When Wolverine began the quest into his past for information and revenge, he couldn't have imagined the revelations or enemies that awaited him. The surprises for Logan have been coming fast and furious in the pages of Marvel Comics' "Wolverine: Origins" by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon, and the first "Wolverine: Origins Annual " is in stores this week. Featuring art by Kaare Andrews and new story "Our War," detailing Wolverine's experiences in World War II, CBR News caught up with writer Daniel Way for an in-depth chat about the series.
"Wolverine Origins" is an ongoing series but it's also a finite series. With the recent release of issue #15, concluding the "Swift and Terrible" story arc, the series is about a quarter of the way complete. "We're getting ready to move into the second act of the story," Daniel Way told CBR News. "We've got almost all our players in the field. That was the first thing; to tell this story we needed so many components for it to have the resonance that we want. It took a bit of time but here we are."
"Swift and Terrible" was a story in which lots of important information was uncovered. One of the bigger revelations was that a man named Hudson was a major player in the conspiracy that Wolverine used to be part of and is now trying to destroy. "That name, Hudson, keeps popping up throughout Wolverine's history," Way said. "In previous continuity, Wolverine went to work for the Hudson Bay Company. Then of course there were the Hudsons, who were involved with Alpha Flight and it comes up again. At so many points in Wolverine's history the name Hudson keeps popping up. So it begs the question, is it the same people? Or is it just one of those things where they've gotten him used to trusting that name?"
There is one big link to all the Hudsons from Wolverine's past: they're all tied to the U.S.'s northern neighbor, Canada. "Then, much as it is now, Canada isn't as populated. It's a lot easier to disappear and not be found," Way explained. "There are so many remote areas. If you're doing something that you don't want people to see or know about, it's much easier to do it in Canada."
Another revelation that came at the end of "Swift and Terrible" was that Wild Child, who's currently menacing Wolverine and some other characters in a story appearing in the main "Wolverine" title, is a member of the conspiracy opposing Wolverine. "That's part of a bit of synergy between 'Origins' and 'Wolverine.' It was [current writer of "Wolverine"] Jeph Loeb's idea to bring in Wild Child," Way stated. "Frankly it hadn't occurred to me to use that character but then as we working things out between the titles it was like, 'All right! Wild Child.' It helps to have someone whose history isn't so convoluted. In some ways he's a blank slate but not completely. There is some history and continuity there but it's so much easier to work with a character like that as opposed to a character that's been kicking around for issue after issue after issue."
Way couldn't reveal much of Wild Child's role in the conspiracy, but he could tell us why the character follows all orders given to him by his superiors in the organization. "In Jeph Loeb's book, we've already heard the name of who is behind all of this. That name is Romulus. You've got characters like Wild Child, Cyber, and Wolverine's son Daken; all these guys are afraid of Romulus, which says a lot about him. So the big looming questions are who is Romulus and why are all these guys afraid of him?"
With Wild Child revealed as a member of Romulus's conspiracy and his abduction of Sabretooth in a recent issue of "Wolverine," some readers might be wondering the current status of Sabretooth's relationship with Romulus's organization. "You have to ask yourself, has Sabretooth ever been on good terms with anyone?" Way remarked. "Out of all these feral characters, Sabretooth, Victor Creed, has always been the most animalistic. Hell he revels in it. As far as his standing with one faction or another, I think it's safe to say it's tenuous at best."
Perhaps the biggest bombshell to be dropped in "Swift and Terrible" was the explanation that Wolverine's soft spot for women has been repeatedly exploited by the conspiracy and used as sort of an on/off switch for his rage. "Characters like Wolverine and Sabretooth aren't like dogs. You can't just whip them. That makes things more problematic. You have to find a better way to leash them," Way said. "In Logan's case, it came out very early. In the first 'Origin' miniseries, Logan had this doting affection for this character Rose. He would have done anything and when she died that's the thing that snapped in his head. It's sort of like for him the moment when Bruce Wayne's parents were killed.
"Essentially what Wolverine's handlers have been doing is that whenever they need to hit the reset switch with Wolverine, they replicate that moment," Way continued. "It's extremely effective and a fairly simple thing to do. The only trick is that you've got to make sure that there are women around for him to latch onto but there always seems to be some girl. Sometimes they're in on it. Often times they're not but they all end up the same way.
