The mutants of the Marvel and Ultimate Universes share a number of similarly-named and powered champions, but due to the wildly different histories and natures of these universes, they often differ in rather dramatic ways. Take Wolverine, for instance. While Logan continues to protect mutant-kind in the Marvel Universe, several years ago, the Ultimate Universe’s Wolverine perished during the “Ultimatum” event.
â€¨However, doesn’t mean that the Ultimate Universe has been deprived of a hero with razor sharp claws and a super human healing factor. In the Ultimate U, Wolverine’s legacy lives on in the form of his teenaged son Jimmy Hudson, who currently appears in the ongoing “Ultimate Comics X-Men” series.
This March, the violent history of his father will collide with the young mutant’s present day reality as Jimmy undertakes a quest to discover the truth about his origins and learn why his father gave him up for adoption. That quest will be detailed in the four-issue “Ultimate Comics Wolverine,” by writer Cullen Bunn and artist David Messina. We spoke with Bunn about the project, from the different challenges of writing for the Ultimate U rather than the mainstream Marvel U to the true identity of Jimmy’s mother, which editor Mark Paniccia told CBR “connects [Jimmy] to other important characters in the Ultimate U in a pretty shocking way.”
CBR News: Cullen, you recently wrapped your run on Wolverine’s Marvel Universe book, and now you’re set to take a look at the character and his legacy in the Ultimate Universe. What is it about Wolverine’s core character traits that make him an interesting character to explore regardless of whatever universe he might be in?
Cullen Bunn: One of the things that always appealed to me about Wolverine was the mystery surrounding him. For so long, we really knew very little about the character’s past, and the potential for stories was limitless. Over the years, of course, much of Wolverine’s past has been explored. With the current iteration of Ultimate Wolverine, some of that mystery has returned, especially in regard to where he came from, who his mother is and why the decision was made to give him to another family.
Another thing about Jimmy that strikes a chord with me is his upbringing and relationship with his adoptive parents versus his desire to learn more about his birth parents. It’s a defining element of his character, and on a personal level it really resonates with me as my wife and I adopted our son a couple of years ago. It’s obvious in every aspect of his personality that he was always meant to be our son, but I wonder how he will feel about his birth parents as he gets older. Since we know nothing about them, they will be a complete mystery to him for the rest of his life. I can’t help but wonder how he’ll think about that as he grows up.
Obviously, the core difference between this Wolverine book and the Marvel Universe one is that this one is sort of a legacy title. As Jimmy will be your main character in the present day sequences, let’s talk a little bit about him. What’s your sense of Jimmy’s current temperament? He’s reckless and brash, as we’ve seen, but how much of that is a natural inclination and how much of that is based in his knowledge that he’ll heal from his injuries?
Jimmy’s young and, as you suggested, brash. He was something of a daredevil before he realized he had a healing factor, so some of his recklessness — his inquisitiveness — is simply a natural inclination. Jimmy also has a strong sense of loyalty to his friends and family, and that is at odds to some degree with this strong curiosity he has about his origins. In many ways, I think of Jimmy as an example of what might have been. He was raised by James and Heather Hudson — loving, caring parents. If Logan had been raised with such compassion and love, he might have turned out a lot like Jimmy.
Of course, in this story, Jimmy may find himself in a situation where it would be helpful to be a little more like the Wolverine of old.
Jimmy wasn’t raised by his birth father, but he knows who he is thanks to a message he discovered from Logan which stated he never regretted giving Jimmy up. How did discovering that affect Jimmy’s teenage psyche? Does he understand that his dad did what he thought best, or did it hurt him on a conscious or unconscious level?
Jimmy understands that his father did what he thought was best, but he doesn’t necessarily understand the reasoning behind it. I think, even if it is on an unconscious level, being given up by his birth parents still leaves some raw nerves.
What sets the events of “Ultimate Comics Wolverine” in motion for Jimmy? And what kind of mission does he embark upon because of thoseâ€¨events?
“Ultimate Comics Wolverine” follows two storylines that intersect in a big way. For Jimmy, it’s the holographic message his father left for him that opens the door to this adventure. We discover that one of Logan’s missions is coming back to haunt his son. The promise of answers — especially in regard to the identity of his mother — sets Jimmy on a dangerous path.
While Jimmy’s on his present day mission, you’ll occasionally flashback to a mission his father was on in the past which will interconnect with Jimmy’s in various ways. Can you tell us anything about the the flashback sequences?
Wolverine’s mission takes place while he is working for the government, running black ops and investigating a clandestine operation called Project: Mothervine. Suffice it to say, Project: Mothervine is up to no good, and it’s Wolverine’s job to shut them down. But there are other interested parties that complicate matters.
As we’ll see in Jimmy’s storyline, Project: Mothervine is broken but still hobbling along. When a villain suddenly becomes interested in uncovering the mysteries of Mothervine, it sets a series of events into motion. One of those events — a hidden message — is triggered in a way that forces Jimmy to follow up on it.
In both the past and the present story lines, you will see some familiar figures, but I’m keeping them a secret right now. Early on in the story, we will spend some time with the X-Men, especially Kitty Pryde. Also, Jimmy will not be embarking on his quest alone. His fellow X-Man, Black Box, will be accompanying him. You might also see some new Ultimate versions of other mainstream Marvel characters.
You’ve described “Ultimate Comics Wolverine” as “The Bourne Identity” with Wolverine, so I’m guessing this is a spy thriller that takes us all across the globe. What are some of the locales we’ll visit?
The story does have a little bit of globe-hopping, although the bulk of the story takes place in the United States. You’ll see several different locales around the U.S. as we uncover secrets surrounding Project: Mothervine. In terms of the spy-fi elements of the story, I wanted to bring about the feel of movies like “The Bourne Identity,” but jumping from country to country isn’t necessarily part of this tale. There are a number of interesting locales that we’ll visit, though.
Finally, “Ultimate Comics Wolverine” is your Ultimate Universe debut.â€¨What’s it like working on an Ultimate book after working on Marvel Universe titles? And you mentioned earlier that we might see some new Ultimate versions of established Marvel characters. Can you hint or tease as to the identity of these characters?
Working on an Ultimate title after being so enmeshed with the mainstream Marvel Universe takes a little getting used to. Even though I’ve been following the Ultimate line for a while, it still felt a little strange working with this version of the characters. One of the things I really like about this universe is that you never know what’s going to happen next. No character is safe, no storylines are sacred and the events that take place in the stories have weight to the rest of the world. This story will have a long-lasting impact on Jimmy and on the Ultimate Universe as a whole.
I’m introducing one Ultimate version of an existing Marvel character — but this is a violent story, so don’t expect them to last too long. I don’t want to reveal too much about them, but I will say he really tears into Jimmy.
This series will do a few things. It will help to establish Jimmy’s role as the Wolverine of the Ultimate Universe. It will establish a character as a major villain and a force to be reckoned with. And it will reveal some big secrets about Jimmy’s origins. I definitely believe it’ll have people talking.
“Ultimate Comics Wolverine” Editor Mark Paniccia: I think readers are going to flip out when they discover who Jimmy’s mother is. This connects him to other important characters in the Ultimate U in a pretty shocking way.
“Ultimate Comics Wolverine,” by Cullen Bunn and David Mesina, debuts in March.