Si Spurrier has a plan for “X-Force.”Much like his run on the recently-concluded “X-Men Legacy,” “X-Force” kicked off its All-New Marvel NOW! era with the beginnings of a new mystery, changes to the status quo and many lingering questions for readers both new and established. With a squad of Cable, Marrow, Psylocke, Fantomex and support from Dr. Nemesis, Spurrier’s team is in many way characterized by the new — new mission, new roster and new take on the Marvel Universe’s hardest-hitting mutant team.
To further elucidate his intentions for “X-Force,” Spurrier joined X-Position to answer your questions about his sophomore ongoing series, including his plans for the cast, whether he plans to address plot points from previous incarnations of the series, developing the current version of Marrow, the thematic relationship between “X-Men Legacy” and “X-Force” and more.
Before we get started, here’s a message from Si Spurrier:
Hello and good morning, folks. It’s my morning. Possibly not yours. You find me hunched over a quadruple frappocrappomegamochaknockaccino, or similar, blearily typing using my forehead in the sweaty armpit of a hipster cafe, this being my only escape from the all-pervading sense of Eevil Workload currently permeating my actual office.
Which is the long-winded way of saying this X-Po may have to be handled somewhat swifter than usual — sorry.
And yes, sshhhh, I’m aware of the accidental irony of spending an entire paragraph just to say “I must be brief,” but I haven’t started my coffee yet and it’s polite to warm-up to these things and possibly I’m procrastinating after all and oh god this is going to be long isn’t it and also shut up I’m starving.
With that, we kick off this week’s X-Position with Christopher, who has quite a few rapid-fire-style questions.
Will you elaborate on what happened with Dark Fantomex and Cluster?â€¨
RAPID-FIRE SI SAYS YES. Probably. I have plans. [spooky wizard-doing-magic fingerwiggle]
Does EVA still have her humanoid form?â€¨
RAPID-FIRE SI SAYS SORT OF. And suggests you check out Episode 4 for a more complete answer.
Will you follow up on the Angel/Psylocke relationship?
RAPID-FIRE SI PULLS AN AWKWARD-TO-ANSWER-FACE AND DOES A GALLIC COMME CI COMME Ã‡A HAND-WOBBLE. I’ve said previously I’m resistant to the notion of Psylocke being purely defined according to whomsoever she happens to be boffing, which I think has been a risk with her depiction sometimes in the past, and I’m particularly leery about doing so using old relationships. Readers will have noticed already that I’ve made a point of drawing a line under the Psylocke/Fantomex thingy, much to Fantomex’s consternation and confusion. He’ll get over it soon, I promise.
So, there are plans for Psylocke which — oh-so-nebulously — could be regarded as relating to her lovelife, though perhaps not in the way you might think. Same’s true of Fanto, incidentally, though in an opposite direction.
As for Angel — nothing imminent, but I’d repeat my previous wiggly-fingered wizard up to no good bit, with an added arched brow, to assure you I have Thoughts And Ideas Of Relevance.
Any interaction with other teams?
RAPID-FIRE SI SAYS YES! Teams both new and old. You’ll appreciate the main objective of the first arc, besides telling a severely twisty and splendid story, is to bed-in and fortify the team’s role, so I’ve hesitated to go chucking-in all sorts of big distracting A-list cameos from the getgo. But we’ll see some exciting new groups in episodes 4 and 5, and by the time we hit episodes 8 and 9 we’re in recognizable superteams endeavoring to murder each otherterritory. Which is always nice.
Kenny is up next with a question about the current roster of the book and the construction of the team itself.â€¨â€¨
Really enjoyed the first two issues of X-Force and this new line up (Nemesis & Fantomex! yay). Are you planning to bring in any more members and any hints on who they might be? Also, were there any characters you wanted to be a part of the book but couldn’t? Thanks.â€¨â€¨Hey Kenny. Ah… question-part-1 is one of those things where, really, you’re only ever going to get a “Wait And See” answer, sorry. (Speaking of: did you guys check out [Marvel SVP & Executive Editor] Tom Brevoort’s formspring? Here’s a great drinking game — you quaff [Editor’s Note: Drink] every time that poor, patient man is obligated to find a new way of saying “Obviously, I can’t answer that, wait and see.” You’ll be pished [Editor’s Note: Drunk] before you’ve hit the bottom of the first page.)
