Friday, September 21, 2012

Humphries Gives Psylocke-led Uncanny X-Force a New Direction

Newsarama: He's the writer of a new Uncanny X-Force series — launching with a new #1 as part of Marvel's ongoing Marvel NOW! revamp — and is thus inheriting the title of a popular, acclaimed series that's very much the distinct product of Rick Remender and his artistic collaborators. So while the book picks up on the events of the current volume — starting six months after the denouement in December's issue #35 — it also looks to establish its own territory.

Humphries seems more than eager to take the challenge, saying the team has "a new direction, a new focus, and a new reason for being." All that, and a new lineup, with Psylocke — a holdover from the previous series — joined by Storm, Puck, Spiral, and more as-yet unrevealed characters. We talked with Humphries in detail about the new Uncanny X-Force, including working with series artist Ron Garney and how the book might fit in with fellow Marvel NOW! series Cable and X-Force.

Newsarama: Sam, given that the series that is called "Uncanny X-Force," it sends a very clear message that there's a connection between this and the current series that wraps in December. But that's a book that's a result of a very specific vision from Rick Remender and very much one contained story, so I imagine it must be a challenge to both have ties to what's come before — and with the presence of Psylocke, there definitely is — and to push forward and do your own thing. How did you approach that?

Sam Humphries: It's hella intimidating. [Laughs.] I've been a huge fan of Rick's X-Force even before Marvel had my phone number to offer me a book. This is a book that I've been reading since issue #1 came out.

Because I'm working on the follow-up, I have the privilege of knowing how it's going to end before all y'all do, and let me just tell you that Rick kills it. He sticks the landing, and he does it in a big way. His run is really one thing, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Rick addresses very specific questions. The end of the run is the equivalent of dropping the microphone and walking off the stage.

I love it enough to respect it, and spin out of it, but I also love it enough to leave it alone. No one needs to see me try and do a weaksauce version of Rick Remender. The story doesn't need me to try and keep it limping along like some sort of marionette version of the previous title. Nobody wants that! It definitely spins right out of events of Rick's last issue — we pick up six months later — we've got some similar characters, but we've got a new lineup. It's a new #1, and a new focus. I'm real excited for where we're going to take this book.

Nrama: It's interesting that you're focusing on Psylocke, given how she's grown increasingly uncomfortable with the X-Force directive in recent issues. What's attractive to you about the character, and how did you decide on her for the main character?

Humphries: I love Psylocke. She's been one of my favorite X-Men characters since way back, probably because and in spite of the fact that her history is so messed up. As a character, she's gone through messed up things, and looking at it from a reader's perspective, a lot of writers and creators have done different things with her over the years. I think on both levels, she's a real survivor.

She's got a complicated history — you can either be afraid of it, or embrace it as a sign of a complex character. I definitely do the latter. Betsy has a lot of conflicted feelings on a lot of important themes that we'll address in the book. She's got complicated relationships with everyone in the book. It's great to put her front and center.

Also, you know what? It's her time. It's time for Psylocke to come up and seize the crown, and run her own mutant book.

Nrama: Speaking of complicated relationships with other characters in the book, Spiral's on the team, who as we all remember from our X-Men history, was instrumental in switching Betsy Braddock and Kwannon's bodies.

Humphries: Yes, she was. And even before that, she was integral in replacing Betsy's eyes with cameras that beam images back to Mojoworld.

Nrama: Storm being on the team certainly seems unique — is this still going to be the same type of X-Force team, one that's proactive in eliminating threats? Given the "Killers" teaser, it sure seems like that might be the case.

Humphries: The team has a new direction, a new focus, and a new reason for being. We have two X-Force books now — Uncanny X-Force and Cable and X-Force. To put it in very broad strokes, Uncanny X-Force are hunters, and Cable and X-Force are the hunted. You'll see a very proactive team in Uncanny X-Force, but whether or not they have the same mandate and goals as the previous X-Force remains to be seen. I wouldn't advise that anyone get too comfortable.

The connection here is that X-Force, throughout the years, whether it's the extreme era with Rob Liefeld, the neo-psychedelic Peter Milligan/Mike Allred X-Force, the delightfully dark Yost/Kyle run, or Rick Remender's murder-kill-revenge squad, X-Force has always been the mutant book that explores the dark, weird things of the Marvel Universe. The shadowy corners, the dark curtains, things that the other mutant characters don't confront, and maybe don't want to confront. The mandate of X-Force has always been to tell a story that you can't find in any other mutant book. So this is definitely a book that's going to give you the weird, dark, icky, dirty side of the Marvel Universe, and these are all characters who are uniquely equipped to face it. My pitch on the book is "James Bond as directed by David Lynch," so that might give you a little idea of where we're going.

Nrama: So will there be an overt connection between the two X-Force titles?

Humphries: One book has Cable, and the other book has Bishop. That's a powerful connection with a lot of combustible history between them.

