Marvelheld a press conference call Thursday afternoon on the upcoming "Uncanny X-Force" series, which launches October 6. Following the events of "Second Coming," Cyclops disbanded the deadly mutant strike team X-Force—but Wolverine still sees a need for mutant assassins, so he's covertly assembled his own crew. The new team includes Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex, Deadpool, and more, all headed up by writer Rick Remender and artist Jerome Opena. On the call were Remender, editor Axel Alonso, and host James Viscardi to discuss the series.
"I think that the character's been one of my favorites, as far as X-Villains go," Remender said of Apocalypse, whom X-Force will confront in the first arc. "It's something that began to grow with the character, and it presents a unique dilemma for X-Force," he continued, mentioning that he'd batted around ideas for the series with other editors and X-writers, including Matt Fraction.
"This team of killers are racing toward a mission that may not even be able to pull off," Alonso added. "Though the story comes to an amazing conclusion, which will haunt you—there's one character in particular you'll never look at the same way again—it also sets up a number of plot threads for the villain."
Continuing by discussing artist Jerome Opena, Remender noted that their collaborations have kept getting better and Alonso said that this is Opena's best work "Rick has created four new Horsemen—conceptually, Rick brought to the table who they are, but what Jerome did with them... they are keepers," Alonso said. Alonso added that there is some intriguing back story to each of the new Horsemen.
Asked whether this group, primarily comprised of loners, would work together as a team, Remender said, "It would be telling to say if there's any divisions in the ranks—there may be some things coming up that would fall under that category."
"There's a reason X-23 isn't on the team; Wolverine didn't want her on the team. There's a reason Deadpool's on the team," Alonso said, also revealing that Archangel and Psylocke's relationship will be rekindled.
"Warren needs Betsy to control Archangel," Remender added, suggesting that this will be a dangerous dynamic to their romance, with Archangel wondering where love and and dependency begins.
"There's an urgency to their romance," Alonso added.
Archangel will be the financial backer for the team, but will not be manipulating with his money. "These characters are members of a family, in a way, and they kind of have to be," Remender said. With Warren and Logan as co-captains, this will create "checks and balances" necessary due to "the severity of actions of the team."
Viscardi noted that the new Apocalypse seems to be a child. "If that is Apocalypse, that will add some tension to the team, discovering that their target is a boy—sort of flipping the Hope/Bishop dynamic," Remender said. "The dilemma these characters face, and how they respond to it, will define and redefine these characters for a long time."
"The best stories are those that make the reader ask, well, what would I do?" Alonso added. "This is a very emotional story, I think one that will haunt readers after they've read the first arc."
The decision for team members was decided at an X-summit, but Remender established the dynamics between them. "That said, we have some really exciting members coming on to the team," Remender said.
"There's a lot of potential for story" in the secret status of the team, Remender said. Alonso added, "Last time I checked, Cyclops was the general, he's the president, and he disbanded the team—this is Logan and Warren forming a team behind the big chief's back. Beyond that, you're going to see these characters bound by secrets."
"It gets pretty complicated in a fun way," Remender said. "It's hanging there and it's a big deal. It needs a long time to not be addressed."
Archangel will continue to appear in other titles as the feathered rather than metal-laced Angel, both Remender and Alonso confirmed.
As to why a secret team would have Deadpool, "who has the world's biggest mouth," he's hired for a specific job, Remender said. "Deadpool figures out some stuff, and he makes himself an indispensable team member very quickly," he said. Also, "he wants this all to work—he's been invited and he wants to be involved with this team."
"And don't forget, Deadpool's crazy but he's efficient," Alonso said.
"Axel and I have bounced it around enough at this point where we've figured out this character's motivations," Remender said, adding that it's a character-based story that will unfurl over time.
The Horsemen are entirely new characters, Remender confirmed, "and fortunate for that—when you use existing characters there's a whole Pandora's Box with that."
As to the aspect of heroes killing—even those who have been known to kill—Remender said the key is to root the story in characters, noting that he'll reintroduce each character for the benefit of new readers. "While all the adventures they're going to get drawn into are big hooky adventures with enormous set pieces, for you to care they've also got to be a family," he said.
"I think we'd all agree that there are forces out there that require an equal and opposite reaction," Alonso added. "There are times that there is a mission that arguably needs to be done—it doesn't mean the characters relish it, but it has to be done. The X-Force believe they are necessary; that doesn't mean they sleep well at night."
"These are characters that we all know and love, but they're put in this situation—some people just need to die," Remender said. "Apocalypse, if left to his own devices, is going to kill people—that's what he's going to do. And there's no imprisoning him."
Asked about where Fantomex and Deadpool fit into the family, Remender said, "Fantomex, don't forget, is the one who showed Wolverine what happened to him in the Weapon Plus program, and went out of his way to do that. He was created to be a Sentinel, to go out and kill mutants, and he's never really done that." Remender sees Fantomex and Wolverine as sharing a bond, whereas Deadpool is looking for some level of acceptance with the team.
"Uncanny X-Force" #1 goes on sale October 6.