A few months ago, one of the X-Universe's biggest secrets was revealed: a mutant team known as X-Force had been sanctioned by Cyclops to go out and "eliminate" those individuals and groups that threatened the existence of the mutants of the Marvel Universe. Once that revelation came to light, Cyclops decided to disband the team; moments later, however, a new, even more secret X-Force was formed.
Written by Rick Remender ("Punisher," "Fear Agent"), "Uncanny X-Force" features a group of mutants who are all too familiar with wetworks and death: Archangel, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke, and Wolverine. The first two issues were met by much critical acclaim and love from readers, so Mr. Remender joins us today to return some of that affection and answer emails sent in to X-POSITION by you. Lots of treats and surprises await – let's get to it!
MarvelMaster616 begins things by pointing out the difficulties with secrets. Can you give him an answer? And if you do, will you have to kill him?
The previous incarnation of X-Force eventually was discovered in "Second Coming." Since the X-Men on Utopia know this sort of thing happened before, how can Wolverine and the others expect to keep this a secret? Are some of the logistical aspects of X-Force and how they keep their secrets going to be fleshed out in future issues?
Rick Remender: Naturally, the secretive nature of X-Force is going to play a big role in things in the future. Given that the X-Men did discover the truth about X-Force, Logan and Warren and feel confident that no one would suspect that they would pick up and start doing it again. However, the members of X-Force are well aware the consequences should anyone discover that there is a squad of mutants that are proactively assassinating threats.
I mean, we all know what would happen should the human population discover this truth (file under: war). And what would happen between Scott and Logan and Warren? Obviously, this would be a very big problem. The bottom line is that the members of the team all agree that their presence is absolutely necessary, and that what they do is worth the risk. We will see the consequences of this decision in the first year of "X-Force."
It sounds like things will be moving quickly in this book, which suits ChadLDN just fine as he indicates you've won his trust and dedication with this new team.
First up, I am loving "Uncanny X-Force." I had some doubts about the direction of this book when it was announced, but the first few issues have really been awesome. I have to say, it may well be my favorite X-book already. It's clear you know and love these characters. Here's my questions:
1) In your opinion, why would Warren hire Deadpool? He's insane! Surely there would be other intelligence operatives out there who are more reliable…
You may be right, Deadpool may be crazy, but it might just be a lunatic Warren is looking for.
I'm sorry I couldn't help but quote a little Billy Joel for you on that one. Obviously, there are numerous sleuths, covert operatives, and mercenaries to be hired, but Warren sees something else in Wade. Warren imagines that underneath the endless jokes and shenanigans, there's a misfit longing to fit in and to be accepted. Warren thinks this need to belong is why Wade is someone he can trust. Wolverine doesn't share Warren's optimistic appraisal of Wade, but as a co-captain he's willing to trust that Warren is making the right decision.
2) Betsy's been through the wringer a lot over the last ten years, especially with regards to her constantly-changing power set (shadow teleportation, psychic katana, etc.). How do you define her abilities now?
Burgeoning Omega-level telepath and stealthy ninja. I see Betsy as having telepathic abilities akin to Jean Grey's prior to the Phoenix merger, with the ninja skills of a high Hand operative. That is it.
That's it? Ben T. was hoping for a little bit more about his favorite psychic ninja. What do you say?
1) You've mentioned previously that Fantomex may have ties to Psylocke's father and brother. Will we find out more about this in upcoming issues?
Yes, I have plans to touch upon this thread. There is a history to be explored between Fantomex and Betsy's family.
2) And what about Betsy's origins? Her father wasn't human, he was a citizen of Otherworld. Will her Otherworld-ian heritage come up in your book?
Yes. I'm aware that there are fans of Psylocke who feel that the character's background has sort of been forgotten about. Obviously, when you have a character whose roots are tied to the heyday of Claremont and Alan Moore, it would be foolhardy to overlook all of the clever things that were established in her history. It'll be a slow build for sure, but you can expect for that stuff to be touched upon eventually.
3) Considering that Polaris was once a Horseman (i.e. she has ties to Apocalypse) AND the fact that she and Havok were in one of the variant covers AND that both characters were last seen in space (where X-Force is right now), should I be hoping for a Polaris sighting somewhere in the future?
I'll just put a pin in this one right now. I love the characters, but I don't think that you should hold your breath to see Havok or Polaris in the pages of "X-Force" anytime soon.
Well, Giselle is plenty happy with what she's seeing in this title at the moment. Can you tell her a bit more about the "magic" she's finding in your book's pages?
1) The new Horsemen are amazing! I especially love Geisha. What was your inspiration behind these new Horsemen?
