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The Next Big Thing: Uncanny X-Force

Rick Remender and Axel Alonso discuss Wolverine's new killer squad and their plan to take down Apocalypse

By Chris Arrant

In the latest edition of Marvel's "Next Big Thing" conference call, writer Rick Remender and Marvel Vice President & Executive Editor Axel Alonso took some time to talk about the upcoming new series UNCANNY X-FORCE, debuting on October 6.

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 cover by Esad Ribic
After the events of "Second Coming," Cyclops disbanded Wolverine's black-ops squad upon seeing the promise of a more positive future for mutants emerge with the return of Hope and defeat of Bastion. But while Cyclops might be a glass half-full kind of guy right now, Wolverine has always had more of a half-empty-or even less-attitude.

First seen in the pages of X-MEN: SECOND COMING #2, Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex-brought together by their own ability to go as far as it takes-will take on missions even Cyclops may not have the stomach for, beginning with preventing immortal demigod Apocalypse from rising once more.

"Apocalypse has always been one of my favorites as far as X-villains go," says Remender. "So many things have been bred out of his particular brand of villainy. When I originally pitched for UNCANNY X-FORCE, he was at the top of my list for adversaries. And he doesn't come alone; when Apocalypse comes, you also have the Horsemen and the Akkaba Society. When I got on the book, I sat down and tore apart the ideas with Axel, [editor] Jeanine Schaefer and [UNCANNY X-MEN writer] Matt Fraction. And I think we've got something totally unique planned for the character, something that puts a unique dilemma on X-Force as well. We've got some very exciting things to be revealed."

One possible reveal was teased in the recently released trailer for UNCANNY X-FORCE-will Apocalypse be coming back as a child?

"If that's Apocalypse that will add some tension to the team; discovering that their target's a boy gives a different side of the Hope/Bishop dynamic," notes Remender, referencing the recently concluded CABLE series. "The [challenge] these characters face, and how they respond to it, will define and redefine [them] for a long time."

"The best stories are those that make the reader ask 'what would I do?'" adds Axel Alonso. "The team's unified and has a purpose, but they have to reconcile that individually with what matters most. When they're covered in blood, what do they have left inside them? UNCANNY X-FORCE will be a very emotional story, and one I think will haunt readers after they've read the first arc."

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 variant cover by Rob Liefeld
While certain members of the new X-Force have experience working with one another, Deadpool presents a wild card that will certainly make things interesting for the fledgling team.

"Warren brings in Deadpool for two purposes: as a sleuth, but also as just a matter of keeping him out of trouble and doing things that he doesn't expect to bear fruit," explains Remender. "Logan's not exactly excited about it, but when you've got two leaders there's always some compromise."

However, as it turns out, having the Merc with a Mouth on your side has some benefits.

"Deadpool's hired to hunt down something, and surprising everyone, he starts putting pieces together and discovers stuff," Remender says. "Yes, he's crazy and his brain is completely shattered and broken, but he brings a lot of comic relief in the tense, high adventure and action scenes with the crazy things he's thinking through it all. But he wants this to work, that's the core of it all in a skewed crazy sense. For the first time, I think he feels invited to something, and belongs to something. I think people will be impressed that he performs his tasks and is a reliable part of the team. I think with what's been set up in the DEADPOOL series, this follows that."

"Don't forget, Deadpool's crazy but efficient," reminds Alonso. "Deadpool definitely has his redemptive moments. And he has some beautiful moments with Fantomex, who's not exactly 'goody two shoes' either. They are on the team for very different reasons, but they're very similar."

Although Fantomex has fought on the same side as the X-Men on multiple occasions, this marks his first foray into official team membership.

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 variant cover by Clayton Crain
"Fantomex is the one who first showed Wolverine what happened to him in the Weapon X/Plus Program," says Remender. "Fantomex was originally created to be a mutant-hunting Sentinel, but never really did it. As a character, he's fairly complex, but he has a clearly defined relationship with Logan: he was the one to pull back the curtain to show him what really happened at the program. Fantomex and Wolverine are close friends not just because of their shared history, but because of the amount of trouble Fantomex went through to unveil Wolverine's history for him."

Although the cast currently numbers five, Remender hints that there might be some new members added to the fold as the series progresses.

"By the time I was pitching to write UNCANNY X-FORCE, the initial team was already in place, but we have some very exciting new members coming in the next couple issues. I'll give you a million bucks if you can guess who's coming; it's going to be hugely exciting for fans, and hopefully make something that's new and unique for X-characters."

Although X-Force will work together as a unit, expect plenty of tension between members, particularly as the difficult missions and heavy secrets begin to mount

"I don't want to tell too much, but I can say there will be some interesting things happening under the umbrella of 'division of ranks'," promises Remender. "They each have the common thread of having their souls stained by evil people; they've all undergone some tampering with their minds. When you have characters together with that unpredictable nature, there's only so much control you're going to have. It all comes down to trust between the team leaders, Wolverine and Archangel."

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 preview art by Jerome Opena
"This is different from the previous X-FORCE book," says Alonso." There's a reason X-23 is not on it this team, and there's a reason Deadpool is on the team and not everyone will like it. But one of the things Rick has also introduced is the rekindling of the romance between Archangel and Psylocke."

"[Their relationship] always fascinated me," the writer says." It came back for a couple very natural reasons, but their relationship becomes something unlike anything seen before. Warren needs Betsy to help him control Archangel; he needs her in a big way. That adds a lot of questions once they rekindle their affair; when there's that kind of necessity, one begins to wonder if he needs her more than he loves her."

