In May, a massive tragedy plunges the Marvel Universe into “Civil War.” The perpetrators of the tragedy won’t have time to gloat because they’ve attracted the attention of a hero who is the best at what he does and, as fans of Wolverine know, what he doesn’t isn’t pretty. This is the premise of “Vendetta,” a six part storyline that begins in “Wolverine” #42 by Marc Guggenheim, a veteran television writer whose credits include “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order.” Guggenheim is joined on the series by fan favorite artist Humberto Ramos. CBR News spoke with Guggenheim about “Vendetta.”
Chronicling the monthly adventures of the Canucklehead is a dream assignment for Guggenheim who has been a longtime fan of Wolverine and has a number of favorite stories. “Off the top of my head: the Claremont/Miller ‘Wolverine’ mini-series, the ‘Kitty Pryde & Wolverine’ mini-series (why won’t Marvel put that in a trade?), Wolverine fighting off the Brood infection, pretty much anytime Wolverine interacted with Alpha Flight… that was always a great dynamic,” Guggenheim told CBR News. “I really enjoyed Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s ‘Enemy of the State/Agent of SHIELD’ arc. That was great fun.”
With one phone call, Guggenheim was given the chance to pen what he hopes will be some fun Wolverine stories of his very own. “Wolverine editor Axel Alonso called me up and asked if I was interested,” Guggenheim said. “Of course, it didn’t come as out of the blue as that, but that’s how it felt. Here’s the background: My manager, Lisa Santos, hooked me up with Marvel recruiter extraordinaire, Ruwan Jayatilleke, who hooked me up with Marvel editor extraordinaire, Axel. The first thing I did for Axel was a Punisher one-shot and we started talking about me doing a Wolverine one-shot. I guess he liked my thinking because when it turned out he needed someone to write the Wolverine tie-in to ‘Civil War,’ he called me up. To this day, I think he thought he was talking to Mark Millar or Mark Verheiden, but I didn’t say anything to disabuse him of the notion.”
Previous “Wolverine” scribes like Mark Millar have shown many different sides of Logan’s personality and Guggenheim’s take on Wolverine’s psyche was inspired by one of the more popular portrayals of the character. “He’s a snappy dresser and he really knows how to decorate a room,” Guggenheim joked. “Sorry, wrong character. Logan’s been handled many different ways over the years, so I think his ‘personality traits’ really depend upon who’s writing him. I’m partial to the ‘noble samurai’ version of the character, this kind of ronin who’s trying to keep his more feral side under control. I think that’s a fascinating duality. In drama, you usually have to find other characters to interact with in order to generate conflict (which drives drama), but with Logan, you get it all in a single package.”
It’s Logan’s samurai style rigid code of honor that Guggenheim feels drives the character. “He doesn’t suffer fools or bad guys easily,” Guggenheim explained. “He’s as hard on other people as he is on himself.”
Guggenheim sees Logan’s code of honor as one of his most admirable traits and also one of his greatest weaknesses. “He sees the world in very stark terms. Not good/ evil terms, but his own strict definition of right and wrong,” Guggenheim stated. “Clarity of vision is a wonderful thing, but not if it’s also tunnel vision. Similarly, his feral, bestial side is obviously a handicap– it’s his kryptonite– but it’s also a source of strength because I think it’s what fuels his code of honor, his unforgiving drive to be the very best at what he does. He knows that he’s got the potential to slip and when he slips, it’s a fast drop straight down.”
Logan feels that it’s his strict and unique definitions of “right” and “wrong” that lead to his invitation to join the New Avengers. “I just wrote a scene about this yesterday,” Guggenheim said. “Basically, Logan thinks that Tony Stark invited him to join the Avengers because Stark knows that there’s shit that needs doing that no one other than Logan would want to dirty their hands with. Obviously, this is in stark contrast (pun, of course, intended) to his feelings about the X-Men. The Avengers are like a job, but the X-Men are Logan’s family. It may be a dysfunctional family at times, but it’s the only family he’s got.”
