The "Dawn of X" era is now fully underway, with X-Men #1 out now and #2 scheduled for November 13. And with more series launching every week, X-Men line editor Jordan D. White's mutant power has apparently become steering a very big ship full of X-Men, Marauders, New Mutants, and dozens of other groups and characters.
White describes mutants as "the most powerful people on the planet," and with a new island nation of their own, new squads, and new (sometimes seriously surprising) interpersonal relationships. But with mutantkind coming together under one banner that eschews many of the labels of the past, what's on the horizon to threaten Krakoa and the X-Men?
In the wake of X-Men #1, Newsarama spoke with White about what "Dawn of X" means for the X-Men and their place in the larger Marvel Universe and what they're up against now that they're one people, while also dialing down on the new dynamics at the core of the series and the line.
Newsarama: Jordan, when “Dawn of X” was announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego, the new X-Men flagship title was billed as the core series for mutantkind. Beyond being the hub of the line, what’s the mission statement for this new X-Men series?
Jordan D. White: Mutantkind are the most powerful people on the planet, and the X-Men are the elite defenders of mutantkind. So, X-Men as a series is following the planet’s most powerful protectors. The world’s number one super-heroes rising to the challenges of any threats the world over - be they threats to the whole world, or threats to themselves from the rest of the world… so they’re essentially the Avengers, except better and more.
Nrama: The X-Men’s new status quo has just been solidified with the conclusion of House of X and Powers of X. How will the rest of the Marvel Universe react to what’s going on with the team?
White: I look forward to finding out! We’re happy that we were given the space to do such a big relaunch and stretch our new legs… but now that we’ve got our new status quo established, I am incredibly excited to see other books reflecting and reacting to it. I know a few places mutants will be popping up already…but I want more! MORE!
Nrama: We’ve seen plenty of mutants on the covers for X-Men so far. Who would you say comprises the core cast?
That’s it for the core! But every issue, Scott is calling on the best and brightest to tackle whatever adventure awaits. He’s got all of mutantkind at his fingertips, he’s going to be bringing in some great surprises.
Nrama: Speaking of Cyclops and surprises, many readers of X-Men #1 picked up on some potentially very different relationships between characters we've known for a long time. How will those shifting dynamics inform the soap opera that has often been a part of X-Men?
White: I cannot say too much on this as the place we want the character’s relationships to play out is in the books rather than in interviews. With ongoing ideas, Jonathan is always much more interested in letting the stories speak for themselves than in explaining what he meant by them.
Nrama: With Cyclops being X-Men's leading man, which mutants are you most excited to see join him for these missions? Anyone that's really gonna surprise us?
White: I know Vulcan definitely already came as a surprise. But yeah - the issue that is planned for #5 right now, the one R.B. Silva is drawing, promises a couple of surprising characters… and I am excited for what that is building to.
Nrama: And on that note, what can you tell us about the threats that mutantkind will face in this new era?
White: We’ve definitely shaken things up on that front as some of the X-Men’s biggest enemies have been welcomed as citizens of Krakoa. So we’ve got new threats cooking, but also the return of some old enemies we have not seen in a while. In issue #1, you can see one returning foe, as well as the ongoing threat of Orchis. And I know I want to see those Apes again.
Plus, come on… just because some baddies are on our team now doesn’t mean they’re not gonna be some trouble.
Nrama: When planning a whole line like this, what are the tenets you keep in mind about what space each book occupies? How will X-Men inform what goes on in Excalibur, Marauders, and so forth?
White: We definitely worked in planning out the books to make sure they all felt like their own things - that they all tackled different aspects of the larger world of Krakoa and mutantkind. They all have different mission-statements and go in different directions.
That said, they all tell pieces of the tale of our new Krakoan nation, and those pieces are parts of a whole, so things that happen in X-Men will affect the other books, and things that happen in the other books will affect X-Men, and they will cross-pollenate one another as well. Characters will pop up from one book in another, events will be referred to…
Nrama: Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Yu are a dynamite creative team. How has it been as an editor watching them come together and develop their relationship as creators?
White: Well, they have a history together from back in the Avengers office, so they were both extremely excited to work together again. Mostly, I just need to get out of the way other than to give them deadlines -they are both pros.
White: On that note, what that they’ve come up with for this series has most surprised you?
White: There is a group of new villains in issue #3 of this series that no one is expecting in any capacity. Including me.
Nrama: X-Men has traditionally been a cutting edge title for Marvel, defining artistic movements and storytelling styles throughout superhero comics. What makes X-Men and “Dawn of X” such a big moment for Marvel history and for the X-Men?
White: There have been some really awesome X-Men stories in the last 10 years, but for the most part they were all working within the overarching X-Men status quo that was kicked off in the wake of House of M. I think of it as “The Extinction Era.” That era is officially over, and with House of X, Powers of X, and now “Dawn of X,” we are exploring a new era where even the things that are similar to the previous ones have been reframed and recontextualized. Jonathan came at this looking to establish something that felt different, even as it builds on what came before… and I think he nailed it.
Nrama: You called the post-House of M mutant status quo the "Extinction Era." Are there other specific eras of X-Men lore you define in similar terms?
White: Not formally. I just think “No More Mutants” cast a very long shadow over the X-Books and represented a shift from mutants being the minority that we knew would eventually become the majority to being a literal endangered species. It changed the way people wrote them pretty aggressively, and while there were spots along the way that went different directions, the over tone stemmed from that central shift.
Nrama: Jonathan Hickman has called HoX/PoX his mission statement on the X-Men’s place in 2019. How do you, as the line editor, see that new mission?
White: I cannot say too much, honestly, because the way Jonathan works… To just come out and say what he is going for would be a peek too far behind the curtain. But I think the place of mutants and what they are in-world and what they are to the readers can’t be the exactly the same thing it was for the last 50 years, or even the last 20 years. It has to evolve as the culture does, and Krakoa represents the next step of their cultural evolution.
Nrama: What can you tease us on that’s coming up as X-Men gets going in earnest?
White: We’ve been planning things for a long time and you can rest assured, nothing has been set on “coast” - we’re always building to something. We have plans for series to come, series to go, crossovers, one-shots… it’s all part of the giant picture we’re bringing in to focus. Hope you’ll all join us for the show.