It's a big week for Jason Aaron. This past Wednesday, five comics written by him landed in stores — Marvel titles Wolverine and the X-Men #4, Wolverine #300, PunisherMax #21, and Incredible Hulk #4, plus issue #55 of his long-running Vertigo series Scalped.
Newsarama talked with Aaron about all of the above and the big changes coming in his career — his run on Wolverine is ending in the near future, and PunisherMax and Scalped are both coming to their planned conclusion; plus he's one of the five co-writers of the upcoming 2012 event Avengers vs. X-Men.
For the first part of the conversation, we focused on Wolverine and the X-Men, which wrapped its first three-issue story arc last month and had one of the most well received debuts of 2011. Wolverine's Jean Grey School for Higher Learning — you can even follow it on Twitter — has now been established (despite the best efforts of the new Hellfire Club), Quentin Quire is making his presence felt, Iceman is unleashing his full power (and kissing Kitty Pryde), and artist Nick Bradshaw comes in for a stint with this week's issue #4. Big things happening in Logan's side of the post-Schism split, and Aaron discusses all that and more below.
Newsarama: Jason, the response to Wolverine and the X-Men thus far has been pretty much universally positive. Have you been monitoring the reaction from fans?
Jason Aaron: I've been really thrilled with the response it's gotten. It is a departure, I think it's a book that's reverential of X-Men history but at the same time is trying to do something a little bit different. It's a very different tone than we've seen from the X-Men in a while.
I just wanted to do something that was fun at the end of the day. I think it creates a good mix with the X-Men books right now. I think that my book is very different from Kieron [Gillen]'s Uncanny X-Men, and that's very different from Rick [Remender]'s Uncanny X-Force, and the other books we've got going on. I think we've got a nice mix, where you can pick up different X-books and you're getting very different kinds of stories set within the X-universe.
Nrama: Speaking of tone, the book has felt lighter than I might have expected, not just in comparison to other X-Men books but also your own previous work. Do you see that, as well?
Aaron: I think it's closer to something like Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine; certainly very different from PunisherMax or some of the Wolverine stuff I've done. The most recent arc of Wolverine that wrapped up I think was along the same lines; big crazy ideas, a little bit wacky, and hopefully a lot of fun.
Wolverine and the X-Men will not be a silly book. It's not a joke book. It'll always have character arcs and emotional moments, but hopefully at the end of the day it's something a little bit more fun than a lot of the X-Men we've seen over the years, which at times can take itself very seriously.
Nrama: And picking up what you said earlier about the book being reverential of history, the first three issues were really packed with nods touching on just about every era of the X-Men, from the Brood to the Shi'ar to Krakoa to even Doop as the school registrar. Was that deliberate, or did the story just kind of develop that way?
Aaron: That's kind of how I put the book together. I got to cherry pick from all these different eras of the X-Men that I liked. That's not the first arc, that's really the mandate of the book going forward. It's kind of a mix of all these different eras. We've got a few of the original X-Men here, so there are links back to those original Lee/Kirby stories. And then we've got one of the newest mutants, Idie, from Generation Hope — and really everything in between.
That's what I want to keep doing going forward. I started reading X-Men around "Mutant Masscare," the Chris Claremont/John Romita Jr. days. I've stayed with it pretty much since. It was only later that I went back and read the Claremont and [John] Bryne stuff, and Claremont and [Dave] Cockrum, Paul Smith and all that stuff. I don't necessarily have one ideal lineup of X-Men. Sometimes if you have that, when you get that book, you want to try to recreate that. If I were writing New Teen Titans for DC, it would probably look like that George Perez/Marv Wolfman lineup. With X-Men, I don't have that, and I didn't want to do that. I like the idea that I got to mix characters from all these different eras.Character sketches by Nick Bradshaw. There are more characters popping up in issue #4 — if you've read the most recent issues of Uncanny X-Force, you can probably figure out who those characters are.
Nrama: Obviously, the first three issues were all about establishing the Jean Grey School. Going forward, will we see more of the classic X-Men superhero team dynamic, or will things still be squarely focused on the school?
