Firestar's place among the mutants is explored in X-Men Annual #1

X-Men Annual 2022 art
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As the winner of the 2022 X-Men fan vote, fan-favorite character Firestar has joined the mutant team for the first time. And though there's been some controversy around her membership because she was chosen without volunteering, the long-time mutant is now officially an X-Man.

Now, in December 21's X-Men Annual 2022, Firestar takes the spotlight in a story from writer Steve Foxe and artist Andrea DiVito, which explores her place on the team, building on her experience as a hero with the New Warriors and the Avengers before becoming a member of the X-Men.

Newsarama spoke with Foxe ahead of the issue's release to dig into his own Firestar fandom, and how she'll fit into the X-Men with this spotlight story, along with the reveal of some brand-new interior pages.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Newsarama: Steve, for starters, were you a Firestar fan before taking on X-Men Annual #1? For many readers, she's a cult favorite, but she hasn't had a spotlight in a while. What's your relationship with her as a character?

Steve Foxe: I am a longtime Firestar fan! I'm a '90s kid, and a big part of my early Marvel education came from VHS tapes of the various cartoons, including Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, where Angelica made her debut. I was also the perfect age to dive into New Warriors, and the George Pérez/Kurt Busiek Avengers was my introduction to Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Firestar and I go way back. 

The X-Men were (and are!) my first love in comics, so mutant characters who weren't particularly associated with Xavier and co. always fascinated me. I liked the idea that some folks with X-genes made their way out into the wider Marvel Universe and got up to wholly unrelated adventures, only occasionally crossing over into X-territory. 

In fact, the antagonist of the issue is a mutant who has almost never interacted with any X-books…

Nrama: On that note, this is one of Firestar's few stints on the X-Men after decades in the Marvel Universe. What are your goals as you spotlight her place on the team?

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Foxe: Like Polaris before her, I think any character who makes it into a book via fan vote is bound to cause a lot of controversy and debate since we're all pulling for our favorites. Heck, I voted for Marrow and Monet! The latter is probably obvious if you read the X-Men Unlimited serial I did with Alan Robinson and Carlos Lopez. And since Angelica joined the team right before such a major event crossover, I thought this Annual was perfectly timed to slow overarching plots down and spotlight her unique position on the team a bit. 

Typically, the "odd man out" on an X-Men team is a younger mutant who's graduating to the big leagues, or perhaps a former foe who's fighting for the side of good. Firestar is neither — she's very experienced and morally upstanding, she just hasn't logged her hero hours with the X-Men.

Obviously, she has a lot of fan support or she wouldn't have won the election. But I think the fact that most of her publishing history isn't with mutant teams makes some readers hesitant to embrace her as an X-Man, even though she's never really had self-loathing or anti-mutant-community storylines, despite having a mutation that almost killed her. 

So this is an opportunity to spotlight Firestar in action as a member of the X-Men, examine how others on Krakoa might feel about seeing someone like her on a team otherwise comprised of fairly veteran X-Men, and explore how Firestar relates to being on the premiere X-squad at a time when mutants are more visible — and controversial — than ever. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Nrama: Firestar actually has more experience as an Avenger than an X-Man. How does her vastly different superhero career affect her attitude toward the X-Men here?

Foxe: I think we've seen some of this with Gerry Duggan's take on Angelica already, where she's maybe used to following orders from a confident leader but not as well-versed in how the X-Men operate with less of a rigid hierarchy. She also probably has a lot less experience saving a world that hates and fears her, as her tenure on the Avengers came during a time where the team was very public and stacked with beloved members. 

But remember, too, that Angelica's experience isn't limited to being the rookie on the Avengers: she was also among her peers in the New Warriors when they all had a chip on their shoulders and a lot to prove, and she was something of the elder statesmen with the Young Allies before branching off into more of a solo career, so she's shown she can adapt to a lot of different team dynamics. 

I think the conflict with Firestar comes less from her competency as a hero, which has rarely been questioned, and more from why she has or hasn't chosen to stay among the mutant community more frequently. Has it even been a choice, or has she just followed opportunities to do the most good she could at any given time?

Just as there are readers in the real world questioning her place on the team, there are going to be other mutants who wonder out loud (and even violently!) whether Firestar deserves to be one of the most prominent ambassadors for Krakoa. Can she prove them wrong? Does she even need to? That's what we're circling in this issue.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Nrama: This annual will be Firestar's first spotlight on the X-Men. Where does she stand with the team going into this story?

Foxe: One of my favorite bits in recent memory is Magik dumping Firestar in front of Avengers Mansion, so there's certainly some gentle ribbing going on from her teammates. But this isn't a squad of mutants prone to in-fighting. Emma Frost endorsed Firestar for the team, and that alone is going to be enough for most of Angelica's fellow X-Men. Plus she's got her pal Iceman to help her feel more welcome and to cheer her through any awkward bits. 

If anything, I'd say some of her teammates are probably still feeling her out. Synch, Forge, Havok — they don't have much face-to-face experience with her. But she's not even the only former Avenger on this team — Havok had a plenty controversial run with Cap and co., Magik was more or less a Savage Avenger and certainly has no qualms teaming up with non-mutant magic users, and even Scott was a Champion thanks to time travel. 

Besides — fighting off a judgmental Celestial and a simultaneous alien attack is the definition of making friends in the trenches. In just the short time they've been in the field together, Firestar's fellow X-Men have seen that she can deliver when the literal fate of the world is on the line. It may not make them best pals for life, but I don't think they doubt that she has their back. 

Nrama: On that note, we here at Newsarama are fans of the classic Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Are you taking advantage of having both Firestar and Iceman in the same place for this story?

Foxe: As much as I love Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, I am always wary of revisiting the classics too much. You've got to play the hits in superhero comics, but if you only play the hits, you run the risk of becoming a cover band. 

We've gotten some very fun team-up moments for that trio, especially during the Iceman series, and you'll definitely see Angelica and Bobby's friendship embraced in the issue, but I wanted to make sure I was pushing Angelica forward here and putting her in new situations with new dynamics. 

As teased by Stefano Caselli's excellent cover, Firestar actually spends most of the issue with Cyclops, which isn't a one-on-one pairing we've seen a lot of so far. 

But a leader needs to know his team, and Firestar is the biggest question mark Scott's got right now. That's not to say we won't see the full team in action, though
— and maybe there's even a web-slinging cameo!

Nrama: Bottom line, what are you hoping readers will learn about Firestar from this annual?

Foxe: Well, having now seen all of the finished art, I'm just excited for readers to enjoy thirty pages of Andrea DiVito and Sebastian Cheng absolutely crushing it. I threw a lot of zany stuff at Andrea for the team fights in the issue, and he just knocked every single one of them out of the park. We're sending the X-Men around the world (and beyond) and putting them up against a bonkers mix of classic foes and characters they've potentially never shared page space with before, and it all just looks gorgeous. Andrea's been a Marvel staple for a while now and I think he's poised to just keep getting bigger and better. 

As for Firestar, I'm hoping readers come away with a new perspective on who she is as a hero and what motivates her to stick with the X-Men despite not volunteering for this spot. Emma wasn't forcing Angelica to accept the role. No one was going to demand she step onto the team. She was pushed, but she's rising to the challenge. As much as we root for our favorite election candidates and cheer and jeer different heroic teams like it's a football match, Firestar's a hero through and through, from New Warrior to Avenger to Young Ally to, yes, X-Man. And I can't wait to see what she makes of the opportunity.

Will Firestar earn a place among the best X-Men members ever?

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)