In comics, when a hero kills a villain, many readers are left with mixed feelings. Some proclaim it’s a necessary evil, that killing a villain prevents untold future deaths; others feel that when heroes kill, they cross a line that makes their superhero status less “super.” Both arguments have valid points, and both are liable to stir up conflicting emotions in fans as well as the comic book characters themselves, if they’re well-written.
This is definitely the case for the members of Marvel Comics’ “Uncanny X-Force.” Their whole raison d’etre is to remove pending threats in a permanent fashion. Thus far, that’s included killing a child as well as an innocent who was being controlled by a mutant.
As you can see, there’s a lot to discuss, so we’re lucky to have Rick Remender, the writer of “Uncanny X-Force,” joining us! Your many emails have been viewed, reviewed and stand ready to be answered — even when some of these queries have no easy answers. Let’s just jump right in and see where our Q&A takes us today!
When discussing morality, it includes many grey areas. Fortunately, the questions emailed by “Grey” seem fairly straight-forward.
I am loving your X-Force! “Epic” seems too small of a word to describe your run. I’ve got a few questions for you…
1) Is that a new baby Apocalypse growing in Fantomex’s lab? Or were we misdirected in the first arc?
That is a totally different kid being grown in the World. The resurrected Apocalypse was assassinated in issue #4. Why is Fantomex growing this child? All will be revealed. But as you saw, once Fantomex assassinated Apocalypse, he made sure to walk over and get a blood sample on his fingers. So this was his plan from the beginning.
2) Have we seen the last of Father?
Maybe. Maybe not. I hate to not give an answer, but I would also hate to show my hand.
3) With the upcoming “Age of Apocalypse” arc, will we see Dark Beast, Sugarman, Holocaust, or Nate Grey?
Dark Beast plays an integral role, as does Holocaust — but not the Holocaust you know, someone very different. Sugar Man and Nate Grey are currently involved in their own shenanigans.
Derek also inquired about a guest in the upcoming arc and was hoping for some clarification.
1) Gambit appeared in the promos for X-Force’s trip to the “Age of Apocalypse,” but AOA Gambit is dead. Is that just an error or is there a story reason for it?
A lot of time has passed since the last “Age of Apocalypse” story. The same way some characters do not remain dead in our world, Gambit did not remain dead in theirs. It was all part of a big back-story that I had written but eventually cut. It felt like exposition. I figure readers understand enough about superhero comics to know that if ten years passed in the world and a formerly deceased character walks among the living, some crazy event happened to bring him back.
2) You mentioned you will be using Apocalypse’s greatest servants, but most of the well-known ones are dead. How obscure will you be getting? Diamanda Nero? Anais? Ch’Vayre? Assassin?
Divulging who will show up and who won’t show up would take away some of the fun of the story. By issue #18, all your questions will be answered. But I would rather you discover things like that in the story itself.
MarvelMaster616 wants to know more about houseguests and the nitty-gritty — particularly the gritty!
1) I really enjoyed the Deathlok arc, and I noticed he continued to linger around X-Force after the story was over. What’s his current status with the team? Will he be joining them? Is he going to be part of another upcoming story?
Deathlok, while not an official member, is going to be camping out in Cavern-X, watching over the world. Using his tachyon transmitter, he communicates with versions of himself in the future to discover what fate awaits mankind. In many cases, the fate is a bleak one due, in some part, to the existence or misuse of the World. Fantomex has insisted he not destroy the World, and the noble AI that runs Deathlok has agreed. The compromise being Deathlok now stands guard over the World, allowing no one in or out.
2) It seems that every time a member of X-Force kills someone, it affects them profoundly. Whether it was their actions with the kid Apocalypse, Father, or Shadow King, it seems as though the nature of their job is getting to X-Force. Can you discuss where this is taking the team and how it will affect future stories?
For a band of superheroes to gather together in secret and go out and perform clandestine assassinations, they must accept that there are going to be many late nights of agonizing afterwards. There should never be a situation where killing a person is a simple endeavor, one without consequences. To me, the consequences are what make the book interesting — knowing that what you’re doing may save 10,000 human lives today, but it might cause greater problems down the road. It might cause you to lose a part of yourself as well. I look at every assassination as a domino falling, and, no, that does not mean we will be seeing Domino in the book.
That sound you heard was thousands of forum members giving off a sad sniffle.
Ben also had questions about the implications of X-Force’s actions on the human psyche and the mutant Psylocke!
1) Psylocke definitely can’t get over the Apocalypse boy’s death. She also seems very worried when it comes to the possibility of Brian finding out about her actions on X-Force. Do you think she has what it takes to be in a team like this?
Right. The ethical quandaries that the team is placed in should beg the question, “Does any good person have what it takes to be on a team like this?”
While the jobs they take on feel absolutely mandatory to them, the late nights of hand-wringing over the decisions are inevitable. We saw in issue #5 all of the cast were having difficulty with the Apocalypse job: Fantomex discussing it with his mother; Wolverine suddenly in denial about the decision; Deadpool dealing with posttraumatic stress; and Betsy lying to herself in conversations with holograms of her brother.
