Yes, Wolverine is a character that always has a lot going on. Being part of the X-Men and two different teams of Avengers — the X-Men and the Avengers are located on opposite coasts, mind you — tends to keep a guy busy, not to mention the black-ops dirty work he’s doing as part of Uncanny X-Force.
But all of that multitasking is a relative breeze compared to what he’s been up to in his own solo title, written by Jason Aaron. Since relaunching with a new #1 in September, Logan spent five straight issues in Hell, being tortured by an endless barrage of villains from his past, including Omega Red and Sabretooth.
With some help from his deceased Alpha Flight buddy Puck, Wolvie’s managed to climb out of the inferno, but his troubles are far from over. His body’s still possessed by demons and he’s attacking his X-pals — something that Cyclops doesn’t really have the patience for, especially after surviving past “Wolverine’s mind is controlled and he’s doing awful things” stories like Enemy of the State.
Newsarama spoke via phone with Aaron about what’s happened and what’s to come in the pages of Wolverine, plus this week’s Jefte Palo-illustrated “Point One” issue, Wolverine #5.1, featuring Logan’s girlfriend Melita Garner throwing him a surprise birthday party (and some much needed levity along the way).
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Wolverine #5.1.Newsarama: Jason, between Deadpool getting drunk, the amusing implied cannibalism and the interplay between Logan and the free-loading trucker he saves, this week’s Point One issue has a lot of levity in it. Did you think that was necessary after five straight issues of Wolverine in Hell?
Jason Aaron: [Laughs]. Yeah, I suppose. I think if you look at all the Wolverine stuff I’ve done, it goes back and forth between pretty outrageous and pretty serious. That’s kind of the balance that I’ve always tried to strike. With the Point One issue I wanted something more accessible, and maybe a little more fun than watching Wolverine get the sh*t kicked out of him in Hell for five issues. Not that that can’t be fun.
Nrama: Right, that can be fun in its own way.
One thing I’ve noticed in your Wolverine run — with Wolverine, from his experience of being in Hell, choosing not to kill the Buzzard Brothers and being in a normal, healthy relationship for one of the first times ever in the history of the character, are we moving towards maybe a gentler Wolverine?
Aaron: Yeah, in some sense. Or maybe just a guy who’s wrestling with things a little bit more than he has in the past. Not gentler in the sense that he’s not still gonna be the guy he’s always been, and especially now that he’s back from Hell, he’s certainly going to be coming after the people who sent him there. Don’t expect him to treat them gently, but certainly he’s kind of wrestling with some issues that he hasn’t in the past.
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Wolverine #5.1.Nrama: It seems like maybe he’s more aware than before of the consequences of some of his actions.
Aaron: I think the big thing is just, for the first time in a long time, he kind of has a sense of hope, and faith. Even though that hope has been severely challenged by the stuff he’s been through, I think it’s still there, and I think it’s something he’s wrestled with. He’s a guy who knows things will never change for him — he is who he is, there’s not a special place for him in Heaven some day — but I think for the first time in maybe forever, he does have hope that if he’s going to be kind of a martyr for the cause, that things can get better because of that.
Nrama: One thing I was curious about was exactly when in continuity the Point One issue takes place, since at the end of #5 he’s confronted by Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto and Namor, which seems to be where the next story arc picks up.
Aaron: Issue #5 flows directly into issue #6. That was planned out before we ever thought up the idea of doing the Point One. My Point One, I knew, couldn’t fit neatly between issues #5 and #6, because there’s just no space for it to fit in there. And even if it did, that obviously wouldn’t be a very accessible issue to give to new readers. I intentionally left it ambiguous as to where this takes place. I would guess it takes place right before Wolverine goes to Hell, so maybe it’s more aptly like a 0.1 issue as opposed to 5.1. It still obviously ties into Wolverine’s current status quo, and gives you the lay of the land in regards to that, and it also sets up the next batch of villains that Logan will be facing later this year.
Nrama: With the idea of the Point One issues being new reader friendly, how different was your approach in writing the comic as opposed to a typical issue of Wolverine?
Aaron: It was a little more freeing when you don’t really have to worry about continuity. I’ve always loved doing stand-alones, single-issue stories. Beyond that, the idea was just to have a lot of fun, to throw in as many guest stars as I could. One of the things I wanted to do with the Wolverine solo book was make it a true solo book. Logan is a character who straddles the line between the X-universe and the Avengers universe, so I wanted his solo book to reflect that. And certainly in this issue you see that — it’s loaded with plenty of X-Men guest stars, as well as Avengers.
Nrama: As seen in that two-panel scene with Spider-Man back at Avengers Mansion, all alone.
Aaron: Right. Poor Spidey just can’t catch a break.
Nrama: Obviously a big part of this issue and your run on the character in general is Wolverine’s relationship with Melita Garner, a normal person who doesn’t have any connections to his past. It’s been going on for a little bit now, but was your inspiration for that maybe showing another side of the character and humanizing him even further — or just doing something different?
Aaron: Yeah, part of it was doing something different. But also, I did want to see him in that situation, where he had a real relationship, because in the past we’ve seen him with women who were usually just sort of set up to fall, set up to be murdered, to send him on the path to avenge them. Or people who did have long, complicated connections to his past, or just the random hookups that he would have along the way. We haven’t seen him in a real relationship for a while, so I was intrigued to see what that would be like, and to specifically introduce a woman into his life who wasn’t being set up to be murdered. To make her a real character.
