Marvel made headlines — and severely tested ComiXology's servers — with a slew of digital-centric announcements Sunday afternoon at the interactive portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Among them was the news that starting in July, they'll be releasing weekly material in the Infinite Comics format (comic books designed specifically for the dimensions and capabilities of tablets), starting with Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted, from the co-writing team of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, with art from Paco Diaz and storyboards by digital comics pioneer Yves Bigerel. Marvel is planning four 13-part stories in total, with a chapter released each Tuesday beginning July 9, a couple of weeks before the Japan-set The Wolverine film hits theaters — beyond Japan's Most Wanted, they'll star other, yet-unspecified characters.
On Sunday, we published an article with comments from Aaron, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and senior editor Nick Lowe; here we turn to Winter Soldier writer Latour, who's co-plotting and scripting the series, to learn more about Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted, which also features Sabretooth, Silver Samurai and The Hand. While those all may be very familiar elements to Wolverine lore, the writing team says they're determined to do things differently.Newsarama: Jason, what's appealing to you about working in the Infinite Comics format? What kind of potential do you see there?
Jason Latour: Well, for a long time now comics have sort of been searching about for a new foothold in the digital age. There have been some great advances in terms of getting the content online and making these books available to people in their homes, which is a great gateway to comics and comics shops. But in terms of something that takes better advantage of what handheld devices we’re still a little behind the curve — still searching for something with a little higher ceiling than scanned comics, yet still very much like reading.So far I think this format has the most potential to do that. Along with some of the storytelling devices it allows us to play with, it’s also potentially limitless in terms of accessibility. As a reader it’s probably a simpler process to learn how to read images a frame or two at a time. Not a guided view per se, but an interactive experience where the frames are designed to work with the device. This isn’t a motion comic where you’re pulled through the story at the pace of the mechanism. Allowing the reader to control that pace of consumption, and fill in the gaps and relationships of the frames with their imaginations is, to me, what comics are. No matter how much comics do or don’t change, if they are going to continue to flourish, I really believe a tangible relationship to the story you’re reading has to remain their beating heart. I feel like Infinite Comics may have that potential.
Nrama: What kind of learning curve has there been with writing an Infinite Comic for the first time? How much of a consideration is doing things in the story that are unique to the format? And is there a balance between wanting to utilize the form, but not running the risk of being gimmicky about it?Latour: Well, it’s a whole new kind of comics method in some ways. With traditional comics you’re generally crafting the story to account for the fact that the majority of the time your reader can see what’s coming. There’s a contract with the format that asks the reader not to cheat and look ahead. To in some ways to ignore what else is present. Now there are certainly a lot of strong arguments for what that adds to the experience, but it can’t be ignored that at times it makes the experience of creating comics almost senselessly difficult.
So far writing an Infinite Comic has been a much less rigid of a process. It’s still very beautifully tied to pictures and words, but it’s less concerned with several images working in harmony. It doesn’t eliminate page composition, as you can still have as many images as a frame can hold, but it allows you to break out of it. That gives us the ability to create the illusion of time or motion, and allows us to make the environment a very active part of the story.
Nrama: You've worked on Wolverine with Jason Aaron before, but as an artist. How would you describe your approach to the character as a writer?Latour: It’s funny that a lot of what I’ve always liked about the character does stem from the introduction of eastern philosophy and genre. In some ways it’s the classic story of a samurai who wants to put down his sword, yet he's been changed by very act of carrying the sword to begin with — in Logan’s case it’s a part of him. How can he stand idly by when he is capable of the things he can do? Do the rules of morality as we know them even apply to a man like him? That's not even getting into his "immortality."
I find the questions his character poses very interesting. But what I might like most is the fact that he refuses to accept that he’s just a savage animal or a living weapon. He’s always striving to be the best man he can be. Jason Aaron has really explored that well, maybe better than anyone ever. So I'm really flattered and honored to get to work with him on pushing things just a little further.
Nrama: When we talked to Jason Aaron, he mentioned not wanting this story to be a typical "Wolverine in Japan" story. From your perspective, what truly sets this tale apart?
Latour: Wolverine vs. future ninjas. Yes, seriously. This is the Hand as you’ve never seen them, not only at war with their oldest foe, but within. This isn’t a Frank Miller cover song. I think we’ve got a very interesting angle on both Wolverine and his enemies that pushes them into some very challenging and exciting territory.More from Newsarama:
- Cover Convention: WOLVERINE Gets Beaten Up. A Lot.
- Digital Initiatives PROJECT GAMMA, MARVEL #1 Revealed
- Prepare for Hellfire from Aaron's WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN