It’s been a long road with the X-Men for Jason Aaron. Although he wrote select issues of “Wolverine” in 2002 and 2007, his extended tenure with the Best There Is At What He Does didn’t officially start until 2008 — and he just never left. From “Wolverine” to “Wolverine: Weapon X,” “Schism,” “Wolverine and the X-Men” and, most recently, “Amazing X-Men,” Aaron has certainly left his mark on the X-Men Universe, establishing the Jean Grey School, introducing many new characters and bringing Nightcrawler back from the dead in glorious fashion for his final act as a writer in Marvel’s X-Men universe.
Although his final issue of “Amazing X-Men” hit last week, Aaron is still deeply entrenched in the Marvel U with “Thor: God of Thunder” and his upcoming tenure on Marvel’s big “Original Sin” event series this summer.
Bidding a fond farewell to Marvel’s Merry Mutants, Aaron joined X-Position for a series of retrospective questions about his many years shepherding Wolverine through the Marvel U, the difficulty of saying goodbye to the characters, potential plans for “Amazing X-Men” and even the possibility of a return someday down the line.
John kicks off this week’s X-Position with some retrospective questions.
No more Jason Aaron X-Men? Say it isn’t so!
I really dug your run on both “Wolverine and the X-Men” and the first arc of “Amazing X-Men.” When you started working on the mutants of the Marvel Universe, did you ever think it would have such a far-reaching effect on the line?
My first comic gig was an eight-page Wolverine story that I got as a result of a talent search contest. It took a couple more years before comic book writing really became a career for me, but once it did, I found myself writing more Wolverine stories. And I’ve been in the X-Men corner of the Marvel U ever since. So no, back when I won that talent search, I had no clue that I’d be getting paid to write SNIKT for the next several years, let alone that I’d be able to help shape the X-verse as a whole for so long. Back then, I was just thrilled to have the opportunity. I was just a lifelong comic fan getting a chance to live out his dream. And these days, I still am that fan, just with a longer beard. I’m a fan who’s lucky enough to get to do the most amazing job in the world. Working with the X-Men has been an awesomely fun ride, and I owe the ole Canucklehead and all his fans out there for helping give me a career, for which I will be eternally grateful.
I know it’s tough to pick, but did you have a favorite moment from your work with the X-Men? What was it and why?
I’ve never really thought about that. Looking back now though, there are lots of moments that come to mind. There’s a scene in “Get Mystique” where Logan blows himself up on purpose, and there’s a page or two there where I talk about how having a healing factor doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain. If anything, it hurts even more. It hurts to have your body knit itself back together. It hurts to have bones covered with adamantium. It hurts to pop claws out of your hands. Basically, it hurts like hell being Wolverine. I’m still pretty fond of that bit. I think it was the beginning of me figuring out the character. There’s also an issue of the “The Adamnatium Men” where Logan sings a Hank Williams song and then fights a bunch of guys with laser claws, and later, there are guns that shoot cancer bullets. Still pretty happy with that one. Think it sums up who I am. “Wolverine: Weapon X” #16, with Nightcrawler’s will and the piano. The fight between Scott and Logan in “Schism.” Logan and Quentin at the space casino. Cowboy Spider-Man and Indian chief Wolverine. Teaming up Logan, Gorilla Man and Fat Cobra in the “Goodbye, Chinatown” arc. The first appearance of Lord Deathstrike. The Doop issue. Doom the Living Planet. Iceman Voltron. Anything with Krakoa. Scott and Logan and a room full of beer. Getting Nick Lowe to approve a character called Snot. Bringing back Kurt.
cora_reef is up next, curious about the possible plans for Firestar and the potential for Emma Frost in “Original Sin.”
Dear Mr. Aaron, It’s sad to see you leaving “Amazing X-Men,” especially after you mentioned that you had some big plans for Firestar. Now that you’re leaving the X-Men universe (hopefully temporarily), would you be willing to share the direction you hoped to take the character?
Yeah, I had some more stories I wanted to tell on “Amazing,” and I was certainly looking forward to doing more work with Ed [McGuinness], but my schedule got thrown a couple of curveballs earlier this year, and something just had to give. But who knows, maybe somebody I’ll still get to do those other tales. As for Firestar, yeah, she was gonna be a big part of stuff I had coming up. But just in general, I really wanted to make her a big-time X-Man, which she’s never really had the chance to be before. And I really hope that she’ll stick around in the series even after I’m gone.
I’m also excited for “Original Sin.” You’ll get to write Emma Frost, a character that didn’t really appear in the casts of either of your books. What excites you about getting to tackle her in “Original Sin?”
I’ve written Emma in a few things before, here and there. She has one of those voices that’s addictive to write, partly because she’s a character who always says the stuff we all wish we could say. And yeah, she’ll be a big part of the main “Original Sin” series.
Finally, you’ve been working in the X-Men universe for a very long time. What have you learned as a writer while crafting stories for the X-Men?
Well, everything I’ve learned as a writer, whatever that may be, has been learned during the time I was working in the X-verse. When I got my first real Wolverine writing gig, which was for “Wolverine” #56, I was completely green. I’d written a few issues of “The Other Side” and “Scalped” for Vertigo, and that was it. Those were the first full comic scripts I’d ever written. So yeah, hopefully I’ve learned a lot since then. If nothing else, I’ve learned that team books are hard. That less is more, except when it comes to Bamfs. And that it’s almost impossible to get bored writing Wolverine, since there are so many different kinds of stories you can throw him into.
