For decades Sabretooth has been gunning for Wolverine’s life – so what happens when Logan dies and Sabretooth has to find out what to do next? That’s the question inside Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #3, as Wolverine’s blood-sworn enemy has to find a new life post-Wolverine. Frequent Batman writer Kyle Higgins and Aspen artist Jonathan Marks step up to try to fill in that Wolverine-shaped hole in Victor Creed’s life, with Higgins promising a surprising twist born out of decades of hatred between Sabretooth and Wolverine.
This one-off story inside the Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy series provides a unique perspective on Wolverine’s life from the perspective of the man who hated him most, and also reflects back on what that kind of hatred can do to a person – especially when the subject of that hatred is no more.
Newsarama: Kyle, Jonathan – what is this one-shot issue with Sabretooth about?
Kyle Higgins: At its most basic level, it’s a story about dealing with a breakup. When somebody dumps you, and you say you’re fine, and really try to convince yourself that you’re fine, but really you’re not. For Victor, whose life has been defined in a lot of ways by his hatred of Logan, losing that object of his hatred has a pretty interesting effect on him. Essentially, it’s “how does a psychotic blood-luster cope?” It’s something which was pretty interesting to explore.
Jonathan Marks: The whole Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy miniseries deals with what the death of Wolverine means to other characters in the Marvel universe, this issue explores what this death means to Sabretooth. Without giving too much away, I feel like Sabretooth's reaction to a Wolverine-less world is much more...reflective, maybe, than one might initially have thought. I think Kyle did a great job in showing Victor as more than just a cold-blooded murderous psychopath (which he absolutely is), as we see a little bit more into what the relationship between these two meant to Sabretooth.
Nrama: Newsarama ranked Sabretooth as Wolverine’s #1 adversary – and I’m sure Sabretooth would say the same about Logan. What’s going through Creed’s mind when he discovers Wolverine is dead?
Higgins: The easy answer would be to say he realizes, through the loss of Logan, that he actually really appreciated him. Valued him. That said, finding some new appreciation for Logan in the wake of his death wasn’t really a story that interested me. And it wasn’t something that felt true to Victor. I mean, I don’t think he’s that self-aware. The more realistic reaction is that Victor doesn’t know what he’s feeling. In the weeks after Logan’s death… he tries not to give it much surface level thought. Of course, that’s not to say he’s successful at it. Our subconscious does pretty wild things sometimes, drives us down roads we’re often not even aware of.
I think where Victor ends up at the end of our story is a place that all of us have been—especially after a breakup. It’s relatable. Well… except for the blood thirsty killing aspects.
Marks: Well, again, without saying too much, I think that we see a much more complicated Sabretooth than is sometimes portrayed. He's not simply cheering that Wolverine is gone, nor is he simply regretting if it wasn’t at his hands. Instead we see a very realistic portrayal of a relationship between two antagonistic personalities, there is real animosity there, but beyond that there is also competition, and fear, and jealously.
Nrama: Let’s back up a bit here – how would you frame what Sabretooth thinks about Wolverine, when he was amongst the living?
Higgins: For all the similarities between Victor and Logan, there are some pretty big differences—namely, in the way they’re perceived. While they’ve both done terrible things and killed many, many people, Logan seems to get second chance after second chance. People are relatively quick to make excuses for him, and continue to welcome him back with open arms. I mean, the dude was an Avenger. Victor’s natural rivalry with Logan (how often do you actually get along with someone who you’re similar to?) amped up that much more when Logan started being thought of as a “hero.” Victor sees the contradiction, and hates it. I think he very much had the feeling “screw that guy.”
Marks: I think that Sabretooth's hatred of Wolverine when he was alive was a very real thing. The similarities between these two has always lead to comparisons (both in the real world with fans, and in the comics between other characters), with Sabretooth almost always coming off second best.
Nrama: So given the title of this series is The Logan Legacy, what’s that legacy for Victor here?
Higgins: I think that’s the question of our story, even if Victor isn’t aware of it. The guy he’s fixated on is gone. So, what now?
Marks: I think the legacy for Victor is figuring out if Sabretooth was too fully defined by Wolverine, and if so, how to move on from here.
Nrama: Some might be concerned that Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy might be a morose dirge and requiem for Wolverine. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but what would you say to that expectation some have?
Higgins: I’d say that’s not what my story is about. To be honest, that angle doesn’t really interest me, either. That’s why I pitched doing a story with Victor—in this case, it’s far more intriguing to me to explore someone’s hatred than it is to explore their love. [Laughs]
Marks: Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy is interesting because it looks at what Wolverine's death means to unexpected characters. Yes, Nightcrawler will be sad, yes Jubilee will have lost a father figure, but what about Lady Deathstrike? What about Daken? These are more complicated relationships, how do they feel in a now Wolverine-less world? As far as the tone of the books, while don’t know what the other creative teams are doing (I’m excited to find out!), I agree that it's a safe bet that there will be less laughter and retelling of funny stories than there would be if Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy focused on Wolverine's friends, but again, that's what makes it so compelling.
I would argue though that this series is very literally a requiem - it is the last song of Wolverine, it's just being sung by an unexpected choir.
Nrama: That being said, Sabretooth’s had his time attempting – or being forced – to be redeemed as a hero, or at least not a criminal. With Wolverine gone, could you see Sabretooth filling Wolverine’s shoes?
Higgins: That’s an interesting question. To be honest, I don’t know. I think it comes down to what Victor wants for himself… which can always change, sure, but... yeah. I feel like asking Victor to stop killing is like asking me to stop eating pizza. I might be able to white knuckle it for a while… but when I fall off the deep end, I really fall.
Marks: Sabretooth seems like he has his hands full being a villain again for the time being. I think that Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth was great, he was a believable hero and a part of a team, but for the most part, his forays into heroism are always tenuous or coerced and never really last very long. It's not his nature to be a hero, he's not a good person. But, having said that, in the hands of a good writer, anything is possible!
Nrama: Villain or not, in this vacuum without Wolverine -- could you foresee a solo Sabretooth series in the future? If so, what do you think would be the interesting take on that?
Higgins: I could see it, sure. But it all depends on the angle. Villain books—especially ones who are bloodthirsty killers—are really, really tough to write. Your initial reaction is to try and redeem them, or at least turn them into an anti-hero, because who wants to read about a guy doing terrible things and killing innocent people for fun? But then… you’re taking the character away from what makes them who they are. So, it’s a fine line.
I wrote Deathstroke for eight issues, and that was always a problem I faced. Slade had a code, sure, but deep down… he was capable of doing some pretty dark and terrible things. I’m always fascinated by that… and I think in this day and age, a lot of people are… but it’s an intellectual fascination more than an emotional one. A book can’t survive on that. I think the key is finding an emotional core and a relatable want for the character, regardless of the terrible things they do and the afflictions they might have (in Victor’s case, killing). For Deathstroke, the book became a story about a craftsman past his prime, unwilling to retire and give up the only thing he knows, even as the younger generation is coming to take his place. Emotionally, this manifested in the failed relationship with his son, who is coming out of the woodwork to put his dad out to pasture.
Anyway, I’m not sure what the emotional core would be for a Sabretooth series off the top of my head, but I’m sure there’s something there.
Marks: Since I think Sabretooth works better as a villain than a hero, I think an interesting take would be to portray him as an Al Capone type mob-boss, brutal and efficient, not really a mastermind, but definitely good at what he does, and not afraid to get his hands dirty. Or, I would love to travel back in time and see some more Team X stories - or some Origin type running through the woods, dealing with animals and shamans and demons stories. That would be fun! He really is a great character, I can't wait to see where he goes next!