Over the years, the mutants of the Marvel Universe had faced a number of dangerous foes, but perhaps the most sinister are to be the scientists and operatives of the clandestine genetic research program known as Weapon X, which seeks to weaponize and control the abilities of mutants and other super humans. The program’s sadistic experiments and illegal operations have brought it into clashes with a number of heroes, with the result normally finding it destroyed or shut down. And yet, somehow it always seems to come back in a new, more dangerous incarnation.
This April, writer Greg Pak and artist Greg Land kick off a brand new “Weapon X” title where the discovery of the latest incarnation of the program will unite a ragtag band of mutant anti-heroes. The team, which will include characters like Old Man Logan and Sabretooth, will then embark upon a high stakes and desperate crusade: Uproot and destroy the new Weapon X before it accomplishes its ultimate goal of mutant genocide.
CBR: In your new "Weapon X" book, the sinister program is back and seemingly more dangerous than ever. What can you tell us about its agenda and the way it operates?
Greg Pak: I absolutely loved the original “Weapon X” storyline that Barry Windsor-Smith wrote and drew back in the day, and over the years, it's been a trip seeing the Weapon X super soldier program go through a variety of terrifying incarnations and missions. This time, Weapon X is back with more formidable technology than ever -- and with a mission to exterminate all mutants.
I don't want to reveal too much for fear of spoilers, but yes, this is a secret undertaking by an underground enemy that our heroes will have to use all their power and smarts to figure out and thwart. We're part blockbuster action movie, part thriller, and part detective story. As we put this story together, we're always asking what an incredibly smart and ruthless opponent would do. In the fulness of time, we'll reveal exactly who is behind the program -- and I think X-Men fans will be pretty thrilled.
Can you talk about the incident that brings your cast together? Are they fully formed when "Weapon X" #1 begins?
The cast assembles bit by bit as Weapon X makes its initial moves over the first couple of issues. I'm pretty thrilled by the pace -- the action is shocking and relentless, but we're structuring this so that each character gets great dramatic intros and big, fun moments and we're building great emotional stories and relationships as we go. It's easy with a team book to kind of step on your own cast and lose the chance to make the most of their amazing potential. I'm feeling pretty damn good about how this is coming together so far in a way that lets every cast member shine while building a big, thrilling story.
Let's talk a little more about your cast. From what I've read, it sounds like you're having an especially good time bouncing Old Man Logan and Sabretooth off of each other. It seems like there's a sort of classic mismatched buddy action vibe to them.
eg Pak: Heck, yeah. Logan and Sabretooth have known and hated each other forever, so it's always fun to push 'em together, particularly when they have to team up. Part of the fun is that they hate each other, but they really know each other, and they're far more similar than they might care to admit. That gives their conflicts a chance to have some humor and even charm. At the same time, there's always the very real potential that they could decide to betray or even kill each other when the opportunity arises...
I'm having a ton of fun with the rest of our cast, too. Lady Deathstrike has been a total kick so far -- you'll see her in the “X-Men Prime” #1 book in March. Domino and Warpath each have their own take and objectives that have been a blast to explore. The cast is small and diverse enough that we'll be able to explore everyone's different motivation in ways that serve the dramatic conflicts and emotional side of this big story in a fun way.
What's it like for former comrades in the original incarnation of X-Force, Warpath and Domino, to reunite in this book?
All will be revealed in the fulness of time! I'll just say that because of their pasts, our various characters have ample reason to trust or completely distrust each other in various surprising ways.
Lady Deathstrike is the one non-mutant member of your team. What made you want to bring her into the book?
Jeff Lemire wrote some great issues with Lady Deathstrike and Old Man Logan in his “Old Man Logan” book, so that opened the door for us to take the next steps here. Generally, she's been a villain and a huge X-Men enemy, so the question is, what kind of threat would be sufficient to make her actually team up with Logan and company? You'll have to pick up the books to find out! I'll just add that Lady Deathstrike's history and power set also make her essential to our villain's plans and the plot of our story for reasons I can't reveal just yet.
Is this the book's full cast? Or are there more members to be revealed later?
There is indeed one more huge hero who will be revealed later on down the line. And, of course, our big villain has yet to be revealed. I can say no more!
Since the cast of your book features three former X-Force members, and they're out to take down a threat to all mutants, I can't help but think of Chris Yost and Craig Kyle's run on "X-Force" and Rick Remender's "Uncanny X-Force."
Sure, it's definitely in the tradition of those books and other books that feature a more ruthless, special ops team of X-Men. Classic stories like Barry Windsor-Smith's “Weapon X” are a huge thematic inspiration. If you loved those books and characters, you'll get a kick out of seeing where they go in this book. But if you never read those books, don't worry at all -- you can pick up this book without having read anything and be ready to rock and roll.
What's it like reuniting with your "X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong" collaborator, artist Greg Land, on this book? What do you enjoy most about Greg's style?
It's been fantastic! Greg and I have talked about working together again over the years, and I'm thrilled it's finally happening with this book. Greg's been killing it. Back when “Phoenix - Endsong” was coming out, folks talked about how seamlessly that book seemed to fit visually with Cassaday's work on “Astonishing X-Men,” with a kind of realistic art style and rendering that made all the big sci fi action feel even more real.
The pages Greg has been turning in for “Weapon X” have made me grin – there's a lot of natural environments that he's rendering so beautifully, and he's bringing out great nuance in the little moments and expressions. On one page I'm looking at right now, I just love the way he's got Old Man Logan going from a small, unguarded smile to suddenly sharp and wary eyes. It's small and subtle, but it works so well. And then when the blades come out... you're gonna love it.
Finally, how big of a scope and scale will your initial "Weapon X" stories have?
It's going to be ruthless and brutal and thrilling throughout, with constant surprises regarding the nature and danger of the enemy and constant escalation in threat level over time. Greg is tremendous with choreographing and depicting action, and he's pulling out all the stops with this thing.
One thing we're consciously trying to do is to keep all of the action as visceral as possible, so it feels even more thrilling because it feels within the realm of possibility, if that makes sense. I'm working hard to avoid that cliche of ending with big fight to stop a giant tower of blue light that's gonna blow up the world. I mean, don't get me wrong -- I typically love movies that end with everyone fighting to stop a giant tower of blue light that's gonna blow up the world, but this story feels like it wants to be more grounded and visceral. The threats are massive, and you're gonna see action you've never seen before, but you're also gonna feel what it takes in muscle and blood every step of the way for our heroes to take it on.
On a personal level, this book is a pretty exciting milestone. I've written a pretty huge number of X-books over the years, but this is my first big run on a mainstream core title. I wrote “X-Treme X-Men” for a year, and that was an absolute blast, but it was kind of doing its own thing in alternate realities. “Weapon X” is giving me the chance for the first time to cut loose in a big X-book right in the middle of things. We're working hard to make it as awesome as we can, so please do pre-order and buy the heck out of it!