X-Men Monday #182 – Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1' • AIPT – AIPT











Plus, an eXclusive first look at preview pages for ‘X-Men Annual #1’!
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Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
If you’ve had the privilege to read X-Men ’92: House of XCII and X-Men Unlimited‘s “Secret X-Men 2022,” you’re aware that writer Steve Foxe knows his way around an X-Men comic. Later this month, you’ll be treated to an all-new story from the fantastic Mr. Foxe: X-Men Annual #1.

Listen to the latest episode of the X-Reads Podcast!


I had a chance to read the jam-packed Annual, which — in addition to being a visual feast — provides plenty of real estate for strong character work. Whether you’re a Firestar fan or skeptic, you’ll want to pick up a copy when it hits shelves December 21, 2022.
Ahead of the Annual‘s release, I invited Steve back to X-Men Monday to discuss his latest X-story, as well as field a few X-Fan questions about the divisive winner of the 2022 X-Men Election, Angelica Jones.
Courtesy of stevefoxe.com
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Steve! Before we get to all the Firestar fan questions, how did the opportunity to play in Gerry Duggan’s X-Men sandbox on X-Men Annual #1 come about?
Steve: Thanks for having me back! Do I get a punch card at some point? 
AIPT: You get a free 6-inch sub after 10 appearances.
Steve: The opportunity is, I’d say, the result of a slow build. My first opportunity at Marvel proper was X-Men ’92: House of XCII, which came about in part from X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White reading and enjoying my first Scholastic Spider-Ham OGN that I did with Shadia Amin (book two on sale now!). HoXCII reinterpreted the Krakoan era in the style of the Animated Series and the ‘90s comics, and also had a decent amount of humor with the premise (or what I consider humor, anyway — jury’s still out).

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Working with Jordan and associate editor Lauren Amaro on that series was a huge joy, and I was thrilled when they asked me to take on the 2022 Hellfire Gala Election Loser shorts and the accompanying X-Men Unlimited serial spotlighting that odd bunch of mutants. While that story was in-continuity, it had a decently humorous angle because it needed to be a standalone tale that took place at an event we had already seen from the perspective of many other prominent Krakoans and guests. There was an upper ceiling to how serious or lasting of a threat we could sneak in alongside the Moira attack without calling into question why it wasn’t Jean, Cyke, and the Avengers responding instead of… Micromax.
The Annual made sense for December because Gerry had the Dark Web: X-Men series on his plate, so it was a good month to invite some guests to the table. Jordan also knew I was hankering for a chance to show a more serious side than I had in my first few Marvel stories, so we approached the Annual as an opportunity to tell a deeper story and spotlight a team member who had received a lot of fan attention but wasn’t necessarily going to be the first mutant in the spotlight under Gerry’s ongoing plans for this squad. 

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
AIPT: Our first X-Fan question comes from Vernita, who was curious to learn what’s been the most exciting part about writing Firestar in the Krakoan era, surrounded by mutants she hasn’t interacted with in forever?
Steve: I’ve said elsewhere that I’ve always been drawn to mutants who weren’t super associated with the X-Men (and Firestar isn’t the only one who appears in this issue!). There was a period of time when the X-Gene was a convenient power origin for characters popping up all over the Marvel Universe, and as a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that some branched off to do their own thing and didn’t have much concern for Xavier’s ideals. That’s not exactly the case with Angelica — she kicked off her comic career in close proximity to the New Mutants and Hellions, and she’s been an X-Man and X-instructor before — but her most notable comic runs don’t involve many other mutants besides her ex-boyfriend. 
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
I think one of the most exciting aspects of Krakoa, in general, is getting so many characters on a level playing field. You have villains who’ve never tried to go good on the island alongside Academy X kids who are just happy to be alive again after their fateful final bus trip. Morlocks, Acolytes, MLF members, Nasty Boys, civilians with silly powers — even freaking Thunderbird, all back on the table for new story dynamics. What ISN’T exciting about having access to almost every toy that’s ever been in the toy box?  
Firestar, in particular, is fun because it’s kind of like a star football player suddenly being recruited to a major-league soccer team. The soccer manager knows why she’s there, but all of her promise and acclaim and proven skills in the football world isn’t going to mean a thing to a lot of skeptical soccer fans, let alone other soccer players who maybe wanted her spot. 
(It’s possible I totally butchered that sports metaphor. Or accidentally poorly summarized Ted Lasso. You get the idea.)
AIPT: X-Fan Storm_4life wanted to know what you hope readers take away from this Firestar-focused annual.
Steve: Well, I will say you get a good dose of the full team here, too, and I hope readers are excited to see this squad thrown into action around the globe. Andrea DiVito and Sebastian Cheng KILLED it on this issue with a number of complicated action scenes and I can’t wait for readers to see their interior pages. I suspect readers will want to see a lot more from this art team, ASAP.

