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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Kieron Gillen

The writer of Origin II and Iron Man talks savage beasts, wild men, sinister elves and more!

With lots going on currently in both ORIGIN II and IRON MAN, we sought out the common denominator between the two titles, writer Kieron Gillen, to get the low-down on both.

Fans of Gillen already know that he’s an author who cares deeply for his projects; that’s hammered home here in his answers to our attempt to get up to speed on both ORIGIN II and IRON MAN. And readers beware: British slang ahead!

On sale February 26
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Marvel.com: Kieron, what's it like for you to see ORIGIN II coming out issue by issue, with readers discovering each aspect of it as it rolls along?

Kieron Gillen: It's a joy. It's a tight little statement. The first issue was an overture for the whole thing. The second issue introduces the rest of the key cast: Creed, Clara, Essex and Hugo. And from now on, it's seeing these five very different people rub up against each other. Joy and sadness, ecstasy and tragedy. Mainly tragedy. It's Logan. At his core, there's a deep sadness there, and that runs right through it.

Marvel.com: How often does Adam Kubert's art inform and shape your writing of the series?

Kieron Gillen: Constantly. He's an astounding storyteller, so I've tried to leave as much as possible in his hands. [There are] moments when we both hit on a similar solution separately—as in, something that I didn't put in the script for some reason and he goes that way anyway. The last page of ORIGIN II #3 would be one part of that; there's a wonderful subtle visual detail in there which I love.

Marvel.com: Speaking of #3, what's one of the most exciting things in the issue to you? We're halfway through the series, so what has Logan learned so far?

Origin II #3 preview art by Adam Kubert

Kieron Gillen: This is a bit of a comic writer spod sort of thing to love, but it's its basic formal aspect. Logan spends the majority of the issue in his cage. It struck me that a way to capture that claustrophobia would [be] to do the whole issue in an Alan-Moore-esque nine-panel grid. You can even imagine the grid as the bars of a cage, if you see what I mean. I suggested it to Adam, and he jumped at it, and did a wonderful job. It's one of the things that just gives ORIGIN II a different feel to the vast majority of the books. Issue #1 was the silent thing. Issue #2 was a little more traditional, but the third pushes it a bit more again. I talk about the period-novel vibe, and I think the third is the one that most feels like that. Also, a nine panel grid does mean you get a lot of story in there. It motors.

On a less spoddy way? Well, Essex has a wonderful time with a scalpel. Let's leave it at that.

What has Logan learned by this point? I think it's important what he hasn't learned. He hasn't spoke to anyone yet. He's silent. Whatever's happened to him isn't enough to make him want to have any form of human contact. Is human contact worth it? That was where ORIGIN left him. With the first issue of ORIGIN II, that even widened. It's not just human contact that may not be worth it. Maybe no contact is worth it.

Yes, a cheery book, ORIGIN II.

Origin II #3 preview art by Adam Kubert

Marvel.com: At this point in the story, how would you characterize Logan’s relationship with animals? Is there anything in him that might still elevate humans above them?

Kieron Gillen: Good question, but one I'm going to dodge. His relationship with the opening issue really comes to the fore with the third issue. The question of who Logan is most like—and who everyone else is most like—is right in the key. He sees the links between the people who surround him and the animals he had to leave behind.

Marvel.com: You mentioned Clara; where did the character come from? What's her role right now in the proceedings?

Kieron Gillen:
Even in the second issue, she's clearly the one who believes in Logan, or at least believes he's being mistreated terribly. She's the one who wants him out of the cage. She's the one who wants him to talk. So she's actually the one who Logan most rebuffs. If you can describe anyone in the narrative as good, it's Clara.

The same can't really be said of Creed, and the relationship between Clara and him is just as important.

Marvel.com: Fans love Logan, but do you ever feel there's any danger in revealing too much about him?

Origin II #3 preview art by Adam Kubert

Kieron Gillen: Yeah, there's always a danger, but there's always a danger in writing anything. Deciding what detail adds to him and what detail lessens is the job. I want to say something about the fundamentals of Logan in ORIGIN II that reveals his character. I mean, there's clearly going to be some key aspects of his relationship with Sabretooth being charted here, and the aim is to add flesh to that bloody relationship. It has to feel both mythic and real. If you're replacing a question mark with anything, you want it to fire the imagination in a similar way.

Marvel.com: Fair enough. Over in IRON MAN, what will be the connective tissue between “Iron Metropolitan” and “Rings of the Mandarins”? Will #23.NOW be a jumping on point for new readers?

Kieron Gillen: That's the plan. It's both the continuation of everything we've been up to so far, and an introduction to the world, including Tony Stark's current state. In some ways the Mandarin plot is really accessible high concept: the weapons of Tony's greatest enemies are now in new, mysterious hands. Tony wants to stop them. Against that pulp action, we've got all the emotional stuff churning away. The anger and frustration Tony feels is right to the front.

And in a real way? Tony Stark versus the villain of the last Thor movie? That's a big accessible easy exciting thing for even anyone who only knows the characters from the movies.

Marvel.com: Well okay; how did you arrive upon the use of Malekith? What makes him an engaging antagonist for Tony, in your opinion?

Kieron Gillen:
It's partially the culture clash element. This isn't what you'd be expecting. I first had a magic versus science theme in my Iron Run in IRON MAN #4, and this is moving that to the fore, with Tony trying to wrestle with an alien intelligence with a very different way of seeing the world.

There's also a lot of interesting resonances between elf-lore and Iron Man lore. I mean, famously Elves despise iron. Elves are symbolic, magical thinkers, so [they] are going to have a natural loathing of anyone who describes themselves as an Iron Man. There's also some thematic links with the other ongoing subplot in Iron Man, of Tony's adoption. What are elves known for? The changeling myth. They steal babies and replace them with elf-children. Elves are a nightmarish take on that.

Malekith is also a joy to write. I like horrible people, and he's up there with Mephisto, Loki and Mister Sinister on that front.

Pick up ORIGIN II #3 on February 26 and IRON MAN #22 on March 5!

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Is this a comic book website only or what? Cause i just read robert downey jr might not b ironman anymore and i feel that is a huge mistake!!! He is the best actor in the movies and it wont ever b the same