X-POSITION: Remender Stays On Mission with "X-Force"

Fans of Marvel Comics' X-Men know they've faced some difficult times over the past year. They've endured large-scale battles, a "schism" among teammates, and are currently fighting against some formerly close allies in a little event called "Avengers Vs. X-Men." All of this, however, seems much less dramatic in light of all X-Force has gone through.

They've fought apocalyptic-level threats, dealt with the consequences of a child being murdered, killed one of their own, and have had to endure several gut-wrenching moments that have to be read to be believed. You'd almost think that their writer is some kind of masochist...which is my cue to welcome today's guest, scribe Rick Remender!

Far from being a sadist, Remender is a joyful person who just seems to understand the darkness people can hide from the world, and he shows this off monthly in "Uncanny X-Force," "Secret Avengers," and "Venom." He's ready to spread some of his good-natured cheer and delve into several heavy matters as he answers your e-mails today. Take heed, and away we go...

Derek gets us started with a handful of intriguing questions, ranging from family to other "sensitive" topics:

1) Will you be fleshing out what "Age of Apocalypse" Kurt did during those ten peacetime years in between the fall of the Apocalypse and the rise of Weapon X?

We will be touching on this a bit. Kurt had married and we'll learn what happened to his wife. This plays into why he is still on our world hunting down refugees. Issue #25 will bring illumination.

2) The members of Clan Akkaba had a number of similar physical features. I'm curious -- were they clones? Were the women with birds heads wearing ceremonials masks or where these avian characteristics natural?

The clan is comprised of humans who have served Apocalypse throughout the ages with the promise that one day there would be a grand ascension and they would all become mutants, bestowed with great powers. The bird-headed women were genetically altered. They were not mutants but were created, in my mind, in laboratories -- sexy, bird-lady laboratories.

3) In the new mythology that you've created around Apocalypse, it seems important for him to father an heir. In your view, was it a coincidence that every generation of Apocalypse's horsemen contained one female that was of child-bearing age (Deathbird, Autumn, Polaris, Ichsumi)? Was Warren and Logan's attempt to convert Psylocke and Jean based on their love for their former paramours? Or they did they just see them as good breeding stock?

Apocalypse would choose the person to take his place by bestowing on them the death seed. Then when he died, the Death persona would evolve and take his place. As for a genetic heir, I don't think it's a coincidence that there is always been a young woman among his horsemen. The purpose of the genetic heir, in this case, young Holocaust -- or the baby inside of Pestilence -- has yet to be revealed.

4) In the new "Age of Apocalypse" series, Dark Beast is using energy siphoned from a Life Seed to resurrect possibly hundreds of alpha class mutants. Given that Warren was exposed to an entire seed, just how powerful is he now? "Herald of Galactus"-powerful? Almost Celestial-level?

I don't want to give too much away here, but I know Jason Aaron has some very exciting plans for the character. He is far more powerful than we have seen; his body completely re-created by a Celestial Life Seed, within him the sum-total energies of a Life Seed. Just how powerful is he? What exactly is he capable of? These will be fun questions that Jason Aaron will be answering in the pages of "Wolverine and the X-Men." Big fun on the horizon.

5) I've truly loved your run. The only thing I had an issue with was what I considered a graphic description of the death of Charles Lehnsherr in "Uncanny X-Force" #19.1. I thought the fact that a toddler had been crushed, cannibalized in front of his father, sacrificed to Mephisto and possibly even molested by Demon-ock (given his "fondness" for children) was over the line. However, I'm aware that "Uncanny X-Force" is a dark book, and if I found this disturbing, that may have been the desired effect. I'm curious though...when you're writing a book as tonally dark as this one, can there be a line that you won't cross?

If it is in service of story, I will cross any line. If it is feasible that something atrocious happened and it makes sense in the context of the story, and serves a good purpose, then I will go to whatever extent I need to. I had a very limited amount of space to establish that Demon-Ock had done something so heinous and hateful to Rogue and Magneto's son that there was a very personal animosity between them. It was also important to establish just how terrible the Black Legion are and what these monsters are capable of.

You'll find out more of what they did and just how vicious they are in "Uncanny X-Force" #25. I don't do anything haphazardly; it's all part of a bigger plan. Establishing what the Black Legion is capable of plays a big role in the upcoming story.

Agent of X must be an agent of Mystique, because he's dying to know all about her...

