Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! This week, let’s kick things off with a brief peek behind the X-Men Monday curtain.
How do I decide what the topics will be from one week to another?
Well, I’ve got a spreadsheet that lists every Monday from now until the end of time (no spoilers on that exact date), as well as major holidays (like Thanksgiving and Christmas) or events (like comic conventions). If there’s some sort of crossover between these events and the X-Books, it’s likely you’re getting an X-Men Monday with a special theme. For example: X-Men Monday #40 – Holiday X-Travaganza.
Then, there are the writers and artists without whom the X-Men line wouldn’t be possible. I try to mix in the occasional Creator Spotlight ahead of a series’ release or after a major plot point that’s making waves–such as the assassination of Charles Xavier. X-Men Monday #39 – Creator Spotlight: X-Force’s Benjamin Percy allowed us to dig into that twist and more.
Then, there are the “regular” X-Men Monday editions that allow X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White (and the occasional special guest) to discuss classic X-Themes, like we did in last week’s X-Men Monday #43 – X-Men in Spaceee!!!
TL;DR: I love doing this column, I’m constantly thinking about ways to keep it fresh and eXciting and hope you continue to read it until the end of time (again, I can’t tell you when that’ll be)!
So, that brings us to this week’s column: X-Leaders. Why X-Leaders? Well, today in the U.S., we’re recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which itself marks the birthday of one of the most important leaders in American history.
As X-Fans know, the civil rights leader, who promoted nonviolence and civil disobedience, is often cited as inspiring the development of Charles Xavier throughout the character’s publishing history. It felt like there was no better time to finally explore one of the most-requested X-Men Monday topics: X-Leaders.
No matter where in the world you’re reading these words, I hope you’ll join in honoring King’s legacy.
And now, for some questions and answers…
AIPT: Welcome back, Jordan! So, of all the leaders of all the various X-Teams, who is your personal favorite and why?
Jordan: Oh–a “favorite” question that I am not going to answer with “Original Excalibur”! Mostly because I don’t think Excalibur really had a leader. Whenever I see people saying Nightcrawler was the leader of classic Excalibur I am like “He was?” I never got that impression.
I am ALSO not going to say Kitty/Kate Pryde, which is odd, since she is my favorite X-Man! But I didn’t love her as the leader of the X-Men, and her being leader of the Marauders, which I DO love, feels like a very different thing.
You know… I think if you’d asked me a year or two ago, my answer would have been Wolverine, because of how much I loved him standing up to Cyclops in Schism and his time with Wolverine and the X-Men… but now that Cyclops is BACK, he’s reminded me how much I loved him in the Morrison and Whedon runs… it’s Cyclops. Why? Because I believe in him–he is compelling and I want to follow him again. There was a long time there when I didn’t. But now I do. I feel like I can look up to him.
AIPT: I agree. I definitely loved Cyclops the mutant revolutionary, but inspired family man Scott is such a joy to read. Now, KennyMcKormick (@Ikilledkenny7) said sometimes we see characters that don’t necessarily have the traditional qualities of a leader, like Multiple Man, Kwannon and Northstar. In your opinion, what makes characters like these “good” leaders?
Jordan: Sometimes it’s good to see someone struggle with something they are not ready for. It’s a go-to method of giving a character growth—they were put in a difficult role and were forced to rise to the occasion. The problem is coming out the other side of that story…
AIPT: AppleJ (@JackiEv87585672) asked once a character has been a significant leader, is it difficult to cast them in new roles? Do fans see this as a loss of importance for their character? How do you maintain a balance to allow new characters to take on leadership, while others step down without losing prestige?
Jordan: Yes–this exactly. When a character goes from leading a team, be it the X-Men or one of their satellite teams, to just being a member… their fans will sometimes take it very personally. They feel like it’s a blow to their importance. And… sometimes it IS that, sometimes that DOES represent a character getting less focus or page time, so I get why they would feel that way. But as always, you have to remember, there are 382 X-Men, and every one of them has fans just as passionate (even Adam-X) and it’s a constant balancing act.
AIPT: So many X-Leaders have had dark secrets exposed, had their character tarnished or realized they’ve made poor decisions–Charles Xavier in “Onslaught,” Cyclops in Avengers Vs. X-Men and Storm in Inhumans Vs. X-Men, to name a few. As an editor, are you a fan of these types of stories or do you feel they’re overused?
