There are few Marvel Comics writers that play the long game with more commitment than “Uncanny Avengers” scribe Rick Remender. The current “Avenge the Earth” story arc sees the Unity Squad splintered in a future where the Earth is destroyed and the surviving mutants have created a civilization on Planet X. Now, Havok, Wasp and Beast are set to team up with Kang the Conqueror’s Chronos Corps to help bring the Earth back — but it’s certainly not going to be easy.
Remender joined X-Position this week to answer your questions about “Avenge the Earth” and the current status of the Unity Squad, taking on Mojo in the Annual issue, constructing long-form storytelling and future plans for the Chronos Corps, Immortus’ Infinity Watch and more.
Max is up first with a quick kick-off question about Mojo.
“Uncanny X-Force” and “Uncanny Avengers” are among my fave titles of all time. Your storylines are a blast to read.
My question is about Mojo, that we will have the pleasure of reading through your pen in the upcoming Annual. What attracted you to use Mojo and do you have plans to involve Mojo in future storylines? I always thought Mojo was a fascinating character but I’d love if we could see him out of Mojoworld and interact with other Marvel villains.
Hey, Max. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the books. I was a child of the ’80s and so I grew up reading all those great Nocenti/Claremont/Arthur Adams Mojo books. Hell, I bought “Longshot” #1 off of a 7-11 newsstand a million years ago, and have really dug the character going back all that way.
I like characters that have something to say and Mojo is such a perfect platform to say so much about our society and where we’re going. His goals and world were fairly prophetic given the premonitions of an entertainment-obsessed culture, and thinking on it, they predicted reality television many years before it started.
The story we’re telling in “Uncanny Avengers Annual” #1 is a tip of the hat to those classic old “Uncanny X-Men” annuals. In fact, I cooked up the story with Arthur Adams, who provided such a spectacular cover, quite the childhood dream. Having Paul Renaud able to come in and deliver such lush pages was the icing on the cake.
I know some of the upcoming plans for Mojo and they sound very exciting, so you might just be in luck.
Fabio wants to know more about the organization of a long-form story, such as the one being told in “Uncanny Avengers.”
I must admit I had a very different idea of how “Uncanny Avengers” would have panned out back when I heard about it in 2012. However, your flawless characterization and seemingly endless long-term planning has driven this series in directions I would have never thought possible. Thank you for such an amazing journey so far!!!
The question I wanted to ask you was how exactly do you manage to systematically plan and execute an epic, such as this series, without giving too much away? Is there a lot of planning that goes into this decision or is this something that you have simply had years to plan and map out to perfection (it kind of felt that way, seeing all the ways in which you drew from your run on “Uncanny X-Force”)?
Thank you, Fabio. I appreciate your enthusiasm. I always try to do something unexpected with anything I write because that’s what entertains me the most in things that I read or shows that I watch. I want the books to surprise you and hopefully keep you engrossed. While still at the core of it all telling a character driven story with the action being a byproduct of the characters passions, mistakes, heroism, pettiness, rage, etc., etc.
I outline normally in 20 to 25-issue blocks and then break everything down in terms of 5-issue bricks. The upcoming events of “Uncanny Avengers,” and all of the exciting things it leads to, have literally been in the works since 2011. The plans have mutated and taken on new shapes, but for the most part I’ve known where this is going for some time and it’s very exciting to get to the intended conclusion and see it take its toll on the characters of the Marvel Universe.
So, yes, planning is everything I don’t write a single issue until I have the entire story outline and know where it’s going. Otherwise when I get there the readers will know that I was winging it and making it up as I went. And that’s not the kind of story I like to read so it’s not the kind of story I write.
I work very closely with my editors and we beat up the outlines and revise and rethink for a number of drafts before I begin to write any issue of any story. Some people call this writing for the trades, but as long as you’re keeping in mind that you have to have an exciting cliffhanger every 20 pages or so it’s really writing for both the single issue and the trade, and ultimately writing one large story that can be sat down and read years later as a whole and enjoyed. Or so I hope.
