When it comes to vengeance in the Marvel Universe, Daniel Way is an expert. Last week we spoke with Way about his work on the new ongoing series featuring the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider Now it’s time for Way to dish about another vengeance obssesed character, Marvel’s most popular mutant Wolverine. In the recent “Wolverine” storyline “Origins and Endings,” Way sent Logan on a journey into his newly recovered past where he’s hunting for the shadowy figures that have manipulated him for almost a century. Way continues Wolverine’s quest for knowledge and vengeance this April, in the new ongoing series, “Wolverine Origins.” CBR News spoke with Way about his plans for the new monthly series, featuring art by Steve Dillon.
When “Origins” was announced, many readers were left wondering why Way didn’t just continue his exploration of Wolverine’s past in the regular “Wolverine” title. “Because of crossovers,” Way told CBR News. “A big story deserves a big forum. We simply couldn’t do that with all the intricacies he’s going through while at the same time be crossing over with things like ‘Civil War.’ In the end if we put them both together it would devalue both. They’re stronger on their own.”
“Origins” may not be part of Marvel’s big summer story, but the events in the series are occurring in the present day, in real time. “It’s real Marvel time,” Way said. “I think at this point all of us can admit that time is a very elastic concept in comics. Wolverine is going through this trail of vengeance in real time and that trail will lead him through his past. That’s how we’re going to move him through this thing.
“Each issue will contain a good amount of real time and flashbacks and the two will synch up a lot,” Way continued. “Because as we’ll introduce later, in order for Wolverine to get what he wants he almost has retrace his old footsteps. This makes it very easy for real time and flashbacks to link up.”
The flashback and real time segments in “Origins” will contain many revelations about Logan’s past, but readers shouldn’t expect a linear narrative. “We aren’t going to tell his past in chronological order,” Way explained. “Nobody wants that. That will happen when the events of ‘Origins’ are summed up and put in a handbook. We’re telling a story. We don’t want to do an information dump. We want to know but we don’t want it spoon fed to us.”
The stories in “Origins” will often be about Wolverine’s search for answers about his life: just because Logan’s memories were restored doesn’t mean he has the complete story of his past. “He might know that something exists but he doesn’t know who else knows about it,” Way stated. “He doesn’t know who is involved now, decades later, or where the tentacles reach and where the head is. He has to figure all of this out and since he’s going solo on this he has to think and move. He has to move quickly. When he makes a strike it has to be for all the marbles.”
The solicits and promotional art for “Wolverine: Origins” have shown the rather large and lethal marble that Wolverine will be striking for in this month’s concluding chapter of “Origins and Endings.” “It’s the Muramasa blade,” Way said. “This is a sword that was made by a mystical cursed Japanese swordsman who was possibly a mutant. He’s like a mutant alchemist. This was the guy who forged the black blade which the Silver Samurai ended up with in ‘Wolverine’ #3. What’s unique about this sword is this is what can kill Logan. So obviously he’d want to be the one in control of it.”
Logan will need to rely on the Muramasa blade, his mutant abilities, and all of his survival instincts to survive the hornet’s nest of trouble he kicks up in “Origins.” “The story in the first issue escalates at a rapid pace,” Way said. “It gets just about as bad as it can very quickly. I wrote it that way because I wanted to show the backlash of something like that happening. A century’s worth of dirty laundry is being dumped.
“If you tell somebody something ten years ago, you’re like, ‘They probably forgot it.’ Well, imagine whispering some dirty secret to someone a hundred years ago and here they come. They’re out to get your fucking grand kids,” Way continued. “It’s not dirty little secrets, it’s massive awful secrets. It’s the secrets of people in high places and high powered people.”
Wolverine’s knowledge of these deadly secrets will mark him as public enemy #1 to the world’s intelligence communities. “The intelligence community, which is sponsored by world governments, can’t stand the fact that he’s out in the open and under absolutely no control,” Way stated. “As far as the world at large knows, this guy is all bad. These intelligence communities are going to foster that. They’re going to be, ‘He’s awful. He’s terrible. He’s a crazy man.’ They’re not going to say ‘Well he’s got some beefs with us. We really did screw him for about ninety years.’ So the propaganda is out and it’s all against him.”
