Some Marvel heroes are all about order, striving to maintain the status quo and do what is expected of them in both their costumed and personal lives. Then there are those heroes who cause – and occasionally crave – chaos, finding themselves in in bar room brawls when they’re not battling bad guys. Take, for instance, the mutant known as Wolverine. When it comes to stopping evil, he’s one of the most effective heroes of them all, but when he’s out of costume, he’s just as likely to stir up trouble in the neighborhood tavern. Similarly, you have the Olympian God Hercules, who is famous for slaying many mythological monsters but is also infamous for his drunken and disorderly conduct. In the four issue miniseries “Wolverine/Hercules: Myths, Monsters, and Mutants,” writer Frank Tieri is joined by artist Juan Santacruz to bring these two heroic hell raisers together for an epic adventure. CBR News spoke with Tieri about the project which kicks off in March 2011 and features covers by the legendary Joe Jusko.
Tieri’s affinity for Wolverine is well known. In the early 2000’s, he had a long run scripting the “Wolverine” title, and since then he’s penned several other projects featuring the character. The writer is no stranger to Hercules either, having written the five issue “Hercules: The New Labors of Hercules.” Since then, Tieri’s been looking for a chance to write even more stories featuring the Greek Goliath.
“Hercules and Wolverine are two of my very favorite characters, so it’s obviously a thrill for me to be working with them again,” Tieri told CBR News. “Now, fans might think this is an odd pairing, but there’s actually some precedence to this: a back up story in a ‘Rampaging Hulk Marvel Treasury Edition’ called ‘At the Sign of the Lion.’ It was a story I read as a kid and not only was it my inspiration for bringing these two together for this project, but it was also my first introduction to Wolverine. And we all know how that’s worked out.
“The set up for that story is simple, and really not something fans would’ve had to have read prior to this – the two of them meet in a bar, they hit on the same girl, wind up in a fight and it ends up with the two of them having a beer,” Tieri continued. “From there I just always thought these two guys would’ve hit it off. They both love to drink. Both love to fight. Both love women. The start of a beautiful friendship, as they say.
“And you know what else these two have in common? They’re immortal. That very much plays into this series as you’ll see.”
And that’s not all. Both heroes have another trait in common – pasts that may not have always been filled with the happiest of times. “Ya know, if there were two characters in the Marvel Universe that you wanted to go have a beer with, it would these guys. For one thing, imagine the stories they’d tell. These are guys that have done and seen it all – plenty of wine, women and song. And fights – their old war stories are literally old war stories,” Tieri explained. “But on the flip side, they’ve both had these terrible things that have happened to them over time, not to mention the fact that they’ve had longer than most people to live with all of that stuff. Both have experienced several lifetimes of pain. So how does that affect somebody who lives a long time? How do you deal with that? That’s another aspect to what this series is about.”
One of the villains of “Wolverine/Hercules” is a man who has caused Wolverine quite a bit of sorrow, the villainous crime lord Matsuo Tsurayaba. Long time Wolverine fans know that Matsuo, a member of the ninja assassin cult known as the Hand, was behind the murder of Wolverine’s fiance Mariko Yashida; an event which happened in 1992’s “Wolverine” #57. “Because Matsuo was responsible for the death of Mariko, every year Wolverine would come and take a piece of him of. Something like that would certainly wear on a guy, and it has on Matsuo. Bottom line is, he’s had enough and is ready to die,” Tieri explained. “But then suddenly, he gets a new lease on life. Two characters from my ‘Hercules’ miniseries, King Eurystheus and Achelous, approach him and say, ‘We hate Hercules. You hate Wolverine. Let’s join forces and take them out together.’
“How, may you ask? Well, Eurystheus, through his connections to the Olympian gods, knows the locations of the burial sites of the greatest figures from Greek mythology – monsters, creatures, heroes, villains, you name it. And since Matsuo and the Hand have the ability to resurrect those people, well, I think you can see where this is heading.
“Harpies, griffins, minotaurs, centaurs, the Nemean Lion, the Cyclops from ‘The Odyssey’ – you name it. If it’s in Greek Mythology, chances are it’s here in this series, brought back to life,” Tieri continued. “Plus, mafia zombies. Did I mention mafia zombies? If you think of this thing like a buddy cop movie by way Ray Harryhausen, you’re not too far off.”
Readers of Tieri’s “Hercules” miniseries know that King Eurystheus head was cut off, but the writer has devised a way for the devious king to return in “Wolverine/Hercules,” with the writer hinting that those who have read the villain’s previous “final” appearance would especially enjoy the way Eurystheus is brought back.
In the recent “Psylocke” miniseries, the title character killed Matsuo Tsurayaba, but Tieri didn’t have to worry about resurrecting him for “Wolverine/Hercules.” “This actually was something I wrote a while ago. A lot’s happened since then with the Hand and Herc with the Chaos War, so Marvel thought it best if this series took place in the past so that stuff wouldn’t get in the way of the story we wanted to tell. It takes place between my ‘Hercules’ miniseries and before the ‘Psylocke’ miniseries and all the recent developments with the Hand in ‘Shadowland’ and “Daredevil’. But don’t worry, kids – it’s definitely in continuity and we’ll definitely be dealing with some heavy stuff in these character’s lives.”
Bringing to life Wolverine, Hercules, some dastardly villains, and a bestiary of monsters from Greek myths is no easy feat, but Tieri has been consistently amazed by the work of his artistic collaborators on “Wolverine/Hercules.” “I worked with Juan Santacruz previously on the ‘Galactus: The Real Story’ one-shot. His style for that series was humor based, because that’s what the tone of the project called for. But with this series, he was able to morph his style and give the work a more grim, gritty, action oriented feel. He really did a great job with it,” Tieri said. “Then we’ve got my old friend Joe Jusko on covers. Joe’s really the consummate pro, and we’ve been wanting to work together for years. This was really the perfect place for us to do it. Joe’s covers have a movie poster quality to them, and because this project sort of has a real cinematic feel, how apropos is it to have a movie poster style artist on the book?”
Tieri is quick to say he had a blast writing “Wolverine/Hercules” Myths, Monsters, and Mutants,” and if fans respond to the book, he would love to pen another story starring the two characters. “If you think about it, it just makes sense, these two together, hanging out, getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. It’s not like I paired Wolvie and the Vision together or Hercules with Mister Fantastic. It’s not far fetched for these two to have developed this great friendship, so if fans dig the book, I’m sure there’s plenty more craziness we can come up with.”
And “Wolverine/Hercules” isn’t the only upcoming project from Tieri. The writer currently has many irons in the fire including projects sure to please fans of both comics and video games. “[I have] plenty of stuff coming out, a lot of which can’t be announced yet, unfortunately. A lot from Marvel – some more Deadpool, Iron Man, Punisher stuff. Then there’s my first creator owned project, with my good friends Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor. That one’s pretty nuts,” Tieri revealed. “There’s the ‘Marvel Vs. Capcom 3’ video game that everybody already knows about and has been keeping me very busy. They can expect that to hit in the spring, and it’s going to be huge. It’s been a ball writing that. I know fans of the ‘Marvel Vs. Capcom’ series have been clamoring for this to come out for years and trust me, they will not be disappointed. It’s very much worth the wait.”