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The cover for X-Corp #1 , Marvel Comics (2021) Image: David Aja/Marvel

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An exclusive look at Marvel’s X-Corp, where the X-Men fight the nightmare of corporate culture

Writer Tini Howard tells us why the X-Men might make for the best bosses

Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

The X-Men are known for lots of things — star-crossed romance, extremely messy family dynamics, time travel, and recreationally switching sides every few years — but one of their lesser-known qualities is the way they aren’t afraid to do some business. Like, literal business.

X-Corp, the forthcoming Marvel Comic written by Tini Howard with art by Alberto Foche, is a change of pace from the sprawling action sci-fi of other X-books, following the former X-Men known as Angel and Monet St. Croix as they spearhead mutantkind’s bold entry into the corporate world.

But what does business look like in the new Krakoan age of X-Men comics, where mutants have formed their own society on a living island with humanity super nervous about the new status quo?

We spoke to writer Tini Howard to find out, and also grabbed four exclusive pages from X-Corp #1, courtesy of Marvel Comics, that you can read below.

Can you talk a little bit about how you see Warren and Monet’s business acumen? How do they compliment each other, in your mind?

The differences between them aren’t accidental. Part of this game of writing comics is finding characters to put together in new and interesting situations, who compliment each other in ways that are brand new but with a classic, ‘they shoulda done that sooner’ feel. M and Angel are that to a “T” — while it’s seemingly easy to say which one is the “good cop” and which is the “bad cop,” the truth is they’ve each got that war going on internally. They’ve both got incredible business acumen and a lot of power and trust in them. They’re even both incredibly threatening — but they’re also trying to position themselves as ambassadors of the most benevolent race on the planet — it’s a challenge. And visually they’re almost literally Red Oni and Blue Oni. It’s a visual medium. That gets points.

A lot has happened in the world between this book being announced and it getting made — has anything in the last year or so of current events inspired a shift in your plans?

I became a better writer. That’s not me being playful — it’s the truth, and I’m grateful to have people around me who tell me when I need to head back to the gym before I can lift the story I’m trying to carry. That sounds like someone told me I was bad or something — they didn’t, that’s the point. I kept trying to pitch this story and it was good, but it wasn’t right — so instead of saying “Sorry kid, you failed,” the door was left open. That’s the kind of office this is — we trust you. We have space for your story. And we don’t want you to tell it until it feels ready.

So I spent like six months of the pandemic co-midwifing a 22-issue event into the world, and then I felt exhausted, but stronger. A little more capable of finding the story in my idea. So I wrote a better story, and that’s the one you’ll get to read now.

I’m not the biggest Angel-head, but I’ve always felt like he’s mostly known for getting a raw deal, frequently tortured or in some kind of internal anguish (honestly not that uncommon for the X-Men). Is there a side to Warren you want people to see more of?

I just inherently feel like Angel is capable, loyal, smart. He’s as trained and beloved as any of the O5 but he’s not an Omega mutant like Jean or Bobby, he’s never had the leadership roles like Scott or Beast. I think he needs that turn — we need to see him be as much a leader as any of the O5. His mutation is one that is purely physical, it affects how he moves through the world, but instead of making him monstrous it makes him so beautiful, you’d think he never had a bad day in his life. But he’s still a mutant. And he wants to use everything he’s got for his people — and this is the best of what he’s got.

Monet has a line in Empyre: X-Men about doing business like “Mutants, not humans:” is that an idea we’re going to see played out in X-Corp? Can mutants forge a new way of doing business?

Absolutely. That’s one of the core concepts in X-Corp, that mutants don’t have to operate on the same scarcity level as humans. Mutants are abundant, they’re expansive, they’re becoming their own fourth-dimensional organism — they don’t have to deny their receptionist a raise to give the CEO what he wants. That’s real power.

What is it about the weirder corporate side of the X-Men that interests you? I love books that dive into it like All-New X-Factor, although I have a hard time explaining why they make perfect sense for the X-Men.

Couldn’t agree more! Loved All-New X-Factor. And I have a hard time with explaining it too. I think it’s because I’m a fan of science fiction, and the X-Men do great sci-fi stories. It’s something I wanted to do really early on, I’ve been a fan of the concept of X-Corp since its inception in New X-Men, and knew I wanted to revive it on Krakoa. I’m also a huge Iron Man fan, and a huge Norman Osborn fan, so characters making Marvel money moves always piques my interest.

How much Corp is in X-Corp? Is there anything in particular that interests you about corporate culture, or our modern perception of corporations, that you want to explore here?

A ton. To both of those questions. I spent a lot of time in that world before I quit to write, and a few years removed from it, I’m always fascinated by what really makes moves. It’s never just a handshake or a deal. Someone’s bad day, someone’s late lunch, someone’s secret shame — these are the things that make people sign a deal or not. And they’re about power. If you watch any of these shows that are obviously big inspirations for me here — Succession, Silicon Valley, etc — you see that again and again. The amounts of money fly around — they’re ephemeral. It’s the fight. Who goes down. Who bites whose neck?

You’ve shown how the magical side of mutantdom can make for strange bedfellows in X of Swords and Excalibur — is that something to look forward to in X-Corp as it expands the Reign of X into the business world?

Who knows? That’s the thing about putting a price on something — anyone can theoretically come buyin’.

Finally, the big word I keep coming back to whenever corporations are discussed is “suspicion.” Is that something you want to play with in X-Corp? Should we be suspicious of what we’re about to see?

Suspicion is so exciting! Being suspicious of everyone is one of the best feelings you can have while reading a story. I hope you’re suspicious as hell. Trust no one. REIGN OF X, BABY.

X-Corp goes on sale May 12.

Angel, Monet St. Croix, and Charles Xavier talk to one another in preview art for X-Corp #1, Marvel Comics (2021) Image: Alberto Foche/Marvel
Monet St. Croix meets with Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man in preview art for X-Corp #1 , Marvel Comics (2021) Image: Alberto Foche/Marvel
Monet St. Croix rescues Trinary in preview art for X-Corp #1 , Marvel Comics (2021) Image: Alberto Foche/Marvel
Monet St. Croix wrecks a computer in front of Trinary and Multiple Man in preview art for X-Corp #1 , Marvel Comics (2021) Image: Alberto Foche/Marvel

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