Wolverine is a mutant of many talents. His long life and healing factor has allowed him to learn, do, and survive many terrible and wonderful things. Writer Jason Aaron plans on using his run on Marvel Comics’ “Wolverine: Weapon X” series to explore how his protagonist handles a variety of dangerous situations and foes. Issue #6 and the special one-shot “Dark Reign: The List-Wolverine” are in stores this week. CBR News spoke with the writer about both, as well as his future plans for ‘Weapon X.”
In “The Adamantium Men,” the recently wrapped first story arc of “Weapon X,” Wolverine took on Strikeforce X, an elite combat unit armed with laser claws, healing factors, and unbreakable skeletons that was tasked with doing the dirty work of a private firm of military contractors. Wolverine managed to stop the corporate-sponsored cybernetic killers, and they don’t play roles in in issue #6 of the series or “The List” one-shot, but that doesn’t mean the X-Man won’t be confronted by them again in the future.
“One of my main goals with this series is to introduce new villains and new threats for Wolverine. So that’s what we did with this first arc. We introduced this new team with a direct connection to the Weapon X legacy that created Wolverine, and those guys aren’t going away,” Aaron told CBR News. “We’ll see those guys again. In fact, we’ll see return appearances by all the villains from these first few arcs of the series. These guys aren’t one-hit wonders.”
In “Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine,” featuring art by Esad Ribic, the title character finds himself in the sites of a villain with an already established legacy of evil; Norman Osborn. The special offered Aaron the chance to write Norman Osborn again while telling a tale woven into the tapestry of Dark Reign, the Marvel U’s current big event. “Osborn is a lot of fun to write. I could definitely get used to writing him, and it’s always fun to play in the big sandbox,” Aaron said. “I’ve been to a couple of Marvel retreats now, and it was weird for me, at first, to be in a situation like that because, obviously, the only writing I’ve ever done is at home in front of a keyboard. So to be in a situation where you’re in a room fleshing out a story with 30 other people was really weird, but very exciting and a lot of fun.
“So, it’s nice to be part of an event like ‘Dark Reign: The List,'” Aaron continued. “Most of the stuff I do is kind of off in it’s own little corner of the Marvel Universe, like ‘Ghost Rider.’ And with ‘Wolverine: Weapon X,’ we’re [also] trying to build a series that is a little more stand alone.”
The other attraction of “Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine” was that it allowed Aaron to explore several of the characters and concepts that writer Grant Morrison created for the Marvel Universe. “We go back to the massive world dome where the soldiers from the Weapon Plus program were created,” the writer revealed. “Plus, we bring back Fantomex, and I also get to use Marvel Boy.”
When readers last saw Marvel Boy in the pages of “Dark Avengers,” the confused character had discovered that Norman Osborn was a megalomaniacal villain. He then fled the Dark Avengers and went underground. “Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine” picks up that plot thread, and finds Marvel Boy still on the run from Osborn’s forces. “So, when we see him in this special, he gets sucked into teaming with Wolverine, and eventually we get to see Marvel Boy teaming up with Fantomex,” Aaron explained. “I realized after writing a page or two of Fantomex and Marvel Boy together talking, that I could write an entire book starring both of them. They’re two great characters, and getting them together for the first time was very enjoyable.
“I’m a huge fan of these characters. Morrison’s ‘Marvel Boy’ was one of my favorite Marvel Comics series of all time. I think it’s a perfect mini-series,” Aaron continued. “And I love Fantomex, who made his debut during Morrison’s ‘New X-Men’ run. He’s an underused character that both I and Matt Fraction are fans of. We’ve both been competing to get our hands on him. I got to him first and Matt’s trying to snatch him away right now. I’ll try and snatch him right back though because Fantomex is so much fun to write.”
Norman Osborn isn’t the only enemy standing in the way of Wolverine’s goals in “Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine.” He also has to match wits with the mysterious Weapon XVI. “As if Marvel Boy and Fantomex weren’t enough, we also bring in Weapon XVI,” Aaron remarked. “I don’t want to say anything about the character, but Weapon XVI is in the vein of the Grant Morrison type madness that I was hoping [to achieve] with this issue.”
Meanwhile, in “Weapon X” #6, Wolverine is confronted by literal madness. The issue kicks off a new four part arc titled “Insane In the Brain,” and opens with Wolverine locked in a mental institution. “He doesn’t really remember who he is or how he got there. He has vague memories of living with wolverines, going to the moon, and hanging out with people who can teleport and fly. Because of all these crazy memories, the doctor he’s dealing with at first believes that Wolverine is completely insane,” Aaron explained. “As things go along in the story, which is really just a straight psychological horror story, we start to realize that there is something weird about this mental institution. There’s something going on here, and it’s a bad place for Logan to be.”
