As always, Wolverine remains a popular character, and in the Marvel NOW! era, he's getting not one, but (at least) two ongoing series: The January-debuting Savage Wolverine written and illustrated by Frank Cho, plus Wolverine from writer Paul Cornell and artist Alan Davis, starting in March.
While the former is a team-up with Shanna in the Savage Land, the latter series is more in line with traditional Wolverine solo books, showing readers Logan — or James, as Cornell prefers — on his own adventures, away from the Avengers and X-Men. Cornell's also interested adding new layers to the character's world — new supporting characters and new villains — and exploring the idea of Wolverine as a protector rather than hunter, calling him "the superhero I'd most trust with my child."
Wolverine marks Cornell's return to Marvel — where he wrote Captain Britain and MI:13 from 2008 to 2009 — after spending the past couple of years at DC, on titles like Action Comics and Demon Knights. Newsarama talked with Cornell about collaborating with someone as revered as Davis, how his title character qualifies as the "ultimate adult," and the enormous respect the writer has for the work of Chris Claremont, one of the most influential figures in Wolverine history.
Newsarama: Paul, though Wolverine hasn't been around quite as long as some other iconic superheroes, he certainly has made up for lost time by being in a whole lot of comic books each week. Embarking on a new series like this, what kind of challenge is it to find something new to say about the character?
Paul Cornell: That's the joy of it, really, to find some new angles that remain true to people's view of the character. It's trying to be the writer that evolves the material, like someone always has to evolve James Bond. I think a lot of things that people take for granted about James now are only there because people take them for granted.
Nrama: With Wolverine, it seems that some writers tends to embrace a bit more of the animalistic, dangerous elements, and some focus more on his more paternal, down-to-Earth side. It sounds like you're more interested in the latter. What's fascinating to you about those aspects of the character?Cornell: A bit of both, really. I think he's the ultimate adult, someone who's gained an impossible amount of experience, and has finally allowed himself to mature because of it. He's the superhero I'd most trust with my child. Which is not to say that there aren't going to be occasions where he finds himself forced to rip things apart.
Nrama: Structurally, your Wolverine series sounds somewhat along the same lines as what Matt Fraction and David Aja are doing in Hawkeye — that book is about what Hawkeye does when he's not with the Avengers, and this appears to be about what Wolverine does when he's not with the X-Men (Avengers, too). Is that an accurate assessment? And in turn, will stories perhaps tend to be a little more grounded than the type of thing that Wolverine usually deals with?
Cornell: It starts off as a very grounded NYC based series, and then... grows. And I like to think of The Avengers as what James does when he's not in his own series. This is the central point for him. His own title is where big stuff should happen to him. That that hasn't always happened is just an accident of history, because he got his own title late. "The Death of Captain America" didn't happen in The Avengers.
Nrama: On that note, you've established that you're building up Wolverine's non-costumed, non-superhero supporting cast. Given how far out the Marvel Universe can be by its very nature, how important is it to you to incorporate an element of "real" people?
Cornell: Hugely. That's one of the many things Chris Claremont got right. How can you tell just how extraordinary these people are if they're not backgrounded by the normal? That's what the Marvel Universe is about.Nrama: Given that Wolverine has been in so many groups, especially as of late — multiple X-Men teams, multiple Avengers teams, X-Force and working as the head of a school — what are you looking forward to exploring about the character in a solo setting that can't be accomplished in a team book?
Cornell: His individual relationships, big stuff in his own life, developments concerning who he is and how he deals with people. This title is going to be more Wolverine than any other, a Wolverine fiesta, utter Wolverine. That'd be a good title, actually: "Utter Wolverine." It would be one of the launch titles in the Utter Universe.
Nrama: You've mentioned in past interviews how important Chris Claremont's X-Men run was to you. Which stories from that era are still particularly meaningful to you, years later?
Cornell: The Hellfire Club/Phoenix run with Byrne, the really early stuff with Cockrum (the emotion on display in that, just huge panels of people's expressions!), everything with Paul Smith, the Scottish tour, the Brood stuff in space (that got me through school).
He's vastly underrated, perhaps the second most important writer in superhero comics after Stan Lee. His attitude towards diversity broke ground, which has since been lost again. He is now sometimes mocked by people who aren't fit to shine his shoes. There ought to be a statue.This year's
illustrated by Davis.Nrama: Naturally, you must be excited about working with Alan Davis. Not sure how far into the series you are at this point, but how has the collaboration gone so far?
Cornell: It's brilliant. He's full of new energy, with a style that looks subtly different to me. I'm loving the storytelling, the way I can depend on him for both action and acting. He gives us a foot in the classic look, but it's also brand new too. I couldn't be happier.
Nrama: And you've stated that there's a new villain in your first arc —are you actively avoiding, at least in the early going, some of Wolverine's famous, long-standing rivalries like Sabretooth and Mystique?
Cornell: Yes, I feel they're a bit played out for now. I'm introducing a lot of new stuff, and the connections will slowly become clear.
Nrama: One last question — it's noticeable that in interviews, including this one, you've been referring to Wolverine almost exclusively as the much less frequent "James," instead of Wolverine or Logan. Should readers interpret any sort of significance to this, or is it simply a personal preference?
Cornell: I like to use real names for characters. Imagine this conversation: "So, what's your name?" "Logan." "And your first name?" "I prefer not to use it." "But if you did?" "It's James."
And that's that. The fact that he doesn't go by his original name is meaningful, and we'll get into that. And for those people who think that "but if you did?" should be followed by "snikt," oh grow up, this is a man whose code says he meets fists with fists. I think he's quite thick-skinned, don't you?More from Newsarama:
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