X-POSITION: Week Fifteen

Thu, September 6th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

"The Death of Logan" begins in "Wolverine" #57, on sale this week

Some comic book heroes – like Spider-Man – appear in several comic books throughout any given month. Wolverine is another who shows up in a handful of monthly X-titles, not to mention various miniseries and "New Avengers." If both of these characters had real lives as busy as their fictional ones, they'd pass out from exhaustion. It seems fitting, then, that a person who can relate to similarly non-stop activity is writing these two heroes: Marc Guggenheim.

This writer manages to maintain a busy Hollywood career in television, works as part of a team on the upcoming thrice-monthly "Amazing Spider-Man," and uses his spare time to script different assignments as part of his exclusive comics deal with Marvel. Obviously, sleep is not high on Guggenheim's priority list.

As Guggenheim has written "Wolverine" in the past (the Civil War-related "Vendetta" arc) and is writing an upcoming storyline in which he, well, kills Wolverine, we thought it would be a good idea to have Guggenhyeim come and answer a few of your questions here at X-POSITION. It's not like he has anything else to do, right?

Story continues below


I'll kick things off by stating the obvious: you write TV shows and you're Marvel exclusive. Where do you find the time for everything?

Honestly, I have no idea.I do a lot of work at 5:00 in the morning and on weekends, that I can tell you. But every day is a challenge in terms of fitting it all in.

"Wolverine" #57," page 1
For the most part, we know what you're up to in the world of comics. But bring us up to date on your TV writing at the moment -- you previously wrote for "Brothers & Sisters" and co-created the ABC series "Eli Stone" – where are your attentions focused right now television wise?

"Eli"was picked up to series this past May, so I've been working on that.I'm running the show along with my co-creator, Greg Berlanti.That alone is a full-time job.

And with that in mind, what does your weekly schedule look like?

It's kind of a mess.I keep trying to will my schedule into some kind of organized, predictable format, but the nature of the TV-side of my work doesn't allow for it.Part of running a show is literally running around putting out fires.Fires are difficult to schedule.You kind of have to triage and go with the flow.By some miracle, everything that needs to get done seems to get done, including my comic book work, which I love.

Do you know how long you're on "Wolverine"? Are you just doing a specific arc? Or are you on the book for the foreseeable future?

"Wolverine" #57," page 3
I'm doing a five-issue arc.That's how it was conceived and that's how it was planned. Actually, the story was originally conceived as a 12-part "Marvel Comics Presents"serial, with each chapter being eight pages.However, the economics were such that it worked out better for the story to appear in "Wolverine"proper.And I'm glad. Not only was it easier to structure the book in five 22-page chapters – the structure resembles what I did on "Vendetta," but I also think that the nature of the story, the importance it has in deepening Logan's history, belongs in Wolvie's own book.

As someone who has written "Wolverine" before, do you feel that you are coming to this second go-round with a different perspective? Do you feel you have a grasp on the character?

I find him one of the easier characters to write.The internal monologue that's been such a longstanding part of the character feels very much in my wheelhouse.He's a lot of fun to return to each month.

Wolverine seems like he'd be a tough character to write. I mean, he doesn't crack jokes…

He does when I write him, baby.

"Wolverine" #57," page 6
True enough! But he's also such a loner. Even though has layers, it seems easy to have him come off as a two-dimensional "tough guy." What do you feel is the secret to making readers connect with Logan?

I think it all comes out of finding just the right balance – and it's a delicate one – between writing the book as a straight-ahead action/adventure while still giving Logan's character some depth.It's tricky, because if you give too much character exploration, the character feels watered-down and wimpy.Too little and the story doesn't seem to hold together, at least not enough to remain memorable.

They say that Hamlet is a role every actor should play because every actor brings their own interpretation of the character.I think Wolverine is the equivalent for comic book writers.Logan has such a wide-ranging history of experiences and interpretations that writers reveal a lot about themselves in what aspects of the character they choose to focus on.

