They may be teammates in Marvel Comics’ “New Avengers” series, but the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and the decidedly less amiable Wolverine are two very different kinds of heroes. While Spider-Man cuts down his enemies with a barrage of quips, Wolverine opts to use his razor sharp adamantium claws. The two crime fighters are going to have to find a way to mesh their contrasting personal and superheroic styles, however, if they’re going to survive the upcoming six issue “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” mini-series, which kicks off in May as a part of Marvel’s new “Astonishing” line of comics. CBR News spoke with writer Jason Aaron and artist Adam Kubert about the project.
“Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” was born out of the planning for the Marvel Universe’s coming Heroic Age. “We’ve seen Marvel rolling out a lot of new projects as part of the Heroic Age. It changes the tone of the Marvel Universe a bit. It’s like the heroes are finally seeing the blue skies. They’ve finally won and Norman Osborn has been kicked out. They’re back in charge and it’s a new day. So as part of that, Marvel wanted to do some of these projects that are standalone projects featuring top tier characters,” Jason Aaron told CBR News. “They’re not like Marvel Knights projects in that they’re still definitely part of continuity. The model is ‘Astonishing X-Men;’the Joss Whedon John Cassaday run, which very much stood on its own but obviously had big ramifications for the Marvel Universe.”
As the writer of the ongoing “Wolverine: Weapon X” series, Aaron is no stranger to Wolverine’s world. In fact, “Weapon X” takes a similar approach to the “Astonishing” line in that it tells important, new reader friendly stories, but there are a couple of reasons why Aaron needed to tell this particular story as a separate mini-series. “This is a project they wanted Adam to be able to do and take his time on. The book will be coming out bi-monthly,” Aaron explained. “When you’ve got a talent the caliber of Adam you want to let him take his time and knock it out of the park. Plus, the scope of what I want to do here is really bigger than what fits in the pages of Weapon X.'”
“Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” won’t be the first time Aaron and Kubert have worked together on a story featuring these two characters having previously collaborated on a two part story that ran in “Wolverine” #73-74 guest-starring Spider-Man. The two creators had a lot of fun with the story, which lead to Marvel tapping them for this series.
“To me, those two characters are very intriguing to put together. Obviously, we’ve seen them together a few times here and there. In that ‘Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine’ one-shot from years ago and they’ve been popping up in the Avengers together, but there haven’t been that many big, long term stories that just focus on the two of them,” Aaron said. “They’re two guys who are really able to get under each others’ skin in ways that other people can’t. They really press each others’ buttons in all the wrong ways. So for this story, we’re talking about six issues of the two of them plunged into a situation where they really have no one else to rely on but each other, and they’re forced to spend way more together than they would ever want to.”
“They’re total opposites, and they really haven’t starred together in a comic like this. It’s almost like oil and water,” Adam Kubert added. ” We all want to see how well things mix and don’t mix as far as their personalities go, and I think their involvements with each other totally enhances the story. The story is about their relationship. All of Jason’s stories are heavily character driven, and I think that’s what people are going to expect from a story like this.”
Once he accepted the “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” assignment, Aaron wanted to make sure he had a unique story that was driven by character instead of plot. “What’s going on in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ is very different from the kinds of stories we’re doing in ‘Wolverine: Weapon X’ or ‘Wolverine: Origins.’ So in putting these two guys together, I didn’t want to do a Wolverine story that happened to guest star Spider-Man, or the other way around. I wanted to do a story that was very different from a typical Spider-Man story or a typical Wolverine story. I wanted to do something that would be a great vehicle for the two of them together,” the writer said. “We jump around to a lot of different kinds of situations and see how the two of them bounce off each other; how they can work together and how they want to kill each other. The craziness of this story allows us to show them in a lot of different mind sets.”
Adam Kubert added, “It’s a type of story where, really, anything can happen with these two characters. It can go anywhere.”
“Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” unfolds at locales all across the Marvel Universe, involving the machinations of a mysterious individual. “We’ll see a lot of villains along the way; Some from the Marvel U past and a few new villains. At the heart of this story, though, is really one villain who will remain a mystery for a large part of the series,” Aaron explained. “Wolverine and Spider-Man really get caught up in something that they can’t get out of. It takes them through moments of death, of love and loss. It takes them to portions of their past they never wanted to revisit. There’s all sorts of things across this mad sort of journey.”