RAPID-FIRE SI ADVOCATES THE RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL.
Actually, here’s a sleazy tease to bolt onto the end of the same answer: Yes! There are plans for at least one more familiar face to show up very soon. But it won’t be in the way you expect, and — contrary bastard that I am — it probably won’t be in the way you want. And I’ve got slightly longer-term plans, which involve up to three other characters as sorta-quasi-slightly-semiregular parts of the operation, which may or may not pay off.
As for characters I wanted to include: too many to list here. Some of the obvious candidates were simply unavailable, but most were discounted because they didn’t fit the needs of the story I want to tell and the wider mission-statement I’m chasing.
Actually, brief aside: that’s an important point, and one I find myself at pains whenever I’m at a convention to gently remind readers about. To whit: Nothing appears in this comic which isn’t there for a reason. Even if it angers, saddens or irritates you, there’s a point behind it which shall ultimately be revealed.
And the ancillary reassurance: No, I’m sorry, your favorite character isn’t in it, and no, sorry, the story I’m telling probably isn’t the one you expected. But, um, I’m pretty sure that’s not a bad thing.
We all know the score, I think. There’s a certain mentality among a very teeny minority of what I’d term ‘Professional Fans’, who equate “not what I expected” (and/or “not immediately simple”) with “irredeemable garbage.” My simple view is that their sheltered expectations are their problem, and as long as we bear Si’s Law in mind at all times — Factions Speak Louder Than Herds — we need never mistake their poverty-of-taste for a wider view. The call to stagnate — the slide toward more-of-the-same-ism — is to be avoided at all costs.
Anyway, Kenny! That’s not meant in any way as an assault upon you, nor to equate you with the aforementioned self-elected arbiters of our culture whose aversion to difference, unexpectedness and mystery are such a thorn in its side. Your entirely innocent and perfectly reasonable question has, sorry, sorry, permitted me to indulge a little mid-coffee axe-grinding, and as a result I notice I’ve broken my “keep it brief” rule. Bugger.
ConternallyEfused wants to know more about the evolution of Marrow in the current incarnation of “X-Force.
â€¨â€¨Hi Si, I’m intrigued by your take on Marrow and the current incarnation of the character. What was the process in building her up in your volume of “X-Force?”
â€¨â€¨Ooh, good one. I guess the initial approach was pretty similar to the one I took to good old David Haller in “Legacy.” What got me fired up over him — as with Marrow — was a nameless appreciation of what the character could be as well as what he already was. With David I was pretty blunt — arrogance on my part, I think — about stamping my own brand on him: the Scottish accent, the speech patterns, the new version of his mental arrangements, etc. All perfectly justifiable, in-context, but shamelessly different than what had gone before.
So it is with Marrow. She’s still recognizable as the old character we all (All! Shut up!) know and love, but with an unapologetic new veneer of looks, syntax, philosophy, etc. The big difference is that — unlike David — there’s a perfectly good in-story reason, above and beyond “Si Decided To Start From Scratch” for why she’s being played slightly differently. Information will trickle out on that score for a while, with answers starting to arrive in episodes 5 and 6. Oh, and for fans of her “Beautifully Monstrous Bone-encrusted” look, I’ve just seen some of Jorge Molina’s pages from ep 5 which will scratch that itch very nicely indeed.
Also, the tone of the book overall is much more blunt and darker than some of the other X-books presently. Would you say that’s part of the series’ identity at this point?â€¨
The series’ overall identity? Nnnnno, not quite. Certainly it’s true of the first few episodes of this particular part of the story, and I guess you could argue my overall preoccupations — abstractly to do with civil liberty, black technology, political violence, ethnic stagnation, mortality, individual motivation and the unbelievable, unconscionable, brain-breakingly brutal bullshit which People Do To People all over our world every day in the name of this cause or that — naturally lean toward a darker, more “serious” sort of tale than some of the other X-books. But of course it’s not that simple. Some of the lightest X-books have been fairly transparent metaphors for serious issues and some of the darkest have been thematically empty contrivances to justify gratuitous violence. Horses for courses. As always, the mood exists to serve the specific needs to the story. So yeah: the first few eps of my “X-Force” are kind of dark (and I’d argue there’s a happy niche for that right now). The subsequent few eps take on a significantly different tone. And then another shift, and another, and another. It’s very flexible — although, true enough, always within the fairly mature framework of Sneaky Violent People doing Sneaky Violent Things.
