Wednesday, October 27, 2010 Rick Remender Talks Uncanny X-Force A secret group of battered heroes, the “X-Force” team carries out super-powered ‘black ops’ missions behind the scenes of the Marvel Universe. Local writer Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Punisher) helped to assemble the heroes, and has created for himself a rich stage where his characters can explore the consequences of their actions. The Portland Comic Book Examiner spoke with Remender about his relaunch of Marvel’s X-Force title as Uncanny X-Force.

Christian Lipski:
Congratulations on a successful launch, I think.

Rick Remender: Yeah, it sold out in 24 hours or something.

CL: Can you talk about how you chose the team?

RR: Initially it was something the editors had been talking about, and by the time I pitched on it and the final elements were being put into place, it was important to me that all the members be characters who had been tampered with, and characters who for all intents and purposes should be villains, but because of their integrity and their character they find a way to remain heroic. We ended on a team that met that criteria.

CL: They had the same background that a lot of villains have, but for some reason they chose not to go that way.

RR: Yeah, or they’re heroes that were subjected to things that were catastrophic or twisted enough that most humans would have come out of it and then leaned into the villainous nature.

CL: Right, Angel became the horseman of death. That’ll put a cramp in your style.

RR: That’ll put a cramp in your style, right. And Fantomex was created to be a Sentinel, and Wolverine was created to be an assassin, Psylocke had her mind shattered and was trained by the Hand, and Deadpool, Weapon Plus obviously. So they’ve all got that link, and the members who join the team will have that as well, in the future. I like that these people have that in common. It bonds them as a family, and to me that was a very important part of the X-books, that there was a family element.

CL: You seem to take a kind of ‘glass is half-full’ sort of look at the characters, not that they’re good characters degraded to the point that they’re walking the line between good and evil, but that they’ve risen above their experiences and chosen to do good.

RR: Yeah, I think that ultimately for me when I think about it, if you’re taken aside by a band of mystic ninjas and your mind is smashed and tampered with and tainted, and somehow you overcome that and manage to get up every day and fight for the common good, and do what you can to help people... It’s like [the movie] Munich, it’s a band of assassins who have to go out, not necessarily even for revenge, it’s a step above that. I’m not a fan of capital punishment, but in terms of the Marvel Universe, there isn’t just *a* Hitler, there are dozens of Hitlers, dozens of people capable of the kind of terrible mass murder that stains humanity forever. And in terms of characters like Apocalypse, that’s his whole goal, that the mutants evolve and the humans disappear, and so in terms of what this guy’s after, and what sort of solution you come to, there’s no imprisoning him, there’s no talking him down. He’s going to murder a lot of people unless you kill him. When that scenario’s put in front of the characters, these characters do these sorts of missions so that the other X-Men don’t have to. They do this, I think, because they’re capable of it, because it’s necessary, and because they want to spare their family members from having to confront these choices.

CL: They’re kind of taking on the sins for themselves rather than forcing Cyclops, for example, to have to deal with it, or to fail to deal with it.

RR: Yep.

CL: So there are going to be some more members of the team coming up. Does that mean some of the existing members are going to go away?

RR: No, I definitely wanted to start it with a smaller cast and slowly build, so that the dynamic of the five could be established before we start meeting other characters.

CL: Kind of the core of the group?

RR: Yeah, and it’s a smaller tighter group, so it’s easier to convey the dynamics and the characters and get them established in the first arc and the second arc and then slowly bring the next couple cast members, and then do the same [with them] so that by the first year, you understand the dynamics and the characters and how they interrelate.

CL: There are a lot of opportunities for interacting just between the five as it is, between Fantomex and Deadpool, Wolverine and Fantomex, you saw those two kind of face off against each other, in a little competition at the beginning.

RR: Sure, playful…

CL: A gentleman’s bet...

RR: ...gentleman’s bet...

CL: …for millions of dollars of cognac…

RR: Ha ha, right.

CL: I’m looking forward to seeing how Betsy [Psylocke] and Fantomex and Warren [Angel] interact, just from that initial flirtation.

RR: Yeah, there are some zigs and zags in the drama that will play in unexpected ways that should be enjoyable for fans of the characters.

CL: You’ve mentioned that at some point Fantomex and Deadpool are going to have some words about Deadpool’s motivations, and what drives him.