First off, I just want to say I'm enjoying your book so much -- I can't think of a better X-book I've ever read. And I also love that it's so closely tied to my second favorite book, "Wolverine and the X-Men." Apologizing in advance, all my questions are about Mystique, as she's my absolute favorite character in comics (and always has been):

1) With the solicitations proving what I'd hoped and longed for, will Mystique have a large role in this new Brotherhood, given her obvious strong ties to the previous incarnations?

She'll play a very large role. I would hate to give anything else away, so I'll leave it at that.

2) What will Kurt Darkholme's reaction be to finally meeting the 616 versions of his parents, Mystique and Sabretooth? I could see that being quite shocking even if Logan prepped him for it...

Obviously, Kurt going up against Mystique is going to have some emotional ramifications. If you look at "Uncanny X-Force" #20, you'll see Wolverine in the Danger Room sequence beginning to prep Kurt for the day when he has to go up against Mystique and Sabretooth -- something that Wolverine has been preparing himself to do with X-Force. All of this will be touched upon during "Final Execution." And to be clear, I'm not committing to the idea that AoA Sabretooth is AoA Nightcrawler's father.

Understood. X-POSITIONites, you've been warned...

Taimur Dar is next and he's wondering about some weapons that have appeared recently:

1) I'm a huge fan of the Weapon Plus concept from Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" run, so it's great to see you expanding upon some of the programs. Can we expect more previously unrevealed Weapon characters to appear? Any chance of seeing John Sublime showing up (another Morrsion character with Weapon Plus connections)?

We recently revealed the Skinlessman, Weapon III. He has a history with Fantomex, much of which has yet to be revealed, but we do know Fantomex was behind getting him captured in Otherworld, leading to his having his skin removed. Fantomex also stole his sentient skin, turned it into bullets, and shot them all over the world, spread to the four corners as-it-were.

Skinlessman was a barrister in England, and a corrupt mutant, who was recruited into the Weapon Plus program by Father at some point in the 1970s. We also have hinted at Dr. Mindbubble who we saw briefly in the background in issue #18. He is a character I have spent a great deal of time developing and, while I have big plans for him, I'm not ready to begin discussing what or where.

2) You recently revealed in "Secret Avengers" that Father worked in Weapon Plus with two people named Mother and Brother. Are they both established Marvel characters or completely new? Since you've already laid groundwork for another Father storyline in both "Uncanny X-Force" and "Secret Avengers," I don't suppose we'll be seeing a crossover between the two titles?

Get ready for an actual answer! Both of these characters are previously established. Mother is Fantomex's Mother, or at least the woman he thinks is his mother, the woman that he calls mother, or did before she was killed in "UXF" #5. Brother is James Braddock, the biological father of Betsy, Brian, and Jamie and among the very first AI scientists in the MU. How's that for a big answer to a question that you thought I wouldn't answer?

3) In the final issue of the "Dark Angel Saga," we saw an imagined life where Betsy and Warren were married with two daughters, one named Jean. Is it safe to assume they named her after Jean Grey? And I'm curious if you had a name for the other daughter that readers weren't aware of?

I don't remember. I thought it was a nice touch that Betsy would've named one of their daughters after Jean. But, again, you have to remember this was all a fictitious life that Betsy painted for Warren. So all of the decisions and everything that we saw there were things that Betsy created in an attempt to give Warren a perfect life. And to Warren, it went on for a lifetime. So, really, Warren died on his deathbed, surrounded by loved ones, at home. He got a pretty happy ending. Betsy, on the other hand...

4) Around the time of your first "Uncanny X-Force" arc, I vaguely remember you mentioning the parallels between Hope Summers and the Apocalypse child. Depending on how AvX ends, will Evan/Genesis ever get to meet the Mutant Messiah in person?

I've been writing notes and working up big plans for Evan since I created him. It's something that I've spent a lot of time on the phone with Jason Aaron and [editor] Nick Lowe discussing to make sure that our plans connect, interlock, and complement each other. We've cooked up a number of very interesting scenarios for Evan and where the future takes him. I'm pretty sure whatever you think we're going to do with him is wrong. The direction we're moving forward with Evan is going to be satisfying, fulfilling, and earth-shattering. Figuratively speaking. Or not. Wait and see.

While we twiddle our thumbs for this "big boom" (or not), Ben Tenn hopes you might be able to comment on Psylocke's present situation:

1) As for Betsy's deal with Krokwell, where does that leave her? Is she unable to feel any pain, suffering, hurt, sorrow, or guilt? Will this cause her to become a more cold and distant person, much like what happened to her during the "Crimson Dawn" days? Is that what prompted her to make a move on Fantomex despite killing the love of her life just five issues prior to that?

