Friday, January 28, 2011

Final Sneak Peek: 5 Ronin

But before the big day, here's one more awe-inspiring look at the art that will bring this amazing world to life and present Marvel's deadliest heroes in a whole new light. Thanks SoulKiller for the heads up!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #4 Spoilers

Spoilers: Fantomex and Wolverine dispose of the Horsemen as EVA transports them to a planet far away. Fantomex then uses his powers to trick the ship into believing that it has already teleported. Elsewhere, Deadpool nurses an emaciated Angel back to health by feeding him pieces of himself. Psylocke makes her way to the inner chambers of the child Apocalypse and finds it harder to accomplish her task than ever dreamed of. Betsy protects the child, pretty much stating that she will kill anyone that attempts to harm the boy. Archangel goes berserk; which forces Betsy to beat him up. X-Force then comes to an agreement that the child can be saved... that's when X-Force members are left shocked looking back at Fantomex who has shot the boy dead with a bullet to the head. Fantomex then closes the child's eyelids. A very stunned team heads back home...

Thanks Mark Parnell from the CBR forums for the spoilers. :D

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Milligan Sharpens the Swords of the "5 Ronin"

CBR: This March, writer Peter Milligan and a group of talented artists tell a different type of samurai story when they kick off the weekly five issue miniseries "5 Ronin" from Marvel Comics which reimagines Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, the Punisher and the Hulk as 17th century Japanese warriors. CBR News spoke with Milligan about the project.

CBR News: Peter, in the past couple of years we've seen the rise of the Marvel Noir line, an imprint tasked with taking a look at what happens when a Marvel character is reinterpreted during the 1920s through '30s. Beyond that, we've recently seen "Deadpool Pulp," which reimagines that character in a '50s-style setting. Considering the relation between the pulp magazines of the '20s and '30s to comics, and comics in the '50s, it's easy to see where those ideas came from, but reimagining Marvel characters as samurai in Feudal Japan seems like an unexpected and interesting idea. Where did it come from and what drew you to it? Are you a fan of films like "Yojimbo" and "The Seven Samurai?"

Peter Milligan: First off, I am a big fan of Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai." To be honest, this was my initial "entry point" into the world of Feudal Japan when Editor Sebastian Girner and I began talking about this project. Secondly, I know what you're saying when you suggest that the '20s and '30s seem on the face of it a more obvious setting in which to re-imagine these characters, but other eras work equally well, and for different reasons. In "Namor: The Depths," for example, the 1950s was a good time for my story, partly because it just predated the whole Space Age and the new era that the '60s ushered in.

The original idea of Japan came from Sebastian -- he is very interested in all things Japanese -- but I immediately saw that I could use this setting to tell a story I wanted to tell. I've said this elsewhere (and will probably say it again!), but what interested me was that this era of Japan was in such a state of flux. One era was ending and a new one beginning. These times are difficult to live through; people are unsure where they stand, and this is a great arena for looking at character and seeing how characters act when taken to uncomfortable places.

The characters being reimagined for "5 Ronin" are an interesting lot. Wolverine is an obvious candidate, and as a fan of the film "Lady Snowblood," I can see why you chose Psylocke as well. Deadpool, the Hulk and the Punisher are a bit unusual on the face of it, though. What made you want to reinterpret these particular characters for this setting?

Of course, there are a lot of Marvel characters to choose from -- but I think when you read the story you'll see how right the characters we have are. Deadpool is perfect; he could have been originally designed for this story. I don't want to say any more because it will give an important part of the plot away. Punisher also perfectly fits with what we wanted. Both of these characters manage to be archetypes (in a world of comic book stereotypes) and that's why they so neatly and usefully worked with this story. Hulk is a little different. Part of the fun there was writing against type or character expectation. Though, again, an integral part of Banner/Hulk's character perfectly matches what we wanted in this book.

What can you tell us about the setting of "5 Ronin?" What's sort of the climate of the country at the time?

Well, as you say, it's Feudal Japan; specifically, the early seventeenth century. In 1600, there was a famously bloody and pivotal battle at Sekigahara, where the Western and Eastern clans fought. This battle ended what became known as the era of the warring states. In other words, the world of Japan that we find is going through a some kind of cataclysmic, epochal change. It's a violent age, an age of deep anxiety. Though it's a very alien time and place, I feel that this era speaks to us about our own troubled times. We have our own cataclysmic changes going on, our own sense of anxiety and "uprooted-ness."

How big of a role does the fantastic play in this story? Do your protagonists have their traditional super abilities?

I don't really want to talk about exactly what "superpowers" our characters have, but there is certainly an element of the fantastic running through the story. It must be said though that the characters are more grounded in reality -- albeit a strange reality -- than they might normally be in your average Marvel epic.

How much does real world history factor into "5 Ronin?" Will your cast be rubbing elbows with any historical figures?

Actual real world history does impact upon the story. One big event is the catalyst for a lot of what happens. All that follows with our characters is either a version of what actually happened, or the kind of thing that happened. There is one important character who is based loosely on an historical character. It must be said though that knowledge of Japanese history is not absolutely necessary to understand and enjoy "5 Ronin."

In terms of personality, how similar and how different are the protagonists of "5 Ronin" to their traditional Marvel Universe counterparts?

In their characters, who they are, I tried to keep them the same people -- though, of course those people are in a different setting with different problems. I mean, Logan is Logan. Punisher is certainly Punisher. Oh, God, is he Punisher. And Psylocke -- well, you'll have to see about Psylocke for yourselves.

How is the story structured in "5 Ronin?" Does each issue focus on one lone character or is this a team book?

