Last week, we looked back at Rick Remender's recently concluded run on Uncanny X-Force with the writer, discussing the impact the series had on both his own career and the landscape of the Marvel Universe.
In the second part of our conversation, we look towards the future — specifically, Captain America, with #3 out this week; and Uncanny Avengers, which hits #3 on Jan. 23. We also discuss the end of his run on Secret Avengers, which culminates later this month with #37, before getting a Marvel NOW! relaunch from Nick Spencer and Luke Ross in February.
In our interview, Remender details how fateful Uncanny X-Force events will affect Wolverine's Uncanny Avengers mindset, the new additions to that book's cast, and Captain America's current journey through Dimension Z.
Newsarama: Rick, obviously what went down between Wolverine and Daken in Uncanny X-Force had a significant effect on Logan. How much do you see that affecting his mindset going forward — in Uncanny Avengers and elsewhere?
Rick Remender: You can't control what other writers will or won't pick up. I always try and make sure to honor the continuity that came before me, even in cases where I don't like it — I try and find ways to twist it to where I do like it. Some writers prefer to just do their own thing; and some people collaborate well, and they pay attention to what everyone's doing. I can't enforce any of that. What I can do is continue to write the character as I understand him, and where he's at, and at this point that's to incorporate what's going on in , and either of his solo books, and to make sure that as often as possible we can all cross-pollinate, and make sure that we all agree on his headspace and what he's going through.
For my part, Uncanny Avengers is almost the inverse of Uncanny X-Force, but it's a continuation in a lot of ways. You'll be fine as a new reader to read Uncanny Avengers, because I'll make sure and set everything up, but I'll be frank — if you've read X-Force, Uncanny Avengers is going to be a much richer read for you, because when you see characters popping up from "The Dark Angel Saga" — while I'll explain them to new readers — I can't give the same level of depth and context as if you had read the book. One of those things is obviously dealing with Wolverine's part in the "Dark Angel Saga," and what happened with Warren and Evan, but also dealing with the ramifications emotionally of Wolverine's state of mind after what happened with Daken. That's not something I plan on leaving in the past. To me, that's the new defining moment for what's going to haunt Wolverine, and haunt his decisions. That's definitely something that I'll continue to be building on.
Nrama: It seems that a lot of what you've done with Wolverine over recent years has been very compatible with what Jason Aaron has done with the character.
Remender: Yeah. And even when I don't have the time to completely ingest and read everything, I can call Jason or Nick Lowe and get an idea of where things are at. You just want to make sure that these pieces fit together as much as possible.
At the same time, that kind of close collaboration can also lead to sacrifice — in terms of handing over Angel and Evan at the end of "Dark Angel Saga," I recognized that it logically made sense for those characters to no longer be hanging out in Cavern-X, where the assassins came to plan their murders. "Hey, what are we doing with the kid, and the amnesiac life angel?"
You recognize that it's a give-and-take situation, and it's something that Jason and I have also continued to do on Uncanny Avengers and , where those two titles tie in very closely in the first year. I had very specific Thor ideas that fit with Jason's ideas, and then turned into a wonderful device that fits perfectly in the sequel to "The Dark Angel Saga." As we move forward, I think everybody likes to collaborate, so I'll try and see ways to fit in with what [Jonathan] Hickman is doing, what [Brian] Bendis is doing, what [Kieron] Gillen is doing, [Dan] Slott, [Matt] Fraction etc. I think everybody likes the idea that the Marvel Universe connects.
Nrama: Right. And it seems that it usually all ends up making sense, even if that's not readily obvious at certain moments.
Remender: There are so many moving pieces. We do the best we can. I had a big idea that might have worked with the current situation for Spider-Man, so I got on the phone with Dan and we talked it through, and it didn't quite fit, so we didn't do it. But we're always trying to make sure that there's a logical consistency, and a natural progression to this stuff.
Nrama: Uncanny Avengers is bringing in three new main cast members in issue #5: Sunfire, Wasp and Wonder Man. It's notable that all three of these characters haven't been around much, at least in the roles they're best known for: Wonder Man has been a misguided quasi-villain, Wasp was presumed dead for years and Sunfire just hasn't been in heavy rotation. Was that at all intentional on your part whenpicking these characters?