RR: Yeah, I think that those two characters aren't going to be enemies, but as I’m writing them, they naturally tend to, because of their similarities, get on each others’ nerves. That happens in life, when one group of friends already has a joker, and someone comes in and they’re funny, the first guy starts to feel a little threatened, you know. In term of these guys establishing their footing and finding who they are, there’s gonna be some head-butting.

CL: Yeah, looking forward to seeing how that plays out.

At the book’s launch at Cosmic Monkey Comics, you talked about developing Deadpool as a character, as a person a little bit more.

RR: Not in the first arc, but as it progresses we get to see more. I think this cast of characters are going to call him out, with the constant goofing around and the way his mind works. Though I do think the guy is schizophrenic and insane, I think that when you have to be around that for a certain amount of time you want to call it out, present him with logical ways of looking at himself. That maybe he can’t avoid psychoanalyzing himself, his own behavior.

CL: It sounds like you’re going to be breaking new ground on this character.

RR: We’ll see. The things I’ve read about him, a lot of this stuff was already there, and then the exploration for the rest of it is going to come from naturally occurring ideas as I’m writing him, so I’m just going to explore that stuff.

CL: I’m interested in seeing how these characters progress.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carey Looks To Marvel U's Past and Future

X-Men Legacy #242 Preview Art

CBR: "Legacy" #242 hits stores in November, kicking off a new two-part arc titled "Fables of the Reconstruction," which will be drawn by Paul Davidson ("New Mutants"). "In retrospect, this is a story that I probably should have done before 'Collision' because it follows on and picks up some of the dangling threads of 'Second Coming.' In 'Second Coming,' we saw San Francisco get pretty comprehensively trashed by the battle between the Nimrods and the X-Men. 'Fables of the Reconstruction' is about the ongoing rebuilding of the city. It's being conducted by the civil authorities, but Cyclops is very keen to make sure that the X-Men play their part. There's a sense in which he feels responsible for it, at least in part, but also he realizes that this is a way of reaching out to the human community and showing them that the X-Men don't take their commitment to the area they live in lightly.

"Cyclops puts together a team who are directed to help with the rebuilding," Carey continued. "It's a team of real power house characters: Psylocke, Magneto, Colossus, Omega Sentinel, Danger, Hellion and Random. Rogue and Hope go along also. But things don't go quite according to plan and we end up with a very, very tense and dangerous situation between some of the members of that group."

Omega Sentinel played a role in Carey's run on the previous "X-Men" series and, just like the Children of the Vault, the writer has been looking for a way to bring her back into the spotlight ever since. "If you remember when the previous adjectiveless 'X-Men' title became 'X-Men: Legacy,' she was involved again then. We saw her go over to the Acolytes. It was always part of my long term plan to bring her back here," Carey explained. "Really, one of the central threads here relates to Hellion and his attempt to come to terms with the injuries that he sustained in 'Second Coming.' What I've done is put him and Omega Sentinel into a conflict that relates directly to that trauma."

Readers of "Second Coming" will recall that Hellion lost both of his hands in an assault on the X-Men by a horde of cybernetic Nimrod class Sentinels, and his notorious temper just might get the better of him during his interactions with Omega Sentinel, who is also a cyborg. "There's more going on than that, but yes, he's clearly not going to like or trust Omega Sentinel. She's based on Bastion's technology after all, so she's not a million miles away from the robots that did the harm to him," Carey said. "Omega Sentinel has problems of her own, though, and unfortunately, they bring her into opposition with Hellion: it's an opposition that doesn't do either of them any good."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

X-Solicits for January 2011

Uncanny X-Force #4
Written by: Rick Remender
Pencils by: Jerome Opeña
Cover by: Esad Ribic
"The Apocaylpse Solution," part 4. It all comes down to this! To stop him from bending all reality to his will X-Force must kill Apocalypse. But at a terrible cost. The final set piece: lovers positioned against each other, old friendships irreparably shattered, and the future of the Marvel Universe forever twisted. The story X-fans will be discussing for years to come, the conclusion that will change one character evermore!

Uncanny X-Men #532
Written by: Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen
Pencils & Cover by: Greg Land
When your very body is betraying you, and you see life leaking out of your friends drop by drop, what would you give up for the cure? Cyclops discovers what the Sublime Corporation wants. Can he afford to pay it? Meanwhile, Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw reminisce over old times via the strong language of pugilism. Part 3 (of 5)

Age of X: Alpha #1
Written by: Mike Carey
Pencils by: TBD
Cover by: Chris Bachalo
Variant Cover by: Olivier Coipel
Mutantkind’s final war starts here. If you don’t know which side you’re on, check your DNA.

