In the Marvel Universe, characters often have a lot happen to them, but their core “being” typically remains the same. You can rest fairly assured that Spidey will always weave webs and preach the importance of “great power and responsibility,” Wolverine will perpetually slice and dice because he’s “the best there is” at what he does and the Hulk will have rage issues ad infinitum. Occasionally though, there are characters who go through major changes that completely redefine them. Angel becomes Archangel, Marvel Girl becomes Phoenix, and — due to recent events — Jubilee has become…Vampire Jubilee!
The sweet, spark-slinging mutant from X-Men and Generation X has been thoroughly changed; everything from her powers to her outlook on life is now different. She needs help with this adjustment and, thankfully, the one constant in her life is there for her: Wolverine. Writer Kathryn Immonen (“X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back,” “Heralds”) is currently exploring this father-figure/daughter reunion in the four-issue limited series “Wolverine and Jubilee.”
The first issue arrived in stores in January, which naturally means questions from the X-community. Fortunately, we’re here to lend a hand with answers as Immonen joins us for her first ever X-POSITION! I’m sure she’ll find the X-perience a pleasant one. Let’s begin, shall we?
Sami kicks things off with some words of appreciation to welcome our guest. Thanks for making my job easy, Sami!
Hey Kathryn! First, I’m really glad I get this chance to thank you for writing really great stories! From Chase’s uncle in “Runaways” to revealing Pixie as a Mastermind Sister — it’s all incredible! I was just wondering how you view Jubilee as a character now that she is a vampire — what drives her?
It’s me who should be thanking you! I’m so glad you’ve been reading and enjoying the books. As for Jubilee, I guess at this point I kind of see her as — to steal a phrase — a fabulous disaster. Even without her newfound fangy-ness (MS Word is telling me that’s not a word — it’ll learn…), she’s already experienced so much upheaval in her time.
It’s been a steady journey of her trying to figure out what it is she has to offer and where she fits in. So, in that sense, this is really more of the same, but really amped up. How can she leverage her vampire powers in a way that adequately manages the risk to everyone around her? It has the potential to put her right back in the X-Men game, but also to have one of them take her right out of it if she puts a foot wrong.
Aspbros has a couple of X-queries, but before tackling those, he was hoping for some insight on the “Moving Pictures” graphic novel you created with your husband (artist Stuart Immonen — “New Avengers,” “Ultimate Spider-Man”):
1) Kathryn, I’m a big fan of all your writing and I recently read “Moving Pictures.” I enjoyed it, but I must confess that I needed to read it a couple of times in order to follow the narrative…and I’m still a bit confused. I know you don’t want to spoil it for others, but is there a key to reading this so I can follow the story in a more linear fashion? I feel like I’m missing something…
You’re not alone, which is encouraging — for one of us! “Moving Pictures” has two storylines which meet right at the beginning and then again at the end. So, the train scene at the beginning happens right before the first interrogation scene. The — let’s call it the Train storyline — then backs up to a point in time before that and then continues chronologically until it meets up again with the Interrogation storyline at the very end. So, aside from that first jump back in time, both stories proceed linearly.
I know that it’s a pretty opaque work and that so much of what goes on is internalized to the point where it’s practically been reabsorbed at the cellular level of the characters. Stuart and I are both really honored that people have been willing to read it through repeatedly in order to parse it.
2) And now I’ll get back to the X-questions…
If you have to. I’m perfectly content to talk about Nazis, mariachi bands and talking cats.
Now that Jubilee is a vampire, how are you going to deal with the “sexual” aspect that seems to be inherent in being a vampire? It feels like you can’t have a vampire story without sexual desire tying into it somehow, and a Jubilee/Wolverine pairing would just seem wrong…
Wrong like a wrong pork chop covered in wrong gravy. Not least of which is because she’s seventeen, so “wrong” in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
But beyond that, I really think that the blanket issues for vampires are, and always have been, that of extreme need and extraordinary desire and how those things intersect and conflict and what you’ll do to fulfill them. And then you’ve got Jubilee who, because of Wolverine’s blood coursing through her veins, is always trying to reconcile those things with this overlaid haze of — I hesitate to use the word “humanity,” so let’s call it “perspective” — which doesn’t come naturally to her.â€¨
3) You’re writing Wolverine as a father-figure in this book (at least it seems that way from the outset). As a writer, how do you separate the killer from the nurturer when you’re writing him? Are those two aspects even compatible?