Aaron: It'll be a mix, kind of like the cast. The cast is made up of almost equal parts, X-Men and students. I think we've got six or so main staff members, and about the same number of students that we'll focus on. It'll be a little bit of both. It won't be like that classic Claremont/Byrne team where it was set at a school, but really didn't have much to do with school life — it was just about the X-Men going out and getting in adventures. We'll see some of that, but we'll also see a lot focused on the trials and tribulations of Wolverine and his guys trying to run this school, and what those kids are going through. And sometimes those storylines will converge.The next arc, that starts in #5, you've really got three stories going on at once: One of them is happening outside the school, one of them is happening in the school, and the third one is happening inside the body of one of the X-Men.
Nrama: There was a lot of interesting character stuff in the first three issues, especially with Iceman. It seems that other characters have been telling him for years that he isn't living up to his full potential, power-wise — I remember being a kid and reading Uncanny X-Men #314 back in 1994, where Emma Frost takes control of his body — and you really dealt with that issue head-on in #2. Will we continue to see him heading down that path?
Aaron: Yes, most definitely. That was not a one-shot thing. I'm a big Iceman fan, and I felt the same way, where we've seen fits and starts throughout his life, where he seems to sort of tease that he has this great potential, and that his power is limitless, and he's an omega-level mutant, but it's not always been followed up on. I just wanted to firmly establish him as one of the premier X-Men over the course of this, and that'll be a goal going forward. You can't do that in just one scene. I had a lot of fun with that scene, but that's just the beginning. I'll continue to try and develop Iceman — not just in terms of his powers, but obviously we teased in that issue that there might be a little bit of a love interest going on between he and Kitty, so that's something that will continue to be explored. A lot of big plans for Iceman coming up this year.Nrama: Another character that got a lot of time in the first arc was Quentin Quire, who's been essentially almost the second lead in the book after Wolverine. You've been writing the character since Schism — what motivated the expanded role for Kid Omega?
Aaron: He's certainly one of the characters I enjoy writing the most. The arc that kicks off in issue #5 has a lot of Quentin Quire in it; it's actually Wolverine and Quentin Quire together. The two of them together are a lot of fun to write.
Certainly the plans I have for the students at the school, Quentin Quire will be foremost in that. In issue #4 we get a little bit of a tease of the future, and what the future holds for some of our new students — the direction is shows for some of them may be somewhat surprising. That doesn't necessarily means that's where they're going to end, but it kind of shows at least a general direction of where they might be headed. I'm excited to explore the future with all these students, most especially Quentin, who has been one of my favorite characters since Morrison's run. I hated that he kind of got left on the shelf, and shuffled off a little bit since then, and hadn't done much. I wanted to bring him back where he was in that "Riot at Xavier's" arc, but he's not going to stay in that exact same one-note character beat. There's a direction, and certainly he's going to continue to grow and develop as we go forward.Nrama: And with this week's issue #4, Nick Bradshaw is coming on board for interior art, after drawing the "Regenesis" promo images.
Aaron: Yeah, Nick Bradshaw draws #4, which is a standalone, and then he draws the next arc, which is #5-#7.
Nrama: Chris Bachalo is of course a tough act to follow, but it should be interesting to see what Bradshaw does in his issues.
Aaron: From the get-go, [Marvel senior editor] Nick Lowe set it up to where Chris and Nick would be our two guys, and they'd swap back and forth, so this has always been the plan. Chris is amazing, it's a hard act to follow, but I think people are really going to be surprised by Nick's stuff. If you don't know who he is, I think you're going to be blown away. Even if you've been following his stuff recently, I think this is him really stepping up in a huge way. The art on these books just seems to get better and better each issue, and that's with me throwing him all kinds of crazy stuff, and he's able to pull it off.Check back at Newsarama for the second part of our interview with Jason Aaron, talking Wolverine, Avengers vs. X-Men and more!
- Jason Aaron Talks His Final WOLVERINE Arc, Starting in #300
- Jason Aaron Guides Wolverine Through SCHISM and a REGENESIS
- Jason Aaron Pits Wolverine Against Cyclops in X-MEN: SCHISM