Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Q&A: Rick Remender

Marvel.com: For writer Rick Remender, there’s more to the Marvel Universe than the bright heroics of Spider-Man and the Avengers. Writing both Uncanny X-Force and Venom, the California-based writer shows that heroes can have dark edges, and that those edges can cut—and sometimes kill.

In Uncanny X-Force, the team’s one-time compatriot Archangel threatens to bring about a new Age of Apocalypse. As Wolverine and company attempt to stop him, Psylocke feels the pull of competing loyalties. In December’s Uncanny X-Force #18, the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga” brings all that to a head.

Marvel.com: In Uncanny X-Force you’re barreling your way to the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga,” something you’ve been building towards since the series began. What can people look forward to in issue #18?

Rick Remender: As people who followed [my independent comic] Fear Agent know, I like long-form stories and seeding things so that it pays off later in big ways. There have been a number of those things seeded throughout the 18 issues leading up to Uncanny X-Force #18, such as Archangel becoming the new Apocalypse. There’s more waiting to come to the surface for this next issue.

Marvel.com: This arc has brought the Age of Apocalypse back into the mix of the Marvel Universe. What’s it like being able to revisit this classic event from the 90’s and make it work organically today?

Rick Remender: I’m a tremendous fan of alternate reality characters, and love the potential emanating from variations on familiar characters being raised in other worlds. It goes back to the “nature vs. nurture” debate and the question of if we’re cooked by our environment or if people are set in stone by birth. Alternate versions of characters help explore that. It’s exciting to take characters from post-apocalyptic worlds like Age of Apocalypse and see how different they are based on the hardships they’ve lived through.

In terms of the larger story, it was a natural extension of what was planned. Dark Beast was a natural go-to guy when it comes to exploring Apocalypse’s powers, and with his origins in the Age of Apocalypse universe we tied it back through to our team being stranded there.
Uncanny X-Force #19 cover by Rafael Grampa

It’s my responsibility to take these alternate versions of fan-favorite characters and make them three-dimensional and developed. For instance, this Nightcrawler isn’t just a wacky version of Kurt brought in for no reason. He’s a very different character than the Kurt Wagner we’ve come to know, and he happens to fit in well with the tone of the X-Force team as we’ll see in the near future.

As for the rest of them, we’ve extrapolated where they’d be and set about making that world relevant and interesting in a modern context. Both the fans and Marvel itself responded well to what’s been introduced, and they’re launching the new series Age of Apocalypse out of that, which you’ll see more of in December’s Uncanny X-Force #19.1. It’s a nice validation to see that springing out of our book and it’s invigorating that the fans liked it so much.

Marvel.com: After the “Dark Angel Saga” ends, the series dovetails into the line-wide Regenesis event and the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler joins the team. What can you tell us going forward?

Rick Remender: There are some new directives for the team, but it’s all still building off what’s gone down in the first year of the series. The second year builds into a very similar kind of thing; a mega-arc, beginning with issue #19 which is an epilogue to the “Dark Angel Saga” drawn by Robbi Rodriguez. This issue shows what happens to Nightcrawler and the Age of Apocalypse characters as well as sets up a new status quo—or a side-job at least—for X-Force. This ties in with Wolverine & The X-Men #4, and Jason Aaron and I have worked extremely hard to make our two books fit as neatly as possible. Both our books live in the same corner of the Marvel Universe and Logan leads both squads, so there’s a lot of connective tissue between the school and this covert ops squad.

After that and the Point One issue, the next four issues illustrated by Greg Tocchini takes us to Otherworld as Betsy’s family is concerned with her work in X-Force. We’ve also got Fantomex put on trial for what he’s done over the course of the book. I love the idea that dominoes from the first arc are still falling and things the team has done are still catching up to them.

Marvel.com: Hearing you mention Otherworld brings back memories to the classic Excaliburdays with Betsy’s brother Captain Britain. We saw Brian briefly in the last issue of Uncanny X-Force, so does that mean he’s playing a bigger role going forward?

Rick Remender: Definitely. I’m working hard to re-establish Captain Britain with Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers. I like Brian because he’s a conflicted character; a man of science who had to accept magic. He has a suit of armor powered by magic, tied to his confidence level. I love him as a character and for his history, and we’re going to put him back in the spotlight as the Lord of Otherworld and show his connection to Betsy and what’s going on in her life. Brian and Betsy’s brother Jamie plays a role as well.

Marvel.com: Speaking of strained family ties, the X-Force team has that given that they’ve been keeping their actions a secret from their fellow X-Men as well as the world at large. So far the secret’s only leaked out to Magneto, but how long can it last?

Rick Remender: I think it’s one of those things they constantly have to cover up. It’s like telling a lie; they try to hide it but it slowly grows and as someone calls you on it they have to elaborate on that lie and it becomes a web. Because of what they’re doing in Uncanny X-Force, the team has become sort of isolated from the rest of the X-Men. They can say they saved the day sort-of-ish, but they didn’t really save the day. Things are continuing to spiral and get worse, and at this point it’s like a vase that has been shattered but glued back together; the water keeps leaking out from those cracks no matter how quickly they patch it.

Magneto is aware of X-Force, but not necessarily aware of the whole scope of the team’s actions. In Uncanny X-Force #19, a couple other X-Men and an Avenger both discover X-Force’s actions and it will definitely have ramifications going forward.

Marvel.com: In addition to that, you also have the politics relating to the schism inside the X-Men. How does the split in the mutant race play out on the X-Force team?

Rick Remender: There’s a reason Psylocke doesn’t want to be at the school but remains on the X-Force team. This second year on Uncanny X-Force is a big development year for her as a character. That will be easily apparent to readers after #18 and #19. Moving forward into the next year, we have some fairly unexpected things planned for her. With that being said, the schism between Scott and Logan will definitely change the landscape of things but since the X-Force squad works in the shadows on their own and Wolverine is running the show, there’s not a lot of interconnectivity with Scott and his team.


Eduardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eduardo said...

It's impressing how he manages to connect the facts that have been presented since the very first issue till the most recente ones. I wonder why it took all this time do to such a good job like this, mainly with Psylocke!

FSaker said...

So Jamie Braddock is coming back from the First Fallen's dimension? Cool, I want to see that!

Rahsaan said...

Hmmm... I won't start a debate, but I know what "fairly unexpected things" I'd love for him to have planned for her.