Remender: I knew I wanted Sunfire. With Deadpool, I had the opportunity to write insanity on a team; and with Fantomex, I got to write that suave, sort of aloof, sarcastic dick. But with Sunfire I get to write an unmitigated, unapologetic, asshole. But a hero. A guy who's going to put his life on the line — but a guy who's been through hell. I really think Sunfire should have been one of the original cast members of X-Force, given all he's been through. He's been mind-twisted, he's been a Horseman, he's been a Marauder… he's just been a mess. And it was all because he never joined the X-Men. He was always on the fringes. He was never a joiner. And he still wouldn't be, but for the Avengers, there is a prestige to that, and that prestige to have a representative from Japan take a spot on this worldwide force for good. He's a character who likes his honor, and his ego is definitely something that's always in play.
Wasp and Wonder Man, I realized from various conversations at the retreat, are such wonderful, classic Avengers. Nothing screams "classic Avenger" like Wonder Man and Wasp. At first I brushed it away. Then I sat down, and I was beating out some of the later issues for the second arc, I kept coming up with ideas for them. Then all of a sudden, I came up with some very big ideas for them. And then Wonder Man fit perfectly into the story, then Wasp fit perfectly into the story. Kurt Busiek was a big help with that as well. The same as Mark Waid was a big help to me understanding Captain America.
Beyond that, aesthetically, when you see that team standing together, it's all classic X-Men and classic Avengers, and a lot of them haven't been given the big spotlight in a while. They're characters I connect with, they're identifiable, iconic and classic, and they've been sort of in the shadows for years. What's better than that? Why grab for the pieces that have been on the forefront, when I can take these that I like, and do some new and hopefully exciting things with them. At the end of the second year, these characters, in my mind, are big, big important A-list, "change the history of humanity" characters. Beyond that, there's also the fun of really just developing the characters themselves, and getting into their hearts.
Nrama: Wasp and Wonder Man definitely seem to represent a class of classic Avengers characters that haven't really been around much in the Avengers books over the past few years, and certain fans are likely very happy to see in the book.
Remender: The Uncanny squad’s base is the Avengers Mansion; Hickman's got his Avengers over in the Tower. I want to do new things, I want to keep things exciting, but I want this to be the book that feels classic, a bit more traditional. I haven't really been known for that in the past. The more I dug into it, the thing that excited me the most is, if they're coming out of the Avengers Mansion, and I see a "Quinbird" — everything has to be A+X to keep everyone happy — and I see this team coming out of it, I'm like, "Goddamn, that's all classic, classic X-Men and really classic Avengers coming out of the Mansion." These are characters that naturally fit these roles — classic characters that fit in the job description.
Nrama: Uncanny Avengers was hit with some well-publicized delays early in the run. Do you see that as slowing down the momentum a bit on a book that was introduced with a lot of hype and promotion?
Remender: Oh, sure. Would it be better if the book shipped on time? Yes. But at the same time, does it mean that we have to get a fill-in artist, or does it mean that we have to start cracking the whip and making John and Laura rush through the pages? In my mind, by the time issue #4 comes out, it'll be worth the time and energy to have something that's a really solid, great, 80-page opener. Then you've got Coipel working on issue #5 to do the endcap to that story, and at the same time I've got Daniel Acuña working right now — he's already done with an issue and a half, and he's moving forward into "Ragnarok Now" story.
The realities are, you're either going to have something that becomes subpar in terms of quality because it was rushed, or you're going to have something that's a little bit later. We're all just trying to make sure that this thing opens up with the very best foot forward. I think issue #3 is probably the best thing I've ever been associated with. I couldn't be more proud of it. I just got done reading a proof of it last night, and Cassaday texted me, "Man, it gave me chills," and I was like, "I know, I feel like we really nailed this one!" Very seldomly do you self-congratulate each other, but boy, I definitely [do feel proud].
In a perfect world, it would ship a little bit sooner, but I think once we're through the first five issues and people see what we're doing, and get an idea for how the team comes together and exactly what they're up against — then that's right in time for the entire world to crumble around them for "Ragnarok Now." This team does not get a second to catch their breath. Because Acuña's already working on that, we'll have a nice solid monthly schedule at that point, and hopefully be able to keep Acuña on forever.