X-Position: Nick Lowe

CBR: Nick Lowe got his football helmet on and is biting down on his mouthguard – he's ready to play! Let's kick a few queries his way and see if we can get one through the uprights.

"Uncanny X-Force" was amazing – easily the best X-book right now! Rick Remender mentioned that his X-Force team was already chosen when he was attached to the book. So why did you pick these characters? I'm especially interested in why Psylocke was chosen, but it's always a pleasure to read a good-written Betsy.

Nick Lowe: That's an easy question. Axel loves Psylocke – plain and simple. He just loves her. So that's pretty much why she's there. As for the rest, we knew that Warpath, X-23 and Wolfsbane weren't going to be signing up for such a team again, and we wanted to formulate a cast that would get people talking. Seems like it worked.

And please settle this debate for me – how do you say Psylocke? Is it pronounced like "lock" or "low-ke?"

Nick Lowe: We say "Sy-lock" up here at the House.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Psych Ward: Uncanny X-Force

Wolverine and company sit down with’s resident therapist for a mental status check

By Tim Stevens

The following is an excerpted transcript of a group therapy session. Wolverine (James Howlett), Deadpool (Wade Wilson), Psylocke (Besty Braddock), Archangel (Warren Worthington III), and Fantomex attending with Tim Stevens overseeing the session.

ARCHANGEL: Is this a good idea?

WOLVERINE: I heard you the first time, bub. And I get it. I'm not much for his kind either. But he's helped me and Slim swears by him.

DEADPOOL: I like him, too!

W: Right. And Deadpool likes him too. We do some ugly stuff out there and not everyone here is as okay with it as I am, so yeah, this is necessary.

TIM STEVENS: Everyone knows I am in the room, right?

DP: Hey, Doc!

TS: Hello Wade.

DP: Surprised to see me again?

TS: Given the multiple restraining orders? Yes, a bit.

DP: I knew you would be! But you know me, I love surprising my friends.

TS: Again, Wade, we are not friends. I am not even your therapist anymore. If it was not for James here, I'd be calling the authorities right now!

DP (in an exaggerated whimper): Oh...I guess words can really hurt.

TS: I...I'm sorry, Wade. That was out of line. I should not have used that tone.

DP (brightening and saddling up to TS, placing an arm around his shoulder): That's okay! So, you wanna go camping this weekend? I have this killer new s'more roasting set.

TS (shrugging off DP's arm and sliding his chair over several feet): Anyway, back to you, Warren. What is your concern about working with me?

AA: It's nothing personal. It's just that... Look, my dad sent me to a lot of doctors wings and some of them were psychologists. And they all made it clear that confidentiality existed only to point.

TS: So you are worried I'll, what, tattle on you to someone else?

AA: Essentially.

TS: Well, there are only two reasons I can legally do that, since all of you are adults. First, if I have reason to believe you a serious suicide risk-

DP (interrupting): I'm a serious-

TS (without pause): No you aren't.

DP (pouting): Well, I might be...

TS (ignoring DP): The other is if anyone here makes it clear they have a serious desire to kill someone else, a thought out plan, and they provide the name of the victim.

The room quiets for a moment. All parties exchange uncomfortable glances.

TS (awkwardly): But, of course, there is no chance of that being a problem, is there?

FANTOMEX (laughing heartily): Of course not, my friend. How droll of you to even ask. I am but a pleasure seeking man, not some kind of...barbarian, after all.

TS: Good then, no worries on that front. Fantomex, it says here on my sheet you have schizophrenia. Are you currently being medicated?

F: Schizophrenia? Oh, sir, I fear someone is misleading you a touch. I have many brains, but I assure you all of them are in perfect working order.

TS: Many brains...well...fine then. I'll see that your sheet is updated.

F: A thousand gratitudes to you for that, my good man.

TS: Not a problem. Betsy, I notice you are very...displeased with being here.

PSYLOCKE: I am sure I have no id-

TS: Please, you have made no effort to hide your body language or facial expressions and you seem to be someone who could if they chose to. So, you obviously want me to see it. So, tell me, Betsy, what is your concern?

P: I just don't see the need for you. I have been helping Warren for some time now. I can read minds, you cannot. I have copious amounts of field experience, you do not. I have a mind so strong it once did battle with Phoenix. I very much doubt you can claim the same.

TS: Do you have any sort of degrees in psychology?

P: You know I do not.

TS: Ever taken any training courses?

