It's been a big week for Jason Aaron. Over the weekend at the Emerald City Comic Con, Marvel announced both Heaven's on Fire, the blockbuster ending of his Ghost Rider run, and his upcoming Immortal Weapons: Fat Cobra issue. And at comic shops this week, readers will get the first issue of Wolverine: Weapon X, the new ongoing series he's launching with artist Ron Garney.
In Part One of our "Behind the Page" discussion with the writer yesterday, we talked about the road that brought him to where he is now. In today's Part Two, we get into more detail about Wolverine: Weapon X, his run on Ghost Rider, and what he has coming up next.
Newsarama: So Jason, is Wolverine a character that you really enjoy writing and that you think you're good at writing in particular?
Jason Aaron: Yeah, I think so. Fans seem to have really responded to what I've done so far. What's great about this new book is that pretty much anything I want to do with the character I'll be able to do in this book. I'd already been talking, before they even mentioned this series, I'd been talking to John Barber, the Wolverine editor about a couple of different stories I wanted to do that are pretty off-the- wall. They're very different from, like, the "Get Mystique" arc and the "Manifest Destiny" stuff.
And that's one of the things I like about the character is that you can put him in all these different situations. You look at all the different roles he's played over the course of his long and complicated history, and you have a real variety of stuff. So you can put him in totally different genres, and he's rock solid. He's the same guy. But you can have all sorts of crazy sh*t going on around him.
NRAMA: And that's what it's going to be like in this series?
JA: Yeah. That's what it's going to be like from arc to arc in this series. From arc to arc, it will be almost like a different book in terms of tone and genre. It's still the same guy at the center. It's still some of the same threads running through the series and the same supporting characters, but from arc to arc, we're going to be changing things up.
NRAMA: Speaking of crazy sh*t, let's talk about Ghost Rider. That book seems like it's a lot of fun. You're throwing a little bit of everything in there. Is that another book where they gave you the ability to write what you wanted?
JA: Pretty much, I guess. Ghost Rider is probably one of those books that flies under the radar. You know? It's off in its own corner of the Marvel Universe, so you can just blow sh*t up and people don't really notice, in terms of telling you to stop.
But yeah, from the get-go, I wanted to amp it up and give it a different tone. I was just kind of running with how Daniel Way had left things, which I guess pissed off a lot of the long-time fans, but I thought it was a great place for me to come in. I thought it was a great way for him to leave things, because it really gave me a chance to do something new.
NRAMA: You mean setting up the idea that Ghost Rider is a product of heaven instead of hell?
JA: Yeah. I mean, we've seen Ghost Rider vs. the Devil since the beginning of the series. Daniel did a big, sprawling arc of that, and it's like... it's done! What more can you do with that? So it was great to be able to take things in a totally new direction.
NRAMA: You said that you wanted to give it a different tone and amp it up. How did you do that?
JA: Well, I wanted to bring back the sort of wild and crazy flavor that the book had originally had. I read the '90s series back when it was coming out and liked a lot of it. I loved the Tex art. But I prefer the old Johnny Blaze character and some of the wackiness and tone that the original series had. So, obviously, over the course of my first year on Ghost Rider, we combined a lot of the elements from those two series.
NRAMA: You brought back a few fan favorite characters too, in a pretty short time. You brought back Danny Ketch, right?
JA: Yeah, fans had been clamoring for years for the return of Danny Ketch. Where's Danny Ketch? When's Danny Ketch coming back? When are you going to acknowledge all the stuff from the '90s series? So it was great to finally bring him back, but in a way, obviously, that was different from the way people had expected.
The other people that people have been clamoring for is Vengeance, and he's back now. He's the tough guy Ghost Rider. That was a bit of a surprise.
NRAMA: And with the announcement of this summer's Heaven's on Fire six- issue mini-series, which will replace the Ghost Rider title, you'll be ending your run on the series.
JA: Yeah. I originally signed on for a two-year run. So after that, I'll be moving on to something else. With Wolverine, I hope to have a really long run on that. If I'm on it for four or five years, then great. But with Ghost Rider, I wanted to tell this story and move on and let the next person come in.
NRAMA: Let someone clean up after you?
JA: Yeah, just throw a bunch of shit at the walls and mess the place up, then check out. [laughs] But yeah, it's a lot of fun and it's gotten bigger and crazier as things have gone along. The stuff we have coming up in Heaven's on Fire will be a great way to finish out my run.
NRAMA: And when you say you have "something else" after Ghost Rider.
Will that be with Marvel?
JA: Yeah. As part of my exclusive contract, I'm signed to do two books a month for Marvel, so about the time I'm finishing up with Ghost Rider, I'll be doing something else.
NRAMA: You say you've gotten to do what you wanted with Ghost Rider and now with Wolverine, but you've also done some tie-in issues within the Marvel Universe, like your Black Panther Secret Invasion story.
Which do you prefer -- getting to do your own thing, or collaborating with the rest of the Marvel Universe on a bigger story?
JA: You know, even with the Black Panther Secret Invasion tie-in, I was off in Wakanda. I was off by myself. It was only connected to the bigger picture in that there were Skrulls in it. We got that great little panel in the Secret Invasion mini-series where they had the Black Panther thing, which was great. But that was just a great set- up. Axel [Alonso] came to me and said, "Wakanda vs. Skrulls, three issues." And I said, great! That's all I needed. I emailed him right back and said, "Well, the opening scene has got to be where the Skrulls are flying in on their ship, and they're kind of cocky and over-confident about how this is going to go. And they crest the hill. And there's the heads of all their agents stuck on pikes." And that's like that old moment of "oh sh*t, this isn't going to be as easy as we thought." That was a great story that basically wrote itself.
But Axel came to me for that story because he thought of it as a war story. He wanted just a straight war story. And I had already done a war story. That's one of the things that's been great about working with Axel. His job is going out and finding out the new guys. He brought in Matt Fraction. He brought in me and Duane Swiercynski and all these guys. And he's great about looking at a guy and what his strengths are where to put him, like what he's going to be good on.
That's been great. He set me up with things where I could succeed, like the Wolverine stuff and Black Panther and Ghost Rider and everything.
NRAMA: You said that Wolverine issue you did with Howard Chaykin was one of your favorite issues you've ever done. What are some of your other favorite issues?
JA: Specific issues? I don't think I could pick just one. There are a few from Scalped. I remember at the time, when I wrote the Catcher issue in Scalped, which I think is Issue #8 or #9, at the time it was my favorite issue I'd done. And the Red Crow issue, which was a few issues before that. But I don't know. I think with Scalped, hopefully my favorite issue is the one I'm doing at the time. Like I think the last three issues, I'm really happy with those. I don't know if I could pick just one.
At Marvel, the Wolverine you mentioned is one of my favorites. And Issue #26 of Ghost Rider, the one where I brought back the Orb and Doghead and all the villains. And you had the shack filled with all the Ghost Rider memorabilia. That was one of my favorites.
But honestly, I think the first issue of the new Wolverine: Weapon X series may be the best thing I've written for Marvel. I hope to God it is, because it's certainly the one that will sell the most and get the most exposure. But I was really happy with how that turned out. And Ron's just knocking it out of the park too.
NRAMA: Well, that's about it, Jason, unless you wanted to give us a hint of what that next project is going to be?
JA: I'll just say that it's not going to come as a big shock to anybody. I'm not doing Spider-Man. It's not coming out of left field.
If you think you know what I'm doing, then you probably know what I'm doing.