Wolverine may be a member of two of the Marvel Universe’s premier super teams, but he’s not exactly a hero. Unlike his fellow Marvel heroes, Wolverine has no problem killing villains if he believes it serves the greater good. That killer instinct has made him many enemies — including the ninja assassin cult known as the Hand, a centuries old organization with chapters all over the world.
Wolverine is used to battling hordes of Hand ninjas whenever and wherever they appear — and this June, original “Avenging Spider-Man” creative team Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira reunite for “Savage Wolverine” #6, which starts an arc that pits Wolverine and Elektra against several new, dangerous agents of the ninja cult.
CBR News spoke with Wells and Madureira about their debut arc of “Savage Wolverine,” how it compares to working on “Avenging Spider-Man,” bringing Elektra into the mix and what to expect from the new agents of the Hand.
CBR News: Zeb and Joe, this story started off as “Avenging Spider-Man” tale before becoming a “Savage Wolverine” story about Logan and Elektra. Spidey still has a presence in the story, though. What can you tell us about his role in this story? Is he the Amazing Spider-Man or the Superior Spider-Man?
Joe Madureira: He’s really not in it all that much, but it’s regular Spidey, not Superior Spidey.
Zeb Wells: Spidey shows up at the beginning and end of the arc. I like it when he pokes at Wolverine’s image as a stone cold killer, so having him around really shows the two worlds Wolverine lives in; the more “heroic” world of the Avengers/X-Men and the grittier world of his past.
Zeb, we’ve spoken previously about your thoughts on Wolverine, so let’s chat about Elektra. You wrote a “Dark Reign” mini-series and a “Shadowland” one-shot featuring the character, so I’m guessing you have an affinity for her. What do you find most interesting about Elektra? Which of her qualities are you interested in exploring in this story?
Wells: I love writing Elektra. She’s the walking embodiment of that deep, scary soul-sadness we all get sometimes. She’s lost too much and sees no hope of a normal life, which is interesting because it’s the exact opposite of Spider-Man. It’s fun to see Wolverine with Elektra on one side of him, and Spidey on the other. He’s caught between those two worlds. Should he let his past consume him, accept that he’s a killer and function like Elektra? Or should he trust Spider-Man and believe that deep down he’s a good person and a hero?
How would you describe the dynamic between Wolverine and Elektra when your “Savage Wolverine” story begins? These characters know each other and have worked together before, but do they necessarily like and trust each other?
Wells: After the events in “Enemy of the State,” Wolverine owes Elektra a lot. I think she’s one of those people who doesn’t even have to ask for his help. She needs something; he’s there. So they trust each other, but they only relate on a warrior level. Elektra and Logan don’t get together to talk about their feelings. They get together when someone needs [to be] killed.
Can you tell us any more about the plot of your story and the inciting incident that brings Wolverine and Elektra together?
Wells: Elektra discovers that Bullseye’s body has been stolen, and the Kingpin knows who did it. This forces her to work for Fisk again, which she doesn’t love, obviously. Logan is the only one she knows will back her up without question and do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
What’s the setting of the story? How important are the buildings and environments to the overall story you’re telling? What do they add the tale?
Madureira: I hate environments; I think they should all be CG —
Wells: We wanted to break from the norm and make sure the locales were not a character in the story.
Madureira: In all seriousness, the story takes place in various locations around (and beneath) NYC, including Central Park and of course the Shadowland complex. In general though, I always let the characters take center stage. I don’t think, “Okay, here’s the environment, now I’ll drop the character in.” I always start with what I want to see the character doing, what pose and how big they are on the page. Then I draw just enough background elements to give you some sense of where they are but not enough to distract from the characters. Not saying that’s the best approach — but it’s sort of how I think. I’m a character guy, after all.
You’ve previously revealed that some new agents of the Hand would be Wolverine and Elektra’s chief antagonists. What are their motivations and allegiances to the Hand? Are these characters working for the Kingpin’s New York based faction, the Japan based group or are they an independent faction?
Wells: They are ancient Demon-Ninja who answer to no one. They have been resurrected by more traditional members of the Hand to deal with the perceived weakness of Fisk’s leadership. All they care about is the survival of the Hand.
Joe, what was it like designing these new Hand characters? What common elements did they need to have? Were there any characters that proved to be difficult to design or especially fun to bring to life?
Madureira: I absolutely loved drawing these guys. I’ve always been crazy about all things feudal Japan — Samurai, Ninja, etc. and I have literally been dying to draw the Hand. I think I have jokingly brought them up as potential adversaries in every Marvel book I’ve worked on at this point, so you can imagine how happy I was to finally get my wish. The new guys are sort of “stand out” characters that push them away from traditional ninja and more into character archetypes like an old sage, a hulking brute, and my favorite — a creepy little girl in a Kimono with a cracked doll face mask. I think there were about 5 or 6 brand new characters in this story (and one cool dude who only survives for one panel.)
Finally, your “Savage Wolverine” story sounds like a gritty, exciting tale of bloody blades and martial arts mayhem. Can you offer up any concluding thoughts about the book’s tone, scope and scale?
Madureira: I’d say that description sums it up pretty well. It was really fun to go a little darker and grittier than I normally do.
Wells: There are a lot of fun twists and turns in the story, so I hope people check it out for the aforementioned mayhem and stick around to see where it goes. Joe and I are both really proud of it.
Madureira: It was a blast working with these characters and with Zeb again (he’s quite a character himself). I really hope people dig it!
“Savage Wolverine” #6 hits stores June 12.