Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Remender Speaks on the Return of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

IGN: In this interview, Remender chats about how he chose his Brotherhood roster, what challenges the various X-Force members face in this fight, and what fans can expect in terms of upcoming artists (look for a new preview page from issue #28 featuring a certain gun-toting vigilante). He also reveals that for now he's only up to issue #35 in Uncanny X-Force.

IGN Comics: This is a very interesting new take on the Brotherhood of Mutants. Can you talk about why you chose the characters you did for this team?

Rick Remender:
I try not to select any characters just because I like the character or because they look cool. These characters all have personal connections with the members of X-Force. They all have a personal reason for being there. They're also characters, most of which, who have played a role in the series to date. You've got Shadow King, who's got a beef with Betsy. She imprisoned him within her mind for a number of years. The Blob from the Age of Apocalypse universe killed Nightcrawler's wife. You've got the Skinless Man, who's got quite a grudge against Fantomex. The Omega Clan imagine that Wolverine and Deadpool killed their family. You've got Mystique, Sabretooth, and Daken, on the other hand, all of whom are highly motivated to ruin Wolverine's life.

The selection process was pretty easy. It was just a matter of going through who naturally fit and come up with a clean and very relatable reason for them to reform the Brotherhood in this stage of the Marvel Universe. In this case, we're leaning into the idea that they're just very revenge and power-hungry bad guys. They're okay with being evil. In terms of their motivations, there is nothing that redeeming about them. They're solely in this for the evil of it.

IGN: You revealed Daken as the leader of the Brotherhood in issue #27. Do you see this as an extension of his quest to build his own empire and replace Romulus like he was doing in Wolverine: Origins and his own series?

Yeah, and to just follow the threads. He's always been sort of in the middle between good and bad. To fully push him in the other direction. He's fully embracing his savage instincts and the person that he is. He sees this as a cathartic and good thing. Beyond just wanting Evan for reasons of power – having your own brainwashed Apocalypse would be a pretty good thing to have – Daken also has to look at this as a potentially dangerous kid who Wolverine took into his school and has been giving his time and energy to try and train. He never invited Daken to that school. He's got a lot of issues with his dad, and he's done trying to pretend he's something he's not. He's a son who will go to any lengths to earn his father's respect – even kill him.

IGN: So you think beneath everything else, there's still some twisted form of love coming from Daken?

More than anything, it's a need for respect. I think he hates his dad. He sees him as a fraud – somebody who is still a savage monster but fancies it up with the superhero outfits so he can justify what he does. More than anything, he's full of rage towards his father. I think at the bottom of all that there's still a kid who wants his dad to respect him. His feelings were hurt that this kid Evan was worth his father's time and he wasn't.

IGN: And as far as Evan goes, are we going to see a lot of his internal struggle as he comes to grips with who he is and what everyone expects of him?

Yeah, Evan plays a giant role in all of this. This is a natural conclusion of what we started in The Dark Angel Saga, and with him being over at the school, Jason [Aaron] and I have been talking for a long time now about the payout to all of that stuff. I think people will be surprised where it all ends. Issue #30 is entirely focused on Evan. It's an Evan-centric issue where we really get inside his head and understand his perspective and what he's up against with a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants comprised of Sabretooth and Daken and the Shadow King, who really get inside his head.

IGN: There's been a lot of shared material between your book and Jason's. Can you talk a little bit about that collaboration and how you decide which book book is going to tackle which plot points?

It's pretty organic. When I was going to the Marvel retreat to pitch my Dark Angel Saga stuff, the night before I sat down with Jason. We had dinner and talked about my end result, which left me with a new Angel grown from the Life Seed, and Evan, who thought he was Superboy and had the power of Apocalypse. Those two characters didn't really fit my ongoing plan for X-Force. You can't really have them babysitting Evan. Nor can you really have innocent, brainwashed, angelic Warren Worthington, or whatever the Life Seed created there.

We talked about putting them in the school, and that worked really well. Jason has done a lot of work to develop them and their new status quo. He knew my plans coming into this Brotherhood of Evil Mutants stuff, and we talked about a good time to bring Evan back over to X-Force. This was a natural point for it. And where that goes, we have all sorts of stories and big ideas in mind for what grows out of this story as well.