Jordan: Am I a fan of stories where good people make mistakes? That’s like 90% of stories. There is a line for characters, of course–sometimes stories will take a character too far, though that is purely a personal opinion each time, not a clear-cut fact. There have been times, both in X-Men and in other comics, that I as a reader have felt heroes or leaders have crossed that line. There have been times when I have even felt, in the moment, that they have gone so far that they are no longer salvageable as a character. And every time, I was wrong. I think every character I have felt that way about, after a time, along comes another creative team with a new take on them, a new spin, and then those old stories that I was so passionately against just become some old comics I didn’t care for.
AIPT: Kevin (@MagnetoRocks) said Magneto has been in the X-Men before but the last time he was really a leader was when he was headmaster of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. What do you think worked and didn’t work about his time as X-Baby principal? How do you think it’s remembered–by him or the New Mutants?
Jordan: It works, story-wise, because it’s such a reversal—it’s Magneto in the Xavier role, a place you NEVER would have expected to see him based on his early appearances. I think the New Mutants look back on it pretty poorly, thinking that it really highlighted Magneto’s failings. I doubt they trust him that much. I don’t think Magneto has that much self-awareness, though—I would bet if he thinks on that time much, he likely thinks they failed him. Maybe I am wrong.
AIPT: Bethany w. Pope (@BethanyWPope) said that Nightcrawler is a character who’s lead a team on occasion, but it never really sticks the way it does for Storm or Cyclops. Why do you think that is?
Jordan: I think that for fans of Nightcrawler–and by that I mean both readers AND creators who like him–that’s typically not what they are coming to that character for. Going back to what I said about Cyclops back at the start, I think part of what makes a good leader is that they are someone you look up to and you can respect as a leader, you can see yourself accepting them as your leader, your boss. Xavier kicked off the book as an authority figure. Cyclops and Storm are both characters with strong convictions and that… well, they feel like leaders. I find it easy to imagine looking up to them for leadership. Nightcrawler, who I like more than I like the others, comes up much more like a friend than a boss, and I think that is what we want from him.
AIPT: Emma Frost has been the leader of many different teams, including the X-Men. Isah Alonso (@Frostitute4ever) wanted to know if you feel like Emma’s a good leader.
Jordan: That’s a good question. I think the role she is in right now in Marauders is a great one for her—and it’s much more a leadership role in the sense of CEO or politician than in the superhero team leader sense. And I think that’s because she is a hard person to get along with–people get mad at her, fight with her. She doesn’t have the kind of relationship with everyone around her where they will do what she says instantly, which I think they need in a super-fight. On the other hand, she has AUTHORITY. Where she is now, everyone does not have to like her, they have to respect her position.
AIPT: OK, Pedro dawn of X (@mutantofx) is curious what two X-Leaders you’d like to see fight for leadership in the classic Storm vs. Cyclops fashion?
Jordan: Magik vs. Cable.
AIPT: With the Quiet Council we’ve seen X-Men split between administrative leadership and field leadership, according to Zack Jenkins (@XavierFiles). What do you see as a key difference between these two roles?
Jordan: I would disagree with that characterization a bit–the Quiet Council is not the administrative leadership of the X-Men, it’s the governing body of the nation of Krakoa. Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men. The council will call on him to have the X-Men do things, but they are not the leaders of the X-Men.
AIPT: Finally, while we’re on the topic, we’ve heard a lot of stories about the Dawn of X creators choosing the mutants for their X-Teams, but was there any debate over who landed a seat on the Quiet Council? I’m curious to learn whether anybody ALMOST got a seat at the table.
Jordan: Cyclops was the big one–it seemed like he was a definite until Jonathan came up with the idea of separating the Captains and the Council. Wolverine was probably the second-most seriously considered, but that didn’t feel right from the start. No one else was all that close–names were brought up, but none that were all that seriously considered.
AIPT: When the Quiet Council was first announced, I assumed Cyclops would be on it, so it’s cool to learn what went on behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing, Jordan! And thanks to all the X-Fans who submitted questions for this edition!
And now… for some sneak peeks and reveals! First, a taste of things to come…
Next up… maybe you heard about that upcoming X-Series Children of the Atom by Vita Ayala and Bernard Chang? The one starring these all-new, all-different X-Kids?
Well, unfortunately, I don’t have any new information as to who these kids are… but I can share this variant Bernard Chang cover to the series’ first issue with you all, which gives a fresh look at your new favorite characters!
We know very little about Children of the Atom, but based on this cover, I think it’s safe to say… Cyclops loves everything about it.
That’s all the reveals for today! Tomorrow, though, be sure to visit AIPT for an eXclusive first look at the eXtra-scary cover to New Mutants #10! And, in the next edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT, I’ll be speaking to Benjamin Percy to learn what we can eXpect from next month’s new Wolverine series!
As always, have an eXceptional week, X-Fans!