I'll be honest, at first I did what most other writers have done in the past – I started trying to create Horsemen out of existing Marvel characters. But after numerous conversations with Editor Axel Alonso on the topic of the Horsemen, it became very clear we would be better served by creating four all new and final Horsemen. Axel's main point (and as soon as he said it, I completely agreed) is that when you use existing Marvel characters, their fate is usually confined – as in people will expect that Wolverine or the Hulk will eventually revert back and become their normal selves, and that hinders the story. It's a big tell.
With our new Horsemen, you have no idea what to expect – their fates are completely unwritten and wide-open. These Horsemen are the final reserves, the cream of the crop; mutants that were plucked from various points in history by Apocalypse and frozen (kept our of Cerebro's sight). They are the final squad, the final list of candidates for this, his final push – the Akkaba society's final attempt to instigate the age of Apocalypse. What will become of the Akkaba society, and what does the future hold for Apocalypse and his many scattered minions on earth? We have big plans. Crazy big plans.
2) Why exactly did Psylocke join X-Force? I understand she's there to keep Archangel in check, but is this the only reason? Does she have the same a similar point of view as Logan as to everything that's going on?
She has a ferocious killer within her mind, thanks to the Hand's training. Betsy contends with what the rest of X-Force contend with, a dark part of their soul; an animalistic and savage aspect of their personality that desires release. Every member of this team is, in some way, trying to find a way to use that dark and ugly part of them for good purpose.
That said, I don't see her sharing the exact same perspective as Logan, but it's all degrees of the same philosophy. When she first joined the X-Men, she was unsure if she was fit to join a clan of warriors. Now she has become one of the most savage among them. And that's something that I'm going to be exploring – that and her relationship with her twin brother Brian (a.k.a. Capt. Britain) in future issues. Betsy is a complex character with a rich history, and I plan to continue to explore how that history affects her future in issues to come.
3) I see that Logan fears that Apocalypse may control Archangel again, but Wolverine himself was also one of the Horsemen. Shouldn't X-Force worry about Logan too? Or Gambit, Polaris and Sunfire, for that matter...
This will be explored in greater detail in future arcs, but the Death seed that was planted in Warren took root much more completely than the Death seed that was planted in Wolverine or Gambit. While they have both suffered from what Apocalypse put them through – and from having had the Death seed planted in their psyche – Warren was taken over completely for a much longer time. And even after he got it under control, the seed was allowed to grow for years and years as he did his best to struggle with the Archangel persona that grew from it. And now his persona and Archangel are almost entirely separate – Archangel is an entirely separate psyche born of the Death seed and grown in the soil of Warren's mind. That is all I am permitted to say at this point.
Ooh, fans love a mystery – especially Lance A., who is curious about the mysterious past of several individuals in your book.
1) It appears that three of the X-Force members – Wolverine, Deadpool and Fantomex – are all products of Weapon Plus program. Have you considered a story arc that focuses on this fact?
Look no further than "Deathlok Nation" beginning in issue #5. For those of you who read "Wolverine: The List," you know that Fantomex has shrunk The World down and keeps it in his pocket. Beginning in the fifth issue, we get a look at what Fantomex has been using The World for. We discover that there is an architect of The World, known as Father, and that he still resides within it.
At the beginning of issue #5, Fantomex discovers that time within The World has advanced one million years since the last time he stepped foot within. Esad's pages from inside The World will floor you – it's a totally new place with an amazing new design. Oh, and get ready for Weapon Infinity.
2) The solicitations for "Uncanny X-Force" #5 seem to promise an army of Deathloks. Is this a continuation of what Jason Aaron began in "Wolverine: Weapon X?"
Actually, Jason and I cooked up both halves of the story together before he wrote his story in "Weapon X." We talked for a few days off and on, hammering out some new rules for Deathlok, new rules for the various futures the Deathloks grow in and how it will affect all eventualities in the Marvel Universe.
It feels like it's been about a year since we cooked it up and I'm chomping at the bit to get to tell my half of the story. It's the biggest thing that's ever happened to the character. And as Jason and I and editors Axel Alonso and Jody LeHeup have much love for Deathlok, we all worked very hard to find a way to use him in the Marvel Universe that was new, exciting and pertinent.
3) This is not X-Force-related, but I really wanted to you to know I also love your creator-owned works: "Fear Agent," "Gigantic," "Strange Girl" (my personal favorite, by the way) and "Night Mary." Judging by the ending with "Night Mary," it really looked like you and the artist Kieron Dwyer had more stories to tell – is there a continuation planned? Can I look forward to any other creator-owned material from you?
Thanks for that – I appreciate the support for the creator-owned work. "Night Mary" is high on my list of works I am most proud of. Kieron Dwyer and I have collaborated on a number of projects, but "Night Mary" is the best of them, I believe. Oddly, it is also my most overlooked work, and I recommend anyone who enjoys my jibber-jabber to head on out and buy the trade paperback, published by IDW.