That’s been a lot of fun. There’s still a lot of stuff to play with there, that we’ll see develop in the coming months, but yeah, Melita’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
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Wolverine #6.Nrama: To see a normal, healthy relationship is sort of rare in superhero comic books in general, not just for Wolverine.
Aaron: There’s a good example right there in the pages of Wolverine #5.1 when you see Luke [Cage] and Jessica [Jones], a relationship that [Brian Michael] Bendis has obviously spent a lot of time building in Avengers, so it was fun to write the two of them in the pages of Wolverine, and kind of play off that.
But yeah, that’s the direction I’m going with Wolverine. That doesn’t mean that suddenly, tomorrow, he’s going to become a family man and settle down, but it’s just interesting to put a guy like that in a situation that we haven’t really seen him in before.
Nrama: Moving back to the Hell arc, there was a bit of a body count for Wolverine supporting cast members that fell victim to the Red Right Hand. I’m guessing Silver Samurai is definitively dead since we saw him in Hell, but it looks like Yukio survived the attack. Is that the right interpretation of events?
Aaron: Well, we haven’t seen her dead. We can assume, yes, that she has [survived].
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Wolverine #6.Nrama: Wraith’s fate seemed somewhat ambiguous, but the recap page in issue #2 said he died. Is that still up in the air?
Aaron: We haven’t seen him either, so we don’t really know.
The Silver Samurai is the one we know for sure, he’s dead and gone, and that’s a death that will have big ramifications for Wolverine going forward, as well as what’s happened with Yukio and Amiko. All this stuff will start to tie together, as you can see from the last page of #5.1. You see who the next batch of villains are that Logan’s going to face, and you can maybe start to get an idea on how all this is going to tie together.
Nrama: It definitely seems that though the Hell arc is nominally over, there’s still a lot unresolved, especially with the Red Right Hand.
Aaron: Yep. Logan, once he’s back in control of his own mind, that’s certainly going to be the first thing on his mind — finding out who sent him to Hell, and getting revenge on them. The whole story of “Wolverine Goes to Hell” is really one big three-arc story, and once that wraps up, we’ll be continuing to explore Logan’s supporting cast. There will be some other supporting characters from Logan’s past popping up, as well as more guest stars, and we’ll be diving right into the next big thing.
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Wolverine #6.Nrama: And starting with next Wednesday's #6 is the “Wolverine vs. The X-Men” story arc, which basically sounds like Cyclops getting fed up with Wolverine getting his mind controlled and attacking his friends.
Aaron: Well, y’know, it’s happened more than once before. It’s kind of a common occurrence. So at this point, you figure, Scott’s an idiot if he doesn’t have a plan in mind for how to deal with it. He does, and he’s in the situation where he has to decide, “Is this the time when we may need to put Wolverine down?” And if he decides “yes,” then how do you do that?
We get three issues of Logan’s body out of control, possessed by demons, fighting the X-Men, while inside, Wolverine’s fighting for control of his own mind. So we get a sort of surreal journey through the dark corners of Logan’s noggin, and loads of X-Men guest starring.
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Wolverine #6.Nrama: Based on the solicitations, it looks like at least some X-Men will be sympathetic towards the situation Wolverine is in.
Aaron: We see a big group of the women from his life showing up to try and swoop in and save the day, and literally having to go inside Logan’s mind and fight their way through the dark corners of his brain to help free him.Nrama: Speaking of women from Wolverine’s life, you’ve used a lot of Mystique in your Wolverine comics dating back to the 2008 “Get Mystique” arc, and she also played heavily into the “Goes to Hell” story. Is she going to be sticking around the book for a while?
Aaron: Yes, we see Mystique a little more in the next arc, and then issue #9 will be a big Mystique issue, that Mystique fans will certainly want to keep an eye out for.
Wolverine #7 cover.Nrama: And Daniel Acuña is on art for the “vs. the X-Men” arc — that’s definitely a shift in art style from Renato Guedes on the first five issues.
Aaron: Yeah, it’s good to mix it up and both guys I’m having a blast working with. Daniel’s stuff on this is looking gorgeous. His pages show hordes of demons burning Logan’s mind to the ground can really be gorgeous.Nrama: The Buzzard Brothers were introduced in the Point One issue, and were a lot of fun — as fun as a duo of cannibal siblings can really be, at least. What was the inspiration for those characters?
Wolverine #8 cover.Aaron: I just reached into whatever well I used quite regularly back when I was writing Ghost Rider. They’re guys who certainly could have popped out of my Ghost Rider run.
I just like the idea of dudes who made everything out of bone. My wife loves to watch these shows like Oddities, and our house is kind of filled with deer antlers and bugs in Lucite, and lots of strange animal bones, so I guess all I gotta do is look around to get inspiration for those guys.Nrama: But no guns that shoot teeth, I’m guessing.
Aaron: No, but if I ever see a gun that shoots teeth bullets I’ll be sure to buy one.
Nrama: Good call. And I’m thinking Wolverine probably might end up just dropping those two off at the police station.
Aaron: It looks like we’ll be seeing these guys again.