â€¨Warren is up next with a few hopes for favorite characters to show up in the series.â€¨â€¨1) Any plans for Cable to run into Deadpool? I feel like the two haven’t had a chance to reconnect since Cable’s come back.â€¨
None immediately, though I have several ideas in that direction. And I’d love to break my Wade cherry, as it were. He looks like a lot of fun to write.
â€¨2) Any chance for Cable to interact with Evan aka Kid Apocalypse? Given the fact that Apocalypse has pretty defined cable’s existence since birth, I think it would be interesting to see Cable interact with a younger “innocent” version of him.â€¨
Again — sorry! — nothing immediately. That’s the sort of cool stuff I’ve definitely got ideas about, but it falls into that category of “revisiting old glories” rather than “creating new ones.” I think a diligent writer gives agency to both, though personally I’d prefer to prioritize the latter over the former.
â€¨cora reef wants to know more about the thematic relationship between “X-Men Legacy” and “X-Force.”
â€¨â€¨Dear Mr. Spurrier, I was a big fan of your “X-Men Legacy” run and would love to see you do another more philosophical X-Men book in the future. That said, “X-Force” seems to be somewhat of a tonal shift. Do you plan to explore any of the same themes in “X-Force” that you did in “Legacy?”
â€¨â€¨Hey Cora! Thanks for the kind words on “Legacy” — I’m so proud of that book. Very difficult to answer your question without spiraling around a few nuggets of interesting wider stuff, so bear with me here. All hopes of keep-it-brief-ism are now flapping and gasping on the floor, and coffee #2 is on the way. So.
Let’s start with the perception of “Legacy” as a “philosophical” book. I’m aware I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but d’you remember when the first few episodes of “Legacy” came out? Outcry! In certain quarters — certain noisy, minority quarters — we saw the very kneejerkery I mentioned above: This isn’t what I expected! Different equals shit! I don’t understand 100% of what’s happening from the start here, hence it’s awful! An ill-conceived book about little-loved, often annoying characters laced with more questions than answers! Horrible!
But then, when “Legacy” wrapped in January there was a slew of really touching eulogies online — relishing the book’s slow-burn mysteries, celebrating its uniqueness, and noting that a character who’s flawed, often obnoxious and riddled with insecurity is capable of far greater emotional payoffs than one who’s merely all awesome all the time. “Legacy’s” now seen as a huge critical success.
The really lovely part was that many of the really charming eulogies were run by the very same outlets whose regular reviewers had excoriated the book most venomously at the start.
Ohhhh, I know, I know, it’s disingenuous to imagine those first knee-jerk haters are sitting somewhere repenting of their premature hatings. Different contributors to the same outlet are perfectly entitled to hold conflicting views: that’s the beauty of readership, commentary and consumption. But I’d gently suggest that if you’re going to permit your critics to dabble in reactionary polemic — “worst! thing! ever!” — you also have to be prepared to take a knock to your perceived objectivity when it takes you 14 months to disclose the existence of an entirely opposite view.
Anyway. “X-Force.” Obviously not a weirdo story about a pointy-haired kid with a billion dissociative personalities. Obviously got a far bigger brand-cache, and hence a far deeper trough of reader expectations. Obviously putting a greater focus on widescreen action than on trippy mentalism. But still, but still. In my view there’s absolutely nothing to stop it from achieving the same levels of thoughtfulness and emotional resonance as “Legacy.” Action doesn’t have to be dumb, dark doesn’t have to be dreary, mainstream doesn’t have to be samey and epic doesn’t have to be straightforward.
Ultimately my approach to “X-Force” is pretty similar to “Legacy” — albeit with more room to breathe and more team dynamics. There are mysteries running throughout. There are flawed characters, often acting obnoxiously, struggling to overcome facets of themselves at the same time as Things Going Boom. There are some exceedingly important themes hidden behind the action. There are emotional crotch punches waiting to be deployed. There is an ending hardwired into the soul of the thing. And I quite simply refuse to give my readers all the answers from the get-go, or to fill my book with grotesquely flawless characters who do nothing but Punch And Quip.
