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By Marc Strom
Don't think a lone, human woman could pose much of a threat to the most vicious X-team on the block? Then you clearly haven't met the Leper Queen.
But don't worry, writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost plan on getting you further acquainted with the lady in question in X-FORCE #13, on sale March 18 with art by Clayton Crain.
After the Leper Queen's young mutant daughter accidentally set fire to their house, killing herself and horribly scarring her mother's face, the Leper Queen began her quest to kill all mutants. When Kyle and Yost decided to make the Leper Queen one of the anti-mutant leaders Bastion brought under his control during the series' first story arc, they did so for a number of reasons.
"Because she's so sexy
," jokes Yost. "I like a girl with her face burned off, and [she's] a mass murderer to boot. And that 'Jason Voorhees' style!
"The Leper Queen ran a large grass roots organization of mutant haters," the writer continues on a more serious tack. "They weren't high tech, [and] they didn't have money, just the will to kill mutants and a lot of guns. They're the foundation, the guy next door. They feed into all the other organizations like the Purifiers and the Right. It made sense [to bring her in], and she's got a strong personal story [since] her daughter was a mutant."
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With the Leper Queen's relatively short history—she made her first appearance just three years ago—Kyle and Yost have set out to fill her character in a bit more, but they explain that the process has been no different from the way they approach any other character.
"It's been our goal to find the best—or worst—qualities of every character we're working with and highlight those traits in our stories," Kyle elaborates. "We've done this with our core cast and we're doing with the villains too. The best part about Leper Queen is she doesn't agree with her role in Bastion's plan. No matter how much she hates mutants even she realizes what she is forced to do is wrong."
"As you saw in issue #12, she's doing this against her will," Yost adds. "Yes, she wants to kill every mutant on the planet, but not like this."
While she may not have any powers of her own, the Leper Queen still poses a significant threat both to X-Force and mutants in general, in part due to the particularly driven nature of her desire to see all mutantkind dead.
"The choices the Leper Queen makes on her own are sick, twisted and deadly," Kyle warns. "But the actions she will take because of Bastion are far, far worse."
"Leper Queen is the one that won't even hesitate," says Yost, distinguishing her from the rest of Bastion's allies. "She's like the Punisher. She'd kill a mutant in front of
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cops, in front of the mutant's parents, she would just put a gun to the monster's head and pull the trigger, no matter what
. It's not a good long term plan, but that's who she is.
"And shockingly, bullets work really well in most cases. Like in issue #13."
As for Bastion's future plans for the Leper Queen, the writers reveal that she does indeed play a singular role, as do all of his allies.
"From the moment Bastion went online, he has been shaping the world around him," Kyle relates. "Every character he has resurrected and/or enslaved with the Techno-Organic virus has a role to play in his ultimate strategy. He is using his knowledge about mutants from the future to determine who poses the greatest threat and what solutions he must find and/or create to stop them in the present. If mutantkind is to be defeated, now is the time."
Beyond spotlighting the Leper Queen, X-FORCE #13 will also lead directly into the upcoming "Messiah War" crossover with CABLE.
"Our series began in 'Messiah CompleX' and is tied to that storyline for as long as it continues," Kyle notes. "Unfortunately our heroes are hunting down Leper Queen when the drums of 'Messiah War' begin to sound. Lives are at risk and X-Force can't let anything get in the way of them completing their mission—but the War will get in the way and the X-Men will suffer great losses because of it."
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Kyle adds that the current two-part story will also let readers in on what Bastion has planned for the long term.
"The fans have only had a small taste of Bastion's ultimate plan," he hints. "These two issues start to bring Bastion's goals into focus while our heroes continue their march into darkness. No one on X-Force is prepared for what's coming—and let's not forget about Selene."
"From here on out, everything we've been setting up starts to hit our team hard," Yost chimes in. "We're not going to lie to you, things might start to get a little dark. Issues #1-11 were pretty light and cheery, but now, now it gets rough."
X-FORCE #13 takes no prisoners on March 18. For more of the Leper Queen, head to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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