P: ...not to date, no.

TS: Have I ever slept with anyone in this room?

P (arching her eyebrow): How should I know?

TS: Better question then, have you?

P: Perhaps. A lady does not offer this information up for no reason.

TS: Then, there's your answer. I have training and no such...entanglements with anyone here. You are a friend and that's useful too, but an impartial expert is sometimes a bit more helpful.

P: Fine.

TS: Now, Warren, she mentioned she is helping you with something?

AA: Yes, my...other. Archangel.

TS: Could you explain a bit further?

AA: He' dark side. Betsy can speak to me keep him in check, somewhat.

TS: You sound unconvinced.

AA: Well...I still feel him. I can bring him out now, but I don't really believe I control him.

TS: Would you be willing to bring him out now?

AA:, not really. I don't think that that would be a good idea. Not yet anyway.

TS: Of course. We'll move at your, and everyone else in this group's, pace. But, just remember, sometimes to grow we have to do the uncomfortable thing.

AA: Dangerous and uncomfortable are not the same thing.

TS: Perhaps not, Warren. We'll revisit that idea in later sessions, I assure you. James, we-

W: If it's okay, I'd prefer you call me Logan, not James.

TS: Of course, my apologies. As I was saying, Logan, we've ignored you a bit so far and-

DP: I've been ignored, too!

TS: -I'd just like to check in with you now. You are now running this team without anyone's knowledge and your last "mission," if you will, involved some very dangerous moments that could have left you or your teammates alone without hope of rescue because of this secrecy. Did that bring anything up for you?

W: Nope.

TS: Nothing?

W: You heard me.

TS: Well, for this therapy to truly work, you have to be open to it, Logan, but for now, that is fine.

DP: Ooo, ooo, my turn then.

TS: Fine, Wade. What is on your mind?

DP: So last night, I had this dream. Blind Al, Headpool, and I were playing cards. But we were playing cards on the Golden Girls set. And Headpool had arms. Like floating there, you know? Anyway, I won with a full house.

TS: And your question is?

DP: Oh, no question. That's just one hell of a dream isn't it? Like a weird, cool one, right? Weirder and cooler than anyone else's, probably. Weird enough that I should start coming in weekly again, maybe?

TS: Wade, we've talked about this before. If you want to see a therapist, you need to see a different one.

DP: Sometimes I dream about taking a bath with LBJ. While Bono croons Pac-Man Fever to us.

TS: Well, that is weird. But my answer is the same. To move on to more appropriate things.

DP (singing): Do you trip on love/Do you run from magic?

TS: All of you have fairly extensive trauma histories, both in and out of costume. Given the nature of what recently happened to you, as vaguely defined to me as it has been, and the nature of your ongoing work, which has been even less defined to me-

DP (singing still): Do you make it tragic?/If you feel too much/Do you start to panic?

TS (annoyed): That's enough, Wade!

DP: All I'm saying, and while I'm loathe to use this word, is that you and I are clearly in the midst of a bromance. And I don't see why you are fighting it. Open your heart.

W (slowly extending one claw): I think the Doc has asked you to stop enough there, Deadpool.

DP (pulling out a sword and a gun): Oh, I see, want to let him live in denial. Well, I'm just not comfortable with that. So, if it's go time, let's-

F (stepping in the middle): Gentlemen, gentlemen. Let's all just take a deep breath here. We should all have a zest for life, but this...this is just ugliness. Better we enjoy a drink together. Or perhaps Betsy would like to enjoy me...any of these would suit me fine.

TS (still annoyed): There will be time for drinking and sexual harassment later for all of you, I am sure. For now though, this session is still going and I'd like to get us back on track. As I was saying, all of you have traumas in your past and what you are doing may have caused some of that trauma to return or may do so in the future, so I'd like to walk you all through some exercises that can help you to process extreme emotions in the moment and to release them in healthy, appropriate ways. So if everyone could place both feet on the ground, close your eyes and-

[transcript break]

TS (defeated, shaking his head): Just get out...

F: So terribly sorry. Positively beastly of us. EVA has been a since we returned. Still working the kinks out, I suppose. In any case, I assure you she was just doing what she thought was appropriate. Believe me, I will talk to her. And I assure you this will all be paid for-

TS: Seriously...go.

AA (handing TS a check): This should take care of everything. No need to call Professor X or anything, right?

TS: Sure, sure.

W (placing his hand on TS's shoulder): Sorry.

TS: What was all that about the apocalypse?

