When you’re a team charged with protecting a world that fears and hates you, there will, of course, be occasional differences of opinions on how to best do your job. Cable, Marvel Comics’ time-traveling mutant soldier from the future, believed he could best defend the planet by putting together a more aggressive mutant team. To that end, he founded the proactive, militant, mutant hero group known as X-Force.
Over the years, there have been multiple incarnations of the team, with the last two having no ties to the original’s founder at all. During this time, Cable was busy with other business, like protecting his adopted daughter, the mutant messiah Hope, from real threats like the X-Man known as Bishop, who believed her to be evil, and perceived ones, like the Avengers.
Cable’s belief that the Avengers posed a genuine danger to Hope led him to target Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for elimination. The ensuing conflict escalated out of control, resulting in Cable in a comatose state.
This December, the militant mutant awakens and goes on the run with the latest incarnation of the team he founded when writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Salvador Larroca expand the Marvel NOW! initiative with the launch of the new ongoing series, “Cable & X-Force.” We spoke with Hopeless about his plans for the title.
CBR News: Dennis, in looking at your past and current body of work, the one thing that seems clear is that you aren’t pigeon-holed as writing just one style of story. Have you done a project like “Cable & X-Force” before?
Dennis Hopeless: That depends on how you look at it I think. Conceptually, it’s pretty different from anything I’ve done before. But there are some characters in the book — and character relationships — that feel pretty familiar to me.
It’s also sort of inspired by the same stuff I drew from for my very first published book, “GearHead.” I think they’d both be shelved in the same section of the video store, if that makes any sense.
What was it that most intrigued you about the initial idea of “Cable & X-Force?”
When Nick Lowe asked me to pitch the book, he said X-Force has a history of reinvention. Every time there’s a new X-Force title, it’s miles different from the previous incarnation. Then Nick asked, “What would your version of X-Force be?”
That was a really cool and interesting challenge, especially because right after that, he said, “But make it about Cable,” and hung up the phone. I had to figure out a story that would reinvent X-Force while also taking the book back to its Cable roots.
And let’s not forget the X-Force run these new books are following. Rick Remender and company have been kicking us in the brain every issue on “Uncanny X-Force.”
At the center of “Cable & X-Force,” of course, is the title character. Which aspects of Cable interest you the most and which elements of the character are you really interested in exploring in your initial stories?
When Cable is at his best, he’s the Mad Max of the Marvel Universe; Beat to shit. Tank just above empty. Odds always against him. Whether he likes it or not, he’s going to spend the whole movie driving straight at the enemy.
Mad Max meets Steve McQueen as played by the T2 Terminator: That’s my take on Cable. He doesn’t want to sit and chat. He doesn’t have time to explain the plan to you. He just wants whatever horrible thing he has to do done fast, so he can steal five minutes peace after. The fun part is surrounding him with a supporting cast who absolutely refuse to give him that peace.
When we last saw Cable at the end of Jeph Loeb’s “Avengers: X-Sanction” series, he was comatose. Will we see Cable wake up in the opening issues of your series, or will that happen off panel or in another title? Also, a lot happened while Cable was in his coma, so what can you tell us about his initial mindset when your series begins? What’s his immediate reaction to the post “Avengers Vs. X-Men” Marvel Universe?
He wakes up just before the events of the upcoming “Point One” story. That story reveals Cable’s post-coma situation and sets up one of the big relationships in the book.
When “CatXF” starts, Cable is just getting up to speed on the post “AvX” world and what it might mean for him. Last anyone heard from Cable, he was trying to kill the Avengers in “X-Sanction.” That probably technically makes him a super-villain, but most of the world thinks he’s dead. Nobody is coming after a corpse. He’s thinking maybe being dead isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe it’s time to try and live a normal life for once.
But first, what happened to his daughter? Where’s Hope?
That’s a good segue way into my next question about Cable’s established relationships with characters like Hope and Deadpool, who co-headlined a title with Cable from 2004-2008. Will you be tackling any of these relationships right away, or will they be something you want to get to later?
There are two big callback relationships in this first arc. The first one is Hope. It’s his daughter. She’s the first thing on his mind when he pops up out of that Cable Cocoon. Everything and everyone else is secondary.
Beyond Cable, what can you tell us about the book’s line-up and driving force, plot-wise?
You have Cable, Forge, Domino, Colossus and Dr. Nemesis. In my mind this is a crime series, so I tried to cast the book like you would a bank robbery. This isn’t a family or a school. It’s a crew. A safe cracker may hate her getaway man, but at the end of the night, she still needs him to drive the car. Cable puts the team together for their skills, not because he thinks they’ll get along.
Our first arc is the story of how Cable and his X-Force become the world’s Most Wanted mutant terrorists. You know how at the beginning and end of every “Mission Impossible” movie Tom Cruise is a spy, but in the middle he’s an international criminal on the run from the whole world? That’s what we’re doing here.
How hard is it to save the world when you’re also on the run from the law?
The biggest forces of law and order after your protagonists are the members of the new Uncanny Avengers team. What’s it like pitting that team against Cable and X-Force?
I keep pulling out dated movie references, but the Uncanny Avengers are our Tommy Lee Jones from “The Fugitive.” They’re heroes acting heroically the whole time. From their perspective, this X-Force is a team of super villains.
What makes them good antagonists for your protagonists?
Believable motivation is the key to good bad guys. The motivation here is justice.
Have you had a chance to talk with “Uncanny Avengers” writer Rick Remender about the match-up? Will there be some any direct interplay between the two books for fans who read both titles?
Definitely. Rick’s totally on board with what we’re doing and has given me a lot of rope. I’m not sure how much the two books will cross over right at first. Rick has big “UA” plans that jump off quick, but I think fans of those characters will enjoy seeing the team through these two very different lenses.
What can you tell us about the other adversaries that will match wits with your protagonists in your initial stories?
I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I think we have a unique opportunity for cool fights with this X-Force. They’re in a desperate situation here. That means throwing down with anyone who gets in the way, which should be fun.
At its core, the book is about X-Force breaking the law. I have a lot of different kinds of jobs planned for the team but they’re all crime stories. There’s a lot of variety within that though. I mean, “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” “The Usual Suspects” and “Oceans 11” are all crime stories.
We’ve talked quite a bit about story, so let’s wrap things up by touching on your partner for the new book. You’re working with Salvador Larroca on this series, an Eisner Award-winning artist. How is your partnership coming along?
Salva’s embracing everything that was cool about that over-the-top 90’s X-Force aesthetic, but he’s given it all a modern swagger. And wait till you see the TECH in this book. This isn’t the sleek and stylish Stark Tech he’s been drawing over in “Invincible Iron Man.” It’s more like the kind of crazy robotics and guns you might build from spare parts in a post-apocalyptic alien junkyard. Salva’s a beast.