The propaganda machine and Wolverine’s actions in “Origins” will have a negative impact on Wolverine’s relationship in the superhero community. “Even the X-Men are stepping back,” Way said. “The superhero community is fed up with him. They’ve tolerated this guy for so long. The approach with Wolverine for a long time has been, ‘Hey it’s better than having him as an enemy.’ You bring him in and you tolerate him because you don’t want to be on his bad side.
Wolverine’s actions in “Origins” also will place him on the bad side of many of his teammates in the New Avengers. Way said Logan’s status on that team is currently being worked out. “Captain America has a particular insight into Wolverine but he’s Captain America,” Way explained. “He understands, ‘Okay, you were brainwashed. You were under control. You we’re given orders. But I’m Captain America and there’s no free pass.’ Especially for the shit he’s doing. There are three people you don’t want coming after you: Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and Captain America. These guys are resourceful. Luckily Captain America has a lot on his plate right now.”
Captain America may be too busy to pursue Wolverine, but in the first story arc of “Origins,” Logan goes toe-to-toe with another government created super soldier. “Axel Alonso and I started talking about characters to bring in and Nuke was on the extreme short list,” Way stated. “He fits the bill. He’s a credible threat. He can take a lot of what Wolverine can dish out and the thing with Nuke has always been one-on-one it’s bad but not awful. But if there’s anybody nearby Nuke is not going to hesitate because in his eyes they all look like enemies. Once they say, ‘Nuke go kill the enemy,’ he doesn’t make any distinction.”
“Origins” might be the first comic where Wolverine and Nuke meet face to face, but the pasts of the two characters are very much connected. “The series is called ‘Origins.’ It’s plural,” Way said. “So we find answers to why Nuke ended up being what he is and when and how that ties into Wolverine.”
Wolverine’s enemies are aware the two characters have a connection and that’s one of the reasons they send Nuke out to get him. “You can’t hunt Wolverine down at all. This guy has more training than almost anybody on the planet as far as counterintelligence. This guy can disappear,” Way explained. “All you can do is lay out bait and try and draw him in. Wolverine is looking for information and if the bait is worth more than the risk he’ll take it.
“So the good ole CIA who have been keeping Nuke and put him back together again have just enough information,” Way continued. “They know that there’s a history there. They don’t know the full story because of the J. Edgar Hoover bottleneck and all the paper files that got thrown away and didn’t get put on disk. Wolverine knows exactly what the history is. So, there are several reasons why he would track down Nuke and it has a lot do with his personal journey.”
Wolverine’s personal journey in “Origins” will also put him in conflict with one of his oldest enemies. “His birthday’s coming up so we’ll definitely have to deal with Sabretooth,” Way said. “They have big beefs.”
In addition to Sabretooth, Nuke, and the previously mentioned conflict with Captain America, in addition to the New Avengers, Way has plans for many Marvel characters in “Origins.” “There’s Black Widow because the Romanoff family has a big history with Wolverine,” Way explained. “Nick Fury also has a lot of history with him but that’s going to take some time because he’s otherwise engaged. When I found out that Fury was going to be out of commission as well as Professor X, I was like, ‘Uh, I was counting on those guys.’ But their absence buys time.”
Nick Fury might be absent in “Wolverine: Origins,” but former Howling Commando and Fury’s fellow agent of SHIELD, Dum Dum Dugan, will play a role in the book. “He’s basically in charge of the Wolverine task force,” Way said. “It’s impossible on its face and the people he’s trying to protect are not coming up with information he can use to help them. They want to still keep secrets.”
Dugan’s task might be impossible, and he might sympathize with Wolverine, but he’s going to do his best to defuse the lit powder keg that Logan’s quest has become. “Essentially what he’s trying to do is damage control,” Way explained. “He wants to keep it from getting any worse because he doesn’t know exactly what Wolverine is looking for.”
Readers might think they know what Wolverine is looking for: they might be assuming, incorrectly, that Wolverine is looking for information solely about the Weapon X program. “When Wolverine was brought into Weapon X they shot his memory to hell but his memory already was shot to hell,” Way stated. “We’re going to be revealing that Wolverine has been a victim of mind control for a lot longer than anyone thought.”