Thank you for all your work in the X-Men universe!
Madrox wants to know more about the motivations behind “The Return of Nightcrawler.
You’ve been shaping the X-Men universe, introducing new themes and ideological differences between mutants after the Schism for a long time but for the finale you chose to tell a brand new story about Nightcrawler. Did you think this could be anti-climactic for some readers, what did you want to add to the overall story by making this choice?
I’m not exactly sure what you mean, Madrox. You mean anti-climatic as a finale for my overall run? It was never really meant to be read as that. “The Return of Nightcrawler” story is the opening arc of a new series, so it wasn’t written as the finale to anything. I didn’t even know I was gonna have to leave “Amazing X-Men” while I was writing it. I think if you’re looking for a story that sort of puts a cap on most of the themes I was dealing with over the course of my entire time in the X-Men universe, then read my last issue of “Wolverine & the X-Men.” For me, that was the end of the character arc I’d had Wolverine on, running through all his solo stuff and into “Schism” and “Wolverine & the X-Men.” “Amazing X-Men” was always intended to be more Nightcrawler’s series than it was Wolverine’s, so I was never really looking to develop that Logan thread past the end of “WatXM.” That said, “Amazing X-Men” #6 definitely was written as my overall send-off to the X-verse, as well a story that put a bow on the “Return of Nightcrawler” arc and set all the characters up in a place where somebody else could pick up the ball and run with it. Yeah, it may not work as a perfect post-script for the main themes of my entire X-Men tenure, but again, I felt like I’d already done that. And I’m still happy with the end of that issue being my send-off. If you’d told me back in 2001 when I won that talent search contest that I’d get to write the X-Men for a solid seven years and then end my tenure by having Kurt and Logan stagger drunkenly out of a bar, arm in arm, as the sun comes up — I’d say that’s a hell of a deal, and I’d take it in a heartbeat.
Keith is up next with a quick question about “Original Sin” and a hypothetical about a solo series.
So far, there have been a lot of secrets teased for “Original Sin.” Considering your history with the X-Men, will you be covering any of the X-Men’s secrets in the event series?
Not really. The main “Original Sin” series tells a very specific story, about the investigation into who killed the Watcher. The various secrets of the Marvel Universe that come spilling out because of the Watcher’s death will be dealt with in the individual titles.
If there was one character you wrote during your time in the X-Men Universe that you could give a solo series to, who would it be and why?
Great question. At one point, years back, I was talking to Marvel about doing a Deathlok series, featuring the version of Deathlok I’d introduced in “Wolverine Weapon X,” but it just never came to be. Too bad, because I would’ve loved to have written that. I’d still love to see Longshot in the spotlight again, in a series that harkened back to the feel of his original Ann Nocenti/Art Adams mini. And I think Beast is a character who could carry his own series. Like Wolverine, I think there are lots of different kinds of stories you could plop Beast into and have it work.
Indra wraps up this week’s X-Position with some appropriate questions about the end of an era and the possibility of a return down the line.
Dear Jason, I’ve been a major fan of “Wolverine and the X-Men” since the first issue hit, and followed through to “Amazing X-Men.” As tough as it is for me to see you go, I have to imagine that it might be even tougher for you to leave the X-Men Universe. Has it been hard to leave these characters after writing them for so long?
Yeah, it actually was kinda hard. It was hard to let go of the kids from “Wolverine & the X-Men,” because I loved writing them so much. And then it was kind of weird one day recently when I woke up and realized that after seven years, I wasn’t involved with writing X-Men stories anymore. I did my creator-owned series “Scalped” for about six years and those characters meant a lot to me, but it wasn’t really hard to let them go, because I knew their story was done. It’s obviously different with work for hire stuff, because no matter how long you may feel some sort of “owernership” over a character, ultimately that character is going to continue on without you. So yeah, sometimes reading a Marvel character you used to write is a little bit like seeing pictures of an old girlfriend going out with somebody new. But I’ve managed to adjust to life without the X-Men. If nothing else, I’ve moved on to my new girlfriend, Thor. And now I’m back to being the same X-fan I was before I ever started writing them. I just look forward to reading the books like everybody else.
Do you think you’ll ever come back to the X-Books down the line? Any lingering ideas for stories still floating around that you’d like to resolve?
Yeah, I definitely have more X-Men story ideas floating around inside my head, but I think that’s good. Better to leave when you still have some ideas in the tank, as opposed to when you’ve completely run out. So who knows, I’d never say never, in terms of coming back to the X-Men. But for the foreseeable future, my plate is overflowing, with “Thor,” “Original Sin,” my creator-owned work and some new projects I can’t talk about just yet.
Thanks again, X-fans, seriously. Thanks to everybody who’s supported my X-work over the years. Thanks for all the letters and e-mails. Thanks for all the angry tweets I got when I shot Broo in the face. Thanks for buying my stuff. Thanks for coming to say hi at cons. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you folks. Hope you enjoyed the ride half as much as I did. And I hope to see ya ’round the bend.
Until the end of time… Make Mine Maggot!
Special thanks to Jason Aaron for taking on this week’s — and the many other — X-Position questions!
As many of you noticed already, next week’s guest is none other than “Uncanny Avengers” scribe Rick Remender. There have already been a ton of great questions submitted, but don’t let that stop you from sending in even more! Send your questions over via e-mail with the subject line “X-Position or in a 140 character question via Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!