Welcome, X-Fans, to another eXciting edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! And no, you’re not dreaming–you really are getting another installment of your favorite column just hours after the last one. Hey, if Marvel can ship more than one X-Title in a week, you better believe AIPT can run two X-Men Mondays in a single X-Men Monday!
Plus, the talented Gerry Duggan wanted to talk Marauders, so there’s no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to chat with the writer behind one of the most fun, refreshing and adventurous X-Series to come along in a long time. So without further ado, let’s dig into the latest Marauders developments and talk a bit about what Captain Kate Pryde and her merry crew can look forward to in future issues!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday at AIPT, Gerry! I have to say, from beginning to end, each issue of Marauders so far has been such a breath of fresh air. A big part of that, for me, is how the story seems to always takes fun, care-free turns. It’s not safe–and that’s so refreshing for a mainstream comic. I’m curious, are some of the decisions in this series–like having Pyro bite Batroc in the heat of battle, giving Pyro a full face tattoo, turning Kitty into a pirate–the result of humorous riffing with Jonathan Hickman, Jordan D. White, Chris Robinson, Matteo Lolli and other collaborators? I just picture you going, “We can’t do this… but we need to do this because it’d be awesome.”
Gerry: I’m truly grateful that you’re onboard, and I’m thrilled to have all our retail partners and fans. For my part, I try to be unexpected and have fun, so that my collaborators have fun, and hopefully that carries into everyone that consumes it. I think I’m still mostly writing the villains, and letting the heroes write themselves. I can’t write a better Pyro than the one that sees Storm get kicked. He knew that Batroc was gonna need to get his ass bit. That’s a beat that works because it defies the expectation that he’s gonna get roasted. The characters can sometimes push me out of the way and go to town. At the end of the day, we as consumers of entertainment want something new to move us–thrill us. Speaking of: I’m reading Ben Percy’s book Thrill Me–recommended by Jon, and now I recommend it to all of you. House of X and Powers of X were lightning in a bottle, and the cool thing about the Dawn Of X is that it’s filled with wonderfully old and beloved characters in an almost impossibly new era. All these stories that have velocity. We have plans and those plans have plans. There’s quite a bit of back and forth amongst the creators on these books whether it’s in person, on the phone or some kind of messaging. I remember sharing Pyro’s face tattoo around to the other titles that needed it, and it isn’t there just to shock, which I think it has, but a guy that inks the mutant skull on his face sets the tone for Marauders. He’ll outdrink you, and if you cross him he’ll burn you. Plus, it’s high time Lockheed was permitted a pet.
AIPT: Well, since we’re talking about him already–Pyro truly seems to be living his best life. And after battling the X-Men for many years, John seems totally fine partying with them and defending Storm’s honor in battle. What’s behind this change? And does he have any regrets over that face tattoo yet?
Gerry: None yet. I think there are mutants who have always known exactly who they are. Then there are mutants whose jobs were phased out when Krakoa was opened for business. Pyro’s figuring out who he is and what he needs to be. I think seeing Apocalypse shake hands with Xavier is the turning point in history. If that can happen, anything can. Those characters are gifts. I loved writing Sam Alexander for the same reason. Kids don’t know exactly who they are yet, and even when they do–they’re prone to mistakes.
AIPT: Kitty Pryde. She’s an X-Woman who means a lot to a lot of people. Rivers Cuomo, for example, mentioned her on Weezer’s debut album. In a past edition of X-Men Monday, Jordan said he was “so completely in love with her” when he was younger. So, what is Gerry Duggan’s personal history with Kate Pryde?
Gerry: That’s a good question and I think the answer is kind of complicated. I don’t recall crushing on her, nor any comic character that I can recall. I revered those thoughts for Marion Ravenwood. But I thought Kitty was one of the coolest X-Men from day one just for her powers alone. I was a kid in the ’80s and reading some of the best X-Men stories as they happened off the rack. So she was both Kitty, and Kate in the first year I read her. Days of Future Past Kate faded away from publishing, but not from my imagination. At times she was easily my favorite X-Man and in other stories she rubbed me the wrong way, but that’s what’s truly great about 80 years of stories. That’s to be expected. I recall wondering why she freaked out when Storm got a mohawk. It made Storm look like the most badass characters I’d ever seen. But that was a young kid afraid that her friend was changing, growing and maybe leaving her behind. Me being a dumb kid, that one took a while to resonate with me. None of the characters I picked for this book will get shorted.
AIPT: In Marauders #2, we see Kate “dancing” with a reluctant partner, phasing him in and out of objects. Was this scene designed to show off Kate’s confidence with her powers, or provide just one more example of how reckless she’s becoming?
