In a world of heroes, villains and everything in-between, Wolverine is one of a kind. And not just anyone can step in to chart the course of Logan’s solo series, but writer Cullen Bunn is doing just that as he takes over from Jason Aaron beginning with April’s Wolverine #304.
“It’s weird that I won’t be writing Wolverine after doing it for so many years,” Aaron tells Newsarama. “But if there’d be anyone I’d want to carry it on, Cullen would be at the top of my list.”
Bunn’s currently on comic shelves co-writing Fear Itself: Battle Scars and Fear Itself: The Fearless, not to mention his creator-owned series The Sixth Gun. But this new assignment on Wolverine is undoubtedly his biggest yet, and Newsarama caught up with him to find out more.
Newsarama: First off, Cullen – what can you tell us about what you have planned for your run on Wolverine?
Cullen Bunn: If I were thinking about what I have planned in terms of a series of images, a number of things come to mind: Wolverine stalking through the stark hallways of an abandoned mental institution… having a conversation with a dead man… fighting for his life against both human and inhuman horrors on the grounds of a crumbling old mansion… having his guts ripped out and spread across a forest floor… meeting with a 150-year-old detective… battling alien hybrids alongside the daughter of a famous monster hunter… scaling a castle wall with his claws…
I have a lot of action and high adventure planned, but I’m also excited to explore Wolverine as a character, too. He has a long and unusual history, and everything that has happened to him has helped to shape who he is… or who he thinks he is.
Sometimes, when your history comes back to bite you, it can turn everything you think you know upside down.
Nrama: When it comes to Wolverine, what are the previous story-arcs/issues/runs that most inform how you see the character?
Bunn: There are many stories that influence my take on Wolverine. Jason Aaron's run is a huge influence for me, because I loved how he took Wolverine, who could be played as very grounded, and put him through some really wild adventures while always being true to the character. Thinking back to when I first really took notice of Wolverine, it would have been the "Days of Future Past" story in Uncanny X-Men. Again, a few years later, I really connected with the Reavers story, when Wolverine was beaten all to hell and had to keep pushing through the pain and suffering.
Nrama: I talked with Jason Aaron earlier this week and he mentioned that he’s talked with you on several occasions about Wolverine. Can you tell us about those conversations at all?
Bunn: Some of those conversations go back several months. Jason’s endgame for Wolverine has been in motion for some time, and he’s been keeping me in the loop on where things were headed, where Wolverine would be once the last issue of the series was written, and what characters and “loose ends” might be out there for me to utilize as a writer. I’ve been sharing a lot of my plans for Wolverine with Jason, too, from my initial daydreams to the outlines for my first couple of arcs. Talking with Jason about comics is a lot of fun because it’s obvious that he loves the medium as much as I do.
Nrama: What’s it like following up after Jason given his long and redefining run on the book?
Bunn: It’s more than a little intimidating. Jason’s Wolverine stories comprise some of the best comic books around. He did some pretty amazing things with the character. The pressure is on, and I know I have to bring my A-game to this book.
Nrama: Although we don’t want to spoil the end of Aaron’s run in #304, can you tell us if your run will carry on some of the things he started?
Bunn: Definitely. My first arc deals with some characters Jason introduced during his time with Wolverine. While I’ll be introducing some new story elements along the way, I’d be remiss if I ignored some of the fertile ground Jason left behind. In this first arc, I took some of the elements he created and started building and expanding them, and the resulting story should be a lot of fun. It’s important that I make my mark by telling Wolverine stories only I can tell, but I also want to make sure I honor and build upon the great stuff Jason did.
Nrama: Joining you on this book is artist Paul Pelletier, who worked with you on Fear Itself: The Fearless. Can you tell us about his contributions to the vision you’re going for?
Bunn: Paul is an artist who can make quiet scenes visually interesting as easily as he can make crazy, action-heavy scenes jaw-droppingly amazing. In Fear Itself: The Fearless he had to draw everything from World War II flashbacks to giant sharks exploding in the depths of the sea to massive apocalyptic battles. I know he can bring just about anything I write to life. I can’t wait for readers to see what he does with Wolverine.
Nrama: Going into some behind-the-scenes talk, can you tell us how you came to land on this book –your first ongoing book at Marvel?
Bunn: This is actually my second ongoing to be announced (with Captain America and Hawkeye being the first) but this is one that’s been in discussion since some of my earliest days working with Marvel. I owe a lot to a couple of Marvel creators—Jason Aaron and Shawn Crystal in particular—who went to bat for me and got some of my creator-owned work into the right hands. The idea that I would either follow Jason or work very closely with him on a project surfaced fairly early on. When we finally landed on the idea of me taking over Wolverine came up, I couldn’t have been happier. The stories of the X-Men and Wolverine played a key role of who I am as a comic book writer.
Nrama: And how is it networking with the other Marvel creators given Wolverine’s role in other books from Wolverine & The X-Men to Uncanny X-Force and especially AvX?
Bunn: Working with creators like Jason and Rick Remender has been a real treat. One of the things I like is how closely those guys worked together to coordinate what was happening in their books, giving the stories a nice, cohesive feel. It’s something I definitely want to continue. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, though. On one hand, I get a sneak peek at what other creators are planning, and I really enjoy the collaborative world-building aspect of working on these stories. On the other hand, I’m still a huge fan of these books, but sometimes the stories get “spoiled” for me before they hit the stands. Still, having the chance to play a role in the telling of these tales has been a dream I’ve pursued for many years. I’m working with people I admire and respect. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
Nrama: Last question; I know you can’t spoil your first issue, but can you tease us a little bit with something from the book itself like a snippet of dialogue?
Bunn: Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t forgotten what I am. X-Man… Avenger…student… teacher… hero…
Balancing all those conflicting aspects of my life has never been a cakewalk. But now… Now there’s blood on my hands… blood I don’t remember spilling.