Dennis Hopeless put Cable’s squad of renegades through their paces in the most recent arc of “Cable and X-Force,” with Cable and Hope taking on a giant ball of Reavers, Domino and Colossus combating a Sentinel in the middle of an avalanche-prone mountain, while Forge, Dr. Nemesis and Boom Boom battled an internal threat at the squad’s headquarters. The situation likely won’t get better for the team as they head into the “Vendetta” conflict with “Uncanny X-Force” — which marks Hopeless’ final arc on “Cable and X-Force.”
As the series heads into “Vendetta,” Hopeless joined X-Position to answer questions about his run on the series as a whole, his approach to writing some of the X-Characters in “Avengers Arena” and moving forward to “Avengers Undercover.”
CBR News: Dennis, you just wrapped your final arc of “Cable and X-Force” before “Vendetta” comes along to conclude the series. Looking toward “Vendetta,” what can readers expect from the upcoming crossover?
They can expect lots of Hope trying to put holes in Bishop. Our story really delves into all the ways in which Bishop screwed Hope up. He’s her personal boogieman who chased her throughout a horrific childhood, scorching the Earth in and effort to kill her. She finds out he’s alive and back in the present. Hope’s not a little girl anymore and she has access to lots and lots of Cable’s guns. It is straight up on!
Readers finally got a chance to see inside Dr. Nemesis’ head in the most recent issue, and it was certainly different from Forge’s head. You’ve been drawing contrasts between Nemesis and Forge since the beginning of the series. How satisfying was it to draw the ultimate contrast between the two during this arc?
That was so much fun. My only regret with this penultimate arc is that it wasn’t longer. I wanted to give the whole team time to shine and we only had 3 issues to do it in. The result was a jam-packed arc full of crazy that I absolutely love (Gerardo Sandoval blew the damned doors off drawing this thing) but I do wish Forge and Nemesis had more panel time. This was their story. It’s the culmination of a relationship we’ve been building since issue #1 and sort of embodies everything I love about both characters.
Kicking off this week’s reader questions is cora reef, who wants to know more about your run on the series as a whole.
Dear Mr. Hopeless, I’m sorry to see “Cable and X-Force” go. It really seemed like you were having fun writing the characters. What was your favorite character to write over the course of the series?
I never would have guessed when I was putting the team together, but Domino was my favorite. Her voice was always the loudest in my head. It helps that she was the more talkative half of the book’s sexiest love story (Forge/Nemesis fans might disagree with me there). I’m a huge sucker for relationship drama and getting to tell the Dom/Colossus story was one of the highlights of my year.
What was your favorite matchup to write during “Vendetta” and why?
It was great getting to delve into the Hope/Bishop/Cable bad blood. That’s the backbone of the story. But if I’m honest, Puck and Boom Boom were the most fun to write. Hands down. There’s a little grudge match between the two that plays out in the background of “C&XF” #19. It’s a small thing but I had a blast with it.
Kenny is up next with one or two “Avengers Arena”-centric questions.
How easy was it for you to write X-23?
Laura’s definitely a tough character to find a voice for. She used to be this unstoppable assassin who can kill you eleven ways before you know she’s in the room. But X-23 has evolved over the years into someone who will do almost anything to avoid killing. That internal struggle is what made her such an interesting character for Murder World. She’s a pacifist haunted by her subconscious killer’s mind — stuck in a death match. Laura sees all of the angles but refuses to kill (unless you murder her friend and steal his Sentinel). And with trigger scent in play, Arcade could flip a switch and change the whole game.
How does your writing style differ between “Avengers Arena” and “Cable and X-Force?”
The books were very different tonally, which affected my approach. Cable and X-Force needed to be an action book with character/family/relationship drama built in and around the explosions and homicidal aliens. I’d develop the action plots first and then work in the character stuff to fit. Arena was sort of the opposite. The book had one simple driving plot that we established in issue #1. Every other thing that happens in the book comes out of the characters and their struggle to maintain sanity and keep breathing. The bulk of the planning on an “Arena” script went into figuring out what was going on in the POV character’s head. With Cable I’d make a lot of those calls while scripting. The Colossus/Domino relationship, for instance, grew organically out of their dialogue. I wrote Neena flirting with Pete and decided to make it a thing.
