As the “Vendetta” crossover comes to a conclusion, it’s time to say goodbye to Sam Humphries’ “Uncanny X-Force.” During his run, Humphries brought together an unlikely group of X-Men to combat one of the team’s biggest threats in history: Cassandra Nova. In the process, Humphries also brought back a time-displaced Bishop, added Puck to the ranks, explored the relationship of Psylocke and Fantomex and brought new life and insight into Spiral.
As the series takes its final bow, Sam Humphries joined X-POSITION for a final stab at “Uncanny X-Force” reader questions, and discussed the evolution of the series, building the cast, specific character quirks and what the future might hold for those not moving over to the upcoming “X-Force” title.
CBR News: Sam, you’re wrapping up “Uncanny X-Force” with “Vendetta” after a lot of time spent with this squad. Looking back over the series, how did the characters and story end up developing in unexpected ways?
None percent of them. All of everything developed exactly the way I intended from the first second I conceived the series.
I Am A God.
[Laughs] Nah, that would get pretty boring. Really, so much has changed with the development and circumstances of this book it’s hard to pin down. I guess the most unexpected surprise was being able to do (essentially) a solo Spiral issue drawn by Adrian Alphona. That came out of shifting artist schedules, massaging the Revenant story, and having Adrian available for a full issue — which, like, you don’t say no to that. And Spiral was a character I loved exploring. I think that was her first solo story! I’m glad I got a full issue to do that. With monsters.
You also got the opportunity to get your hands on some of the characters in Dennis Hopeless’ “Cable and X-Force” series — what was the experience like expanding your X-Force writing aura to some new blood? What was your favorite character to write from “Cable and X-Force?”
Boom Boom and Dr. Nemesis are obvious joys, coming out of Dennis’ book. But Hope was really the best. Scared and fierce at the same time. Characters like that are amazing to write.
Moving on to this week’s reader questions, Graham kicks things off with question about the potential future of the series, if it continued beyond “Vendetta.”
I can’t believe it’s all about to wrap up! First off, thanks for some awesome X-Force stories. If you were able to continue to series past “Vendetta,” what stories or characters would you have wanted to focus in on?
Hey Graham! With “Vendetta” as the end, Storm really got swindled on my run, and I regret that. Not a lot of focus or development for one of my favorite all-time X-Men. I had more I wanted to do with her, we just didn’t get to it. I also had had more stories ideas for Betsy, Puck and Spiral. But past “Vendetta,” I would have wanted to shake the team up — who knows who would be left!
It was so cool seeing Puck get a resurgence through “Uncanny X-Force.” Are you sad you didn’t get to do more with him?
Yes. Puck was a blast to write; I could do a solo book with just him. I had a story in mind where you get to see Puck through the eyes of his three ex-wives, who are interesting characters in their own right (in my head). That would have been a lot of fun — to illuminate some of his past beyond Alpha Flight, and see him from a new angle.
Paulie is up next with a query about the collaborative nature of “Vendetta.”
When the idea of “Vendetta” first came up, where did you and Dennis Hopeless start from and how did you both work together to develop the story? What was your collaborative process like?
Hey Paulie! The collaborative process was, like, a ton of phone time. Don’t forget to include editor Daniel Ketchum who was crucial to the success of “Vendetta.” It involves more trial and error than you probably think. Tons of potential story ideas, central villains and conflicts were pitched, refined, laughed at and discarded.
cora_reef comes with a few retrospective questions about the series as well as a look forward.
Dear Mr. Humphries, what was the most exciting aspect of crafting “Uncanny X-Force” over the last year-and-change?
Hi Cora! The most exciting part was our artists. An amazing array of talent. They made the book look weird and fantastic and beautiful. I am indebted to every one of them. That, and writing Betsy.
You’re still continuing “Avengers A.I.” Is there any chance of some characters from “Uncanny X-Force” moving over to your work there?
Prrrrroooooobably not. But if I thought of a great story that required them, I’d be all over it.
Alex is up next with a question about Bishop.
Bishop’s characterization has been very poorly handled in recent years, and one of the big things fans were hoping for when you started your UXF run was that you’d be able to come in and fix this problem. Do you feel you’ve achieved that, or is there more work to be done?
Yo Alex, good question. A little from column A, a little from column B. I feel like no character needs to be “fixed” as much as they just need to be put on a certain path — in Bishop’s case, the path of redemption. Then, allow the character to grow and explore that path. I love Bishop and would have loved to “finish the job” but we just didn’t have the time. So, I feel like we’ve started Bishop on the path to redemption, and he’s moved along far enough that there won’t be considerable backtracking. But there’s still work left to be done by the next team of creators.
I mean, hey, just finagling him back to the present with a change of heart was challenge enough!
Renaldo wants to know more about the transition into “Uncanny X-Force” and the makeup/mission statement of the team.
1) Sam, before “Uncanny X-Force,” you were in the Ultimate universe blowing stuff up. How was that transition, seeing as you got to toy with a sandbox of violent X-Men that’s been a hot-topic since Utopia?
Hey Renaldo! The transition was fine. The crucial job of writing a team book — managing character dynamics — remained the same. But with “Uncanny X-Force” I was able to skew a little bit more weird, which was a lot of fun.
2) With Psylocke leading the way, how did you get a sense of balancing a strong character like her, Storm and Bishop while maintaining the essence of Puck and the questionable Spiral?
Hmm, interesting question, wish I had a solid answer. I just kind of worked it out, y’know? I had a web of character dynamics, that indicated the relationship and subtext between each of the characters. When one character did something, I’d look to see how that “pulled” on the other characters and wrote accordingly. This makes it all sound much more intentional than it was — but you get the general idea.
3) How do you see this team? Kill or be killed? Killing in the name of? Or preventative measures? I ask because these three themes have popped up since X-Force was re-commissioned.
Read the book and all will be revealed. “Violence as a quest for identity.” The way I see them is the way I wrote them. 🙂
4) With Cable and Hope thrown into the mix against the likes of Bishop and Stryfe, how did the earlier lore with these four affect or influence your vision? (seeing as they’ve been destined to cross since “Messiah CompleX”)
Well, it’s all earlier lore with them! That’s the whole story. I did a ton of research — the original “X-Force,” “X-Cutioner’s Song,” [Duane] Swierczynski’s “Cable,” all the “Messiah” stuff — I could go on. But mostly I just imagined people who had enormous baggage with each other, but at their core, they were sick of running and fighting each other. How do you get past all that bad blood to something everyone wants?
mr_infinite wraps up this X-Position with a look to the future.
Hi Sam! As you move ahead to future work at Marvel, what do you think is the most important thing you learned from “Uncanny X-Force” that you hope to apply to future series?
Greetings, Infinite. I learned a lot of dry-but-important craft lessons on this book. In terms of visible lessons, think the most important thing I learned is to have a smart ass character in every book.
What was your favorite overall moment in the series? Is it still to come?
I think issue #6, with Betsy/Spiral/Wolverine, was my favorite.
Special thanks to Mr. Sam Humphries for this week’s X-Position answers!
Next week, Gerry Duggan returns to X-Position to discuss all things “Deadpool!” Whether it’s the core “Deadpool” series or the recent “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” Infinite Comic, send in your head-scratchers about the Merc With a Mouth! Got a question for Gerry? Send your questions over via e-mail with the subject line “X-Position or in a 140 character question via Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!