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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Stuart Moore

Re-teaming with artistic collaborator C.P. Smith, the WOLVERINE NOIR writer discusses getting down and dirty

By Kiel Phegley Sometimes to best understand a character you simply strip them to the bone. And writer Stuart Moore knows a thing or two about the best ways to get that done. Already an accomplished comics editor who helped make the Marvel Knights line a smashing success after Joe Quesada stepped up as Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Moore later turned to writing and has turned in a number of memorable comics stories over the past five years including "The Package," the shocking and acclaimed story from WOLVERINE #41. Drawn with a striking graphic style by artist C.P. Smith, the story told an archetypal tale of Wolverine struggling to survive the onslaught of an entire African army all to save the life of one baby. As the brutal, stripped down story stood out as one of the most memorable Logan episodes in recent memory, it comes as pleasant news that Moore and Smith will re-team for this week's launch of WOLVERINE NOIR.

Preview art by
C.P. Smith

Set in 1937, WOLVERINE NOIR takes a similarly focused yet ferocious approach to the X-franchise's wild man, casting Logan as a private detective in the Depression-era Bowery of New York City. With a dim-witted partner named Dog and a vague new case working for rich Japanese socialite Mariko Yashida, the story should carry many familiar Wolvie elements, but Moore promises us that as with he and Smith's original outing, things are much, much more than they seem.
Marvel.com: Part of the fan interest in WOLVERINE NOIR comes from the fact that you'll be re-teaming with C.P. Smith who you collaborated with on WOLVERINE #41. What's the origin of that partnership? Had you wanted to work with C.P. specifically for awhile or did editorial hook you up? Stuart Moore: I'm trying to remember now. We actually did one story before [issue #41] which was a short story in X-MEN UNLIMITED. That's reprinted in the same trade paperback as the Africa story, BLOOD AND SORROW. So I had worked with him before, and I remember talking to [Marvel Executive Editor] Axel Alonso at that point when we were doing the short story where he brought up a few different artists, and C.P. came up. I love what he did, so I'm pretty sure that when it came to the Africa story it was a matter of getting us together on something longer because the short piece went really well. Marvel.com: As someone who has written for a long time and was an editor for years before that, you must have a much more holistic view of how a comic comes together. When you write a script, do you put a lot of care into the visual pacing and rhythm that

Preview art by
C.P. Smith

was such a big part of "The Package"? Stuart Moore:
I think my editorial background has given me a few tools that some other people don't have or maybe I'm just a little better with them. I think I do have a pretty good sense of what fits on a page and how to give really concise panel descriptions in order to get what I really want out of an artist. Otherwise, I think I try to cover all the bases like any other writer. In the case of C.P., now that I've worked with him enough there are a few things where, like with NOIR I know he's trained in a lot of combat martial arts, which I'm not. So the knife fight scenes there, I very roughly filled in what I wanted to happen in those scenes, but then I just said, "Just run with it. Do what you want." I know that he just knows that stuff better than I do, and he can make it look really cool. Marvel.com: With longer, more involved story lines being the norm these days, it feels like tight fight choreography is a secondary concern for some creators, but with the pair of you, you really seem to know how to use that particularly with a character like Wolverine. Stuart Moore: In a way, the Africa story we did was all about constant motion. It was Wolverine moving through this country facing one threat after another, and he really never could stop and catch his breath. It was just one thing after another thrown at him. WOLVERINE NOIR is a little more about mood and setting up an air of the world in an economic depression, which turned out being a little more timely than I thought it would when I started. [Laughs] But the world is in the middle of a depression where people live these hopeless lives down in the Bowery in New York City, and I really wanted to get across the feelings and emotions of that, and C.P. did a beautiful job with it.

