The ranks of Marvel's X-Men have included more than a few members struggling against the inner demons raging inside them. Some have succeeded in holding their dark halves at bay, while others -- like founding X-Man Warren Worthington -- met untimely and tragic ends.
Worthington's downfall and internal struggle came when Apocalypse transformed him into Death, the razor-winged leader of the Four Horsemen. Worthington was eventually able to break free from Apocalypse's hold, and as Archangel, he served with the X-Men for years. But unbeknownst to him, Apocalypse had implanted a fail-safe mechanism in his creation.
During Rick Remender's "Uncanny X-Force" run, Archangel wrestled with and eventually succumbed to a sinister "Dark Angel" personality Apocalypse had placed in his subconscious. As Dark Angel, Warren had a scheme to devastate the planet, and, tragically, the only way to end it was for his teammate and lover Psylocke to kill him.
So why is Archangel alive and a member of Cullen Bunn and Ken Lashely's January-launching "Uncanny X-Men?" What persona is in control of his body? And what does his return mean for his teammates? These are some of the questions Bunn and Lashley will tackle in April when they kick of the second arc of the series, which is part of the recently announced "Apocalypse Wars" storyline.
CBR News: This spring, the X-titles will kick off a new publishing style event dubbed "Apocalypse Wars" with the second arc of each of the three core X-Books. How would you describe this crossover event?
Cullen Bunn: "Apocalypse Wars" is more of a thematic crossover, with each of the core X-Books featuring an Apocalypse-centric tale. There might be a little connective tissue between the three titles, but the stories will stand on their own.
Apocalypse has been a significant part of the X-Men's world since the 1980s and you're a long time X-Men fan. What was your initial impression of Apocalypse, and ultimately, what do you feel En Sabh Nur and his related characters have added to the X-Men mythos?
I was a huge fan of Apocalypse from his very first appearance. He's always ranked fairly high, not only as one of my favorite X-villains but as one of my favorite super villains, period. He's a force of nature, a villain who is one of the very first mutants, who has on numerous occasions wiped the floor with the X-Men. I love how his mythology has changed and expanded over the years, making the X-mythos as a whole seem all the more epic. I'm excited to be adding to those tales in my own way.
Your story focuses on the cast member with the biggest ties to Apocalypse: Archangel, who is making a mysterious return after being seemingly destroyed in "The Dark Angel Saga" storyline from Rick Remender's "Uncanny X-Force" run. What made you want to bring the character back?
For years -- long before I was ever writing for Marvel -- I would daydream about the team I would want to use if I was writing "Uncanny X-Men." That fantasy team I was developing changed a lot, but Archangel was always a part of it. I've just always liked that version of the character.
Archangel will be the center of quite a bit of mystery in the first arc of my run. In the "Apocalypse Wars" story, I'll reveal how ended up back in this form and how he ended up on the team. The big question, of course, is if the Dark Angel persona is still alive and well.
What can you tell us about Archangel's personality and role in "Uncanny X-Men" leading up to this story?
Not to be a stick in the mud, but I don't want to reveal anything about Archangel until the first issue comes out! All I'll really say is that he's back to being the blue, metal-winged, featherblade-hurling figure we know and love -- sort of. Almost as soon as Archangel appears in the first issue of the series, readers will realize that something very important is different about him. Those differences will be explored in the Apocalypse arc.
"The Archangel problem" is something that is on the minds of each and every one of the X-Men. Some of them have seen firsthand how bad things can get if Archangel goes off the chain. Magneto and Psylocke in particular are very concerned by the possibilities. They are watching for signs of dangers to come. When they receive a message that hints at a possible dark future, they race to uncover what few clues they can find before the apocalyptic shoe drops.
Psylocke, was romantically involved with Archangel and was the one who destroyed him in the "Dark Angel Saga." Her ex-lover Fantomex also played a significant role in that story. How big of a role will they play in this tale?
Psylocke and Fantomex play a huge role in this story -- and it is not as a power couple. The dynamic between them is icy, to say the least. In fact, many readers have asked me if we're ever going to see Psylocke and Fantomex go toe-to-toe. Well, this arc will provide the brawl they've been waiting for. There's a lot of anger and bad blood between Psylocke and Fantomex, and it comes to a head in a confrontation I've listed in early outlines as one of the most vicious battles we've seen in the Marvel universe.
What other faces will we see in "Apocalypse Wars?"
Clan Akkaba is at work in this story, and you can't really have a proper Apocalypse story without the Four Horsemen, so we'll be meeting a new incarnation of those villains as well.
But that's not all!
In addition to the Apocalypse story, this arc will also provide a secondary tale featuring the return of a fan-favorite villain who has some familial ties to one of our X-Men!
The X-Men's battles with these characters will be depicted by Ken Lashley, whose action scenes just crackle with power and emotion. What's it like working with Ken?
This is a pretty dark story, but with lots of super heroic overtones, and I can't wait to see what Ken does with this diverse group of characters and locales. He drew one of our fantastic variant covers for issue #1.
I'm happy to report that Greg Land will be part of our art team for this arc as well. He'll be providing covers.
Finally, we've talked about what your "Apocalypse Wars" arc means for some individual members of your team, but what can you tell us about what the story means for the "Uncanny X-Men" as a whole? What sort of challenges is the team facing when your story begins? And how would you describe the group's overall dynamic? Are they gelling as a team by this point?
This is a story that will really shake things up for this team -- and I wouldn't say they will be gelling all that well to begin with. The Uncanny X-Men will not be the same going into this story as they are coming out of it. We'll be looking at a major shift in the team dynamic, and some significant changes for two of the characters.
Coming out of this arc, after facing an all new new incarnation of Akkaba and the Horsemen, the group will be facing yet another new version of a classic X-antagonist: the Hellfire Club.