IGN: I'm curious about Angel. Are we going to see more of him in this series, or has he become more Jason's character now?

I touch on him a little bit. And obviously Betsy is still haunted. But Warren is dead. This new character has no memory of X-Force and is a new being grown by the Life Seed and planted in the soil of Archangel's dead body. It doesn't make any sense that he would still be a member of the team.

IGN: In the beginning of this arc you introduced the Omega Clan. What inspired you to create these new characters instead of bringing back the original Omega Red?

It plays a big role in the story. The White Sky and the Omega Clan – who they are plays a big role, and you'll see that come to a head around issue #35. More than anything, it was the convoluted history of the character. I didn't want him to come back as a Frankenstein creature. I really liked the idea that this White Sky facility – this high-tech human/mutant weaponization program – can take pieces of a dead body and spit out new versions. It felt like a fresh start for a character who had become a little convoluted. I like the idea of the Omega Clan. The three of them look pretty cool together with their arms flying.

IGN: With this arc you've started reflecting the new development from Deadpool's book – that his body has been healed but now his powers are gone. How has that affected how you write him? Do you feel like his personality has changed at all?

I wanted him to feel like he's having to learn how to deal this power change. It puts him in a situation now where his choices have consequences, whereas before, his arm would get blown off and he could reattach it. He can't do that now. I think it strengthens him as a character, and it allows him to feel consequence for his actions. If he jumps in front of a bullet for somebody, it's going to kill him. That's something we haven't been able to do with him before. I'm exploring that a good little bit, as well as the danger he puts himself in when he goes on missions without a normal power-set – actual sacrifice.

IGN: One of the other big developments in this issue aside from the Daken reveal was that Fantomex got killed. Assuming he isn't just misdirecting his enemies, why did you feel now was the right time to take him off the board?

There are a number of reasons for it that I can't all go into without spoiling the story. The biggest one being that the Fantomex/Betsy/Warren love story really dominated the series in the first year. And this story is a Wolverine story. There were a number of reasons that you'll see. There were things planted in issue #27 that pay off later down the road. More than anything, I had always planned on Skinless Man being the one to come back. I guess it really bored me that we would introduce Weapon III, and he would be this big, insanely scary, terribly insane assassin, and he would come after Fantomex and fail. It just seems like in every one of these stories you see, the bad guy comes back to get their revenge, and the good guys win.

As much as I love Fantomex, and he's this character I've really come to enjoy writing, I really liked the idea that he would lose. Fantomex had become very popular. There was every reason in the world he should still be safe and in the book. And that was all the more reason I wanted to take him off the board and show that story is going to dictate what happens to these characters, and not their popularity on the Internet or with readers. So it naturally occurred to me, “Well, Fantomex should get killed here. Fantomex should really take the hit. Hmm.” Those were sort of the arguments I had in my head. “Well, Is the series going to be as good without him?” That's absolutely the wrong way to be thinking about this stuff.

I think it's a natural and strong story point It services the book in giving Betsy some fuel for revenge and to continue to sink her down. It's also another consequence of what they've been up to know that Skinless Man is being aided by the Shadow King. And, more importantly, it's time for Wolverine to stand up and take the spotlight – to really lead the team and deal with the fact that there are mass casualties. They've had their base destroyed at this point and they've got some mess to clean up.

One thing I really fell in love with was the idea that Fantomex created this kid Evan, grows him in the World, and then he isn't around to deal with it when the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants get their hands on the boy to turn him to their evil ways. I liked the idea that Fantomex isn't able to deal with the consequences of what he's done and it gets dropped in Logan's lap.

IGN: Now that the team is down another member, and they're already pretty badly outnumbered by the Brotherhood, are we going to see Wolverine go on a recruitment drive and pull any more X-Men into this fight?

I think it's far too chaotic. For all intents and purposes, it looks like they're dead at the end of #27. Ultimaton just destroyed Cavern X. So where things go from here is fast and crazy. There's no time for calls to bring friends in. And honestly, he wants to keep the school and everyone in it as far away from this as possible. One of the things he's been using to rationalize X-Force after he created this school was that they'd be the campus police. He'd make sure that these problems were taken care of before they made their way to the school and the kids and the other X-Men. This is something that X-Force are going to have to deal with, but after what we put them through in #27, it's safe to say they will not be entirely successful.