Each episode focuses on one character, but there is a degree of slippage. These characters' lives are linked, woven together by something or someone they're not immediately aware of.

The story's plot deals with five characters, each with a burning desire or goal. The themes deal with how we cope with change in a changing world. How we ourselves either embrace or are resistant to change. And what happens when we get what we thought we wanted.

What are some of the obstacles and adversaries you plan on throwing your characters' way? Can we expect, for example, Samurai versions of classic Marvel villains?

Struggling with their own demons and the adversaries thrown up by this violent, changing world is enough to keep anyone, even a re-imagined Marvel hero, busy.

The villain is based loosely on a historical figure. Logan has a number of supporting players whose identities will be revealed in the book that focuses on him.

David Aja, Mark Brooks, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Mack, Ed McGuiness and John Cassaday are providing the covers for "5 Ronin" and the series rotating cast of interior artists include Tomm Cokker, Dalibor Talajic, Lawrence Campbell, Goran Parlov and Leandro Fernandez. Based on that roster, it sounds as though "5 Ronin" will be one of the most beautiful books Marvel publishes in 2011. What's it like to be working on a series with all these great artists?

This is the easiest question to answer so far. It's been amazing to see the artwork come through, both interior and cover work. Brilliant. To work with one of these very talented artists would be great. To collaborate with so many brilliant artists on one book is spectacular.

Have you thought about what you might do if fans really respond to "5 Ronin? Would you like to tell more stories with these characters? Or perhaps give some other Marvel characters the samurai treatment?

This story and these characters were devised with this finite story in mind. But you never know.

Any final thoughts you would like share about "5 Ronin?"

After a while you just want to stop talking about it and see the bloody thing in the stores. Each book seems to have its own unique quality, yet somehow and very strongly the books add up to a whole.

New Psylocke HeroClix

WizKids will soon release its Giant-Size X-Men set of HeroClixes. The set, which streets March 16th, introduces a new SKU, the Super Booster, which contains one of six different giant-sized figures (which include Nemesis, Onslaught, and the Sentinels). One Super Booster comes packed with eight five-figure Booster Packs in Bricks, and stores can pre-order one additional Super Booster with each Brick ordered.

The set includes 58 new figures in the regular Booster Packs, including subthemes such as Astonishing X-Men, Brotherhood of Mutants, Nextwave, and Hellions.

Thanks to v1ctor from CBR for the heads up!
Ps. Notice Psylocke is wearing her "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2" costume? :D

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wolverine and Jubilee #1 Art



Jubilee reminisces the events of the day Storm, Psylocke, Rogue and Dazzler saved her during a shopping spree in Uncanny X-Men #244.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #4 Preview

Note: Hey y'all. I was travelling for this past week, so I couldn't update the blog. I've just added the last few stories concerning Psylocke/Uncanny X-Force from the past week. Sorry for the delay! And thanks to FSaker and SoulKiller for the heads up in the previous post!

Uncanny X-Force #4
Cover by: Esad Ribic
Writer: Rick Remender
Pencils: Jerome Opeña

The Story: “The Apocalypse 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!

In Stores: January 26, 2011


Remender Cranks the Metal in “Uncanny X-Force”

CBR: After the events of "Second Coming," X-Men mainstays Wolverine and Archangel took a hard look at the super teams of the Marvel Universe and decided to save them from the hard resolutions of killing the very evil villains that needed killing. They reached out to fellow X-Man Psylocke, the mercenary Deadpool, and the mutant thief Fantomex and formed their own top-secret team to do the bloody but necessary work that other heroes didn't have the stomach for. In the current arc of the ongoing series “Uncanny X-Force” by writer Rick Remender and artist Jerome Opeña, the team embarked upon their inaugural mission, to end the threat of the villainous Apocalypse forever. It's a mission that's proving to be a lot more dangerous and complicated than they ever expected. CBR News spoke with Remender about his plans for the series.

One of the reasons X-Force's mission to assassinate Apocalypse has proven so difficult is that Apocalypse's followers in the Akkaba Society have awoken the Final Four Horsemen and sent them into the field to do battle with X-Force. The Final Four Horsemen are mutants from different points in history that serve as Apocalypse’s chief enforcers. They each have powers that live up to their ominous code names of Death, Pestilence, Famine, and War. In issue #3 of “Uncanny X-Force,” in stores now, Remender revealed the detailed origins of each of the Horsemen.

“I wanted the Final Four Horsemen to be very distinctive and very unique and I wanted them to be mutants taken from various points in time. Because the idea behind them was that these are the mutants Apocalypse collected over the years and basically just flash froze them. They were put in virtual reality and trained and he kept them on the side waiting for the last hurrah. This is basically the beginning of the last hurrah,” Remender told CBR News. “When you do these origins you write a lot and then you edit it down and show only the cream. That's what I think people respond to. You have to find a concise and terse way to get these ideas across that is quick, interesting, and doesn't feel like your drenching the reader in self-referential, almost masturbatory exposition.

“So with the Final Four Horsemen the plan was that they each get a story that feels unique and gives you a glimpse into who they are beyond the fact that they're just a hero or a villain and to do that quickly in a way that fully fleshes them out,” Remender continued. “I spent more time on those four pages with their origins then I did on the rest of the script. It's never easy. The research for the Four Horsemen took a lot of time. Your villains need to be as important as your heroes, though. They need to breathe and hopefully we accomplished that with the origins.”

