X-POSITION: Bunn Gets His Hands Dirty with "Wolverine"

Tue, April 17th, 2012 at 1:58pm PDT

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer
63

There are some names that just sound like they belong on the cover of a comic book: Aaron, Carey, Gage, and now -- BUNN! Over the past couple of years, Cullen Bunn's name has appeared with greater frequency on covers found at local comic book stores. From his Oni Press titles "The Damned" and "The Sixth Gun" to his Marvel Comics work on "Fear Itself: The Fearless," the recently released "Spider-Man: Season One" graphic novel, and co-writing "Venom" with Rick Remender starting next month, Bunn has proven to be one of the best there is at what he does. Therefore, it's only appropriate he now tackles "Wolverine."

Picking up where writer Jason Aaron left off, Bunn has some twisted ideas he's going to visit upon Logan. As a matter of fact, the #1 note from editors on his "Wolverine" scripts was "What's wrong with you?" (Be sure to pick up his first issue to find out!)

Despite being supremely busy at C2E2 all weekend, the kind Mr. Bunn still managed to squeeze in some time for us here at X-POSITION. This is his first outing with all you lovely folks, so let's make him feel welcome. Did anyone bother to bake him a cake? Let's see...

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Regino is first up with a couple of curious queries:

WolverineCullen Bunn succeeds Jason Aaron on "Wolverine"

1) Wolverine has killed a lot of people over the years, and has walked a fine line between hero and cold-blooded killer. How do you foresee balancing these two dynamics? Do you think there is a point where Wolverine cannot be redeemed as a hero with all of the blood on his hands?

Hey, Regino. I like that this is the first question, because in a lot of ways, my first arc hinges on this idea. Logan is a guy who is not afraid to use lethal force when it is necessary. In some cases, he sees killing as the only option -- a necessity to serve the greater good. Sometimes, he sees it as a mercy. Now he's not just walking that line between hero and killer. He's throwing the role of teacher into the mix. But if the line between these aspects of his life starts to blur (and it will right from the start), can he trust himself around his friends and his students?

At this point, I don't think Wolverine has crossed a line that he can't un-cross. But Logan, on the other hand, probably thinks he has crossed the point of no return. He doesn't see himself as a hero as much as a guy who will do what has to be done. Redemption isn't his goal.

2) A lot of people have "mind-controlled" Wolverine, from Weapon X to the Hand to Apocalypse. Do you think it's hard to tell a story using this plot device and make it unique?

Telling a unique story about mind control is tough for any character. You're right, though. Wolverine has been used as a puppet many times. I don't shy away from that. I embrace it. And I wanted to address why Wolverine is so susceptible to mind control. The most treacherous battleground for Wolverine is his mind. I'm just making it extra dangerous for him. I'm trying to bring some new twists into the mind control game, drawing on everything from Wolverine's history to my own research and experiences in the area.

A lot of people have heard me say I once performed as the World's Youngest Hypnotist. Most people think it's a joke, but it's true. My dad was a professional stage hypnotist for many years (and I was part of the act). Since then, I've always been fascinated by the ideas, philosophies, and fictions of mind control.

Why do I suddenly have the urge to buy comics with Cullen's name on the cover? And why am clucking like a chicken? Damn, he's good!

Next, Marcus Martin asks a little more about mind matters:

1) Given that your first Wolverine storyline arc centers around "memory loss," can you explain how this will differ from the pre-"House of M" Logan, who had no knowledge of his past?

While "memory loss" plays a role in the story (and most likely not in the way you think), it's really "missing time" that sets Wolverine on this adventure. He's got "blank spots" in his recent memories. He's literally waking up with blood on his hands and it scares the hell out of him.

2) I truly have enjoyed some of your recent Marvel writings, especially with your handling of Valkyrie. Will you have a chance to write her again soon? Please?

I'm really glad you dug my take on Valkyrie. Thank you, Marcus. She's a character that I really love, and if you read the end of "Fear Itself: The Fearless," you know I seeded (what I think) could be some very cool ideas. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that I'll get to write the character again.

3) Will we ever get to see you write the Green Hulk in the future, given his strong ties to Wolverine and even his unique ties with Captain America?

Bunn's first arc will focus on "missing time" from Logan's recent memories

There are no plans for that right now, but I like that version of the Hulk and I like big, crazy stories, so you never know what might happen. 

4) Will the events of "Avengers vs. X-Men" affect your run on "Wolverine" in any way? And if so, is it challenging to write with something like that hanging over your head?

My first couple of "Wolverine" arcs do not tie in to "Avengers Vs. X-Men." The stories stand apart and stand on their own. It can be a challenge to write stories that tie in to big events, sure, but I kind of like the challenge of it and the collaborative nature of it. I like the feeling that I'm a part of a bigger world. That said, I'm glad my Wolverine stories aren't impacted by the event in this stage of the game. I want my early Wolverine stories to stand on their own, y'know?

Renaldo wrote in and inquired about everything from friends to enemies to family…

1) Considering "Wolverine" has so many allies and enemies, how did you decide who you will be using in your run?

Hey, Renaldo. If you could see my early "pitch list" for the series, you'll see that I had a very hard time narrowing down the villains I'd be using in my first story. Everyone and everything from Sabretooth to the Brood to the Reavers to Sentinels appeared in those concepts. My editor, Jeanine Schaefer, definitely helped me narrow down the choices and pick the idea that would work best for my first arc. Once I started writing it, I couldn't imagine another story as my first arc.