Nrama: Right — Bishop is the villain of the new Uncanny X-Force, correct?

Humphries: That's right. Last time we saw him, he was coming to the end of his campaign, trying to kill Cable and Hope. He was abandoned in the year 6300 A.D., alone, and somehow he's back in the present day. Going through all that can really change a man. This is going to be a changed Bishop. He's still Bishop, but he's been through a lot, and he's got a new mission stuck in his head. You know what happens when Bishop gets a mission stuck in his head — he goes for it, and he doesn't stop for anything.

Nrama: The dynamic the last time he was around was that even though he was the antagonist of Cable's story, he still wasn't a "bad guy." Is that still the case?

Humphries: Yeah, I don't think I want to address that. [Laughs.]

Nrama: So it's going to be the four characters that have been announced, and then more will be added to the cast along the way?

Humphries: We've got Psylocke, Storm, Puck and Spiral, then we'll have new regular characters join the team rapidly in the first arc.

Nrama: What can you say about Puck, and how he fits in?

Humphries: Puck is awesome. He's like a Canadian Indiana Jones. He may be short in stature, but I don't think Puck's ever been in a position where he wasn't able to kick some ass. He's an adventurer, he's gone out and faced some dark stuff, and he's always responded with a wry sense of humor. I'm really looking forward to writing him, I'm really looking forward to the angle a character like that can bring to the book.

Nrama: Speaking of facing dark stuff, he was in Hell not that long ago.

Humphries: He was in Hell. Isn't that the kind of guy that you want on your team? A guy that's like, "I was in Hell, but now I'm back!"

Nrama: And Ron Garney is on art.

Humphries: He's so awesome. He's such a great artist, I'm so excited I get to work with him right off the bat. I love his Captain America stuff, I love his Wolverine stuff, I love his Ultimate Captain America stuff — the limited series he did with Jason Aaron, that's a book I've gone back to a lot in writing Ultimates. I'm really psyched to have him on the team. He's got such a great energy, and vibe, and sense of dynamic. I can't wait to make him draw some twisted sh*t.


Francis said...

"Also, you know what? It's her time. It's time for Psylocke to come up and seize the crown, and run her own mutant book."

Damn right!

Eduardo said...

Heh it sure took a long time, but they realized Psylocke can make a huge difference as an X-Woman, but she had always been very underestimated. Time to show once and for all why she is really there.
Once she did not agree with Logan's kill-em-all attitude, I am really curious to see what moves her to lead this new X-Force, and how and why she persuaded the other members to join her, especially Spiral eheheh

Fabio Vinicius da Silva said...

People, let me ask you somethin. Is there any issue which Logan persuades the others to join Uncanny X-Force? I did not see how they come up together.
I am from Brazil and there is a gap here, so I always follow this great blog to have news about Psylocke.

Francis said...

Not really, the team was first seen together at the very end of the Second Coming event (X-Men: Second Coming #2 was the issue). Then they are already up to their first mission in Uncanny X-Force #1.

FSaker said...

"Also, you know what? It's her time. It's time for Psylocke to come up and seize the crown, and run her own mutant book."

I agree. However, if this is Psylocke's "own mutant book", it should be named as "Psylocke & X-Force" - Cable's X-Force book is named this way; why can he have his own name in the book title and Betsy can't have hers?

Well, it's just a minor complaint. I'm curious to find out how this book will be. The team is really strange, what made a lot of readers complain in advance (I, however, LOVE strange teams, so this is a plus for me. And I like all characters announced so far, although I wish there will be at least one panel with Psylocke punching Spiral for her past deeds).

It's still VERY strange that the first cover for this book wasn't shown yet.

Eduardo said...

I am also wondering who the other members will be. I would love to see Betsy pair with Sage and I think the dynamic of this team fits her too, but I am going too far hehe once no one has given any news about Sage yet...
Also Alison Blaire would be a nice choice. Alright, I admit it, my favorite formation of the X-Men was indeed the australian one hehehe

Ballista Fan said...

Sam Humphries is my new lord and master... his words are truth, and with his words, we Psylocke fans will crush the past indignities we have suffered from the two most despicable villains ever: Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira.

Rahsaan Chisolm said...


Tell it!!!! Preach it, even!!

FSaker said...

Not related to the new Uncanny X-Force, but today I ran into a really nice sketch that a guy did of how Psylocke could look like if she were one of the Phoenix Five in AvX:

QKC said...

Will they give her a damn new costume yet? It seems like now would be the perfect time for a little bit of reinvention. Look at what they did with UXF; changed it enough to be more practical & not just ludicrous eye candy.
Does anyone know if there are plans to change the costume? After.. how many years?
Lord, DAZZLER has had costume changes since this Hand bathing suit Elektra rip off one came around.
Excited for the new series, but she better get a new costume.. it's just ridiculous.