Guggenheim feels that Wolverine didn’t take the job with the New Avengers out of sense of pride or responsibility. “I think he did it out of cynicism. The Avengers are as close as the Marvel Universe gets to an official, sanctioned super-team and I think Logan thought, “Hmm, I don’t completely trust these guys, so this is a good way for me to keep an eye on them.”
Since “Vendetta” is part of Marvel’s larger “Civil War” story, Logan will have scenes where he interacts with many heroes including his teammates on the X-Men and New Avengers. “He has some scenes with Iron Man and Luke Cage,” Guggenheim said. “I think/hope people will find them different than the interactions we’re used to seeing between Logan and other heroes. There’s something cerebral about them. I know that may sound like a turn-off to some people, but there’s plenty of action in the arc also. In fact, because the arc is so heavy on action, I wanted to write some ‘quiet’ scenes to balance the carnage out.
“One of the, I think, cooler aspects of the first issue is that we literally overlap with two scenes from ‘Civil War’ #1, but we show the events from Logan’s perspective,” Guggenheim continued. “I remember when DC Comics did this with some of their ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ tie-ins and I thought it was really cool, so it was something I wanted to do here.”
The Plot for “Vendetta” springs from the opening events shown in “Civil War” #1. “‘Civil War’ #1 begins with a fairly massive tragedy and Logan sets out to bring the responsible party to justice,” Guggenheim stated. “However, he’s only interested in delivering his unique brand of justice. Hint: In writing the script, I type ‘Snikt’ a lot. That’s where a lot of the action I alluded to comes in. However, the really cool thing about Civil War is that it functions on another level, as a commentary on current geopolitical events. It was really important to me that Wolverine’s tie-in story do the same. So Vendetta is thematically about vengeance (Why didn’t I call it ‘Vengeance’? I liked the sound of ‘Vendetta’ better.). Specifically, it’s about Logan’s conception of vengeance. I don’t think that’s a subject that’s never been explored before. I also think it’s very topical in the post-9/11 world we live in.”
As if having Wolverine stalking you wasn’t bad enough, the villains in “Vendetta” have made the mistake of giving Wolverine a personal reason for hunting them down. “It’s very personal insofar as his strong reaction is extremely personal. But he has no prior relationship with his prey,” Guggenheim explained. “That having been said, the arc will also bring him into conflict with other, additional antagonists. One will be a mutant that Logan, to my knowledge, has never thrown down with before. One of the cooler things about this arc, I think, is that it gives Logan a chance to interact– i.e., beat up on– with characters we haven’t seen him interact with before. To me, that’s what is cool about any crossover, you’re crossing-over characters who haven’t mixed it up before. Same is true for the tie-ins.”
Logan might be encountering other adversaries and complications in “Vendetta.” In the recent “Origins and Endings” storyline, Logan’s investigation into his newly recovered memories has drawn the ire of many government and intelligence agencies. When asked if there would be any repercussions from this, Guggenheim cryptically replied, “Mmmm… stay tuned.”
Wolverine’s trail of vengeance will be a winding one in “Vendetta.” “We move around a lot,” Guggenheim said. “There are at least seven separate locales in the first two issues alone.”
“Vendetta” is a tale of revenge, but the tone of the story isn’t completely dark. “The subject matter is dark,” Guggenheim stated. “Logan is certainly a dark character. However, I’m a big believer that to fully appreciate the dark, you have to throw in some lighter elements as well. Plus, Humberto Ramos is illustrating and his style certainly lends itself to moments of humor. That having been said, the work is much darker than people have come to expect from him. I think it’s going to make for a really cool Wolverine story.”
“Vendetta” is a six part storyline and Guggenheim has plenty of ideas for Wolverine tales to tell following his initial arc. “I’ll do a seventh issue after that,” he said. “The seventh issue may or may not be related to ‘Vendetta.’ I have some ideas that tie into ‘Vendetta,’ others that are standalone. It’s really a matter of picking the best idea.”
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