X-POSITION: Remender on "Uncanny X-Force's" Body Count

There is a side of the Marvel Universe that stays hidden from the world at large. It's a side that can't rear its head up to the public because of the work it does -- work that's not pretty, but often necessary. This community of heroes lives in a moral gray area and can be seen in such books as "Secret Avengers," "Venom" and "Uncanny X-Force." One other thing these titles have in common is that they're all written by the same covert-minded scribe -- Rick Remender.

These undercover heroes carry many secrets around with them, as does their writer. Let's see if we can pry a few "confidential details" out of Agent Remender in today's X-POSITION. We have Rick seated in a small room with a single bright light shining down on him. His arm is strapped in to a lie detector device, yet he looks oddly calm. Let's begin...

Mundungus starts us off today with a short list of questions and an emotional response that's causing him some relationship troubles:

I've had to cut back on most of my comic book reading, but the one book I've kept is "Uncanny X-Force." I think my girlfriend is tired of hearing me gush about your writing. Your aptitude for characterization and interpersonal dynamics keeps me hooked into the ridiculous situations the team find themselves every issue!

1) With Wolverine running the Jean Grey School, fighting alongside the Avengers, and caught up in his (always interesting) solo escapades -- is he going to take more of a backseat in X-Force? He's on the cover for #19 and beyond, but I feel like you've been building up the rest of the cast to be potential field leaders in the event Wolverine has to step away...

While Wolverine has many other jobs, X-Force is still his responsibility. While he sees the need for this team and their methodology, he is not willing to let anyone else call the shots. I don't think he's taken a backseat, he's just been beaten down a few times.

I like to be responsible when handling Wolverine, and while he's a beloved character who we all want to see win the day, I also have to be realistic about his power set in the face of certain threats. There's just certain things Wolverine cannot contend with. There are certain villains and certain threats that are beyond him in a physical battle. But when it comes to leadership, he's the one with the most experience and he's the one who set this thing up with Warren to ensure they could take down threats to the mutant population and humanity before they grew. Wolverine plays a giant role in the team and the upcoming stories; he is the lead dog.

2) I suppose this question is relevant pre- or post-Schism, but... how do you think Cyclops would react to Wolverine keeping X-Force around?

I don't know if it matters at this point. They've broken apart -- they're no longer working together. While it might add more fuel to the flame, I don't see it leading to any action. It would give Scott a philosophical leg in their debate, but I don't think that Scott would take any action against X-Force if he learned of their existence -- especially given that Scott once saw the need for such a team.

3) Will AOA Nightcrawler experience cabin fever? I imagine it would be hard to explain his presence without revealing X-Force's secret, so he would have to stay hidden except to accomplish X-Force missions...

Nightcrawler has his own set of objectives on our world to keep him busy when he's not helping X-Force. And given that he disappears in shadows -- and that he is one stealthy little devil -- I think he can accomplish them without being detected.

4) Are you going to bring Magneto back into the picture... possibly as a team member? Magneto could "pull a Psylocke," especially since he doesn't have compunctions about killing and would do anything to protect mutantkind...

There are some conversations taking place about Magneto. It's too early to say anything, but we did seed that he is aware of X-Force for a reason. Now it's just a matter of finding the right time to pull that trigger.

Renaldo is also curious this and appears to have an itchy trigger-finger:

1) Do you have any plans to deal with Magneto's knowledge of X-Force's existence, especially since he's chosen to stay with Scott and Emma? Do they need to "shut him up" before he sells the UXF out?

Don't forget that Wolverine did Magneto a solid by killing one of the Nazis who tormented him during his time in the concentration camps. The bigger question to ask is if Magneto thinks what X-Force is doing is the right thing, and if so, why would he want to upset that? What would Magneto gain from telling Scott?

2) Considering the teasers for "Uncanny X-Force" #18, did you always plan on killing a character here that's integral to the team? And how do you feel about comic book deaths and their duration in light of death's "revolving door" policy in comics?

If you're reading a story, especially an action-adventure story, and there is no threat that any of your cast members could perish during the story, it removes a good deal of tension. At that point, the only other people that can be in danger are supporting cast members, pedestrians, loved ones, etc.

That's not to say that the only stakes in the story have to be life-and-death, but in these types of stories -- if life-and-death is taken out of the equation -- it can remove a good deal of anxiety. So sometimes characters have to die to reaffirm that it can happen. As for X-Force, we have a mandate that this book has to have assassination in the team's objectives. The point of this team is that they go out and kill people that they believe will eventually kill innocents. So in terms of this title, there will absolutely be a body count. In every story. Without question.

3) How did you decide to make Fantomex the character that would challenge Warren, especially when it came to Psylocke's affections?

[Matt] Fraction wrote a scene in "Uncanny X-Men" that showed Fantomex bringing flowers to Psylocke. It was a quiet moment that caught my interest, given how out of character it was for Fantomex. I began to try and logic through it, and as I did, I really liked the idea that he would be incredibly attracted to Betsy -- someone else who has a dark past and is a jumble of a person. It seemed like a natural fit. I had already cemented the Warren-Betsy relationship, and this was a nice wrinkle that gave me some nice soap opera beats. At this point, their relationship becomes a very large part of the story moving forward. More to come.

