By Kiel Phegley
Chris Yost covers every corner of the Marvel Universe and beyond.
Aside from crafting the adaptation of the acclaimed Orson Scott Card novel "Ender's Game" and heading up Marvel's latest foray into the animated realm with the upcoming "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes"
animated series, the writer holds it down month in, month out, across Marvel's comic universe by co-writing the black ops-centric X-FORCE—whose current "Old Ghosts" storyline sees its second issue drop tomorrow, November 26—with Craig Kyle as well as drafting cosmic epics solo, including December 17's X-MEN: KINGBREAKER #1.
As both X-FORCE and KINGBREAKER take a turn at further expanding the roles of the X-villains in the Marvel U, we caught Yost for a look into the minds of what makes villains—and a few darker heroes—tick.
Marvel.com: In between the EMPEROR VULCAN series, a WHAT IF? story and now KINGBREAKER, you've become the go-to Vulcan and Havok writer. Has it surprised you that there have been so many stories to tell with these characters, or have you just been burning through one idea after another?
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[UNCANNY X-MEN writer and Vulcan creator] Ed Brubaker and I talked about this a lot. Vulcan I think is a great character, but what's been happening—not for good or bad—is that more villains have been going towards the grey. They aren't necessarily good guys or bad guys. And some of them are even good guys. When you've got Juggernaut and Sabretooth joining the team, who's there left to fight? With Vulcan, I think he's a character that pretty much embraced villainy. He is pretty much down for evil. [Laughs
] He started out as a victim, terrible things happened to him, and he had a choice to make on whether he should rise up and be a hero and an X-Man, which he did. Then he got betrayed again. And this time, when he had that same choice to make he said, "You know what? I'm picking evil." Now he's done terrible things and is a controlling force in the universe. I don't know that the universe knows that yet, but in KINGBREAKER they're going to find out. I think he's a fun character who can really break through now.
Marvel.com: There's been a real division between what's been going on in space over the past few years and what's been happening on earth in the Marvel Universe. KINGBREAKER and WAR OF KINGS feel like series that are finally bringing the two halves back together.
I love the space stuff. When ANNIHILATION hit, I was so happy. I love those characters and that arena, and to be able to play with the X-Men in that arena has been a dream for me. But at the same time, people want to see that stuff
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interlock with Earth. Earth is where it's at, and if it's not impacting Earth, that lessens the whole impact. ANNIHILATION disproved that to a certain extent, but it had Nova as the window into that universe. SECRET INVASION and the Inhumans really launch what happens in WAR OF KINGS, and I think people want to see those connections grow and grow. Vulcan has an end game in mind, and it's Earth. Seeing all those elements come together is the great fun of it.
Marvel.com: When you announced X-FORCE and had talked about the series, the promise was that there were going to be a lot of old X-Men villains that the black ops team would be hunting down. And you know…I don't think the Vanisher is the first guy that would have popped into the mind of fans.
Marvel.com: But he really is one of the longest X-Men villains out there.
He wasn't in any master planning document, but pretty early on we saw a spot for him and knew almost instantly that he was the right character. He debuted in X-MEN v1 #2 [in 1963], so he's been around forever, and over the years—especially in [writer] Joe Casey's run [on UNCANNY X-MEN—they took that character and made him something different, like a businessman or a drug dealer. We saw him as potentially a really fun foil for the team. This is a guy who's pretty much untouchable going up against a team where all they can do is touch—with knives. So I think that as the arc progresses, you're going to see exactly what we've got planned for Telford Porter. And it's fun—not for him, but hopefully it'll be fun for all of us.
Marvel.com: It feels like the long term plan for the arc is an "everything but the kitchen sink approach" with the villains and trying to balance it out with character backgrounds of folks like Warpath and X-23. How hard is it to mix all the heavy character stuff into the book that people come to for the big, slick action?
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That's the job, and we relish it. We really take seriously our job as caretakers of these characters. With the villains, the hope is that we can take the classic villains that people know and love and do something new with them; tell a big story that's fun and exciting. And bloody. [Laughs
] But at the same time, for us it is all about the characters, the stuff you're going to see with Warpath and Wolfsbane especially. There is some huge stuff coming up with Wolfsbane that I think is going to really take people off guard. Not that what she did to her dad didn't, but it's going to go in a direction that I don't think anybody is going to see coming in this book.
We've got two major storylines going right now: Bastion and then the mystery of "Who is Eli Bard?" I don't know if you remember in the first arc the character that helped the Purifiers find Bastion, but that launches into its own story very soon. So the "Old Ghosts" arc that's going on right now, it seems like a departure, but you'll soon find out that it's very connected to everything else.
Marvel.com: With Mike Choi and Sonia Oback delivering the art for this arc, there's a weird connection where Mike came up reading the original X-FORCE series. Now we've got 90's nostalgia, but since the artist knows that original material so well, he's able to give readers something they've never seen with all these characters before.
Well, honestly it's all for the better. While I love the smiley-faced armor of the Right, I would say the majority of comic book readers today may not know that. If you go on the Internet today, everybody has a full encyclopedic knowledge of everything X-Men, but for some fans—hopefully a lot of fans—they've never seen these things before. When you see the Demon Bear or the Right or Bastion or Cameron Hodge, it's somebody's first time seeing them. So as far as putting on new, young artists like Choi and Oback or Clayton Crain, it's really introducing people to something we know and love but for them it's new and exciting.
To check out Chris' X-MEN: EMPEROR VULCAN series, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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