"The first time he was sought out by this conspiracy was when he popped up in Blackfoot Indian territory and shacked up with Silver Fox," Way said. "Now obviously they had done some research on him, but they knew who he was and more importantly they knew what he was and they had a pretty good idea of what he could be. So, in listening to his back-story, it had to be one of those people that visited him while he was in the pit outside the little village that figured out how you control the Wolverine. It's like controlling a bull. The bull always charges at the flag. So as long as you're holding the flag you can control the bull."
With the way Wolverine handled Omega Red in the "Savior" arc of "Origins" and what he does to Cyber at the end of "Swift and Terrible," it seems like Wolverine will soon have two desperate and very angry bulls charging directly at him. "Cyber is literally marked for death at his point, just like Omega Red," Way stated. "They'll definitely be coming back. They're not going out without a fight. The one question is, will they come together or separately?"
Some readers might be questioning Wolverine's logic with the way he turned such lethal characters as Cyber and Omega Red into frantic and angry men, but they're not looking at the bigger picture. "We've shown in the past that Wolverine knows how to wind people up and get them to do things that they normally wouldn't do," Way explained. "The best example being Nuke. Now that Wolverine has got all his memories back, he's got those skills back. So it's not an accident that he screwed over Omega Red and Cyber. They're going to come back but Wolverine knows that. Now he's the one holding the flag and he knows where he wants the bulls to go."
In "Origins" #15, readers were shown another way Romulus maintains control among his followers; through representatives like the scarred, bald, blind man who punished Wolverine's son Daken by whipping him as Wild Child looked on. "If Wild Child had been holding the whip there's really no way we could have avoided having a fight," Way said. "So that character is a degree of separation. Also, since Wild Child and Daken essentially answer to the same boss that would create a bit of inequality, especially since Daken seems to hold a special place in Romulus's heart.
"You'll also notice that that character doesn't say anything," Way continued. "The script also said that he was blind. You can kind of figure out how he got that way. It's so there's no way he can talk out of school or bear witness to anything. That's the thing about conspiracies they work best in shadows."
In this week's "Wolverine Origins Annual," Way takes Wolverine back to one of his old stomping grounds, a city that's best suited for doing dirty deeds, Madripoor. "From the get go I said, 'We've got to bring Patch back to Madripoor,' because those were my favorite stories," Way said. "We established in the 'Origins and Endings' arc in 'Wolverine' that Madripoor was a very specialized place; when Winter Soldier was sent to track down Wolverine he was supposed to bring him back to Madripoor.
"So what is it about this city? It's a sovereign nation all on its own, a Principality. There are no extradition laws. It's this little pocket of the world where the rules just don't apply," Way continued. "To have Wolverine there, especially Wolverine under the influence of someone else, it's just perfect. You want somebody to disappear? Just route their flight through Madripoor and they'll never come out. Who's going to call foul? What's illegal there? You've got factions that trade on authority. The place has been run by drug lords and people like Viper and the Hand. The police are a group that gets along to get along, to keep the boat upright. So it's a complete action yard. It's been a goal of mine since the series started to get Logan to Madripoor and this won't be the last time that he'll go back."
In addition to further illuminating Wolverine's past, the "Origins" annual will also contain revelations about Madripoor and the cast of characters associated with the city. "You'll learn what certain characters actually were and what they we're doing there," Way said. "There are two characters from Wolverine's past that are featured prominently in the annual. I had more in there originally, but we just couldn't fit them in."
The "Origins" annual will also put the spotlight on a very important place within Madripoor. "The Princess Bar has always been that spot, that kind of nexus," Way remarked. "All the shady business just ends up trafficking through there at one point or another. Which meant it was all right under Wolverine's nose."
Readers can expect Logan's return trip to Madripoor to have some big consequences. "Neither ["Origins" editor] Axel or I like the annuals that are sort of one-off stories,"Way said. "What's the point of doing them if it doesn't have ramifications and it doesn't matter? So we made a point to have some significant revelations in the annual. There are quite a few things that happen right at the end. I don't want to really reveal much but some of it has already been alluded to in Jeph's book. We're just sort of nailing everything down so that we can move onto the second act."
The next story arc in "Wolverine: Origins," entitled "Our War," begins with issue #16 and finds Logan reflecting back on the World War II experiences he shared with a recently fallen Marvel hero. "In the present day, Logan has a lot on his plate, obviously. In the first issue of the arc, he pretty much admits he doesn't have time for this but Captain America and especially the death of this guy is such a big thing that he just has to take a moment and acknowledge it," Way said. "Not only out of respect, but as we find out it's something that he kind of needs to think about in order to keep on going. So it kind of has the tone of a memorial. As Wolverine is remembering all this stuff it fills in all of the blanks in the early relationship between the two characters of Wolverine and Captain America and how they're so different that they seem to be two parts of a whole.
