Wolverine is a character known for being “the best there is” at pulling off dangerous, violent and often ugly tasks thanks to his training as a soldier and spy, his razor sharp adamantium claws and unbreakable adamantium-laced skeleton, his enhanced senses and a mutant healing factor that allowed him to recover from almost any injury. What would happen, though, if that combination of elements was somehow disrupted and Wolverine was suddenly capable of being killed?
Writer Paul Cornell and artist Alan Davis begin to answer that question this August in “Wolverine” #8, the opening chapter of a new arc titled “Killable.” We spoke with Cornell about the storyline, which was announced today at Marvel Comics’ X-Men panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.
CBR News: Paul, before they reach “Killable,” readers still have the second half of the current “Hunting Season” and an arc titled “Drowning Logan.” What do you want people to know about these stories? How do they set the stage for “Killable?”
Paul Cornell: It builds and builds, really. In “Drowning Logan,” Logan discovers what the strange enemy he faced down in “Hunting Season” was, while stuck onboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier that’s sunk to the bottom of the ocean, filled with possessed agents. And he drowns. A lot. In “Hunting Season,” we meet his new supporting cast and set up a mystery that gets solved, big time, at the end of “Drowning Logan.”
Why is Wolverine now “Killable?” Did something happen to his healing factor or adamantium skeleton to make him this way?
Unfortunately I can’t answer that question without spoiling the end of “Drowning Logan” and the issues that comes after it. All I can say is that when this arc begins, Wolverine is killable, hence the title of the arc.
I imagine this will have a definite impact on Wolverine’s state of mind. How does he deal with his his new mortality when this arc begins? Is the idea of being able to die so bad for someone who’s lived for so long and seen so many loved ones die?
It sets a chill into him that starts slowly and keeps going. It doesn’t just frighten him, it shakes him to the core. He tries not to show it, but it changes everything about him. “Mortal,” the one-off story in #7, goes into the immediate changes, but it’s going to keep going, informing everything he does and really paying off with terrible results by the end of “Killable.” It’s like an enormous shadow is looming over him. Which is, as others comment, just what the rest of us live with every day. He’s going to take a walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
It’s about what happens when someone whose entire persona, fighting style and attitude is shaped by one big factor in their lives loses that. Logan has always gone into battle allowing himself to take a certain amount of damage. That’ll have to change, but that takes doing. He’s always assumed he had a long time to figure things out, to let life happen, but now, should he be more committed, should he make his relationships more important, should he try and start a family and keep it together, just for once? Most warriors have to deal with the idea of death. This is new to him, and it changes the sort of warrior he is. It makes him braver and tougher, because now he has everything to lose. But that journey to braver and tougher is a very difficult one.
Of course there will be many enemies out to take advantage of Wolverine’s mortality, chief among them his arch-enemy, Sabretooth. What role does Victor Creed play in this story?
I’ve never written him before, and I like him how he is now: Someone who’s got the same wisdom of his years as Logan has, a tactical player who’s able to lure his foe into a trap. He doesn’t enter this arc for the longest time, but everyone knows it’s him doing this. His entrance is going to be memorable.
Who are some of the other supporting players in “Killable?” Will Wolverine have any friends looking out for him, and is Sabretooth the only villain menacing him?
Certainly not the only villain. The arc begins with a trip to Wakanda that relates to our first story arc, with Storm going back on her word never to go there again. The stakes are so high. That brings a newly vulnerable Logan into direct conflict with the Black Panther, and there are other villains who are going to come after Logan.
We’re also going to visit with some people who are important to him: Storm, Kitty Pryde, the staff and students at the Jean Grey School. Everyone’s going to be affected by this change in his life. Kitty, especially, the symbol of how Logan cares about and will fight for and be mentor to the young, has a hugely important part in our endgame. She goes into the valley of death beside him.
Where does “Killable” take place?
We go to Wakanda, and then to — somewhere very important to Logan that hasn’t been shown very often. And it’s changed a lot.
Alan Davis has drawn some classic Wolverine and Sabretooth battles before, like 1987’s “Uncanny X-Men” #213, so he knows the characters and their rivalry really well, probably better than most. Which of his strengths will this story play to in particular?
Alan has two enormous strengths which are going to light up this arc. He does huge action brilliantly, and there’s tons of that. And he does emotional detail, changes in expressions, so well. His acting is great. So for an action story that engages the emotions, he’s the artist you want in your corner.
Finally, can you give us a grand overview of what to expect from what sounds like a roller coaster of a story arc?
It’s highly emotional. It comes from my own mortal thoughts as a result of becoming a Dad. If you do that at my age, mid-forties, you do feel a little as if you’re training your replacement. That maybe you’re done now. And that vein I’ve opened pours straight into Logan. Is he done now? Can he go? Or is there life in the old man yet?
I’m just amazingly pleased that when I suggested the idea to my Editor Jeanine Schaefer, she thought about it, put it to a Marvel retreat and went with it. So many editors might have flinched from something so game-changing. She’s done me so many favors, played so straight and always pushed for better and better. I couldn’t be happier with where I am creatively. She’s getting my best work. She’s one of the best editors in the business.