What happens with the kids of the Jean Grey school in Wolverine & The X-Men lose their headmaster and the guy whose name is in the title? You’re about the find out, as this week’s Wolverine & The X-Men #6 will culminate the series first new arc since the relaunch, “Tomorrow Never Learns.” So far we’ve seen the Quentin Quire fighting with Cyclops’ X-Men as well as the original five from All-New X-Men, and we’ve seen Evan Sabahnur (aka Kid Apocalypse) dealing with issues relating to his adoptive father figure Fantomex returning to his life and not being the best example for the ominous child. And then there’s Wolverine’s whole issue – no, not just death, but kissing his long-time friend and ally Storm.
Newsarama talked with series writer Jason Latour on the eve of Wolverine & The X-Men #6, to find out what’s in store both for this week’s issue and the series going forward – including what happens to Wolverine & The X-Men once Wolverine is no more.
Newsarama: This week we have the release of Wolverine & The X-Men #6, the finale of your first arc “Tomorrow Never Learns.” What can you say to prepare readers for this issue?
Jason Latour: It’s a pretty wild conclusion, man. If you’ve been enjoying it, or just patiently tolerating us, and you think you know exactly what’s coming…. well I’ll be surprised if you do. The impact of this issue is going to change the road map for these kids for quite some time.
Nrama: Quentin Quire has become one of, if not the, key figure of this series since the relaunch. How would you describe your vision of him, and what he’s going through now as he’s beginning to get an inkling of Evan Sabahnur’s plans for him and the Phoenix, and also Evan’s potential?
Latour: We’ve certainly put a lot of focus on Quentin and a lot of that is because he has the most complex relationship to Logan. That’s not going to change, in fact it’s going to become more complex once Logan’s taken away. But in the short term we will be stepping back just a tad to give the other characters some breathing room. As for his relationship to the Phoenix … well, again… Wolverine & The X-Men #6 changes it all for Quentin. That’s all I can say.
Nrama: Speaking of Evan, he’s coming of age a bit – while at the same time having what in some ways is a father figure, Fantomex, back on the scene. What are your plans for Evan?
Latour: There’s a very big reveal about Evan’s fate in Wolverine & The X-Men #6. Beyond that I have to play coy. But Fantomex is going to be around for a while. In #5 we’ve witnessed a shift in how he approaches his role in Evan’s life. He’s finally become aware that, at least around Evan, he has to find a way to curb his more violent and possibly harmful tendencies while still being a part of the boy’s life. Where that obviously leads to conflict is-- he’s got a reputation and just because he wants to change doesn’t mean the world will let him. Especially now that Logan’s in decline and the school isn’t backed by the might of an unkillable bad ass anymore.
Nrama: In your first five issues you’ve put a lot of things in the area, juggling multiple story threads. Can you tell us about putting so many balls in the air so early on?
Latour: Well, when I take on a project one of the things I try very hard to do is to be ambitious. I feel like maybe sometimes that flies counter to the comfort a segment of fans want out of these kinds of stories, but for me I’ve always enjoyed comics that I could revisit and re-think and argue and maybe to some degree even do a little forensic investigation with. So the compression and abundance of ideas and clues are what’s behind a lot of what’s driving this first arc conceptually, whether that’s why you enjoy it or not.
So that said, I was already dealing with some pretty tangly concepts before I had the knowledge that Logan was going to die. Things just became a bit sped up due to the fact I learned Wolverine would be gone so quickly. But my focus was always on preparing this class to be the next great group of X-Men. The story was always an exploration of what Logan means to them, the difference or lack thereof in this class versus the ones raised by Xavier. That’s why we’re looking so far to the future. To my mind this whole first arc is ultimately much more about character and the emotions that we’ll use as pivot points going forward than it is the actual plot.
Nrama: You’re touched briefly on what I wanted to ask about next: the impending Death of Wolverine. We’ve talked about it since the series was announced, but now we have a date – September when Death of Wolverine is scheduled to come out. How is that impacting this series, especially with Wolverine’s name being in the title? Is a name change in store?
Latour: A lot of the stuff that’s coming I don’t want to comment on just yet, because I don’t want to spoil it. But I’ll say down the road it’s going to get pretty strange and surreal and really damn exciting. I got into this business because I loved the superheroes of my youth, but I stay in it because I want to push things in different directions and try things. It’s a big damn sandbox, y’a’ll. Hell, maybe we should bring back Razorback…
Nrama: Razorback & The X-Men…. Hmm, jury’s still out on that one Jason. The next arc beginning in August promises to feature some old faces like Matt Murdock as well as Logan’s old flame, Melita Garner, and also the return of one of Wolverine’s biggest adversaries in the recent memory, Red Right Hand. What’s on the horizon for #7 and beyond, Buford Hollis or not?
Latour: The second arc is much, much more character centric. As we spiral rapidly towards Logan’s death, it just felt like we should slow down and take a closer look at the impact all these changes have already had. The questions I wanted to pose in the first half of the year had a lot to do with what Logan’s long term impact on the school and these kids might mean moving forward. The second arc is more of a look at what he currently means to the school, and it to him. Legacy is all well and good, but Logan knows he’s in rough shape… and living in the present has become a very big deal very quickly.
But it will also be in some ways a lot more fun. We’ve of course got Daredevil in #7, and issue #8 is Logan and Storm on a date night. Then issue #9 is Quentin Quire’s birthday, and a party he and Logan will not soon forget. From there… wait and see…
Nrama: Also we see that your collaborator, Mahmud Asrar, is stepping over to do All-New X-Men, and you are being joined by Robbi Rodriguez. Robbi’s first issue is still a ways away, but can you prep readers for what’s coming in regards to his work?
Latour: Obviously I’m really going to miss, Mahmud, but he’s got a tremendous opportunity to be a cornerstone on the other book, it’s just a gig he’s made for. I’m pretty sure we’ll team up again sometime and I’m happy he’s staying on to do covers.
In Robbi we really couldn’t have gotten a better replacement. Getting on the same page with an artist is not always easy, but with Robbi I feel like it’s very natural. A lot of that comes from knowing him a long time and having the pleasure of watching him grow into a really great cartoonist. His work is so energetic and fearless, it’s just perfect for a book like this where nearly anything goes. We’re collaborating on Edge of Spider-Verse #2 featuring the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman and based on how that's shaping up alone, I’d honestly have paid this kid myself to draw this book. He’s really already given me a shot in the arm creatively, that I expect will really influence the tone moving forward.