Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday Q&A: Rick Remender

Marvel: With the shocking conclusion to his first Uncanny X-Force arc and the recent reveal of Flash Thompson as the man underneath the symbiote in Venom, the phrase "expect the unexpected" certainly seems to go hand in hand with the work of writer Rick Remender.

At the end of Second Coming, Cyclops disbanded his covert operations team X-Force, citing that the X-Men no longer needed them. However, the squad's leader Wolverine disagreed. The feral mutant now leads his own secret task force that also includes Deadpool, Psylocke, Archangel and Fantomex in Uncanny X-Force. In the title's opening arc, the team went after a newly reborn Apocalypse resurrected in the body of a young boy. While his cohorts argued over how to handle the situation, Fantomex made the tough decision himself and killed the child. Before we go into the upcoming arc of UNCANNY X-FORCE, I wanted to hit on the ending of your first. That came as quite the twist. Did you know exactly how this was going to end going in?

Rick Remender: Yeah. Before we started the first issue, we made sure the entire arc was rewritten to the point that everyone knew it frontwards and back. This one was also one we broke out at the X-Retreat and discussed, so we had a little of feedback from the room as well. This thing was tightly locked down. We wanted to make sure that given the weight of what we were doing the arc was planned out to the end from the very beginning. What went into creating that ending and having it be completely silent once Fantomex makes the kill shot?

Rick Remender: I had two great editors on the book for the first arc, Axel Alonso and Jody LeHeup. These guys have great instincts, as they should given that they control a lot of big things. I wrote it, and initially I had a line after Fantomex shot the kid, which was "This is what we came to do." Jody or Axel or both of them said to cut it. It's silent. It's totally silent. I was nervous about that at first, but you've got an artist in Jerome Opena who sells cinematic storytelling and emotion so well that you can cut most of your dialogue. If [the] dialogue ended up on the cutting floor of this issue in particular, I think you'd be astonished. I would say that no less than 40 percent of the dialogue and the captions were cut because the artwork did such a good job of conveying the emotion and the story on its own. Every word in the issue is absolutely necessary and I think people respond to that. It takes a few extra days and a little more work, but the end product we want [is for] X-FORCE to be special. It's dealing with big, iconic and cool characters in the Marvel Universe that I can play with and do cool things with. So, it's kind of great on all fronts. And if we can keep up the level of craftsmanship and the amount of time we're pouring into the book, I think that what we'll get is something pretty special out of it. You mentioned cool characters and doing cool things with them. What do you have planned for the team as far as that goes, especially Deadpool, a pretty big fan favorite across the board?

Rick Remender: In the upcoming arc "The Deathlok Nation," in the third issue there's a big scene where I focus on something I've been building up to. I tear away a few layers of [Deadpool's] character to what's underneath it and who's inside. I've got the first 17 issues pretty mapped out and I've even written the beginning of issue #13 and #15 because I've got different artists working on these things. I know this first year of storylines pretty forward and back, and I know what I'm building to, which is pretty helpful. So, the role that Deadpool is playing, it's mapped out in his character arc and that comes to something of a head in issue #7. All the characters have their arc. They're all going to change and adapt and they're all going to have their interpersonal relationships fleshed out. Looking at the upcoming Point One issue, what can you say about what's going on in there and how it ties into the greater scheme of things in the book moving forward?

Rick Remender: It's an important issue for setting things up that are going to play a bigger role coming down the line. But it's also a self-contained story that reintroduces Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. They've set up camp in their original base in Australia, where the X-Men made their home for a few years. They've got Gateway back and it's sort of resetting a lot of cool villains like Reese and the original Reavers. And Lady Deathstrike has been rebuilt and put back together in her Barry Windsor Smith outfit. It's returning to the roots on those characters as well telling an iconic and self-contained X-Force story that tells you who the characters are, what their mission is, what their personal interactions are. It serves a lot of purposes.

This was a lot of work. [Laughs] Self-contained stories are always a lot of work to make sure you've got a beginning, middle and end that's satisfying. We knew that this was going to be setting something up for Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers for later. We knew that we wanted to have it accessible, which means you have to approach the characters as if it's the first time anyone has ever read them. It means you have to be natural and avoid exposition, while being unnatural and cramming in exposition. You have to find clever ways to get information across to where it feels like people aren't being fed information. I think that's the point of it. If you haven't been reading the series, you can buy it and get a taste for the tone and the characters and missions they take on. And if have been reading it, you get the return of Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers and the beginning of some things to come.


Ben said...

Can't wait for the Shadow King arc! I'm sure Betts will shine given her story with SK!

FSaker said...

Uncanny X-Force had a brilliant first arc, and it's great to know that Remender is already prepared for the next 15 issues! I hope the constant X-overs don't drag this book's quality down, as it unfortunately happened with the previous X-Force one. Sure, it will be nice to see the UXF eventually interacting with the other X-teams, but for now it's better to leave the UXF in their own corner doing their own thing.

About the 5.1 issue... could Gateway be one of the "new members" that Remender mentioned some time ago that would join the team? Maybe Gateway and EVA in her humanoid form are the new members?

Although I think the UXF team is already good the way it is. Some people are begging for Domino, Gambit and even Havok and Polaris, but personally the five characters we got (well, six if we count EVA) are already enough for me.

Rahsaan said...

I always loved Gateway! It'd be cool to finally learn more about him. (Though I hated how marvel retconned Bishop from being black American to being a descendant of Gateway!)

As for Alex and Lorna. I like Alex a lot, but he and Lorna wouldn't fir the character dynamic of Uncanny X-Force in my opinion. Not sure if Alex is detached enough to kill the way that is needed. Alex gets passionate quite often if memory serves since. I didn't read any of the Shiar/Vulcan stuff aside from the first issue when they went to space with Xavier, so perhaps he's changed.

As for Dane, she is a complete nutter and mad as a hatter. Highly unbalanced and erratic. Please keep her far away from the X-Force lest they have to kill her due to her going all psychotic and rogue on a mission.