A new era of the X-Men is unfolding now under the banner 'Reign of X'. The new status quo follows up the mega-successful 'Dawn of X' era in which Jonathan Hickman and a team of creators helped propel the X-Men comic books to their highest levels of success in over 20 years.
No pressure, right?
All of these plans are under the purview of Marvel senior editor Jordan D. White, who took over the X-Men group of titles in 2018.
Newsarama spoke with White about 'Reign of X' and how it affects the flagship X-Men title as well the numerous other mutant ongoings. We also took time to look back at the building blocks of this X-Men era, talking about what worked and the many people involved with making it a success.
Newsarama: Jordan, we're in the early days of the 'Reign of X' era. What does 'Reign of X' mean to you?
Jordan D. White: It's the next phase of this new era in the story of mutantkind.
'Dawn of X' was the start of something big for the mutants, they stopped playing the game the way the humans said they had to play. Now, in 'Reign of X,' I think they go even farther and decide that they can be the ones to choose what game they play.
During 'Dawn' there was still a bit of the shock of 'Is this really happening?' and now in 'Reign' the reality of it has set in and the scope of it can be realized. They have big plans and the resources to carry them out. They're ready to lead the way to the future.
Nrama: 'Dawn of X' wasn't your beginning with the X-Men line - you took over and orchestrated a previous relaunch of Uncanny X-Men, prior to this era. Uncanny X-Men is no more, but for some that title carries immense weight. Any chance we could see it return?
White: The Uncanny title came and went through the years... don't forget it wasn't actually part of the original title, it was a later addition that only REALLY got locked in when the OTHER X-Men series launched. Uncanny was just a neat adjective to tack on there for a while, until we reached the era of multiple books with the X-Men name.
I am SURE there will be a book published with that name again, but honestly right this minute... I think that name represents the X-Men's past when we're trying our best to forge their future.
There are a lot of adjectives out there.
And besides, defining themselves as uncanny sort of sets the humans up as the 'normal' ones, right? That's not how they want to be defined.
Nrama: This leads to my next question. Hickman made it a point in interviews to point out there's hasn't been a proper X-Men team in 'Dawn of X' or 'Reign of X' so far. Not a formal roster of sorts. What can you say about that?
White: It's pretty self-explanatory... we've put out over a year of comics called X-Men that never actually had an official 'team' with a roster. From a certain point of view, all Krakoan citizens are X-Men. But officially, there hasn't been a proper team with that name since we ended the Uncanny run.
Scott and Jean are about to change that in a big way - the first Krakoan X-Men team will debut to the world at the Hellfire Gala and burst forth in a big way just afterwards.
Nrama: Marvel recently announced the Way of X series, led by Nightcrawler in what seems to be a quest for faith and religion. I welcome this path, but how was it for you and the others to find the right way to do it?
White: The general idea of it is something that Jonathan was weaving into his X work since it began - there are threads of it in House of X and Powers of X as well, of course, as prominently featuring in X-Men #7.
It was mostly a matter of finding the time and place to do it - there have been a lot of moving pieces in the line through 'Dawn of X.' We've been wanting to work with Si Spurrier for a while and, while there was a bit of a delay in it due to the state of the world last year, we are very happy to have worked it out.
We mentioned a couple of plot threads that were laid down that needed picking up and Si immediately gravitated towards Kurt and his quest. We loved his pitch for how to play it and now we can't wait for it to come out! Honestly, the biggest difficulty really was finding the time and space in the line.
Nrama: Speaking of new titles fitting into the line, I really enjoyed the Giant-Size X-Men one-shots from a story standpoint, as well as a Marvel-style craft experience. Could something like that return in the 'Reign of X' era?
White: Anything is possible, for certain, but no plans right at this minute. We do have some new books and formats that people won't be expecting, though.
Nrama: One thing not carrying over from 'Dawn of X' is X-Men interior artist Leinil Francis Yu. Since his departure, there's been a rotation of artists in the main X-Men books. Have you settled on a long-term X-Men artist going forward?
White: We have, yes... but it's too early to announce those plans. Again, if you look to our plans for a new X-Men team, I think you will be able to guess when you'd be finding out the new regular artist. It's gonna be good.
Nrama: That would be the Hellfire Gala, which is announced to take place this June in the X-Men books.
From future books to past books about the future, I re-read Powers of X recently and noticed the relative absence of some of these characters and elements from the stories set in the future in the current books.
I realize those are still distant, alternate futures, but what kind of picture can you paint for readers who were interested in those concepts and how they might reappear going forward?
White: Well, those 'futures' were all past lives of Moira MacTaggart that no longer exist. Will a Rasputin or Cardinal exist in the future of her 10th life? Will a Nimrod the Lesser or Nimrod the Greater?
All these questions remain to be seen. That said, overall we've made a conscious choice not to delve into the future since Powers of X wrapped - so much of the setup that it put in place rests on that question - will the 10th life turn out different for mutants, or will they lose again like they have every time in the past?
To jump forward cuts a lot of the tension out of that.
Nrama: Staying on the idea of surprises… Of all the current and upcoming titles and story arcs, which do you think will surprise people most? What's going to be the sleeper hit to you?
White: It's pretty amazing, we're always cooking up new things and planning new ideas, so every time I am asked this question, there is a brand new story kicking around in my brain that we've just settled on.