Remender finds creating fully fleshed-out villains for a series like “Uncanny X-Force,” where the main characters are actively trying to kill them, a double-edged sword. “When you deal with stuff in the mainstream, a lot of time in the back of your head you expect things to go a certain way. You have assumptions like, ‘that’s not going to happen’ or 'there's no way it's going to end this way.' I want my books to constantly surprise you. In my 'Punisher' series I wanted Frank Castle to lose the fight to Wolverine's kid. So by the end of it you're shocked that his head has been cut off. You should feel that shock when you read a story,” Remender said. “It's hard to create a lot of characters that you love and put that much time into knowing that they might get a claw in the head. But at the same time if you put that much time and energy into them, when they do get that claw in the head there's an emotional reaction. I feel like when readers see that much time and background being invested in a character it makes them wonder if the character is going to die. So now the reader is invested and they care. So hopefully it adds a level of suspense and a level of excitement because people don't know what's coming next.”

In the aftermath of X-Force's battle with the Final Four Horsemen, the five team members were separated from each other. Archangel and Deadpool were trapped on the moon’s surface, Fantomex and Wolverine were prowling the halls of Apocalypse's massive underground chamber that houses SHIP, and Psylocke was just about to infiltrate Apocalypse's main chamber. So in “Uncanny X-Force” #4, the final chapter of the series' initial arc, Remender will have a chance to explore some individual character dynamics.

“One goal of mine in storytelling and in doing comics is to take something that could be stretched into seven issues and tell it in four. I want to make sure you're getting only the very best and the most important cream. Watch the Coen Brothers' 'True Girt' and you’ll see there's no fat on the bone. They come late and they leave early. That's the kind of storytelling I like. Don't waste my time. Give me the cream and get in and out. So with only five characters I'm capable of doing that,” Remender said. “What we do have in issue #4 is a really big moment that a lot of people will enjoy. There are some big surprises at the end with what's going on with Warren [Archangel]. We get into Warren's head a little bit and I saved that to the end. If you read the first three issues Warren has been there and he matters, but he's been reacting to the rest of the team on some level. There's a little mistrust there as well. That's so we could get into his head at the end of issue #4 and reveal what's going on. When you see the internal monologue and what's going on in Warren's head, it adds a different dimension to this story. He and Deadpool spend the majority of the issue together and it was a very fun dynamic, especially when Deadpool realizes that he has to save Warren's life because Warren is dying from the effects of Famine's powers.”

The final page of “Uncanny X-Force” #3 had Psylocke discovering that when the Akkaba Society resurrected Apocalypse, the mutant villain was reborn as a young boy. So in issue #4 Psylocke and her teammates will have to make a tough choice about the boy's ultimate fate.

“Betsy [Psylocke] loves Warren and she goes into Warren's head on a frequent basis fixing what's going on in there between him and his Archangel persona. That's what Apocalypse has done to her man. So what if your spouse, your girlfriend, or a person you love has been so terribly tampered with by some malevolent badass and you went off on a mission to kill that person? You get all built up and you get banged around and you almost get killed. You fight your way through this place and you finally get there and you open a door only to discover that things aren't what they seem,” Remender said. “Here is this doe-eyed ten-year-old kid and at that point it comes down to Betsy as a character and a human being. She's a character that I love and have been reading about for almost 25 years. So my nerd encyclopedia goes through who I think she is at that point and I think that obviously you define your characters on how they react to just this situation. That's why everyone has been so excited about this arc and why we've had so much fun writing it. So many of these situations define the characters based on how they decide.”

The decisions X-Force makes in issue #4 will have consequences that will come back to haunt the team for some time. “I just finished my outline for this series up to issue #17 and we have some things happening in the book that are so big that I don't think anybody will anticipate them. Everyone is crazy excited. You probably won't expect how issue #4 ends and everything is interconnected in this series; the Deathlok stuff, The World, Kid Apocalypse, the Akkaba Society. There are so many twists and turns coming up that every issue will be a revelation.”

On February 16th Remender and artist Esad Ribic (“Loki”, “Silver Surfer: Requiem") kick off the second arc of “Uncanny X-Force” with issue #5. It's a storyline with roots that stretch back as far as Grant Morrison's 2002 “New X-Men” storyline “Weapon Plus,” which established the titular sinister program as the creators of Fantomex, Captain America, Wolverine, and Deadpool while also introducing their massive lab and artificial environment complex, “The World.” The second “Uncanny X-Force” arc also picks up elements from writer Jason Aaron's “Dark Reign: The List: Wolverine” one-shot, in which Fantomex used a stolen shrink ray to miniaturize the World and then put it in his pocket. It also picks up some threads from Aaron's “Tomorrow Dies Today” arc of the “Wolverine: Weapon X” series, which featured multiple copies of the cybernetic soldier from the future known as Deathlok.

“One thing that's fun about working in an interconnected universe is taking things you like by other people, and Jason and I are buddies who talk frequently about stories. When we were discussing his issue of 'The List' I was writing notes. Then when Jason was going to do Deathlok in 'Weapon X' we spent two days on the phone and we figured out the first part of his story and then the second part would be the basic building blocks of what I'm doing in 'X-Force'. In 'The List', Jason established that there was a file on Norman Osborn's desk about the World, which was labeled 'Project Deathlok,'” Remender explained. “That all tied it together for me. So with this second arc we are definitely picking up a lot of Jason's stuff and a lot of stuff that we cooked up together about the Deathlok mythology. We want to make Deathlok a big deal and I think we figured out a way to do it. Then beyond that, there was the Grant Morrison's stuff which I then reread several times. I really got my head into how he operated the World and what the potential of the World is. At that point I was in New York and had chatted at length with editors Jody LeHeup and Axel Alonso and the ideas began to solidify. That night with Esad and we were having dinner and we started talking about some of the potential for the World and what could be going on in there. We cooked up some very, very cool things.”

