Bunn Writes Two Generations of ULTIMATE COMICS WOLVERINE


Cullen Bunn isn't staying away from Wolverine for long. Earlier this month, on the same week that his last issue of the character's Marvel Universe solo book went on sale, Marvel announced a new Ultimate Comics Wolverine four-issue miniseries, written by Bunn and with art from IDW veteran David Messina, plus covers by Arthur Adams.

And yes, even though the original Ultimate Universe Wolverine has been dead since Ultimatum, he'll be playing a part in the March-debuting Ultimate Comics Wolverine, thanks to the magic of flashbacks. In the present day, the book will chronicle the adventures of Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine's biological son who was raised by James and Heather Hudson and first introduced in 2010's Ultimate X.

Newsarama talked with Bunn, who's also launching Fearless Defenders as a new Marvel NOW! series in February, about Ultimate Comics Wolverine, and why it's his most personal Marvel work yet.

Newsarama: Cullen, Ultimate Comics Wolverine is still pretty freshly announced, I think it was made public nearly the same day your last issue of Wolverine proper went on sale…

Cullen Bunn: I think it was. I don't think that was intentional, but it was kind of kismet, I guess. [Laughs.]

Nrama: This is your Ultimate line debut — how much of a fan have you been of the Ultimate Universe over the years? And how do you see your writing as a good fit for the imprint?

Bunn: I've been following the Ultimate Universe since before I was working in comics. I was actually not reading comics [in 2000, when the Ultimate line started]. I had collected comics for years as a kid, and in my college years I kind of got out of comics completely. I happened to go into a comic book shop right around the time Ultimate X-Men had just came out, and I thought it was such an interesting idea. I loved the idea of this fresh take on these characters that I grew up loving, and I always felt, at least initially, like it was more of a realistic, real-world take on these superheroes, and I really liked that as well. I'm not going to say that was the only book that got me back into reading comics again, but it was definitely one of the first books that I picked up when I got back into reading comics.

I've been following the [Ultimates] and the [Ultimate X-Men] stories pretty regularly, on and off. I've kept up with it in trade or in single issues, one way or another, since that time.

Nrama: Reaching out to lapsed readers was one of the original goals of the Ultimate line, and it sounds like that was definitely the case for you.

Bunn: Yeah, it was. One of the things I like about the Ultimate Universe is that "dead is dead." In particular, it's interesting with Wolverine, since Logan died and we have this legacy character of Jimmy. It's not just "Wolverine Jr." He's a fresh take on the Wolverine concept, and I really like that.

Nrama: And this series is featuring both of them, correct?  

Bunn: It is. The way I've structured it, you're going to see one of Logan's missions in the past, and Jimmy's going to be on sort of a mirror mission. Their two missions are going to run parallel with each other. The story weaves together, and it reveals some things about Logan, and a lot of stuff about Jimmy, in particular.

Nrama: Since you just got finished with a stint writing Wolverine in the classic Marvel Universe, how similar do you see his Ultimate counterpart? How differently are you approaching the character here?

Bunn: The Logan of the Ultimate Universe is definitely a little bit of a darker character. A little bit edgier. As I'm writing him, he's pretty similar — in my mind, at least — to the classic Logan. He's not wearing the yellow and black and things like that, especially in this story, but he's closer to the classic Logan than I thought he would be.

And that could just be my perception of him, because as I'm writing him, and as I'm writing Jimmy at the same time — Jimmy as Wolverine is so different from the current mainstream Wolverine character.

Ultimate Comics

X-Men #1.

Nrama: With Jimmy, even though he's been around for a couple of years now, it seems like there's a lot of room to explore. How attractive is that aspect of the character for you?

Bunn: That's a big part of it. It's interesting. You think about classic Wolverine, and there was always this mystery of where he came from, and who he was. And to some degree, we have that with Jimmy Hudson. All we really know about Jimmy and where he came from was this holographic message that Logan left for him. At one point in the message, it even says, "It's best you don't ask about your mom right now. Focus on other things." I think there's a lot of mystery involved with Jimmy, and that's really where this story came from. That was the seed of this series — let's explore some of the things that we don't know about Jimmy, and by extension, that's stuff we don't know about Logan and his past.

Nrama: This sounds like a pretty solidly solo mission for both — and not a story that includes too many other X-Men characters?

Bunn: Yeah, it doesn't. In the first issue you get some interaction with some of the other Ultimate Universe X-Men characters, Kitty Pryde in particular. But beyond that, it's pretty much a Jimmy Hudson story, and definitely a solo story with Logan. This is not a series where you're going to see, say, Captain America sweep in and interact with these characters. This is their story.

Nrama: David Messina is on art. [.] It's clearly early, but what are your thoughts at this point on the collaboration?

Bunn: He is really great. He's turned in the first half of the first issue so far, and it looks really awesome. He is a perfect choice for the Ultimate Universe, I think, and he's getting to do some really cool superhero stuff, but within more of a real-world vibe. I couldn't be happier.

I'm definitely approaching it as sort of a spy/thriller, black-ops type story. My high-concept pitch was "The Bourne Identity with Wolverine." It changes as I write it, but that's still a pretty good starting point for what I'm doing with this book.

Nrama: You told ComicsAlliance that this is a very personal story for you. To whatever degree you're comfortable, what more can you tell us about that side of the series?

Bunn: Jimmy Hudson was raised by James Hudson and Heather Hudson. They were his adoptive parents. My wife and I adopted our son a few years ago from China. And it almost haunts us sometimes — my son will never know his birth mother. My son was abandoned at an amusement park the day he was born. I always think about that with him. When he gets older — he's 4 now — what is he going to want to know about his birth parents? It's going to be very limited what he can find out, or what anybody can find out.

This story, a big part of it, is Jimmy learning more about his biological father, and then coming to grips with the idea of who his real parents are — his real parents being James and Heather. There's a big part of the story — without spoiling anything — about what would make Jimmy into Wolverine. Is it his biological father and his birth mother, who really had no bearing in his upbringing? He's such a drastically different character from Wolverine, and all of that comes from the people who raised him. I think it's an interesting story; about why Logan picked those two, what Logan may have wanted to see happen with his kid, and Jimmy's understanding of who he is, where he came from, and who had a hand to play in who he became. The mutant power, that's in his genes. His personality, and who he is as a person, came from his upbringing, and the time he spent with his mother and father.

Ultimate Wolverine

#1 variant cover

by Axel Torvenius.

Nrama: It must be an interesting, and rewarding, process to apply that level of close personal experience to a story like this.

Bunn: I very rarely say, "I'm going to make a statement about this." I think when people set out to do that he becomes very forced.

When I sat down, just what I told you earlier, I said, "I'm going to write The Bourne Identity with Wolverine." As I started writing it, very early in that first issue, it hit me like a runaway train, and all of these other ideas started boiling up that changed the course of the story, and the notes I want to hit along the way, and where I want to end the story. I think, at the end of it, it will be a new status quo for Jimmy. He'll be different person, for sure.

Nrama: Though it likely might not always happen, it seems inevitable that a writer brings something personal to projects, even if it's completely unexpected.

Bunn: I think it is. Every writer brings their own personal side to every story. For me, this is the first of the books I've worked on with Marvel that meshed really well with that. It's a side of Jimmy's story that speaks to me on a very personal level.

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