Lethal Weapons: Marvel gives its mutant anti-heroes their own title with 'Weapon X'

[Weapon X]If you're a comics fan - and you must be if you're visiting this Web site - you probably know the Weapon X program was the top-secret organization that laced Wolverine's skeleton with adamantium and turned him into the nearly indestructible hero you've come to know today. Very little actually is known about the program and the people who ran it, however, and that's just the way the editors, writers and artists at Marvel Comics have wanted it - until now.

Starting in September, the Weapon X program will be back in operation in a new monthly series dubbed, appropriately, "Weapon X." The series - to be written by Frank Tieri and penciled by Georges Jeanty - won't focus on Wolverine's transformation but on a variety of characters - all with questionable morals and allegiances - brought together to perform clandestine operations.

"They're reopening the facility, and it's sanctioned by the government," Jeanty said Sunday during an all-Marvel panel at the Wizard World: Chicago convention. "It's black ops."

Many fans at the convention got a sneak peek at the series through a special #½ issue that was available at the show. The rest of us can get our first glimpses of the new team in August when five "Weapon X" one-shots hit stores. Each book will focus on a different team member: Wildchild, Sauron, Kane, Marrow and the all-new Agent Zero. Other team members will include Sabretooth and Alpha Flight's Aurora.

A quick glance at those names will tell you that these aren't exactly heroes who play nice in groups. Heck, most of them aren't even heroes to begin with.

"You don't trust these guys," Jeanty said. "These characters are definitely more self-serving (than typical heroes). It's not a smooth-team book. It's a team book in that they must get along, but it's not a 'Hey, let's get a beer' team."

In the early issues, the government will be recruiting operatives for the Weapon X program. Not everyone who's approached will accept the offer, nor will the membership ever really solidify, Jeanty said. "It's a fluctuating team," the artist said.

Although the new series will be considered an X-book alongside "New X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men," "Wolverine" and Marvel's other mutant titles, "Weapon X" will stand alone as its own comic. You won't be forced to read all of the X-books to enjoy the series, and its stories will be dramatically different from those in the other X-titles, Marvel spokesman Bill Rosemann said.

"We continue to introduce new X-books, but every time we say, 'How is this book different,'" Rosemann said. "There's no reason to have the same book. That's not fun for us, and that's not fun for the reader."

The most famous participant in the original Weapon X program could eventually make an appearance in the series, "but that's up to Frank Tieri," Rosemann said.

"Even if Wolverine would appear in 'Weapon X', we would do it in a way so it would stand on its own two feet," Rosemann said.

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