X-POSITION: Jason Aaron

How many ways are there to destroy a person? Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually? If you can only think of a handful, you're not trying hard enough. The current works of writer Jason Aaron - Marvel's "Wolverine" and "PunisherMAX," and "Scalped" for Vertigo - show characters enduring burden upon burden. And just when readers might think these protagonists can't take any more, the scribe adds another teaspoon of challenges to unhinge them even further.

Writing stories as dark as these could understandably cause a creator to slip into a gloomy mood, but thankfully Aaron also has "Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine" on his work docket, which allows him to stretch his "joke muscles" as well as indulge in cosmic fantasy. The writer's works have a range to them, which, in turn, means he has a range of questions from fans in this week's X-POSITION! Let's get to them, shall we?

Andre4000 has a few non-X queries, but I'll allow it as I'm curious about the answers myself...

I'm really enjoying your "Wolverine" (as well as "Scalped," and everything else you write), but I have a couple of "PunisherMAX" questions I'm hoping you could answer:

1) The story is awesome! And while it doesn't really matter to me, I still have to ask - is Marvel looking at this as a retelling of Kingpin's origin, a retcon, or is this one of those alternate universe-type stories?

Thanks, Andre. And yeah, the world of "PunisherMAX" is a separate universe from the main Marvel U. There's no Daredevil in the "PunisherMAX" world, not that we've ever seen at least. There's nobody running around with superpowers. There's just Frank, who's gotta be at least sixty years old at this point - an idea I've been addressing in the series.

2) The stories you're telling appear to be more about the villains than Punisher. Is the goal of the series to "redefine" the villains for the present? And will you be getting to a more Punisher-driven story? Or will you be focusing on another villain after Bullseye?

Yes, the first two arcs have focused quite a bit on the villains. But the third arc is titled simply "Frank," so expect lots of quality time with ol' Frank in that one.

3) Wolverine and Punisher are both "tough guys," but Wolverine seems to let his softer side slip out a bit more often. What do you feel the difference is between these bad-asses? And how important is it to make Frank Castle a sympathetic character in your mind?

I've never really sympathized with Frank. I mean, you sympathize with the guy who lost his family so long ago. But he's not really that guy anymore, you know? He's a borderline psychopath and certified mass murderer. Then again, Frank would tell you he's more sane than anyone he's ever met, so who knows?

Now Logan, he's obviously had his problems over the years and has certainly killed his share of folks, but he's at least more haunted by it than Frank is. He's always striving to be something better than what he's been before, while Frank is perfectly content to spend the rest of his days doing exactly what he's been doing, even though he knows it's ultimately pointless. I think Logan has a little more hope for the future...maybe not hope for himself. He has no illusions about what kind of man he is, ultimately. But still, he hopes his sacrifice can someday make life better for others. He's more of a romantic than Frank is, I suppose - more of an idealist. Frank is about as far removed from idealism as you could get.

Speaking of Wolverine, Renaldo had a handful of inquiries he was hoping you could help him with:

1) I was wondering if you ever feel the urge to bring in a more regular cast in "Wolverine," akin to "Wolverine: Origins." Or will the cast in the book be more rotational?

I feel like I am introducing more of a regular cast into the series. Wolverine's girlfriend, Melita, has obviously been playing a big role. I've also used Mystique quite frequently, and she will continue to be a part of the book. And we'll also be seeing some other characters making regular appearances in the coming months.

Those back-up stories from this opening arc of "Wolverine" were meant to seed a lot of that supporting cast. The death of the Silver Samurai, in particular, will have major repercussions down the road. And we'll be seeing much more of Amiko, Logan's adopted daughter, as well. Also, keep an eye on my "Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine" series. That's all I'll say there.

2) Since "Get Mystique," it has been clear that you are the guy to bring ass-kicking back to Wolverine. I'm curious, are you ever tempted to include more of the X-family, like Scott, Domino, or Vanisher? Also, maybe you could bring in Black Panther, Punisher, or other elements from "Immortal Weapons" into your Wolverine run?

I do have plans for at least one of the Immortal Weapons - it's just a matter of when I can fit it all in. I want this series to indeed feature appearances by Logan's X-family, but since Logan is a big part of the Avengers world as well, I want to see some of those characters pop up from time to time too.

3) Can you say how you're involved with "Fear Itself?" Will it tie in heavily with any of your books?

A lot of that is still being finalized, but I think there will be a Wolverine tie-in...yes.

4) Finally, I'm a huge fan of your "Where the Hell Am I?" column on CBR and I'm loving "Scalped!" As I pray for you to take up a Ghost Rider book again, I was wondering - what's the influence behind your gritty "Ultimate Captain America" book, especially in how it ties to the present with the Ultimate Avengers?