As for future plans for the story, the film is being put together by Summit and Animal Logic as we speak – most recently I heard we were getting close to having a final draft of the screenplay. So if everything works out, we might just see "Night Mary" make it to the big screen. As for more volumes of the comic book, unfortunately, while critically acclaimed and beloved by the people who have read it, "Night Mary" did pass underneath most people's radar and suffered from low sales. If that were to change and people were to discover the book – or if the film were to be produced – and there was renewed interest in the property, I can assure you that nothing would make Kieron and I happier than to return to Mary Specter's world and to tell more stories.
Hey, if you're searching for last minute gifts for the comic fans in your life, Amazon.com has "Night Mary" (as well as many other books by Mr. Remender) available in time for Christmas! I'm just saying…
Souhail gets in the final email of the day, so it's appropriate his questions are of an "Apocalyptic" nature.
1) The last time we saw Apocalypse in modern times was during the "Blood of Apocalypse" Era after being resurrected by the Celestials. Will we get any explanation as to how he was reborn as a child and how his story with the Celestials ended?
I didn't want to cram the first arc full of a bunch of exposition detailing what fate befell Apocalypse with the Celestials. For now, all you need to know is that every single bit of the old bastard – every bit of energy, every bit of Apocalypse – was collected and put into the boy that we saw at the end of "X-Force" #1. That said, I'm a bit of a continuity nerd myself and would hate to leave that thread dangling. I do know what happens to him, and though it is not pertinent to the current story, it will be very pertinent to a story I am telling a few arcs from now - perhaps dealing with another Celestial. When it fits and is mandatory to the tale, I'll deal with it. That time will come.
2) Wolverine has also been a former Horseman, however he does not seem to struggle as much as Warren does with this. Will Wolverine's time as Death – and how he feels about it – be explored in the book?
No. As I explained above, the Death seed that was planted didn't take perch in Logan's mind in the same way that it took hold in Warren's. Logan tasted the poison of Death and was contaminated by Apocalypse's black science. And for people in the know, that history adds a level of interest and personalizes Logan's struggle a bit more; but otherwise, it's done, he's clear of it and it need not be explored further as far as I'm concerned.
And now, it's time for our "Behind the X" question of the day. Going back to the start of today's X-POSITION, we talked about secrets. In order to keep a secret, one needs to be both clever and lucky. With that in mind, what is the "luckiest" win that's ever experienced?
Well, when I was at my very lowest point in life and completely broke, a friend and I were driving from Phoenix to San Francisco and stopped in Las Vegas for a night. We literally had $10 between us and had been paying for the rest of the trip on a gas card that was nearly maxed out.
Strolling by a roulette table, I turned and put our last $10 on black. I had soon doubled my money and then tripled it. So, thinking that I would gamble one more time before tempting fate no more, I pushed what I thought was $10 onto the number 32. What I had in fact done, perhaps due to some quantity of alcohol in my system, was to push all $30 onto number 32.
The buddy I was with nearly punched me in the nose, as I couldn't retrieve the money as the ball was spinning. Well, he didn't need to hit me in the nose because we hit 32. With that sweet, tall payout, we had enough cash to go out and enjoy the first decent meal we had had in weeks and enjoy some great food and nice accommodations on the rest of the trip back to San Francisco, where I was living at the time.
If there's any moral to the story kids, it's this: when you're destitute and broke and it seems like nothing is going your way, take the last bit of money you have, and instead of saving it for catastrophe or putting it towards something useful, have a couple drinks and go gamble. Because by God, I swear to you, it'll pay off every time. I promise. Every time.
With those words of wisdom lingering in your ears, we bring today's fun to a close. Next week, we're actually forgoing our usual Q&A, but it's entirely possible that Santa X will be stopping by with some "treats" for good fangirls and boys. What's he hiding in his bag? Stop by and find out!
Then in two weeks, we'll have our "Best X-Moments of 2010" special for the end of the year. This is the column where you, our readers, tell us what events from Marvel's X-Universe made you cheer/laugh/cry over the past 365 days. We're still taking submissions as well, so either post your favorite X-Moments of 2010 at the appropriate string in our X-forums or email me directly with your choices.
Be sure to let me know why you picked this moment and which X-issue it came from. Images help us out too, so either post them in the thread or email them to me (not a requirement, but it's appreciated). We'll do a tally of the results between the forum posts and emails, and then expect one heck of a fun X-POSITION at year's end. If you do email me, put "Best X-Moment of 2010" in the subject line or Santa's putting coal in your stocking. Trust me, you don't want to tempt him!