Last year, readers got a new look at Wolverine in “Wolverine MAX,” the latest series in Marvel Comics’ MAX line for mature audiences. With a new take on one of the publisher’s most popular characters, novelist Jason Starr started with Logan in Japan, and introduced new takes on old, favorite concepts from Wolverine’s world — including his memory loss, Victor Creed, Mariko Yashida and Wolverine’s sojourn to Japan in search of peace.
This week, Jason Starr joins CBR for his first-ever X-POSITION, taking on questions about his take on Wolverine, things to come for the series, his love of comics and other concepts from the Marvel U he hopes to introduce.
cora reef kicks off this week’s X-Position with a question about expanding Wolverine’s MAX world with more characters from the Marvel U.
Dear Mr. Starr, I’ve been enjoying your run on “Wolverine MAX” and had a few questions about your approach to the current story arc.
1) It seems like you’re really looking at Wolverine alone as a character as opposed to including too many aspects of the Marvel Universe Wolverine. You looked at Sabretooth and Clan Yashida in the first arc. Will you be expanding on some Marvel Universe MAX characters in the future?
Jason Starr: Thank you, and great you’re enjoying it! My focus is definitely on Logan, which is why I’ve been exclusively in his point of view from the very first issue. I don’t want anyone to know more about Logan than Logan knows about himself, and I want there to be constant intensity on Logan and his situation. But, yes, I do plan to use versions of other characters from the Marvel Universe. It has to be in the right situations, but I think it’ll be very cool to bring in some more familiar faces.
2) As a noir novelist, how do you approach writing a comic differently than you would a novel?
In a sense there’s no difference because it’s all about storytelling. In both mediums I want to tell stories in the most interesting, most suspenseful ways I can imagine, so it’s about making decisions about structure, and point of view, and where to enter and end scenes. But in comics, I’m thinking much more about space than I am about words, so I probably spend more timing imagining how pages look, and how to tell a story with images, than I spend on the actual writing. And in novel writing — it’s all on me, I’m telling the whole story, but in comics, I’m a collaborator. The artist, the colorist, the letterer, the inkers are all telling the story along with me. This is what I enjoy most about the process — the collaboration.
3) What appeals to you most about comics as a storytelling medium?
Aside from the collaboration, the ability to tell a story partly with images, and thus with fewer words, is what appeals to me most. When I’m writing a book my goal is always for the words to disappear, for the experience of reading the book to be like seeing a movie. So I never want my writing to seem like writing, if that makes any sense. If it sounds too much like writing it’s usually an indication something’s wrong and I fix it. In comics, I also try to use non-obtrusive language, but there are also opportunities to tell stories with images, and sometimes with no words at all, which for me is a simpler, more direct way of reaching my ultimate goal.
mr_infinite wants to know more about the approach of a novelist in taking on the best there is at what he does.
You’ve had a lot of opportunity to explore the noir/MAX-ish style in your novels with original characters. What was the experience like for you taking on an established character like Wolverine in a similar setting?
The experience feels similar because, although Wolverine is an established character, working in the MAX universe, I’ve had the opportunity to do away with much of his baggage and start from scratch with his character. I haven’t stuck to the origin story, or the Weapon X history, and I’ve even altered the amount of adamantium in his body and the history of his claws. I realize this may jolt some diehards, but that was the point, to stir things up. At the same time, at the heart of the story, this is the same Logan he’s always been — it’s just an alternate universe version of Logan, that was the idea going in. In the MAX version, he’s made a different set of decisions in his long past, and these decisions have led to who he is today.
Jack has a question about the most interesting aspect of Wolverine in a MAX world.
What do you think is the most interesting aspect of a character like Wolverine and how do you hope to delve into that aspect as your run on “Wolverine MAX” progresses?
His immortality. But not just the idea that he might never die, but the affect that this has had — and continues to have — on his psychology and decision making. How does it affect his relationships and the choices he makes? I want to get as deep as I can into the psychology of Logan. To me, MAX doesn’t just mean more explicit content, it also means having the flexibility of going deeper into the dark places in Logan’s head than in the Marvel Universe, where there are more constraints.
If you could bring in any other character from the Marvel Universe to “Wolverine MAX,” who would it be and why?
I would love to bring Tony Stark into “Wolverine MAX.” I have an idea how to do it, but it would have to fit, it would have to make sense in the context of the story. But it would be awesome. I also hope to do something with Moonstone, but we’ll see.
MightyPersone wants to know more about your favorite and most influential Wolverine stories.
1) What would you say are the Wolverine and X-Men stories that were most influential on your take on the character?
I’ve enjoyed so many arcs of the past that it’s hard to pick which influenced me. Actually, I don’t know if there are direct influences because hopefully this Logan will be viewed as a new take on the character. But okay, the Claremont/Miller stuff is great, and I love Greg Rucka’s take, especially in Brotherhood, and Gregg Hurwitz and Jason Aaron have done some very cool stuff too. Basically all the versions of the solo Wolverine have influenced me, and all of the real-world takes on Logan. I was also influenced by what Garth Ennis has done in the MAX line in general, I mean as far as getting the right tone. Ennis is a real master of dark comics and I learn something new every time I read his stuff.
2) I had a great time seeing your take on Logan’s time in Japan. As he continues to fill in the gaps in his memory, will we get to go back and see more of what happened there?
Thank you, and actually yes! The consequences of Japan are going to come back to haunt Logan, and he’s going to get sucked back into something. I can’t wait to get to this myself.
Jim the Troll wraps up the reader questions with two queries about Weapon X and Wolverine’s attraction to redheads.
One of the most interesting aspects of “Wolverine MAX” so far has been your take on Wolverine’s memory loss. In the Marvel Universe, it was as a result of his time as a part of Weapon X. Is it safe to assume that you’ve got a MAX version of Weapon X in play?
Yes, it’s been a different take on his memory loss. Here — well, at this point in the series — it’s not a result of Weapon X, but the cumulative effect of living for centuries. I haven’t given a definitive “birth date” for Logan, but this Logan has been around a lot longer than Logan in the Marvel Universe, and this has screwed him up as much as Weapon X could have. I won’t say now if Weapon X will figure into the MAX version, but let’s just say that this Logan has brought most of his torment onto himself.
It was interesting that you decided to make Candy a redhead, considering the Marvel Universe Wolverine’s attraction to redheads throughout the ages. Was that a deliberate choice due to the character’s history?
Actually wasn’t deliberate at all, but I did describe her this way in the script and after I wrote it I realized the connection to his redhead lovers in the Marvel Universe. It was totally subliminal, though. Maybe I’m getting more into this than I think.
Finally, here’s this week’s Behind the X question: What was your favorite novel growing up?
For much of my childhood, I didn’t like reading novels at all. I just wasn’t that into books, except sports biographies and stuff like that. I also read a lot of comics and the backs of baseball cards and books assigned to me in school. I made up for it, years later, reading novels voraciously in my late teens and twenties. One of the novels that first excited me, though, was “This Perfect Day” by Ira Levin. It transported me into another world and I thought it was amazing.
Special thanks to Jason Starr for participating in his first-ever X-Position!
Wolverine Month continues next week with a jaunt back to the 616 to check in with “Wolverine” ongoing writer Paul Cornell! Got a question for Paul about the best there is at what he does? Send me an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!