In the four decades since young Angelica Jones discovered her mutant microwave powers and took on the name Firestar, she’s done a lot of living all over the Marvel Universe. She’s been an “Amazing Friend” alongside Spider-Man and Iceman, a charter member of the New Warriors, and even made the big time as part of the Avengers. She’s walked on the dark side as part of Emma Frost’s Hellions, found love and lost it, and even beat cancer.
Now, Angelica has taken on a somewhat surprising new role on the roster of Krakoa’s X-Men. Despite her mutant origins, the heat-powered hero has had surprisingly little interaction with the Children of the Atom. That’s something writer Steve Foxe and artist Andrea Di Vito seek to explore along with all of Firestar’s facets in X-MEN ANNUAL (2022) #1, available in print and digital comic shops now.
We spoke with the creative team behind this super-sized celebration about their own X-Men origins as well as why they sought to bring Firestar to the forefront.
What’s your origin story as an X-Men reader, Steve?
STEVE FOX: I’m a child of the late ’80s, so I was in the ideal strike zone for all things mutant. Some of my earliest memories are of buying the first one Toy Biz X-Men figures off the rack at Toys “R” Usand of picking up Pryde of the X-Men he VHS. The toys were a huge factor—before I had easy access to comic shops, they sparked my imagination and pushed me down the path to making up my own stories. By the time X-Men: The Animated Series launched [in 1992], there was no going back for me—and really no breaks, either. UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) and X-MEN (1991) were the first comics I started reading off the shelves and I never stopped.
What classic or current X-Men runs have influenced you as a writer?
STEVE FOX: A few years ago, I started a full chronological re-read of every X-Men comic ever, beginning with GIANT-SIZE X-MEN (1975) #1 (sorry to the Silver Age diehards out there—I had to skip ahead a bit). If you had asked me this question before that, my answer would have been Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s radical reinvention of the franchise [with NEW X-MEN], which blew my mind as a preteen. But now my inspiration is really scattered all over the place—the layered plots of early [Chris] Claremont, especially by the time Paul Smith joined him; Larry Hama’s full-tilt wildness on WOLVERINE alongside [Marc] Silvestri and other killer collaborators; Fabian Nicieza’s wildly under-credited flair for snappy dialogue on early X-FORCE (1991) issues. Everything is swirling around in the ol’ noggin now, including—and perhaps most importantly—being inspired by my fellow current X-creators and all the fresh directions they’re pursuing with the current status quo.
Where did the idea for this story come from?
STEVE FOX: The only real mandate for the issue was notes to do a holiday story (AKA the first thing I brought up) because DARK WEB takes place over Christmas. [Editor] Jordan White and I discussed which characters on the newly elected team were getting the most attention in the months leading up to and following December. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Iceman had huge moments during AX: JUDGMENT DAY. Forge was the main player in the latest “Vault” arc. Magik got a lot of recent attention in NEW MUTANTS (2019). Synch is having a romantic moment right now. And Havok…whoo boy, good luck to Alex Summers during DARK WEB. So Firestar stood out as a good choice for the Annual since her ongoing story is going to unfold a little later down the line. I’m also a lifelong fan of Angelica Jones, thanks to VHS [copies] of [cartoon] Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Splitting her off into her own mission alongside Cyclops, the subject of my only pop culture-related tattoo, all slid into place very quickly. Not that I could resist using the rest of the crew, too.