For decades, various iterations of the Weapon X Program have operated in the shadows of the Marvel Universe, conducting cruel experiments to create super-powered weapons of war. In the pages of writer Greg Pak and artist Greg Land's Weapon X series, a new version of the titular program emerged with a mission that focused on destruction instead of creation. Its goal is a simple one: the eradication of all mutants.
So far, the mysterious director of the new Weapon X Program and his scientists have carried out their campaign of mutant genocide by using high-tech killer cyborgs to target and harvest the powers of mutants with powerful abilities like healing factors. In Totally Awesome Hulk #19, by Pak and artist Robert Gill, the new Weapon X program targeted its first non-mutant and perhaps it's most powerful source of material yet, Amadeus Cho. Worse, they might have gotten exactly what they needed from him. That led Cho to form an uneasy alliance with Old Man Logan, Sabretooth and Domino in order to smash the Weapon X program.
Their efforts will be chronicled in “Weapons of Mutant Destruction,” a six-part crossover that kicks off with a special alpha issue and then moves into issues of Totally Awesome Hulk and Weapon X. CBR spoke with Pak about the crossover, the players and dynamics involved and the role the mysterious “Batch H” will play in the story.
CBR: One of the fun things about "Weapons of Mutant Destruction" has got to be the chance to bounce Amadeus Cho off of the cast members of your Weapon X series. What's it like writing the dynamic between the Hulk and Old Man Logan, Sabretooth and Domino? Which interactions have you especially enjoyed writing?
Greg Pak: I'm having a hugely fun time writing all of these characters -- and yes, adding Amadeus and Domino to the mix has been a blast. Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath and Lady Deathstrike are all pretty hardcore, laconic characters. Amadeus and Domino are talky, jokey optimists, so we get some great variety in voice and nice little conflicts when you mix and match 'em.
A number of years back, I had the pleasure of writing a Battlestar Galactica comic book that tied in with the reimagined series. And I loved the fact that all of those characters had been so well designed in relation to each other that you could put any two of them together and a pretty awesome scene would result. That's what I'm gunning for with this cast of characters in “Weapons of Mutant Destruction.” Each of our heroes and anti-heroes has a distinct attitude and objective that fuels both their partnerships and their conflicts in fun and compelling ways. So I'm having fun and learning something new every time I get any two of them together.
Throughout the Weapon X series so far, for example, I've had a total blast writing Logan and Sabretooth together -- their cranky anti-hero buddy thing is just a kick. And there's another good example in Weapons of Mutant Destruction Alpha #1, where we've got an extended sequence that pairs up Amadeus and Lady Deathstrike, with each of them pushing the other's buttons in some surprising, fun, and dangerous ways.
In Totally Awesome Hulk #19, a prelude to "Weapons of Mutant Destruction," we saw one point of contention between Amadeus and his new comrades is the use of lethal force against their enemies, but the issue also suggested that the cyborg foot soldiers of the new Weapon X program aren't necessarily alive in the traditional sense of the word. Can you talk a little more about that? Will your cast members be able to cut lose when facing down their opponents? Or be forced to show restraint?
Yeah, in Totally Awesome Hulk #19, Amadeus discovers that the cyborg he's captured doesn't have any actual brain tissue or true sentience. The Weapon X facility that created it apparently excised someone's brain and used his body as a kind of meat burrito covering a cyborg endoskeleton. So that's horrible, but it seems to open the door for our heroes to cut loose when they encounter cyborgs in the future, which may allow for a lot of guilt-free mayhem. Still, we've learned that Amadeus and Sabretooth have very different ideas about the appropriateness of lethal force. I kind of wonder if the writer would have included a scene like that early in the story if it wasn't going to pay off at some point... [Laughs]
In the Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk issues leading up to the crossover we've gotten several scenes with the scientists behind the Weapon X cyborgs and it's interesting that they appear to be people who have normal lives and concerns (one even talks about having to pick up his kids) yet they're involved in an evil top secret program. Will we get to see more with those characters in "Weapons of Mutant Destruction?"
