Wolverine's mutant healing factor makes him extremely hard to kill, so his foes are often forced to come up with different and inventive ways to subdue him. Imprisoning him is always an option, but Wolverine is also armed with a set of razor sharp adamantium claws, which means there are few prisons in the Marvel Universe that he couldn't fight or claw his way out of. But could even Wolverine escape from Hell? This September readers will find out when writer Jason Aaron and artist Renato Guedes launch the next volume of Marvel Comics' "Wolverine" series. CBR News spoke with Aaron about the project, which kicks off in September with "Wolverine" #1 and was announced on Sunday at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo.
Aaron is no stranger to the world of Wolverine, having penned multiple stories featuring the adamantium enhanced X-Man, including the 2008 storyline "Get Mystique," and the miniseries "Wolverine: Manifest Destiny," which also launched in '08. In 2009, Aaron began writing the ongoing series "Wolverine: Weapon X," which will wrap up this summer. Fans need not worry, though, as many of the elements they loved about the book will also be part of the new volume of "Wolverine."
"I'll still be mixing it up from arc to arc, doing different genres, different kinds of Wolverine stories, and we'll see stand-alone issues sprinkled in here and there. So in that sense, the book will have the same sort of structure as 'Weapon X.' Other elements will carry over as well, like Melita, the girlfriend I introduced for Logan. She'll continue to be a big part of the story, beginning with this first arc. And the new villains I introduced in "Weapon X,' like the Adamantium Men and Doctor Rot, their stories still aren't finished. Those are characters who will return," Aaron told CBR News. "I think the main difference between 'Wolverine' and 'Weapon X,' especially with this first story arc, is that this is a bigger book and a bigger story. With 'Weapon X,' I wanted to come in and inject a few new ideas into Wolverine's rogues gallery, so I didn't use any established villains. That also helped boil things down so they were very new reader friendly and continuity free. We kick this series off with Wolverine going to Hell, and that's a much bigger story than any of the Wolverine tales I've ever done. It's bigger in terms of size, impact and who all is involved. Still, even though lots of characters from Wolverine's past will be popping up in this story, more characters than I've probably ever used in any story before, like with everything else I do, I'll still be trying to boil things down to make them accessible to new readers."
"Wolverine" #1 begins in media res, with the title character already locked away in his infernal prison. "When the story opens, Wolverine's soul is trapped in Hell and his body is possessed by demons, running around on Earth causing havoc," Aaron explained. "As to how this happened and who did it? That's a mystery for now. We just know that there's a group out there that we've never seen before, that for some reason has it in for Wolverine in a very big way. They've managed to pull this off, to trap him in Hell, to have him tormented by Satan and his hordes of demons. And they've also got a list of his friends and allies, and they're coming after them as well, taking some of them off the board, permanent-like. They're doing everything they can to ruin Logan's life in every way possible. They want to make him suffer in as many ways as they possibly can."
The identity of the group behind Logan's predicament may be a mystery, but Aaron will also be throwing plenty of familiar obstacles and adversaries at his protagonist in his inaugural "Wolverine" arc. "The group that trapped Logan in Hell has operatives working for them; some new characters and some old," Aaron revealed. "Beyond that, think of Hell as the largest, most over-crowded prison you could possibly imagine, and think of Wolverine popping up there one day. He's going to create a bit of a stir, because over the course of his 100 plus years of life ,he's killed a lot of people. A whole lot. So there are going to be a lot of folks in Hell itching to get a piece of him. Logan has lots of dead enemies; from the God knows how many Hand ninjas, Nazis and Hydra agents he's killed over the years, to a few bigger and more recognizable characters. There'll be the characters fans will probably be expecting to see, but also a couple that'll be a bit of a surprise. And it's not just his enemies. He has a few dead allies who'll be showing up as well. Can I go ahead and spoil one? Old-school Alpha Flight fans (of which I am one) might be interested."