The main antagonist of the second arc of “Uncanny X-Force” is the enigmatic Father, the architect of the World. The plot of the story revolves around his attempt to reshape reality using the cybernetic Deathlok Virus.

“The Deathlok virus is precognitive evolution. It's seeding itself in all dimensions. So these Deathloks aren't just time traveling. They're jumping through dimensions seeding the Deathlok virus and it's not nefarious,” Remender revealed. “Father thinks, ‘All these super heroes and villains are destroying the world. They're causing environmental catastrophes and cities are always being blown up. So why don't we just have a Big Brother-style program that puts a robot cap on their heads, i.e. the Deathlok virus, and make them controllable police that can then go out and be used to usher in utopia? So Father's plan is to spread Deathloks throughout the Everdimensions and create a Utopia in every possible situation. These Deathloks are always computing about things like the probability of future success. They also compute the probabilities of other futures. They might see the possibility of a Nimrod robot in a 'Days of Future Past'-style scenario and try to calculate how to stop that and make sure that their future is the one that happens. So the hit of the 'Deathlok Nation' arc is that in order to achieve their goals X-Force must kill the future.

“While still in New York, I spent a day in the office with my editor Jody LeHeup. We had a black board and we made sure that just for these three issues we spent an entire day in there breaking it down to be tight and perfect, seeding our future plans for the World and thinking how it's going to play into future arcs like an upcoming story involving the Shadow King,” Remender continued. “It's solid. And of course Esad Ribic being inked by John Lucas and being colored by Matt Wilson makes for a supreme art team. So the people who are spoiled by Jerome Opena and Dean White’s work on the first arc will not be disappointed. “

X-Force's initial outing to kill Apocalypse was complicated by the fact that that the villain had been reborn as a small boy. In the “Deathlok Nation” arc, the team must once again wade through morally murky waters because their chief opponents are victims of the Deathlok virus and have not necessarily made a conscious choice to do evil.

“If you're writing 'X-Force' the challenge it to make sure every kill is a difficult kill. I don't think there should be many situations where it's cut and dry. That's something that Jody and I have spent a lot of time working on for these upcoming arcs. Jody had a great idea for something that that comes up involving the Shadow King and I had a couple of other ideas that tied into it. That led to four or five other very crucial and difficult assassination jobs. Each one they make has consequences. So the dominoes start falling all over the place and they're forced to make other compromises and do other things. Then behind it, all as the dominoes start falling, the reality is if humanity were to discover that there was a squad of X-Men that murdered people it would start a war,” Remender remarked. “It would be the end. So they've got a lot of pressure in terms of keeping their existence a secret. Also I really like the idea that like Hitchcok says, 'Killing a man should be a very difficult endeavor.’ It should never be an easy and simple decision and it should never be easy to accomplish. Beyond that I'm a fan of the consequences of murder. It's what makes ethical dilemmas like 'would you kill Hitler as a baby? and if you did, who would take his place?' so fascinating, and it leads to great drama.”

X-Force's mission against Father and the Deathloks continues in March, but that month also sees the release of the special “X-Force” #5.1 issue, which features art by Rafael Albuquerque (“American Vampire”) and pits the team against another cybernetic threat: Lady Deathstrike and the villainous Reavers. “#5.1 takes place between issues 4 and 5 continuity wise. Again, it plays another big role in stories that are coming up. It's actually a huge piece of the puzzle,” Remender stated. “The Reavers and Lady Deathstrike are back in Australia. They've grabbed up Gateway again and I can't really get into the specifics, but things are sort of how they were when we first saw them in that situation back in ‘Uncanny X-Men’ in the late ‘80s. Gateway is in a situation where he has no choice but to work with the Reavers again.

“Deathstrike has been rebuilt and is back in her original Barry Windsor Smith designed form. The main six Reavers of the Australia era are back. So you've got Macon, Cole, Reese, Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy, and Skullbuster,” Remender continued. “There's a lot of cyborg activity going on in 'X-Force' this spring. It's all going to build. I like seeding things. I like telling stories that might leave you wondering 'what the hell was that all about?' Then maybe ten issues later things explode in your face and you realize that there was something going on there.”


Though the artist did a “Fear Agent” backup tale, “Uncanny X-Force” #5.1 is the first full collaboration between Remender and Rafael Albuquerque and the writer hopes it’s not the last. Remender has been consistently amazed by the artist’s work on the issue and would love to collaborate with Albuquerque again. “Rafael’s art is spectacular. We’ve literally had like five project together almost start over the past few years, including a creator-owned book we still have plans for. One thing that we had discussed while we were working on this issue was the work of Barry Windsor Smith on 'Uncanny X-Men' when he was doing Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. We also talked about Marc Silvestri's work on the later Reavers stuff,” Remender said. “I dug through those and did a lot of scanning and sent a ton of reference to Rafael because I really wanted to capture that era's aesthetic. He took it and tweaked it and made it his own in a way that will blow away both X-fans going back and new fans. These characters have a whole new life breathed into them while still maintaining their classic aesthetic.”

Fans of Remender’s work know that the writer’s affinity for cybernetic characters stretches beyond Marvel cyborgs like Lady Deathstrike, the Reavers, and Deathlok. “I don't know what it is about cyborgs. I know that there's something cheesy about them, but I swear to god everything I write ends up having a cyborg in it," the writer laughed. "I've gone back through my books and there are plenty of cyborgs in 'Fear Agent.' 'Doll and Creature?' Sure, cyborgs. 'Blackheart Billy?' Skate punk with a robot head. And now we have the Reavers and Deathlok here in ‘X-Force’, which came from an idea I had dealing with the World. We’ll see that start to unfold in issue #5.