Twiggenstein is hoping for some insight into Wolverine as “Avenge the Earth” continues.
Dear Mr. Remender-
Love your work. Question: After reading the most recent installment of Uncanny Avengers, it is presumed that Wolverine’s (along with the other unity members’) conscious will be sent back in time. Can you speak to how different Wolverine will be? Since he stopped screaming “years ago” (along with Sunfire), will he be motivated to not have to relive that, or will he be more motivated with anger and be unleashed? Will his healing factor be re-started somehow in this story line (a la the Blob)?
If I answer that, I give away some timeline points, that ultimately will reveal parts of the story that we don’t want to reveal just yet. By issue #22 everything will be made clear in the huge ramifications of what we’ve done in this book will be apparent to everyone.
We’ve spent years building a story that earns the unity of these characters instead of simply willing it to be. When we started “Uncanny Avengers” the X-Men and the Avengers had just finished a war together and the unity squad was an attempt to breach that divide. But as with such tense circumstance, as with any team of this nature, and given all they had been through, things didn’t work out as according to plan.
In my mind many of the characters were still angry, especially Wolverine and Rogue. Others were determined to hold it all together but blind to the pragmatic difficulties inherent in such a unit. The characters all made mistakes and those mistakes led to a chain of events that led to the end of the Earth, all because they couldn’t behave heroically, unite as one and fight together.
While that might seem like something that can’t possibly have happened in continuity, it did. And the ramifications of it will be long lasting and I think lead to a lot of fun stories.
Not all of the mutants that were sent to Planet X on the Akkaba Ark will forget what happened there.
As for Wolverine, this story will have huge ramifications on the legacy of that character. You won’t know the full scope of those ramifications until about December, but what we’ve been building two with Wolverine, going all the way back to “Uncanny X-Force” will play out in this story.
Thanks for the great question.
Next up is Slewo, who wants to know more about approaching different kinds of character — especially when it comes to some of the core members of the Unity Squad.
What’s the hardest thing as a writer about writing characters with certain core values like Captain America or Havok versus ones you get to shape like Grant McKay or Marcus?
Continuity can be a handcuff and it can be difficult to take control of the character sometimes when they’re not yours. When you build a character from ground up you know everything about them, it was decisions that you made, you know their personality, you know what aspects of that character you’re going to write from personal experience and what aspects you’re going to have to make up you create them whole cloth.
Characters like Captain America, Havok, Wolverine, Fantomex or Venom — these are characters that have existed in the Marvel Universe for many years and so the challenge is quite different. You have to read a metric ton of comic books to see what their story is and what they’ve been through with the various writers who have written them before you. Not only is it respect to the work that went into those stories, but because that really is your character bible and that’s what the readers know to be the truth about these characters in who they are.
But then you have to take that information and be brave enough to move those characters in new directions as long as you have logical reasons these characters would make the decisions they do, as long as you have successfully established the new situation and how it affects the character, how their past history informs their decision basically. But building from that you have to be brave enough to bend the toys a little bit or else you’re just retreading the same things. That can take some time getting used to.
Conversely, writing creator-owned characters there is no Bible for you to refer to you have to build up your own bio/bible step-by-step and that can be very time-consuming. I try to put my all into all the characters, to find out who they are and get into their heads, but it’s obviously a bit easier with my own characters. There aren’t any readers disagreeing with my portrayal of Marcus Lopez Arguello in “Deadly Class,” etc., etc. He’s mine, he’s what I say he is.
Both are satisfying for different reasons.
Jake is hoping for some insight into Kang’s Chronos Corps and whether there’s a plan for them moving forward.
Absolutely loving the work you are doing on “Uncanny Avengers.” I totally dig it when writers play the long-term game and you are absolutely killing it. I wanted to ask you a question or two about Kang the Conqueror and his Chronos Corps. Specifically, what made you select the members of this new team? You seem to have quite the eclectic group going, what with Doctor Doom 2099 and an Abomination Deathlok on the same side! Do you have plans for these characters even after the Unity Squad has Avenged the Earth? Or will they all have to return from whence they came? Thank you for your time and amazing work!
