Born to Die in Berlin: Way talks "Wolverine: Origins"

Wed, August 23rd, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

"Wolverine: Origins" #6 Covers by Joe Quesada and Ed McGuiness
When Wolverine began probing his dark and violent past in search of truth and vengeance, he thought it might be a simple task of clawing his way through all his adversaries, but then in issue #5 (which concluded the first storyline "Born in Blood") of Marvel Comics' "Wolverine: Origins" things got complicated as they often do when children are involved. In this case, the child involved was Wolverine's. Now, if Wolverine continues his crusade it will launch him on a violent collision course with the son he never knew he had. CBR News spoke with "Origins" writer Daniel Way about the revelation of Wolverine being a father and what it means for Logan's quest.

The idea that a character as long lived as Wolverine might have fathered a child isn't a new one. "It's something that has been kind of put forward before and then kind of pulled back and wiped out," Way told CBR News. "So we decided to make it concrete and real.

"I pitched a story to my editor probably about two years ago," Way continued. "That story was about Logan discovering that he had a son and that son had basically been following in dear old dad's footsteps. None of the good stuff just all the bad. So, Logan feels responsible for this kid, as he should, for both his existence and his actions. So he goes on this quest to save his son, but his son didn't want to be saved. All he wanted was to kill his dad, whom he hated for basically making him what he was."

Way's editor liked the story when it was originally pitched, but thought it was too big of a story to do without following it up with another large story. "When we started laying out 'Origins,' it just made a lot of sense that this was the place to tell that story," Way explained. "We've seen in the first five issues of 'Origins' and the previous 'Origins and Endings' storyline that somebody is ultimately responsible for Logan being what he is and we've also learned that whoever it is has tried to recreate these results with experiments like Nuke. So it made sense; they wanted another Logan so they took one and raised the kid inside this system. When this kid finally shows up good and proper in the Marvel Universe we're going to have a new bad ass on the block."

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Way promised that Logan's son will be making his proper Marvel Universe debut very soon. "We know this kid inherited Logan's healing ability," Way said. "So the big questions are, 'What else has he inherited? What else does he have? How does this character operate?'"

The fact that Wolverine has a son out there operating in the shadows helps to define the larger, continuing story that is "Origins." "This series is about Wolverine confronting the sins of his past and the son is those sins incarnate," Way explained. "So it gives things a form. This is what Logan needs to make right. He needs to get his kid straightened out and be a dad.

"There's going to be repercussions because of this," Way continued. "You know the saying, 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?' That's pretty much the situation Logan operates in. Most people act like his friend because they don't want to be considered his enemy. The guy is not stable - you don't want to be on his bad side. But Logan, he wants to belong to something. He's always trying to fight those savage impulses. He's trying to be the good guy. His son doesn't have any of those characteristics. He doesn't know right from wrong. All he knows is what he's been fed his entire life, which is a diet of violence and pain."

Learning about his son and his aggressive proclivities has a tremendous impact on Logan emotionally. "This is an unexpected turn," Way stated. "This whole quest that he's been on thus far, it's been solely for him. It's been his quest for revenge and now it's kind of been brought to a screeching halt. He now knows that if he goes any further on his question that he's going to run into his own son. That's going to result in Logan going fucking crazy if he kills his own son; he can't deal with that, or he's going to killed or cut to pieces and buried somewhere. They've got him."

Story continues below

In order to get out the trap that "They" have ensnared him in, Logan has to temporarily alter the objectives of his quest. "He needs to, as Emma Frost said, reevaluate this selfish mission of his," Way said. "He's got more important things that he needs to tend to because if Logan doesn't get this kid on the right track, somebody else will. Imagine what kind of mess that would be. What if the Avengers assembled and went after this kid? Do you think Logan's going to let that happen? That would be another 'Civil War' and it would be set around one guy who simply would not give up. He's not going to allow his kid to be used as a pawn or as a killing tool, like he was. So he's got to make an end run. He's got to get this taken care of before he can move on, if he can move on."