Aaron doesn’t specifically say where the mental institution that Wolverine gets confined to is located, but there are hints that it may be in the Northern California area near the X-Men’s current home of Utopia. Aaron chose to call the institution Dunwich Sanitarium as a nod to legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, who penned the story “The Dunwich Horror.” “I figured Arkham Asylum was named after a Lovecraft reference, so it made sense to name a Marvel U sanitarium after a Lovecraft reference,” Aaron stated. “I’m a huge Lovecraft fan.”
Being named after a fictional town, infamous for breeding an unspeakable horror, isn’t the only thing unsettling about Dunwich Sanitarium. It’s staff and patients are also quite disturbing, especially Doctor Rot, the chief villain of the “Insane in the Brain” arc. “Like every ‘Weapon X’ arc, this story is new reader friendly and features all new villains, characters and situations. Logan is one of those guys that you can’t really take down physically. He’s got this healing factor, and he’s such a great fighter, that it’s hard to create new villains that pose a physical threat to him,” Aaron remarked. “In this situation, though, we see how you can go after him mentally. In this story, you see how easy it is to drive Wolverine insane. You already know that he’s got this berserker side of him that he tries to bury. So, what happens when someone brings that out and is able to use that.”
Aaron says that Doctor Rot’s reasons for manipulating and messing with Logan will remain a mystery at first. “He’s the guy who runs the sanitarium, and he’s the guy who’s dealing with Logan; the guy who gets inside his head. Eventually we discover that Rot doesn’t just get into people’s heads metaphorically. He does that literally, as well. He cracks open skulls every now and then, and pulls out brains. We don’t learn why, right away, or what he does with them, but obviously it’s not good.
“As this arc goes along, you’ll watch the dark secrets of this mental institution unfold, and we’ll introduce some more insane new villains,” Aaron continued. “Plus, a couple of familiar faces will pop up as well, like Nightcrawler and Psylocke.”
In the previous “Weapon X” arc, reporter Melita Garner and Wolverine’s old Team X comrade, Maverick, played supporting roles, but only one of them will appear in “Insane In the Brain.” “There’s no Maverick, but we do see a little bit of Melita in this story. They’ll be reoccurring characters, and Melita will pop up almost every arc,” Aaron explained. “At the end of the first arc, there was a surprise about Maverick. You learned that he was more involved in the dealings of the story than you thought. We’re leaving him with that cliffhanger for a little while, but we will return to him.”
With a new arc comes a new artist, and Aaron is very happy for the chance to collaborate with Yanick Paquette. “Yanick has been doing some great stuff. I think he was itching to do a horror story, which worked out, because I’ve been throwing lots of craziness at him in these issues,” Aaron stated. “He’s fully embraced it, and has got a great propensity for drawing brains and lots of bizarre characters, like The Biter, Charlie Chainsaws, and the whole mad cast of characters that are popping up in this arc.”
“Insane in the Brain” is thematically about the one element of Wolverine that can’t be healed superhumanly fast; his psyche. As such, the events of the storyline will be long lived and will impact future stories in “Weapon X.” “This arc is definitely something that’s going to knock Logan’s feet out from underneath him a little bit,” Aaron explained. “And, just like our first arc, it will have lingering effects on Logan’s character in the series.”
“Insane in the Brain” comes to a conclusion in January 2010, and soon after that, Aaron kicks off the series’ next big story arc. “I’ve started writing the arc, and Ron Garney is coming back to draw it. It will be the biggest arc we’ve done in this series. It guest stars Captain America and features the return of a 1970s Marvel character that I’ve been itching to write. The character returns in a big way that throws them right into the middle of the Marvel U,” Aaron revealed. “This a character who doesn’t have a previous connection to Wolverine, but does have a previous connection to Captain America. cough killercyborgfromthefuture cough.
“This next big arc will be as big a dramatic departure from ‘Insane In the Brain,’ as that arc was a departure from out first arc,” Aaron continued. “With ‘Weapon X,’ the idea has always been to change things up each arc, and that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future. So, every few issues you get a new change, new tone, new genre, and all these new characters thrown into the mix. We also have this core storyline developing that’s running through each story. All of these stories matter. They’re affecting Wolverine in a big way. We’ll see how that all plays in the longer continuing story that’s developing, but arc to arc, ‘Wolverine: Weapon X’ will always be a book you can jump right into. You can pick up any issue or trade and jump right in. You don’t have to know all these years of X-Men or Wolverine continuity to enjoy this series.”
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