In a lot of ways, Dr. Rot is absolutely perfect for my first arc. His story helps to highlight a lot of my writing sensibilities. And, as a bonus, using him is my way of paying homage to Jason Aaron's amazing work on "Wolverine."

2) Jason Aaron kept "violent Logan" in the solo title but used the "kindergarten cop" version in "Wolverine & the X-Men," and he distinguished both quite well. With Logan appearing in so many books, how do you plan to differentiate your Wolverine from the other titles he shows up in?

I guess the simplest answer is that I'm really writing my take on Wolverine. It's the version of the character that (I hope) only I can write. Both the Dr. Rot story and the story for my second arc are very "Cullen-like." I'm introducing characters and concepts that are dredged up from my twisted psyche.  I'm also planning on these stories being very solo-focused. There will be guest stars, yes, but Wolverine will face his challenges (for the most part) on his own.

3) Within the past year, we saw Logan gut a bunch of his offspring, as well as interact with his other blood ties, like Daken and X-23. Do you plan on any kind of family focus in your run?

It's funny. Family is another big focus of the first arc. Just not Wolverine's family.

Given the opportunity, though, I'd love to write a story featuring Wolverine, Daken, and X-23. Since the earliest discussions of me taking on "Wolverine," I've had the story in mind, and I think it would be one helluva ride. Here's hoping I get to share it with you.

4) Will you be using many other characters from the Marvel Universe in your run? What non-mutant could you see Wolvie team-up with?

Bunn wants his run to showcase the Wolverine only he can write

I will. Not in the first arc, but in the second arc you might expect to see the daughter of a famous monster hunter.

5) In "Fear Itself: The Fearless," what did you like about writing Sin and Valkyrie? Which was a bigger challenge when you had to find their "voice?"

They both presented different challenges. Valkyrie, for instance, is a character who has been around for a long while. She has a very complicated history. But she rarely rises to the top in the personality department. I wanted to give her heart and soul. With Sin, the difficulty is getting across the idea that she's not a power-mad villain bent on world-domination as much as a thrill-seeking child throwing a temper tantrum on an apocalyptic scale.

6) If you got to write any title at Marvel, which would you pick and what artist would you use?

That's tough. There are so many artists I'd love to work with, and if I start listing them I'll inevitably leave someone out. Having Art Adams do covers on 'The Fearless' was like a dream come true for me. I've got some other projects coming out that I'm thrilled about, but I'm keeping quiet about the artist until Marvel makes the announcements.

More Marvel? Magnificent! Our last email comes from Ramelito who would like to hear a little more about your pending projects…

1) When a strong writer from an indie background gets offered a book like "Wolverine," how does it work? Does Marvel approach you to do it? Do they ask you to pitch first?

Great question, Ramelito. While I've pitched stories "cold" to Marvel in the past, they opened some conversations for me, but never directly resulted in work. Some of the editors at Marvel read my books "The Damned" and "The Sixth Gun" and liked what I did. They thought I might be right for projects they had in mind and asked me to pitch concepts for a number of projects.

2) And once you get the assignment, do they ask you to come up with a story from scratch? Or do they give you an idea for a story that you then develop?

It varies, I guess. In most cases, I've got a lot of freedom to come up with the story. There have been a couple of instances, though, where the editor had some more specific ideas with the type of story they wanted me to tell. With "Fear Itself: Black Widow," for example, the editor wanted a story where Black Widow retrieved a nuclear device from terrorists in France. From there, I was free to put my spin on the story. In 'The Fearless,' there were definite "milestones" that needed to be reached, but everything else was up to me (and, in that case, my co-plotters).

3) "The Sixth Gun" is awesome! I thought I heard about a studio wanting to produce it. If you had any say, who would you cast as the leads?

There's definitely been some movement on "The Sixth Gun" in terms of development as a television series. As for dream casting, I think Timothy Olyphant would make a great Drake Sinclair. Becky Montcrief is a little more difficult for me. I'd love to hear some suggestions for a young woman who could play that character!

And now, it's my turn for our get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." Let's try this one on for size: you happen to have a cool name that could be made humorous (Big Bunn) or tough (Hot Cross Bunn?). So I'm curious, did you ever have nicknames such as these when you were a kid? What was your favorite? Or do I just need to stop imbibing libations while I ask these questions?

You know, I never really had anyone make fun of my last name when I was a kid, which surprises me. It wasn't until much later that people started in with the "Hot Cross Bunn" and "Honey Bunn." My wife is named Cindy, and I think she's heard her share of "Cinnamon Bunn" since she married me.  Just this past weekend, though, I met Frank Cho at a convention, and he thought my last name was a lot of fun. Every time I walked past for the rest of the weekend, he would point and yell out, "BUNN!"

And I think you should drink more while asking these questions.

I would, but my CBR paycheck barely covers my current liquor bill. Thanks for playing, Cullen!

In seven days, we'll go deep undercover with the writer of "Uncanny X-Force," Rick Remender! Prepare to get covert, do some reading, and then type up quality questions that will enhance our combined X-perience. Send those missives my way and put an "X-Position" in the subject line (my spam filter would appreciate it!). Don't dilly-dally -- just cock-a-doodle-do it!

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TAGS:  x-position, marvel comics, wolverine, cullen bunn, paul pelletier

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