Logan discovered that his son is still alive in "Origins" #5 in a unique flashback sequence in which the only color used was red. "I don't know where that came from," Way said. "When I saw the preliminary colors, I was immediately on the phone. I was like, 'This is perfect.' I don't think color gets enough use as a storytelling technique. So when I saw those pages and how there's an abrupt shift with the black, white and red it really jars you and drops you right into that scene. Now that there is a precedent, that is going to be popping up in my art direction. I'll be making more notes to the colorist."

In the uniquely colored flashback, Wolverine's infant son is carried off by a mysterious man wearing a red trench coat. Many readers were left wondering the identity of the enigmatic abductor. "That's the big mystery isn't it? Who's behind it all? We'll get there at exactly the same time Logan does," Way stated. "I think we're going to start seeing some glimpses here in the near future. There might also be some interplay between 'Origins' and the other 'Wolverine' title as well."

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To coordinate this interplay, Way has been talking to upcoming "Wolverine" writer Jeph Loeb. "We have a common editor," Way said. "We've been kind of talking over the fence; shooting notes back and forth. I spoke with him just briefly in San Diego. We've worked up something that will link up the two books for a short time."

In addition to the identity of the shadowy figure in the red trench coat, readers of "Origins" #5 were left with another question - what's going to happen to the Muramasa Blade? The blade is a mystical sword that Wolverine acquired at the end of the "Origins and Endings" storyline and is one of the few weapons in existence that could put Logan down for good. In "Origins" #5, Wolverine entrusted the blade to fellow X-Men member Cyclops. "Cyclops has control of this thing," Way said. "Everybody keep's an eye on him. That's going to be something that pops up later. There are big things in the works. 'Civil War' is reshuffling the deck extremely effectively."

"Savior," the next storyline of "Wolverine: Origins" beginning with issue #6, finds Logan reshuffling his plans for vengeance and trying to formulate a plan to rescue and safely neutralize his son. "Logan comes up with this plan and it hinges on something from his past, this shady mission that he was on in Berlin," Way explained. "He thinks of a mechanism to safely take down his son and get him away from whoever is controlling him. That mechanism is the Carbonadium Synthesizer. Carbonadium has this strange radioactivity about it and it kind of feeds off people. It's what is attached to Omega Red and is eating him alive. Wolverine has to find the synthesizer. The problem is the last he saw of it, he handed it to a character named Maverick, way back when. So, now he has to find Maverick and the Carbonadium Synthesizer and put his plan into action. Unfortunately things go awry because when he finds Maverick he also accidentally finds Jubilee and neither of them have their powers. And right when Wolverine finds them Omega Red finds them, too."

Omega Red, who has been hunting for the Carbonadium Synthesizer for decades, is just as desperate as Logan to find the device. "Omega Red has a plan," Way stated.

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"The Carbonadium attached to him is eating away at him. He can no longer stabilize it. He needs to get that synthesizer to fix himself up. This is his last attempt as well. He's willing to go for all the marbles.

"So, now Wolverine gets further bumped back from his goal because he has to protect his friends," Way continued. "It's a fairly complicated situation where he finally has to make a deal and the details of which are dodgy at best. He knows that even if he wins this situation, he loses. So, he's got to come up with another plan to back up this first plan and he's doing this while on the run from SHIELD and basically every other law enforcement agency on the globe. And the clock is ticking on one of his friends who could possibly die at any second."

As Way hinted, the forces of SHIELD will complicate Logan's life during the course of "Savior." Leading the forces of SHIELD is Dum Dum Dugan who, to borrow an analogy from the film version of "The Fugitive," is sort of the Tommy Lee Jones character (Marshal Sam Gerard) to Wolverine's Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Kimble.) "Things did not go well for Dugan after 'Origins and Endings,'" Way said. "Obviously he didn't succeed in his task of catching Wolverine. So with everything that is going on within the SHIELD organization, they're putting the war horses in their stables and letting the politicians take care of business. Dugan has been extremely marginalized and has been moved into one of the more inactive branches of an anti-terrorism unit, where they blow a bunch of smoke up his ass about how his experience will be invaluable. He's riding a desk and he can't stand it. So, he's making the most of his position and constantly scanning for signs of Logan because he knows he's still out there and still moving. Dugan gets a blip on the radar and doesn't exactly go lone wolf, but has just enough clout to legitimately mobilize a small group of SHIELD personal. He's on Logan's ass, just a couple of steps behind him and moving quickly."

