It hasn't been an easy time for Cable and X-Force since the book debuted in December 2012. Faced with an, ahem, hopeless situation, the team — led by Cable and including Domino, Colossus, Forge and Dr. Nemesis — made an uneasy and violent decision that left that as wanted fugitives in the Marvel Universe, pursued by the considerably less morally grey heroes of the Uncanny Avengers. After something of a respite in issue #5, Colossus went to jail in issue #6, and things look to get even more complicated in this week's issue #7 with the arrival of Cable's dad, Cyclops, who's also undergoing an unusual character arc over in . Then just one issue later, in May's Cable and X-Force #8, the team heads to outer space. Doesn't seem like a rest is coming anytime soon for this bunch, and Newsarama talked with Hopeless about Cable and X-Force's upcoming cosmic sojourn and unconventional family bonding.
Newsarama: Dennis, Avengers Arena and Cable and X-Force both debuted in the same month, and each now have a good handful of issues out. Since you've been living with them for quite a while now, do you see any similarities between the two, or are they scratching very different writer-ly itches for you? Of course, both deal with issues of moral ambiguity.
Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, I mean, both books are about good people forced to do bad things. All of these characters have good intentions (at least in their own minds). But beyond very basic thematic similarities, they’re very different books.
Each issue of AA revolves around the POV character. Nearly every moment is seen through their eyes. We climb inside their heads and hear their commentary. The star of Cable and X-Force won’t let us in his head. Unless absolutely necessary, Cable tends to let his teammates do the talking. The story is told without internal narration.
Transitioning between the two gives me whiplash sometimes, but once I get rolling it’s always nice to completely switch gears. Bouncing over to write X-Force blowing things up in space is exactly the sort of breather I need after writing an AA issue. Likewise, after 20 pages of Cable-style action and gruff, I’m ready to write some tortured internal monologue. It’s a nice balance. I think it keeps me fresh and imaginative.
Nrama: On that subject: Though Cable and his team appear to be bad guys to the world at large (and the Uncanny Avengers), the series has made it clear that it's not that simple, and their actions have actually been justified. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but in that respect, do you see Cable as maybe even more heroic than some of the more conventional Marvel superheroes, given that he's clearly willing to make some tough decisions and live with the consequences?
Hopeless: I see Cable as a soldier. A general. He’s willing to do what needs to be done for the world because that’s how he’s spent his entire life. He doesn’t care about heroism or public perception (except where his daughter is concerned) so long as he’s saving lives and preventing the brutal future in which he grew up. I think he has a lot in common with his own father there.
The big difference being that Cyclops has devoted his life to this new crusade. He’s willingly painted a bullseye on his face and stepped out as a mutant revolutionary. Cable just wanted to retire and build a normal life he could share with Hope. He was sucked into this new bit of crazy and is too good a soldier to step away. Now he’s sort of stuck playing that same role he’s always played.
Nrama: The issue of fan reaction has been a major one with Avengers Arena, but less so with Cable and X-Force — to whatever extent you've monitored it with that book, what have you observed? I imagine you've heard both from hardcore Cable fans nervous about how you might handle him and this X-Force, to people skeptical about the entire thing, given the different meanings that "X-Force" has had in recent years.
Hopeless: From what I can tell, most Cable fans have embraced the book for what it is. Our first arc was a bit of slow burn. We wanted to hammer home the “Wanted” idea while also introducing all of the characters and relationships. I’ve heard from some fans who hope we’ll pick up the pace going forward. We will. I think as a creative team we’ve hit our stride with this second arc. Now that the stage is set, we’re going to deliver the old-school action I promised from the start.
The nice thing about having two X-Force titles is that we can present fans with two different flavors. Sam Humphries and Ron Garney have taken the reigns of New School X-Force over on . That book (which I love) has retained the spirit of what fans loved about Rick Remender’s and spun it off in another direction. On Cable & X-Force we’re doing the same with the classic Cable-led model. Readers can pick one or read both. It’s a good time to be an X-Force fan.
Nrama: Now that you've been working with Salvador Larroca for a while now, how would you characterize the experience? Obviously he's one of the most unflinchingly consistent artists in mainstream comics, in terms of output, which has to be incredibly significant in long-term planning a book like this.
X-Force #8 cover.Hopeless: Salva is a beast. Half the time he draws faster than I can write and the results are absolutely stunning. We’re lucky to have the perfect artist for the book who can draw every single issue (even when we double ship). It gives the book a visual consistency that’s all but impossible these days. It also allows me to write in chronological order and focus on Salva’s strengths every issue.
Nrama: Looking at a few of the book's characters a little more closely, #5 saw Colossus and Domino hook-up, and though they seemed content to leave it just as a one-night stand it seems there's more to it. Will that relationship continue to be a meaningful one going forward?
Hopeless: Yes. Definitely. But maybe not how you’d think. Colossus is in prison and Domino is a wanted fugitive. Things are complicated and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
Nrama: Hope has played an interesting role in the series so far, though she hasn't been a member of the team proper, and it looks like that'll continue into the near future. From your perspective, how important of a presence is Hope in the book?
X-Force #9 cover.Hopeless: Hope and Cable’s relationship was the cornerstone of my original pitch. I think it’s the heart of the book. Cable is willing to sacrifice everything for daughter and Hope would give anything to be a part of her father’s life. They’re mutual love motivates both of them but in a way that puts them at odds. It’s a prefect mess and exactly the sort of emotional core an action series needs. Hope steps off the stage the second arc but you can definitely expect her return.
Nrama: Cyclops has clearly been going through a very complex evolution as of late, and he's coming to the book for a face-to-face with his son in issue #7. How fun is it to write the current Cyclops? And how much of an impact will their meeting have to the book?
Hopeless: Cyclops was my favorite character growing up. My first super hero action figure was a Toy Biz Cyclops with . I love writing any version of Cyclops. The last time I wrote the character he was a self-conscious teenager trying to muster the courage to talk to Jean in X-Men Season One. This time around he’s a mutant revolutionary with war-tempered confidence. The cool thing is, Cyclops is still Cyclops. He’s the same guy just with a lot more struggle and heartache under his belt.
X-Force #10 cover.I think readers will be surprised by the coming confrontation. It probably isn’t what you think and it definitely won’t be the last time we see father and son together in the book. In a weird way, this is a book about Cable and his family. Cyclops is his father. We’d be stupid to leave him out.
Nrama: Also coming up, it looks like we've got X-Force in space in May's issue #8. Just looking at that, that seems like it must be a pretty good time for a writer — what can you share at this point about that story?
Hopeless: Yeah, our prison break story morphs into a space chase by issue #8. We introduce a nasty new villain and Cable goes toe to toe with a certain green-haired space cop. This arc has been so much fun to write, I wish it were a few issues longer. I’m half tempted to scrap our plot outline and turn the book into Intergalactic Cable and Space-Force.More from Newsarama:
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