SDCC: Soule Follows "Death of Wolverine" with "The Weapon X Program"

Wolverine is dying in September, but that's not the end of his story.

"Death of Wolverine," a four-issue miniseries by writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven, is set to unfurl in weekly installments from Marvel this September. Whatever the outcome of that series may be -- hey, it sounds obvious, but things aren't always what they seem in comics -- the ramifications will be depicted in two separate-yet-connected miniseries, the previously announced "Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy" and "Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program," unveiled during Marvel's "Next Big Thing" panel on Sunday at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

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The five-issue "Weapon X Program" is scheduled to debut in December, and pick up on story threads from "Death of Wolverine" proper -- specifically, a mysterious new version of Weapon X, the program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton among other notable Marvel Universe experiments, emerging from the shadows. The series will be written by Soule and illustrated by Salvador Larroca, the prolific artist of "Invincible Iron Man," multiple X-titles and the recently announced "Star Wars: Darth Vader."

CBR News spoke with Soule about "Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program," and though he couldn't talk much in the way of storyline specifics -- being a follow-up to a story that doesn't start for more than a month -- he shared his thoughts on the long history of Weapon X at Marvel, working with Larroca, how this series relates to "The Logan Legacy" (which he's writing in part) and the reactions thus far from fans after finding out that Marvel's most ubiquitous character will be meeting at least a temporary demise.

CBR News: Charles, it's a little tricky at this point to talk too much about the follow-up to a story that doesn't even start until September. So let's start with this: What's life been like for you ever since you were announced a couple months back as the writer who's killing Wolverine? Obviously it's a big deal, and likely the biggest story yet in your comics career. How are you enjoying being in this spot?

Charles Soule: It's fascinating, honestly -- I was at a bookstore recently, browsing the graphic novel section, and a guy further down the aisle was explaining to his girlfriend that Marvel was killing Wolverine in September. (He also said he was planning to check it out, which was nice.) The idea that this is happening has permeated pop culture in a way that's beyond anything I've done before. I've done some very high-profile projects in the past, from "Superman/Wonder Woman" to "Inhuman" and beyond, but this is just another level.

So, there's a thrill to that, but also a certain amount of pressure. I've gotten some advice from other writers I admire immensely -- guys who have been in this position before -- and it essentially boils down to "ignore everyone and do your best." So that's what I've done. It doesn't hurt that the rest of the team is as incredible as they are -- Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Justin Ponsor are making some of the best comic art I have ever seen (and Mike Marts and the rest of Marvel editorial are offering some really helpful guidance as needed). We're sending Logan off right, and I can't wait for people to see it.

To get a bit more specific on that end: What have the reactions you've received from fans been like? Obviously there is skepticism with a story like this -- even before it's started -- but I imagine there's also excitement over a story that's unique and high-profile.

That's pretty accurate. I've seen a lot of "oh, he'll be back in two months..." which, even putting aside its accuracy (it's not! promise!), seems kind of irrelevant to me. I mean, I read comics to get great stories, and I'd like to think most comics fans do. This particular story is about one of comics' most enduring heroes going through a Clint Eastwood-movie-esque ride into the sunset hereafter. There's a great deal of power in that, if it's done right. No one has to agree with that point of view, but that's how I see it. Anyway, this story counts in the MU in a big way -- and the new series spinning out of Logan's death are a part of that.

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"Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program" sounds like the most thorough exploration of Weapon X in quite a while, an element of the Marvel Universe that has provided fruitful for many years. Going into this story, was Weapon X something that you had a lot of interest in as a writer and a fan?

Yes, of course. Weapon X has been used as a rich vein of stories for decades -- everything from the inspired idea to suggest that Logan was in fact Weapon Ten, with Captain America being Weapon One, to cool evolutions of the concept like Weapon Plus/Minus. It's built around the idea that you can somehow "make" a superhero -- which seems totally plausible. In a world filled with super-science, of course that's something people would try, and would have been trying to do since the '40s and before.

Weapon X has always been associated with the darker side of the Marvel Universe -- some of its biggest and baddest have interacted with the program in one way or another. That's appealing to me, just as a writer -- Weapon X isn't squeaky-clean, and neither is this new story.

Weapon X has also evolved quite a bit over the years at Marvel, and meant different things at different times. In however much you can share at this point, what makes this new version distinct from past iterations?

This is tricky, because the story has a bunch of layered reveals that are tied to what this program is, and why it exists -- not least the fact that "Death of Wolverine" connects to this series fairly directly, and that's not out for a bit yet. So, I don't want to spoil anything, since the series -- and "The Logan Legacy," for that matter (the other post-"DoW" series running concurrently with this one) -- all click together like a big puzzle box. What I'll say is that this series focuses on a group of experimental test subjects of a Weapon X-type program, but they're not the typical sort of hardened mercs. It's very character-based, with some fun new powers -- there's a guy named Junk I'm coming to like very much, for one thing -- and it ties in heavily to Wolverine's history, but in a way I don't think people will see coming.

"Weapon X Program" is illustrated by Salvador Larroca, one of the most prolific X-Men artists of the past 20 years. What are you looking forward to with what he brings to the story?

Well, you pretty much nailed it - he's one of the best X-Men artists around. If you're playing in this corner of the MU, you want a guy like Salvador in your corner. I can't tell you how lucky I've been to work with the artists I've gotten to work with, and Mr. Larroca is certainly no exception.

Well, we know Wolverine will be dead by November, but what familiar characters will readers see in this story? Any specifics you can share at this point?

Hmmm... complicated. We see a noted Deadpool villain in the first issue, and issue 3 has a notable appearance from one of the Logan Legacy Five (who include Mystique, Sabretooth, X-23, Daken and Lady Deathstrike). Beyond that, it's a wait and see situation -- we see some very familiar heroes and villains, but cameos are fun because they're surprises, to my mind. Read it and see!

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You're also contributing to the "Logan Legacy" aftermath miniseries, mentioned earlier -- how closely does that series tie-in to this one?

Very closely. Think of the "Weapon" series and "Logan Legacy" as part of one huge, 12-issue series, with jumps forward and back and again in time, and those layered reveals I mentioned. By the time it's all done, you'll have a full understanding of how the full cast fits together -- new characters along with Wolverine mainstays like the Logan Legacy Five -- and then... well, we'll see what's next. It's a complicated writing process, maybe one of the most complex things I've ever had to coordinate -- but it's really starting to sing now, and I'm having a blast.

This seems like a story that is set to have some long-term complications, and is a further commitment to the Wolverine-less world, along with "The Logan Legacy." Not to get way, way ahead of ourselves, but is this story leading into something even bigger coming out of it? (Perhaps also written by you?)

What a great question!

"Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program" is scheduled to debut in November from Marvel.

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