CBR News: “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #6 opens with a proclamation from the new Apocalypse about how his forces occupy Manhattan, which has me wondering two things. How much story time passes between Issues #5 and 6, and how does the general public view mutants in the aftermath of Apocalypse and the X-Men seizing Manhattan?
Rick Remender: I don’t want to put a specific time stamp on it, but I had imagined a bit over a week passes between these two issues. Apocalypse’s warning about expelling armies is meant to suggest that.
In the bit of time that passes between these issues, Manhattan has been evacuated of all humans. The mutants have done something huge and I think one of the top concerns of someone who is reading this is, “This will just be unwound!” It won’t though. There will be ramifications, and there are things seeded here that will then bleed over to the X-Universe as well as the A-Universe that leads to some pretty cool stuff coming up.
It doesn’t seem like the general population of Manhattan would be willing to forget or forgive the fact that a mutant army seized and occupied their city.
It doesn’t make things great! [Laughs] When we get to the end of Issue #9 and all the rifles on the various mantle places have been fired, we’ll have a better idea of what sort of bad things are coming for the poor mutants.
At the beginning of the issue, Mystique confronts the X-Men about their seizing of Manhattan and is challenged by her biological child Nightcrawler and her foster child Rogue. What’s it like for an inverted Mystique to face off with her family?
The great thing about the inversion is every single one of these characters’ traits has been flipped upside down. All of the rationalizations, ugly emotions, and other elements that make Raven [Darkholme, Mystique’s secret identity] who she is are now upside down. So what she’s currently feeling is remorse, sadness, love and a desire to help the X-Men hopefully turn away from this path that they’re on before it’s too late. And she does! They go get cheeseburgers have a nice conversation and everybody is done being angry — or not. [Laughs] There is a big fight.
Mystique is saved Sabretooth, and we know you’ll continue to chronicle his adventures in a new volume of “Uncanny Avengers.” What makes Victor Creed such an interesting character to you? Which aspects of his personality are you especially interested in exploring?
There’s still a good bit of mystery about his background. There was a point in time when Wolverine had a lot of mystery. I think that was part of the character’s appeal. I think it’s one of the things that works for a character like Fantomex, as well. There’s something fun about the mystery and unravelling little bits and pieces here and there.
What we do know about Creed’s background is that he’s someone who’s been an unrepentant serial killer and mercenary. He wasn’t necessarily a puppet like Logan was, and he wasn’t necessarily somebody who was constantly abused and misused. A lot of this was that he was a bad person who does bad things, like eviscerating people for money and killing people for pleasure.
What we end up seeing is a character who has a lot of mystery in his background. He’s not as well known as Logan, obviously, and he’s got much more blood on his hands. It’s blood that he, in many cases, chose to spill for vindictive and rotten purposes. Now, you’ve got that same person inverted and looking down the barrel at all these years of crime and horror and all the terrible things that he’s done.
I don’t want to give too much away. He’s got a couple big moments coming up in “AXIS.” He’s an interesting character and becomes sort of a point of view character in “AXIS” #9 because of the sort of painful recollections of the past. Now that he’s somebody whose conscience has a Jiminy Cricket instead of a devil, he’s aware of what he’s done. He’s aware of the evil. He has to feel it, process it, and come to terms with it. What that does to him, how it affects him, and how the end of “AXIS” affects the Marvel Universe will be revealed as we get into the end of “AXIS” and the beginning of the new volume of “Uncanny Avengers.”
This issue also involved two other mutants you’ll be writing in “Uncanny Avengers” — Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver. When we catch up with Quicksilver in this issue, he’s already working with his father, Magneto. What’s your sense of the dynamic between these two? What does Quicksilver make of his father’s inversion?
I think Pietro would have come to help Wanda even if it had been a devious, mustache-twirling Magneto as opposed to this repentant and almost kind version that we’re seeing in “AXIS.” Magneto went to get Quicksilver for a reason, in hope of being able to talk Wanda down from her revenge bid against Doom. That’s because he’s the only person in the world who she had a real pure family connection with anymore that isn’t tainted by divorce, magically disappeared children, or any of the other things she’s gone through
Is the inverted Scarlet Witch solely motivated by her vendetta against Doom? Or are there other things she’s after as well?
Right now, this is a Wanda where all her ability to forgive has been inverted into a desire for revenge. All of her ability to love has been turned into hate. It turns out, getting Quicksilver is probably not going to work out super well.
She’s out for one thing. She’s been on this road since M-Day, which has been one kick in the ass after another. She’s weathered it, and she’s done everything she could to redeem herself and work and press forward without compromising what she believes in. She wants redeem who she is as a person. All of that was turned upside down, and all the rage that was in her that she, as a hero and a quality human being, was able to clamp down and turn into forgiveness, has bubbled up into a cauldron of “kill Doctor Doom for what he did to me,” which was quite a bit.
If you follow her story from M-Day to “Children’s Crusade,” she’s got a pretty good reason to want to kill him. So she’s set to not just do that, but to torture him pretty good as well. That means trouble for Latveria in terms of her overall motives.