So: the same approach as “Legacy.” And you really don’t need me to tell you — by way of punchline — that the exact same few who noisily knee-jerked over “Legacy” have taken just the same approach this time too.
The meta-story, like history itself, repeats. Which, by way of a happy bookend to an off-piste ramble — sorry — is one of the main themes of “X-Force.” And that, I think, is what your question was about all along?
Also, the squad you’ve lined up is certainly unique, and it seems like Cable is a little tougher than he’s been in recent years. What’s the story behind his tougher exterior compared to Dennis Hopeless’ version of the character in “Cable and X-Force?”â€¨
Ahhh yes: you’re right. Cable is indeed rather different. And there is indeed a very, very, very good reason for why.
And I wish I could say more than that — sorry. Answers are coming.
Wrapping up this X-Po is Igor0928, who wants to know more about the upcoming target of the team and recently-introduced character, Meme.â€¨â€¨
I think this take on “X-Force” is definitely a deviation from some of the incarnations of years past. What would you say this team’s mission statement is? Looking at their next target, Yevgeny-Malevitch Volga, it seems like they’re going the corporate takedown route?â€¨
Put simply, the planet Earth is seething with secret, violent factions whose goals have absolutely nothing to do with “right vs wrong” and absolutely everything to do with “my people should be stronger than your people.”
That’s true, by the way. That’s not a Marvel Universe thing. That’s a right-now, go-and-switch-on-the-news type thing.
Now — in our world this secret neverending race is run using technology and intelligence. Whoever has the most, the best and the baddest of each wins. Buuuuut in the Marvel Universe they have superhumans — which make perfect metaphors for all of the above. So every nation, every faction and every organization, has its own covert superhuman team to keep its flag flying high.
All except the mutants. The poor, sidelined, endangered, universally-suspected mutants. Who find themselves rendered impotent and irrelevant on the global stage, fit only to squabble amongst themselves and be used as scapegoats for every disaster that comes along.
Cable’s not about to let that happen any more. As he puts it: “Nation of mutantkind needs a dirty tricks division. We’re it.”
Of course (hello) it’s not that simple. And as we shall see Cable’s political aims are tangled with some very personal problems — a threat to his daughter’s life, in particular — in such a way that his perspective and clear-headedness become suspect. Ultimately: is he any better than the people he’s fighting?
Into this seething melting-pot of violence, emo-tragedy and metaphors for real-world skulduggery comes Volga, a stupendously wealthy man who represents a very modern-day face of what I consider to be the simplest definition of genuine evil: deliberately treating people like things. Volga literally does not give a fuck about anything except himself. He sees mutantkind as a scientific resource to be cheerfully exploited for his own ends — in this case, the creation and sale of weapons — and Cable’s been caught-up in the contrail of his magnificent selfishness.
So, to answer your question, it’s not entirely an anti-corporate theme, no. It’s more of an anti-millennial-shithead theme, if that’s a theme at all.
Meme seems like an interesting concept and character. First, how do you pronounce her name? Is it like “internet meme” or is it an alternate spelling of Mimi? Also, she seems almost Legion-like in her text boxes. Was that purposeful?
Her name: that’s a bit of mischief on my part. The basic answer to “which pronunciation is correct” is “both.” Without getting too wanky, those four little letters, with their various interpretations, say quite a lot about who and what Meme really is — and it’s something I’ll play with a little further down the line. Answers are coming, answers are coming.
As for her speech-pattern, that’s something to which I’ve given quite a bit of thought. And if you’re unfortunate enough to be as neurotic about the use of words and syntax as I am, you’re going to notice the way she speaks evolving veeeery gradually. Because of reasons.
This is another one of those annoying “wait and see” answers, sorry, but what it comes down to is that you’re seeing someone who’s very unfamiliar with a particular Way Of Being, slowly getting the hang of it — and beyond.
As always, a special thanks to Si Spurrier for taking on this week’s questions!
Next week, it’s a journey back to the Jean Grey School as new “Wolverine and the X-Men” writer Jason Latour takes on your questions about the second volume of the series. Have a pressing query about the future of the Jean Grey School’s cast? 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!