Frank Tieri likes Wolverine. You might have gathered as much from his work on the character’s main title from 2001 to 2003, its Weapon X spinoff, last fall’s Wolverine vs. Thor digital comic and this year’s Wolverine: Wendigo! one-shot.
He’s also a pretty big fan of Hercules, writing that character in a 2005 miniseries, pitting the demigod against monsters and placing him on reality TV.
So he’s understandably excited to write Wolverine/Hercules: Myths, Monsters & Mutants, a four-issue miniseries debuting in March 2011. The comic teams up the two hard-drinking, long-living Marvel Comics heroes against Matsuo — the Hand member responsible for the death of Wolverine’s girlfriend Mariko Yashida — and King Eurystheus and Achelous, the villains from Tieri’s Hercules series. Juan Roman Cano Santacruz (Galactus – The Real Story) handles interior art, with the legendary Joe Jusko on covers.
Newsarama called up Tieri — emerging from his work as writer of the upcoming, long-anticipated Marvel vs. Capcom 3 game — find out about the obscure comic from the writer’s youth that inspired Wolverine/Hercules, learn where the series fits between Chaos War and Shadowland, and the common ground Wolverine and Hercules share from them both being really old.
Newsarama: Wolverine and Hercules don’t really seem to have that much of an established relationship at this point — is that fair to say?
Frank Tieri: Well, yes and no. It’s sort of what we’re revealing here in this series — this previous, longstanding relationship between the two that comic readers haven’t been aware of. And, believe it or not, it’s not like I pulled this out of Underoos and said, “Hey, these guys seem like two guys who’d hang out and drink a lot of beer” and just stuck ‘em together for the hell of it. There’s actually a basis here.
The two of them were paired together back in a short story I read as a kid called “At The Sign of the Lion”. (It was in the back of a Rampaging Hulk Marvel Treasury Edition — #26, to be precise. God, I wish somebody would bring those back. Anyway…) The story basically is the two of them at a bar and they’re vying for the affections of the same girl. Eventually push literally comes to shove and they wind up getting into a fight, wreck the bar, scare off the girl and ended up having a beer together.
Now, first of all, this was actually my first introduction to Wolverine as a kid. Up to that point, I never even heard of Wolverine. Herc I knew from reading The Avengers, and I always liked the character and he remains a favorite of mine to this day. But Wolvie? So I’m reading this and, I’m like, “Who the hell is this goof with the lame cowboy hat and claws? And why the hell is Hercules having so much trouble him?” So yeah, you might say my relationship with Wolvie got off to a rocky start. (Although I’d definitely say we’ve buried the hatchet since then…)
So maybe because it was my first introduction to Wolvie that it stuck in my mind, I dunno, but that last scene kept coming back to me. I always thought that, yeah, I could definitely see these two characters hitting it off. Maybe even becoming drinking buddies. I mean, they both like to drink, they both like to fight, they both like to womanize. And if you think about it, maybe the most important thing that they have in common is that they’re both immortals. And we’ll see how that more than anything has really formed the basis of their relationship and it’s something we really play with in the series.
Nrama: They have a lot in common, but they’re also from very different sides of the Marvel Universe, too, that don’t really cross paths much. It seems natural, but pretty fresh, too.
Tieri: Right. You have this god, and you have this mutant. One guy who’s involved in godly affairs, fighting gorgons and gods; and you have another guy who’s doing covert stuff for Weapon X. Their worlds don’t really mix, but if they link up together, you would say, “yeah, I can totally see that working.”
Nrama: And this series has been in the works for a while, right? Joe Jusko first posted about it online in February 2009.
Tieri: It has been. They only decided to release it now for various reasons. I know Jusko had released the imagery online, and people got excited.
Nrama: So I’m guessing based on that, continuity, timeline-wise, it’s fairly timeless.
