MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Every Friday, Joe will sit down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics.
Except for, well…now. Joe is catching up on a big ol' workload, so MySpace is left to the tender mercies of Daniel Way, scribe of DEADPOOL, WOLVERINE: ORIGINS, DARK WOLVERINE (along with Marjorie Liu) and more!
And you get to chip in as well! Joe will be answering YOUR questions NEXT week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!
JM: So I recall a conversation we had a couple years ago where you mentioned to the effect that you became a writer because you were a reader. And you were a reader because you were a big library rat growing up. Why is that?
DW: Y'know, I don't think I've ever heard the term "library rat."
JM: Think of it kinda like "gym rat," like a guy who's always playing basketball. But applied to libraries, I guess.
DW: Okay. Well, basically, growing up, my family didn't have…well, I was going to say "not much money," but really, not any money. And the library was open, and free, and just…there. It was a place to go, and also a place to escape to in a time and place that was pretty desolate. I could go, pick up a book, find what I like, and then dive into the card catalog system. You used to be able to look up books by title, by author, or by category through the card catalog, It's all computerized now. But I'd find one book I like, find where it was, and find more in that vein. For me, it was kinda like going to the movies, only it was better, and it was free.
JM: Now what time and place was this?
DW: This was the '80s in North-Central Michigan. The state's had about the worst economy in the nation for decades now. But I skipped outta there when I was 15.
JM: So as a reader, what kind of stuff were you digging on back in the day? Any particular authors you gravitated to? Genres?
DW: I guess my favorite author was John Steinbeck…
JM: Loooove Steinbeck. He's the greatest, man!
DW: Yeah. I read a lot of the contemporary stuff at the time as well, Stephen King books and so on, and that was all well and good. But Steinbeck was such strong stuff! [laughs] And you didn't feel like a pansy reading it. Travel has always been my drug of choice, and Steinbeck was always either going somewhere or coming back, and his books felt like he was filing a report, like he was doing the travelogue. I loved that feel to his stuff.
JM: I know what you mean. I'm not a particular fan of Jack Kerouac, but I've always thought Kerouac was a great travel writer. He does a great job of painting the picture, introducing you to the setting. Steinbeck obviously does that as well.
DW: Yeah. I've read The Dharma Bums
, all that. But it always seemed kind of scene-ster to me. Kerouac was always name-dropping, and it didn't resonate with me. Kerouac would always wind up in a hip jazz club or a cool coffee bar, and Steinbeck…he'd wind up rolling heads of lettuce. He'd wind up picking grapes. Again, I couldn't relate. But my dad was an interstate truck driver, and sometimes I'd ride with him. We'd go to all these exotic locations, but still no place famous. I've been within 50 miles of Disneyworld a dozen times, but still never seen it, y'know? We'd go to some cool big city, but we'd go to a steel mill or a lumber yard or a potato field or something. So that's the way I identified. I got the Steinbeck view of the country, not the Kerouac.
JM: Do you think—and of course, the great Confucian ideal is that the toughest person to know is yourself—but do you think any of Steinbeck is in your work today?
DW: I'm sure some of Steinbeck is there, trickling down, but you can say that about a million other writers who've read Steinbeck's stuff. And with a lot of what I write, the framework is already there in working with established characters, so there's also the issues and the writers who have come before trickling down as well. But with Wolverine, yeah…this guy's definitely in the Winter of His Own Discontent. He's sitting there, looking at all this death and decay around him, and he sees himself as a part of it. In some cases, he's the cause of it—it's directly due to him. So [laughs] yeah, I'd love to think that someday people will say, "You remember when Daniel Way used to write Wolverine? That was a particularly Steinbeck-ian take." [laughs] Yeah, I would totally be happy with that.
JM: Now correct me if I'm wrong, but you almost have a self-imposed moratorium on things like this, doing interviews and the such. And it's all because…people don't like you, right?
DW: What I specifically try to avoid doing is interviews about me. Stumping for the project, that's cool. And that's a different thing. But I've just never been comfortable trying to create the "image." Now a lot of people are very good at it, and have been very successful in doing it, and man—it can follow them along from project to project and that's great. But I've never been comfortable with putting myself out there in front of these characters and projects to propel myself forward. In fact, it makes me a bit nervous. It kinda creeps me out. A lotta times, I dunno…I just feel like a douche talking about myself.
JM: So glad I could be part of creeping you out and making you feel like a douche.
DW: Well, it's not the first time, Jim.