The Scarlet Witch is coming at an inverted Doom, who, in the past, his biggest Achilles’ Heel has been his vanity. It seems like the inversion has eliminated both his ego and his selfishness. Does that mean Doom is mentally stronger than he has been?
He still has all the same technology and occult abilities, but what he’s become is a person similar to Victor Creed. He’s repentant and can now see what he’s been doing is entirely ego driven, and not in a beneficial way to anybody other than himself.
That leads Doom to a bit of a crossroads where, as we saw in the issue, he declares democracy in Latveria and he shows its people his face. That was my big Doom moment. It’s just a couple panels, but if you know the history of the character, I think it carries a lot of weight.
While the Scarlet Witch’s rivalry with Doom was exploding in “AXIS” #6, another conflict was beginning as Daredevil confronted the inverted Tony Stark about offering his Extremis app to the people of San Francisco. It was a heated conversation that came to an end when Tony threw Matt Murdock off the roof of his building. What did Tony start by doing that? How stubborn are these guys?
They both have points of view here, and one is obviously evil. As we were developing this, it sort of snowballed. The idea of Tony selling Extremis was then taken by [“Superior Iron Man” writer] Tom Taylor and further developed where it became one of these premium things. Once Extremis makes you beautiful and perfect, you then have to start paying your daily hundred dollar upgrade.
It seemed like something that a modern day pirate and somebody who had the technological savvy of Tony Stark and was rotten would do. Then, obviously, Daredevil is in San Francisco now, so that puts him front and center to be the hero to deal with the crime wave that is ensuing as people try and get the money together to remain beautiful using this Extremis app.
It was a really fun bit. Once it was devised and planned out, it was something that I was happy to set up and let Tom run with in the pages of “Superior Iron Man.” We bounced a lot of stuff back and forth, and I think what he’s got coming up is a lot of fun.
So the Daredevil Vs. Iron Man conflict will primarily be handled by Tom in his book?
I set up the concept and the headbutting of those two, and then things jump over to “Superior Iron Man.” It will unfold there.
One of my favorite sequences was the one in Latveria, with Doom and the Scarlet Witch. What went into bringing those scenes to life? What did Terry and Rachel Dodson add to those sequences?
It’s all about staging. The hard thing to explain to people who don’t make comics is how important the artist’s execution and storytelling ability are. They make a huge difference. The same page of script can come out as an F or an A depending on the storytelling ability of the artist; their knowledge of when to pull the camera back and where to put the camera, of body language, and facial expressions.
There are artists where I overwrite to try and compensate for storytelling that isn’t there in the art and I feel like I have to add it in text. Then there are guys where I don’t. With Terry, I got to go through and cut out a lot of my dialogue because it just wasn’t necessary.
You’ve got this really terrific scene with Doom, and he stages it so wonderfully. It starts off with classic Doom at a podium. Lights are shining on him and crowds are gathered. There is the three quarter angling behind him as he takes the mask off and you see the faces of the audience responding. Then cut to a horizontal close up as he puts his mask on.
That, on top of really perfect storytelling and smooth and wonderful illustration, means Terry is the best. He’s a real joy to work with. His wife Rachel is a fantastic inker, and we had a great color team in Edgar Delgado and Jesus Aburtov. The whole thing really snapped together.
This issue is where we’re starting to see the build of the inversions and we set the stage for settling up all the things that are to come. We’re getting all the trains out of the station for the huge climax that’s on the horizon as all of these trains come colliding into one another in Issue #9.
What can you offer up about “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #7 and the third act of the story, “New World Disorder,” which kicks off with that issue? How does Act Three compare to Act Two?
Act Three is all climax. It’s all payout. In the first act, we set up the ending of my “Uncanny Avengers” storyline and set up the inversions. In the second act, we set up the various plot threads of the inversions and the various conflicts. Then, in these last three issues, it’s all of those things coming to a head. By the time we get to Issue #9, I’ll have closed out all of the threads that I started in “Uncanny Avengers.” I’ll have closed out a number of other threads that were started here. I’ll have changed a good number of characters that then pop into other books in various strange ways.
The majority of it is by artist Jimmy Cheung. Then we’ve got Terry back. Adam [Kubert] and Leinil [Yu] do a couple pages in Issue #9, which I believe is 36 pages. That will resolve a lot of the things I couldn’t talk about in the questions you asked tonight as well as setting up a lot of new status quo stuff that will lead off into some other books in other ways that are really exciting. Hopefully, people will dig it.
So in this third act you’ve got three rival super teams: the Axis of Evil Avengers, the Apocalypse lead inverted X-Men, and Steve Rogers’ team of non-inverted heroes and inverted villains colliding with each other as well as the mystery of what happened to the Red Skull.
Yes — all of those things are happening, and we’ve got really huge revelations for Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Magneto. We’ve got a really huge situation with Loki and Thor. We’ve got a big change of status quo for Havok and Wasp in terms of their relationship. Evan/Apocalypse and Deadpool will have a reunion that I think ends in a fairly interesting way and leads into some great stuff. I think by the time we get to “AXIS” #9, it’s one huge climactic reveal after the next until we get to the end of the issue.
“AXIS” #7 is on sale Dec. 3 from Marvel Comics.