By Tim Stevens
Mr. X carved out a reputation in the world as an unstoppable assassin until he tangled with the man he modeled himself on and lost. Wolverine has lived his life trying to contain his berserker rage and working on being an honorable human being-he found Mr. X's amorality repulsive and would have ended the man given the chance. You just knew the next time these two met, things would not be pleasant. January 2010 marks the end of waiting for the unpleasantness to begin.
WOLVERINE: MR. X, a one-shot written by Mr. X creator Frank Tieri and drawn by Paco Diaz Luque, chronicles this rematch and reveals what Mr. X has been up to between his devastating loss to Wolverine in "Bloodsport" and his re-emergence in THUNDERBOLTS.
On the surface, these nemeses seem to have quite a bit in common: both men for whom violence comes almost second nature and who have used these skills to great effect over the course of their lives. However, as MR. X editor Jeanine Schaeffer tells it, the deeper you dig into the characters, the more complicated comparing them becomes.
"They may be similar in strength and in the ability to kill, but Mr. X, psychologically, is Wolverine's exact opposite," she points out. "While Wolverine was created to be the ultimate killing machine, Mr. X worked to transform himself into such."
Given the long hard road Mr. X traveled in order to rival Wolverine, his defeat at his role model's hands came as a shock to the system that he needed to overcome before he could move on. Facing off with Logan once more may be the next step in that process for him.
"Mr. X was introduced as this guy who couldn't be beaten, who couldn't be stopped, and who couldn't be matched-what we saw during 'Bloodsport' was that he was actually none of those things, especially as he relates to Wolverine," Schaeffer recalls. "You want to talk about pride, this is it! The best moment in a character's journey is when his fatal flaw trips him up, and it's cool to see him realizing it, too, and how he reacts to that.
"Mr. X is a very psychologically complex character, something which is incredibly hard to portray," the artist acknowledged. "If we then consider his traumatic past, his telepathic abilities and his deep knowledge of combat techniques, we'll end up with a character that not only represents Wolverine's perfect antagonist but also a stimulating challenge for any artist."
Meanwhile, another factor entirely drives Wolverine in this battle.
"Wolverine feels responsible for this guy, because not only has Mr. X basically modeled himself on Wolverine, but Wolverine was stopped from killing him the last time they met," Schaeffer reveals. "This is like tying up loose ends. Also, he probably just wants to beat the crap out of him out of total disgust that he even exists."
With such evenly matched combatants fueled by such personal motives, no one has a clear advantage. Schaeffer credits this ambiguity with fueling the story and giving readers a glimpse of a Wolverine that most are not familiar with:
"I really think the meat of this story is in the battle of wills, and it forces Wolverine to confront his instincts in a way he's not used to doing. I also like Wolverine when he's dealing with the responsibility he's saddled himself with, rather than the responsibility that comes with being an X-Man. Frank has really hit upon a side of Wolverine's story that we don't often get to see or explore: the mental will that it must take to be everyone's favorite Canuklehead that I think readers will be really pleased with what comes out of it."
Diaz also stresses that the story allows for these beats to be delivered not just through combat but also through the ever mounting pressure he portrays in his art.
"The tension between Wolverine and Mr. X grows after every scene. I'm definitely thrilled with this story and I hope we'll be able to transmit that energy and enthusiasm to the readers."
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