By Kiel Phegley
It may be time to start calling Daniel Way "Mr. Marvel Universe."
While the WOLVERINE :ORIGINS scribe has often spun tales of hard edged characters on the fringe of Marvel's biggest properties, this September he leaps feet first into Skrull territory with the new DEADPOOL ongoing series kicking off with a Secret Invasion tie-in three-parter and art by Paco Medina, late of NEW WARRIORS. And if charting the madcap adventures of the Merc with a Mouth doesn't make for news enough, September 24 sees ORIGINS take its first step towards mixing it up with the rest of the X-line in issue #28, the prelude to a five-part crossover with Mike Carey's X-MEN: LEGACY which officially starts in October's X-MEN: ORIGINAL SIN #1.
From the top of his new mountain-based home base in northern Georgia, Way revealed to Marvel.com exactly why DEADPOOL provides a off the cuff lynchpin to the entire Secret Invasion event and why the mystery-unveiling "Original Sin" crossover was fated to happen now.
Marvel.com: Your long-awaited DEADPOOL ongoing series comes September 3, and the first arc will be a Secret Invasion tie-in. Did that event status at all change how you were going to launch this book from your original plan for the character?
Well, not really. Deadpool is a very story-rich character. There aren't many situations where you can't plug him into it and make it a Deadpool story. The situation was that when Marvel approached me to do a new Deadpool book, part of the mandate was "Bring this guy back into the Marvel Universe. Make him relevant again." So [Executive Editor] Axel [Alonso] and I got our heads together and figured out how to do that, and the best way to do that, we figured, was to put him right in the middle of the big event of the moment, which is Secret Invasion. And that's perfect because Brian Bendis was actually casting around. He needed a certain thing accomplished—he needed a character to do it for the super story, but he didn't have room. Deadpool was a perfect fit to play this part. What happened as we went along is that this creative trajectory for the character drives him deeper and deeper into the middle of the Marvel Universe. It felt really cool.
It's an intensely creative environment, but you can't nail down things six months or a year in advance, and that's why we do these retreats to often—you get together and plan out six months, but then you come back in three months to tear up a bunch of track and lay new stuff. We were just at the X-Men summit in L.A.—which got hit by an earthquake by the way. Marc Guggenheim is talking one minute and all the sudden the building starts shaking. But when we started to get some steam going on some ideas, they just let it roll.
Marvel.com: It seems that one thing that has helped this new series is that in the arc of ORIGINS where he showed up, you didn't try to lay a bunch of plot hints as to what Deadpool's solo series would be about. He was very much a guest star in a Wolverine story, and you just got used to writing him as a character first.
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And just as importantly, readers got used to me writing Deadpool. It was kind of a soft build thing for me writing DEADPOOL. And that was one of the goals of that story was to let people know that I "got" the character. At least I hope I do. I know it feels right. And we've got a lot great feedback on that arc from people we'd never heard from before, sections of fandom that haven't really been paying attention to ORIGINS. So it brought something to ORIGINS, but it also brought those Wolverine reader eyes to Deadpool. We did a little bit of character stuff in there, like in the third issue where they're mostly talking and kind of batting it back and forth. That was the way to get some exposition out of the way. It didn't really lay a lot of groundwork, but it allowed for rediscovery: this is who Wade Wilson is. This is who Deadpool is. Everyone knows who Wolverine is. In the story, this is how they're the same and how they're different. And it shows where Deadpool's peaks and valleys are, and there are a lot. That's what makes him cool.
Marvel.com: Like you said, the first arc of the series ties heavily into the ultra-secret plot of SECRET INVASION, but as I understand it, the story builds upon the idea that the Skrulls can't replicate the powers of Deadpool, right?
Right. Deadpool is very unique in that he's not a mutant. He's more of a mutation. He had this very virulent form of cancer, and then he went through all these crazy experiments in the Weapon X project and then further had Dr. Killebrew's Workshop messing with him. The goal when he initially stepped into this was like a trade off. "We'll cure your cancer, but the trade is that you'll be our weapon." And he went for it. So they gave him these treatments and experiments in hopes of reversing the effects of the cancer that was eating him alive. So his healing factor is not like Wolverine's. His healing factor is intertwined with that cancer. The healthy cells are like a byproduct. It eats cancer,
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and excretes healthy tissue—that's what makes him whole. And if you wanted to replicate it, there are so many steps that you actually have to do—give someone that type or strain of cancer and then subject them to this battery of tests. There's no simple way to get right there. It's such a Byzantine path that it can't be replicated. That's why Wade was thrown away from Weapon X. He was considered to be a complete failure.
Marvel.com: Are you going to be bringing in some background characters from Deadpool's past runs in this new monthly?
There will be characters from Deadpool's past popping up, but there's a different objective with this book than there is with ORIGINS. ORIGINS is a finite story, and it deals specifically with digging through his past, so you have to bring all that to the table so that everyone's aware of it as you sort it out. Otherwise, for newer readers and people that haven't reading these stories for 20 or 30 years, it's not going to have a lot of resonance.
With Deadpool, he's a character that lives in the moment. Digging up his past doesn't accomplish much story-wise. He's not a character carrying a lot of baggage. The answers aren't back there. He has some regrets, but it's not like Wolverine where he can't shake it. Deadpool lives in Deadpool world. So to answer your question, will I be rehashing his past? Not really. This is an action book with its eyes on the prize. Will we be bringing characters in from his past? Yes, definitely. There are several I want to use, but it's hard in that Deadpool is one of those characters who has a great cast of supporting characters, but most of them have only ever appeared in a Deadpool book. If you start populating your book with those characters, you start walling him off from the rest of the Marvel Universe. And in my opinion, that's what sank the ship the last time around. It was a great book with a lot of great character stuff, but in the broad
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sense, it doesn't go with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Essentially, it was easy to ignore. That's not what we want to do. We take the Deadpool approach to marketing this one. Deadpool is not a character that will be ignored. This is not a book that will be ignored. And it also allows me to indulge in my more rowdy, rambunctious kind of story. It's more fun. It's got a bit of a mean spirit to it, but it comes across well. The stories are never slapstick, but they're never desolate and grim.
