It’s not uncommon these days for multiple teams and titles to carry similar names – from the Avengers to Justice League and the X-Men – but as far as X-Force is concerned, there can be only one.
After running independently for the past year, Marvel’s twin titles Cable & X-Force and Uncanny X-Force are barreling towards a showdown in January in a crossover whose name sums it all up: “Vendetta.” We’ve got hero versus hero as the newly reunited Cable and Hoe find out Bishop is alive and in the present day as a member of Psylocke’s X-Force, but also hero vs. villain as Cable’s dark clone Stryfe has emerged from his time adrift in the timestream to claim revenge on Cable who put him there in the earlier X-Force storyline “Messiah War.” Earlier this month we learned that in the aftermath of “Vendetta” only one X-Force will remain standing, but the question still remains who, how, what happens and who doesn’t make it in the end.
“Vendetta” will take place in January, starting with Cable & X-Force #18 then Uncanny X-Force #16 followed by two more issues of each leading to their finale. And as we count down the days to this double series finale, Newsarama talked with series writers Sam Humphries and Dennis Hopeless to find how out how it all goes down.
Newsarama: Guys, this is like an old school boxing match – so give us the story of each of your team as they come into the “Vendetta” crossover.
Sam Humphries: The Uncanny X-Force team are licking their wounds after the Revenant War with Cassandra Nova, and split in two by a revelation from that story that hits Bishop and Storm the hardest.
Dennis Hopeless: Cable’s X-Force are doing great. They have their cool new underground headquarters up and running, from which they’ve just completed a few missions. Cable has finally accepted Hope as a member of the team and they’re getting along great. Colossus and Domino are a full-fledged item and managing to juggle their work and sexy business. Forge and Nemesis are… Forge and Nemesis. And Boomer is blowing stuff up right and left. This crossover represents the worst thing that could possibly happen to Cable’s X-Force now that things are finally going smoothly.
Nrama: Finally going smoothly, until this “Vendetta” crossover happens. With these two team sharing the same name and featuring some characters that have hunted each other down at one time or another, a showdown was always on the horizon – so what is the catalyst that puts it all into motion?
Humphries: Hope learning that Bishop is alive, and in the present. This is the man who turned her childhood into a war zone. It fills her full of fear...but also bloodlust. If Hope has two fathers, Cable and Bishop, this story will show which father she takes after most.
Hopeless: Yeah, I’d say white-hot rage is the catalyst. First Hope’s when she realizes her own personal boogey man is hanging out in Los Angeles. Then Cable’s when he realizes what Uncanny X-Force allowed to go down by not warning him Bishop was back.
Nrama: Cable, Hope and Bishop have enough venom for one another to be story enough, but you also have Stryfe coming into this. What's Stryfe playing at here?
Hopeless: In case we hadn’t made it perfectly clear, we’ll be dealing with a lot of bad blood in this story. Stryfe versus Cable is just one example.
This is basically Stryfe seeing Cable at his weakest and taking the opportunity to attack. Cable’s power set has changed. He’s no longer the Omega Level telekinetic and telepath he once was and that Stryfe still is. And now that Cable has a daughter for whom he would gladly die, Stryfe can manipulate Cable into all sorts of trouble.
Nrama: Guys, your two books were launched simultaneously, and both shared the team name "X-Force" in their titles – it happen all the time with the X-Men and the Avengers, but for X-Force it seems novel. Can you talk about working on separate books with similar names, then it all falling into place that your two books would now crossover?
Humphries: I dunno, our books were pretty different from the get go, so we were able to just do our own thing and root for each other from the sidelines. It was more difficult to get the teams "in the same room" (metaphorically speaking) for the crossover since they walked such different paths. Fortunately, one team has a member that ruthlessly hunted two members of the other team across a thousand years, so that was our in.
Hopeless: Yeah, the big trick has been finding a story that makes sense for these two very different teams. We were lucky to have the Hope/Cable/Bishop connection. It really helped us find a middle ground without contriving some earth-shattering foe that only these two teams can defeat. I love that our conflict is so personal and character driven.
Nrama: How closely together are you two working to make this crossover mesh?
Humphries: Not at all. I send Dennis' calls to voicemail, ignore his texts, mark his emails as spam, and block him on IM.
Humphries: Just kidding. We talked it over a lot and came up with an outline together. Each part follows the other, so yeah, we have to work very close.
Hopeless: Yeah, it was a close collaboration from the start. We wanted to find just the right story and bounced ideas back and forth for quite a while to get there. I think we drove our editor Daniel Ketchum nuts with all the brainstorming and scrapping half-finished ideas to start over from scratch. But we ended up with a story we can both sink teeth into so it was definitely worth all the phone calls and outline drafts.
Nrama: It all starts in December, so before I let you guys get back to it, answer me this: what's your favorite member of each other's team that you looked forward to writing, and why?
Humphries: Forge! I love him from his earliest appearances in the 80s. A brilliant guy with spotty karma and a bunch of hot stuff technology. Dennis has been able to boil him down to a clean character again.
Hopeless: Probably Puck. That wouldn’t have been my guess going in but he’s been surprisingly fun to write. I love his bluster and total shamelessness. Puck and Boom are particularly great together. I could write an ongoing all about Tabby busting Puck’s balls.