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Newsarama

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Newsarama
As for the Firestar focus, I’m hoping readers who’ve gotten worked up in the DiscourseTM surrounding her election win have a little more perspective on Angelica, who she is, and how she got here. You don’t have to come away from it liking her, but I hope you GET her a little more than you did before you read it. She’s not a mutant-resisting fascist cop — she’s a proven hero whose career hasn’t often had an X in front of it.
The annual election is so fun, but every time you have fans pulling for their personal picks, it’s easy to slide into hate or anger against others, especially when some of the candidates have complicated pasts. And I’ve said before, Angelica didn’t even get my vote! I was Monet all the way. But I was happy Firestar won because I was excited to see how Gerry and others would work her into the ongoing saga of Krakoa. 
Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Newsarama
The goal of the Annual isn’t to placate Twitter, though: it’s to tell an engaging, exciting X-Men story that explores how this relative outsider feels about being on this squad, and how others on Krakoa feel about her taking that very visible spot within the mutant community. 
I should say, too, that there wasn’t even a mandate to make this Annual about Firestar. Jordan and I discussed which characters would play into upcoming stories most prominently, and I felt like this oversized opportunity was the perfect chance to take a closer look at Firestar while she’s still fresh to the squad, hot off of a judgmental Celestial and other world-spanning threats.
AIPT: X-Fan Gonnagiveittoya said Firestar has mentioned she felt unwelcome on Krakoa because she didn’t immediately sign up to be a citizen like many of the other mutants. What kind of stigma do mutants like Angelica (and more recent introductions like Escapade in New Mutants) face for not immediately getting onboard with Krakoa?
Steve: It’s always tricky to discuss mutants in terms of real-world marginalized communities. I am a gay man and I have identified with the mutant struggle and cause, but I also can’t shoot laser beams out of my eyes. Maybe homophobes would have more to worry about if I could! But it’s never going to be a one-to-one match for that reason.
That said, I don’t think the differences preclude drawing on real-world experiences for comparison here, and it’s very true and valid that many queer people, for instance, don’t always feel welcomed in queer spaces. This can be for all sorts of reasons: you don’t meet normative appearance standards; you don’t share a lot of interests in shared activities; you came out late or it isn’t safe for you to come out so you feel disconnected or “behind” on queer culture; the individuals you’ve connected with are jerks and your first brush with community is tainted as a result. The list goes on and is ever-shifting. When I was younger, there were times I took a very ignorant pride in not “being like other gays” — and then I grew up and was super embarrassed by moments like that. 

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
So it makes sense that mutants who were resistant to the idea of this new nation-state for any number of reasons might now find themselves feeling unwelcome by mutants who embraced Krakoa more readily. It also makes sense some of that feeling could be projection/imagined, and some of it might be totally real. Some mutants might hate anyone who didn’t believe in Krakoa right away, and some might be waiting with open arms no matter when or why you come around on the island. No community or shared identity is a monolith. 
Do I think there’s a blanket mistrust or dislike of late adopters? No, I don’t think that tracks with what we know of the X-Men or how we’ve seen the island treat new arrivals. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t Krakoans who, for a multitude of reasons, have a very low tolerance when it comes to mutants like Firestar who they might perceive as feeling too good for Krakoa. If you’ve experienced great hardship or even death because of your mutant identity, I don’t know that you’d want to celebrate someone who has spent most of their time “passing” as a member of non-mutant superhero teams, especially if she’s one of eight mutants chosen to represent you to the world at large.

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
And I think my job as a writer is to extend some empathy and understanding to a range of reactions. It’s easy to say that anyone who’s rude to newer arrivals is gatekeeping community, but I also think of times in the real world where an actor or athlete came out of the closet and immediately became a public mouthpiece for gay concerns, regardless of whether they were knowledgable or speaking over activists with longer histories in engaging with these topics. I think it’s possible to want to welcome everyone into the community who approaches it in good faith while also being cautious of apparent outsiders taking such prominent, public positions when they maybe haven’t demonstrated their commitment and understanding to you. 
AIPT: Having done X-Men Monday for so long, I see a lot of repeat questions from X-Fans. Something I really enjoyed about the Annual was how Firestar, being new to Krakoa, provides a chance to tackle some of those questions on X-Fans’ minds, in-world. Why Cyclops hasn’t corrected his little optic blast problem via resurrection, for example. As a writer who’s also been a reader throughout the Krakoan era, do you feel Angelica affords you and other writers an opportunity to address fan questions and even criticism of the modern era?
Steve: I think it’s a really tricky balance when it comes to using characters in-story to address real-world concerns or criticisms about the books. When done well and sparingly, it can be a nice wink and nod. When it comes too far to the forefront, though, you’ve quite literally lost the plot and you’re just writing AT the reader and the imagined critic. Characters shouldn’t be mouthpieces for us to talk AT you.

