What happens when the irresistible force meets the unkillable object? Writer Frank Tieri posed that question in 2001 in issue #159 of Marvel Comics “Wolverine” series. It was the issue where he introduced the world to the mysterious Mr. X, a sadistic, highly skilled serial killer with telepathic abilities that allow him to anticipate and counter his opponent’s fighting moves. In his first appearance, X set his sights on taking down Wolverine, and the adamantium enhanced X-Man only beat the mind-reading super killer by giving into his animalistic berserker rage, which kept Mr. X from anticipating his moves.
Unlike many of his opponents, Mr. X was able to walk away from his encounter with Wolverine. Most Recently, X offered his skills to Norman Osborn, and Osborn offered him him a spot on his covert wetworks team, the Thunderbolts. X is currently one of the stars of “Thunderbolts,” but he never forgives, and he never forgets a loss. He’ll be looking to avenge one of his earliest defeats in the one-shot “Wolverine: Mr. X” by Tieri and artist Paco Diaz, which is in stores this week. CBR News spoke with Tieri about the project.
CBR News: Frank, you created Mr. X almost nine years ago. How did it feel to have the character step back into the mainstream Marvel U with “Thunderbolts”? And how does it feel coming back to the character after all these years?
Frank Tieri: Geez, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long ago. Especially since it seemed like I was on the verge of getting a Mr. X project off the ground just about every other month after my “Wolverine run. It just never panned out for various reasons–that is, until Andy Diggle decided to use him in “Thunderbolts.” So I guess to answer your question about how I felt about X being used in Tbolts? Well, I figure I owe Andy a debt of gratitude (and probably a beer or two) because I don’t know if we’d be talking about Mr. X and this project unless Andy revived interest in him like he did. So yeah, I’m very happy others have started to see potential in the guy. Maybe a long time coming, but better late than never.
But even with all that said, more than anything, I’m thrilled that I myself get to write him again. When you create a character, it’s my opinion nobody really knows that character- who he is, his origins, what you had planned for him, etc-like you do. So like I said, while you should certainly want other people to use said character (if nothing else because that’s the only way a he’s going to take off), it’s still special when you yourself get to play with that old toy again.
From talking with fellow readers it seems like Mr. X is a character that fans really have strong feelings about. They either love or love to hate him. What is it about the character that you think engenders such feelings?
Hey, whatever the case, it’s always better for fans to have strong feelings about a character rather than have no feelings at all. And yeah, I’d say even if those feelings are hate.
As for why the reason for the love/ hate thing, well, he’s a serial killer who goes around beating up on the top fighters in the Marvel U – everybody from Wolverine to Taskmaster. Now either you find that really cool or – since a lot of those characters are fan favorites (believe me, nobody likes their favorite characters catch an ass whuppin’) – you probably don’t.
Either way, if he’s the character people love to hate, so be it. I’m perfectly fine with that.
Since X is part of the Thunderbolts he’s about to be plunged into the thick of “Siege.” When does “Wolverine: Mr. X” take place in relation to that? Does this story happen before X joined the Thunderbolts? While he’s a member? Or is this a story set during Marvel’s upcoming “Heroic Age”?
This story shows us what the hell X has been doing since his last encounter with Wolverine during the Bloodsport in Madripoor, right up until he joins the Thunderbolts. In fact, I say we’ll get a pretty good idea of what drove him to eventually join the Tbolts in the first place.
It seems like X is a guy obsessed with the telepathic high he gets from killing people. So what is it like for him to have faced and lost a battle against Wolverine, a foe who’s very difficult to kill? Is it extremely frustrating? Has it lit a fire under him? Or has it made an already violent psychopath even more deranged?
Obsessed is the key word here. (although deranged ain’t exactly a bad word to use either) Remember, X has spent his whole life becoming the world’s greatest killing machine. He’s never lost before. Which means, this loss to Wolvie? It’s absolutely consumed him. He just can’t deal with it.
And as our story shows, he doesn’t intend to deal with it for much longer. He will do anything and everything to assure that Wolvie gives him a rematch, as Logan is quick to discover.
Last time you had Wolverine and Mr. X square off in the ring of a bloodsport tournament. What locales will play a role in their rematch?
There’s a key face-off scene between the two with a tied up kindergarten class and a lighted match that’s pretty damned disturbing but the main, climatic battle actually takes place at NY’s Museum of Natural History. It’s really one of my favorite places in the world and I thought it would be a cool place for these two lunatics to try to kill the crap out of each other. Especially since I set it in the warriors wing of the museum so there’s plenty of fun stuff like axes and blowguns and pirate hooks that come into play.
What can you tell me about the supporting cast of this story? Do any of Mr. X or Wolverine’s allies appear? Or is this book all about the two of them going at it one on one?
Editor Jeanine Schaefer thought it best if X didn’t involve any of his usual entourage-so no T & A, not even Blok. Her reasoning was that this time should be different between Wolvie and X. That X would want it to be crisp and clean between them this time. No chance for interference, just him and Logan mano a mano.
And of course, like she usually is, she was 100% right. So nothing here but Mr. X, Logan and a head in a box. Oh wait–I did mention the head in the box, didn’t I?
You’re working with your “Wolverine Vs. Thor” collaborator Paco Diaz on this story. What can readers expect from his work on “Wolverine: Mr. X”?
Paco does a great job here although he goes quite a bit grittier than in “Wolverine Vs. Thor”- mainly because he had to, I suppose. In addition to the head in the box and the hostage kindergarten class, the final fight itself gets a little on the- shall we say -ungentlemanly side.
Very. Body parts missing- level ungentlemanly.
You’ve said in the past that Wolverine doesn’t like to face X – why in particular is that?
He’s afraid – and no, not of X himself but of what X represents. X to Logan is what Wolvie fears he could become if left unchecked. We know how Wolvie tries his best to keep his inner demons in check but X just freely lets them out to play.
I’ve always felt fighting guys like X or Sabretooth makes Wolvie a little uncomfortable because he understands them a little TOO well, if you know what I’m saying.
Last time we talked you mentioned that there would be some more Mr. X work in your future after this one shot. Is there anything you can say about your issue of “Deadpool Team Up” with Mr. X?
Not yet. It’s really too soon. But what I will say is I wouldn’t exactly label Deadpool and X’s encounter as a “team up”.
Any other Marvel projects you can hint or tease at?
In addition to the “Deadpool Team Up” thing, I’m also revisiting my ol’ merc with a mouth pal in the “Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way” project. It’s a story that has DP in a super market killing the beegezus out of a messload of people-although more than meets the eye might actually be going on here.
Also, in addition to some other Marvel stuff too early to talk about, I’m writing a video game-a pretty big one at that-that’s due to get announced fairly soon, so everybody should keep their ears open for that.
Anything else to add about “Wolverine: Mr. X”?
I will say this: I don’t think a lot of people will see the ending coming. It’s not your typical ending for something like this, but when you think about it, it really makes all the sense in the world. And I’ll just leave it at that.
“Wolverine: Mr. X” hits comic shops tomorrow. Go here to check out a full preview.
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