Prepare for Hellfire from Aaron's WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN

Wolverine and the

X-Men #26 cover.

Wolverine and the X-Men is no longer the new kid on the X-book block. Having debuted in fall 2011, it's actually a grizzled veteran compared to series like All-New X-Men, the recently relaunched Uncanny X-Men and the May-debuting new volume of adjectiveless X-Men.

Yet series writer Jason Aaron sounds as excited about the wild and wacky world of WatX as ever, describing the current phase of the book as "season two." In the currently unfolding arc, Wolverine has brought a class of new and troublesome students to the Savage Land for "Survival 101," only to run across Dog Logan from Origin, transported to the present and looking to one-up his brother.

Summer doesn't look like much of a break for the Jean Grey School kids, with an arc titled "Hellfire Saga" slated to start (May's issue #30 is listed as a prelude). If you know you're X-Men history, you know the word "Saga" is rarely a good sign for those involved (see: "The Dark Phoenix Saga," "The Dark Angel Saga"). Also coming up this year is the 50th anniversary of the X-Men, something that Marvel surely will not let pass without the appropriate commemoration.

Newsarama talked with Aaron about all the latest in Wolverine and the X-Men, including how the burgeoning romance between Kitty Pryde and Iceman functions as a microcosm of what he's trying to accomplish with the book. Courtesy of Marvel, we're also debuting new interior pages from upcoming issues, by Ramón Pérez and Nick Bradshaw.

 

Newsarama: Jason, let's talk about the latest in Wolverine and the X-Men, which now, somewhat improbably, is now one of the longest running books at Marvel

Jason Aaron: [Laughs.] It helps when you do like 20 issues a year.

Nrama: How you view the current phase of the book? On one hand a lot has changed — characters have moved around, some have left, new ones like Storm have been added. Big things in general have happened in the X-Men world as a result of Avengers vs. X-Men and the Original Five coming to the present in All-New X-Men. Still, Wolverine and the X-Men has retained a consistent quality through it all. Do you still see the book as filling the same role? Are you still approaching it the same way?

 

Aaron: I kind of looked at the stuff starting right after AvX as the second season. Certainly things had been changed — shuffling of the cast, Kid Gladiator went away, Broo went into a coma, new characters started to show up. Some things changed, but to me it's still a continuation of the same book that started back in issue #1. A lot of the same threads have been continuing, a lot of the same character arcs are continuing on, we still have the same villains. To me, it's still the same book. Right now, we're really in the heart of season two, so the stuff I'm writing down the road sees the culmination of a lot of those threads. Things start to come to a head with the villains. Some of those character arcs start to reach whatever sort of conclusion they're going to come to. We're getting to the real meat of stuff, some stuff that we've been building to for quite a while.

Nrama: Speaking of villains, the Hellfire Club has been in the background — and in the foreground sometimes, as well — for the whole run. Then in the May solicitations for Wolverine and the X-Men #30, it mentions that "The Hellfire Saga" is on the horizon.

 

Aaron: Right. I don't want to say too much about that, but it's a big arc. It's something that's been in the works for quite a long time, and brings to a head not just the X-Men versus the Hellfire Club — certainly it brings that to a head in a big way — but some of our character arcs tie into that also. The stuff that's been going on with Idie, with Quentin Quire, with Broo, with Kid Genesis, kind of our main cast of characters. All of that's going to explode together in a huge way over the course of that arc.

Nrama: So that should be this summer?

Aaron: Yep. I'm already halfway through writing it, Nick Bradshaw's drawing that arc, so he's knee deep into that. We're moving right ahead. When you do 20 issues a year, I'm usually way ahead on stuff. I'm usually right ahead of the artist, because we've got multiple guys working. We're churning right along.

 

Nrama: In the current arc, illustrated by Ramón Pérez, the antagonist is Dog Logan, and you're really the only writer to use the character since he was originally introduced in Origin. What appeals to you about the character? What motivated you to shine a spotlight on him?

Aaron: He certainly fits into the theme of the book. For me, the theme is family. It's about kids growing up; our adult X-Men coming of age as teachers. It's about school. It's about screwed-up family relationships — there are a lot of those among the characters in the book.

