Wolverine's healing factor, unbreakable skeleton and razor sharp admantium claws make him one of the most ferocious predators in the Marvel Universe, but his small stature and status as a Mutant have made Logan a man who can't resist giving the underdog a helping hand. As such, when Wolverine discovers a heavily armed hunting party gunning for a defenseless little fox, well, somebody is about to have their night ruined. This is the premise behind the June one-shot "Wolverine: Dangerous Game" by writer Simon Spurrier and artist Ben Oliver, and CBR News spoke with Spurrier about the book.
When editor Aubrey Sitterson asked Spurrier for some pitches for a Wolverine story, the writer decided he wanted to do something different with the character. "Obviously I'm a fan -- it's hard not to be -- but my immediate reaction to being offered this opportunity was not to even try writing a seminal, 'Classic Wolverine Adventure.' In my paranoia, I imagined the fans would be able to sniff-out an inexperienced phony miles away," Spurrier told CBR News. "Instead I decided it made more sense to completely remove Logan from his standard context (supervillains, mutants, ninjas) and whack him into a far less obvious, far more unconventional situation.
"The one I eventually went with -- the Great British Foxhunt -- simply tied-in neatly with a bunch of stuff I thought it'd be interesting to explore through Logan's eyes. To whit: this guy's a master of stalking, striking and killing, right? So it's unlikely he's going to be against the notion of hunting in general. Fine. But then how does he reconcile that with the idea of thirty buffoons on bloody great horses, with slavering packs of hounds, crashing about the countryside in pursuit of a single terrified fox?
"Having said that, 'Wolverine vs. Fat British Idiots' wouldn't have made for a terribly intelligent or tense comic, so the trick was to use that central issue -- 'hunting: bad or good?' - to generate a serious challenge to our hero."
"Dangerous Game" begins with Wolverine trying to enjoy a moment's respite in a New Orleans bar. "When the inevitable brawl (c'mon, this is Logan we're talking about) is over, he falls-in with a hippy kid who's come from a local Hunt Protest," Spurrier explained. "The key for me was introducing Logan to a completely random scenario -- one which he doesn't really want anything to do with -- then finding a way to get his hackles-up; getting him to choose to be involved.
"I originally settled on Louisiana as a location simply because I'd happened to be reading a net article about increasing Fox Populations in that state," Spurrier continued. "I liked the idea that a bunch of British aristocrats would react to the Hunting Ban by decamping to the US (which, let's face it, has a far more encouraging attitude towards guns, hunting and Killing Helpless Stuff than most of us Brits), and Louisiana seemed the obvious choice."
The action in "Dangerous Game" shifts back and forth between two time points. "One involves skulking about in the woods at night, the other is told across a two day period," Spurrier stated. "I like screwing about with conventional, linear stories like that: it allows you to spread out action sequences and set-up neat little juxtapositions or segues between the two disparate timeframes."
Spurrier described the hunting party Wolverine runs afoul of in "Dangerous Game" as being composed mostly of the stereotypical, upper class British Twit variety, but revealed their leader was cut from a "different, more sinister cloth." The writer had to keep mum about the other characters in the story though, for fear of giving any surprises away.
A story about Wolverine stalking hunters is bound to include some grim moments but "Dangerous Game" also features a fair amount of comical interludes as well. "I figured it'd be fun to do something with a black-comedy twist, if only as an antidote to all the Brooding Canadian Psycho material out on the shelves at the moment," Spurrier explained. "'Dangerous Game' isn't an out-and-out farce -- in fact I'm quietly confident it stands alone as an exciting adventure with a thoughtful heart -- but there's an unmistakable whiff of dry humor in there."
"Dangerous Game" is more of a character centric story than a topical one, but in Spurrier's native England, the subject of fox hunting has been big news for the last few years. "One half of the country claimed the foxhunt was an essential way to keep fox numbers down (and chicken numbers up!) and that there were hundreds of jobs, thousands of horses and countless hounds which were suddenly Surplus to Requirements when the ban came-in," Spurrier said. "The other half of the country claimed there were far more effective and kinder ways of culling foxes and that the huntsmen should have the bloody courage of their convictions and admit they do it because they enjoy it.
"'Dangerous Game' isn't intended to stir-up any pro or anti-hunt controversy, really," Spurrier said. "It's primarily a chance for me to explore Logan's personal attitude towards the whole concept of hunting in general and hunting-with-hounds in particular. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy poking some fun at the more fuckwitted breed of British aristocratic stereotype."
Spurrier is thrilled to be collaborating with fellow countryman Ben Oliver on "Dangerous Game." "He's fantastic. I always worry slightly about that perception of the 'British Comics Creators Club,' all ganging-up to work together. But then I think: fuck it -- we're worth it," Spurrier laughed. "No, seriously, Ben's an ace artist. He deals in beautiful, clean lines and really deep, sinister patches of shadow. Wolverine's never looked scarier than he does here, creeping about in the moon-mottled woods. Interestingly, despite being so good at that razor-sharp 'clean' style, Ben gives good foliage. Which, as any aspiring artist will know, is bloody tricky."
"Wolverine: Dangerous Game" hits stores on June 4, and also features a back-up story by "Fear Agent" creators Rick Remender and Jerome Opena.
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