“There's something aesthetically about cyborgs, though. It might just be my art brain more than my writer brain, but I do love them and I think I figured out a really great hook for why there are so many cyborgs in these storylines. There will be a lot of seeding for that going on issues 5, 5.1, 6, and 7. There are some things that will play out in the bigger story that develops with the fourth arc and might play a big role beyond.”

Ultimately Remender views the first few arcs “Uncanny X-Force” as chapters in a novel. He’s working hard to make sure that these stories can be enjoyed on their own, but he’s striving just as hard to make sure they fit together to tell one grand saga. “That's the great thing about sequential periodical storytelling. I can go big and I like to. My current Punisher mini-series 'In the Blood' is the end of a 26-issue story that literally began in the first and second arcs of my ‘Punisher’ series with Henry Russo and Microchip,” Remender said. “So the trick here is to make sure that the arcs break down in a way where you can come in at the beginning of each arc and you can be a new reader and get into things, but also that it all fits into a bigger story that rewards people who read from day one. I've got the series outlined up to issue #16 and I’m working on 17-20 now. Now I've got it locked down and we know everything that happens up until that point and everything that's happening now builds up to that. So if people like that kind of story; like a big, churning pot that boils over, then explodes soup on you, poke you in the eyes and sets your house on fire; that's what's coming. Literally. Get insurance.”

Age Of X Communiqués: Nightmare

NIGHTMARE

Civilian name:
Megan Gwynn

Known relatives:
Owen and Brenda Gwynn
Grandparents. Dead.
Possibly related to Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind): DNA comparison was suggestive, but inconclusive.

Comments:
Gwynn was born in Wales, and there’s ample reason to wish she’d stayed there. She and her grandparents were part of a general expulsion of X-gene positives from the United Kingdom, with the apparent intention of settling them on a series of small islands in the Irish Sea.

That plan became moot when Irish separatists bombed one of the ships carrying the transportees, and the others turned back. The Mutant Liberation Front seized control of the ship carrying Gwynn (we believe it also numbered Jonathon Starsmore and Elizabeth Braddock among its passengers) and ultimately were able to berth it at the Canadian port of Saguenay.

Gwynn was as green as grass when she arrived, and was one of many mutants recruited, groomed and trained by East Coast mafia crime families. It’s known beyond doubt that she served the Carcotti organization as a runner and enforcer. Must have been quite a culture shock for a kid brought up in the Welsh valleys, but – obviously – she survived and thrived in that Darwinian environment.

Fun fact: Gwynn used to have butterfly wings, and went by the nausea-inducing pseudonym of Pixie. Her current shoulder accessories are more demonic in nature, and apparently they arrived on the night of the Bleecker Street Massacre (qv). As far as we know, Gwynn hadn’t killed anyone up to that point. God knows, she’s making up for lost time now.

X-Solicits for April 2011

Uncanny X-Force #7
Written by: Rick Remender
Penciled by: Esad Ribic
Cover by: Esad Ribic
Thor Goes Hollywood Variant by: Mike Del Mundo
Deathlok Nation: Part 3
The hordes of the Deathlok Nation continue to flood into our world, intent on killing Fantomex and protecting the super soldier production facility known as The World…but why? With The World now infected by the Deathlok virus, and X-Force locked in heated battle with the most powerful warriors in the Marvel Universe, humanity’s hopes rest in the hands of one man, but who is Weapon Infinity?!

Uncanny X-Force #8
Written by: Rick Remender
Penciled by: Jerome Opeña
Cover by: Esad Ribic
Before the Fall: Part 1
A nuclear facility has been infiltrated and taken over by the Shadow King! With nuclear missiles now aimed at both Utopia and New York, the lives of Earth's heroes hang in the balance. X-Force heads into action, but to save the world, they must make a terrible choice. In order to prevent a nuclear holocaust, Wolverine and his team must kill every last person working in the facility. X-Force can save the day, but at what cost?

X-Men Legacy #247
Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Clay Mann
Cover by: Mico Suayan
Thor Goes Hollywood Variant by: TBA
“Age Of X” Chapter 5!
In the Age Of X, there are no X-Men. There are no heroes to stand in the way of the anti-mutant aggression that has run rampant for years. And when the world's most dangerous mutant is set loose in this Age, everything will come crashing down.



New Mutants #24
Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Steve Kurth
Cover by: Mico Suayan
“Age Of X” Conclusion!
This is it. As the psychic barricades protecting Fortress X crumble and the human militias flock to exterminate all the mutants within, mutantkind makes its last stand…against the anti-mutant forces who would see them wiped out, but also against the one responsible for their plight in the first place. And when the dust settles? No one will be left unscathed.

Kirkman's X-Men Part 3: The End Of The World Revisited

Throughout the first three weeks of January, Tim Callahan from CBR has been reading, and thinking, and writing about Robert Kirkman’s multi-year run on “Ultimate X-Men.” Here's an excerpt that mentions Ultimate Psylocke and her relationship with Bishop.