Tieri: A lot of stuff was going on with Hercules, a lot of stuff was going on with the Hand, a lot of stuff was going on with Matsuo. This is very much in continuity, but it’s basically going to take place in the past. It takes place before Shadowland, before the Psylocke miniseries, it takes place before all that. It takes place after my Hercules miniseries. It’s definitely in continuity, 100 percent, this has happened, this is important stuff. It’s just not happening right now so we don’t have to deal with all that other stuff.
Nrama: The main villain is Matsuo, right?
Tieri: Not the main villain. He’s one of the villains.
What happens is, that two characters from my Hercules: New Labors miniseries, King Eurystheus and Achelous, we bring them back for this. They basically go to Matsuo and say, “Hey, listen. We’ve got these common enemies. We have Hercules, you have Wolverine, they’re buddies, let’s join forces and take ‘em out.” So what King Eurystheus says is, “Hey, I know the burial places of all the greatest monsters and creatures and heroes and villains and warriors from Greek mythology. I know where they’re all buried. You, with the Hand, have the ability to resurrect people. Let’s combine forces, I’ll show you all these sites, you bring ‘em back. We’ll cause a lot of chaos and in the process Wolverine and Hercules get taken out”. Win/win for everybody.
Nrama: It’s basically two genres you’re melding here — fantasy, and more of the mystical/ninja/Hand world.
Tieri: The series is going to be off-the-wall. Somebody described it to me as “48 Hours as done by Ray Harryhausen” — and that’s as good a description as any. It’s like a buddy action movie with these big, mythological monsters and creatures. Then you throw in the Hand ninjas — and when Hades shows up, we’ve got some mafia zombies in there, too — so there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on. Big action, big monsters, we’ve got the Nemean Lion in there, the Cyclops from the Odyssey, we’ve got all sorts of characters from Greek mythology. Centaurs, minotaurs, griffins, all sorts of things. A lot of big fun.
Nrama: How was working with Juan Santacruz?
Tieri: I had worked with Juan previously on Galactus: The Real Story for Marvel digital. That story was comedic so his style for that project was very humor-based. But this story’s quite a bit grittier, a lot more action-oriented. He adjusted his style quite nicely and really pulled it off.
Nrama: I know most of what he’s done for Marvel is the all-ages stuff.
Tieri: Right. He’s pretty adaptable. He did the all-ages stuff, he did the humor stuff with Galactus, and now he’s doing some more gritty action stuff. He’s really getting to show his chops that he’s a pretty versatile artist.
Nrama: And having Joe Jusko do the covers is pretty huge for the book.
Tieri: Joe happens to be a good friend of mine. When we talked about doing this, he’s one of the guys that instantly came to mind for covers. Joe has a movie poster-type feel to his covers. And since this is big, grandiose — almost like a movie, so it’s only natural to get a movie feel type of artist on it.
Nrama: Get someone to match that scale.
Tieri: Exactly. We wanted someone to match that scale, and we couldn’t think of any better choice than Joe Jusko to do it.
Nrama: What else should readers know about the series?
Tieri: I love these characters. These are two of my favorite characters and I hope it shows in the book. These are the two guys more than anybody in the Marvel U you’d want to have a beer with. One thing we play with here is what’s it like to have two friends who’ve lived so long? They’re telling old stories about everything from being involved in the Trojan War to beating up Hitler to getting it on with Rita Hayworth. Their old war stories are certainly a lot different than normal people’s old war stories.
Nrama: They’re literally old war stories.
Tieri: Precisely. The wars are older than time itself in some cases. Hercules is immortal, and Wolverine, for all intents and purposes, for all we know, could be immortal as well. What’s that like? You figure it’s natural these type of characters would have a bond there, that their other teammates and friends maybe wouldn’t understand.
Nrama: When I first heard about the series, that’s immediately what I thought, too, and wondered why that hadn’t been explored before — though I hadn’t heard of that Treasury Edition story.
Tieri: It’s this little, obscure story. It’s funny, stuff you read as a kid that strikes you, and then these ideas come to your mind later on. And that’s the case here.