C2E2 2012: Loeb & Bianchi Reunite for SABRETOOTH REBORN

Wolverine #310

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Back in 2006, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Simone Bianchi did what many fictional characters had tried to do and failed— they killed Sabretooth, the perennial X-Men villain with a healing factor that rivals his archenemy, Wolverine. They decapitated him, even, just so there was no ambiguity about the whole thing.

But as you may have noticed from his recent appearances in Wolverine and the X-Men, Victor Creed is once again alive and wreaking his brutal brand of havoc. As announced Saturday afternoon during the “Cup O’ Joe” panel at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, the story of exactly how that happened will be told in “Sabretooth Reborn,” a story starting in July’s Wolverine #310, by the reunited team of Loeb and Bianchi.

As Loeb explains, it was always part of the plan to return to Wolverine and tell this tale.

“This was always envisioned as a two part story,” Loeb, who’s also the head of Marvel TV, told Newsarama. “We’re very lucky that folks like [Marvel editor-in-chief] Axel Alonso and [Marvel senior editor] Nick Lowe and [Wolverine editor] Jeanine Schaefer stood on the wall for something like five years for us to come back and finish the story. For that we’re super-grateful.”

In the interim years since “Evolution,” Loeb and Bianchi’s original Sabretooth story, the character of Romulus — a mysterious villain pulling strings behind the scenes — has been fleshed out by writer Daniel Way in Wolverine: Origins. Loeb says that those appearances coincide neatly with what he and Bianchi have planned.

“We kept him in the shadows because he played such an critical role in the second half,” Loeb said of Romulus. “We’re just fortunate that writers like Daniel Way picked up those threads and kept the character alive, adding to the mythos — but always touching base with us so it didn’t change where were coming back to.”

Speaking to the character’s shadowy nature, Loeb stresses not to take Romulus’ claims in “Evolution” at face value (and uses a Star Wars reference to illustrate his point).

“Just keep in mind, if you went to see The Empire Strikes Back and (worst spoiler alert ever) you found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father — you were shocked — but you still had to take the villain’s word for it — until you saw Jedi years later,” Loeb said. “Just because Romulus made some pretty bold and outrageous claims in the first half of the story doesn’t make them true — or does it?”

On the visual end, Bianchi reports that the years since the initial story — in which he’s worked on Astonishing X-Men, Thor: For Asgard and Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force — has seen his art undergo an evolution of its own.

Wolverine #311

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“For the first time since I started working for the US market I have decided to try and leave half-tones in favor of a more graphical solution on the pages, where the composition and the study of the movement is privileged over the pictorial effect,” Bianchi said to Newsarama. “Wolverine’s costume is obviously different, since it changed during my run on Astonishing X-Men, and this for sure has brought a change in tone.”

Other than Wolverine, Sabretooth and Romulus, Loeb says that someone new to the Marvel Universe will be play a critical role in the story, and hints that Cloak — of “& Dagger” fame — will show up in “Sabretooth Reborn,” with the writer stating that Bianchi has a “badass” take on the character.

Given Wolverine’s expanded role in the Marvel Universe over the past few years, the ever-popular X-Man is now an Avenger and the headmaster of his own school for mutants. Yet Loeb says that doesn’t change the fact that Sabretooth is still Wolverine’s top rival.

“There’s something about Sabretooth that is that dark reflection of Wolverine,” Loeb said. “No matter how berserker Logan can get, he’s not a cold-blooded murderer.  Victor is — he somehow how lives for it — and in it’s own way, died for it. Now we’ll see how that pays off.”

Both Loeb and Bianchi expressed excitement over working together again, describing each other as friends as well as collaborators.

“He’s gotten even better (if that’s possible) as a storyteller,” Loeb said. “The pages are just gorgeous. Our friendship has grown as well, so it gives us a shorthand to work from. On top of that — we’ve both been wanting to tell this story — so it really comes from a very passionate place.”

“It’s been an extreme pleasure finding my dearest friend Jeph, with all his enthusiasm and trust in my work,” Bianchi said. “So… so far so good!”

Between “Wolverine: Sabretooth Reborn” and “Avengers: X-Sanction,” which resurrected Cable, Loeb all of a sudden looks like Marvel’s go-to guy for bringing characters back from the dead. And he’s got another one in mind, though the odds might be against him.

“I think folks know that I’m such a big fan of Gwen Stacy (what a joy to write her in Spider-Man Blue)… Uh-oh, I think I just got a basketball thrown at me from Axel.  Gotta go!” 

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