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Newsarama

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Newsarama
That said, if readers and fans have questions and concerns about something, there’s a good chance those of us behind the scenes have considered the same things. And with this particular Annual, because it’s directly confronting Angelica’s place on the team and within Krakoa, there were opportunities to give a voice to some of those questions in a way that contributed to her story. 
The simultaneously exciting and infuriating thing about a setup like Krakoa is that we could fill literally hundreds of pages just exploring the premise and quandaries and possibilities it opens up, but Krakoa is ultimately a backdrop to ongoing superhero storytelling. There’s only so much we can pan away from the action to explore the nooks and crannies and lingering questions, but it’s very satisfying when you find opportunities to tie those threads together.  
AIPT: X-Fan AQT123 pointed out that Firestar has had issues controlling her powers in the past.  It was addressed with a new suit in Avengers and then she developed cancer down the line in her own mini-series. Is her power now under control as she has a new suit?

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Russell Dauterman

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Russell Dauterman
Steve: I am a big fan, in general, of limitations and drawbacks to immense power sets. I know some fans truly just want their faves to be unbeatable power gods, but that isn’t conducive to telling interesting, nuanced, believable stories. In Angelica’s case, her powers came at great cost, and managing that has been a big part of her narrative, especially in the last 15 years. I didn’t want to remove this important part of her character, but I also don’t think it should define her forever, so it is addressed in the Annual but not as a major plot point. Keep an eye on the data pages!
AIPT: X-Fan Matteo said once upon a time, Firestar became an Avenger with fellow mutant, Vance Astrovik — with whom she had a relationship. Though they haven’t been together in a long while and he was an antagonist of the Champions in “Outlawed,” do you think he should feature in Angelica and Krakoa’s story?
Steve: Similar to my prior answer, Angelica’s relationship with Vance is a major part of her story and comes up a little here, but it just can’t be what defines her forever. This is a consistent problem with characters who were introduced in relationships or paired off fast — it becomes hard to develop them individually without getting into a break-up/reunion cycle. 

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Especially now that Firestar has this major role with the X-Men and in the mutant community, this Annual wasn’t the place to dwell on or center Justice. It would have been a disservice to Firestar to turn this spotlight into a shared one. I love the New Warriors, though, and would kill for a crack at them, in relation to Krakoa or otherwise! 
AIPT: Steve, I know you love cats, so I had to ask this question from X-Fan D. Is Firestar’s cat Pumpkin still around?
Steve: All cats (and dogs) that have ever appeared in the Marvel Universe are alive and well off-panel. The Scarlet Witch actually said “No more pet endangerment” once (due to a misprint, it didn’t make it onto the page) so it’s canon forever now (don’t tell Jordan). Pumpkin has playdates with Gambit’s cats and Rachel’s pet Warwolf and Catseye from the Hellions. In fact, you can check out my slice-of-life manga about Catseye volunteering at the Krakoan pet sanctuary next year, only on Marvel Unlimited, as soon as I pitch that and convince Marvel to run it.
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
AIPT: I don’t want us to spoil it, so I’ll try to keep this vague, but there’s… something in Mark Brooks’ House of X/Powers of X promotional art X-Fans really latched onto, wondered about, and debated in typical X-Fan manner. I guess I’m just asking you to confirm that, in addition to teasing Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men epic, that iconic HOX/POX art was also preparing the world for Steve Foxe’s X-Men Annual #1.
Steve: It’s true, all of it: Mark Brooks predicted that I would one day find a way to get [redacted] into an X-Men Annual, even though Marvel had no idea who I was in 2019. We should have the man screened for psychic powers, or at least ask him about lucky lotto numbers.

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Mark Brooks

Courtesy of Marvel Comics and Mark Brooks
Real talk though — seeing [redacted] on that very first teaser — where Firestar also appeared, mind you! — isn’t NOT why I included [redacted] in the Annual. Sometimes you have to be the change you want to see in the world. Up next: pitching a Bill the Lobster ongoing series.
AIPT: Don’t worry, X-Fans — you’ll see what we’re talking about in a second. But finally, I feel like every time we do an X-Men Monday interview, a new Steve Foxe X-project gets announced days later. Enough Sinister Stevecrets, Steve! Can we expect more X-work from you in the not-too-distant future?
Steve: Where were you with Sinister Stevecrets when I was trying to name my newsletter?! 
Hmm, what am I allowed to say here… How about, “See you in 2023!”
AIPT: It’ll have to do for now! You can come back in the new year and get one step closer to that free sub. But for now, Steve, thanks for stopping by X-Men Monday!
And now, X-Fans, as an extra special treat: the five-page, lettered preview to X-Men Annual #1, on sale December 21, 2022!
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Color Artist: Sebastian Cheng
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Be sure to return to AIPT Monday, December 12 for an all-new edition of X-Men Monday, featuring the legendary Chris Claremont answering questions about his return to X-Treme X-Men! (Yes, I know I said that would be this week’s edition, but Sublime got me and I’ve been pretty under the weather. But it’s Chris Claremont — it’s worth the wait!)

X-Men Monday #182 - Steve Foxe Talks 'X-Men Annual #1'

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Until next time, X-Fans, stay exceptional!

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