The tone of “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” will combine elements from the mismatched buddy genre of action stories and one of Aaron’s favorite comic series. “One of the books I looked to as inspiration for this and what I wanted to aim for in terms of tone and accessibility and flat-out bat-shit craziness was Grant Morrison’s ‘Marvel Boy’ mini-series,” the writer stated. “It’s one of my favorite books. It’s a book that moves at a lightning pace, and in pretty much each issue, you get everything; a different set up, different villain, and different settings. Throughout it all it makes connections to the Marvel Universe, but most of them are in a new and fresh way.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to try and do with this. So over the course of these six issues we see characters like Doctor Doom, Galactus, even Devil Dinosaur, but what we see are takes on these characters that are a little bit different,” Aaron continued. “Hopefully we can reach that same sort of frenetic, exciting pace that ‘Marvel Boy’ had. As we weave through this story we’ve got moments that are outrageous and funny and moments that are dark and really character driven.”
The Czar, Big Murder, and Doom the Living Planet are just some of the new and new takes on preexisting villains that Spider-Man and Wolverine run afoul of in the series. “Czar and Big Murder are new characters. I think I described Czar in my pitch as a cross between Kang the Conqueror and Barracuda from Garth Ennis’s ‘Punisher’ run. And Big Murder is his right hand man, along with being the world’s most badass streetfighting dwarf,” Aaron revealed. “Doom the Living Planet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s Doctor Doom having taken control of Ego the Living Planet. The Phoenix Force also makes a very important appearance.”
Rounding out the cast of “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” are a number of supporting players. “We will see one very important character from Wolverine’s past,” Aaron hinted. “It will be a surprise, and it will be somebody who fans haven’t seen in a long time and they’re somebody who should get a big boost from this series.”
Inventing strange new characters and big character moments for Spidey and Wolverine is just part of the fun Aaron has been having with this series. Another aspect he’s finding highly enjoyable is his collaboration with Adam Kubert. “Adam is one of those guys who is a superstar for very good reasons. When we did that first story together in ‘Wolverine’ #73-74, his work was absolutely gorgeous. When we were talking about this story, I told him, ‘This is the kind of story where we can do the craziest stuff we’ve always wanted to do. Whatever you want to do, let me know and we can fit it in,'” Aaron said. “So over the course of this series, I think you’ll get to see Adam draw all manner of insane goodness. In issue #1 you get Wolverine fighting dinosaurs, as well as the dramatic return of one of my favorite villains from my Ghost Rider run, none other than The Orb, the dude with a giant eyeball for a head. There is all sorts of stuff all across the board, which I can’t wait to see Adam do.”
Conversely, Kubert is enjoying his collaboration with Aaron, as well. “It’s an absolute pleasure. Jason is a professional and a great writer. He writes in such a way that there is room for interpretation,” the artist explained. “I don’t feel as if I’m pigeonholed into particular angles or things like that. He does break things down into panels, but those are more or less suggestions. If I want to add a panel, combine a couple of panels, move one to another page or do a spread of panels, he gives me that flexibility.”
At the time of this interview, Kubert was about halfway through his work on the first issue of “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine.” “I try not to pay attention to style. It kind of happens as I’m drawing the pages. There’s a lot of heavy blacks and rendering,” Kubert stated. “I’m trying to give it a slightly different approach than I have in the past with panel layouts, borders, and other things like that. The look and feel will be similar to the work I did on the ‘Dark Reign: The List – Amazing Spider-Man’ one-shot.”
New readers will be able to easily enjoy “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” #1, but it’s also a book that has plenty to offer fans that regularly follow either “Amazing Spider-Man” and Aaron’s “Wolverine: Weapon X.” In fact, fans of Aaron’s other series may want to pay especially close attention to “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine.” “I hope to add a lot to the larger toybox of the Marvel Universe,” Aaron said. “It kind of comes back to ‘Marvel Boy.’ Grant came up with some great ideas that were plays on existing characters or ideas in the Marvel Universe. He gave them a little bit of tweaking and dusted them off. That’s what I’m trying to do here, and I can definitely say that things that happen in this series will have big ramifications for my Wolverine work in the coming days.”
“Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” is planned as a six issue mini-series but if fans respond to the book, Aaron would be more than happy to do a sequel. “Yeah I’m definitely interested in doing more stuff for the “Astonishing” line, and I think doing the kind of stuff I’ve been doing in ‘Weapon X,’ where we are switching it up and doing very different stories, would be fun to do with these two characters,” Aaron remarked. “For now, though, I’ve got my hands full sorting out everything we’ve got with this book; all the characters we’re introducing and all the characters we’re dusting off. Without a doubt this is the biggest, craziest thing I’ve ever written.”