C2E2: Aaron Says 'To Hell with WOLVERINE' in New Ongoing

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Although relatively short in stature compared to his mutant counterparts, Wolverine stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of popularity. As the Marvel Universe barrels into the new era of “The Heroic Age”, Marvel’s favorite mutant returns to square one with a relaunch of his core title Wolverine.

In this new series scheduled to debut in September, longtime Wolverine writer Jason Aaron and an un-named “top secret” artist are putting the Canadian character someplace he’s never been before: hell. This long-lived hero has done his fair share of killing over the years, so when Wolverine goes to hell you can expect a big greeting party for the man. And meanwhile, someone or something is taking his body for a joyride here on the side of the living – running through the lives of the friends and family he holds dearest.

With this announcement, the simply titled Wolverine series returns to comic book shelves after a year on hiatus when the title evolved to cover his son’s adventures as Dark Wolverine. With news of Daken getting his own title and a new #1, it’s a chance for Marvel to relaunch the Wolverine series with a #1 in this new Heroic era. And coming in to steer the ship is Jason Aaron, who’s previous series Wolverine: Weapon X will transition into this new series. In addition to this title, Aaron will also be writing Wolverine in the recently announced Astonishing Wolverine & Spider-Man series. We talked with Aaron about Logan and his trip down below.

Newsarama: You’ve done numerous Wolverine stories over the years Jason, and I can see why Marvel would want to bring you over to re-launch the Wolverine series. Can you explain for us about Logan’s trip to hell we’ve read about?

Jason Aaron: The title of the first issue is “Wolverine Goes To Hell”, and that’s literal. Wolverine’s soul is trapped in hell and being tortured by Satan and his demons. Logan’s already into this predicament thanks to a mysterious group that we’ll slowly reveal. Meanwhile though, his body is still running around Earth – possessed by a demon or possibly even demons plural. As the story starts, And this group not only sent Logan to hell, but are also coming after the people close to him. One of the first strikes will be after his brand new girlfriend, and she gets help from an unlikely source --- an old favorite for readers who will be a significant part of this story arc.

This is, by far, the biggest Wolverine story I’ve ever done. I’ve spent over a year and a half in Wolverine: Weapon X establish new characters in Logan’s world, both friendly with his new girlfriend as well as new foes. And now with this new Wolverine series, I’ll get to take it up a notch. The various stuff I’ve set up in that series all plays into this new book – and I’ve definitely got a much bigger playground to deal with now. I’ll still be introducing new villains for Logan, but I’ll also be bringing back old favorites as well.

If you’ve liked the Wolverine stuff I’ve done before like the first big arc in Wolverine with “Get Mystique” or later ones like the Kung Fu story or Manifest Destiny, you’ll dig this.

Nrama: Wolverine’s pissed off quite a few people in his years, but you’re being particularly devious in revealing who put him in this particular hell hole. Can you tell us anything about them?

Aaron: I’m going to keep the identity of his villains a mystery right now – and even as the story progressive, they’ll be mysterious. As the story unfolds you won’t know who they are exactly or why they’re after him, but they obviously want to hurt him in a bad way.

Nrama: I’ll let you slide then, Jason. But what I can ask about is the particularly dark nature of this story – Logan in hell and all. This all comes at a time when Marvel is entering “The Heroic Age”, which some people presume is a more light and bright kind of storytelling. Set them, and me straight: how does Wolverine fit into the Heroic Age?

Aaron: That’s really how this story starts. Logan going to hell doesn’t sound like a “Heroic Age” blue-sky kind of story, but in the opening scene I really set that up. It goes back to some of what I’ve touched upon on Wolverine: Weapon X #11, with the conversation between Logan and Steve Rogers. In that, Logan talked about how he’s been affected by everything coming back: Steve coming back from the dead, the X-men finding a home, and the end of Norman Osborn’s reign. And with the last issue of Wolverine: Weapon X, we see how it affects Logan’s faith – or lack there-of.

For a long time, Wolverine has been portrayed as an atheist – or at the very least an agnostic – but I’ve been toying with that idea here and there. His sense of faith has been growing little by little. With the beginning of the Heroic Age, he has a real reason to have hope. When a man like Logan finds faith, there are bound to be trials and tribulations attached to it though.

Nrama: You’re definitely pushing some boundaries, Jason. With him going to Hell, are we going to see one of the various stand-ins for Satan like Mephisto, or are we seeing the real deal?