(...)
No matter how many times Bishop has starred in a series (with his name on it or otherwise), he still hasn’t gotten a personality that has stuck. Kirkman’s Ultimate Bishop is almost immediately recognizable as a character, though. As more than a costume and an attitude. Kirkman gives him a history – he married Psylocke in the future, and she died in a catastrophe, and when he meets the teenage Psylocke in the present day, he’s protective of her, which she, in her teenage way, sees as particularly creepy – and a voice. He’s the patient mentor from the future. Militant, stern, but supportive. And he works with the young mutants to speed up the development of their powers, not through artificial enhancements, but through coaching. Through building confidence in his pupils.

The X-Men have historically been based in a school, but Bishop, in Kirkman’s run, is one of the few characters who has been shown to do much effective teaching.

The school concept is central to Kirkman’s run, though, at least, it seemed to be in the moments after Xavier “died.” Kirkman plays the old “the X-Men are now disbanded” card, but his version of that sequence of events leads to some interesting explorations of the facets of mutantdom.

Basically, after the “Cable” arc – after Xavier is missing but assumed dead – Scott Summers focuses on the school and disbands the superhero team. Bishop reforms the X-Men, slowly (but in Kirkman’s accelerated “Ultimate X-Men” pace slowly to him is still a few issues faster than what you’re likely to see in most superhero comics today), with members like Storm, Wolverine, Dazzler (Kirkman’s Ultimate Dazzler is pretty effective, actually, as a character in the comic, and as a member of the team), Psylocke, Angel, and Pyro (and Ultimate Pyro is even more interesting than Dazzler, with his lightweight intellect and severe burns and good intentions). Meanwhile, we have Nightcrawler as new leader of the mostly-hideous and socially-outcast Morlocks, and we have a long-haired Stryfe, stirring up trouble with the Mutant Liberation Front.
(...)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Marvel's Next Big Thing: "5 Ronin"



CBR: Marvel's Next Big Thing actually involves five things—or five people, rather. Wolverine, Psyclocke, the Punisher, Deadpool and the Hulk star in the upcoming five-issue, weekly miniseries "5 Ronin." The title re-imagines the quintet of heroes as masterless samurais in feudal Japan out for revenge. Writer Peter Milligan pens all five issues, while a rotating cast of artists pencil each installment, including Tomm Coker, Dalibor Talajic, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov and Leandro Fernandez.

Milligan and Marvel Editor Sebastian Girner spoke with reporters today in a conference call moderated by James Viscardi about the upcoming miniseries, which launches in March and runs throughout the month. CBR is there with LIVE coverage to help bring some guidance to "5 Ronin."

Things started off with discussion on how the idea came about. "The egg of this idea was born in Sebastian's great interest and passion in all things Japanese," said Milligan. "Sebastian and I made an omelet out of that egg."

Girner said that the samurai armor reminded him of superhero uniforms and he started putting things together on paper. "I tried to image which characters would," and took it from there, he said.

Talk then turned to the specific characters. "The characters changed a little," admitted Milligan. The writer said he was a big fan of the "Seven Samurai" film and concept. "The characters all represent an aspect of this Japanese society," he said. He said that it was interesting to see how these characters molded and became a part of the Japanese landscape as the brainstorming went on. Milligan said that Wolverine made the most sense, as did the Punisher, for the atmosphere and culture.

Girner said that it makes sense to a lot of people why Wolverine would be a vital character in the tale, and that other characters proved a little more different to make work. "We got further and further away from the historical roots to making the characters inhabiting the story of the world that they're in."

Psylocke is a character that might make you raise an eyebrow, Milligan said, but also argued that "Psylocke is the character that fits in most beautifully" with the story.

In regards to the story itself, Milligan went into a little bit of detail. Each chapter focuses on one of the characters, but the stories are intricately linked through a common catalyst. "All these characters have to rediscover as the story continues" that there's a reason they're all connected and drawn together, explained Milligan. They each have problems that stem from the same source.

The decision to have multiple artists said works brilliantly for the nature of the story, said Milligan. The writer said that each installment has a certain tone and atmosphere specific to that character and their story that it almost necessitates a different artist than the other story. Girner talked about the various artists involved and his previous work with them, including on "Daredevil: Noir," "Punisher MAX" and "Deadpool."

"Tomm worked a long time on page one and it's the opening page of this series and it's so detailed," said Milligan. The writer said he owes the artist a beer for how beautiful the image came out—an image based on an actual Japanese battle.

Question then opened up to the press. Milligan revealed that the story begins in 1600 in feudal Japan and follows a few years after that. "When we pick up, one age is coming to and end and the other is painfully about to be born," explained Milligan. Girner said that the story follows from 100 years of civil war and is an important era in Japanese history and culture. "A lot of great stories take place in the Eto Era," said Girner. Milligan pointed out that "Seven Samurai" takes place during this time.

In regards to the Hulk and how he fits in the story, Milligan said that he was the most interesting and counter-intuiative character. "He's not this rampaging Green Monster" revealed the writer. "He's a monk." The writer said the internal battle between Hulk and Banner actually represents what a monk is about—finding that balance within yourself.

Samurais themselves have become a legendary icon in popular culture, similar to the cowboy. In regards to the comparison of the two and how both have become romanticized, Milligan said that "the cowboy as we know him is an entire fabrication. The samurai obviously existed with their own code and conduct." The writer said that he took a good look at that code and their lives and reality of the samurai when researching for the story.

"The characters are meant to be recognizable," confirmed Milligan. The writer said that the characters are still "100 percent the characters we read" in regular Marvel books every month. When coming up with the story, they wanted to make sure to keep the core of the characters the same, despite the change of the setting. Girner added that each story plays with things that we know about each character. This went into not only the design of their outfits, but also keeping that inner turmoil and the heart of the character that went into their original creation at Marvel.

