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X-POSITION: Charles Soule Counts Down to “Death of Wolverine”

by  in Comic News Comment
X-POSITION: Charles Soule Counts Down to “Death of Wolverine”

[SPOILER WARNING: The following X-Position contains spoilers for “Death of Wolverine” #1, on sale now.]

The “Death of Wolverine” has finally begun, and at the hands of writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven, readers got a big sense of what’s in store for Logan from the series’ first issue. From Wolverine’s big fight with Nuke to the reveal of who put the price on his head, “Death of Wolverine” #1 was the start of a story built upon 40 years of stories about the best there is at what he does, and while the end point of the four-issue miniseries might be telegraphed in the title, there’s still plenty of fallout to come from the Marvel Universe mainstay. There’s so much fallout that it takes not one, but two miniseries to even begin to fully explore it.

RELATED: Soule Puts an “Endpoint” on Logan’s Story with “Death of Wolverine”

Charles Soule, newly signed to an exclusive Marvel contract, spoke with X-Position to answer your questions about the current event after a busy weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con, discussing the idea behind the story of Wolverine’s death, how some of his supporting characters might come into play, the idea of family and how it influenced development, the idea behind the senses captions and much more.

CBR News: Charles, before we move over to specific reader questions, there was a lot of confusion this week over where “Death of Wolverine” lies in continuity, especially considering that Nuke shows up alive, and Reed Richards isn’t out in another dimension. Can you help shed any light on the situation?

Charles Soule: As far as Nuke goes, if you look closely you’ll see that we built in some clues about how he returned here after the great “Captain America” story that also used him not long ago, which are actually tied into the tiniest loophole Rick Remender left in his story. It is something we talked about and were aware of, but ultimately decided not to take up page real estate to address it directly — after all, this is really Logan’s story, not Nuke’s, and anything that pulls the reader away from that was something to avoid.

And with respect to Reed Richards, first of all, they don’t call him Mr. Fantastic for nothin’! But more seriously, if you look at the timeline here, there’s nothing to say that the discussion we see in “Death of Wolverine” #1 happened all that recently. All we know is that it hit at some point after Logan lost his healing factor, which is a pretty broad spread of time.

There was also an outpouring of curiosity for your experience writing X-23. While I know you can’t reveal any straight-up spoilers, inquiring minds want to know: what kind of role will she be playing during the course of “Death of Wolverine” and its aftermath?

She is a huge part of the aftermath of “Death of Wolverine.” As far as whether or not she appears in “Death of Wolverine,” I’m really trying to stay away from spoilers about that. I think part of the fun of the ride that we’re on is seeing who shows up and who’s there with him as part of this final adventure. I can say that she’s a huge part of the post-Wolverine death plans. I think Laura’s awesome and we have some really neat ideas as to where she’s going to go.

RELATED: Marts & Kubert Examine “Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy”

On to specific reader questions! First up is Nix Uotan, who wants to know more about one of the biggest organizations from Wolverine’s past.

What role will the Weapon X or Weapon Plus have here? Considering this is an end for Logan, will we see more secrets from Weapon X come out of the proverbial closet in the wake of his death?

Yes, we absolutely will. Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Weapon X” book was one of the primary influences for this project and I think Weapon X as a concept is fascinating. One of the two follow-up series that is being done directly spinning out of “Death of Wolverine” is called “The Weapon X Program.” I’m writing it, it’s five issues. The premise is basically “Runaways” meets “Frankenstein.” Instead of having teenage kids who are on the run, you have experimental rejects from Weapon X. These are not super soldiers — these are people who barely made it through the program alive, and they’re basically on the run to escape the bad guys. It’s super cool, it’s super fun, it takes place two seconds after “Death of Wolverine,” so it’s like a direct sequel. There’s lots of neat Weapon X-related stuff to come.

SDCC: Soule Follows “Death of Wolverine” with “The Weapon X Program”

cora reef wants to know more about family and the challenge of comic book death.

Dear Mr. Soule,

Although he used to be a loner, Wolverine has since turned into a character that has a lot of family connections — both by blood and through his time with the X-Men. How did the concept of family come into play as you explored his death and its aftermath?

That’s a great question. I thought about that a lot when I was thinking about putting together this story, and my basic idea was that — Wolverine is fairly aware that his death is coming, as you’ve seen in the first issue. He knows that he’s nearing his end. He’s also aware that he’s someone that tends to attract violence. With his death approaching and that very much on his mind, I think he’s actually stepping away a little bit. He’s saying, “You know, I don’t want anybody I care about to be hurt by what I think is going to happen, and I just want to try and get through this myself.” In essence, he’s returning to his loner roots, and whether or not that turns out to be a good decision for him is something you’re going to have to read in the book.

As a writer — especially in comic books — how did you approach giving a comic book death impact and depth during the course of a four-issue miniseries?