So yeah, I like the idea of throwing Wolverine's screwed-up brother into the mix. Not as a cackling archvillain — if you read Origin, that's not what that character is about. I think he comes out of that as a really tragic figure. We see him growing up and he's sort of this big scary guy who comes after Wolverine, but he's a deeply flawed, broken kid, who was the victim of abuse from his drunken father for most of his life. He's got this very screwed-up relationship and view of his brother, because James got to grow up in the big fancy house on the hill with this very pampered lifestyle, while Dog is living in the bottom of the hill — he's literally named Dog, he gets treated like a dog — and then lo and behold, he finds out they're really brothers. He uses the name Logan, but he never really had to learn what that name means. He had the pampered life on the top of the hill, while Dog was on the bottom of the hill, getting the sh*t beaten out of him. Dog realizes, “My brother doesn't know what it means to be a Logan. Someday I'll have to teach him.”

Interior art from  

Wolverine and

the X-Men #31.

He also resents his brother for stealing all of these things that should have been his, he feels. There's a lot of resentment, and a lot of screwed-up feelings there. And he's not just showing up, shaking his fast in the air saying, “I want to kill my brother!” He wants to show that he's a better man than his brother. He endured things his brother didn't have to endure as a child, and he feels like he's better than his brother in every way. So he shows up wanting to prove that, and what better way to do that than to show he's a better teacher for these kids than Wolverine is? Which again, plays with this whole weird father-and-son dynamic that's at the heart of this whole screwed-up Logan family.

Nrama: There seems to be a natural potential that, and it's surprising that no one else has gotten to this character since Origin. You first started teasing the use of Dog Logan back in Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, so clearly it's been a character you've been interested in for a while.

Aaron: Nick Lowe was my editor back on Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, where I set up the idea of bringing Dog to the present, so I was always planning on doing something with him. This was back before Wolverine and the X-Men was even an idea. That story has changed over time, but Nick is now of course my editor on Wolverine and the X-Men, so it all just kind of came together naturally, and the story I was going to do before easily morphed into what I'm doing now, and I think became a stronger story in that its tied-in with these kids I've been building at the school for so long.

 

This arc is really about two things: It's about Wolverine and his brother, and it's about these kids. I wanted to do an arc that kind of stripped away a lot of our cast, because we've got a huge cast in Wolverine and the X-Men. We haven't really seen Wolverine become hands-on and teach a class. What does that mean, when Wolverine decides to teach a class? I thought that idea was interesting — this guy whose formative years, much of them were spent living in the wilderness with wild animals. How does he impart his knowledge to a group of kids? Of course he brings them to the Savage Land and dumps them on their own, and tells them, “You have to learn to survive and work together.” I liked that idea, and I also wanted to focus in on the kids. Three of these characters are new, that we've seen little of so far, so I wanted us to learn a little more about them, and also continue the threads that have been building with our other main kids, like Quentin, and Idie, and Genesis and Broo.

Nrama: And now Quentin is class president.

Aaron: Exactly. Which he did not want. The last thing in the world he wanted. On Twitter he's been campaigning for months to get people not to vote for him. That obviously didn't work.

Wolverine and

the X-Men #28

cover.

Nrama: Wanted to talk a bit about issue #24 — the date night issue. Kitty seemed to want to leave things as they were, so does that mean that the door is closed for her and Iceman at this point?

Aaron: That wasn't the idea at all. Certainly Kitty raises the possibility there at the end — “Hey, this date went really well, maybe we should just leave it at this. Let's be honest, we know it's never going to get better than this.” But I think Iceman kind of argues against that idea, and the last we see, they're making out. I would not assume that's the end of their relationship, not at all. That relationship, to me, symbolizes a lot of what I'm trying to do with this book. It's about getting away from the relationships and the structure of the past. This is not the old Xavier's School. This is not the same group of X-Men. They're trying to do something different, they're trying to do something they're maybe not quite comfortable or prepared for. They're having to step up in a huge way. So seeing Iceman and Kitty get together, two characters we've never saw any sort of romantic feelings for at all in the past, I really like that idea.

Of course, then you get the happy accident of Kitty now having to teach the 16-year-old version of her boyfriend, which I know Brian is having a lot of fun with over in All-New X-Men.

Wolverine and the

X-Men #30 cover.

Nrama: And that's also yielded the rather intriguing potential couple of Quentin and young Jean Grey.

Aaron: I knew as soon as Jean Grey was coming to the school, that Quentin was going to have to try to sleep with her. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the two of them together.

Nrama: And on the subject of All-New X-Men — should fans expect to see the different books working together a bit more closely soon? The 50th anniversary is coming up and all.

Aaron: That is true, there is the 50th anniversary coming up this year. I think it's safe to assume we've been talking about that for a while. We did just have a mini-X-retreat in New York right before the big main retreat. I think it's safe to assume there will be something big and special in time to celebrate the X-Men's anniversary. 

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