I read this question out loud to Stuart (who works about four feet away from me) and his response was, “I guess they haven’t met your father.” I think this has pretty much always been the relationship between the two of them. And I think she’s in need of a guiding hand and a boatload of patience, now more than ever. I’m sure if push came to shove, Wolverine would have zero compunction about ending Jubilee, but right up until the very last moment, I think he’d still want to choose the Jubilee he hopes she will become over the Jubilee she has become. In the meantime, Wolverine’s been around a long time, he knows how things can evolve and he’s invested a lot of emotional capital in her. I know it doesn’t always show, but he knows how to be patient.â€¨
Kevin also had some thoughts on Wolverine helping Jubilee with her transition. Let’s see if you and he are both riding the same train of thinking:
As a longtime Jubilee (and Wolverine) fan, I have to congratulate you on the sell-out success of “Wolverine and Jubilee” #1! Having read 99% of their past interactions, I can definitely say that issue #1 captured both of their individual qualities, especially where the characters stand at the moment. I do have a couple of questions though…
1) What are the chances of Jubilee, with Logan’s help, becoming more peaceful and happy about her current condition?
Slim to none? It wouldn’t be very interesting if she did. She’s like an English trifle, if it was composed of guilt, rage, frustration and general testiness instead of booze, custard, cookies and fruit. But what she does need to do is figure out — which is what I think everyone is trying to do — how much of an asset her “liability” can be and how much leeway they can afford to give her.â€¨
2) Jubilee is cool even without powers. Her training and gymnastics experience would more than allow her to be a vigilante hero. Will you bring her gymnastic expertise into play? Also, could you give us a run-down of her current power set as a vampire?
I totally agree with you. And Phil and I are working hard to bring her gymnastic background back into play. We’re kind of thinking of it as being a lot harder hitting and less graceful, like blending the gymnastic moves with the air positions of parkour or even break-dancing. As far as her vampire powers go — greatly accelerated speed and disproportionate strength. So that, coupled with her own natural abilities, is a pretty cool place to be.â€¨
Sean A. wants to discuss friends and talk about…talking. What do you say?
1) I greatly enjoyed the first issue “Wolverine and Jubilee.” It’s a fantastic issue filled with action and fine-tuned characterization, but I do wonder why you might’ve chosen Pixie, Armor, and Rockslide as supporting characters for this story. Although I do want to see Jubilee form new relationships, I’m more curious about her older relationships (outside of Wolverine), like those with Storm, Psylocke, Gambit, and Husk. How did you pick your supporting players? And did you intentionally avoid the latter?
Aside from the fact that I’m nuts about Rockslide, I think it’s a natural fit to put Jubilee into contact with the other young X-Men, even if it was only for contrast. At this point, she’s going to be seventeen forever. She’ll always be one of the kids, even if — all things being equal — she’s going to outlive Wolverine. She’s never been more of an outsider. There’ll be time, I’m sure, to get to her interaction with many of the other X-Men, but for this, we started with the one constant in her life (Wolverine) and moved forward from there.
2) I loved the dialogue from Jubilee in how she sees the world and describing her hunger. It’s lyrical and poetic. Was there any particular inspiration that helped you write her dialogue and describe her instincts?
Thanks. And not really. I was just thinking about what that must be like. She’s basically doped to the gills, and that’s supposed to be some kind of solution that allows her to function. I guess if anything, I was thinking about, say, caffeine pills where you’re awake but it’s a useless kind of awake, or else something that’ll make you sleep but it’s not a restful sleep.
I think the other thing that’s going on is that she’s experiencing, in some ways, a physical manifestation of the mental disconnect that a lot of kids feel when they’re dealing with adults. As a teenager, I constantly felt like I was listening to people talk to me from the other side of a plate glass window — difficult to hear what they were saying and then, when you could, it was like they were from Mars. Or you were (same difference).
Renaldo sent in a handful of queries (one for every finger) and covers every topic from Jubilee to your dreams…
1) With Jubilee’s current vampire status, is it easier for her to relate to Logan, considering he “vamped out” for a while and can act like a predator? Or is their usual family-like bond going to be their main tether in this story?
Not yet! Jubilee in this state is working his last nerve. She’s an undead teenage rage-oholic with a bad attitude. I think the real issue may be that Wolverine was always going to outlive her, and now…it’s almost like she’s older than he’ll ever be. As much as Jubilee is having to deal with what’s happened to her, its effects on Wolverine are no less profound. The dynamic between them is going to have to change, but they’re both resisting it.
