Way talks those Weapons of Mass Destruction, "Incredible Hulk" and "Wolverine"

Tue, November 22nd, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

In a world populated by Super Soldiers, Thunder Gods and Golden Guardians of Good, they are two of the most dangerous beings alive. They are the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, Marvel Comics living weapons of mass destruction. Beginning this month, both characters are now under the direction of writer Daniel Way. Way's four part story arc "Peace in Our Time" began last week in the pages of "Incredible Hulk" #88 and Way takes over next week as the new regular writer of "Wolverine" with the beginning of a story arc titled "Origins and Endings" in issue #36. CBR News spoke with Way about both characters and what he has in store for Marvel's two most lethally capable heroes.

Way's Hulk arc, "Peace in our Time," was originally intended to be a stand-alone mini-series, but snowballed into something much larger. "I got to a certain point and I was like, 'This ending it isn't logical. It should be this ending,'" Way told CBR News. "I called up Axel [Axel Alonso] and asked, 'Do you think I can get away with this?' He paused and said, 'I don't have a problem with that.' Two or three days later he called back. It had made the rounds at Marvel pretty quickly. They were like, 'We're going to take 'Peace In Our Time' and we're going to put it into the regular 'Hulk' run. Then we're going to use it to tee up the way we're going to go with the 'Hulk.' This 'Planet Hulk' story line.'"

As readers of "Incredible Hulk" #88 saw, Bruce Banner is currently living as a hermit in Northern Alaska. "He's bought a trapper's cabin. He's a fucking nuclear engineer, he doesn't know anything about trapping," Way said. "So that's not working out for him. He's been doing a lot of fishing-- actually the Hulk has been doing a lot of fishing. He's having supplies flown in. but that's something you have to pay for and he's running out of money."

Banner has chosen to exile himself to the icy tundra of Alaska as a way of dealing with one of his defining personality traits. "He carries around a lot of guilt. At least I see it that way and I think Peter David just kind of reiterated this point. He's a nuclear engineer. He's a weapons builder," Way explained. "It's not even ironic. It's more tragic than anything that he becomes the world's most dangerous living weapon. He never would have been on that test site if he hadn't chosen to make weapons for a living.

"The other thing is that Bruce Banner is a brilliant guy, yet he can't do anything about the Hulk problem," Way continued. "I'm projecting onto the character, but I think there would be a lot of shame there. Not only is it his fault, but he can't do anything to stop it. It's compounded in a tragic way by the fact that the Hulk will never let him atone for his sins. Bruce Banner can't walk into a police station and say I did this and that. The cops, if they believed him, what are they going to do? Put him in jail? As soon as they lay their hands on him things are going to get horrible."

Readers of the first part of "Peace in Our Time" saw that Way's Hulk is a monster of few words. " Peter David is a great writer, a very witty writer, but we don't write the character the same way," Way explained. "He took the character in a lot of interesting places. He splintered the personality and did all kinds of stuff. As far as I'm concerned there's Bruce Banner and there's the Hulk inside. There's no savage Hulk or whatever. I don't get into all that stuff."

The main plot of "Peace in Our Time" has Banner and his monstrous alter ego recruited by the government to do what they do best-- destroy things. "Banner is tracked down and cornered by Nick Fury and asked to help SHIELD bring in this Cold War era space weapon," Way said. "The problem is it has an artificial intelligence to it. It can adapt to any power source. It's wildly adaptable.

"What it does is it clones frequencies and it uses that technology to search out nuclear weapons," Way continued. "That's what it was originally designed for. So say back in the 1960s when we had a little problem with Cuba. If we had this weapon then, we could have targeted their warheads on their soil and detonated them. It would have looked like a complete accident like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island."