Preview art by
C.P. Smith

Marvel.com: So much of what you've written and so many of your interests draw from science fiction and your love of that. Have you also read a lot of the classic mystery novels by guys like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett? Stuart Moore: I'm a big Hammett fan. I love the novel "The Maltese Falcon," which is almost word-for-word the movie. [Laughs] I don't know if they even had a script. They just filmed the novel. But yeah, I don't know all that stuff, but you're right that those are my two favorite genres, crime and science fiction. WOLVERINE NOIR is a little different from your average Wolverine story because it's in this world where the character has no powers. He's just a knife expert. There's really no science fiction or paranormal aspect to it, but when you get to combine them, that's fun too. Marvel.com: Well, super heroes as a genre are really malleable and easy to look at as archetypes that you can kind of transpose another genre over top of... Stuart Moore: I agree. That was one of the things that during the time I was the Marvel Knights editor that was the most fun for me. I was delving into super heroes for the first time in comics, and Bendis was writing DAREDEVIL as a crime comic with a super hero in it. CAPTAIN AMERICA was a techno thriller. So you can bend and stretch the whole genre of super heroes in all different directions. Marvel.com: Was there a marching order for the NOIR book? It doesn't feel as though Marvel has been building this up to be a shared universe or anything. Did you just walk in and say, "Here's my take on the story"?

Preview art by
C.P. Smith

Stuart Moore:
It's a little more than that. I think I came in with one earlier version, and while the series don't tie in together, we wanted to make sure they didn't contradict each other. My initial ideas kind of stepped on the toes of X MEN NOIR a little bit, so we tweaked it. It didn't change the essence of the story, it just meant that my story got set significantly earlier. We leave Wolverine in a place where they can use him later, but there's no significant crossover. I was strongly urged not to use actual powers in the story at all and keep it strictly as a crime book. I'm not sure all the Noir books do that. I think SPIDER-MAN NOIR and DAREDEVIL NOIR have some powers. But that works out well to differentiate our Logan from the normal Logan-even though in my mind he's the same guy. [Laughs] Marvel.com: Well, you can just erase his memory a few times and leave the boilerplate intact. Stuart Moore: Exactly! Marvel.com: As you go into the series, we've got Logan and Dog who are removed a bit from how we know them already. Did you make an effort to show readers, "This isn't the exact same plot of Wolverine's life just set in a different time"? Stuart Moore: Well, we wanted to pull in some of the pieces of Wolverine's origin but scramble them up in a completely different way. And as the series goes on, you'll see us playing with people's expectations a little bit. The stuff with Dog is a little bit foreshadowing that because he's obviously in a different role than he was in ORIGIN, but as things go

Preview art by
C.P. Smith

along it diverges more. It's like taking those same ingredients and mixing them up into a very different story and genre. Marvel.com: But if this is a kind of prototype Wolverine story, you're pretty much telling us we're in for a really sad ending, aren't you? Stuart Moore: [Laughs] Um...well, it's a pretty grim world he lives in [with] this story. He's run away from a lot of things, but I don't want to tell you that the ending is sad or happy. There's a resolution. [Laughs] I'll say that much. It's a Wolverine story, but it's also a hard-boiled detective story, and one thing that tends to happen in a hard-boiled detective story is that the protagonist gets the crap beat out of him. You can look forward to that in this story. Marvel.com: Already we've seen Dog and Mariko in the preview pages. Are there any other familiar faces from the regular Marvel U connected to Wolverine we may see down the line? Stuart Moore: Yeah. There's another one that shows up in issue #2, and as we go along there will be a couple of more. I don't think I'm giving too much away to say that if you're going to do a top-to-bottom reimagining of Wolverine, you're going to want to do a version of Victor Creed aka Sabertooth automatically. He's going to play a bigger role in the story moving along. What we kind of do is take the various Wolverine characters, strip out their more supernatural or surreal elements and bring them right back down to earth as brutal characters trying to exist in a rough environment in the Bowery in 1937 right before World War II breaks out. Hopefully we stir it all together into an interesting stew. Be sure to pick up WOLVERINE NOIR, on sale April 15, but first, you can read more by Stuart Moore on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything X-Men! Download episodes of X-Men: Evolutionicon now on iTunes!

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