Aaron: This is definitely Satan’s hell; the same Satan I wrote in the pages of Ghost Rider. I think of Mephisto as a more Spider-man character these days, and Satan has less baggage. [laughs]

One of the things I’m excited about is making hell a real place, as opposed to it being portrayed as some sort of smokey cave with fire and demons running about. We have really tried to create a believable vision of hell with real geography for Logan to be trapped in.

Nrama: Your editor Jeanine told me of something else new you’re bringing to the book – what’s she hinting at?

Aaron: There will also be back-up stories for each of the five issues that comprise the first story arc. They’ll end up being about six pages or so, giving you twenty-eight pages of story between the main story and it. These backups will allow us to show some of the other people from Logan’s life that are being attacked by this un-named group, so expect to see more old faces from Wolverine’s immense past – even though they may not survive the experience.

Nrama: With this book we see the return to comic shelves of a Wolverine book simply named Wolverine. But you’ve been writing his defacto core title in recent months with Wolverine: Weapon X, which is dovetailing into this. So you’re definitely the character’s key writer, so I have to ask what’s it like writing a character who’s also appearing in a variety of other solo and team books. What’s that like?

Aaron: That’s one of the key tasks for Axel and the editorial team attached to these books. That’s why we have retreats every few months where they bring in me, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Slott and others to talk about it all. We all sit in the room and tell everybody what we’ve got planned for our individual titles. That way we’re all on the same page and know what everybody else is doing.

Nrama: So tell me, how’d it go over when you pitched this story to the group?

Aaron: I was pretty simple, saying essentially ‘Wolverine goes to hell”. I later talked about one or two years worth of story in total for the new series, but I really broke with that.

You always figure that if you can pull it off in that room with all those other writers and editors, then you can pull it off on the comics’ page. That room is filled with 20 people at the top of their game in terms of telling superhero stories in the Marvel U.

I’m really excited about the Wolverine relaunch – the ideas for it came to me pretty quickly, and they’ve grown since then. The bigger story is bigger than just one single arc – or just this one book – with launches of new series for Daken and X-23 this weekend, it all connects together. It’s the biggest Wolverine story I’ve ever written, or been a part of.

Nrama: And one thing that everyone at Marvel is being tight-lipped about is who is going to be joining you to draw the new Wolverine series starting this September. You’ve done Logan stories with some greats like Howard Chaykin, Ron Garney, Adam Kubert and Esad Ribic. Not every artist is fit for Wolverine – what can you say makes an ideal artist to draw the title?

Aaron: I think what’s been fun about Wolverine stuff has been that there’s no such thing as a ‘house style’ for Wolverine. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of stories with the character.

I had a lot of fun using Yanick Paquette on the horror story recently – he did amazing work. Or Ron Garney with the action-driven arcs, or the character-driven story just out by C.P. Smith.

There’s not one style of artist who can draw Wolverine. In the artist we have coming onto this series, it’s a guy who I don’t think has ever drawn Wolverine before – so fans again are getting something new and unique to look forward to.

Nrama: Final question for you Jason… Looking at the immense number of Wolverine stories over the years – who stands out to you as some of the most quintessential Wolverine artists?

Aaron: Probably the first story that made me a big Wolverine fan – or X-Men fan for that matter – was the Mutant Massacre crossover with Uncanny and the other books. John Romita Jr. did a hell of a job there.

Just in terms of Wolverine solo, I re-read the original Chris Claremont/Frank Miller stuff to get ready for this new series, as well as Claremont’s later stories with Logan in Madripoor. The Warren Ellis arc “Not Dead Yet” was also something I re-read, as well as Mark Millar’s “Enemy of the State” story arc. One of my favorite runs is the Greg Rucka stuff from the launch of the previous volume. If I can fit in one more, I’d stay Steve Skroce’s “Blood Debt” storyline really stands out well too.

What’s cool with this new Wolverine series is I do nods back to those old stories. I’ve got Wolverine going to hell – and since he’s been killing people for over a hundred years, there’s a lot of people there who know him quite well. Think of hell as the biggest, most overcrowded prison you’ve ever seen – and imagine what it’s like for someone like Logan who’s sentenced a lot of people to this “prison” to be a resident. But there will also be a few allies from his past as well. Basically, expect several characters from the bowels of Hell coming from Logan’s past – good and bad. Some of them will be quite unexpected.

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