X-POSITION: Marc Sumerak

Welcome to X-POSITION, Comic Book Resources' exclusive question-and-answer session with the creators of Marvel's über-popular line of X-Men titles. This is the weekly feature wherein the writers, artists and editors behind the mutants answer questions asked by you.

Our spotlight falls this week on writer Marc Sumerak, who's hoping to put his own stamp on a piece of Marvel history with the three-issue miniseries "Weapon X: First Class," the latest edition in what is becoming a full-fledged line of First Class books. Illustrated by Mark Robinson and Rob Campanella with covers by Michael Ryan, "Weapon X: First Class" seeks to shed some more light on the oft-revisited experiments that made Wolverine the best there is at what he does.

Why retell this story now? What will readers learn from it? Let's get our answers straight from the horse's mouth with Marc Sumerak, only in X-POSITION!

^^We begin with a few questions from Caleb Warren, who currently holds the title for being X-POSITION's most consistent contributor (thanks Caleb!).

1) Is "Weapon X: First Class" considered canon?

Marc Sumerak: As with all the other First Class books, "Weapon X: First Class" was designed to fit seamlessly within the mainstream Marvel Universe that we all know and love. My editor extraordinaire, Mark Paniccia, couldn't have said it better when he told me that these stories "dance between the raindrops of continuity." That is to say that, while a number of the events in this series have never actually appeared on-panel before now, they are designed to fit between previously established tales without contradicting anything that has come before.

It's a big undertaking to make sure that all of the bits and pieces line up correctly, but in the end, I think we put together a story that manages to introduce the Weapon X saga to a new generation of readers, while also building upon the existing mythology for those who have visited the tale previously.

2) There is an "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" movie coming out soon. Does your series have anything to do with that at all? What I mean to say is, are you incorporating any parts of the story Fox Studios is using into your series?

I don't think it's too much of a coincidence that we're re-examining the origin of Wolverine mere months before the debut of a movie with both the words "Origin" and "Wolverine" in the title. From a publishing standpoint, it makes perfect sense to have related material on the shelves in time for a major theatrical release. But that doesn't mean that the story we're telling in "Weapon X: First Class" is based on the upcoming movie at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

All of the characters and situations appearing in this series are based solely on their longstanding comic book counterparts. Whether or not our version is similar to what appears onscreen next year is something that you'll have to wait and see....

3) Any chance that once the mini is finished, you'll do an ongoing?

We're currently scheduled just for these three issues, and this story is designed to have a definite ending. But if the fans demand that we continue telling more stories about Wolvie's darker days as a member of the program, then you never know!

^^Speaking of "darker days," Andre4000 was curious how this First Class tale will tie into revelations seen in a pair of X-books currently on the stands.

1) How does this story fit in with the "Original Sins" story going on in "Wolverine: Origins" and "X-Men: Legacy" right now? Because in those series, we learn that Professor X has done a certain amount of "mind-wiping" on Wolverine. So wouldn't that mean that the walls in Logan's mind were partially built by the Professor?

You're absolutely right, Andre. There's a strong chance that a number of the defense mechanisms and psychic blocks in Logan's mind were actually put there by Xavier himself. But don't forget that many of those blocks were in place long before the Professor and Logan ever met. Those ones were erected by Weapon X, Department H and even Logan himself. Luckily for Xavier, Wolverine isn't too concerned about how the blocks were put there - he's more interested in the memories dwelling behind those walls.

With Xavier playing "tour guide" in this series, it gives him a better chance to steer Logan away from any info that he might not want his pupil to discover - such as some of the secrets currently being explored in "Original Sins." It also allows Xavier to make sure that the mental barriers Wolverine breaks through on their journey won't potentially put either of them in grave danger. Of course, that's easier said than done. Xavier knows all too well that Wolvie's mind is a metaphorical minefield...and there are definitely going to be a few unexpected explosions before all is said and done!

2) Regarding the back-up Sabretooth story - why didn't professor "heal" his mind like he did to Wolverine? Or at least clean up some of the more violent tendencies in Creed's head?

Sadly, some heads are just a little too messed up to be healed. Those are the heads that usually end up getting cut off. (Poor, poor Sabretooth...)

While I'm sure that Xavier could have eventually turned Sabretooth into another loyal soldier (with a lot of hard work and telepathic tomfoolery), it wasn't something he necessarily had the time to do. This particular back-up story is set during the time period that Professor Xavier was gathering students for his "All-New, All-Different" X-Men. At that point, his main priority was to quickly gather a strong team of mutants who could work together to save his original group of students from an immediate threat.

Xavier's first try at a new team didn't work so well (as seen in "X-Men: Deadly Genesis"), and he didn't want to risk making any more mistakes. He quickly realized that bringing Creed aboard would be a potential disaster, so he moved on to his next prospect. Judging by the damage that Sabretooth caused over the years that followed though, Xavier's choice to not do anything about Creed at this time may have indeed been the bigger mistake...

3) Further more, why would Xavier let a killer run free?

To me, Charles Xavier has always been a man who believed in the possibility of change and redemption. It's a major part of the dream that the X-Men are built around. So when he initially scheduled this meeting with Sabretooth, it was to offer Creed a genuine chance at a better life, not to punish him for his sins.

When Creed passed on the offer, Xavier chose not to waste any more time on him. A hasty decision? Perhaps. But it was also a desperate time that called for quick action. As with any "evil mutant," Xavier was not about to give up hope that Sabretooth might one day see the light and fight alongside the X-Men. And, hey...it even happened a few times over the years!

4) Will the other upcoming issues have back-up stories as well?