I was actually talking to Mark Millar last week, so yeah, there is a way that this ties into "Ultimate Avengers." For me, the idea was to do a story that addressed the fact that Steve Rogers missed out on a big important chunk of American history while he was frozen in that ice. He wasn't around for the civil rights struggle or the Kennedy assassinations or the Vietnam War or Watergate or any of that stuff. Now he's confronted with the legacy of that period made flesh, in this angry "Captain America of the Vietnam War." So you have two Caps, both with very strong ideas about what their country represents, and he's fun to bounce those two guys off each other, figuratively and literally.

5) Is there any chance you'll be doing another "Astonishing" series after you conclude "Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine?"

Probably not in the cards right now. My dance card for 2011 is already overflowing. But the events of "Astonishing Spidey & Wolvie" will most definitely have repercussions elsewhere. Also, just let me say, thanks to everybody who's been picking up that series and especially all the people who've been talking it up online.

I was really worried about that book before it hit. I worried that it was too crazy, too different than what people were expecting. But thankfully, those are the qualities that readers have really responded to. I have had more fun working on this series than pretty much anything I've ever done, and I feel like it shows. Even if I don't do another "Astonishing" series, I will most definitely be doing more stories in this same vein. It's too much fun not to.

Even though you don't have another 'Astonishing' book scheduled, Darkxmen is hoping you might add another title or two to your dance card that readers can look forward to...

I am loving your 'Wolverine Goes to Hell" - you're one of the reasons that I'm reading comics on a regular basis, so thank you for that. My question is: what are the chances of you doing a full-fledged story arc for the X-Men? Would you be interested in that? And might we ever see you do a miniseries focusing on a single X-Men member, like Gambit or Storm?

I'd say there's a very good chance you could see me doing something X-Men related in the near future. A very good chance indeed...

That sounds like a topic for a future X-POSITION! On the topic of Gambit, Nathan had a good ol' creole request:

As Gambit is currently looking after Wolverine's 'daughter' in "X-23," will Logan be keeping an eye on the Cajun to see what his motives are in your book, as he has shown distrust of Gambit in the past?

No plans for Gambit right now. But I too am loving what Marjorie's doing with X-23 though.

Steve sent in a whole list of queries for you, and kicks things off with a desire to know more about X-23 as well:

1) How are the Wolverine "family" of titles ("Daken," "X-23," "X-Force") coordinated? Do you work with Marjorie Liu and Daniel Way, or is that all up to the editor? For example, how did you coordinate the characters' involvement in "Wolverine Goes to Hell?"

That's mostly coordinated by our amazing editor, Jeanine Schaefer. But I do talk to Marjorie and Dan on occasion, though Dan's backwoods hillbilly dialect is often hard to decipher and Marjorie's excessive use of Chinese profanity can sometimes be disconcerting. We also have an X-Men summit once a year where we all sit in a room together and iron out the next year's worth of stories, and that's usually much more civil.

2) When writing Wolverine, I imagine it's hard to write physical threats for him because of his healing factor. Is that why you chose for the current storyline to be more psychological than physical? What kinds of things will change in Wolverine as a result of this story?

There are big changes coming for Logan as a result of this whole plot to send him to hell. As for who sent him to hell and what their real goal might be and how this will all affect the ol' Canucklehead, well, I'm afraid we'll just have to wait and see.

3) With Wolverine being infected in "The List," his coming to terms with Nightcrawler's death, his talk to John Wraith, and finally being sent to Hell - are we seeing the character become more spiritual? And was this an intentional change on your part?

Yes, Logan's spiritual growth is something I've been developing for quite a while now, and his current trip to hell is in some ways the culmination of that development. Logan has faith now. Logan is a believer. But the ramifications of that faith and belief is something that he will continue to wrestle with.

4) Melita Garner is an interesting character and her partnership with Mystique is endlessly fun. Do you see her purpose as getting Wolverine to quit pining for Jean and help him move forward? Or does she serve a different need in your eyes?

As I've said before, I quite simply just wanted to introduce a love interest for Logan who wasn't going to get killed off. I wanted him, for the first time in a while, to have a real relationship. As for where that leads, we'll have to wait and see. 

5) We've seen a lot of characters (presumably) die recently: Silver Samurai, Yuriko, and Wraith. What motivates you to kill a character - how do you choose?

Don't assume that all those characters you listed are dead. As for what motivates me to kill a character: it just has to be right for the story. You don't wanna do it just to get a quick, temporary shock and then you have no where else to go. With Silver Samurai in particular, there's still a lot of story to be told in relation to his death.

That's it from the fans for this week - now it's time for some "Behind the X" fun! Good writing stems from many sources, but I'd argue it begins with a good breakfast. What's your favorite type of breakfast cereal?

Fruity Pebbles, now and forever. Although Cookie Crisp ain't bad either.

Thus, we conclude things on that sugary-sweet note. Next week, the X-Editors (led by Senior Editor and X-Men Group Editor Nick Lowe) will be answering your emails for our next X-citing session. So pick an X-book - any X-book - and think up some marvelous, mind-bending questions. Type them up, run a spell-check, and send those missives my way ASAP. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll help you break down the X-Men family tree. I'm waiting...

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