Rick Remender Says Goodbye to UNCANNY X-FORCE
***This article contains spoilers for the entirety of Rick Remender's recently wrapped run on Uncanny X-Force.***
Instead, Uncanny X-Force — illustrated throughout its run by artists including Jerome Opeña, Esad Ribic, Mike McKone and Phil Noto — became a major critical and commercial hit for Marvel, and led Remender to his two very high-profile current gigs: Marvel NOW! flagship book Uncanny Avengers and the recently relaunched Captain America. And the legacy of Uncanny X-Force continues on in the new volume of the series, debuting later this month from writer Sam Humphries and artist Ron Garney; and in the pages of Uncanny Avengers, where Remender will pick up plot elements from X-Force story arcs like "The Dark Angel Saga."
Newsarama talked with Remender about his time on Uncanny X-Force, what it meant to his career, endings things on a quasi-happy note and the importance of the book's artistic collaborators.Newsarama: Rick, after all you put the characters through for 35 issues, it was nice to see that your run on Uncanny X-Force closing with somewhat of a happy ending.
Rick Remender: It's happy-ish. [Laughs]. Burying a son, mourning a brother, resurrected a dead lover. Classic happy ending!
Remender: Yeah. I had already begun making plans to segue out of mainstream comic books a little bit before I was tapped for the project. I was starting to make my way back to video games — I was working on Bulletstorm for Epic, I was planting flags on a few other gigs and moving my way back to that. I was just going to do creator-owned books at night, and do my adult job in video games during the day. Then this, and Venom both sort of blew up — and I had absolutely no reason to expect that they would.
Tony [Moore] and Jerome [Opeña] and I, on numerous other projects that produced work that I was incredibly proud of, had been overlooked by the mainstream kids, and it just seemed to me that my sensibilities and the things that I like were not in tune with the average mainstream comic book fan. Venom and X-Force were, in my mind, probably the last couple of things I was going to do at Marvel — because I'm such an optimist.
Nrama: So those two books kind of changed the course of your career.
Remender: My mainstream comics career. I don't equate that with everything; kicking ass in creator-owned and video games and every other thing. This is just its own little bubble. In terms of being in the mainstream comics bubble, I absolutely think that people's reaction to the books is the reason I’m still here doing it.
Nrama: Sure, but mainstream comics have been your main focus for the past couple of years.
But yeah, the mainstream stuff has been paying the bills and keeping the kids in clothes. The great thing is, it enables me to move around. We were in Portland, and it wasn't working out for us. Making a living in freelance, one of the huge perks is that if I don't like where I live, I can pack up and go, and my job comes with me. Very grateful for that.
Nrama: It was announced at New York Comic Con that Devolution will be published by Dynamite, but does Low have a home yet?
Remender: We haven't announced anything. I've thrown up some teasers, but we haven't talked about the publisher, or anything else yet.
Remender: I think they could have done this anyway. A Cable/X-Force book was something that a lot of fans would want, even if you had done it at the same time that I had launched Uncanny X-Force in the first place. It's nice, but I always try and temper that with, "People really love these characters, and there's a lot behind these characters." As Axel says, “It’s easier to win a race in a Ferrari,” and these are some of the most popular comic characters in the world. But of course I’m very proud of what we did and the response is gratifying.
Nrama: And it definitely sounds like Sam Humphries has plans to run with some of the elements you're leaving behind.
Nrama: When there's a story like this that's not an "ending" for the characters, since they're continuing on in multiple places, I think sometimes from an outsider perspective people wonder, "Is this exactly the ending the writer wanted, or is it more putting the pieces into the place that they 'need' to be?'" But it seems like this was very much your vision.Remender: This is where the book would have ended up if I were still writing it. #35 is #35. This would have been the same issue, even if I were doing the next issue. This is exactly where it would have gone.
It's nice. There's no feeling of, "This isn't what I wanted to do," or, "I wasn't given time." Marvel were tremendous in that they gave me as much time as I needed on X-Force and Secret Avengers to put them to bed and complete the stories that I was in the middle of telling.
Remender: That's nice to hear. I enjoyed writing the character quite a bit, and that seemed to me to be the perfect bow on the present.
Remender: It wasn't. His story in this book is over, and he died. The Life Seed was stabbed into Archangel, and it regrew a version of him clean of the Death Seed, and clean of the influence of Apocalypse. What you've got is this sort of blank slate out there, living a whole new life.
Yes, he was an important part of the book for sure, and a character who I love. Handing him over to Jason [Aaron] when I did made logical sense, but it was a very difficult decision for me, because it was a character I had put so much of the story into. Once Jason took him, he became Jason's character, and Jason's done a great job of establishing him and building him up, I don't think X-Force needs to go back and once again say, "Oh, Warren. You're not the person we knew, and you died." And he's like, "Yeah, I'm still this." And they're like, "Cool. Well, we felt bad about this. A lot. So have fun!" And he'd be like, "OK."
I also didn't circle around to Nightcrawler, and he was a big part of the second year. It's all been planned out for a year and a half now. It's nice to get to the final conclusion of it, and have it all laid out in front of you. I don't know what the X-office will do, but the nice pieces that I left there were Mystique and Nightcrawler off running around together, and the three new Fantomex characters.
Nrama: Including the evil Fantomex, who disappeared right away.
Remender: I know that Sam has big plans for that character. I don't know what, and I'm very excited to see what he does.
Remender: A really important role. Phil and I are buddies. We've been friends for years, which always makes a collaboration a much easier prospect, and much more pleasant from get-go. We had a natural working relationship, because we're friends.
I would talk to Phil quite a bit about the story, and we'd brainstorm and cook it up. When I have an artist who I'm friends with and somebody I can talk to, and somebody I can collaborate with, I think the stories are always much stronger for it. I think a lot of the great things that happened in the last year came out of talks with Phil. I think the shark thing was something that Phil had cooked up while we were brainstorming, or I started it, and he finished it — one way or another, it was a collaborative effort coming up with a lot of the way the beats would play out in that story.
Nrama: It's always interesting to hear the wide range between collaborators in comics — there are folks who have been friends for years, and people who have worked together for an extended period and have even talked on the phone.
Remender: Yeah. All of the relationships are different, and everybody's comfort level is different, and what they want out of the relationship is different. Every relationship I have, they're all their own thing. I'll try and extend my hand to everybody I work with and say, "Hey, do you want to get on the phone and talk this through, so if you have any visual cues you can add them, or if you want to get an idea of where I'm headed with this and get excited about it?"
Some people want to spend hours on the phone and go over this stuff. Like Dean White, for example. The color was such a big part of X-Force, such a big part of the storytelling, that Dean and I would talk on the phone about how to approach setting tone and the story in general. It's something that color guide artists do in animation, where they take rough versions of the layouts and they color guide things — and they pick the tone, and they pick the palette, and they match the colors to the backgrounds and things. Dean's got a lot of experience in animation, as do I, which was really wonderful — to be able to work with somebody who understands the value of that method. There are so many things that are done in animation that comic books could benefit from.
So Dean and I became close friends during the process, and we would talk all the time. We would talk story, and we would talk art direction. That collaboration, I think, really helped carry X-Force through as the art teams changed over and over again.Keep reading Newsarama for more with Remender on his current work, including Captain America and Uncanny Avengers. More from Newsarama:
- Does 'XX' Mark the Spot for These Marvel X-WOMEN?
- Best Shots MEGA-Review: Remender's UNCANNY X-FORCE
- Death, Resurrection, Mohawks: Who's Who in UNCANNY X-FORCE