Nrama: Right, it's not like Acuña is a consolation prize. It's another quality artist joining the book.
Remender: For sure. I think we're really lucky that he's able to start this project so soon, so we can get a lot of issues in the can. Marvel is committed to keeping the book monthly, so that we can try and keep a very consistent style. John Cassaday's going to still do covers, so it'll have his same iconic stamp on the front. Our interiors will be Acuña moving forward, and knowing what we have planned, and having seen Acuna's pages, I think people will be damn excited.
Nrama: Maybe the delays seem worse since so a few of the Marvel NOW! books, like and , are shipping so frequently?
Remender: There's a lot of ramped-up shipping on some books. Captain America and Uncanny Avengers are monthly, they're just normal, monthly comic books. In terms of Cap, that means that we get to keep John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson and Dean White on the book, with Lee Loughridge coming in and helping Dean on colors. We get to keep that team on for, hopefully, 10-plus issues, and I think that in a year's time, that consistency will really help solidify that book, and make it something special.
I'm glad that both of them are monthly. I've done enough of the double-shipping over the last two years. It's nice to be able to take a step back and take a breath. Uncanny Avengers #3, I've literally spent three, four days polishing the dialogue on it. Moving forward, I'll be able to give it more and more time, which obviously isn't very cost-effective, but in the end, I just want to make sure that the books are to the highest standard that I'm capable of producing.
Nrama: Speaking of Captain America we're a couple issues in now, and it seems that you've set up a very fertile environment to create something totally unfamiliar.
Remender: I'm excited about it. At the same time we, get to mix and with the classic '70s Jack Kirby insanity. It's a strange mixture, and it's not one that I've seen before, but I'm well into this story, and very proud of it. I know that once people see the end of issue #3, the crazy bells are going to go off, because that's where the real insanity starts. Then the end of #5 ramps that up a bit further.
Nrama: How much do you think your Captain America says about Marvel's willingness to do something different with their characters? Obviously it's not the content you would stereotypically expect from the first two issues of a Cap relaunch.
Remender: There were a couple of directions that I proposed, and they were all pretty crazy. I had to sit down and think about what I wanted to do with the character, and for me, I wanted to learn about Steve Rogers. I wanted to really learn about him, and what makes him tick, beyond, "I'm perfect, and do the right thing!" I wanted to know why. How did he earn that perseverance, and how did he earn that nobility? What did he come from? It was always just this thing in my head that I couldn't see. I just saw him fighting in World War II, and that was when he had it already.
The back-story started to tell itself as Tom Breevort and I beat it up. Steve’s tenacity and heart really started to fall in line as I was building him in the Dimension Z part as I sort of felt like I knew him a bit better. So it seemed like it wasn't just a great adventure, it wasn't just something that could serve the purpose of fun and fighting and danger, but could unearth what Steve's made of, and really get an idea of who this guy is.
I wanted to make sure that I kept the voice that the character has, while also exposing new parts of who he is — but at the same time, I had to move it into a direction that was to my suiting, and that fit my sensibilities. Everybody was cool with it, so I think as the story progresses, and people see more of what we're building to and what we're doing with this, it'll get more and more exciting.
Nrama: And you've got one more issue of Secret Avengers to be released, right?
Remender: Yeah. All of the big crazy stuff with the Descendants is coming to a head, and Matteo Scalera and Matt Wilson are producing some of the most stunning pages I've been associated with., not to mention Art Adams covers. Man, what a treat.
People think that things that aren't with the Marvel NOW! stamp don't matter, but the events of Secret Avengers, and what I'm doing with the Descendants, and all of the robots — I definitely have plans building off of this down the road. It's not a case of things that don't have the Marvel NOW! stamp not mattering, it's just overlap.
Nrama: That must be weird timing — ending two of your longer runs at the same time you're introducing two new series.
Remender: The last six months have been basically doing nothing but work. Just locked in, and really trying to give it my very best, because Marvel has put a lot of faith in me with these projects. I wanted to make sure that I surpassed expectation, and kicked as much ass as I'm capable of. That meant a lot of long hours over the last six or seven months.More from Newsarama:
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