Were there any “aborted arcs” in either series that you wish you could have written?
There were a couple of things that got truncated in “C&XF.” We had originally planned to do more done-in-one missions like the Domino/Boom story in issue #11. I had a loose idea for a second space story if there had been time and I originally plotted a longer version of the Adversary story. Unfortunately the schedule got tight and then we ran out of space before the crossover.
Arena turned out pretty close to what we planned. There were a few things in my notebook that didn’t make it in but those were just plotting decisions. I’d have done a Red Raven POV issue but couldn’t make it fit into the first arc. Now that the series is done, I can tell you six different ways to make that work. Hindsight is the bane of every writer’s existence.
Dabid is hoping for some closure in the death of one of his favorite characters.
1) I was devastated by the deaths of Juston Seyfort and his Sentinel in Avengers Arena. Not just because they happened, but because Juston and his Sentinel really didn’t get any “big” or heroic moments like all of the other characters who died (sans Red Raven). For a character who had two brief ongoing series and the only non-evil Sentinel in existence, it seemed wasteful for Juston to do almost nothing and then die. We didn’t even get a reaction from Juston’s family, even though he’s the only character from the cast that we know has strong family bonds. Did you ever have more plans for Juston and his Sentinel or follow-up to them that didn’t come to fruition? Why kill Juston, who had finally come out of comic book limbo after so long?
I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will change your opinion of Juston’s death. One of your favorite characters died and it happened in a story that wasn’t about him as a hero. That was the torturous thing about this book, both for fans and for the creative team. This was never a super hero story. It was a death match story starring a bunch of super powered teens. We were showing these characters at their lowest low, playing an unwinnable game with the highest of stakes. Heroism was in short supply. On top of that, such a large cast made it tough to give any of these great characters as much page time as they deserved. That meant making tough decisions and killing characters that didn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight.
Thanks again for a great series and can’t wait for “Avengers Undercover!”
Thank you for reading! “Avengers Undercover” #1 drops in March!
Steering things back to “Cable and X-Force” is Grant, who wants to know more about how you see the cast.
First off, thanks so much for a fun ride with Cable and his X-Force team! It really seemed like the book was about relationships — the father/daughter dynamic between Cable and Hope; the romantic relationship between Domino and Colossus; and the competitive relationship between Dr. Nemesis and Forge. But what about Boom Boom? How come she didn’t seem to have a major foil in the book?
Space. It was all about space. I had big ideas about developing Boom Boom into a weightier cast member and simply ran out of issues before I could. I had a whole sibling rivalry thing planned early on but it never came to fruition. We did pull Tabby out of her comic relief role a bit in issue #11, but yeah, I definitely would have loved to do more.
With X-23 off the table for “Avengers Undercover,” can you tease any new X-Faces joining the fray?
Our main cast is sadly mutantless but I’m doing my best to find room for X-folk here and there. A couple of my favorite “Wolverine and the X-Men” characters show up briefly in issue #2. That’s all so far but no worries. I’ll keep at it.
Thanks to Dennis Hopeless for taking on this week’s X-Position!
You should have already sent in your questions for next week’s special guests, writer Kieron Gillen and Jeanine Schaefer, joining X-Position for all things “Origin II” — though if you have some lingering queries, an go ahead and send ’em in anyway.
The week after next is a special New Year’s round-up X-Position, and we want to hear from you, the fine readers of this column. Go ahead and send in a few words answering one, some or all of the questions below and we’ll print the best responses on our New Year’s Eve column! But hurry — all submissions need to be in by Monday, December 23.
What was your favorite X-Men moment of the year and why?
Who should win X-Character of the year and why?
Which series are you most looking forward to in 2014 and why?
Which character are you hoping makes more appearances in 2014?