The Hellfire Gala is going to be a real surprise to people, and in the last week we've just been locking in TWO really amazing stories that launch right after it that are going to knock people's socks off.
Nrama: Let's do a bit of accounting on announced or teased books. The idea of a Moira book was proffered up at one point, and news of an X-Corp book has bubbled up twice. Can you give us an update on that - or an update of when news might be coming?
White: One of them you're going to be seeing really soon. The other... things happen quickly in comics, and sometimes we tease something that might not come to pass. It's an X-Men tradition - ask Metoxo the Lava Man. But there is still a chance! I actually just had an idea about it because you asked that might be a different way to spin it.
Nrama: Metexo the Lava Man #1…. Ok, not quite yet.
I've interviewed you off and on through the years, from doing the Deadpool titles to running the Marvel Star Wars line, and now this. Star Wars to X-Men is a big switch, before I even mention the process of working with Lucasfilm. What do you think you learned from Deadpool and Star Wars editing that you've brought over to the X-Men line and developed further?
White: Deadpool was my first time getting to work on a book as editor long-term, to be able to seed things and oversee plots that lasted years in some cases.
Star Wars was my first time overseeing a whole line of books that connected up, as well as doing a VERY high profile launch of a line.
All of those are obviously a big part of what I am doing as senior editor in charge of X-Men.
I would not be the editor I am today without having worked on Deadpool and Star Wars. I actually miss them both a lot... one of the biggest tools in my toolbox as an editor is that I absolutely fall head over heels in love with the projects I work on. I was a fan of both Deadpool and Star Wars before I worked on their books, but I love both so much more now. That is something else that carried over to my work on X-Men... this era of the books is going to be a part of me forever now. I will never be the same.
Nrama: Since it's all freshly put to bed, what do you think of what you and the others have accomplished so far with House of X/Powers of X and the 'Dawn of X' era as a whole?
White: I could not be prouder. Both the things that Jonathan and the entire crew have accomplished, story-wise, and also what we have built in our systems of working behind the scenes.
It's a very different experience as part of the X-Office right now that it has been as part of any of the ones I've run or been in in the past... or have even heard about. We're really tight knit, we work together, and we support one another's ideas, behind the scenes and with the books we put out.
The fact that we're able to keep putting out such high quality books and work together to do so so warmly during such a time of tumult as the last year is a really amazing thing and one I am exceedingly proud to be a part of.
Nrama: I think it's fair to say that this has been very successful so far, critically and financially. What were the personal big 'wins' for you in it? A certain hire, a certain risk paying off, a certain edit?
White: Oh, goodness. Well, first off, the thing I mentioned in the previous answer - the community that we have built making the books is amazing. That's huge because my philosophy on editing has always been to try to help the creators do the best version of the story they want to do as possible, and the fact that we can have a whole line that works together to let them all do that but still works together is amazing and a tribute to how talented and generous each of them is.
Beyond that, so many things... but I don't want to take credit for too much? There are a lot of things that grow out of conversations I was a part of, or ideas I threw out that the writers grabbed onto and made work, but they deserve the real credit for that.
Like... yes, I am really happy that I was able to suggest Sage as a character in a book where she makes sense so she could come back from limbo, but the real credit goes to Ben Percy who also thought she was a good fit and have made her shine.
Or yes, I reminded Leah Williams that Rachel had time powers early in the planning of X-Factor, but she's the one who has to make those powers work (a thing many writers were not interested in doing).
It's always fun to brainstorm, especially with this group, but the person who executes the idea should really be the one who gets the praise.
Nrama: Let's talk more about the people not in the credits of the book.
People know you, and the creators, and some know Tom Muller, and some are lucky enough to know Annalisse. Can you tell us about the team and any unsung heroes that were involved in making 'Dawn of X' a success?
White: Currently, the X-Office is, editorially, myself as senior editor; Annalise Bissa, who you mentioned, as my associate editor. Editor Mark Basso and assistant editor Lauren Amaro work on Wolverine, Hellions, and X-Force. Editor Jake Thomas and assistant editor Shannon Ballesteros work on X-Factor and Way of X.
Assistant editor Chris Robinson was with us for the launch of 'Dawn of X,' and editor Darren Shan worked on some of the books pre-launch before he moved to the Avengers office, the traitor. Or 'Pretender', I suppose.
White: We've worked with a ton of talented folks in the Marvel Production Bullpen on data pages and setting up our covers, like Nick Russell, Carlos Lao, Anthony Gambino, Salena Mahina, Stacie Zucker, and Adam Del Re. Jay Bowen has done a bunch of great design work for us.
The folks in Talent Management - Rickey Purdin, Dan Edington, Kateri Woody, Sarah Sather, George Belliard, and Emily Newcomen - who help us cast the books, schedule artists, and put together variant covers.
The sales and marketing crew who help get the word out: Anthony Blackwood, Peter Charpentier, Dan Petraglia, Andrew Griffo, and of course David Gabriel himself.
Plus Ryan Penagos, Tucker Markus and Ron Richards in New Media who gave us such nice spotlights.
Also, you know it's weird, but I don't know if anyone has really given Jonathan Hickman the credit he deserves for the books.
The first chapter of Jonathan Hickman's X-Men run has already landed on Newsarama's list of the best X-Men stories of all time.