We're absolutely going to see more of those characters. When I was discussing this story with editors Mark Paniccia, Chris Robinson, and Axel Alonso, we all got very excited about the idea of spending real time with these everyday scientists and workers in the Weapon X facility. There's a tremendous precedent for that in the incredible, original “Weapon X” storyline from Barry Windsor-Smith, so we're going back to some Weapon X roots here. I think it's a key thing thematically -- showing how ordinary people can contribute to horrific evil. Some of the scariest stuff in the whole book is right there in those scenes.
The scientists of course are taking orders from the director of the Weapon X program, whose identity you have yet to reveal. Will "Weapons of Mutant Destruction" answer major questions about the director like who the character is, why they've embarked upon a crusade of mutant genocide, and how they came to be in charge of the revitalized program?
Yes. You're going to learn the identity of the director in Weapon X #4, a prelude issue that hits stores on June 14! And we're digging deep into our second major villain, the scientist behind Weapon X's new experiments. I love her -- she's one of my favorites out of all the villains I've had a hand in creating. The Weapons of Mutant Destruction Alpha #1 issue will delve deep into both of these villains and reveal a lot more about their specific mindset and motivations. Dontcha dare miss it!
We know that the Weapon X program wants to wipe out all mutants, but it also feels like they're interested in building the perfect super soldier/killing machine since they've been using captured characters and body parts to enhance their cyborgs. Is that part of their end game? To build a hybrid super soldier? And the solicits have hinted at something called "Batch H." What can you tell us about that?
Yep! They're bad, bad people with a horrific worldview and a terrifying plan that uses our heroes' greatest strengths against them. And yes, over the last couple of issues of Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk, we've learned that the Hulk's blood is critical to their plans. Everything will turn on what's cooking up in Batch H. Keep on reading!
The characters of Warpath and Lady Deathstrike are both currently in Weapon X's custody so they haven't had a chance yet to play much of a role in the Weapon X series. Earlier though you hinted that Lady Deathstrike has some scenes with Amadeus in Weapons of Mutant Destruction: Alpha. So What kind of role will James Proudstar and Yuriko Oyama play in this story?
You'll see a lot more of both of them throughout the storyline, starting in Weapon X #4. Yuriko's spent most of her career as a villain, so it's a good bet she might be more on Sabretooth's side when it comes to brutal tactics. James is a hero, but he's served on Wolverine's black-ops teams in the past, so he's more of a wild card. Should be fun to see how it all pans out!
What else can you tell us about the scope and scale of "Weapons of Mutant Destruction?" How big is the action and the drama going to get over the course of the crossover?
We're doing our best to keep this grounded and gritty so all the action feels visceral, physical, and real. At the same time, this is a superhero book co-starring the Hulk and a bunch of increasingly powerful killer cyborgs, so we're gonna amp up to some pretty mind-blowing, over the top action. It's gonna be a blast every step of the way.
Mahmud Asrar is drawing the Alpha issue of “Weapons of Mutant Destruction,” Robert Gill is drawing the Totally Awesome Hulk issues, and Marc Borstel is drawing the Weapon X issues. What's it like telling this story with these particular artists? Action and character acting are key elements to almost any superhero comic, but it feels like they'd be especially pivotal in this story, correct?
You're totally right -- for any superhero comic to work, you need an artist who can deliver phenomenal action and great character moments. This particular storyline also deals with genuinely horrific villains, the everyday people who work for them, and heroes with a variety of tones and voices. So we've got scenes with a lot of wry humor and scenes with massive action and scenes with quiet dread. Fortunately, we've got folks like Mahmud Asrar, who I think has delivered some tremendous, career-best work with the Alpha issue; Robert Gil, who's doing a tremendous job with Totally Awesome Hulk; and Marc, who's having a great time with both the regular folks and the big superhero action in Weapon X. Marc drew a guy with a slice of pizza in the middle of Weapon X #5 that I just love -- I won't spoil what the moment is all about, but it's attention to little details like that that make the book feel real and visceral and fun.
Finally, can you leave us with some hints and teases about what the fallout and aftermath of "Weapons of Mutant Destruction" will mean for the directions of Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk?
All will be revealed in the fulness of time! But there will be real consequences to this storyline. I'll say no more.