If these characters were not traumatized by what they went through, they would not be heroes and they would not feel like human beings. Betsy will continue to work with X-Force because she wants to keep her friends safe. But she will pay the price for what she does — as will the entire team.
2) With Warren not being himself that much lately and Fantomex all over Betsy (the cover to issue #12 is, just, wow…), it seems like the romance between Angel and Psylocke is doomed. I’m sure they love each other, but do you feel like they are in a toxic relationship?
They do love each other. And, were they two regular people living a regular life, I believe that they would be quite happy together. Their characters and their backgrounds align in a way that makes me feel that they belong together. However, in a situation such as the one therein, given that Betsy is responsible for containing the evil within Warren, there are sure to be some complications. And those complications will take their toll on both of them.
3) Magneto finding out about X-Force didn’t seem like much of big deal to them. Will this be major plot point in the book in upcoming issues?
Everything in that issue is understated. We didn’t spell out any one thing; we didn’t even define what it was that particular Nazi had done to Magneto. I know what he did, but together, my editors and I all decided that it was better to leave it unsaid. Obviously, the team is not excited to find Magneto at their secret base.
I guess some things I assume readers will understand without me having to spell out. It is safe to assume that nobody is excited about the situation. Still, I don’t think Wolverine took on the job out of fear of reprisal. I think he understood what Magneto had gone through, and what this man had likely done to him.
4) The “Schism” event will happen at the same time as the Dark Angel saga. Will you deal with the “Schism” fallout in “Uncanny X-Force?” It would be interesting if Wolverine, Angel and Psylocke take different sides in “Schism” and yet have to work together in X-Force…
X-Force will obviously be involved in all big X-events moving forward; to what capacity you’ll have to wait and see. The events of the Dark Angel saga will spill over into the other books — no question about it. The future of X-Force will be somewhat altered by the events of “Schism.”
Ooh, prepare to have split feelings on the subject! Brian wrote in to ask about powers and leadership — what do you say?
1) Psylocke has had her telekinesis for a long time, and considering that she was involved with Angel for even longer than that, when will she learn to fly already?
I can’t speak to how Psylocke has been used by all other writers, but to me, having her fly makes her too powerful. Stealthy super-ninja/burgeoning Omega-level telepath is plenty for one character, in my mind. That’s not to say that she hasn’t been shown to have other abilities. To be frank, her history is a bit scattered and in order to make a cohesive backstory for her, I had to make some executive decisions as to what I would and would not be using. To use it all would just be too many ingredients in the soup, and I believe would make the character less interesting and believable.
2) Who is really leading X-Force — is it Wolverine or Angel or both?
They are co-captains of the team.
3) Is Psylocke immune to the misdirection ability of Fantomex?
No one on the team is immune to the misdirection ability of Fantomex. No one.
“No one?” What could that mean? Or is that misdirection? Dangit!
Renaldo sent our last email of the day and he moves to a lighter topic — giggles and games:
What’s it like writing Fantomex and Deadpool, as they have a similar sense of humor? How do you establish a balance and not emphasize one making the other seem redundant? Also, what is Fantomex’s current game plan, especially after the “Deathlok Nation” saga took a casualty close to him?
I find their senses of humor to be quite different. Wade is a bit cruder; his humor drawn from a tasteless jokes book bought at a thrift store. Fantomex is dry and sarcastic; aloof and slightly arrogant.
The meaning of Fantomex’s mother’s death is unclear. Purposefully. Though we did see Mother and Father both die in the Deathlok arc, we’re never really all that sure who they are. Time will tell.
Well, as long as we’re waiting, it’s time for our “Behind the X” get-to-know-you question. Since X-Force has been dealing with alternate universes, let’s try one of our own: if you never went into the comic book industry (a sad thought for us all), what occupation do you think you’d have?
Prior to working in comic books full-time, I was a feature film animator, storyboard artist, teacher at the Academy of Art University, animation director and all-around freelance illustrator. So I suppose, had I never made my mind up to build a career in comic books, I would still be working in video games and animation.
Had I never gone into the arts in general, I suppose I’d be a stodgy Wall Street executive looking for some angle — some new equation — that would allow me to bilk every nickel and dime I could from every poor working family in this country. I would drive around in my limousine, packed to the gills with cocaine, married to a woman who — though very attractive — has no emotional connection to me or the five children we had together. I would cheat on her regularly (desperately seeking out some emotional connection), while never spending any time with my children (who I would see as a chore). I would be so wealthy I would just have other people raise them.
Around the age of forty-five, I would drown myself in a toilet bowl full of the filth born of my excess, choking on the putrid, digested mess — an embodiment of the terrible decisions that I had made — while stabbing myself in the stomach with a broken shard of glass from my shattered “trader of the year” award.
In seven days, X-POSITION goes from something uncanny and becomes all shiny and new with the new “New Mutants” writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. What plans do they have for this scrappy group of heroes? And what changes will we see to the team under their tenure? I don’t have a clue, so you’d better write in and ask them those very questions!
Just get your emails to me ASAP and put an “X-Position” in the subject line. Failure to comply with these specifics will result in a bashing with my hammer (the “Thor” hammer I picked up at Toys R Us, of course). I’m eagerly waiting to hear from you, so hurry!