The revelations about Wolverine’s long, sordid past in “Origins” will also include some of the secret roles Logan might have played in historical events. Way did plenty of research and used careful consideration when planning out Wolverine’s ties to history. “I wrote a scene that had to do with a really bad incident in Vietnam and I e-mailed a couple of people who had maintained websites with information about the incident to get their thoughts on it,” Way explained. “The incident was the Mai Lai Massacre in 1968. I explained that this is going to be my approach. I don’t want to devalue anything but this is what I am going to be writing. Everyone I contacted said, ‘Yeah, go with it.'”
Way also is considering Logan’s possible role in some of history’s unsolved mysteries, like the JFK assassination. “I’ve though about this before. If I did do JFK, Wolverine is not one of the gunmen,” Way said. “You don’t put him out on hill with a rifle but there were foul ups with Kennedy’s autopsies, there were foul-ups at several hearings and there were some significant problems with witnesses. I wouldn’t go the obvious route but there are a thousand different places to plug him into that fucking mess and I do like to do those things.”
In addition to various points in history, Way plans to take readers to various points on the globe both real and fictional. “Here’s a big one: Madripoor,” Way revealed. “I can’t wait to start writing those stories because I loved those books when he was Patch. As I was working up the massive timeline, that’s now up on my wall, the Madripoor stuff always came in like I couldn’t write it better.
“I can’t suppose what Claremont was thinking but I couldn’t ask for a better set up,” Way continued. “The way that we have him behaving in this secret past that would be a great place for him to operate. If someone needed to disappear have them land in Madripoor, go have a drink and never come back. It’s an island nation as an assassin.”
In constructing Wolverine’s journey across the globe and into his past, Way did a mountain of research on the character’s established past. “This is an intensely continuity based thing,” Way said. “I get e-mails from guys who are like, ‘I’ve been a fan for thirty years and just wanted to say thanks.’ Or we appreciate it. I wrote the story for everyone but those guys are getting an extra thrill. The looking back part is what I really get a kick out of. I love it when an issue of ‘Wolverine’ comes out and people are diving into their comic boxes and they’re searching the internet and cross referencing information.”
In addition to being a series that sends people to their comic collections, Way would also like “Origins” to be a series with stories that actively engage readers. “I want those head scratching moments,” he said. “I don’t want to be obtuse and I don’t want to be impenetrable but when the pieces do come together if you figured it out you’re going to feel pretty fucking clever. If you don’t see it coming than that’s going to feel good too. There’s very few ‘oh shit’ moments in comics and those are precious. Those are gold. To be like ‘Oh fuck’ and then you’re brain snaps it all together. That’s what I like when I read and hopefully everyone else feels the same way.”
Way is happy to be partnered with an artist on “Wolverine: Origins” that he knows will excel at bringing those “oh shit moments” to life, Steve Dillon. “Steve Dillon is a fucking genius,” Way said. “Subtlety and nuance aren’t things that are done on a regular basis in comics. For the most part they’re not used. Steve can do that. He’s such a scary talent. He can tell a paragraph with an expression, body position or gesture. At the same time I don’t know of anyone who can do the hardcore galvanizing moments of violence. He can do both of these things. For those two abilities to exist in one person that makes Steve a national treasure. He’s also extremely dependable which is a big thing in this business.”
Readers that just scan the art and read the dialogue of “Wolverine: Origins” will definitely be missing a lot of the story. “If they’re doing that they’re missing out on a ton,” Way stated. “I write a full a script. If you look at my scripts there is prose, there’s little pellets of dialogue in all caps and I write all the art direction.”
Some readers might want to review Wolverine’s battle with the Winter Soldier in “Wolverine” #39 for examples of things they might have missed in Way’s script. “I’ve never read a ‘Wolverine’ comic where you actually saw through his eyes and saw him losing it,” Way explained. “In the art direction to the colorist I wrote, ‘What we’re doing here is everything is going to start going red.’ You’ll also notice that the first person narration drops out because he’s not thinking. It’s like he’s not there when he goes berserk.”
Way promises readers who come along with Logan on his journey in “Wolverine: Origins” will be in for an exciting ride. “It will have a consistent tone throughout,” He said. “I want to keep that sense of danger and fear. I want to keep the tension amped to the max.”
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