I'll be sure to check out the subtext in your latest arc, then. How about some questions from our readers now? These first two are from Flavio, who kind of expands on my earlier "loner" comment:

1) I think that the weakest point of the various "Wolverine" series is that Logan doesn't have a very established supporting cast. There is no Foggy Nelson, J.J.J. or Rick Jones, which makes his series less enjoyable because it's hard to focus on his non-superhero life. Are you planning to build a supporting cast for Wolverine, either with already-established characters or with your own creations (or both)?

"Wolverine" #57," page 9
Flavio, I totally would if I was writing "Wolverine" as an ongoing series rather than jumping in occasionally for an arc here and there.Supporting casts are very difficult to create and service when you're only on a book for five or six issues.It's kind of the difference between writing a movie and writing a TV show.Closed-end arcs are kind of like movies.Now, that having been said, I did give Logan a girlfriend at the end of "Vendetta"and she has an important role to play in the "Logan Dies"arc.

2) Are you planning to use the X-Men who Logan has more history with, like Kitty, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Rogue or Colossus, as guest-stars or even as supporting cast members?

Not in this particular arc, though I'm a longtime X-Men fan and really enjoy their rich history.That history, however, just didn't lend itself to the particular story I'm trying to tell with this arc(though Logan'shistory looms very large in the story).

As long as we're on the topic of Logan's interactions with others, Andre4000 wrote in to say, "I always find Wolverine's portrayals in different books intriguing. When he's with the Avengers, they won't authorize him to kill.And with the X-Men, killing is a no-go most of the time. In his own book, however, all bets are off.

"Wolverine" #57," page 12
"Do you feel that it's odd that a character – whose only offensive power is razor-sharp claws – is expected not to do critical damage to an opponent on the battlefield? I also think it's weird that kids of all ages seem to love a character who does such bloody bodily harm to others."

Honestly, I guess my answer depends upon how you define "weird."If by "weird," you mean "disturbing," I completely agree.Sadly, this is very much a byproduct of our society where – and this is an old harangue – violence in media is perfectly (or, at least, more) acceptable than sexuality.In writing Logan, I kind of like to focus on the noble and honorable aspects of the character.When he's just a soulless killing machine, he's not that interesting to me, either as a writer or a reader.

Athanas is up next with an interesting query: "I know not to get too concerned with Marvel continuity when reading 'Wolverine,' but I was just curious what the editors tell you with regards to that stuff. Do they say not to worry about it? Or do they try to figure out a rough timeline where this particular story is taking place?"

They totally worry about it and I get notes all the time.The problem is – and this goes for most characters these days, but particularly for Wolverine – that continuity has gotten so complex that a) there are pitfalls that are inevitable no matter how diligent the editor or writer, and b) some continuity issues are far from clear and completely open to debate – which, of course, is why the internet was invented in the first place.

"Wolverine" #57," page 13
After Marvel published preview pages of my first issue earlier this week, I made the mistake of going online and seeing what people had to say about them.In the opening sequence, there's a gag where a WWI-era Logan sticks bayonet blades into his forearms and uses them like his claws.Some people were outraged – "Why wouldn't he just pop his claws?!Doesn't Guggenheim know anything?!"

Well, Guggenheim knows that at that point in Logan's life, he didn't rememberthat he had claws to pop.(Though I'm suggesting that he obviously had some subconscious drive to, and awareness of how to, fight with them.)Continuity is like a minefield for the current comic book writer, and while I do my absolute best to adhere to it, the complexity is such that I've resigned myself that it's completely impossible not to encounter a continuity blooper here and there.It just goes with the territory.That's why the No-Prize was invented, I suppose.

And what a terrific "invention" that is! As a matter of fact, we may need it for this next question from RWS. "In recent years, Wolverine's healing factor has been portrayed completely differently than it has been in the past. It now seems like more of an 'instant regeneration factor' than an actual healing factor, at least in my opinion.