4) How do you plan on differentiating your "Secret Avengers" title from the other Avengers books out there? And what will help define the team as you take the book over?

The Secret Avengers are born out of the same natural instinct that gave birth to X-Force. Steve Rogers became aware that there were threats bubbling under the surface that needed to be dealt with covertly before they rose to a boil. The team, as I'm building them, are going to have a different mandate. Hawkeye, a former villain himself, is becoming more and more convinced that in order to differentiate between heroes and villains the Avengers need to reconfirm their "no kill" rule -- especially on a team like the Secret Avengers where killing can be an all-too-simple solution.

It's a super slippery slope when superheroes take it upon themselves to assassinate people, making themselves judge, jury, and executioner. Hawkeye is trying to see himself and the Avengers as above this and wants them to operate in a different fashion. To help with this, Hank Pym has created a subatomic prison on their new satellite station, the Lighthouse, to store any of the threats that cannot be dealt with in other ways. So this series will have similar threats -- and tie into "Uncanny X-Force" -- but the team will use a different methodology. There are many malevolent and ugly things creeping under the crust waiting to rise up and attack us. Hawkeye and his Secret Avengers are in place to take them down before they do. Their missions will be international as well as interdimensional, and the stakes will be earth-shattering and widely felt.

Marcus Martin is wondering about another upcoming plot point that may be "widely felt" by his favorite mutants:

1) According to teasers, it states that soon in the pages of "Uncanny X-Force" an Avenger will uncover the team's existence. Is this an Avenger that Logan can trust? Please say "yes!"

You'll have to read "Uncanny X-Force" #19 to find out.

2) Given that Psylocke is also on Cyclops' side post-Schism, are you going to address the tensions between her and Wolverine caused by her playing both sides of the field?

The reason Psylocke doesn't go to the school with Wolverine will be clear in issue #19. Your assumptions are off-target. And I wouldn't assume that there is any upset between Psylocke and Wolverine based on her decision. Or is there? Or isn't there? Or... whatever.

3) With "Venom," "Secret Avengers," and "Uncanny X-Force," you are writing three books that play a major part in the darker side of Marvel Comics. What draws you to this and any chance for an event (or two) between these titles?

All three titles will interconnect in different ways. What I find alluring about the tone of these books is that I can basically write my version of an X-Men, Spider-Man or Avengers story with the additional tension that part of my mandate is that characters will likely perish. The darker tone allows me to sink my characters low into the muck so far down the readers will wonder how they could possibly get back up. So I look at it more as something that opens up my opportunities for storytelling, allowing for wider character arcs they can dip down into and potentially be dipped so low the character doesn't come back up out of it. Those stakes are what people are responding to, I think, and they definitely keep me excited about the work.

Ben Ten would probably agree with that assessment as he is deeply concerned with the pending outcome of your current tale:

1) Assuming Warren survives "The Dark Angel Saga," could he be redeemed? Would Warren even think he's worth redemption? And, more importantly, would you consider bringing him back into the fold somewhere down the road? I'm really going to miss your Archangel...

There's so many questions that I'm not going to answer right now. I hope you enjoy issue #18 and that the ending comes as a surprise...

2) Seeing that you'll be touching Otherworld both in "Uncanny X-Force" and "Secret Avengers," do you have plans to revisit the character of Sage, who was last seen left with all of Roma's knowledge and has ties with both Captain Britain and Psylocke (and Otherworld) as well?

I had plans to use Sage in "Uncanny X-Force" #22, but didn't have space. To bring Sage back properly, I would need to have quite a bit of real estate to do her justice for old fans, as well as redefine her for new ones.

3) Apart from the Otherworld arc, is there anything else you can tease us for X-Force's second year? I think you've mentioned on Twitter a new second member (besides Nightcrawler) as well? Thanks for the first year -- it was truly an uncanny experience!

Thanks for the kind words. Everyone's support has meant the world to us. We never anticipated such a reaction and it's very gratifying.

Issue #19 will answer your question. But if you guess who the new member is before it ships (other than Nightcrawler), I'll send you a no-prize. Twitter me @Remender to guess.

Fantastic! I'm feeling all a-twitter!

And now, it's my turn for a question! Per a suggestion from one of our readers (Madroxdupe024), I'm asking all of our guests the following: assume you were a mutant and needed to choose a side in "Schism" -- whose side do you pick and why?

I'm with Wolverine. I would've been the first one off of Utopia if there were an unstoppable Sentinel stomping towards the city. I also think that all the mutants should rejoin society and live their lives. There are so many super-powered beings in the Marvel Universe and so few mutants, it seems that a mutant has just as much to fear as any other super-powered human.

I think Logan is right that the school needs to be reopened to train the remaining young mutants. Scott's point of view seems crazy to me; it seems like the overreaction we had after 9/11. Living like a captive or giving up liberties for concepts like safety and security -- in a world where such concepts simply do not exist -- is not a point of view I can't get behind.

In one week's time, X-POSITION doubles your pleasure with "New Mutants" writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. What plans do they have for the next generation of X-Men in light of the big Schism? And what would Dani look like with a perm? Write in and ask them!

All you need to do is type up a quick email and shoot it my way as soon as you can. Put an "X-Position" in the subject line and I'll smile wider than Beast receiving a Groupon for electrolysis. Get busy and I'll see you in seven!

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