Marvel.com: Paco Medina seems like a great fit for the art in that respect because he can handle the fun and lighthearted elements as well as deliver the straight super hero action stuff…
What's funny is that we had someone else in mind for the book initially, and I was in New York in Axel's office coming up with a shortlist because we had to come up with an alternative. I looked down and saw a cover for NEW WARRIORS, and I was like, "This is perfect!" And Axel said, "Well yeah, that's Paco. You guys have worked together before. You did a VENOM arc together [in 2003's VENOM #6 through #10.]" I was like, "Oh yeah." [Laughs
] And as we started talking, it went from "get a list together" to "get Paco!" And we found out very quickly that he was down for it, and he was excited about it. That means a lot. There are a lot of guys out there that are a hell of an artist and can draw anything you throw at them, but it's when you come at it with a character or title and they love it, then they bring that to the book. Paco loves this character, and he loves to push it. I've seen his pencils, and you can tell that Deadpool is always the first thing he draws. First and foremost, Deadpool's gotta look cool. And he always does.
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We found this too when we were reaching out for people to do variant covers. The first few issues have variant covers, and so many people's hands shot in the air. There are a couple that I can't reveal yet, but I can tell you that a lot of them are people known for doing Deadpool. Then there are some that are not. [Laughs
] They're just like secret Deadpool fanatics. And it was really cool. There was no having to ask. It was just having to tell people no because there were so many applicants.
Marvel.com: When ORIGINS first came out, it had to kind of stand on its own because it had so much to do with Logan's past. In the next arc, you're doing your first cross over with X-MEN: LEGACY, which seems like the perfect book to tie into ORIGINS because it also explores X-history. How did this story come about?
ORIGINS is about [Wolverine] looking back, and LEGACY is about Xavier looking forward, but it also applies in the inverse as well. [Logan] has to put his past together. They're very complimentary. For ORIGINS, one of the very first storylines I laid down was the Professor X storyline and as Mike [Carey] was putting together LEGACY, he got to the point where he [wanted] to do a Wolverine story. And I kid you not, it was that much of a happy coincidence. I went to John Barber and said, "I want to get into the Professor X stuff" and he said, "Well, Mike wants to get into the Wolverine stuff." It just came together.
Marvel.com: How did you and Carey work up this story? Have you been calling each other back and forth and plotting each others issues out together?
Originally, I got together with Mike and to be completely candid, I said, "I want you and I to get this as close to the finish line as we can before we turn it in so that we have a clear vision on this." And we did that. I outlined it first and sent it to Mike. He made changes and sent it back. Then we streamlined it together and were feeling pretty good about it. At that point, we sent it in to our respective editors, and they had some revisions and ideas. We shot them all down. [Laughs
] No, we didn't shoot them all down. They had some really good ones. But the four of us started breaking it into pieces and figuring out how the story would be told.
The first part is me doing a prologue in [ORIGINS #28], and then we do a one-shot which is the two books combined where I write the first half and Mike has written the second half. Then part two takes place in LEGACY, three in ORIGINS, four in LEGACY and part five in ORIGINS. So we're both working from the same outline. I've read through Mike's first draft of the first part, and I'm working on the second part. I'm really happy with it. I've never really collaborated with another writer. Then when I learned we were going to do this, I was like, "Mike's a really good writer!" [Laughs
] It was like, "Don't get caught looking stupid." So I tried to bring it all to the table with this, and he likes it. That's a good sign. I'm still not very confident in my writing, so it feels good when a guy like Mike gives me a compliment.
Marvel.com: Wolverine and Professor X have both been major players in the X-Men for decades, and everyone remembers that initial scene where the Professor recruits Logan onto the team. Will you be exploring or revealing any additional past they may have together that we don't know about?
They did not meet prior to GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. That was their first meeting face-to-face, but what we find out is that there was more than one reason why they met at that certain time. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN was where Professor X was recruiting for the new team because the old team had been trapped on the living island Krakoa, and they had to be extracted out. Ed Brubaker explored this a lot in X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS which cast a light onto the shadows of Charles Xavier's past. Looking back now, he was extremely cocky. He thought he had it all under control, and he still doesn't. At the beginning of this story in a flashback episode, he learns that there are elements in this world like Wolverine and like Romulus who's been pulling Wolverine's strings, and there's no controlling them. It's a pretty interesting peak behind the curtain. We do show the behind the scenes of that first meeting and explore why Wolverine was out in the woods fighting the Hulk and Wendigo. And why in the world would Professor X bring a guy like Wolverine onto this team? He's not a team player. So both of them had agendas, and both of them did something that needs to be atoned for. That's what a lot of "Original Sin" is about.
But not only are their pasts densely intertwined, but events in the present bring them together. Wolverine shows up with Daken in tow. Daken is in [a] very similar [situation] to where Wolverine was a long time ago. He's got really bad wiring, and he needs someone to straighten him out before he becomes unstable. Wolverine got pulled back from the edge. Will Professor X be able to help Daken as well, or is he one of those things that can't be controlled? And there's the specter of Romulus over this whole thing. Has this been anticipated? You can't take any of that for granted.
DEADPOOL #1 barrels into stores on September 3 with WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #28 following on September 24. For more by Daniel Way, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!