"X-Force" with Chris Yost, John Barber and Axel Alonso

Marvel recorded its latest podcast Thursday afternoon, covering the upcoming "X-Force" series which debuts February 6. Senior Art Director Jeff Suter interviewed Chris Yost, who co-writes the series with Craig Kyle, and editors John Barber and Axel Alonso.

Yost, who previously worked on "New X-Men" (also with Kyle), described his experience with "X-Force" as "kind of stunning, really," and praised artist Clayton Crain's dramatic style.

Addressing the origins of this latest iteration of "X-Force," Barber said Kyle and Yost pitched the idea at an X-Men creative summit as a natural response to the hit "Messiah CompleX" event. Remarked Barber, "Craig and Chris made a very persuasive argument" for why Cyclops would-and must-put together a cover team of mutant assassins.

"Cyclops has come to a different place at the end of 'Messiah CompleX,'" Yost said. "While he was head of the Xavier Institute, forty-five kids died under his watch, forty-five children died because he couldn't protect them. The Purifiers, their goal is to end every mutant on the planet. 'X-Force' is Cyclops' solution, to take out the threat before the threat can come to them."

Yost later added, "this is not something heroes do, kill people, but they're not taking out innocent people who may someday be a threat-the Purifiers have blood on their hands, they've already struck."

Cyclops' actions proved a focus of the discussion, particularly the question of whether Scott Summers really would take the step to assassinate the X-Men's enemies. "There are two or three hundred mutants alive right now, and people are going to kill them," Yost said. "Cyclops has to do something, or they will be killed. This is where he takes his stand."

Yost also noted that Professor Xavier "did some pretty shady stuff," but that now "a big line is being crossed."

The covert team's first mission will be to destroy the Purifiers, a group Barber described as "on the level of the greatest X-villains." Yost reiterated that the Purifiers are intent upon committing genocide.

"Their goal is to eradicate mutantkind from the face of the earth," Yost said. "This is very much a holy war to them. They've killed children. In 'Messiah Complex,' they were very happy to kill a baby."

Barber chimed in again to say that even X-Force does not initially realize the threat they've been assigned to take down.

Another popular topic was the relationship between Cyclops and X-Force team leader Wolverine. Yost said by the time Logan is recruited, the new team has already been set up-Wolverine has no say in whether X-Force will be created, but can only choose whether he will participate. "Wolverine will take notice of the change in Cyclops," Yost said, "and he won't necessarily like what he sees. On some level he agrees with everything Cyclops says, but hates that it's him saying it. Cyclops is now the alpha male of the X-Men, and that will change their dynamic for a long time to come."

As this is not the first series to bear the "X-Force" name, not every character-or long-time reader-may be thrilled with the re-appropriation of this title. "We have Warpath comment on that in issue #3," Yost said. And Barber indicated that the modern "X-Force" has already won over a major skeptic: "[Original "X-Force" creator] Rob Liefeld called me up the other day and said, 'Man, I wasn't looking forward to this at all, but I saw those pages and it looks awesome, dude!" Barber also said that fans of the old "X-Force" should pick up the first issue of the new series, as there are some thematic similarities even though this is a very different book.

X-Men group editor Axel Alonso joined the discussion at the midway point to say he's very pleased with the mutants' new status quo following "Messiah CompleX." "It's taken the X-Men from a place where they have no hope to a place where they have some hope, which is very exciting," he said. With Cyclops handing the baby to Cable for a jump into the future that may or may not save mutantkind, the X-Men are "moving into an uncertain future with a little hope, which is more than they had before. The stakes are now too high to worry about the old rules."

"X-Force" stories take place across a very thin timeline. "Six issues of 'X-Force' could take place in like two days," Yost said, while Alonso indicated that some episodes would be as quick as a few hours. The editors also said that Clayton Crain will be the regular series artist for the foreseeable future, with occasional guest artists.

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