Enroll at the Hellfire Academy Pt. 2

Wolverine & The X-Men writer Jason Aaron provides a guide to the faculty and syllabus of his nasty new school!

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Wolverine & The X-Men #31 art by Nick Bradshaw

By Ryan Haupt

Yesterday we spoke with WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN writer Jason Aaron about the cast and crew of the Hellfire Academy. Today we expand that discussion to include a few folks not mentioned yet as well as the kinds of courses that will be available upon enrollment!

Marvel.com: So about this syllabus as seen in WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #31. How do those get written?

Jason Aaron: Oh, you know, that’s put together by the PR staff of the Hellfire Academy. They put it together for us and we run it as supplementary materials. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that, just like the Jean Grey School and Hellfire Academy Twitter feeds. Those are all taken care of. We just pass it along to the people.

Marvel.com: So is there a class in here that you yourself would really like to take and you wish you could find out where the Hellfire Academy is so you could go there and enroll?

Jason Aaron: Well, I know where it’s at. I could tell you where it’s at, but you’ll just have to wait and see. As for the classes, certainly anything taught by Master Pandemonium, I would be down for.

Marvel.com: So who is Master Pandemonium?

Wolverine & The X-Men #31 art by Nick Bradshaw

Jason Aaron: He was originally a West Coast Avengers villain. If I remember his origin correctly, I believe he was an actor who got caught in a car accident and, to get out of it, sold his soul to Mephisto. Mephisto rescued him but proceeded to give him demons for arms and also put a portal to Hell in his chest. So he battled the West Coast Avengers over the years and I used him in a few issues of GHOST RIDER when I was doing that. So just the idea of a guy who has to live his life with demons for arms—I find the character too perfect to keep away from for long. I’m happy to bring him back.

Marvel.com: Is Sauron teaching any courses?

Jason Aaron: Yup! There’s some Sauron; he’s Dr. Karl Lykos.

Marvel.com: He’s yet another in the long, proud tradition of Marvel scientists having an experiment that turns them green and angrier.

Jason Aaron: Right. Now he’s ready to teach children how to do exactly the same thing.

Marvel.com: So he’s as much of a Beast-like character as Starblood. Did you think about in those terms? Like, for every Iceman on the staff at the Jean Grey School, you want to have somebody kind of filling that role over at the Hellfire Academy?

Wolverine & The X-Men #31 art by Nick Bradshaw

Jason Aaron: No, I wasn’t trying to do a direct correlation from one staff to the other. I was just trying to put together characters that would be fun to write and bounce off each other. And just to do as weird and quirky and crazy a staff at the Hellfire Academy as I was able to put together for the Jean Grey School.

Marvel.com: And it looks like the Hellfire Academy has its own Danger Room as well. Is that equivalent to the X-Men’s, or is it going to have its own Hellfire twist?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, it’s a lot [simpler] and less sophisticated than the Jean Grey School’s Danger Room. We see in the Grey School now that the Danger Room is pretty much everywhere. It’s not just one room in the middle of the school; it’s sort of built into the entire school. The Danger Room could pop up anywhere at any time. The Hellfire Academy’s Danger Room is a little more low-key, a little more low-tech and is overseen by a Wendigo.

Marvel.com: I see that Dog Logan is going to be the coach of the school?

Jason Aaron: Yup. We saw at the end of WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #29 where Dog made his pact with Kade Kilgore and agreed to come over.

Marvel.com: But he doesn’t even get to be a professor! He’s stuck being a coach.

Jason Aaron: [Laughs] Well, you know, he’s still just an average mountain man from the 19th century, so he’s not necessarily qualified to teach.

Wolverine & The X-Men #31 cover by Nick Bradshaw

Marvel.com: I’m just surprised Mystique got tenure track now, she’s a professor. But Dog is like, adjunct or something. It’s sad. As an academic, all these titles mean something to me.

Jason Aaron: Well, yeah, of course. Throughout WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, I’ve thrown around the teacher label pretty freely for lots of people who are not qualified to be professors or actual educators. That has been raised before in the pages of the book when we had an actual qualified teacher apply for a position at the school and was turned away. She did raise a point that none of these people are qualified to be teaching. It’s too late to raise that point now!

Marvel.com: I’m kind of waiting for the issue where the Hellfire Academy softball team goes to play softball with the Jean Grey School.

Jason Aaron: Well, I always promised at the beginning of WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN that there would be no baseball, and I can’t go back on that promise.

Marvel.com: It also sounds like there’s a lot of social events going on, extracurricular activities. Are we going to be spending enough time in the school to see a lot of this stuff in the syllabus?

Jason Aaron: We’ll just have to wait and see. Clearly we’re not going to spend a lot of time just sitting in classrooms or going on field trips. There’s a lot going on with these characters at the school as well as following all of our X-Men in a mad dash to track down the school and rescue their kids. So yeah, there’s a lot going on. As for how long the Hellfire Academy stays open and how successful they are at teaching these kids that remains to be seen. That’s one of the big questions of the arc.

Wolverine & The X-Men #32 cover by Nick Bradshaw

Marvel.com: Are the Inner Circle going to be in class with the mutant students as well, or is that not really their role in all this?

Jason Aaron: No, that’s not really their role. We’ll see interactions in particular between Kade Kilgore and Quentin Quire. And we’ll see all of those kids in a big way in this arc especially as it goes forward, but no, we won’t see them in the classrooms or hanging out in the cafeteria with the kids.

Marvel.com: A lot of your earlier work involved very adult situations and tough, reality-based themes. Has it been different for you to write teenagers?

Jason Aaron: Not really. I mean, different characters have different challenges. It’s always about putting yourself in the mind of a character that’s very different from you, whether it’s a mutant who’s been around for over a hundred years or a cyborg from the future. All different characters are challenging. Certainly writing kids is its own challenge, but WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN has always been about family more than it is about school. It’s about kids coming of age [and] adults learning to be responsible parents and teachers; that all kind of continues in the story in the way our Jean Grey School kids like Quentin and Idie are dealing with that, them kind of figuring out who they are and what is their place in the world. And we see this new group of kids having to face that in a very dark way, and then of course we also have the Hellfire Academy students who all have their own unusual backgrounds and family histories, and them still finding their place in the world and their place with each other. And for a lot of those characters that place at the end of this arc will be very different than where they started out.

Wolverine & The X-Men #33 cover by Nick Bradshaw

Marvel.com: So, when is Mudbug going to have his parent/teacher conference?

Jason Aaron: [Laughs] We do see Mudbug’s dad pop up again just briefly, but no parent/teacher conferences just yet. The location and setting of the Hellfire Academy will become a big part of the story by the end of this arc. It’s going to prove a big obstacle for the X-Men if they ever track it down.

Marvel.com: It must be pretty frustrating for Wolverine, who’s of the better trackers in the Marvel Universe, to not know where something is and not be able to find it.

Jason Aaron: It’s extremely frustrating for him for a lot of reasons. He feels like they’ve failed in some sense; that those kids weren’t taken by the Hellfire Club but chose to leave the Jean Grey School and defect over. Yeah, you’ll see a very angry, frustrated Wolverine over the course of this arc.

Pick up WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #31, part one of the Hellfire Saga, available now!

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