X-Force enjoys a unique status in the Marvel Universe: they are heroes whose job necessarily entails killing. Typically, one doesn't see the words "hero" and "kill" in the same sentence, unless of course that sentence also includes the word "don't."
Naturally, this might take a writer to some dark places as they try to envision scenarios where lethal force is required. In the case of "X-Force," though, there's a pair of writers so much verve and humor, they are able to maintain a chipper disposition even as they chronicle the ultra-violent adventures of Cyclops' bloody black-ops team.
That writing duo is Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, and the two are heavily entrenched in Marvel's mutant corner, writing such titles as "X-Force," "X-Force/Cable: Messiah War," and "Kingbreaker." And as if they didn't have enough to do, Kyle and Yost are joining CBR this week for X-POSITION, where they tackle your questions about the gritty good times heading your way. So put on your protective eye-gear and we'll get on our way...
CBR: First up is an email from msierra185, with a question many readers were curious about:
Even though I'm happy that I was able see Selene in "X-Force" issue #11, I'm wondering where Wither is since he didn't make an appearance. Could you give us a hint if Kevin has a role to play?
YOST: When we were on "New X-Men," we did a very special issue featuring Selene and Wither, and we did it for a reason - and you'll find out what that reason is very soon.
KYLE: Absolutely he's going to be part of that storyline. When we left "New X-Men," we took a few story pieces with us, and Kevin was definitely one of those pieces.
What are your thoughts on "Young X-Men" being canceled so soon? Do you feel that this series shouldn't have replaced "New X-Men?" What should have been done differently?
KYLE: After "Messiah CompleX," there was a very specific mandate of what every book should be so that when fans went to the shop they were getting a different X-experience from each title. So we knew what was going down; we knew that we'd get the chance to wrap things up; and we knew we could take whatever was left with us.
["Young X-Men" writer] Marc [Guggenheim] had a great challenge in front of him - and he had a good plan - but you just never know what is going to take and what isn't. I know when Chris and I took over "New X-Men" - my god! The outcry of what people wanted out of the book and what they'd been given beforehand. It's always tough to come onto a book that has found its audience. Marc had a difficult task and we think he did a great job.
He was writing a "Young X-Men" book that was not our title, and I think he did everything he could to make that new direction work - lots of great ideas and lots of cool stories. You just never know what is going to work with audiences, but Chris and I were thrilled to have him come and write the next chapter for these kids. We look forward to see what he does next, too.
And speaking of "Young X-Men," Tracy Jackman had the following request:
Now that "Young X-Men" is over, is there any chance of Dust on X-Force? It seems that they need someone less-than-tangible who can slip through doorways and kill without being seen. And considering her strong ties with her religion, it might be interesting to see how she deals with X-Force from a moral perspective...
YOST: I would say no. The bottom line is: even though Dust has killed, she is not a killer. You saw this at the end of "New X-Men" when the kids were going after the Purifiers to take them out, Dust said, "No, that's wrong and I'm not going."
KYLE: And we already have two characters on the team that fall into the "I don't wanna kill" category...even though one ate her father and the other one has filled someone with black tumors. So we already have that voice on the team of someone who is trying to just succeed on these missions and help their teammates without resorting to murder.
Daniel Bowen is up next and he sent in an email that reads a bit like a page from "Mad Libs":
The return of a certain character in "X-Factor" (trying to keep things spoiler-free per Peter David's request) could spell trouble for one of your X-Force teammates per a certain vision of the future. Will this play out in your book, "X-Factor," or both?
YOST: The short answer is...maybe. I don't see "X-Force" and "X-Factor" crossing paths in the near future, but, well, looking at that "unnamed" character's vision of the future - we don't know how far down the road that is. With "X-Force," we're dealing right now with a very immediate scenario, so...not yet.
And on the topic exhibiting restraint, Sharif Youssef was concerned about a certain member of X-Force.
Archangel seems to be getting increasingly aggressive and philosophically rigid about the value of cloned life. Tensions between he and X-23 on this issue, as well as strategic matters, are rising. Is conflict between these two imminent?
KYLE: I think Angel is reeling from his recent transformation. He's definitely split down the middle. He's of two minds and they are on opposing sides of life and death; what's valuable and what his mission in his day-to-day existence is. X-23 is a unique component of that because of her genetic makeup and how she came about, so she's a big question mark in front of him.
Now, whether he's debating her existence constantly or just when he has these mental shifts is a good question, but I think with all these relationships and all these changes the team members are going through, these things will continue to create more conflict within the group.
YOST: Both X-23 and Wolverine sense that Warren, as Archangel, is really on the ragged edge. Warren Worthington is one of the founding fathers of the X-Men - he's solid like a rock - but Archangel is a different story, and X-23 knows it. So that antagonism is actually going both ways.
Going by recent events, Archangel is just one item on X-23's very busy plate. This led Richard DeMaio to ask if X-23's plate was going to spill over soon?
I like how Agent Morales is following X-23 to put all the "mystery" pieces together. Will this lead to an X-23-centered arc? Please?
YOST: I think we should say "yes."
KYLE: Me too, but we won't say when. Chris and I have said this before, but nothing we put out there is "just because." Any thread has been laid out to build to another story. We kept X-Force intimate so we could focus on each character in sort of a rotation, so everyone is getting their time in the sun...or in the shit, depending on how you want to look at it. And X-23's time is definitely coming up.
It seems that the rest of the X-Men might find out about X-Force soon. How will that change the way X-Force operates?