2) After your gratifying “Heralds” and exquisite “Pixie Strikes Back,” are there going to be any cameos to aid Logan in this book with Jubilee? I’m thinking she may need some sort of mother- or sister-figure rather than the patriarchal Logan, or maybe even a romantic aid (Jono, a.k.a. Decibel) or friends from the last incarnation of “New Warriors?”
It’s basically a Wolverine, Jubilee, Rockslide party. There’s a supporting cast of evil, but those three really proposed a great triangle of relationships to work with in these four issues. I love how, way back at the beginning, Jubilee was basically enchanted by the vision of Storm and her gals in that mall — how they provided an amazing and almost hypnotic view of adulthood for her. I don’t think Jubilee is quite ready for any mothering — and certainly not for any romance — at the moment.
3) Are there any plans for you to do another “Hellcat” solo book? I loved your take on Patsy under Stuart’s art (as well as the impressive David Lafuente), and it seems that there are many new elements to play with, considering things with Daimon Hellstrom and the current state of Marvel’s supernatural realm…
Oh, wouldn’t that be fantastic? I’d like nothing more, let me tell you. Currently, there are no plans that I’m aware of, but Stuart and I did do a Hellcat/Gambit story that is coming out, I think, in the last issue of the anthology “X-Men: To Serve and Protect.” And even doing that wee thing made me hungry for more Hellcat, if that’s possible.
4) Your “Runaways” impressed me to the point where I enjoyed your take as thoroughly as Brian K. Vaughan’s run! Is there any chance we’ll be seeing you with those characters again soon?
Wow. Thanks. My love for those characters runs deep; my love for BKV’s work, even deeper. Again, no plans that I’m aware of. I really hope the Runaways get back on the schedule at some point, and while I would absolutely love to be a part of it (Hey! There’s a massive understatement), ultimately, I just want more Runaways stories. â€¨
5) Finally, are there any “dream” books you’d like to work on at Marvel (or even DC) that you haven’t yet? And are there any artists you have not worked with yet that you’d like to work with in the future?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had such happy matches with both material and artists. I really fell in love with Sue Storm during “Heralds” and would love to pursue that relationship. I would also say that Emma Frost is right at the top of my list and, actually, Lois Lane too. My completely nutty desire would be to get my hands on the Challengers of the Unknown. I’d really like to work with James Harren or Ryan Sook on something too.
Our final email of the day comes from Darkxmen, and he’s hoping his “dream” book for you might be one of your dreams too:
I just started reading comic books again this past year, and I was fortunate enough to pick up the first issue of “Wolverine and Jubilee…wow, what an incredible first issue! The story and art were amazing. My question is — are there plans in the future for you to write any other X-Men books in the future? I get the sense from your writing that you know how to write these characters. Either way, keep up the great work and I can’t wait for the next issue!
Man, I’m glad I’m not responsible for putting you right back off comics. Result! Also? Phil Noto is really killing it on this book and I love writing the X-Men. At this point, there’s nothing else formalized on my proverbial plate, but who knows what the next phone call might bring — besides an offer to retrain as a dental assistant.â€¨
On behalf of the fans, feel free to disregard those calls and, please, keep writing!
Kathryn, before we conclude your initial X-POSITION foray, it’s time for a quick “get-to-know-you” question that we like to call “Behind the X.” So, if you don’t mind, here’s a fun one for you: what has been your most interesting/strangest convention experience?
Fun for whom? Oh, for me! Are you sure? Cons are, by and large, pretty wonderful experiences, but I think the most loopy (recently) was the Supanova show, which is kind of like two weeks of traveling circus. We did the Sydney/Perth pair and our first morning in Sydney, when we’d been traveling for twenty-four hours and awake longer than that — and we were all sequestered in the executive lounge waiting for rooms, eating cereal, and I’ve already been trying to focus on foreign yogurt with Lou Ferrigno standing beside me — and Stuart comes around the corner and says, “The Groosalug is here.” And then things just got weirder until the day I’m standing in the Maritime Museum in Fremantle with Joe Kubert telling me about whaling and comics and I’m trying not to have my head explode.
Thus ends an especially adventurous ride on the X-POSITION roller coaster. Next week, writer Kieron Gillen stops by, and he’s loaded for bear. The man carries two X-series in his holsters (“Uncanny X-Men” and “Generation Hope”), so I’m expecting you to provide him many quality questions as targets.
As per usual, quickly type up those awesome observations and wonderful wonder-ments you have about the books Gillen writes and shoot them to me via email. Put an “X-Position” in the subject line, and I’ll send you some of the leftover Buffalo Chicken Dip from my Superbowl Party. It’s going to go bad soon, so hurry!