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By Marc Strom
Face front and sheath those claws, class, because you've got a new instructor.
Fan favorite writer Peter David steps into the classroom alongside artist Ronan Cliquet on March 25 with WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS #13, and he's brought a couple of familiar faces with him like Daredevil, Elektra and the Hand!
David confesses that one simple factor contributed to his taking over the series' curriculum:
"[Editor] Nate Cosby asked me to," David simply states. "I mean, I'd love to tell you there's some sexy story attached in which I heard the assignment was available and went to Nate on my knees and begged, 'Put me in, coach!' But it was really no more involved than Nate saying, 'Hey, would you like to write some issues of WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS?' How could I possibly say no?
"[I get] the chance to write about the characters set during what some would say was some of the best, most memorable X-Men stories ever. Plus I can do guest shots with characters who have changed mightily since their introduction, so it becomes a wonderful nostalgia trip both for me and for long-time readers."
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That point in X-Men history also provides a great deal of story potential within Wolverine and Kitty Pryde's relationship.
"They were in a period of discovery about each other," the writer reminisces. "Neither of them is entirely sure what to make of the other. Wolverine finds himself in something of a teaching and mentoring capacity, while Kitty still thinks of him as that creepy guy with the Elvis whiskers and the claws. So there's a lot of uncertainty on both their parts, and that makes for great drama."
And while David won't follow departing writer Fred Van Lente's stories too closely, the series will maintain a consistent tone as he takes the helm.
"[We won't follow what came before] that much 'directly' in that we try to have each issue be self-contained," David elaborates. "We have the occasional flier into a two-parter, but there's no real plan to revisit or follow up on actual events [from Van Lente's run]. But I do intend to further explore the same threads that Fred did so well, which is the relationship between Logan and Kitty, how it develops, and what the two of them learn from each other. It's not just a one-way street."
The first few issues after David takes over will include guest appearances by other Marvel heroes such as Daredevil, Elektra and Thor, something which gave David the chance to play up Kitty's freshman status in the super hero community.
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"It's really a case of, 'Who would I like to play with in the [Marvel Universe] from that period of time? Who's available? I can use [Daredevil]? I can use Elektra? Outstanding!'" David explains. "Then it's just a matter of how best to interpret them for the series. In the case of Thor, for instance, remember that Kitty is fairly new to the entire superhero game. Think about how occasionally at the Golden Globes or the Oscars, there's some young actress who's nominated for the first time, and when they interview her, she's not talking about the award, she's saying, 'Johnny Depp is standing right over there! My God, it's Johnny Depp! Someone introduce me!'
"So I thought it would be fun for Kitty to desperately want to meet Thor, because he's like the rock god of super heroes. He's got the muscles, he's got the hair, he's got the hammer. So about a third of the issue is nothing but Kitty asking Logan to introduce her to Thor, with Logan not wanting to be bothered dealing with this crap. And finally he relents, and naturally the exact moment they meet is the exact moment Ulik the Troll shows up and attacks. Which is why the title of that issue, 'Rock Gods,' works on so many levels."
The veteran writer has worked Wolverine a number of times in the past, including within the characters own series, but he says that this version of the Canucklehead has a few differences.
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"Well, I can't have him gutting anyone with his claws, if that's what you mean," David quips. "But that's fine. Comics existed for decades before heroes started killing people and blood started flowing like water. If writers could manage it back then, I'm pretty sure I can write entertaining stories under similar strictures. If I can't, I've no business being on the book in the first place."
In fact, David sees the all-ages quality of WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS as one of the series' best qualities, as he lists off all the reasons fans should pick up his debut issue:
"It's Daredevil! It's Elektra! It's a book you can safely read to your kids! You want more than that? Okay. There's a hidden code in the word balloons that, if you crack it, will give you the latitude and longitude of a one million dollar treasure that Joe Quesada has buried somewhere in Central Park. Seriously, if DD, Elektra, and a comic that anyone can enjoy isn't enough, I'm not sure what else I could possibly say."
Dig WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS #13 when it goes on sale March 25. You can also check out the first issue on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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