This dark tale comes to you from Rick Remender (Punisher) and his collaborator from The Last Days of American Crime, Jerome Opeña. We’ll be revealing the lineup for this new X-Force later on, but Remender was able to provide some hints as to the threat they’ll be facing…and what they’ll need to get the job done.
Newsarama: Rick, what's happening with this new X-Force?
Rick Remender: The new team is a double down. X-Force shouldn’t still be around. I don’t want to give anything away but, the team and the way they handle threats, both things should be off the board in the Heroic Age.
However, there are forces conspiring, plotting against human and mutantkind that will not play by softer rules. There are ancient forces that have been waiting for the current landscape, as it is an indicator that now is the time to strike.
Now, as the world celebrates, this is the time for the Age of Apocalypse to finally begin. For years now, a certain X-member has had operatives watching for En Sabah Nur’s return, hunting the globe for signs. And now, as a certain X-member has finally found a kind of peace, a call comes in… something has been uncovered. Apocalypse has returned.
Nrama: Who are the new X-Force...ers?
Remender: X-Force will now be Wolverine and a team of the toughest X characters ever assembled. Period. Logan will be a co-captain, serving with one of the other members, for reasons readers will soon discover.
They both accept equal responsibility for the work they must do, who they must hide it from, and any mistakes made along the way. They also serve as checks and balances for each other, to ensure they don’t become a vigilante force being driven by only one perspective. Given their method of problem solving, one can’t be too careful.
After the events of the X-books this summer, Logan and his co-captain wanted nothing more than to wash clean of these sorts of jobs. There is a theme of redemption sought that plays at odd purpose with the objective the team has undertaken.
This adds a wonderful internal conflict and drama in this new band of X-Men. These are the hardcores of the X-family; these are the heroes who have most frequently walked the line, made the distasteful yet necessary choices.
They’ve stained their souls for the greater good and just as it seems they’ll be able to heal from the work, they are tasked with their most critical assassination ever.
Nrama: As part of X-Force, Wolverine was willing to kill Bishop to keep him from killing potential future dictator Hope. Now he's willing to kill this new En Sabah Nur. How does he reconcile these seemingly contradictory impulses?
Remender: Some people should die, for the good of mankind, but it does make the title “hero” a hard one to embrace when you’re the folks who have to enact these types of missions.
No one on the team knows anything other than Apocalypse is back; he is going to succeed in reshaping the world this time unless we kill him. There is no other solution, left alive, he will win and the Age of Apocalypse will begin.
Nrama: How does Wolverine find time to be on this team, a couple variations of the X-Men, the Avengers, and have solo missions? What does a typical day for him look like?
Remender: Jason Aaron perfectly dealt with this is an issue of Wolverine a few months back. Wolverine is haunted. The memories that swirl around his head are ghosts. If he sits in one place for too long, he has to deal with them.
Now, that is exactly what he’s ready to start doing. He’s ready to rediscover his honor, quiet the beast, spend long months meditating and healing from his past. But that’s not how things play out.
When you’ve been around as long as Wolverine has, when you’re that connected to the biggest events in recent history, something is going to come looking for you, even if it’s a friend. Some responsibility is going to give a call.
To ignore the call would mean the spread of evil, or the death of innocents… so, no rest for Logan. He continues to run as fast as he can, doing what he can to maintain/regain his humanity by putting down those who would do us harm.
Nrama: What excited you about working on this book, and what do you enjoy about Wolverine as a character?
Remender: The dichotomy, the internal conflict, the man who is and has been something he isn’t proud of but never fully surrenders himself to it. Wolverine has been a monster, he’s been manipulated, mistreated, tortured, and brain fried -- but he doesn’t allow that to dictate his future.
Sure, the beast comes out, he goes feral, looses control, but he never quits fighting it, the thing in himself he hates, he never completely gives in to it. He’s a man, who, by all rights should have become a villain, but he simply refuses to allow his nature and programming to dictate his future, intellect in opposition to instinct.
There is a complexity to his choices, it’s not cut and dry, there is deliberation. That’s a character I can relate to.
As for what excited me… everything. The dream team of X-Men, the perfect villain about to make his perfect play, the perfect art team, and a voice in the back of my head of a 12-year-old Rick Remender who is going nerd-wild with story suggestions.
I read my first issue of Uncanny X-Men (issue #190) when I was eleven-years-old. I spent every weekend thereafter mowing lawns to earn the money to buy all the back issues.
I read every issue from #1 up. I was pretty obsessive too, read the books for decades. So I know the characters, love the characters and have always wanted a hand in writing them. High five to Rick the 12-year-old.
Nrama: So, you're working with Jerome again! How is this different from your previous collaborations, and what makes you two such a good team?
Remender: Jerome Opeña is the reigning super champ of a city built on the fever dream of a once unobtainable ideal, perfectly rendered illustrations that also happen to be, when read in order, flawlessly fluid and dynamic storyboards.
Most good artists can give you one or the other, great storytelling or elegant polish; it’s the true masters who can accomplish both. Jerome manages both.
Having worked with Jerome, for going on five years, has prepared us to take on this huge new project with a healthy confidence, our comfort level working together is ridiculous. Once I heard he’d be joining us all my fear went out the window.
Together we will dominate the minds and bodies of the readers, by force if need be. Once united, we are a perfect unit of barbaric, comic bookery, super power who will crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women. Crom is your God! The riddle of steel before you!
Nrama: And what's cool about Apocalypse?
Remender: Intention. An omega powerful villain with a hard lined Darwinian approach to the evolution of his species and the power to enact it. On the “mustache-twirling-evil” scale, he’s a solid 10.
He’s highly intelligent, mercenary, manipulative and always, somehow, in control of everything. He has directed the history of mutants since the dawn of the species, like a chess master he piles his malicious acts on top of each other to make a well-crafted Machiavellian layer cake.
If evil is defined by singular purpose, Apocalypse wins the prize for pretty damned evil. We’ve also got a new band of Horsemen to introduce, a new base or three, a new course for his “survival of the fittest” scheme, and another twist so huge I dare not reveal it before the book comes out.
Nrama: How does this tie into the broader X-Universe?
Remender: We’re not ready to reveal the broad strokes just yet. X-Force shouldn’t exist. It does exist. It is privy to secrets that it cannot share. Secrets it cannot reveal for the safety of those who it would be revealed to. Big bad stuff is looming and if X-Force can’t take care it is on the DL, the Heroic Age is going to be over before it really takes off.
Nrama: What makes X-Force a unique mutant team?
Remender: Their love of salsa dancing… or maybe their internal conflict. Yeah, internal conflict. These are heroes at heart, good people who are placed in terrible situations. Forced to make choices that could dictate the course of life on Earth, choices that mean getting dirty.
In the middle of this they are all trying to find their path to redemption, the road to a clean conscious, which is likely impossible. These five characters have come together for a reason. To form a secret family of kindred spirits, and to do the ugly things that must be done for the greater good.
Meet the all-new all-different X-Force this July.
Zack Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a regular contributor to Newsarama.