So the Hulk is sent into space to destroy the orbiting Sword of Damocles. "I would have written this different from the outset had I known it would be part of the monthly series. What's most important is the theme that there's no place on Earth for the Hulk," Way explained. "The reason I wanted to set this story in space is because it's established that the more you throw at Hulk, the worse he gets. I enjoy Hulk stories where he goes fucking crazy. I want to see comics billion-dollar visual budget used to the full effect. But you run into problems. Is he going to just destroy everything? We needed to put him in a bigger sandbox. So we put him out in space and we put him up against an equal and opposite force and let it build."

Way's story may be titled "Peace in Our Time," but readers shouldn't expect Bruce Banner to be finding any solace in the story. "On Banner's part there's definitely an air of hopelessness," Way stated. "Then he's given a glimmer of hope in that he can use the Hulk to do something good without all the ancillary destruction. But that's not the case and ultimately he gets screwed."

We asked the writer to talk a bit about "Planet Hulk," which his story helps lay the ground work for, but with it being Marvel's big 2006 story line, Way could only cryptically describe the event. "It's top secret, but it's big," Way said. "It would be hard to give away any hints because it would definitely tell you where we we're going with this story arc. But it's going to get very big and then it's going to get bigger."

Next week, Way's run as the regular writer on "Wolverine" beings, another one of Marvel's most lethally capable heroes. "I would definitely put them on the same plate," Way said. "Banner holds it in too tight, so when it pops it's disastrous and Logan probably doesn't keep a lid on it tight enough. He's on constant vent.

"He's a guy who plays it close to the vest," Way said of Wolverine. "He's very old, but he isn't aware of most of his life so even though he's jaded, he's not necessarily wise about a lot of things. He knows there's a better standard of living, but he knows he could never be a part of that. Because he's living outside of time.

"He tends to stand up for those who can't do it themselves, whether it be just to create a balance or because he's not a peaceful man," Way continued. "He seeks out strife. Even though he doesn't know anything about his past, he knows exactly what he is."

However, that's all about to change as reader's of "House of M" #8 and "House of M: Day After" saw-- when reality was restored, the Swiss cheese holes in Wolverine's memory were all filled in. "He doesn't just remember 'House of M' he remembers everything," Way said. "He remembers a history that's 100 years and running. He remembers everything that we all read in the comic books, but he also remembers everything that was never in the comic books. It's all there and it's all a lot to deal with mentally and just logistically because he has done a lot of bad things. but he also did a lot of good things. Also just because he has access to it all doesn't mean it's all readily available."

With his memory now complete, "Origins and Endings" follows Logan on what Way calls a quest. "There are certain specific things that he is out to accomplish. He knows what he's doing, but no one else does."

Logan begins his quest in Tokyo where he's looking to have a little "chat" with long time foe, the Silver Samurai. "Samurai is the first on the list because he has a lot of knowledge," Way said. "In a lot of Eastern mythology there's mention of immortality. In this mythology it's an oral history type of thing. Bushido warriors would bring in an apprentice they would tell them their history. They would tell them their father's history and their grandfather's history. There were all these histories that were told to them. Their memories would become that person. They are now immortal. They have lived those generations. They have all those memories.

"Samurai is privy to all of that and it's actually been mentioned in earlier 'Wolverine' books, which is where I picked it up," Way continued. "So the Silver Samurai has a piece of the puzzle which leads to another piece of the puzzle. Which leads to another place."

Wolverine's quest will take him all over the globe. Japan, Russia and Canada are just some of the countries Logan will be traversing in "Origins and Endings."

As readers follow Logan's journey, they'll be treated to flashbacks to important periods of his life, including the time period detailed in Paul Jenkins "Origin" mini-series. "You'll see that he was Wolverine long before Weapon X," Way explained. "That was just a link in the chain, a step in the process. It had been boiling for a long time."

When word gets out that the fog surrounding Wolverine's memory has now cleared, many people are going to be to be feeling tense, edgy and afraid. "Logan having his memories back is not a good thing for anybody," Way stated. "Especially the governments who all had their dirty fingers in the pot. Everybody is very nervous. Not only is it what he's done, but it's what has been done to him. Is he going to go looking for payback? A lot of these things are things people inherited from 50, 60, 70 years ago and they have no idea whether their asses are covered or not. You also have to consider the fact that not too long ago, he went crazy and took out a whole squad of Marvel heroes."