Gerry: Pirates drink, dance, fight and love. It was an economical and fun action beat that let Lolli and Blee shine. I would agree she’s confident, not sure I agree that she’s reckless, though if you were the Bluto that got phased through some stuff and dipped off a ship, you’d probably agree she was reckless. Kate’s got a shitload of responsibilities, but… there aren’t any kids or professors around. The hair is down, the jolly roger is up, and there’s people to help. Meanwhile, she’s completely set apart from the rest of mutantdom at the moment. I mean… even humans can be invited to use the transit system–but not her. The line that tells you kind of everything right now was her response to the tattoo artist. Kate 2.0 is still rendering, but it’s happening very fast. The response has been electric to the book, but I know some Kitty fans feel left behind themselves by Kate, and while it was not my goal–I would not have it any other way. I hope you love this page turn, but we’re cool if you don’t.
AIPT: Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club have been a presence in Kate’s life since her first appearance. Obviously, Kate chose Charles Xavier’s path–not Emma’s. How soon into planning Marauders did you decide it was time for Kate to explore a version of the other path Emma offered all those years ago?
Gerry: I have to be careful to make it seem like I’m actually answering this one. The characters are linked from the beginning and then some wonderful stories have been shared between the two over the years… I will just say I know my history. Our history and Marvel Comics.
AIPT: While Kate’s getting her knuckles tattooed, Storm very much appears to be a stabilizing force in this pirate crew. But Ororo’s had her reckless days as well. Will we see Storm cutting loose like Kate and Pyro, or are her wild days behind her?
Gerry: Kate’s been left behind and it’s bothering her, it will be fun for us to explore. Dunno if she would say it was fun, but she doesn’t get to vote. Life happened and broke her nose. Now she has a written reminder to hold fast. She always wanted that tattoo but didn’t know it, and that door that slammed on her is her reminder to live it like you’re gonna lose it. Storm has very personal reasons for being out on the boat, and my favorite Storm stories are the ones when she needs to flash a blade. Issue four’s cover stars Storm because she steals that issue, and she maybe has my favorite part in five, too.
We have big things planned for all the characters and I want to thank the retailers and fans that decided to throw caution and money to the wind to pick up a book that they knew almost nothing about. There was not going to be a great explanation for why you all needed Marauders. You all just needed to walk into and hopefully not break anything.
AIPT: So how long do we have to wait until that Hellfire Trading Company chart is completely filled in? Based on Marvel’s December solicitations, the Black Bishop’s the next reveal. Hm… and Callisto seems to be rocking a lot of white on the cover to February’s #7…
Gerry: Everyone deserves to have Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson give you a make-over. Those unnamed positioned will be revealed as needed. Behind the curtain, Jonathan’s a first class world-builder, he asks more questions than he’s arriving with answers. The writers, artists and editors are turning every “What if?” into a new thread or a new toy in the X-Office. Krakoa is so big and malleable that it can accommodate our every request. One day Hellfire Bay showed up in a message thread, and the next day it was in a map from Jon. In world, Emma and the Hellfire Corp are some of the main engines of creation. It’s too big a job for her, and the structure of the organization is malleable. But yeah, I think your question was about Callisto. She looks crackling in white. Just f-----g crackling. Her entrance is great. I deserve a raise.
AIPT: I don’t disagree! Now, I had the pleasure of chatting with Marauders artist Matteo Lolli at NYCC last month about his passion for showing off Emma’s fashion through her various outfits. As a writer, what’s it been like collaborating with Matteo and what can we expect from Stefano Caselli, who’ll join the book in 2020?
Gerry: Getting a chance to feed my artists fashion ideas is a new fun muscle to flex. I chatted with Russell a bit as well, as I’ve been far enough ahead that he and Matt Wilson have been able to read scripts and then do some outstanding work. The issue 7 cover with Callisto features her new look–it’s something I cooked up with Russell and then wrote into Stefano’s first script. The seas are high, and so is the fashion in Marauders. Stefano’s gonna get to strut on the catwalk, too.
AIPT: Circling back to Marvel’s recently released February solicitations for issues 7 and 8, we learn that “Verendi” has plans against Krakoa. Did I miss something or is this the first we’re hearing of Verendi? And if the latter, what can you tease about Verendi?
Gerry: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
AIPT: Final question, and quite possibly, the most important: Do you actually sail or have a love for being out on the open seas?
Gerry: I have in the past, but my sea legs are rusty. I took sailing lessons every summer for a few years on Long Island, and then became the captain of a sunfish that I used to explore the Great Peconic Bay. That bay seemed so large. Comic books, Hardy Boys and Mad Magazine helped save a couple of tough years during that era. I would love to get back to sailing someday. I also have dreams of sleeping in a yacht behind the convention center the next time I attend San Diego Comic-Con. We need to nourish our dreams, right?
AIPT: Absolutely! Thanks for taking the time to chat, Gerry, and keep up the great work–which X-Fans can continue to check out very soon, as Marauders #3 goes on sale next Wednesday, December 4.
Until next time, have an eXceptional week!
Listen to the latest episode of our weekly Comics podcast