOILER!) Dawn in the Dark Horse Buffy comics. I still think Anya got done wrong and deserved more.
AiPT!: I’m sorry to hear Xander made you furious, Jordan. Let’s change the mood. How about a love song recommendation as we bring this week’s edition of X-Men Monday to a close?
Jordan: Here’s a great song that I think Dan Slott introduced me to that I really fell for, and it’s even comic book-themed. The Metasciences: “Four-Color Love Story”
AiPT!: Thanks, Jordan! And thanks to all the X-Fans who submitted questions! Hopefully you found something to love about this week’s installment of X-Men Monday.
Because… you know, the internet would be a lot more pleasant if there was more love to go around.
We’ll begin to collect questions for next week’s edition of X-Men Monday tomorrow (May 7) over at AiPT!’s Twitter. Until then…