With Dum Dum Dugan and SHIELD hot on his heels while he's trying to protect his vulnerable friends from a desperate Omega Red, Logan's clearly in a bad situation. To escape the situation he has to find the Carbonadium Synthesizer, but in order to do so Logan must uncover the truth behind Team X's (a Cold War era unit of super powered spies that Wolverine once belonged to) disastrous mission to Berlin. "We're going to be revisiting that mission in Berlin," Way said. "You'll be getting the behind the scenes story of what went on there and why that mission failed seemingly on every level. The team infiltrated that facility with two objectives. One was to rescue and extract a double agent, Janice Hollenbeck. The other objective was to get the Carbonadium Synthesizer. Sabretooth shoots Janice Hollenbeck in the back and she dies. The Carbonadium Synthesizer never made it back to CIA headquarters. The mission failed, but we find out that it succeeded in other ways."

If this mission seems familiar to long time X-Men readers, it's because it is. Flashbacks to the mission first appeared in "X-Men" #5-7. This is just one the many stories in Wolverine's thirty year past that Way plans to address in greater detail over the course of

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"Origins." Way and the editorial staff of "Origins" will continue to assist fans in tracking down these stories with the checklist box, which lists all the stories referenced in an issue and tells readers where they can find them. Way feels the checklist is a useful tool for both readers and storytellers. "I always liked that when they used footnotes," said Way. "It was cool when you were reading one comic book and they mention another one and it's a story that you're kind of invested in that plays off something in other issues, and they told you exactly what issue. A lot of times it used to say, 'last month' or 'last issue' or as seen in 'Iron Man' # whatever. So you go and find it and you're like, 'Oh I like 'Iron Man.' It's a helpful tool and when you're a writer that's a lot of exposition you don't have to bother with because that shit can get clunky and boring."

No chance the future of the series will get boring as "Savior" and the storylines that follow are certain to be fast paced, while further illuminating the truth of Wolverine's long, sordid, violent past. "We've got a ton of stories," Way stated. "We've got to address the whole son thing. We've got lots of thing in the pipeline. We've got thirty odd years of continuity to comb through. So, we've only hit the tip of the ice burg."

If sales on "Wolverine: Origins" continue to be good, eventually readers will have the full story and at that point the series will come to an end. Way does have an ending planned for the series. "It's sort of a sixty issue limited series," Way explained. "Actually though, I think we're doing Annuals as well. The ending is all mapped out. We just need to get there. All the pieces need to be put into place. As the series goes on eventually you'll have the whole story. Eventually the spaces between the flashbacks will become narrower and narrower. In 'Origins and Endings' we saw him in Jasmine Falls. In 'Born in Blood' we saw him in Vietnam and we saw him operating in the States in the '50s. In 'Savior' we'll see him in Berlin during The Cold War. In another flashback, shortly after the events of what happened in Jasmine Falls we'll see him in Europe, in Russia actually, with a family of spies that he associated with very early in his career. Those flashbacks will be built upon and built upon and soon you'll have the whole story."

Way has been immensely pleased and grateful with the reception and support both readers and Marvel editorial have shown "Wolverine: Origins." "I've been pleasantly surprised that Marvel has allowed me to take Logan as far and as dark as I have thus far," Way said. "That's been really cool and obviously the numbers speak for themselves. I think a lot of people were waiting for this. It's been said for years that Logan is such a bad ass and has done bad things in his past and now we're actually seeing that. It might make some people feel uncomfortable, but you have to look at it like for Logan to go from that guy into the character he is now, that's a huge journey. That's a hero's journey."

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