"Wolverine" #57," page 14
"As you had Logan regenerating his flesh which was burned off his skeleton in your 'Vendetta' Civil War tie-in arc, why do you think that this shift in the parameter of his powers has occurred? Is it a secondary mutation? A side-effect of losing his healing factor for awhile when the adamantium was removed from his body by Magneto (perhaps it came back much stronger)? Is he on Mutant Growth Hormone?

"It used to be that it took him days and even weeks to heal from serious injuries such as multiple gunshots, mortal stab wounds, and severe burns. Now the character just seems to shrug those injuries off like they were nothing. Many fans have expressed the sentiment that it makes Logan much less interesting as a character. So, my second question to you is, do you think that it makes him somehow more or less interesting as a character to have his healing factor so amped up?"

That's a very good question.The practical explanation is that writers and editors have interpreted – and, thus, applied – Logan's healing factor differently over the years.As for the story explanation, I get a lot of my story ideas from asking questions just like that.

"Wolverine" #57," page 15
For example, my current "Wolverine" arc came out of asking myself the question, "When Logan gets, say, blown up, how does his brain regenerate his memories?"I like your notion of a secondary mutation.There may be a story in that to tell someday.

I agree with you that having a super-healing-factor makes Wolverine less interesting – and certainly harder to put into jeopardy as a writer – and while I don't have the clout to de-power or dis-power him myself, I'm hoping that my arc will render Wolverine at least a little more mortal.

Next, let's try a handful of queries from Red Lotus…

1) What non-X-characters can we look forward to in "Wolverine?"

Tony Stark and Dr. Strange on the side of the angels.And a new antagonist named "Shogun."

2) Will Deadpool be appearing in the book anytime soon?

Not in my run, I'm sorry to say.

"Wolverine" #57," page 17
3) Any hints on what Wolverine will be doing in "Amazing Spider-Man?"

He'll be in "Amazing Spider-Man?!?"

4) Will Wolverine's son play apart in the "Romulus" storyline?

That's Daniel Way's nut to crack, so I have to punt that question to him.

Aw, nuts. As I know you've got plenty to do, we'll wrap things up with CuzLarry. "I was just wondering what some of your favorite 'Wolverine' stories are, and what kind of stories we can expect from you?"

For me, the gold standard is the original Claremont/Miller "Wolverine"limited series. I'm also quite fond of the "Wolverine & Kitty Pryde"follow-up(yes, it's a legitimate follow-up, folks).I really, really loved Mark Millar's "Enemy of the State/Agent of SHIELD" run."Spider-Man vs. Wolverine"by Jim Owsley is a sentimental favorite, as well.

"Wolverine" #57," page 18
As for the kind of stories you can expect from me, a lot of that answer is in the examples I just cited.I'm a writer who is very much influenced by the work of others I've read and enjoyed.They've put the ball on the field and I'm just trying to move it a little further toward the goal.

Thus ends another week of X-POSITION, and now it's time for a little assignment. That's right – homework for all of you fans! Pick up this week's "Uncanny X-Men" #490, read it , and send in your questions and theories about the story to me ASAP. The quicker you get them to me – and the more relevant the questions – the more likely that we'll print them.

We promise to pull Daniel Way away from his desk to answer your queries, so let's toss him some meaty ones. Remember to put "X-Position" in your subject line too, and I'll keep my eyes out for those gems you're sending my way. See you soon!

Archives
X-POSITION: Week Fourteen
X-POSITION: Week Thirteen
X-POSITION: Week Twelve
X-POSITION: Week Eleven
X-POSITION: Week Ten
X-POSITION: Week Nine
X-POSITION: Week Eight
X-POSITION: Week Seven
X-POSITION: Week Six
X-POSITION: Week Five
X-POSITION: Week Four
X-POSITION: Week Three
X-POSITION: Week Two
X-POSITION: The Beginning ...

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