IGN: You've been dealing with the Weapon Plus program on and off throughout this series, and now in this issue we see Fantomex die and EVA evolve into her humanoid form, which sort of ties into what Grant Morrison was doing at the tail-end of his New X-Men run. Are we going to see more ties like that as you move forward?

Not just to Grant. I always liked that he had EVA evolve. It's something that I wanted to echo and show happen in the now. That was also a nice end result from taking Fantomex off the board. Anything else in terms of what will echo or won't – Grant went so big with that ending in dealing with the Phoenix and all that stuff. This isn't a cosmic story. It's not as big in scope in terms of trying to wipe out the world or anything like that. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are personally invested in getting on revenge on Wolverine and his X-Force team, as well as turning Evan into their own, personal Apocalypse. Their motives here are solely revenge and power. They're not looking to help mutants or do anything else. They're looking for revenge on the people they hate. I kind of like that. I like that this story goes into the gutters a little bit.

IGN: You dealt with Father and that whole conflict towards the beginning of the series, and then that crossed over into Secret Avengers more recently. Is he going to become more of a presence again in X-Force? Are there going to be growing ties between these two books?

The ties exist. I didn't want to make them so tight that you had to read one or the other. But the Father story is definitely still percolating and developing over in Secret Avengers. Issues #33-37 are all Father-centric, dealing with all of that fun stuff. In terms of Fantomex's involvement with that, it'll be peripheral. Father, Mother, and Brother (James Braddock) obviously all have a connection. A mutant Sentinel like Fantomex, who Father obviously had a hand in helping to create. And that stuff will definitely be talked about now that Fantomex is gone. These stories are happening more or less concurrently. I wanted it to feel like they exist in the same world and one touches the other, but I didn't want it to be where you have to read one to understand the other.

IGN: I wanted to touch on the art in this series. You guys have been doing a really good job of maintaining a consistent visual tone despite the changes in pencilers with each arc. Can you talk about who's coming on board after Phil Noto and what you're doing as far as the visuals?

For one, I want to make sure that everyone knows it's thanks to Dean White. We've had a tremendous stable of talented artists on this book. All of them, while amazing, are very distinct. And Dean has come in and put two or three times more on the page than just about anyone working. He just bleeds onto the page. And that's done a lot as far as connecting and solidifying the series and really making it a whole.

As for who's coming up, we have Julian Totino Tedesco for #28 and #29. He's one of my absolute favorite artists working right now. He's just a brilliant storyteller – so dynamic and fluid. Those are issues are done, and I couldn't be more proud of how they turned out. They're two of my favorite things I've ever been associated with. And then we got really lucky and got Dave Williams, who's sort of an artist's artist in the same vein as Art Adams. He's a crazy genius. He's doing issue #30, which is the villain-centric issue where we deal with Evan and his time among the Brotherhood. And then coming back on #31 through 35 we have Phil Noto and Dean White sticking around to finish up Final Execution.

IGN: So is Final Execution sort of an extended storyline broken up into arcs in the same way The Dark Angel Saga was?

Yeah, I mean, it's really one ten-issue story. If you read it out of order it won't work. And when it comes down to it, it's a ten-issue journey. It's very similar in the way that the inciting incidents of the Dark Angel Saga were seeded in the first couple of arcs, and then as things started to percolate, by the time they went to the Age of Apocalypse that was sort of the beginning of a ten-issue epic there. We've gone to great lengths in terms of plotting this over the last few years to make sure that everything had a reason for being there and that it would all come to a head and pay off. We'll take all of the loose threads we've seen and build up every single aspect of the series to date and reveal a lot of what's been there the whole time percolating. It should be a nice conclusion with a really high body count.

IGN: I want to transition into the future of the book and whatever you're allowed to discuss as far as Uncanny Avengers goes. What can you say about the future of X-Force after Final Execution? Do you still have a long-term plan for the book beyond that?

I'm currently only up to #35, and I'm focusing on carrying over a lot of what happens to Wolverine into Uncanny Avengers. How those changes shake out for Uncanny X-Force, I don't want to say yet. I will say that a lot of what turned into Uncanny Avengers, to me was a very organic end result of what happens at the end of AvX and the end of Final Execution. And once I knew where both of those stories were ending, that was when I really started trying to figure out where the natural next step for these characters and stories is. Where Uncanny X-Force goes after that, there will probably be some announcements soon.

