Marvel Comics' All-New Marvel NOW! publishing initiative has launched a number of brand new #1 issues, including this week's "Wolverine" #1. Written by Paul Cornell with art by Ryan Stegman, the series follows up on Cornell's previous "Wolverine" arc, "Killable," that saw the best there is at what he does lose his healing factor, a plot point that had overreaching effects on the rest of the X-Men books. The new "Wolverine" series follows Logan in his new status quo, sporting armor, a gun and a new mysterious job under the employ of The Offer. The creative team is jumping right into the heart of the Marvel U with the series, as the second issue is slated to feature the Superior Spider-Man.
Today, Cornell and Stegman along with Marvel editors Tom Brennan and Jeanine Schaefer as well as Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso gathered together in a special press conference call to discuss the series, the development of the concept, how it might progress as it heads into its All-New Marvel NOW! run and more.
Marvel PR guru Christopher D'Lando described the new volume as "the second season" of "Wolverine," where he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Cornell discussed the new team Logan's running with, saying it's "a small-time team of super villains" run by the Offer, who has the ability to make somebody the best possible offer in the moment.
"Logan is a member of the team who doesn't quite know where his ethics lie right now," Cornell said. "The Offer did make him a very good offer, an offer that fit in where he was at the time." The first four issues will jump back and forth between "a couple weeks ago" when he was still a superhero and where he is now.
Stegman, perhaps best known for launching "Superior Spider-Man" with Dan Slott, said he approached "Wolverine" by wanting to "take him back to what he is... a little shorter, a little uglier."
"For the most part, I'm trying to do what I do well," said Stegman. "With Paul's scripts, the characters are very -- they have a lot of character, so I just try to bring that out. I'm actually using a little less black than I did before, but that's only because we brought on David Curiel, the colorist, who I think is really good at texture."
"I love how lumpy your Wolverine is!" said Cornell. "It really feels different. I should say what I fan I am of Ryan's stuff."
Brennan noted that the combination of Stegman, Curiel and inker Mark Morales made for a deadly visual combination that really highlights the strength of Stegman's work. Stegman also had the opportunity to do some design work on Logan's super villain cohorts and The Offer himself, which he said was "really fun to do."
"The mix of what Paul created in the text of those characters and Ryan's design sense -- the first time you see them, you already have a feel for who they are based on the look that Ryan's given them," said Brennan. "These are characters you feel like you've known your entire life."
Cornell said that Logan is still on the fence a bit when it comes to working with The Offer, and Logan's trying to "figure out exactly where his line is, what the rules are" when it comes to his code of honor.
"We'll get to him coming to some kind of understanding about what sort of hero, what sort of man he is," Cornell said of the current series.
"I don't think we've ever seen him as emotionally cold as Paul and Ryan are crafting in this first arc," added Brennan. "We're used to Wolverine screaming and losing it and coming after people. In this first issue, he's a cool, cold, methodical killer."
Schaefer and Brennan also noted that fans were angry, "but in a great way."
"You've been able to really tap into something that gets people really fired up," said Schaefer. "I'm excited to see what they react to as we go along."
Superior Spider-Man is slated to show up in "Wolverine" #2, and "Thor" is set to guest-star in "Wolverine" #5. Cornell said the heroes of the Marvel U -- especially Thor -- is outraged at Wolverine's new status quo.
"When Wolverine goes back to the bar, there's Thor, who doesn't fancy sharing space with someone who has left the fold," said Cornell. "Thor is perhaps the most innately noble of the Marvel characters -- he's in the top three. And Wolverine is not the most innately noble of the Marvel characters at the moment."
As for the Superior Spider-Man, who's also on the more violent side of heroes, and Cornell described it as a role-reversal of sorts from the usual status quo of Peter Parker following Wolverine around. The duo will have a conversation about changing superhero roles.
"How many times have we seen Wolverine and Spider-Man have a conversation about doing things while they're beating up criminals?" said Brennan. "It's a funny twist to see Wolverine say, 'I don't know what to do.'"
As for what's coming down the line for Wolverine this year, Alonso said that if fans are angry now, "they're going to be much angrier toward the end of the year. There's going to be a lot of controversy. What Paul is doing is building two stories here and changed up something massive. I have no doubt we'll be talking a lot over the next few months about Wolverine."
Wolverine, understandably, can't pop his claws often due to the lack of healing factor -- but he does have a pair of artificial claws from the first issue.
In terms of taking away the healing factor, Cornell said he thought it "took a bit of persuasion." Schaefer said her initial reaction was "I have no idea how anybody is going to react to this." "We talked about the possibilities and I brought it to Axel," said Schaefer. "I said, 'I think we had a lot of fun stories we can tell, and obviously we'd give it back to him at some point -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Axel, but you said, 'What if we don't?'"
"I'm making it sound like everyone was very amenable, but Paul and I have a relationship where we can talk things out and argue things out until their end point," Schaefer continued. "I think we came to a place where I said, 'I think we can bring this to someone, to Axel, and people will see the merit of it.'"
"This idea is something Paul is committed to," said Brennan. "For the first time in Wolverine's life, he can be killed. ... That's an interesting place to go. The healing factor's gone, but it's not erased -- the lack of the healing factor is a big part of the story we're telling."
"My feeling is that you can't be a hero unless you're actually under threat, unless you can actually do brave things," said Cornell.
"This situation is very similar to where Dan Slott pitched 'Superior Spider-Man,'" said Alonso. "My initial reaction was 'No f-ing way.'" Alonso went on to describe why "Superior Spider-Man" worked, and the existence of a greater plan, and that Cornell's "Wolverine" pitch was very similar in the totality of its story concepts. "This is a huge story for the character and one that we're taking very seriously."
As for The Offer, Cornell wanted somebody "very small time" and somebody with "a very simple superpower." "I wanted somebody we could experience new as Wolverine experiences new," said Cornell. "Wolverine's had experience with nearly everyone in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine's in a new life now with new people, so it'd only make sense that he has a new boss."
While Thor and Spider-Man will appear in the next few issues, Cornell said fans shouldn't plan on seeing many more people from Wolverine's current community show up in the title as the series progresses.
"I think we've just about done that now," said Cornell. "There are a few more people from Wolverine's past in the flashback sections, and some of those I think will be very welcome by fandom, but we've done that."
Wolverine's relationship with the X-Men will be "strained and distant" according to Cornell. "He's left his old life behind," he said.
Brennan stated that due to scheduling issues, Wolverine will still be showing up in the main X-Men books for a bit.
The Offer and Logan both have concerns about Sabretooth, and "Logan will be sent on missions by The Offer leading towards The Offer being able to engage with Sabretooth. That's kind of where we're heading," said Cornell.
"The smart thing about The Offer as a character is he's not going out of his way to get on The Avengers' radar," said Brennan. "He knows he's not going to get big if he's squashed on the way up."
As for Jason Latour's "Wolverine and the X-Men" relaunch in March, Brennan stated that the current "Wolverine" status quo will be reflected in the first few issues.
"It'll be clear when what is taking place as what," said Brennan. "A big part of 'Wolverine and the X-Men' is him thinking about who's going to replace him when he's gone. Fantomex is playing a role in that book, Storm is playing a role in that book, Quentin Quire is playing a more mature role in that book. As we're seeing in this series, he's already thinking about that."
In terms of the future, Wolverine will team up with Brian Wood's "X-Men" squad in issue #3, while he'll also touch a bit on the Goblin War during his encounter with the Superior Spider-Man -- and, as expected, Sabretooth will be playing a role.
"Wolverine" #1 is on sale now.