"They just fit together so well," Way continued. "But the way these characters interact is uneasy. It's a journey into the fires of war under massive tension and stress. You have Logan who at this point in his life, this is the early 1940s and the late 1930s, is not a good guy. Whereas Steve Rogers is the poster child for America, even though he was classified as 4F and not fit to be a grunt, he fought his way into the war. Logan had no choice; he was born into it. We see that progression, how Wolverine had no choice but to go to war and Captain America chose to be there. That will go full circle by the end of the story."
As readers might be able to tell, Captain America and Wolverine have had a bigger connection than many people realized. "This was covered kind of cryptically in the first arc, 'Born in Blood,'" Way explained. "These characters have a history and it's not all rosy. These characters are tied together in several ways."
The first issue of "Our War" examines the beginning of Captain America and Wolverine's history by re-examining a classic tale of the X-Men. "The first issue is sort of a retelling of 'Uncanny X-Men' #268," Way confirmed. "We see it from the other side of the looking glass. We see everything that happens behind the scenes and why it happened that way. We have characters like Baron Von Strucker who was involved in the Death's Head Squad, the Hand and eventually Hydra. So Strucker is a forward thinking man and this is kind of why he got the ball rolling with Hydra."
Readers of "Uncanny X-Men" #268 will also recall that another character Wolverine has a history with played a role in that issue. "We already covered the first bit of history between Wolverine and the Black Widow in the 'Savior' arc. So this gives us a chance to go in and fill in even more blanks," Way explained. "What was she doing there? Is it what they said it was? Was she even really kidnapped at all? Or was she supposed to be there?"
Wolverine and Cap's encounter in the X-Men story took place before America's official involvement in World War II, and readers of "Our War" will learn of the heroes' first meeting on the battlefield; a kind of "off the books" mission which took place in North Africa. "This is a very green Captain America sort of getting his feet wet," Way said. "This is why he reached out to Logan when he was in Madripoor because he realized he needed someone wise to the ways of war. Wolverine turned him down but that was a bit of a ploy. So, when he shows up to take him up on it, it turns out that Captain America has been assigned a partner and that's Bucky."
As readers of Ed Brubaker's "Captain America" know, Bucky was someone who was very wise in the ways of war despite his young age. "Especially early on in Captain America's career, Bucky was much more informed of the facts than Captain America was," Way remarked. "Cap was more of a figurehead because he was supposed to lead by being that shining beacon. Captain America had to be a symbol but in order for him to be that someone had to get down and get their hands dirty and they could never risk it being Steve Rogers. So that's what Bucky was.
"As you'll see, because of the type of guy Bucky is, he sees Logan coming from a mile off," Way continued. "He thinks, 'I know what this guy is.' That's why the tension between these two characters kicks off immediately. They can't stand each other because before they're even introduced they just know too much about each other.
"Bucky's mandate is to protect the symbol that is Captain America, to watch Cap's back and serve as his partner. He sees Cap welcoming this guy Logan into the fold with open arms and it's naieve and dangerous. He's going to try and make sure it doesn't happen."
With Logan serving as an agent for Romulus during World War II, some readers might be wondering why he's fighting along side Captain America, but it was revealed recently in a flashback sequence in issue #54 of "Wolverine" that Logan fought alongside the Allies during WWII and Wild Child fought for the Nazis. "Romulus's influence is everywhere and to this date he's never been on the losing side of a war simply because he's always been on all sides," Way explained. "I don't want to go too far into the Romulus character as far as his motivations are concerned but yes he's playing both sides. His game is much larger than political ideology."
The action in "Our War" won't take place entirely in the past. "Right now we spend a lot of time in flashbacks simply because fans have been clamoring for this story forever, so it deserves a lot of space," Way stated. "As far as developments in real time, there will be some interesting ones, which will lead into the next story arc. They're still being finalized but it's something I'm looking forward to quite a bit."
As readers can see, "Wolverine: Origins" is a series packed with lots of stunning revelations, and Way constructs every issue in a way that ties into the book's larger overall story. "We reveal a lot but we always do it in broad strokes and then bring it into focus," Way explained. "I always like to build a story with a very big foundation and then kind of bring it into focus, that way I'm not constrained by having to reveal this set of facts in this amount of issues. We set out to tell an epic story and we're just following the formula."
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