Hey, Jake. Kang is a character I have some history with going back 13 years now to when I was the inker on the “Avengers” comic book and worked on a large portion of Kurt Busiek’s Kang Saga.
When I got into Tom Brevoort’s office as a writer and we began talking stories, every time Kang’s name came up it was very clear that Tom saw him as the most important Avengers villain, neck-and-neck with Ultron. And I think that Tom’s respect for the character has clearly enforced his stature as one of the biggest and baddest villains out there. Tom hasn’t let that character be used in any way other than grand. So, when I was building the story it was mandatory that Kang’s role be so Machiavellian and brilliant that it literally took 2 years to unravel what he was doing. We still haven’t seen it, but were about to, and am very excited to reveal Kang’s true plot.
As for his Chronos Corps: each one of the characters were selected by Kang for specific reasons to his plot. I went through a list of characters that came from the future and found characters that I was interested in that also fit into the plot Kang was concocting. The ramifications for each of the characters selected will be felt throughout the entire year of 2014. Keep reading.
Champagne is up next with a question about a key part of any comic book: the art.
Thanks, Rick Remender! For putting time and effort into asking our questions. Both your “Uncanny Avengers” and “Uncanny X-Force” have been ace and I’m sure a large part of that is due to the regular artists in collaboration. How do you feel the artistic styles of Jerome Opena and Daniel Acuna contributed to the different stories you’ve told?
Jerome and Daniel are two of the greatest comic artists of our generation, and while their styles seem quite different, many of their strengths are the same. Beyond being brilliant illustrators they are wonderful sequential storytellers. Clear exciting pages that are never dynamic at the cost to the storytelling but are dynamic in harmony with great storytelling.
In Daniel’s case his biggest strength is his design sense followed next by his amazing storytelling. An AcuÃ±a comic book has its own iconic stamp. It’s immediately recognizable his personality and artistic voice seeping onto the page.
Jerome is much the same; as soon as you see a Jerome OpeÃ±a page you know who did it. Jerome also is one of the most innovative designers in comic books. Jerome’s ability as a designer shines through in almost everything he does. Every character has a silhouette every costume is unique and thought out every line on every face intentional and expressive.
These are guys who look to the world around them and various other sources beyond comics for their inspiration. You can hold them up to most of the best concept artists or animation background artist, or really any other artist in any field. They push comics forward by being hugely influenced by other art forms and creators and bringing that unique voice to comics.
They are hip and relevant and very sexy. It’s not false humility to say I owe every success I have to the artists I work with. The artist is everything to a comic and Jerome and Daniel are two of the very best.
Ryan wants to know more about Havok and Wasp’s relationship in “Uncanny Avengers”
I love what you have done with Havok and Wasp’s relationship throughout the book, but I’m worried about it fading away after Planet X. Is there any hope for these two love birds?
The romance between Alex and Janet is far from over. The story I’m telling with them is only about halfway done and we’re going to some fairly interesting and exciting places with them. As for their chances of staying together and happy — there’s always a chance, but I hate to indicate one way or another.
@maximoffmartel on Twitter wants to know more about plot points that may have gotten changed since the beginning of the series.
Can you tell us about any plot points you decided to change or drop since the beginning of Uncanny Avengers?
There really haven’t been many. When I first started this I did an outline, had a clear idea of where I want to go, and I’ve just sort of been pushing the ball down the field ever since. Some details have changed along the way I’m sure, but none that I can think of off the top of my head.
And of course you’re going to have to wait a couple more months to see were all goes to see if you like what it all leads to and to determine if I stick the landing.
Jen is hoping for more insight into Rogue and whether fans will have the opportunity to see her again.