"There's a lot of urgency in everyone's relationships beginning right in the first issue," adds Alonso." And there's also a love triangle, and I'm not talking Deadpool and Fantomex."

Although there's promise of love amongst these warriors, that's not the word most would use to describe how the X-Men's current leader would react if he found out Wolverine and Archangel went behind him to restart X-Force.

"Last I looked, Cyclops was in effect the general or president of the X-Men, and he disbanded the X-Force for a reason," Alonso explains. "So the fact that Warren and Logan reformed the band without telling their chief, that in itself could be viewed as insubordination. You'll see the team bound together by their secrets."

"It's going to get complicated in a fun way," Remender continues. "They made their minds to go behind the back of the man and charge, and whether or not Cyclops will find out, we haven't really gotten into the specifics of the consequences. It's hanging there, and it's a big deal. Obviously if Scott found out it would be very bad."

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 preview art by Jerome Opena
With Xavier's Mansion in ruins and Cyclops running the X-Men out of the island nation of Utopia, this new covert X-team has to find some new digs to hatch out their plans. Luckily for them, Archangel has had something in the works for a long time.

"X-Force has a base called Cavern-X in the mountains of North Arizona," reveals Remender. "We get to see it in all it's splendor in UNCANNY X-FORCE #2. Basically, Warren's been putting together a museum for mutants for some time as a sort of time capsule in the event that the mutant race ever fizzled out. So now it's a base and a museum."

"Jerome drew the hell out of it," crows Alonso, referring to series artist Jerome Opena, a long-time collaborator of Remender's.

"The collaboration process only changes for the better the more I work with him," Remender says of his relationship with Opena. "That's more to do with him than me. Every time I do a project with him, he takes a huge artistic leap-and that's not hyperbole."

Opena's getting a chance to show off those skills, as he designs several new characters appearing in the first arc, including the Final Horsemen.

"That's been one of the highlights of the book," says Remender. "As a new guy to the Marvel stable of writers, I'm always excited to play with the pre-existing toys but the editors are smart enough to push for new ideas and characters."

"Rick and Jerome have created these four new Horsemen-the Final Horsemen-and you'll get to see what they're all about; they're real keepers," vows Alonso. "They all have interesting back stories, with a lot of pathos. They're more than just cool looking characters."

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 preview art by Jerome Opena
Apocalypse has long been one of the X-Men's most popular and threatening villains, and Wolverine, Archangel and the team won't pull punches when they assemble a new X-Force team to handle him. According to Remender, this will be the start of something big for the book and also the Marvel Universe in general.

"This is Apocalypse's last big push to implement an age of Apocalypse," says Remender. "There'll be some twists and turns in the series, and we're seeding some big stuff to happen along the way."


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      fantomex is one of my favorite newer marvel characters, its great to see him part of a team and getting more page time-it would be great if havoc and or polaris were on the team-looking at the roster, i cant help but notice that they are without a powerful energy projectionist, this is a glaring tactical weakness for any super-team.Mark Taylor[url=http://www.testkings.com/exam/1z0-051.htm]testking 1z0-051[/url] certified professional


      I can't WAIT for this series...this should kick some major ass. My guess for one of characters to join down the road is none other than Cyclops. I think a great idea would be for him to have the same sort of dilemma that Steve Rogers had when adding Wolverine to the Avengers - he doesn't want to admit it, but he knows there is a need for a team like this to do what needs to be done. He doesn't take part in the darker stuff, but coordinates how the team should be used. It goes against what he stands for, but at the same time Cyclops is left in a position where he needs a team like this. Just a thought...


      fantomex is one of my favorite newer marvel characters, its great to see him part of a team and getting more page time-it would be great if havoc and or polaris were on the team-looking at the roster, i cant help but notice that they are without a powerful energy projectionist, this is a glaring tactical weakness for any super-team.


      I'm glad Psylocke's on this team for the simple reason they missed out on the very first time: had Emma been the brains behind X-Force instead of Cyclops it would have made more sense that the secret shenanigans remained secret for as long as they did, since Cyke's 'black box' mental shield does not keep telepaths out of the others' minds. (Now we can at least pretend that) Betsy also serves the purpose of keeping their secret dealings shielded from at least passive scans when they're around Emma, Charles or the Cuckoos on the island - that and keeping Archangel in line (one of the most interesting dynamics to give to Warren in a long time IMO).


      Well, at least they got some cool characters in this yet another xmen spinoff franchise, otherwise i wouldent pay attention. However with wolverine and deadpool, i now have no choice but to immediatly buy this comic.


      2 of the new members will consist of Havok and Polaris! Which makes sense condsidering her history as apocalypse horse men.


      my guess for the new members are Jonothan Starmore, Sage, and the element of surprise is Silhouette.


      .. Where did Warpath go? D':


      I wonder why Gambit was not considered as a member of this team.... he would fit...


      The team looks great, can't wait for this to come out!


      Looking class! But i'm going to take Remender up on his offer, and guess that the new characters joining will be Havok and Polaris! Email me for the address you need to post the Million Bucks to, if i win haha :D. xx


      Is Chamber/Decibel gonna get is powers back !?!? Is he gonna be one of the Horsemen ? I just hope they use him somehow, he IS related to Apocalypse. Maybe he's the one who'll kill him for good, then joins the X-Force ! OMG that would be cool ! But not really probable...