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King of Pain: Moore and Long talk “X-Men Unlimited” #12

by  in Comic News Comment
King of Pain: Moore and Long talk “X-Men Unlimited” #12

NOTE: This article contains adult language.

“X-Men Unlimited” #12

The X-Men’s most popular member, Wolverine, is fond of taunting his opponents by telling them that he’s best at what he does and what he does ain’t pretty. This December, in the pages of Marvel’s “X-Men Unlimited” #12, readers will find out how ugly and painful Logan’s world can get. CBR News spoke with Stuart Moore and Christopher E Long, the writers of the two short stories featured in the issue.

Stuart Moore’s story opens the issue and it’s a tale about coping with pain. “I think we’ve all lived through an experience so painful that we just had to get through it and move on,” Moore told CBR News. “It might have been a physical illness or injury, or the loss of a loved one, someone we thought would be there forever. That’s what the story is about.”

Moore’s story came about after a number of pitches to editor Axel Alonso. The writer wanted to take a closer look at the way Wolverine’s healing factor works. “He can heal from almost any injury– physical or mental– but he feels every bit of pain along the way,” Moore explained. “There are no shortcuts. He’s also brutally honest with himself, about that and about everything else.”

The eleven-page short story opens with a severely wounded Wolverine lying in the snow. “He’s come up to northern Canada to recover from a loss, and this story is about his healing process– both from that loss and from his wounds,” Moore said. “He’s been through the physical healing so many times that he knows what to expect, and he’s developed a range of coping mechanisms to deal with the pain that comes at various stages. But it’s never easy.

Pages 2 & 3 from Stuart Moore’s story, art by C.P. Smith

“It’s a little surreal because Wolverine spends a good deal of the story hallucinating and visualizing what’s going on inside his own body,” Moore continued. “But it’s actually a very simple, straightforward story. CP Smith did an amazing job on the artwork.”

Christopher E Long’s story, which closes the book, also is a simple straightforward tale. “It’s about a friend trying to put his hand out to another friend,” Long said.

The friend Wolverine is extending his hand to and trying to help is former Alpha Flight member, Puck. “I’m changing Puck up a bit,” Long explained. “I’m making Puck a drunk, an alcoholic.”

A number of events in Marvel continuity and in the real world have caused Puck to try and drown his problems in the bottom of a bottle. “Alpha Flight, in the comic book and in real life, haven’t been given a lot of tender loving care,” Long said. “They’ve been disbanded by the Canadian government, so he’s a superhero without a super team. This all gave birth to my Puck. This guy is unemployed. He’s basically alienated himself from all of his friends. Alcoholism is not pretty and it makes you do things and say things that you normally wouldn’t do.”

Pages 4 & 6 from Stuart Moore’s story, art by C.P. Smith

Some readers may incorrectly think Long is turning Puck into an alcoholic because he doesn’t like the character. “I think the biggest compliment a writer can give a character is to fuck them up,” Long explained. “To turn them on their ear and turn their world upside down. I think there’s a lot of potential for Eugene’s character, so the first thing I wanted to do was let’s see him when he’s at a real low point in his life. When things just haven’t gone the way he’s wanted.”

Long’s story has Wolverine confronting Puck in a bar and hoping to help pull his friend up from rock bottom. “The most compelling thing for my story is that Wolverine has been in the shit,” Long stated. “He’s basically coming in and telling his friend Eugene that the way he’s living his life is fucked up. My whole life I’ve been having people tell me the way I’m living my life is fucked up, but the people whose message resonates with me the most are the people that I can relate to. That I can look at them and I’m like, ‘Shit. They know what they’re talking about.’ That’s basically what Wolverine is doing. He’s like, ‘Hey, I know what it is to be lost. I know what I’m talking about.”

Interventions like the one Wolverine is pulling on Puck are a thing Long is intimately familiar. He wrote his first comic series, “Easy Way” from IDW Publishing, while he was in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. “Alcoholism masks so much inner turmoil,” Long said. “Its an area that I feel very comfortable writing from. All it takes is someone saying, ‘Hey this character is an alcoholic.’ Well shit, I can write that. I recognize that if I get other gigs I’m not going to be able to come in and go, ‘Let’s make so-and-so an alcoholic.’ The response would be, ‘You know what Chris you’ve already done that.'”

It was “Easy Way” that got Long his “X-Men Unlimited” story. He guessed Marvel Editor Axel Alonso’s e-mail address and asked him if he would take a look at the series. Alonso said yes and Long e-mailed him “Easy Way” #1 in PDF format. “Probably like two or three hours later I got an e-mail from him and he’s like, ‘Hey, I read it, let’s talk,” Long said.

Pages 1 & 2 from Christopher E. Long’s story, art by John Lucas

Alonso wanted Long to put his own unique “finger print” on a Marvel character. Long had been a fan of “Alpha Flight” in the ’80s so one of the characters he was interested in was Puck. It was decided an “X-Men Unlimited” story would be the best way to gauge reaction to Long’s new take on the character.

Long’s story may seem like a dark one, but ultimately it’s a tale of hope. “The message I’m trying to put out there is it doesn’t matter how hard you have fallen. There’s always a way out,” he explained. “My story is optimistic.”

Readers looking for more of Stuart Moore’s work have plenty of books to look forward to. “I’m writing ‘Firestorm’ monthly for DC– that’s getting some really nice reaction as we head into the ‘Infinite Crisis’ tie-ins, and it looks like I’ll be doing more with DC soon,” Moore said. “I’ve got a novel, ‘American Meat,’ coming out from Games Workshop this fall– I’m working on the sequel now– and a second ‘Escapist’ story from Dark Horse coming in January. I’ve written a graphic novel, a science-fiction teen drama, that’s coming together beautifully at Tokyopop, and a comics adaptation of the best-selling fantasy novel ‘Redwall’ for Penguin/Philomel. Oh, and some ‘Stargate Atlantis’ comics that should be coming out from Avatar sometime soon.”

Christopher Long also has a number of books hitting comic stores soon. “I have a story in ‘Fused Tales’ #1 by Boom Studios coming in November,” he said. “The ‘Easy Way’ trade by IDW comes out in November. I have two kids’ chapter books being put out by Komikwerks. I also have two pitches in right now with two different publishers and I’ve gotten some very nice feedback. The pitch with one of the publishers, this would be huge. It would be kind of a big deal.”

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