YOST: I'd think it would change it pretty radically. The X-Men have always been put into positions where they need to make the "hard" decision. I mean, Storm has even been forced to (or been willing to) take lives. X-Force's mandate though is so proactively murderous that - even though Cyclops is right to do this, in my opinion - I've got to think that the other X-Men would want to have a chat with him about this. And I think you're starting to see this come to a boil most with Beast right now. So I would say - keep your eyes on Beast.
How is Cyclops keeping the rest of the X-Men unaware of what the Sapien League is doing right now? Wouldn't they want to be involved?
YOST: The X-Men have a lot going on. Readers are seeing these stories play out over months, but for the X-Men, it's all playing out like one immediate clusterf*ck. There's a ton going on. There's the move to San Francisco, the Magneto attack, the Cooperstown video becoming public...so I'm sure that they do notice, but to them it's just one of an onslaught of things coming their way.
KYLE: There are so many fires starting right now in the X-Universe - Cable, Hope, the very existence of mutantkind - Cyclops is throwing the different divisions of his X-teams at what they can handle best. And obviously, he has X-Force out there trying to snuff out as many fires as they can before they become species-ending. But I think, as everyone can tell, things are getting out of control very quickly around there.
YOST: Let's not forget Emma Frost dealing with Norman Osborn and Darkchylde in the Danger Room trying to kidnap Pixie - their lives are so chaotic that, yes, while the Sapien League's attacks are huge, things are only going to get worse. You're going to see in the issue out this week that it's all part of a big plan, and that plan is only going to get bigger.
Flavio SÃ¼ssekind Neto had an additional question about Cyclops he was hoping you could address.
Cyclops so far has been staying on the sidelines in "X-Force," acting as their mastermind, but not participating in the action. Will we see him join the fight and kick some ass too? Would he be able to kill as easily as the X-Force members?
KYLE: Cyclops and Wolverine have two very specific roles when it comes to X-Force. Cyclops has to make the tough decisions. He has to make the orders and send the team on their missions. Wolverine has to execute those missions and, very often, those people that are targeted. If those lines are blurred - if Cyclops had to step in and take those lives himself, or if Wolverine tried to call the shots - they would become wholly responsible for what's happening. And while this is already happening as a team, neither one is completely on the hook for what has to happen - what has to be done to ensure that mutantkind survives.
It's a worst-case scenario that can only work with this kind of hierarchy - this kind of power structure. When and if those lines are blurred, there will be no hope left for the future because what little of the original Cyclops that we've known from the original X-Men books - that hero we always looked to, the one who always had Xavier's dream in his mind - will be lost if he takes that extra step. I hope Cyclops never has to kill, and if it does happen, I think it speaks to a much darker place than the X-Men are already in, and I think it would be catastrophic.
YOST: Well said.
And as long as we're talking about Cyclops going "dark," Marcus Martin was wondering about his hunt for "Dark Wolverine."
Will the events of Cyclops hunting Daken (Wolverine's son) in the pages of "Wolverine: Origins" be mentioned within the pages of "X-Force," as Wolverine hunts down Cable (Cyclops' son)?
YOST: If we had to mention every single storyline in every X-book in every issue, we wouldn't have room to tell stories. I think Cyclops' hunt for Daken will probably play out in the "Uncanny X-Men/Dark Avengers" crossover and in "Wolverine: Origins." Right now, we're really focused on "the mission" in "X-Force."
Ivan Williamson shuts down our little X-party with a few fun queries that come from left field...
Why haven't you provided Fantastic Four/Forge/Iron Man-type weapons for X-Force? The team needs a weaponsmith like Scalphunter or Forge...
KYLE: I don't see our team actually being like that. What we like is putting this claw-squad - this ill-equipped team - up against threats where they'd do much better if they were an Avengers-like team. It's great that these guys are front-line brawlers thrown into fights way, way beyond their pay grade. Giving them all big weapons would just take away the specialness of each one of them and would give them an edge that we don't want them to have in battle.
YOST: I think Ivan works for Hasbro.
KYLE: Ah yes. So there will be a scuba-set of X-Force attacking Atlantis - that's gonna be amazing...
YOST: Don't forget Wolverine with Arctic claws, and - ooh! Arctic Archangel!
KYLE: It's tough to say, but fun to play with!
Who are the aliens in Uranus (I'm talking Bob Grayson, formerly known as Marvel Boy) and will we see them in "Kingbreaker?"
KYLE: Who are the aliens in your Uranus, dude?
YOST: I don't know. I had my physical today, and nothing was mentioned. But "Kingbreaker" #4 comes out this week and, unfortunately for Ivan, no big revelations about Uranus.
KYLE: I'm betting you don't want to spoil it. I'd look for all kinds of spoilers in Uranus.
YOST: There are a couple of major things happening in "Kingbreaker" #4 that nobody is going to want to miss. You already got some hints about some of this in "War of Kings" #1, but, no, none of them involve Uranus.
I would love to see Glob Herman again, any chance?
KYLE: Is he the one that's gelatin but has brains and eyes and bones inside?
YOST: That's him.
KYLE: He's cool and cool-looking. I love those freak-job mutants.
YOST: Maybe we could set him on fire and just have him run around chasing people.
KYLE: Heh. The more you talk about him, maybe we will.
In seven days, writer Mike Benson ("Moon Knight" and HBO's "Entourage) will be here to discuss his one-shot "Deadpool: Games of Death" which arrives in stores this week. So read up and email your thoughts and questions, and we'll pass them. Be sure to put "X-Position" in the subject line, and George might even dance an Irish jig. Happy St. Patrick's Day!