Yes, sir! Issue #2 will feature a back-up story starring Deadpool. It's a warped tour of the Weapon X facility as seen through the eyes of everyone's favorite Marvel merc! The back-up in issue #3 focuses on a young Gambit as he gets the biggest assignment of his life - a heist at a top-secret government facility deep in the Canadian wilderness. (Hmm, I wonder what they could be doing there...)

^^Kroller is up next, and he seems a bit nervous that Marvel has decided to retell a classic.

1) Why was it decided to retell Weapon X again? It seems like we've heard this tale a few times before. What is different about the telling this time around (other than your excellent writing)?

The original Weapon X saga is one of Marvel's most classic tales, Kroller, but it's also one of the bloodiest! With a whole new generation of readers eager to find out more about the past of their favorite mutant, we wanted to be able to retell this part of Wolvie's origin in a manner that readers of all ages could easily enjoy it without any content concerns.

So there may be a bit less random hacking and slashing going on in these pages, but don't worry! It's not all puppies and rainbows either. We wanted to stay as true as possible to the tone of the original story. We didn't want to lessen the emotional impact of the Weapon X saga in the slightest; we just wanted to use the red marker a bit less!

Beyond that, revisiting the story also gave us the chance to explore some events that happened in-between the panels. We not only get to explore some previously unseen moments for Logan during his Weapon X days, but we also get a bit more insight into the people running the program: Thorton, Cornelius and Hines. It was a lot of fun to take the original story and characters and build onto them to expand the overall experience.

2) Why was this decision made to tell this outside of "Wolverine: First Class?"

Two reasons, really. First off, this series was built as a complete, standalone story examining a very specific, and crucially important, part of Wolvie's life. It's more than just a lost adventure from his past - it's an exploration of the events that made Logan who he is today. So while pieces of the story fit into the general timeframe of "Wolverine: First Class," this series also acts as a companion piece to the original 'Weapon X' saga - a connection that seemed to set it apart as its own unique project from the beginning.

The other reason was simply a matter of tone. Whereas "Wolverine: First Class" is usually a light-hearted romp through Logan's past, we all knew that "Weapon X: First Class" was going to be a bit darker and heavier due to the nature of the subject material we were exploring. As a regular story arc in "Wolverine: First Class," this adventure might have felt like a pretty abrupt shift, but as its own standalone series, it is able to have its own voice.

3) As this is a Marvel Adventures title, have you felt the need to sanitize much considering what happens to Wolverine as Weapon X?

I think it's important to note that, while "Weapon X: First Class" is an "all ages" title, that designation doesn't automatically make it part of the Marvel Adventures line. The First Class books all take place in the mainstream Marvel Universe and build upon the rich history of the X-Men that has been established over the years.

The Marvel Adventures books are set in their own independent corner of the Marvel multiverse, allowing them to exist completely free of the shackles of continuity. That makes these two lines very different beasts. But the one common thread that they do share is the fact that they are meant to be friendly to readers of all age levels...which brings us to your question...

It's not so much a matter of "sanitizing" the original story as it is finding different ways to explore the established material. The last thing we wanted to do coming into the project was to take the original "Weapon X" saga and strip out all the juicy parts. But when you boil it down, the original story isn't really about blood and gore - it's about the emotional and physical trauma that Logan was forced to endure at the facility and how those experiences changed him as a man. With that theme in mind, the writing process was more about locating the specific events that reinforced the core idea and displaying them in a way that wasn't too graphic. With such a solid foundation, it wasn't nearly as hard to do as you might think.

^^Btacker offers up the last handful of questions today...take it away!

1 Will this whole miniseries take place in Wolverine's mind (so to speak)?

While the bulk of the series does take place inside Wolvie's brainbox as he and Xavier wade through the murky waters of his past, a chunk of the story also takes place in the "real world" as well. These moments will explore how Logan's newly-discovered memories affect his current life as an X-Man, and how they could possibly put his teammates in some very real danger.

2) What time periods does this story cover? We saw flashes of images from the "Origins" story and from Logan's work with Captain America - will we see more?

As the title suggests, Btacker, the main period of Logan's life that we're revisiting in this series is his time spent at the Weapon X facility. But before Wolverine and Xavier started to uncover those specific memories, we wanted to show some glimpses of other important moments in Wolverine's impressive history. It was a blast to give readers some quick looks at Logan's adventures with Captain America, Ben Grimm, Alpha Flight, Team X and more! And while those specific memories won't play a major role in the rest of this tale, hopefully they will inspire readers to look back and find out more about the action-packed life of our lead character!

3) Deadpool appears in the next issue. Is this Deadpool prior to Weapon X or post-Weapon X?

It's actually a little of each, with a healthy dose of "Deadpool during Weapon X" thrown in for good measure! With Wade Wilson steering the ship, you never know what you're gonna get!

4) Will Deadpool have a "pretty" face in this series?

Depends what you consider "pretty." But if you think that a plate of raw ground beef is the hotness, then you're in for a real treat!

5) Who else from Wolverine's past can we look forward to seeing?

From here on out, it's a Weapon X party! Look for the members of the Weapon X staff - the sinister scientists who turned Logan into a living tool of destruction - to step into the spotlight. Also, expect some brief cameos by a number of Weapon X alumni, including Maverick, Kane and... Mastadon?!? The fun is just getting started!

Post-Thanksgiving, we expect everyone will be suffering from a gravy-induced coma, so we're taking the week off! But in two weeks' time, we'll be back to talk about "X-Infernus" with writer C.B Cebulski and artist Cammo. So craft those emails with extra-special holiday thoughtfulness and send them our way by December 4. Be creative, thoughtful, and magical in your questions about this X-event, and we'll pass your missives right along. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line for good measure, and you'll help to ensure your own X-POSITION legacy too. Have a great Turkey Day!

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