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Tuesday Q&A: Dennis Hopeless

The writer of Avengers Arena and Cable & X-Force discusses romance, survival and more!

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Avengers Arena #11 cover by Mike Del Mundo

By Jim Beard

In conversation with writer Dennis Hopeless about AVENGERS ARENA and CABLE & X-FORCE it’s crystal clear that beyond all the action and danger he loads into the series, it’s the characters and their development that matter most to him.

With new story arcs kicking off in both books and rumors of climactic confrontations as well as growing romance on the horizon, we connected with Hopeless to get his take on all that and more.

Marvel.com: Dennis, how will “Boss Level,” beginning in AVENGERS ARENA #13, differ from the preceding story arcs?

Dennis Hopeless: The biggest difference is that the kids have all but run out of time. Arcade’s 30-day deadline is upon them. They’ve been fighting since the beginning to prove Arcade wrong. To prove that his plan would fail and that Murder World wouldn’t change them. But it has changed them. They failed to prove anything. Arcade won the argument.

So now in “Boss Level” it’s fight or die time for the remaining survivors and they know it. Secrets will be revealed. Alliances will crumble. And a massive battle fought on two fronts will help crown a victor.

Avengers Arena #12 cover by Dave Johnson

Marvel.com: What's the most interesting thing for you as a writer working with break-out characters like Apex and Death Locket?

Dennis Hopeless: The trick to writing Apex is to understand Katy’s unique perspective. From her point of view, she’s the only person properly playing the game. From day one, Katy accepted Arcade’s premise. This is a death match and to survive you have to win. To win you have to play. Katy thinks the other kids are foolish to ignore the truth of their situation. Katy’s not truly evil. She doesn’t enjoy killing people. She just refuses to lose.

Death Locket on the other hand is completely ill-prepared for this situation. Before all of this started, Becca was barely aware super villains existed. She lived a privileged and sheltered existence. She has no training whatsoever and has spent a good portion of the story shell-shocked. The interesting thing about Death Locket at this point in the story is her relationship with Apex. Katy is honest with Becca. She confides in her pet Deathlok. We’ll be playing with that relationship a lot going forward.

Avengers Arena #14 cover by Mike Deodato

Marvel.com: And a possible romance between Hazmat and Reptil? Could something like that actually work or are you just playing with us?

Dennis Hopeless: [Laughs] Hazmat and Reptil have been out of the spotlight for a while now, since the middle of issue #6. Their relationship has changed a lot in that timeframe. Murder World can do strange things to people even when it leaves them alone. The AVENGERS ARENA #11 solicit isn’t meant to tell the whole story. There’s more to it than that. I know I’m being annoyingly coy here but I think fans will be surprised by what they find when we meet back up with Reptil and Hazmat.

Marvel.com: You have guest-artist Riccardo Burchelli for #10 and #11; what do you dig about his art?

Dennis Hopeless: I’m a big DMZ fan so it has been an honor to get to work with Riccardo. His art is moody in a way that really works for the tone of AVENGERS ARENA. Issue #11 is Reptil’s POV issue and I love Riccardo’s take on the character. There are a couple—hopefully—funny moments with Hazmat that I think he really nailed too. My favorite thing Riccardo has drawn for us was the infamous final scene of issue #10. That was a tough moment for a lot of reasons and he nailed it.

Marvel.com: Over in CABLE & X-FORCE, what's been hands-down the most fun for you using the Uncanny Avengers?

Cable & X-Force #13 cover by Salvador Larroca

Dennis Hopeless: I had a lot of fun with the Thor/Colossus fight in CABLE & X-FORCE #10. It felt like those two were born to trash talk one another. And I’ve loved Rogue since I was 10 years old. I would put her in every scene if they’d let me.

The big thing the Uncanny Avengers bring is blunt force. When and if Cable and X-Force face this team head-on, they lose. They can’t use deadly force against fellow super heroes, most of which are family and friends. And, I mean, Thor is an Uncanny Avenger. It just isn’t a fair fight. There’s a lot of interesting drama in there because it makes the whole story a big cat and mouse game. What our cat doesn’t know is that this mouse is precognitive and fighting to save the world. All of this comes to a head in the third arc.

Marvel.com: Romance really must be on your mind: Domino and Colossus—is it doomed or is it something that can work?

Dennis Hopeless: I think the only thing standing in the way of Domino and Colossus is Domino and Colossus. They’re both sort of playing out of their leagues here. They don’t know what to expect from one another and have been taking turns screwing this thing up. It doesn’t help that they have to work it out while on the run from the whole world.

Can it work? I hope so. We’ll see.

Cable & X-Force #14 cover by Salvador Larroca

Marvel.com: Finally, the Summers family reunion: what's the best and the worst that could happen when Cable meets up with Havok?

Dennis Hopeless: The worst thing that could happen would be Havok accidentally killing Cable and inadvertently bringing about the end of the known world in the Marvel Universe version of Thermonuclear War. I’m guessing Apocalypse would be involved.

The best thing would be for a chronal rift to open up and suck them both in. Within the rift their bodies and minds to merge, creating a single man known as Cavok: The Super Summers, savior of all space-time.

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