IGN: Before we end I wanted to ask about the Fear Agent hardcover that's coming out. Last time we talked about it you weren't even sure that was going to happen, but obviously it is happening now. What can Fear Agent fans expect from the book?

Fear Agent is obviously my baby that I'm incredibly proud of. It took Tony Moore, Jerome Opena, and I, with help from Kieron Dwyer and Mike Hawthorne and John Lucas, seven years making those 32 issues. Every single issue was always an exercise in “let's make this the very best thing we can make.” Just do this one series to the best of our abilities, and it will always be this love letter to pulp science fiction. And in an era when really no one was doing pulp science fiction. While it seemed like an uphill battle in an industry at the time in 2004 when everyone was all of a sudden exclusively interested in horror comics and the superheroes it's always interested in, this was us doing it our way, entirely how we wanted and with a character we all have a real love for.

The first volume will collect issues #1 through 15. It has about 100 pages of sketchbooks and cover roughs and scripts and notebook sketches and just a ton of extras. And then it's also got full-length stories I did with Francesco Francavilla, another with Kieron Dwyer, another I did Eric Nguyen. And then there are six different Tales of the Fear Agent stories as well, by guys like Hilary Barda and Paul Renaud and just a brilliant, brilliant slew of artists and writers in the back.

What we wanted to do with this was to make it like a prize [laughs], to the detriment of our own wallets. The thing is like 500 pages – oversized hardcover, Library Edition, with a crazy saddle-stitched cover and a brand new cover image by Tony Moore. And it's only 50 bucks. So it's basically the same price as buying the first three trade paperbacks, but you're also getting hundreds of extra pages in the back. We're going to be doing another one – Volume 2 – I think next year. It'll be around the same size. It's just a metric s***-ton of Tony Moore and Jerome Opena.

IGN: Do you know what the specific release date on Volume 1 is?

I think in late October. I would have liked to have some for the New York show, but I don't know if it'll be out in time. Sometimes these things get delayed, so either late October or early November.

IGN: In time for Christmas, at least.

Right, that's always the goal.

IGN: One final question. I saw on Twitter that you were talking about lining up a new project with Greg Tocchini. Is there anything more specific you can say about that book right now?

We're doing a slow burn on it. We're still trying to figure out all the X's, Y's, and Z's in a world that is constantly changing. But he's done some pages. I've got a ton of designs. I've got the outline pretty well written up. On Last Days of American Crime, Greg and I took two years to make that, and I really think that it paid off. That book, while it did tremendously here, is a huge, huge deal in a lot of other countries – all over Europe. Greg sold every single page of original art to collectors over there. It really blew up.

I think it's a case where the cream rises to the top. At least, I hope it does. And I want to make sure that, with any other creator-owned endeavors we undertake, we give it the same love and energy that we did to Last Days of American Crime. So while we'll be trickling out information and stuff, in my head we'll probably want to have 50 or 60 pages done before we start soliciting. It's definitely going to be a 200-page story at this point. It's not coming out anytime soon, probably [laughs]. But when it does, it'll be drenched in all the love we can give it.


CmX said...

So either Remender is leaving UXF soon or it's being cancelled :(

I hate the Avengers!

FSaker said...

Marvel is nuts if they're cancelling UXF. That series is incredible, and even though UA may be incredible as well (it is Remender writing, after all), it's just silly to finish such a great book just to get Remender writing the Avengers.

If the problem is him getting too busy with UA, just cancel Secret Avengers; it's not as if he's the one who started this series, anyway.

Julien Latour said...

Yeah big deal!! They killed him!!!! It's a fucking shame!!! And worst of all..sabretooth have been manipulated him all along to hurt wolverine when he would realise he have to kill his son!!! I mean Sabretooth? This guy been stabed in the brain by wolverine and was a drooling vegetable...He had his heat chop by the humarasa blade...He was cloned, stabed, again and again...And then what? He's so smart that he could lure Daken into a trap just for personal revenge!! I mean come on Marvel..Is Disney so much on your back now?