Milligan said that there aren't really other analogues of Marvel characters in the story. "The one character we haven't talked about was the villain of the piece," but that is not an analogue but based on a historical figure—a rather evil and wicked one, he said. Milligan said he turned want to turn into a gag of who you could fit into feudal Japan. The story is about these five characters and their problems specifically.

Newsarama:
Milligan says that, of the main characters, Psylocke is the one that some "raise an eyebrow at" due to her inclusion, but he thinks she "fits in most beautifully." "My way into Psylocke, when I found out the metaphor of the butterfly, that was my way in to her character in this Japanese setting," Milligan adds.

How do the character-centric stories tie in together? "Each chapter focuses on one of these characters," Milligan says, and has a "standalone quality." "But they're intricately linked." Milligan says there's "another way they're connected" that he can't talk about until people read the book. "Their problems are caused by the same source," the writer adds. "It becomes very clear very quickly," what that linking element is, Girner says.

Girner says Laurence Campbell draws a "cold as hell" Punisher, which is why they wanted him for that issue. He adds that Parlov is maybe the best Punisher Max artist, but the only thing he draws better than Punisher is women, which is why he's on the Psylocke issue.

Milligan says that while you wouldn't think characters like Deadpool would translate, they are "immensely recognizable." "We structured each story with things we know about them," Girner says. Milligan says 5 Ronin's Deadpool couldn't be anyone else, and the Punisher is very close to his MU depictions. "We tried to see the people in there," Girner says. "Upholding a code of honor is an incredibly difficult thing to do when you're conflicted."

Which samurai character would you like to see someone dress up as at a con? Milligan: Psylocke. Girner: "The big, broad basket hat Deadpool wears."

Milligan: "One of my favorite moments is when Logan and Psylocke are getting to grips with each other, and the night has been so wild, that Logan isn't sure if they're fighting, or they're actually still having sex."

Marvel's Viscardi ends the call by saying that 5 Ronin will be one of the most attractive comics on the shelves, and a good opportunity for fans who want a Marvel book to be set outside of normal canon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uncanny X-Force Minimates

Art Asylum has packaging shots for the upcoming Uncanny X-Force box set, which pretty much confirms the line-up of Wolverine, Deadpool, Archangel, and Psylocke.

The Uncanny X-Force box set is expected to hit specialty shops in January. This is Psylocke's 3rd Minimate to date.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kieron Gillen Talks Psylocke

Somebody has asked Kieron Gillen about Psylocke in Uncanny X-Men via formspring. Sounds like we shouldn't expect much from Betsy in "Uncanny X-Men" in 2011. Check it out:

Is Psylocke still part of the core cast of Uncanny X-Men? Seems like since she was included in Uncanny X-Force, Betsy stopped appearing in Uncanny X-Men for some reason.

Kieron Gillen: While there's no hard or fast rule - she shows up in Quarantine briefly - when we have so many characters, when someone is "starring" elsewhere and isn't someone who necessarily has to be present (i.e. Cyclops, etc), they're not someone who I'd immediately turn to that often. Rick is doing awesome stuff with her over on X-force though, isn't he?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Psylocke :: 2010

Retrospective 2010: Psylocke. It's that time of the year again! This is the place where you can talk about everything that happened to Psylocke in 2010: your favorite stories, favorite writers, favorite artists, favorite quotes, etc. And here's a little recap to refresh your memory! :D

JANUARY


Psylocke #3
:: Kill Matsu'o, Chapter 3
Psylocke finds Matsu'o, who tells her all he did was so she would kill him and put him out of his misery.



Nation X #2
:: LDR
Psylocke battles a Warwolf in Utopia.




Uncanny X-Men #520
:: Nation X, Chapter 6
Psylocke, Wolverine and Colossus are sent to New York to find out who sent the Predators X which released the nanobots on Utopia.


Wolverine: Weapon X #9
:: Insane In The Brain, Chapter 4
Psylocke and Nightcrawler are called by Melitar Garner to rescue Wolverine at the Dunwich Sanatorium.



X-Men Legacy #232
:: Earth, Give Up Your Dead, Chapter 2
Psylocke is confronted by Proteus with her worst fear and ends up possesed by him.



FEBRUARY


X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #1
:: Pixie Strikes Back, Chapter 1
Psylocke and Nightcrawler meet Pixie's mother, who's looking for her daughter.



Doomwar #1
:: Doomwar, Chapter 1
Psylocke tells Cyclops that T'challa and Shuri have arrived in Utopia.



Psylocke #4
:: Kill Matsu'o, Chapter 4
Psylocke battles Wolverine, who doesn't want her to kill Matsu'o. They later come to an understanding, and Betsy finally kills him.


Uncanny X-Men #521
:: Nation X, Chapter 7
Psylocke, Wolverine and Colossus continue to battle Lobe and his associates and find out Lobe's connection to John Sublime.


Marvels: Eye of the Camera #6
:: Closing The Book, Chapter 6
Flashback to the "Fall of the Mutants" event, as told from Phil Sheldon's perspective.



X-Men Legacy #233
:: Earth, Give Up Your Dead, Chapter 3
Psylocke is freed from Proteus' influence by Rogue. Betsy later frees Husk.



MARCH


X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #2
:: Pixie Strikes Back, Chapter 2
Psylocke, Emma Frost and Nightcrawler look for Pixie and the girls who are missing.



X-Men Legacy #234
:: The Telltale Heart
Psylocke witnesses images of Rogue and Gambit’s past flashing through the minds of everyone across Utopia.