JM: Now Wolverine turns into Dark Wolverine with #75. What's the change? Stump for that project, pal.
DW: Well, an argument could be made as to if there was ever a "Light Wolverine" to start with. But the big change is that this is the Wolverine in DARK AVENGERS. Logan has gone underground and this is his son, Daken, who's in. And he's the fox in the henhouse. It's a similar mutant ability and the same costume on the outside, but a whole new animal on the inside. It's difficult in that this is a book with a protagonist that you're supposed to hate. If Marjorie and I do it right…you're really gonna loathe this guy.
This is like catching Wolverine 60-70 years ago, before he had any thought of doing the right thing, or applying a morality that he's learned over the years. And Daken is not his dad. He has his own agenda, he's extremely capable, and is fairly ruthless. And he's not tied down by any morality.
JM: You mentioned your co-writer on the book, Marjorie Liu. What's that mean? What is a "co-writer" relationship like to you? Do you handle the consonants and she the vowels?
DW: Specific to this project, it's another mind, another creative voice, coming up with story. As to actually sitting down and writing the damn thing, we kind of split the time by my plotting it out. I'll plot each story arc, and plot each individual issue. She does the scripting and fleshes it out, hanging the meat on the skeleton. Then we both go in and play with the dialogue at the end.
JM: Do you find you like it? Or would you rather be writing solo?
DW: Writing is such an insular thing. It's such a solo activity. I mean, right now, there's me, a desk, a chair and a computer. That's it, and that's where the stories come from. But there are times I really would like to talk to someone about what the hell I'm doing. And if you talk to your editor, they're like, "Yeah…yeah…uh-huh…when's it gonna be done?" That's what they want to know, and they certainly don't want to slow you down. And it's difficult to talk to other writers if they're not compelled to do so, 'cause they have their work to do. So this relationship has worked out very nice for me—[laughs]—now I have a buddy to talk to!
And I'm all self-taught. Truth be told, I'm not sure what all of Marjorie's background is. I know she is highly educated, I know she went to law school, but I'm not sure if there was a writing background there. But outside of the legal problems she can help me around—
JM: And God knows, in your life, that can happen a lot!
DW: [laughs] Yeah, but outside of that, Marjorie has been the perfect writer for this project. Originally we brought her in because my schedule was pretty full, but right form the first phone call, it was apparent she was perfect. I've never been more right about anything in my life—for a change. Looking at her background, I was fairly certain she would understand this character. And recently, working on this first storyarc, I met up with her in New York at a convention and she asked me if I was happy with it. I said, "Well, you know, not really. It could be better." She said, "Well, you should really go balls-out on this." It's kinda funny, 'cause she's just this small, tiny person, and to hear that come out of her mouth in that way…it was the splash of cold water on my face that I needed.
Really, she said that and it came clear to me that for 3-4-5 years—probably the first half of my comic writing career—I was always getting in trouble and going to far with content. And that was extremely frustrating. So I got into the habit, by small degrees and just to keep the trains running on time, of kind of self-censoring. Marjorie kind of woke me up again and said, "We have this opportunity to do something very new, very non-traditional in this book. Don't screw it up." So I kind of stepped back, and looked at what we had with an eye toward doing what we both want to do in this book, which is to push the sometimes-narrow boundaries of comics and the superhero genre. I rewrote a lot of stuff, and I think we're on a pretty strong heading now.
JM: WOLVERINE: ORIGINS has been kicking now…three years? Four? What keeps you grooving there?
DW: I'm writing #37 now. I've always known where the story is going, and where it's going to end up. What I really want to do is lay a lot of the old Wolverine stuff to rest so that I can—and all current and future writers can also—look to Wolverine's future. Wolverine has always had this very myopic view, always locked in on his past. He has really even considered his future. Now the rest of the characters in the X-Men universe, they're all about the future. And that's really cool! That's exciting stuff. But Wolverine is the last holdout, always looking in the rear-view mirror. And it's because he has these really huge issues that he needs to put to rest. ORIGINS has been the story of where he came from, but ORIGINS will be about the story of where he's going. And that's all coming into sight, into my view, in about the next two years or so. I'll probably be doing writing it by then, but the endgame is coming in my mind. We're starting to run the final plays.
JM: Now we also had a conversation once where you noted that writers either fall in love with characters, or fall in love with the medium of comics. Explain that. What's that mean?