Logan's associates in the land of the living will also play roles in Aaron's initial "Wolverine" arc. "We'll see characters like Silver Samurai, Yukio and Maverick. And Mystique plays a big part in this arc, though not necessarily in the way you might expect," Aaron remarked. "In addition to the main story, this first arc will also feature back-up stories, each one focusing on a different supporting character from Logan's life, some old, some all-new. So we'll see a lot of Wolverine's associates as they get pulled into this story. It's not just about setting up these characters for a fight scene. Overall, it's about fleshing out Wolverine's world and the people he surrounds himself with. A lot of these characters will continue to be part of the book. Also, within those back-ups, I'll be teasing some of the stories that are coming up in this series, after 'Wolverine Goes to Hell.'"
Logan's relationships with his old allies and enemies is an important part of Aaron's first story, but the writer wanted to make sure the tale was also understandable to new fans. "When I use old characters and old idea points, I always want to do so in a way that makes them friendly to new readers," Aaron stated. "So if 'Wolverine' #1 is the first Wolverine book you've ever read, you won't be lost. You don't have to know Wolverine's long standing complicated relationship with this character or that character. It's all about boiling all that down, so that it's easily digestible."
The first arc in the new volume of "Wolverine" is thematically part of the new "Heroic Age" of the Marvel Universe, though it may not seem so at first glance. "The Heroic Age is about the heroes being back in charge and everything looking rosy, right? So somebody might ask, 'Well how does Wolverine going to Hell fit in with any of that? How is that a 'Heroic Age' story at all?" Aaron remarked. "One of the things I've been building up to in all of the Wolverine stories that I've done is that Wolverine has been finding faith and a sense of hope. He was a character always portrayed as an atheist or an agnostic, but I've shown in sprinklings here and there that he's starting to get glimmers of faith. He's started to believe. In the last issue of the 'Weapon X' series leading into this, we really start to see that faith take shape. When a man like Logan, who has done terrible things over the course of his life, starts to find a sense of faith and hope, somebody is usually going to step up and test it. In some ways, that's what this story is; Logan's sense of hope being tested in a big way."
Aaron's collaborator on "Wolverine," Brazilian artist Renato Guedes, is best know for his recent work on DC Comics' Superman family of titles, but Aaron is excited to see what he can do in Marvel's sandbox. "I'm super-excited to have Renato on board. He's got a style that I think is going to really pop on a story like this. In particular, I have a lot of ideas on how we're going to portray Hell. Usually it's just a big cave with some smoke and a few fires burning here and there. But the Hell that Renato and I do will have a real geography to it, a real sense of place, in an utterly warped and disturbing sort of way."
By ant measurement, Wolverine trapped in Hell is a big story, and Aaron couldn't reveal just how much time his protagonist will spend in the nether realm, but readers can expect this story to have a definite impact on future arcs of the series and the other ongoing books in the Wolverine line: "Daken: Dark Wolverine" and "X-23." "You don't have to read any one of these books to enjoy the other," Aaron explained. "It's not that in-depth of a crossover. But it's a story that is so big that it had to affect the Wolverine world in a big way, and these books are kind of the Wolverine family of titles now. So this one event has ramifications for all of these books. It also helps set up the status quo of how these characters relate to Wolverine."
Wolverine's journey to Hell is just the first in a series of big stories that Aaron has planned for the adamantium enhanced X-Man. "In these first five issues we'll see my framework for a few years worth of Wolverine stories; stuff that I'm really excited about," Aaron said. "Obviously, it's great to have Wolverine back in a book with that 'Wolverine' title, just to say, 'Here, this is the main Wolverine book.' 'Weapon X' will be wrapping up. 'Wolverine Origins' is pretty close to wrapping up. So this will be the Wolverine solo title. The chance to get to kick all that off is a huge thrill. As I've said all along, I have a lot of Wolverine stories in me that I want to tell. I've gotten to do some, and there's still quite a bit more that I'm going to get to. I'm hoping to have a nice, long and hopefully memorable run on the character."