Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Emerald City Comicon 2012: Interview with Rick Remender

Omnivoracious: At Omnivoracious, we're no strangers to writer Rick Remender's work. We covered his creator-owned series Fear Agent all the way back in 2008 and followed his ascent to Marvel hit-maker on The Punisher. Now, he's writing arguably the best X-Men comic around, Uncanny X-Force, and he was recently named writer for another flagship title: Secret Avengers. A lot has changed since we last spoke with Remender at Emerald City Comicon 2009, and it was great to catch up with him on all of the aforementioned books, how his fandom influences his characters, and more at this year's ECCC 2012.

Omni: And now you’re onto Uncanny X-Force. You’re writing characters that immediately connect with fans because you’re writing them as characters, with dimension and real motivations. Psylocke’s backstory is so convoluted that it’s made her bland, yet here she’s someone who readers can finally understand. What about her appealed to you?

Rick Remender: It probably has a lot to do with my history with the character. I was a big X-Men fan in the 1980s/early 1990s, and when she started appearing was at the peak of my interest in the series: the Mutant Massacre. That led me to Excalibur, which led me to seeking out the UK stuff—which had her origin and told me more about who she was. It was clear that that stuff was very near to [Chris] Claremont’s heart, and that he was going to continue to draw from it, which he did. We saw the Siege Perilous, Roma, and Captain Britain. He clearly loved it. When I read it as a kid, it was very hard to find. It was printed in that magazine-sized format, and because of the hunt—that made it mine.

She was always a character I had a connection with and knew a lot about. When I finally had a chance to write her, I had a wealth of background to draw from because, you know, I was a fan. When you’re not creating the character, it helps to have a love for something that other people did create. And for Betsy, I did.

Omni: It’s also clear you have a love for the character Fantomex.

Rick Remender: I re-read all of Grant [Morrison]’s work with Fantomex a number of times to try to get the voice down. I think it’s one of those things where it’s so difficult to sell a new character to the mainstream audience, and when somebody like Grant comes in and makes so many new ones—and so many great ones—we should all endeavor to try to continue them. It was important to me to pay respect to what Grant had done and upon investigating the character and reading him, there was just so much there. He’s such a rich character and he’s so much fun. It wasn’t work, and that’s the best kind of character, I think.

Omni: It makes sense that you’re a fan of the 80/early 90s X-Men, because in The Dark Angel Saga we finally see the full evolution of Archangel. Is this a story that you’ve been dying to tell since those days?

Rick Remender: It’s not—OK, well, it is. When I first got the book and Archangel was already on the team, I started to try to connect dots. [Louise and Walt] Simonson started this thing with Archangel that was never really resolved. It was done away with and brought back and done away with and brought back. It was never defined or investigated, and it was never exploited to its full potential. I knew that when I was going to [write] Apocalypse, there was this obvious connection and the whole thing started to tell me its story. I worked really closely with series editors Axel Alonso and Jody LeHeup to make sure we were dancing between the raindrops, so that all the new stuff I added fit with what had come before and hopefully answered some questions that had never been answered before—and added new wrinkles to it all. Archangel and Apocalypse’s mythology essentially just told me 18 issues’ worth of story.

I wanted to show what would happen if Archangel succeeded as opposed to just saying “he’s going to take over the world!” I wanted to show that in one world, Apocalypse and his successors had taken over the world—and what that result was. So, we went to the [parallel universe] Age of Apocalypse to show what would happen if our team failed. As I started writing the beats, I realized that this was a great rifle over the mantleplace, because we’ve got all these X-Men who are indebted to our team, X-Force, and vice versa. Because our team couldn’t possibly deal with what I put them up against, in the third act—at the climax—Fantomex bails and goes to get the alternate X-Men, and that’s supposed to be the power-chord moment, where the AoA characters are coming here to help X-Force. It’s fun comics.

Omni: Next, all that hunting around for UK comics when you were a kid comes into play with the Otherworld arc.

Rick Remender: Otherworld is such a tremendous thing. It’s this world created by Herb Trippe, Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, and Alan Davis—all of the best guys fall in love with this place, and it’s something that isn’t used to its full potential at all. I wanted to go there and tell a story that not only showed Betsy Braddock’s family but to define her as someone making a choice to be who she is . So much of her life has been things happening to her and she just lives with it. I wanted her to choose to be become not who she used to be. I wanted her to choose her current family over her old family, and she then becomes a character who lives with her decisions, as opposed to somebody who has that thrust upon her and reacts.

As for the backdrop, there’s a scene in one of the old Alan Moore Captain Britain [issues] where Captain Britain is put on trial, and I wanted to emulate that with Fantomex. I re-read that a few times, and [artist] Greg Tocchini and I worked very hard to get the courtroom right and the whole thing. Occasionally, you have to scratch a certain fan-itch, and that was one of them.

Omni: Is another fan-itch a quasi-reunion of Excalibur? You’ve got Captain Britain, Nightcrawler—

Rick Remender: And Meggan and Widget, yeah. At one point, we considered that the arc might be six issues, and I had a natural way to get [former teammates] Kitty and Rachel Summers in there. But it felt like I was going a step too far to fan-service myself [laughs].


Rahsaan Chisolm said...

Okay. His rationale makes sense as to why Psylocke denounced Jamie's offer. I still would've liked her to take the bod and then still save Fantomex, but whatever. Can't keep rehashing the same argument. I won't complain. I continue to trust Remender in his plans for her based on this interview.

Blu Berri said...!/Remender/status/188068323840368641

The horror!