DW: I don't know if it's just writers. I think it's everyone who reads comics on a regular basis. When you first pick up a comic, regardless if you're a child a teen or an adult when you do, if it's gonna become a lifelong habit, I think you do one of those things. You don't pick a side, but a side picks you and you fall in love. There's something in there that resonates with you, and you're hooked.
For a lot of people, I think it's characters. I think it's more often the characters. For a lot of other people, it's format. It's that marriage of words and pictures, it's the narrative nature, and it's the flow—the flow of the page, the flow of the issue, and that flow that goes from issue to issue. I pretty much see everyone falling into one of those two camps.
JM: And you're the latter category—you love the medium, right?
DW: Yeah. I love the medium. Now I love novels and I love films, but I tell everyone this is the best medium to tell a story in, hands, down. I love creating in this medium. In comics, a guy who grew up in a condemned house in a frozen f---ing wasteland in the North can make these stories and tell these great epics with amazing visuals all on paper. That's what I fell for.
JM: Alright, filter that through the prism of Deadpool, a book you write we haven't hit yet. Why that book? What is there in the medium you want to that you might need Deadpool as a character to do?
DW: That's the thing with Deadpool. With that character, and with several tweaks I've made to that character and how he's presented, all the rules are now out the window. There's no base in reality. We don't have to follow any sort of structure. No intro, no outro, none of that stuff. It can be completely insane, just because it's a Deadpool story. Does that make any sense?
JM: I think so. I think what you're getting at is that the character's insane, so you can do whatever the hell you want, and there are no brakes.
DW: Yeah. Yeah, I guess that's a pretty concise way of saying it. But there are a lot of things I like about the character. The character is not really tied down to any genre or particular "kind" of story, so there's freedom there. It's mainly an action book, and that's fun. And we have the unlimited budget, so why not go for it? That's one thing about the magic of comics that kind of goes to your earlier question. You can go really, really big and all it costs you is pencil lead. And it's a bit of a comedy book, which is…which is a f---ing challenge, but I like that. Comedy is tough. But when me and the artists I'm working with pull it off, it's great. When it works, it really, really works.
JM: Aces. And on that, you're off the hook. We move to reader questions.
Mighty Mutt says:
I totally freaking crapped myself when I read Thor #600. Now THAT'S how you write a story. Will J. Michael Straczynski be writing any Avengers comics?
JQ: Sorry, Mightymutt, but JMS will be confining his writing duties to THOR and THE TWELVE for the time being—though we'd be open to seeing him take on more, it also depends somewhat on his availability, as he's become one of the more in-demand guys on the screenwriting circuit in the last couple of years.
Tazo Tea For Me
Rulk's been running around the Marvel U for a while now and we STILL don't know who he is. I love the character and I'd love to see him in other books terrorizing the Marvel U. Any chance we'll find out who Rulk is and when he'll be leaving the Hulk book?
JQ: We've news straight from HULK writer Jeph Loeb:
The Red Hulk (nobody actually calls him "Rulk") has certainly crushed more than a few heads since he showed up a year ago, hasn't he? In the next story arc, beginning in Issue 13 -- appropriately titled "CODE RED" -- someone will learn the truth and it won't lead to anything good. Can you say: "SNIKT"?!
Mahgninnuc (pronounced Mag-nin-nuck)
Hey Joe, great to have ya back. I know your a busy guy so I'll try to tone back the questions. 1) What can the readers expect the status quo for Wolverine to be? He's one of my favorite characters, but it's become almost a punchline how Wolverine is in every comic. He's in Frisco and NYC at the same time. Is he going to stick to one team eventually? I mean Iron Fist is leaving the New Avengers because he doesn't have enough time. How is it possible Logan has more time on his hands than Mr. Rand?
JQ: Funny you should ask that, Mahgninnuc. Check out WOLVERINE issues 73 and 74 for an in-depth look at just what Logan's life is like. WOLVERINE: WEAPON X writer Jason Aaron and long-time WOLVERINE artist Adam Kubert show just how busy Wolverine is, and—more importantly—why he feels the need to keep himself busy.
Wolverine's basic status-quo, though, is that he basically lives in San Francisco. That's more or less his base of operations. We saw him moving into a room in the X-Compound in WOLVERINE: MANIFEST DESTINY, and throughout WOLVERINE: WEAPON X we'll see him becoming more at home in the city. While still globe-trotting. He's got access to the X-Men's Blackbirds and Avengers equipment, so flying across the country isn't THAT hard.
And Danny Rand has a whole corporation to run. He's real busy with that stuff, we just don't see it in the comics very much. I think we just see a higher proportion of Logan's life on the comic page. He does less boring stuff in his time off.
