SPOILERS ON for UNCANNY X-FORCE #12! Read at your own risk!
In today’s Uncanny X-Force #12, readers finally learned the true identity of the Revenant Queen that’s been wrecking havoc in the lives of Psylocke’s X-Force team and the larger west coast area. And it is…
Last glimpsed five years ago, the long-lost evil sister of Professor Charles Xavier reared her head and unveiled herself as the person behind Bishop’s recent madness and the team’s problems over the past year. Just how does it all happen? We asked series writer (and the mastermind behind Nova’s return) Sam Humphries.
“Cassandra Nova is ambitious and immortal. Thousands of years in the future, she hijacks Bishop to come back to the present -- right at the moment when her brother is dead, and unable to stop her,” Humphries tells Newsarama. “She's an immensely powerful psychic with a huge axe to grind -- and an army of psychic demons to crush the world.”
Humphries explains that Nova has been hidden in the background of Uncanny X-Force since its first issue last year, although not physically.
“Technically, she appears in issue 1 -- well, Bishop appears in issue 1, and she was possessing Bishop,” says Humphries. “And we saw her jump to Ginny in issue 4. But the seeds were planted back in that first issue.”
This revelation was revealed as part of the larger story of this week’s Uncanny X-Force #12, which in effect was a solo story for the former Mojo pawn Spiral – the first, arguably, since her Ricochet Rita days. Although Psylocke is the centerpiece of the series, Humphries says that Spiral shares similar experiences as Betsy – although more intense.
“We've all got a lot of love for Psylocke -- she's a murderer, yes, but we give her and other characters like Wolverine a pass because of their tortured histories. Psylocke has been kidnapped, mutilated, and body swapped. But everything Betsy has been through, Spiral has been through ten-fold,” Humphries explains. “So I wanted to know, if we can have sympathy for Betsy, can we have sympathy for Spiral too? And Spiral is a cosmic ninja, which is pretty awesome.”
Best known as the multi-armed “cosmic ninja” of the classic X-Men villain Mojo, Spiral was born far different – Rita Wayword, professional stuntman. Created by Art Adams and Ann Nocenti back in 1985’s Longshot #1, Wayword was kidnapped and imprisoned by Mojo for years before being genetically modified – inside and out – to become a minion of Mojo. Humphries revealed in early issues of Uncanny X-Force that Spiral had been exiled to Earth and stripped of her teleportation abilities, resulting in Spiral turning over a new leaf as she looked after a homeless mutant named Ginny.
“Spiral used to be human, but she's had her humanity stripped away from her. I wanted to explore the feelings of someone like that trying to navigate a big city like Los Angeles. Someone powerful and dangerous barely holding it together on the streets,” says the writer. “Ginny was the first person not to treat her like a villain and a monster, and that changed Spiral's perception of herself -- awakened something within her she thought Mojo had killed years ago.”
Out from under Mojo’s thumb and looking for the whereabouts of Ginny, in Uncanny X-Force #12 Spiral follows the trail of the Revenants to try to suss out exactly what they are and who’s behind them. Along the way Spiral ended up torching one of Los Angeles’ famous landmarks if you’re a foodie – Donut Time. When asked about this culinary catastrophe, Humphries assured us Donut Time still exists – but offers up some additional recommendations when you’re out in L.A.
“Donut Time is infamous to residents of the area. And unfortunately, where Spiral goes, destruction follows,” Humphries says. “Nickel Diner and Umamicatessen downtown have some fancy bacon-and-whatnot-style donuts. But I always like SK Donuts on 3rd Street near La Brea for that authentic independent donut experience. The apple fritters are amazing.
Getting into more serious matters, Spiral eventually follows the trail of the Revenants back to their home and reveals the return of Cassandra Nova. After glimpsing Revenant versions of Storm, Psylocke and Puck in the last issue, Nova explains that Revenants is the unbridled dark side inside every one – Nova herself being Professor X’s.
When Cassandra Nova was first introduced by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in New X-Men, she was described as a “mummudrai,” a Shi’ar term for what is roughly equivalent to a spiritual evil twin born on the astral plane. Cassandra Nova was Xavier’s, but due to his immense telepathic abilities was able to take physical form. As revealed in this week’s Uncanny X-Force #12, these Revenants are mummudrai that Nova is able to bring to the physical word.
“The legend of the mummudrai -- the Sh'iar word for revenant -- states that everyone has a revenant when they're born,” elaborates Humphries. “That means there's about a hundred billion of these slathering, snarling goblins out there, waiting for an opportunity to experience the good life on this side of the psychic divide. If you open that door between our worlds, you'll never get it closed again.”
This all leads to an upcoming arc teased in the advance solicits for Uncanny X-Force called “Revenant War,” which will see Los Angeles being invaded by Nova’s Revenants.
“Cassandra Nova wants to rip down the barrier that keeps all revenants from our world, and create a revenant invasion,” says the writer. “The revenants have languished too long with the short end of the stick. They're envious, and hungry. Readers can expect a city on fire, a demon invasion, and Uncanny X-Force scrambling to turn the tide against one of the most powerful villains on the planet. And fantastic art by Phil Briones and Angel Unzueta -- they bring hell to Los Angeles.”