Marvel Comics' Wolverine is the best there is at what he does. And what he'll be doing soon is dying.
That was the message Sunday at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2e2) as Marvel took to the stage for their last major panel of the con – Wolverine: Three Months To Die. The discussion surrounding the new arc for the man called Logan by writer Charles Soule was headed up by Marvel's Executive Editor Mike Marts who welcomed Soule, writer Greg Pak, editor Jordan D. White, artist Russell Dauterman, writer/artist Jason Latour and artist Mahmud Asrar.
Marts started out by warning fans that "in true Marvel fashion...you may want to stay for the credits" to tease some announcements over the entire hour.
But things started with discussion of the All-New Marvel NOW! relaunches set in the X-Men line including July's "Cyclops" by Greg Rucka and Dauterman. "I grew up on the '90s cartoons, so getting my first thing at Marvel getting to draw Cyclops has been pretty amazing to me. Greg's scripts are fantastic," the artist said. And of course, a mention of that Marvel Satruday morning hit led to White taking out his ukulele to lead the crowd in a sing-a-long of the show's theme song – something of an X-Men panel tradition at this point.
Latour and Asrar talked about their new version of the "Wolverine & The X-Men" series. "We're about halfway through with the first arc, which at this point a lot of the balls we've been juggling start to drop," said the writer teasing an incoming meeting between Cyclops and Quentine Quire – the first such interaction between the characters.
The actual "Three Months To Die" storyline in "Wolverine" #8 to 12 starts in June from Paul Cornell, Kris Anka and Pete Woods. Steve McNiven drew the covers of Wolverine's hand blowing apart through issue #12.
The event itself will take place over four weeks in September from Soule and McNiven. "It's going to hit really fast and really hard," Soule said. "It gets bigger and bigger and bigger...and at the ending Wolverine does die, but that's not really what the book was about. The book is about how Logan confronts the idea of his own mortality."
"Each of the four issues has a slightly different focus. It's a focus on a different time period of Logan's adventures...and on a different type of Logan," Soule said noting the Madripoor secret agent version and the X-Men superhero take will all be reflected on in the series amongst other parts of his past. "I want to look at Logan and his fighting style in ways that haven't been done before."
The writer added that he knew that if he did his job, this would be a story that would be part of the character's canon forever – a prospect that was both exciting and daunting.
The story begins when many of Wolverine's villains learn about the loss of his healing factor and come at him in waves with the true mastermind hidden. "There are some guest stars and guest villains...but it's not just a checklist. It's more of a really cool, flowing adventure with lots of cool fights. Issue #2 has like four sweet fights."
The panel then introduced the tagline "A World Without Wolverine" where the loss of the mutant will be explored in the other X-Series starting in September. Latour noted, "Wolverine is probably the one constant in the X-Men. When he founded this school, he did it under the assumption that he was the baddest dude in the room...but the status quo is completely inverted now in that Wolverine is no longer capable [of protecting the kids]." In the wake of Logan's death, Storm will step up into the breach and take a leadership role in the book and in the Jean Grey school. But the flashforwards of the series looking at the fate of kids like Quire will also come into play in the coming months as Wolverine tries to "put his house in order" as he senses his own tragic end.
As part of the "World Without" run, Marts teased that projects from Salvador Larroca, Kyle Higgins, James Tynion IV and more are in the works for the X-Office.
The panel then announced a new "Storm" series from Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez set for July. The writer spoke about how as "a half Korean kid growing up outside Dallas...seeing a character like Storm made me feel like I belonged." Pak said that the trick to getting the character right was a balance between the epic fury her powers can unleash and her way of reaching out to others with empathy. This is only the most recent time that Pak has written Storm in a book, but after years of saying that he'd like to do a solo series with her, he finally got the call from editor Daniel Ketchum.
Pak then read a brief message from Ibanez speaking of "my commitment to bring them the beauty, the power and the bad assery She deserves" – as Pak noted the capitalization of "She."
He then said they wanted to do things in the book you'd never see her doing in an X-Men book because Storm's life experience is so varied. "She also grew up on the streets of Cairo...she was a queen!" he said of her many faces. "Many different people look up to her, and she feels connected to many different people. So there are things that many superheroes won't notice that she will notice...walls only she can break through." He also promised some classic X-Men characters and faces from her past alongside brand new characters created for the series.
Getting into some particulars for upcoming "Wolverine & The X-Men" issues, #6 introduces a new Horseman of Death from Apocalypse...one who is a woman. Meanwhile in issue #4, Quentine Quire will take on the "All-New X-Men" teenagers from Brian Michael Bendis' book.
Dauterman spoke about the space opera element of he and Rucka's "Cyclops" book which also focuses on the father/son relationship between the buttoned up Scott Summers and his Han Solo-esque father Corsaire. "We're super happy to have Greg working on the X-Books again," Marts added.
"Amazing X-Men" welcomes Kathryn Immonen, Paco Medina and Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends in issue #7 as a one-shot issue. After that, new creators Craig Kyle and Chris Yost and Ed McGuinness and Carlo Barberi to do "World War Wendigo" centering on X-23, Wolveirne and Alpha Flight beginning in June.
Talk then shifted to Deadpool where White spoke about how the title will run into the "Original Sin" event now that Wade's wedding has passed. "What happens in our tie-in is that Deadpool's friend Agent Preston and his other friend Agent Scott Adsit learn the horrible truth of what happened to Deadpool's mother and father," he said. Meanwhile, Deadpool's new bride continues her war with vampires, and so Wade tries to recruit Dazzler to kill the vamps. When that doesn't work, he goes back to the '70s to get the wilder, disco version of the heroine to help him out.
White then announced "Deadpool: Dracula's Gauntlet" – a print version of the Infinite Comics series by writers Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Reilly Brown which introduces Wade's wife. The series will be reformatted and have a few extra scenes and panels to take print form – a four-issue mini series starting in July.
Additionally, a new "Deadpool Vs. X-Force" series is coming which will take place during the '90s era for both characters. This is apparently the first meeting between the two sides shortly before "New Mutants" #98. The series will be written by Duane Swierczynski and drawn by Pepe Larraz.
When fan questions started up, a reader wondered whether Jason Aaron's wrap of "Amazing X-Men" meant he was done with the franchise for good. Marts characterized it as more of a temporary stoppage from working on the book as he focuses on "Thor," "Original Sin" and other projects.
Marts characterized the Death of Wolverine story as a tale that takes risks with the character, recalling how when he started at Marvel during his first tenure with the publisher, they did the origin of Wolverine which while controversial only opened up doors for the character and where he could go next. This death story will serve a similar purpose for the future of Logan.
For fans worrying about Wolverine's potential – admittedly inevitable – resurrection, Soule said the goal for him was to write a story that if the character read, he'd say, "Yeah, that was a good way to go." Trying to think of the book as only a speedbump in the publishing line rather than a unique and interesting story took the wrong approach, in the writer's opinion.
Soule did promise "new chapters in some of his relationships" for Wolverine including his villains and his allies.
As promised, the panel ended with a special tease. In the Fall of 2014, there will be a new series/event/who knows called "Axis."