Marvel NOW! Q&A: Uncanny X-Force

Marvel NOW! Q&A: Uncanny X-Force

By Andrew Wheeler

They're killers. They're heroes. They're UNCANNY X-FORCE. The X-Men's most dangerous and deadly team is getting a new start this January as part of Marvel NOW! courtesy of writer Sam Humphries and artist Ron Garney.

Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force

With Rick Remender's epic UNCANNY X-FORCE run heading to a climax, Humphries and Garney will take the action in a new direction with a new team and a new issue #1. It's a chance for Humphries to bring some of the wild ideas from his work on ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES to the Marvel Universe, while for Garney it’s the latest action blockbuster from an artist whose recent work includes WOLVERINE and ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA.

But who comprises the new Uncanny X-Force team, who will they be up against, and what’s their relationship to CABLE AND X-FORCE? We talked to Humphries to get the scoop, and learned that he has more than a few surprises in store. Sam, every Marvel NOW! book gets teased with one word; your word is “Killers.” I take it this isn't going to be a lighter, brighter X-Force?

Sam Humphries: [Laughs] Absolutely not. It ain't called Uncanny X-Fluffy Bunnies. Thanks to a strong tradition of formidable creators, UNCANNY X-FORCE is a book with a unique identity—dark, dirty, morally sticky, edgy, bloody, sexy. I wouldn't have it any other way. I feel right at home. You're kicking off with a new #1, but is there anything you're looking to pick up from Rick Remender's UNCANNY X-FORCE run?

Sam Humphries: UNCANNY X-FORCE was one of my favorite titles before Marvel even knew my name, much less offered me a gig. I love it enough to respect it, revere it, and move on.

Rick spoiled the end of his run with me, and all I can say is he nails it. His run on X-Force is a complete saga with a beginning, middle and end. He asks questions and he answers them. It's the comic book equivalent of dropping the mic and walking off stage. No one will need me to continue what Remender is doing. No one wants to see me do a watered-down Remender. This book spins out of where Rick left the book, and we continue characters from what he did with them, but it's a new #1, a new team, and a new focus. We pick off six months after the end of Rick's book, and things have changed—a lot.

Psylocke Who do you have on the team? Do they all have blood on their hands?

Sam Humphries: Right off the bat we have Psylocke, Storm, Puck, and Spiral, with more characters joining rapidly. Some of them have blood on their hands, but all of them have darkness in their past; darkness that manifests itself in all sorts of unpredictable ways. So what's the team's relationship to the X-Men?

Sam Humphries: In the first issue, someone is kicked out of the Jean Grey School. I'm not going to say who it is, but it sets everything in motion. You say all these characters have darkness in their past. Who—if anyone—provides the book's moral center?

Sam Humphries: "Moral center" is an interesting term for a book like UNCANNY X-FORCE. In this context, it won't mean the same thing to all people. Psylocke will be the center of the book, both morally and otherwise. What makes Psylocke the right person to headline the series and lead the team?

Sam Humphries: She's a great character with deep contradictions. Her history is a mess. She's a survivor who doesn't fear the darkness. She's one of my favorite X-Men. And it's her time. Watch the throne. Storm seems like the odd-one-out in this team, as she tends to see killing as a last resort. Is she here to keep an eye on the others, or do the events of AvX force a change in her attitudes?


Sam Humphries: Odd one out? Don't forget Storm is still the same person who ran off into the Tokyo night and reappeared sporting leather street wear and a mohawk! I see everyone in this book as a wild card, especially Storm. Without saying too much, the events of AvX creates a bond between her and Betsy that will take them into the events of the book together.

Characters in Uncanny X-Force aren't always going to be on the same page when it comes to killing. Same goes for some of the other bizarre surprises we have in store. We've got a wide spectrum of strong personalities and it's been fun to decide where they stand on some core values—and how their positions could change over time. Puck always struck me as the tragic clown type, but he's also an ex-soldier of fortune with a demonic origin story. Should we see him as a dark figure? What's his place on the team?

Sam Humphries: I see him as a Canadian Indiana Jones. He's gone some dark places in his past, and he's a dwarf, which can present challenges most of us never have to deal with. But he's also a bad ass who has confronted the darkness with a wry sense of humor, and he has yet to find a situation where being small of stature has stopped him from kicking some butt. You also have Spiral, who has never knowingly served on the side of the angels and doesn't seem like a team-player. How can Psylocke hope to keep her in check?

Sam Humphries: By appealing to one of the basic needs of any extra-dimensional multi-armed sword-wielding bad ass: survival.

Bishop The villain for the first arc is Bishop, who has been going through a rough patch since his days on the X-Men. Does Psylocke see him as someone she needs to stop or as someone she needs to save?

Sam Humphries: That question is going to be largely immaterial as they try to dodge his bullets. What about Storm's relationship with Bishop? Reunited and it feels so good?

Sam Humphries: Bishop is the man she remembers, but not the man she remembers. He was abandoned in the year 6300 AD. The dude has been alone, thousands of years in the future. A man goes through a lot of changes trying to get from 6300 AD to the present day. It is going to be an ugly reunion all around. You're working with Ron Garney, who is a great cinematic action artist. Are you coming up with lots of fun things for him to draw?

Sam Humphries: Hell yes! Ron and I worked together on two pages in the [ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES] and during that brief encounter established a great rapport. I've been a fan of his work, particularly his work with Jason Aaron on WOLVERINE and ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA. He's got a great style and vibe for this book and I can't wait to make him draw all sorts of twisted stuff. What look and feel you and Ron are going for? Is this going to be an in-the-shadows black-ops book, or a big, bombastic action adventure?

Ultimate Captain America by Ron Garney

Sam Humphries: I'd say we're going for a vibe that contains elements of both, but resembles nothing like either of those options. "James Bond as directed by David Lynch" was my initial pitch, and so far that has yielded some rich, disturbing story ideas. It sounds like this will be a bloody book, but it's not a MAX title, so how far will you be able to push it?

Sam Humphries: As far as they'll let me! "Drive it like you stole it" is my motto. I mean, I'm not a jerk. I'm not going to pitch things I know will result in a "no [expletive] way, idiot" and I don't act like a baby if I get told to walk it back a step or two.

But I think I have a good eye for unexplored corners and gray areas—possibilities with characters that make everyone say, "Can we really do this? I don't know!!" That's the fun stuff. That's when you know you're on to something really good. We recently learned that there's another Marvel NOW! X-Force title, CABLE AND X-FORCE, launching in December from the creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca. What's the relationship between the two teams? Are they on the same side, or are we going to see them go head to head?

Sam Humphries: We've got two great books, two unpredictable groups of mutants, two awesome creative teams—but only one writer can be the best at karaoke. I'm coming for you at New York Comic Con, Hopeless!

But we've also got two books with two very different focuses. To put it simply, UNCANNY X-FORCE are the hunters, and CABLE AND THE X-FORCE are the hunted. Will the two books intersect? Well, one book has Cable as a leader, and one has Bishop has a bad guy. There's a volatile history there that could be powerful enough to draw in both teams. Your X-Force is the “uncanny” one; how are you planning to deliver on that title?

Sam Humphries: How can I say this without spoilers? I take the title of "uncanny" very seriously, just like I do the mandate of "ultimate" over on ULTIMATES. My job is to tell a story about mutants that you can't find in any other X-book—and that's what you're going to get. After the first arc, even the so-called "Uncanny" X-Men are going to find these mutants very, very uncanny. And [editor] Nick Lowe might start dodging my calls.

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