W: Best you don't know certain things.

TS: Are you...sure you want to do this? The team seems...volatile.

W (leaving, not making eye contact): That's the idea, bub...that's the idea.

On November 17, Doctors Rick Remender and Jerome Opena will work with the team. Please see the file UNCANNY X-FORCE #2 for further information.

Tim Stevens, MA, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute, has experience in organizing and facilitating group therapy sessions.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

X-Position: Rick Remender

CBR: This week we have Rick Remender on hand to answer questions about Uncanny X-Force.

What do you think each member of this eclectic X-Force team brings to the table?

Rick Remender: As a whole, they all have one thing on common: they've all been tampered with by evil-type folks. They're all characters that have had experience doing the bloody but often necessary work that the new team will take on.

Fantomex is an expert at spy games, covert business and infiltration. His misdirection couldn't be better suited for this work.

Psylocke is a high-leveled telepath, intellect and stealthy ninja.

Wolverine, I don't need to tell you what he does best.

Deadpool is a highly skilled mercenary who also happens to be totally unpredictable, a useful trait.

Archangel is cold, calculated and relentless, and in Warren, we have a seasoned veteran who has encountered nearly every X-villain. He also has all the funds the team will ever need and leadership experience.

Uncanny X-Force #1 Art

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Uncanny X-Force #1 Spoilers

Spoilers: Deadpool finds out that a secret society is trying to resurrect Apocalypse, when suddenly a giant Devil statue attacks him. Meanwhile, Psylocke dreams of Archangel's persona threatening her. Betsy wakes up by Warren's side and explains that if she were to remove "Archangel" permanently, it would fracture Warren's mind. Warren says he needs Betsy to keep Archangel from going too far, so he can use it do to some good in X-Force. Psylocke and Angel then join Wolverine and Fantomex, and they all head to the place Deadpool found the Clan Akkaba. When they enter the Clan's temple, Wolverine attacks another giant statue; however he becomes possessed by it. The same happens to Psylocke when she uses her powers on it. Fantomex misdirects the statue's feelings and destroys it, setting Psylocke free. Betsy then frees Wolverine, using her psy-knife. The team find Deadpool, and Warrens explains that Clan Akkaba has found a way to resurrect Apocalypse and that his horsemen have been awoken. They need to kill Apocalypse. Somewhere else, Clan Akkaba is raising a young boy...

'Uncanny X-Force' Swings Into Action Against Mutant Terrorism

USAToday: Anybody who has ever read an X-Men comic book knows that mutants are a tragic lot indeed, despite their supernatural powers. Bad guys and most of humanity are trying to wipe them out all the time. Thank goodness for them, they've got backup.

Launching Wednesday, Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Force series stars a black-ops hit squad of popular X-characters whose raison d'etre is to engage in the ugly yet necessary missions to protect their fellow mutants from further terrorist attacks.

Writer Rick Remender (Punisher) handpicked his five-man squad of "good heroes who have been manipulated and had something ugly put in them."

But when X-Men leadership wants to put the kibosh on the crew, Wolverine and original winged X-Man Archangel keep it up and running in secret with three other disparate personalities in tow: telekinetic heroine Psylocke, cyborg secret agent Fantomex and wisecracking mercenary Deadpool.

"I wrote a line where basically Wolverine says to Fantomex, 'We're all killers and it can't be changed, but we can direct it and do some good with it,' " Remender says. "That was sort of a mission statement for me: to find a philosophical point I could get to where the team was relatable and human, and they were still heroes who had to do this thing."

Remender is a fan of realistic human behavior in comic books. "The character writing is the same as if I were writing a play or any kind of drama or a television series where it was grounded in reality," he says.

"The fun part is then to take those characters as they are, and to put them into situations that they might not be comfortable in or accustomed to, and see how they react. Ultimately, how a human or a character reacts to their environment or the situation defines who they are."

The team will be dealing with the moral implications of their actions in the first batch of issues while hunting down Apocalypse, the newly reborn supervillain who turned Archangel into one of his evil warriors years ago. Remender, who teamed with artist Jerome Opena, says he naturally tends to lean toward tales of damaged psyches with dark hours of self-introspection. So he revels in times where he can insert some comic relief into the hard-core grittiness.

"I love having these crazy, high-adventure, intense action sequences where the clock is ticking and everything is on the line," he says. "And then you cut to Deadpool and he's sitting around pretending he's in some Philip K. Dick crime novel or something. It's wonderful to have a character like that."