Breaking Into Comics The Marvel Way #2
:: Butterfly Blade
Psylocke explains to Rachel why her powers manifest themselves as a butterfly or as a katana.
(( Story takes place during Uncanny X-Men #462 ))


Uncanny X-Men #522
:: Nation X, Chapter 8
Psylocke gathers with the rest of the X-Men to witness Kitty Pryde's return.



X-Men: Second Coming #1
:: Second Coming, Chapter 1
Psylocke is chosen to be part of Cyclops's Alpha Team whose mission is to bring back Cable and Hope to Utopia in safety.



APRIL


Uncanny X-Men #523
:: Second Coming, Chapter 2
Psylocke and the X-Men finally find Cable and Hope fighting the Purifiers, and join their battle.



New Mutants #12
:: Second Coming, Chapter 3
Psylocke and the X-Men take out all the Purifiers, while Cable and Hope run away.



X-Men Legacy #235
:: Second Coming, Chapter 4
Psylocke and the X-Men follow Rogue's lead and finally reach Cable and Hope.



X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #3
:: Pixie Strikes Back, Chapter 3
Psylocke, Emma and Nightcrawler, while still looking for Pixie, end up facing the Mastermind sisters.



X-Men Forever Annual #1
:: The Last Waltz
Psylocke, Jubilee, Kitty and Nightcrawler rescue Wolverine and Jean Grey, who are captured by The Hand.
((Alternate Reality ))


X-Force #26
:: Second Coming, Chapter 5
Psylocke and the X-Men battle some soldiers, before coming home to Utopia and learning of Nightcrawler's death.



MAY

Uncanny X-Men #524
:: Second Coming, Chapter 6
Psylocke and the X-Men attend Nightcrawler's funeral.




X-Men: Second Coming Revelations Hellbound #1
:: Hellbound, Chapter 1
Flashback to the events of New Mutants #12.




X-Men Legacy #236
:: Second Coming, Chapter 8
Psylocke and everyone across Utopia and San Francisco are trapped inside Bastion's dome.



X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #4
:: Pixie Strikes Back, Chapter 4
Psylocke, Emma and Nightcrawler fight some demons with the help of Pixie and her girls.



Girl Comics #2
:: Introduction
Psylocke and a few other female characters drawn by Collen Coover.



X-Force #27
:: Second Coming, Chapter 9
Psylocke uses her telepathy to keep the people inside the dome as far away as possible from the sphere where the Nimrods come from.


Dazzler #1
:: Tough Call
Psylocke puts Dazzler's sister, Lois London, in a psychically induced coma, planning to rehabilitate her on the Astral Plane.


X-Men: Second Coming - Revelations: Blind Science #1
:: Blind Science
Flashback to the events of "Second Coming".




JUNE

Uncanny X-Men #525
:: Second Coming, Chapter 10
Psylocke and the X-Men battle the Nimrods in San Francisco.




New Mutants #14
:: Second Coming, Chapter 11
Psylocke and the X-Men continue to fight Nimrods on the Golden Gate Bridge.



JULY


X-Force #28
:: Second Coming, Chapter 13
Psylocke and the X-Men finish the battle against Bastion and the Nimrods once and for all.



X-Women #1
:: X-Women
Psylocke, Storm, Rogue, Kitty confront the Baroness Krieg who wants to start a war between India and China.
(( Story takes places somewhere between Uncanny X-Men #461 and #475 ))

X-Men: Second Coming #2
:: Second Coming, Chapter 14
Psylocke joins the new X-Force, now consisted of Wolverine, Archangel, Deadpool and Fantomex.



Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age #1
:: Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age
Psylocke and The X-Men are received as heroes by the people in San Francisco, after the events of Second Coming.



Uncanny X-Men #526
:: Rebuilding
Psylocke and the X-Men begin to clean-up Utopia after the events of Second Coming.



AUGUST


Uncanny X-Men #527
:: The Five Lights, Chapter 2
Psylocke and Dr Cecilia Reyes arrive in Mexico to help Gabriel Cohuelo, one of the Five Lights.



X-Men: Curse of the Mutants - Storm & Gambit #1
:: Curse of the Mutants Tie-In
Psylocke and the X-Men are sent to help Gambit and Storm to fight a group of vampires and retrieve Dracula's body.



SEPTEMBER

Wolverine: Road To Hell #1
:: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Psylocke attends X-Force's first meeting at Cavern-X and rekindles her relationship with Archangel.



Origins of Marvel Comics: X-Men #1
:: Psylocke
Psylocke's origin.




OCTOBER


Uncanny X-Force #1
:: The Apocalypse Solution, Chapter 1
Psylocke and the X-Force find Clan Akkaba's complex, a clan who has resurrected Apocalypse.



NOVEMBER


Uncanny X-Force #2
:: The Apocalypse Solution, Chapter 2
Psylocke and the X-Force track Clan Akkaba's position to the Blue Area of the moon, where they face the Final Horsemen.



X-Men Legacy #242
:: Fables of the Reconstruction, Chapter 1
Psylocke and some other X-Men are sent to San Francisco in order to rebuild and repair the city from the destruction caused by their battle against Bastion.


DECEMBER


Uncanny X-Force #3
:: The Apocalypse Solution, Chapter 3
Psylocke is taken to the Clan Akkaba's base by War, where she defeats him and prepares to face Apocalypse.



X-Men Legacy #243
:: Fables of the Reconstruction, Chapter 2
Psylocke and some other X-Men witness Hellion killing Omega Sentinel in San Francisco.



New Mutants #20
:: Rise of the New Mutants, Chapter 1
Psylockes and the X-Men go on a rescue mission at Project Purgatory.