Wolverine isn’t the strongest hero in the Marvel U, but he does have one thing on his side: resourcefulness. Since his debut in 1974, the man known as Logan has felled giants, killed gods and even took down S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the wake of Paul Cornell and Alan Davis’ “Killable” arc on Wolverine he’s put in a position he’s never been before: vulnerable.
With the “Killable” arc building up to a crescendo in the next few months, Marvel is already plotting what comes next for the character and the series, and his name is Ryan Stegman. Currently drawing Superior Spider-Man, Stegman joins Cornell in February 2014 as the two kick off a new volume – complete with a new #1 – of Wolverine. Newsarama spoke with the two creators about their plans for the mutant, ideas for who he might face, and what’s changed about the character.
Newsarama: Ryan, what's it like coming onto Wolverine as a character and a series?
Ryan Stegman: Wolverine is a Marvel icon. And he's even more of an icon to my particular generation because he was everywhere during my youth. We had the X-Men cartoon, we had John Byrne and Jim Lee's X-Men...He really moved to the forefront during my formative years.
Some of my favorite artists ever have tackled the character and made him look incredibly cool. I already mentioned two before, but you can also throw Todd McFarlane and Joe Madureira into the mix. The most important single issue of any comic to me is Spider-Man #10 when McFarlane drew Wolverine and Wendigo because that's the issue that made me realize that there was such a thing as a "comic book artist" and that I could use my talent for drawing to do something like that as a career.
Nrama: Paul, what can you tell us about this, your second volume of Wolverine?
Paul Cornell: It's very different to the first, but also the obvious consequence of it. New readers can start here, with a radically different situation: Logan working as a gang soldier for a small time villain. But readers from last time will learn how we got from the end of “Killable” to here, with flashbacks across the first four issue arc, “Payback.” We see how Logan tried to go home after his climactic battle with Sabretooth, and couldn't find normal any more, had to make some huge changes. Logan's got some new friends now, in his new gang, and we go into where the line between villain and hero is. He's still not comfortable with killing innocents, and his new team won't force that on him, they're just pleased he's got their backs.
Nrama: In the previous Wolverine volume, you and Alan Davis have really carved out a new era for Wolverine -- going from unkillable to being very killable with everything you put up against him. The idea of showing Wolverine as vulnerable, how does that affect you as a writer?
Cornell: That was the idea I pitched so hard for, the one that unlocked what I wanted to do. He's got so much else going for him, why make him so alien, so inhuman, when we could instead start exploring his mortal side? It's not just about combat, it's about growing old and being subject to all the problems of everyday human bodies.
Stegman: It certainly changes the way that he will approach fighting. He won't be diving head-on into dangerous situations, he'll be much more calculated in his tactics. But he's still Wolverine, so you know cooler heads won't always prevail.
Nrama: I know it's still very early on in the work on your Wolverine Run, but are their particular moments, characters, villains, or scenes you hop to get the chance to draw here?
Stegman: Sabretooth! I love drawing big, hulking characters. I also have a deep love and appreciation for so many X-Men that I hope will appear in the story because that'll be a real treat to get to work on them. I really love the X-Men heroes as well as the villains, so any that make an appearance will be really exciting for me.
Nrama: Sabretooth, huh? Paul, will he factor into your plans for Wolverine?
Cornell: He's always in the background, always someone Logan is concerned about the location of. When this series opens, he's not around, but you can be sure that when he hears about it, he'll be interested in why Logan has made such huge changes to his life.
Nrama: Paul, joining you on this is Ryan here. What's it like knowing he's your partner on this?
Cornell: He's such a modern, detail-oriented, characterful artist. It's a joy to see all the added spice he brings to action and emotion scenes. I'm writing slightly differently to play to his strengths, and I'm enjoying the new lease of life. He can really define a character by the way they move as well as how they look.
So to finally answer your question, it is nerve wracking! Wolverine means a lot to me, and I just want to do him justice.
Nrama: What are your big goals for this second major arc of your run on Wolverine?
Cornell: Surprise the readers, get them wondering, keep them onside for Logan in a very different world, show them how he got there and why. We've got an important scene with the Black Widow in #1, and #2 is all about a troubling encounter between Logan and the Superior Spider-Man. Basically, I want to keep those who liked last season happy, and startle some new readers with a handbrake turn that, by the end of #4, I hope will make a lot of sense to those who've stuck with us. This title will almost certainly take me way past my previous personal best of number of issues on one book, and I couldn't be more pleased.
Stegman: Hopefully the best art of my career! As well as a really interesting story from Paul. I've really enjoyed what he's done thus far on the series and I'm having a lot of fun reading his scripts.
Oh, and on the art end we have Mark Morales, one of the greatest inkers in the world, coming on board. So yeah. I'm real excited-like.