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Prepare for War in Uncanny X-Force

Sam Humphries checks in with his team, plus exclusive Adrian Alphona preview art!

Uncanny X-Force #12 preview art by Adrian Alphona

By Tim O’Shea

Spiral finds all of her hands full in UNCANNY X-FORCE #12—on sale October 9—as she challenges a Revenant cult in Los Angeles as part of her quest to find the missing mutant, Ginny.

In order to better understand the path writer Sam Humphries has planned for UNCANNY X-FORCE on the way to the coming Revenant War, we caught up with him. In addition to revealing the action-packed ninja story he and artist Adrian Alphona have in store for issue #12, Humphries details his plans for Bishop and the rest of the team. He also hints at the identity of the enigmatic Revenant Queen.

Marvel.com: UNCANNY X-FORCE is a unique book in the X-Men universe, as you made clear in issue #6, when you had Psylocke say to Wolverine: "Not all of us are going to go with you or Cyclops. We're not all that convenient." Is that dialogue, in some sense, a mission statement for the kind of nuanced X-book you are writing?

Uncanny X-Force #12 preview art by Adrian Alphona

Sam Humphries: That's Betsy speaking Betsy's frustration with the pressures and fissures of the mutant world post-AvX. But in a broad sense, yes, UNCANNY X-FORCE must exist in a lane separate from any other X-book. There's no point in being a clone of [Brian] Bendis or [Jason] Aaron or [Brian] Wood. It's been my goal since day one to provide a mutant experience in UNCANNY X-FORCE you can't find anywhere else.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Psylocke, she has struggled through much of your run to in a sense find herself again, who she is as a person despite all she has had done to her by myriad evil forces over the years. On a basic level, are you trying to partially help define her for readers by how you write her dialogue? For example, in issue #6 you had her use the adjective "cack-handed" which is a distinctly British word.

Sam Humphries: You want to be able to define a character not just by what they say, but how they say it. Betsy is British, but she's also lived abroad for most of her adult life. She's not crying for tea and crumpets and waving the Union Jack, but some British slang definitely slips through.

Uncanny X-Force #12 preview art by Adrian Alphona

Marvel.com: You and artist Ramon Perez used a Chris Claremont/John Byrne Wolverine homage at the end of issue #10, where Bishop was pulling himself out of underground waters and saying: "Okay Revenants, you've taken your best shot, now it's my turn!" Why that panel, and why now?

Sam Humphries: It's a great moment that helped define Wolverine. I wanted to borrow some of that intensity and drama to help re-define Bishop as a capable badass in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: What is it about Bishop's character that motivated you to bolster his badass qualities?

Sam Humphries: Bishop has been off the stage for too long. He's had a checkered past, but doesn't everyone deserve a shot at redemption?

Marvel.com: Ramon Perez served as the artist on issues #10 and #11. You two worked together previously at Marvel on JOHN CARTER: THE GODS OF MARS. Was this a happy reunion?

Sam Humphries: Hell yes it was. Ramon and I have been chomping at the bit to team up again. His character work, his vertiginous layouts, and his dynamic action make him perfect for UNCANNY X-FORCE. Ramon is a special wizard. There's a reason they gave the man three Eisners!

Marvel.com: Spiral has been off the radar for the past few issues, but issue #12 is a solo story for her. What has she been up to?

Uncanny X-Force #12 preview art by Adrian Alphona

Sam Humphries: Spiral has been trying to solve the mystery of a missing person: Ginny, the new mutant we first saw in issue #1. But as many mysteries go, it turns out Spiral is in deeper than she thought. The trail of Ginny brings her head-on with the Revenant cult spreading through Los Angeles. It's a mystery story, it's a horror story, but it's Spiral, so it's also a ninja story, with tons of blood and sharp steel. Adrian Alphona is drawing that issue and it is gorgeous.

Marvel.com: Creatively, why take a relatively unlikable villain like Spiral and make her sympathetic on some level?

Sam Humphries: Spiral is a great character—a cosmic ninja. We've seen her be the stoic killer, the cackling assassin. I wanted to get into her head a little more. Betsy has been through a lot, and we feel for her. But everything Betsy has endured, Spiral has survived tenfold. I wanted to see if we could have sympathy for her as well and still retain everything that makes her a cool character.

Marvel.com: From the start of this series, you have been carefully constructing the buildup to the Revenant War while developing character dynamics in parallel. In terms of building dynamics and having a character to play off others, how much has it helped to have someone as quirky like Puck to utilize and play off the others?

Sam Humphries: We have a lot of grim characters in this book, facing a lot of grim threats. It's fun to be able to let off some steam in the book by letting Puck be the charming smart ass that he is.

Uncanny X-Force #12 cover by Kris Anka

Marvel.com: Do you consider Demon Bear to be a member of the UNCANNY X-FORCE team, or is he a free spirit, so to speak?

Sam Humphries: It's definitely fair to say Demon Bear is on the team. But what would Demon Bear say about that? He's a force of nature. He is loyal to Betsy for saving his life, which means he sticks around. He certainly fits on this team of misfits. But who knows what is going on in that demon head of his? Demon Bear keeps his own council.

Marvel.com: Is Bishop back up to full strength now, or is his psyche still pretty fractured and fragile?

Sam Humphries: I don't think you can go through everything Bishop has gone through without showing some cracks in your psyche. Storm played fast and loose with his memories recently— that's gotta cause some damage. We're going to see that come to a head. But overall, Bishop is on solid footing, more so than he has been in years. He's at full strength, and ready to kick some ass.

Marvel.com: Any hints you want to drop about the surprises in store for the Revenant War, which starts in issue 14?

Sam Humphries: The true identity of the Revenant Queen is someone you've seen before.

Pick up the next issue of UNCANNY X-FORCE on October 9

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