Last week, we talked to writer Jason Aaron about Wolverine and the X-Men, his X-Men series that places the ubiquitous mutant in a new context — headmaster of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.
Aaron has a lot of comic books coming out these days, including the recently relaunched Incredible Hulk, which reached its fourth issue this month. He's also putting a cap to his long run on Wolverine with the arc that started in issue #300 (one of five comics by him that went on sale last week), plus bringing PunisherMax and his Vertigo title, Scalped, to their planned endings.
Then just on the horizon is Avengers vs. X-Men, the 12-part series starting in April that he's co-writing with his fellow Marvel "architects;" Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman. Aaron's also writing half of the #0 issue out in March, plus an Iron Man/Magneto fight in spinoff series AvX: VS.
In the second-half of our conversation with Aaron, we cover all of the above, plus some hints about what might be next for the writer after a few of his current projects wrap up.Wolverine #301
cover.Newsarama: Jason, Wolverine #300 is out now, and it's been established that you're on your last arc on the book, but do we know at this point how many issues you've got left?
Jason Aaron: That hasn't been announced for sure yet, but this is my last arc, and then I'll have one final issue after that to wrap up everything.
Nrama: You've been writing on Wolverine for years now, and now that your run on the solo title is coming to a close, are there any stories you've written or contributions you've made to the character that you're particularly proud of?
Aaron: I'm happy with all the stuff I've gotten to do. It's been stretched across about 10 or 11 years, with some one-shots, miniseries, three different ongoing series.
If I had to pick a favorite just in terms of a specific story, maybe the one I did with Howard Chaykin, which was a standalone, Wolverine #56. That was a lot of fun, and that was really my first big Wolveirne story; Axel Alonso set me up with that to show what I can do with Wolverine. That story got me all of the other Wolveirne stuff that I've done. Then the stuff I've done with Ron Garney — from "Get Mystique," to the stuff we did on Weapon X; all that's stuff been a blast.Wolverine #302
cover.Nrama: Sabretooth shows up in Wolverine #300, and he also made a surprise appearance at the end of Wolverine and the X-Men #3 — are those two appearances connected at all?
Aaron: They're separate. It was really kind of a coincidence that they happened to come out in the same week. I wrote them separately, probably a few months apart. Certainly Sabretooth will be a part of what's going on in Wolverine and the X-Men going forward, and he's a big part of this final arc on Wolverine. It's an arc that kind of gives him a new status quo, a new mission, and I leave it up to Jeph Loeb to tell you how he came back from the dead.
Nrama: Moving on to more of your work, Incredible Hulk reaches issue #4 this month. It debuted at the same time as Wolverine and the X-Men, but they're very different books — we talked about the fun tone of Wolverine and the X-Men, but Incredible Hulk has been much more serious, and has been zoomed in pretty squarely on Hulk and Banner, while Wolverine and the X-Men has a huge cast. As a writer, is that tricky at all, to work on two very different books simultaneously?
Aaron: That's what I've always liked to do. I've enjoyed mixing it up from project to project, and sometimes within the same book, I like to mix it up from arc to arc. It does keep things a lot more interesting. Right now I've got five books coming out — if they were all hitting the same beats that would be very monotonous. But jumping from Hulk to Scalped to Wolverine and the X-Men, you get to flex a lot of different muscles there.In Hulk, the tone is — I don't know exactly what it is. I think at times it's close to some of the Ghost Rider stuff I did, and then it's a bit crazy and a bit over the top, at other times it's pretty straight, serious and dark. I think it'll continue to veer around in that territory as it goes forward.
Nrama: The opening arc is called "Hulk vs. Banner," and it looks like in issue #4 we'll actually see a Hulk vs. Banner fight, correct? [Newsarama note: This interview was conducted before Incredible Hulk #4 went on sale.]
