One of the more colorful X-Men titles on the stands is Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force. Replete with gorgeous visuals (courtesy of artists like Jerome Opena) and steeped in X-Men lore, Uncanny X-Force has been a rock-solid read for fans of full-blown mutant insanity.
io9 recently caught up with Remender to chat about the conclusion to the "Dark Angel Saga," an eight-part yarn he's been spinning for the last few months. With the finale in comic shops next week, Remender elaborated on the creative method that transformed the good-natured (if angsty) X-Man Archangel into a crazed villain with aspirations for global armageddon.
First off, "Dark Angel Saga" encompasses so many bizarre corners of the X-Universe. How did you formulate this roller coaster ride through the history of the X-Men?
I'm versed in it, I'm a nerd. When I was a kid, the X-Men were my jam. In 1984, I mowed lawns to save up money for back issues of Secret Wars. I extrapolated on what was already there — after we killed Kid Apocalypse [in the first arc of Uncanny X-Force], it almost became A Beautiful Mind situation in connecting the dots. For example, "What is Archangel?" "What is Apocalypse's true connection to the Celestials?" There were all of these things that were always hinted at, but never cohesively explained.
You see the seeds of the "Dark Angel Saga" in the first ten page of Uncanny X-Force. Psylocke is inside Warren Worthington's head, fighting Archangel as a separate entity. I wanted the very extreme ending of the first arc — Fantomex's murder of Kid Apocalypse — to have a domino effect. You can go back in time and kill Hitler, but what worse person rises because of that? What is this new chain of events from these decisions? These events were Chekhov's rifle on the mantel.
People always ask me, "Where should I start on Uncanny X-Force?" Unfortunately, I write big mega-arcs, so I tend to say "Issue #1!" The book is built like an HBO series. I wouldn't tell people to start at Season 3, Episode 4 of The Wire.
In the "Dark Angel Saga," you put the X-Men from The Age of Apocalypse through the wringer. Were you surprised about the amount of alternate dimension superheroes you could kill with impunity?
That was all part of a whole other plan. In Uncanny X-Force #19.1, I'm launching the Age of Apocalypse ongoing series. It's all leading to something in that issue. Editor Jody Leheup and I were working together pretty closely with an idea that he had, and then we integrated it into both the "Dark Angel Saga" and also the Age of Apocalypse series. That's the inverse of our world: instead of 200-300 mutants left, there are 2000-3000 humans left. The rest of the world is populated by mutants. It follows a band of humans and few mutants who are familiar to us. But yeah, I don't slaughter characters willy-nilly for shock value.
I really liked how you took the Blob — the ultimate doofus villain — and made him one of the most formidable bad guys in the Age of Apocalypse.
I love the Blob. This version allowed for a dirtier approach. He's been fiddled with in the laboratories of the Dark Beast. He's way more depraved than our Blob, he's covered in acne, and he uses his powers in a lot of strange ways.
Fantomex was introduced in Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men and then fell off the radar for a few years. Since then, you've made him one of the marquee X-Men characters again. How'd that work out?
Matt Fraction and Jason Aaron had really gone to bat to get the character back in play. By the time, I took on Uncanny X-Force, he was someone who was around. The fun part's been taking a lot of characters who may have a central commonality and then finding all the interpersonal connective tissue. I'm digging through Fantomex's collective history with Wolverine, Deadpool, and the Weapon Plus program. We'll be exploring that next. We will see some new Weapons that have been created in the last 30-40 years.
I know you can't give away too much, but what will the team's status quo be post-"Dark Angel Saga?"
It will stay a lot the same. They will have new responsibilities, but they'll be trying to maintain their secrecy and preemptive takedowns of villains before they can twirl their mustaches and reveal their schemes. There are four issues in Otherworld coming up. Greg Tocchini, who is a genius, will be illustrating that.
The Otherworld's the dimension between all dimensions, where Captain Britain and the Captain Britain Corps protect the Omniverse. I like that there's a door that leads to every dimension in the Starlight Citadel. That's why I put Captain Britain in my upcoming run on Secret Avengers.
Does that mean we'll see a crossover between Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers?
That would be a pretty cool thing, a pretty natural connection there. If I were to be writing those two books and have characters like Beast who are teamed up with Wolverine on other teams, Captain Britain who is related to Psylocke, a whole cast of characters that are all interconnected, I might cross them over at some point. Who knows?
What are Rick Remender's top X-Men story arcs?
Obviously a couple hundred issues of Chris Claremont X-Men. We'll definitely see some things from the Australian years reflected in Uncanny X-Force. I'm going to be using Lady Deathstrike quite a bit. We'll see an Excalibur reunion of sorts in the Otherworld arc, so I'm drawing from that stuff as well. Let's see, Chris Claremont, Grant Morrison, and I would be an asshole to leave out Louise and Walt Simonson who created the foundations of this Apocalypse mythology that I've been building upon.
Uncanny X-Force #18 will be out Wednesday, December 14. You can read our brief history of all things X-Force here.