Stay Classy, Wolverine

Writer Fred Van Lente opens up about the new WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS ongoing starring Wolvie and Kitty Pryde

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WOLVERINE:
FIRST CLASS #1
preview art by
Andrea Di Vito

By Ethan Kaye Wolverine may bill himself as the "best at what he does," but does that include looking after a 13-year old Kitty Pryde, freshly enrolled in Charles Xavier's school? You'll be able to see for yourself as the ongoing WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS plays out, starting with issue #1's release on March 26! The series boasts writing from Fred Van Lente, cover art from Salvador Espin, and interiors from Andrea Di Vito. To get a little taste of what's coming down the mutant pike, we spoke to Fred about the mission, the bad guys, the allies, and more! "Cerebro has detected an exceptionally powerful mutant presence in an isolated West Virginia mining town and Professor X sends Wolverine on a stealth/recon mission to check it out," explains Van Lente of the series' opening premise. "He also makes Logan bring Kitty along as her first official mission, which both Kitty and Logan think is nuts. But Prof. X has a very specific reason to stick these two together—and it has to do with the very nature of the mutant threat they're going to face; a threat neither one of them could survive without the other!" Long-time X-fans may remember the original KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE mini-series from 1984. Continuity-wise, this series pre-dates that one by quite a bit, taking place just when Kitty gets to the mansion. Fred admits he hadn't read the original mini before pitching the series, but has since made up for lost time.

WOLVERINE:
FIRST CLASS #1
preview art by
Andrea Di Vito

"I just read it recently, after starting work on FIRST CLASS," remarks the writer. "I enjoyed it—I've always had a soft spot in my heart for [artist] Al Milgrom—but it's definitely a lot darker than our series. We're picking up with Kitty just when she's starting her X-Men career, and [that] mini was more of a coming of age or loss of innocence story. Our Kitty has her innocence firmly in place." In addition to thrilling West Virginia, the heroes zip around from comfortable settings like the X-Mansion to exciting locales like Mount Wundagore and the Soviet Union. Yep, the stories happen in the '80s, so no Russia for you! "We're going into the way-back machine, baby!" jokes Van Lente. To put it in context, Fred points out that WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS takes place between the end of UNCANNY X-MEN #138 and UNCANNY X-MEN #150, from Jean Grey's funeral—and the arrival of Kitty at the school—to the return of Cyclops. In other words, Reagan rules the country and Phil Collins rules the charts. "Maybe you'll see some really frightening hair and breakdancing," the writer and 80's aficionado adds. The cast of characters for WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS reads like a Heroclix dream team: Sabretooth, Mariko Yashida, Dazzler, the High Evolutionary and his New Men, the Soviet Super-Soldiers, Siryn, and Alpha Flight.

WOLVERINE:
FIRST CLASS #1
preview art by
Andrea Di Vito

"Mmmm. I love me some Alpha Flight," laughs Van Lente. And expect the series to break some new X-ground. "With the exception of Sabretooth, I've tried to stay away from the traditional Wolverine or X-Men villains, just to put our heroes into unique and surprising situations to see how they react—to really make FIRST CLASS stand out from the other Logan books. Other than some new 'behind-the-scenes' characters I'm introducing, we're not using anybody who wouldn't already be around this era anyway." Sorry Jubilee fans. The series comes along at a great time, with similar X-books like X-MEN: FIRST CLASS already making a positive mark on Marvel Zombies. "WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS is a compliment title to Jeff Parker's excellent X-MEN: FIRST CLASS," notes Van Lente. "Obviously, it could have just as easily been called 'Next Class,' since this is the 'All-New, All-Different' generation of X-Men. When I was first approached to pitch for this series, I made the conscious decision not to do what Jeff was doing just with a different group of X-Men. I wanted to do something completely different, and that's how the idea of making it a Logan/Kitty team-up book came to me."

WOLVERINE:
FIRST CLASS #1
cover by
Salvador Espin

So shouldn't Professor Xavier be hesitant about sending a 13-year old girl out with a wild man of mystery? "Apparently not—certainly less hesitant than the 13 year old girl and the wild man are about teaming with each other. But Prof. X might have something up his sleeve here..." speculates the writer. "And hey, he's got to earn his room and board somehow!" Be sure to start collecting this eagerly-anticipated old-school when the first issue hits stands on March 26 and get up to date on X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Also check Fred Van Lente out on the web!

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