Make no doubt, this cover says it all: death comes for Wolverine!
A hero like Logan deserves dignity in his final moments. As the DEATH OF WOLVERINE creative team makes clear in the final segment of its four-part discussion, they strive to give this legendary champion the respect he earned. Artist Steve McNiven, inker Jay Leisten, colorist Justin Ponsor and writer Charles Soule describe what they needed to effectively capture this pivotal, yet somber moment in Marvel history.
Marvel.com: The blades in the foreground of this cover, is that meant to visually tie this story in readers' minds to the cover of ORIGIN #1?
Steve McNiven: It was not in my mind when I came up with the idea but it's not a bad connection.
I think the “Gladiator” soundtrack was playing and the Fields of Elysium popped into my mind.
I thought about the scythe for a bit but dropped it as I didn't think it was needed.
Marvel.com: How did the creative team settle on the right look for the personification of death?
Steve McNiven: I originally was going to pull the hood up but thought it was a bit too mysterious and possibly lead to confusion so I went with the full skull shot.
Marvel.com: Were there other scenarios and scenes considered for this final cover?
Steve McNiven: Many and that's the case with all of these covers, but at the end of the day you have to move with the one that works the best for everyone.
Marvel.com: There's a dignity to Wolverine's body in his pose to a certain extent; Steve and Jay, how much did you discuss how you wanted to approach portraying the body?
Steve McNiven: Well I was toying with having death dragging Logan's corpse through the field by one of his ankles but this one was definitely more dignified!
Jay did a great job of keeping the overall feel of the pencil linework while adding some great textures, especially around death's cloak down in the field. And Justin's colors are just superb! He makes it all seem so effortless.
Jay Leisten: We did a bit of back and forth on this one. More so than the others as I wanted to give a bit of a pause to the reader’s eye by making the black of deaths cloak into a grey area with the multilayered hatching effect.
I wanted that heavy black rectangle to be supporting Logan so that your eye would stop and look at [him] at peace in a way. I used a lighter pen stroke on Logan here as well to imply a different texture as opposed to the life that a bouncier line would provide.
When I turned in the cover I attached a video for “Kom Susser Tod,” [that] in English [means] “come sweet death,” which I listened to on repeat. Having Justin put in the fog sort of bubbling up from the field was a layer to add to that visual pause that Steve asked for. I really wanted to push that right leg forward as if to imply death is trudging also slowly as the ever present force it is.
Marvel.com: Justin, please talk about your philosophy in terms of coloring this pivotal cover in particular?
Justin Ponsor: My goal was “ethereal and somber,” so I knocked Logan's tones down to just this side of gray with lots of non-local influence. For some reason, I really like a softly-glowing directional light on figures to convey death. It adds to the feel of fog or haze which suggests a spirit realm or considering the condition of Wolverine's body perhaps the dust of battle settling. The challenge for my part was to help sell that he's really been destroyed physically but keeping it serene.
Marvel.com: For everyone, given that this is the final cover in a story telling the death of a major character, how important was it to all of you to make sure it hit on the right notes, both as creators as well as to effectively resonate with the readers?
Charles Soule: I feel like I can take very little responsibility for this one; when I look at it, it reminds me of the Pieta, and that's a nice metaphor. Logan has been associated with death since his earliest days; it's been his constant companion, one he's more familiar with than almost anything else in his life. This cover pretty much says it all. I will say, though, that this one is metaphorical—Logan isn't carried into the afterlife by the Grim Reaper in the story. Looking at this, though, I sort of wish I'd gone that way.
Steve McNiven: Well I can't say it was an easy endeavor—no cover is, to be honest! But when you are working with such talented guys like Jay and Justin, not to mention the great guidance from Charles and [editor] Mike [Marts], well, it definitely makes the effort much easier and more rewarding.
Jay Leisten: It was huge for me. Wolverine was a big player in my development as a comic reader. I wanted this to be special and I think we all succeeded there.
Justin Ponsor: I'd say it was extra important to resonate with the readers because these images are how many people decide, months in advance, whether they want to read the book. I have to do as much as possible to add to the mystery that Steve and Jay have created so people want to find out what Charles has in store inside the book.
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more news this week and pick up DEATH OF WOLVERINE in September!