Dear Mr. Remender,
Thank you for taking the time to answer fan questions. It is probably rather thankless at times considering all the hard work that goes into creating the stories. With that said, as a Rogue fan, is there any chance we will see her again? It seemed like she was a rather unfinished character. She did not do much except serve as a plot device in order to make Wanda look better and seem more heroic. Was that intentional? Also why do you think she suddenly turned on all those years as an X-Man and as a leader/mentor of young people to just kill Wanda? You mentioned the Xavier thing, but other characters were much closer to him and did not have the redemption history. They might have fit better in the story. After AvX, Rogue seemed to be in a great place and more resilient than ever. It just seems like there has to be more to the story.
I don’t think that what happened with Rogue did make Wanda look better. It was a mistake, a misunderstanding built on Rogue’s mistrust, and really, it’s a mistrust I think she has a right to. I don’t think that it was irrational given what she’s been through. In the past few years Rogue has lost so much. The loss of Charles Xavier alone could level her. Charles was the first person to ever believe in her and offer her a place to belong, a moment we even recreated in issue #2 to drive this emotion home. This was a man who took her away from her life of crime, even when every member of the X-Men threatened to quit. And he was killed by one of her closest and dearest friends, Scott Summers.
Prior to that, she watched the decimation of the mutants at the hands of the Scarlet Witch. The X-Men were sent into hiding. Things go worse and worse.
Over the course of this series Rogue was reverting and doing what many people do in times of grief — regressing into more primal state of who she once was before Charles Xavier brought her into the X-Men and rehabilitated her.
She thought that Wanda was doing some monumentally terrible thing, again, against the will of the mutants. And after everything that she has suffered from M-Day to the loss of Charles Xavier all of it begins with those three words that Wanda said. Her animosity towards Wanda is earned in my eyes. Rogue began to sink into depression, and was mad, and I stand by that direction for her.
But, this is also just the middle act in a story that I am not through telling. It is not the end of the characters nor is it the end of their time in the Marvel Universe. But it is the end to an aspect of each of them and it is something that they went through to help earn what they find on the other side.
I’m a huge fan of Rogue, I grew up reading Chris Claremont X-Men comic books through the ’80s, I mowed lawns every Saturday to get money so that I could go down the comic book store and buy every issue of “Uncanny X-Men.” I have a connection to these characters as well; it’s why I do this. What we have in store for Rogue is far from over. As for how long it takes and when/if/how she will return — you have to keep reading.
Tom is hoping for some more details on Immortus’ Infinity Watch.
Hi Rick! Great work on “Uncanny Avengers” — I look forward to it every month!
I have to say — when you showed Immortus’s Infinity Watch, my heart skipped a beat. The idea of you writing Adam Warlock makes me indescribably happy. Do you have any plans to write anything with cosmic characters, or have you at least ever wanted to? Who are some of your favorite cosmic characters?
We have not seen the last of Immortus or his Infinity Watch. And we didn’t even see all of the members of the team yet. I have big plans in my head for Infinity Watch; you’ll get a clear idea of what in “Uncanny Avengers” #23. I dig Mar-Vell most of the cosmic characters.
Wrapping up this week’s X-Position is Kenny with a question about how far out you have plans for “Uncanny Avengers”
How far out do you currently have Uncanny Avengers planned? What can we expect to see, in terms of characters and plotlines, after “Avenge the Earth” ends?
I have “Uncanny Avengers” tightly outlined and mostly written up until issue 25 right now. The ramifications of “Uncanny Avengers” #25 and “Captain America” #25 are monumental and have been in the works, being built up to, for some time.
I’m very excited to finally get to what is really the climax of everything I’ve been doing at Marvel. It’s also the natural conclusion to much of what we’ve seen in the past with “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” “Civil War,” and “House of M.”
Special thanks to Rick Remender for taking on this week’s batch of “Uncanny Avengers” questions!
Next week, gather your questions from this weekend’s C2E2 X-Men announcements, because Marvel editor in charge of the X-Books Mike Marts is our guest next week! If you’ve got a question about the current state of the X-Men line or the recent news from last weekend’s C2E2 announcements, go ahead and 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!