Old Married Guy
I'm confused about the ever changing length of Doc Samson's hair. In THUNDERBOLTS, it's short, in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE it's long and in the "Red Hulk" storyline its short in the beginning and long at the end.
The length of his hair is in relation to his strength right? Will there be a explanation in any up-coming comic?
JQ: We're going back to Jeph Loeb and here's what he had to say:
You'll have to wait until this summer's spectacular HULK 600 for those answers. That's right. Marvel will be celebrating the Hulk's 600th issue with his own special that will reveal the mystery of Doc Samson, whatever happend to Rick Jones, and a LOT more. And the guy who uncovers all those secrets? None other than a major Marvel guest star!
Joe, what villain do you think deserves to die the most in the Marvel U? With all these villains returning, don't you think its time to send some away? Hints? Something? Anything? Bullseye maybe?
JQ: We've killed off villains from time to time over the years, UFC, but the best (or is it worst?) of them have a habit of coming back, guys like Thanos or Stryfe or Doctor Doom. And the reality is that we need even more good villains than we do heroes, since the heroes are only defined by the opponents that they face.
Carl Polzel says:
I'm a subscriber to Marvel Digital (love it), and with the increasing number of digital stories coming out, are there plans down the line to have any crossover/event style stories? And please give Ron Lim more to do.
JQ: There are indeed two major Digital Comics exclusive initiatives coming this year that will enhance two major events: War of Kings and Dark Reign.
WAR OF KINGS: WARRIORS will feature stories starring Crystal, Blastaar, Lilandra and Gladiator. In fact, we'll be telling Gladiator's origin in this series! Here are the creative teams: Gladiator will be written by Christos Gage with art by Mahmud Asrar; Crystal's writer is Jay Faerber with art by Adriana Melo; Blastaar's being written by Christos Gage with art by Carlos Magno; and Lilandra's scribed by Christos Gage with art by Tim Green. The first issue in the series featuring, Gladiator, goes live May 6.
DARK REIGN: MADE MEN delves deeper into the many nefarious types making their play during the "Dark Reign." Find out what's up with Attuma, The Enforcer, Gamma Corps, Jack O' Lantern and Spymaster. All five are being written by Frank Tieri, the art teams will be announced soon. Made Men begins April 29.
In addition to all of that great stuff, we're also constantly publishing
FREE exclusive comics, too. The most recent is the excellent EXILES SKETCHBOOK you can find here
All Digital Comics exclusives are available at www.marvel.com/digitalcomics
I'm dying for some Chris Bachalo art. Is he going to be working on anything in particular soon? I'll buy anything he does the art for!
JQ: You're in luck, GenFrank, Chris is going to be providing artwork (along with Billy Tan) for the "Search for the Sorcerer Supreme" storyline in NEW AVENGERS #51-55, and he'll be producing a series of variant covers for that run as well!
Big Pop Get 'Em:
I've been a Marvel fan since I was five years old. My favorite superhero is Luke Cage. Are there any plans for him getting his own book again?
JQ: No immediate plans for a Luke Cage book, though we talk about if from time to time. It's just that Luke is so crucial at the moment to the goings-on in NEW AVENGERS (and Brian Bendis is just so utterly in man-love with him...).
And there will be an 8-page Luke Cage story titled "Citizen Cage" in the MARVEL ASSISTANT-SIZED SPECTACULAR for Assistant Editors Month. but can we mention the Luke Cage story in the assistant editor's month. It's written by Wyatt Cenac of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", with art by Todd Nauck and Rain Beredo.
It seems Deadpool is going to be causing a lot of chaos in the coming months with the Thunderbolts and Hawkeye/Bullseye. But do you have any plans involving him with the X-Universe? In X-Force maybe?
JQ: In a word, yes.
Look for Deadpool to appear in the upcoming "X-Force/Cable: Messiah War"—stir-crazy from several hundred years trapped in a refrigerator. Yes, a refrigerator. When the X-Force travel into the timestream to find Cable and the Messiah child, he's going to be one of their first encounters, and he'll play a huge role in the insanity that ensues. That's April through June, teed up by a double-sized one-shot then cutting across both titles.
Learn more about The Hero Initiative
the only federally chartered charitable organization dedicated to helping comic veterans in medical or financial need at www.HeroInitiative.org. It's a chance for you to give back to the creators who gave you your dreams.
Check out the official Marvel Shop for the best mighty Marvel merchandise!
Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" now on iTunes!