With Professor Xavier and Nick Fury (two people who might be able to explain Logan's erratic behavior) out of circulation, the heroes of the Marvel Universe are forced to consider the fact that Wolverine has once again succumbed to the brainwashing he suffered in "The Enemy of the State" story line. "As the stakes rise more heroes, some members of the Avengers and those of the X-Men, are going to have to start getting involved," Way stated. "The X-Men because good or bad, Logan is one of them and the Avengers because good or bad that's their job."

The X-Men will be especially keen to help Logan because of the role Way feels he plays in the team. "He's there to protect them. Why is he so hard on Cyclops? Because Cyclops is their field leader. Wolverine is there to make sure this guy is on point and doesn't make bad decisions that get people killed. If someone is going to throw themselves on the grenade, it's going to be him. But not before he cusses Cyclops out for letting the grenade get there in the first place."

Way feels that even though Wolverine is currently a member of The Avengers, the team won't let that stop them from doing what needs to be done. "He was never really one of them," Way said. "The Avengers are wildly heroic. They're Earth's mightiest heroes. They chose to do that. Logan never had a choice."

"Decimation," Marvel's big post "House of M" story line, will be tangentially tied into "Origins and Endings." "Certain key players being out of play and possibly coming back later that ties into it," Way said. "'Decimation is going to be big. But with this story it won't have a huge impact."

"Origins and Endings" is ten-issue story broken up into two five-part arcs. "The first big revelation is that Wolverine has the entirety of his memories back and we build towards a second revelation in part five," Way stated. "Which will lead towards a bigger revelation in issue ten and from there it gets bigger and it keeps going."

With "Origins and Endings," Wolverine's days will start to resemble the frenetic paced days of Jack Bauer, the main character of the TV show "24." "Wolverine is moving as fast as he possibly can," Way said. "Every issue is picking up exactly where the last issue left off. It's extremely tight. This whole thing is just going to build and build. There will be resolutions along the way, but as soon as we resolve something other things are going to be introduced."

The idea of the historical epic that is "Origins and Endings" was born out of Way's experiences writing the mini-series "Bullseye: Greatest Hits" where he got to examine and reinterpret that character's history. "I had been pitching Wolverine ideas and finally I decided to really take a look at Wolverine and see if I could tell the big story," Way explained. "Marvel sent me a photocopy of the Wolverine entry in the Marvel handbook. I sat down and looked at it as if it were a map. I started with a marker and ticked off where a pattern would start and end and repeat and what happened in between those arcs and a story started coming together.

"I'm looking back through the historical texts, in this case the comic books," Way continued. "I'm not changing anything. I'm simply adding to everything that we all read. It all happened, but that doesn't mean it happened in the way we thought. I have no desire to go back and mess up anything. If anything, I'm telling a story in between the panels, in between the issues and in between the scene changes."

The main goal Way hopes to accomplish is to once again make "Wolverine" a book starring a guy who's the best there is at what he does. "I don't mean to say this to the detriment of any of the people who have worked on the book recently, but Wolverine has not been the star of his own book for a long time," Way said. "Most recently, the stars of the book have been Greg Rucka or Mark Millar. My job is to push Wolverine forward as a character because there's something there. People love this character. He's like a mythological hero.

"It's a shame that's been diluted and not maintained. I think a lot of other people feel the same way. We want to see Wolverine. We don't want to see somebody doing tricks over Wolverine."

Way plans to spend a lot of quality time with the Canucklehead and has plenty of ideas for more Wolverine adventures. "I've probably got two years worth of stories to tell with this character just riffing on this thing," Way explained. "So hopefully the readers will get on board and I'll have a chance to do this. I have never been so really consumed by putting something down on paper as I have with this."

 
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