It was very difficult, because I wanted to make sure I was honoring a character in a way that his death feels earned. You could have him fall down the stairs and break his neck, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to create something that felt epic, but at the same time, I only had four issues and I had a lot of other check boxes I wanted to hit as well because I really wanted to talk about a lot of the touchstones of Wolverine’s life and things that he’s done in the past and make it almost feel like we’re reviewing Wolverine’s life at the same time as he’s reviewing it as he goes toward his end.

So, the way I approached it — since I only had the four issues — was to say, “You know what? The epic story, the epic buildup that you would have gotten if it was a 12-issue story is actually all of his previous stories.” I’m using the previous 40 years of Wolverine history as the epic buildup to this one. There are lots of references to prior stories. If you know them, great. If not, it’s all explained within the books. It’s going to feel familiar in the best possible way. It’s going to feel elegiac, it’s going to feel sad, but also epic and almost beautiful, hopefully. That’s the goal, that’s what we’re trying to do, and I hope that’s how it’s received by the readers.

Mahes is up next with a query about how the senses captions in “Death of Wolverine” #1 came about.

What was the inspiration behind using different captions for each of Logan’s senses?

Basically what I wanted to do was, first of all, stay away from first-person narrative captions. I didn’t want him to be doing things like, “Wow! I’m walking through the Canadian wilderness. I’m going to the bar now.” Stuff like that felt like not necessarily the way I wanted it to run because I think it puts the reader at a certain remove. It means that you’re learning too much about what the character’s thinking. I wanted it to be a situation where you’re watching what the character does and I wanted it to feel more visceral.

At the same time, captions can be very helpful because they do help you give insight into what a character’s thinking or feeling. I wanted to highlight Wolverine’s animalistic and feral nature, and his heightened sense seemed to be a good way to do that. So, he’s got senses for what he hears, what he smells and the pain that he feels, so that just felt like it could be a nice way to do an almost gut-punch for the reader, and make it very immediate and very focused on what feeling he was feeling at any given moment.

I was very pleased that we went back and forth with the lettering team on that for a while, to figure out a way to execute it in a way that would work. We tried a lot of things, and I think we settled on a nice solution. It was also something that hadn’t been done before with Wolverine, which I thought — I should at least try to do something that hadn’t been done with him before if I was going to be writing this story.

David is up next with a question about compressing an epic down to a few issues.

Hi Charles,

I’m a big fan of your series “Letter 44,” which has a really intricate and winding story. How were you able to approach “Death of Wolverine” and have that same level of story and character in only a few issues?

Well, the good news about something like “Death of Wolverine” is that — as I mentioned before — I don’t have to do all the work that I have to do on something like “Letter 44.” I only have four issues, but I also have 40 years of other storytellers’ amazing work to rely on, and the films and everything else. Everyone knows who Wolverine is and what he’s like. My job is really just to take that character and all his incarnations, distill him down into what I think his perfect version for right now would be and then tell the story.

“Letter 44” is a completely different kind of challenge because I’m starting from scratch, and creating these relationships with the reader and the characters myself out of whole cloth. I’m glad you’re a big fan — I am too and there’s a lot of cool stuff coming from that series as well.

mr_infinite wants to know more about the pressure of taking on the death of a comic book icon.

There aren’t many writers that get a chance to craft the death of a character, especially one that’s as popular as Wolverine. Having already written some of the most iconic characters in comics, like Superman and Wonder Woman, how much pressure did you feel in taking on not just Wolverine, but his death as well?

It was an immense pressure situation. I knew that if i did this job right, it would give me not just a significant profile boost — which is important to me, this is a business and this is my career and I want to stay in it for a long time and do great work — but I also felt there was a responsibility there to all the readers and fans and people who have enjoyed Wolverine over the years, over the decades. I wanted to make sure whatever I did wasn’t going to be just a thrown-together hack job. Certainly, having Steve McNiven on it and [inker] Jay Leisten and [colorist] Justin Ponsor on the art team, Chris Eliopoulos on letters — that makes my job easier, but I really wanted to bring my A-game and I think everybody is. Hopefully the work speaks for itself in that department.

JimTheTroll has a slightly off-the-wall question about the other possible ways Wolverine could have died.

What, in your opinion, are some of the most unexciting, “rejected” ways that Wolverine could have died?

Oh, I’ve heard so many. One that came up during a panel this weekend was putting him in a microwave, because the metal in his bones would blow up. Him catching ebola was heard a lot this weekend. I don’t know — like I said, falling down the stairs, hit by a car, changing his identity and living out his life on a beach.

But none of those ideas are what it’s going to be. It’s going to be a real, legitimate, epic, heroic death that I think works well for what we all want to see. Who knows? I did my best with it, and I hope people like it. They seemed to like the first part, which was incredibly gratifying. If you liked that, I think you’ll like what’s to come.

Special thanks to Charles Soule for taking on this week’s questions!

Next week’s X-Position guest is still in the works, so stay tuned!

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