In a fantastic place like the Marvel Universe, the ultimate weapon isn’t some bomb, gun or tank. Rather, it’s more likely a living, breathing super-soldier, and throughout the history of the Marvel U, there have been many attempts to create such weapons, Steve Rogers becoming into Captain America through an experimental serum perhaps being the earliest example. Years later, the fast healing mutant known as Wolverine was given a skeletal system made out of the unbreakable metal known as adamantium, and in one of the Marvel U’s numerous possible futures, human soldier Luther Manning is melded with a machine and transformed into the unstoppable cybernetic killer known as Deathlok.
In the current “Tomorrow Dies Today” arc of “Wolverine Weapon X,” by writer Jason Aaron and artist Ron Garney, all three characters play roles. We spoke with Aaron about the arc, which began in issue #11 and continue with the the release of issue #12 just this week.
In “Weapon X” #11, Aaron got the chance to pen one of his favorite Marvel Comics characters, Captain America. “I’m having a blast writing Cap. In the first part of this arc, I got to write Steve Rogers, and Bucky Barnes, the current Cap, shows up in part two. He’s probably a bigger part of the overall story than Steve is. I’ve always been a Captain American fan, but I think, like a lot of people, I’ve become a much bigger Captain America fan since Ed Brubaker took over the book. It’s been one of my favorite Marvel Comics since his run began. So to get to use both of those guys has been a blast,” Aaron told CBR News. “Also, as this arc goes on, we see more Marvel U characters popping up. We see Spider-Man, The Thing and some more of the Avengers. So I got to write several other characters, some of which I had never written before or just touched on briefly.”
The story in issue #11 featured Wolverine renewing his friendship with Steve Rogers, who recently made his return to the Marvel Universe after his friends and family believed him to be dead. Aaron feels the friendship between Wolverine and the former Captain America stems from the mutual respect old soldiers have for one another.
“Logan know that Steve’s the real deal. He’s not just a kid who got bit by a radioactive spider and became a hero. Steve has been a soldier his whole life, and that instantly earns the respect of other old soldiers,” Aaron remarked. “And with Logan and Steve, it’s a fun dynamic to play with because they’re an odd couple. They’re not two guys who are typically going to be buddies. Steve obviously has misgivings about how Logan does what he does, but there’s still that sort of begrudging respect. Deep down, they obviously have more in common with each other than they do with most of the other people they’re around, just because they’re both so much older. They’ve shared a lot of experiences over the years that other people haven’t.”
In fact, Logan first met Steve Rogers during World War II, and it was also during that time where he met Rogers’ sidekick, Bucky Barnes. Their paths crossed again after the war when Bucky, who at the time was operating as the brainwashed Soviet assassin known as the Winter Soldier, murdered Logan’s wife. Many years later, the two came to an understanding over the incident and are even teammates on the current incarnation of the New Avengers, but needless to say, a different type of Captain America and Wolverine dynamic will be on display when Bucky gets involved in the action of “Weapon X” #12.
“I think there’s still that sort of begrudging respect, but it’s buried a lot deeper between those two guys. They are a little too similar, in a lot of ways,” Aaron remarked. “They both have their dark pasts that they regret. They’re both killers. I also think there’s maybe been a little bit of competition between them for Steve’s eye. In the stories where you see them together in World War II, it’s almost like they’re competing for Steve’s heart. So there’s a lot of cool stuff to play with there. ”
In “Weapon X” #11, Aaron introduced a threat that will test all of Wolverine and Bucky’s considerable combat skills, unleashing not one but an army of Deathlok cyborgs from the future back to the present. Their mission? Execute the heroes of tomorrow. It may sound like Aaron is paying homage to the “Terminator” franchise with this arc, but Deathlok fans know that the inspiration for “Tomorrow Dies Today” stretches even further back than that.
“I was trying more to go back to the original Deathlok concept, because Deathlok was kind of the Terminator before there was a Terminator. There have been several different versions of Deathlok over the years, and I wanted to get back to the original Luther Manning version, where he was this cyborg killer from the future. In this story, we’re taking that to the next level by creating an army of cyborg killers from the future,” Aaron said. “As the story goes on, we start to focus on just one member of this army. This Deathlok has an internal struggle dynamic that’s a twist on the original Luther Manning struggle. When I went back and read the original ’70s Deathlok stories in ‘Astonishing Tales,’ I found that they were really well written and well drawn stories, and really, the best part of them was this weird internal monologue. That’s because you get these conflicting voices within Deathlok. I wanted to get back to that, but not do exactly the same thing. So it’s like that, but there is a twist to it.
“The original Deathlok stories in “‘Astonishing Tales’ were also more science fiction stories than superhero ones. ‘Tomorrow Dies Today’ does feature superheroes, it will have a similar feel and tone to the earlier tales,” Aaron continued. “‘Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine’ was me telling a high tech, Grant Morrison, big idea style story, but this is really the first sci-fi type story I’ve done. And starting with the second part of the arc, we get a glimpse of the future that these Deathloks come from. So it’s me doing my ‘Days of Future’s Past’ story, but again there’s a twist. It’s not what you’ll expect. So, as this arc goes on, we’ll see this story set in the future and these Deathloks wreaking havoc in the present.”
As “Tomorrow Dies Today” rolls on, readers will see more and more characters drawn into both the past and future struggles against the Deathloks, and some of those characters won’t survive. One thing they won’t see, though, is the mastermind behind the Deathloks. “I’ve left that kind of vague. We just know that the Roxxon corporation seems to be the face of it. Beyond that, I still think it’s a story for another day,” Aaron said. “With Deathlok, the idea wasn’t just to bring the character back for one arc, but to bring the character back and place him firmly within the Marvel Universe and set him up for future stories. In the X-Office, we’ve already been talking about where Deathlok is going to wind up next. So there are already plans for Deathlok beyond this arc.”
“Tomorrow Dies Today” is Aaron’s third Wolverine story with veteran artist Ron Garney, and the writer knew he could call on his collaborator to bring to life almost anything. “Ron is great. He’s one of those guys that I can put all kinds of crazy non-nonsensical stuff in the script and I know that he’s going to boil it down, make it work and make me look like I know what the hell I’m talking about,” Aaron remarked. “I’ve been really excited about this story, and I do get giddy every time I’m able to put Spider-Man in. Ron was doing Spider-Man right before he and I started doing Wolverine stuff. His renditions of the Thing and this army of Deathloks are fantastic, and getting Ron to Draw Captain America again was pretty cool.”
Wolverine will spend his summer vacation battling Deathloks as “Tomorrow Dies Today” is a five part story, and Aaron intends for it to be the biggest arc he’s done so far in “Wolverine Weapon X.” “Like I said, this story involves me throwing a lot of things into the mix. I’m grabbing a lot of other characters from the Marvel U,” the writer said. “Then right after that we have a stand alone issue, which is pretty much a complete shift of gears. It’s a quiet, somber, character issue…a requiem.”