Whatever you imagine "sorrow" to mean, Betsy no longer feels that. In my mind, that includes remorse, grieving, depression, and some, if not all, forms of guilt. As to where it is taking her, that would be telling. But it's nowhere she's ever been before and I think it's a nice wrinkle for the character.

2) The new Brotherhood of Mutants includes three of the most dangerous enemies the X-Men have ever faced. Mystique holds a grudge against Wolverine; the Shadow King is a longtime rival of Psylocke; and Sabretooth has faced Logan and Betsy many times. Moreover, the Skinless Man and AoA Blob want to get their hands on Fantomex and Nightcrawler. Is this Brotherhood sort of an anti-X-Force?

It's exactly that. And you still don't know who it is that put the team together. Though you might be able to guess which member of the team had prior knowledge of X-Force -- obviously the Shadow King -- I will tell you he was not the one to come up with their plans or to pull together the new Brotherhood. I was looking through former incarnations of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and I'm pretty sure this one is the most powerful (though, I'm biased).

Omega Red, Omega Black, Omega White, the Shadow King, AoA Blob, Sabretooth, the Skinlessman, and Mystique are enough unto themselves to earn that title, and once you see who the leader is, and what his ultimate goal is, well... I don't want to fall into hyperbole, but what we've got here is the most terrifying and powerful Brotherhood of Evil Mutants of all time. Hyperbole!

Does this mean that X-Force, as we know them, will never be the same after this?

While we play wait-and-see with that revelation, Jack offers our last set of queries for the day...

1) We've been shown a cover that seems to show the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which includes the Skinless Man, Shadow King, Sabretooth, Mystique, and AoA Blob. Is that the entire group or are there more members? If there are more, do you have any plans to use old X-Force villains from the Mutant Liberation Front or someone like Krule?

Those are some of the principal members, yes. I don't have plans to use the Mutant Liberation Front and I don't know who Krule is. Was he the big guy with the ponytail? Lots of huge crosshatch marks all over him? (Heh.)

2) Now that Cable is back and cured of the techno-organic virus, are there any plans for him to show up in this title? He did found the original X-Force after all and would seem to be a great fit with this cast as he has a lot of history with several of them. He also has no issues with proactively taking out the enemies of mutantkind.

You will see Cable during the "Final Execution" storyline. You will never be able to guess how or why, but Cable and Hope both appear and play a big role in the second act of the story. Same with Deathlok, the Punisher, and Warpath. Nah, I'm kidding. Or am I?

And now, it's my turn for our quick get-to-know-you question that we call "Behind the X." Here's a tasty one: what is the strangest food you've ever eaten and where were you when you ate it?

I'm not the most adventurous eater. However, once when I was in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, I was eating at a small taco stand on the side of the bay where the fishermen brought in their hauls. The small shack where I was eating wouldn't even provide food -- you had to go to the fishermen and buy a bag of shrimp or fish. Then he walked across the street and delivered it to the shack where the dude chopped it up and cooked it, serving it on corn tortillas with lime and fresh avocado. It is still, in my memory, one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. I went there on a number of occasions over the course of several visits.

It was on my final visit when I noticed a small jar of tiny red and green berries. I asked the chef what they were, he smiled and laughed, he didn't think I needed to know. So, I insisted on trying some of them in my tacos. I can eat spicy food -- I go through a jug of cayenne peppers every week -- but what happened to my mouth at that point... it is indescribable.

The devil himself climbed inside of my palate and shit fire and death down my throat, incinerating not just my physical body but also my soul. The chef grew horns, red skin, and a pitched tail as he danced a jig, chuckling and pointing at the silly gringo with a mouth full of the devil peppers.

The torment that ensued lasted for upwards of a half an hour. Cold beer only made it worse. Tacos only brought more fire. Coca-Cola, normally much sweeter in Mexico due to the use of real sugar, only served to intensive my agony. There was no relief. And there was no hiding my anguish.

Everyone had a good laugh at my expense.

The whereabouts of my soul are still unknown.

Well, that would explain the darkness of your stories. Thanks for all the answers, Rick!

In seven days, you can expect another gathering full of fun and facts as the X-Editors join us to answer your emails. Keep those missives thought-provoking and lively, and we're bound to have a Yabba-Dabba-Doo time! Just type those emails out and shoot them to me as quickly as the Internet can send them. And if you put an "X-Position" in the subject line, I'll show you how to make a grilled cheese sandwich with a clothes iron. Now get to it -- I'm waiting...

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