Aaron: Over the course of this entire arc, we see them butting heads. The Mad Squad, this group of mad scientists/hunters that popped up in the first arc, they're involved. We also see flashbacks to how Hulk and Banner got split apart in the first place, and we find out who was responsible for that.Nrama: Also coming up is Avengers vs. X-Men, and you're one of the five writers on that series. What can you say about the process of co-writing a series with four other people?
Aaron: The story's been developed over — good lord, I don't even remember how long now. We've been talking about this for many months, and multiple retreats. At one point we had a retreat that was just the five of us with our editors, just talking about Avengers vs. X-Men.
The story's been developed and hammered out by all of us over the course of several months, and we just trade off issues. Brian does issue #1, I'm doing issue #2, and we just keep swapping off from there.Nrama: And announced recently is the AvX: VS book, where you and Adam Kubert are reuniting for an Iron Man/Magneto fight.
Aaron: It's been a lot of fun. When I wrote Avengers vs. X-Men #2, that book could have been about 60 pages, and I still couldn't have fit in all of the fights. When you do a book called Avengers vs. X-Men, you want to give readers, in some sense, exactly what they're expecting. You want to see those iconic clashes.
VS I thought was a crazy idea, but kind of a genius idea. To give more room to those fights, you just do a whole book that's nothing but those fights. It's always a blast working with Adam. Hopefully, this will be the Iron Man/Magneto fight that will set the bar for all Iron Man/Magneto fights.Nrama: So with your two mature readers books — PunisherMAX and Scalped — both ending, are you working on new projects, to kind of scratch that itch? Especially on the creator-owned side, with Scalped coming to a close?
Aaron: For sure. Yeah, I'm busy, but I'm busier now than I'll be in a couple of months, probably. Punisher I'm done with, I'm almost done with Wolverine, almost done with Scalped. At that point I'll be down to Wolverine and the X-Men, Hulk and Avengers vs. X-Men, and it's not like I'm writing all 12 issues. My workload will change dramatically, and regardless, as long as I'm in comics, I want to be doing creator-owned worked. You certainly will at least hear about my next project as we get closer to the end of Scalped. It'll be something along the same lines.
But going forward, I'm excited to do completely new and different kinds of creator-owned books. Just like we've been talking about — I like mixing it up within my work-for-hire stuff, so I want to keep doing that in my creator-owned stuff, as well.
Nrama: It's a pretty interesting time in your career right now, with several long-running books ending, and new ones beginning.Scalped #46 cover. Aaron: It'll be a weird year. I've got those three books ending — Wolverine and Scalped I've been writing for quite literally as long as I've been doing comics. Once we get to the point where both of those are wrapped up, this will be my first year in comics when I'm not writing either of those. That'll be strange. I'll still have Wolverine and the X-Men where I can play with Wolverine, but obviously that's a very different kind of book in terms of tone. But I'm excited. It'll probably be sad once Scalped is wrapped up, and I realize I don't get to write those characters anymore, or work with that exact same creative team right after that. But for now, I'm still excited to finally bring that story to a close, and hopefully wrap it up and send things out on a high note, and then move on to what's next.
I still feel like I'm pretty new to the game. I'm happy with how my career has gone, and where I'm at, but probably with any writer, you always feel like your best stuff is still in front of you. That's the way I'm still approaching it. I'm ecstatic with the response that Scalped has gotten, but I'm excited to move on to other things.Nrama: And then Avengers vs. X-Men has to be a completely different experience as well for you, since not only is it your first "event" series of this magnitude, but it's also something you've working on with four co-writers.
Aaron: Oh, yes. Completely. I've been to the Marvel retreats before, I've been in the room when guys have been talking about their events, but I've never been involved to this degree. And even then, this is different, obviously, than events we've done in recent memory. Usually those are one guy writing a book he wants to write, and this is five guys. If you took any one of us and gave us this book, you would get a very different Avengers vs. X-Men story. So when you put all five guys together, who knows what you're going to come up with? That's been exciting, and challenging, and a wild experience along the way.
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