When it was announced on CBR in September, Marvel Comics latest iteration of its X-Force brand drew attention for being one of the less sunny relaunches of the Marvel NOW! publishing initiative. While the previous black ops mandate for the franchise would be continuing in "Uncanny X-Force," the all-new "Cable And X-Force" series sees writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Salvador Larroca casting Cable and a crew that includes Colossus, Domino, Forge and Dr. Nemesis as mutant terrorists who pursue their goals outside the approval of major super teams like the Avengers.
Marvel expanded on the series in their latest "Next Big Thing" conference call with the press, and CBR was on hand to get Hopeless' thoughts. The writer was joined on the call by Senior Editor Nick Lowe and master of ceremonies/Marvel Sales & Communications Coordinator James Viscardi. Before the discussion started, Lowe joked that he had spent the day filming "fireside chats" for Marvel's AR app to go along with the series first issue in December. "They get dropped, smack dab, into the middle of a pretty horrible situation," Lowe said of where the series opens. The team gets together in a factory of some sort where they encounter dead bodies and the Uncanny Avengers. "That's pretty much how this series starts...as we go through this first four-issue arc, you're going to see events unfold from there and see from the start of the story how they got there. It's a parallel story almost like 'Lost' only better."
Hopeless went on to explain that the mission they were trying to undertake was supposed to be Cable's last mission to ensure his future's stability, but as it blows up in his face, the team become public enemies on the lamb. "Everything definitely emanates out from Cable," the writer said of what drives the book. The editor added that "Hope Summers is also a HUGE part of this book...Cable's time tossed daughter." Hopeless said that the crux of the emotional story in the book is Cable and Hope both trying to live normal lives but "They're very bad at living normal lives."
Meanwhile, Forge joins the team after his appearance at the end of "Avengers X-Sanction" where after Cable was cured of the techno-organic virus, he calls on the mutant machine master to help him learn how to fight without relying on the condition he had for so long. Hopeless said that Domino and Dr. Nemesis had similar levels of expertise that they bring to the team, though for now those details would remain a secret.
On the antagonist side of the book is Rick Remender and John Cassaday's Uncanny Avenger squad, who drew comparisons to Tommy Lee Jones' squad of U.S. Marshals from "The Fugitive." "Essentially, Havok is the reason the Uncanny Avengers get pulled into this...things have gone bad for the Summers family lately. It's kind of embarrassing," Hopeless said. "Havok makes it his mission to figure out what [X-Force] is up to and bring them in."
The writer described his lead as "a superhero version of Parker" and that the series would feel like a twisted crime book. "He's an interesting and complicated sort of guy. He's a person who wants to make the world a better place. He's a father who wants to atone for [the life he gave his daughter]...but he's also really good at breaking into places and blowing things up." At the same time, there will be elements of the gusto action comics that defined the early X-Force adventures of the '90s.
"There are some inspirations from '90s X-Force here for sure," Lowe said. "But there's also influence from 'Uncanny X-Force' and so on...both this and the new 'Uncanny X-Force' came about at the same time." Lowe said both X-Force series would pick up on the broader ideas from the last run written by Rick Remender as Remender did from Craig Kyle and Chris Yost. But they'd still be differentiated...especially when it comes to the eventual reveal of the mystery big bad of "Cable And X-Force." "We've got some really good dingers we want to try and surprise you guys with."
Larroca's work on the series was described as a reinvention of his work – a mix of his early style from the '90s and the more photo realistic art he did on "Invincible Iron Man" of which Lowe said, "He's quick and amazing. People complain about how we can switch up artists on books. That's not going to happen here."
Hopeless said that Cable doesn't think of this team as a new version of X-Force so much as it's a group of people who are thrown into this situation with him – including Hope – but as their "crimes" are exposed to the public, the world labels them X-Force as they're on the run.
"Colossus is the hardest character to explain for why he's here," Hopeless said of the team's makeup. "He ends up on the team because of where he is as a person after the Phoenix Five stuff. He's not really interested in being on a team right now." Lowe described the Russian X-Man as "the muscle" – a veteran who is never shaken under pressure. Forge is the tech expert and "getaway man" in the Marvel U teleportation way. Dr. Nemesis is the mad scientist/medical expert of the crew. And Domino is the break-in expert or "safe cracker." Anchoring the team are Cable and Hope who remain stoic with the others but "share a mind" of where they want the mission to go.
Since Marvel will be having two X-Force books for the first time, Lowe stressed that the two books would remain different. This series is all about criminals on the run while "Uncanny X-Force" is about the dark underbelly of the Marvel U and the moral quagmire that heroes can get pulled into. Hopeless promised that the two books would interact once they had been developed on their own terms first. Lowe said, "You've got Cable in one book and Bishop as the villain in the other."
As for the straight up villains in "Cable And X-Force," Hopeless said that after the Uncanny Avengers clash "the situations that lead to the job...is less villain-based" but he promised that the people behind the scenes wold reveal themselves as the story develops. Lowe also said there would be some monsters and environmentally-created threats as the book approached its second arc.
Talk of Cable and Domino's relationship came up and how their romance is now far in the past. "Domino calls him on his crap a lot more than everyone else because she can get away with that...they're not going to jump right back into bed with each other," Hopeless said.
The creators discussed the shared costumes amongst the cast, and Lowe said that certain design elements were driven by story like Cable's need to have "a big mech arm" built by Forge to replace his ruined arm after the effects of the techno-organic virus had taken their toll. "For most of the characters, there's a reason why they're wearing what they are," Hopeless added, praising Larroca's designs overall.
"Cable And X-Force" #1 ships in December from Marvel Comics.