By Ben Morse
He’s also a guy who enjoys a cold one, good conversation and closing down the bar.
|Wolverine #1 cover by Alan Davis|
Beginning this March, writer Paul Cornell makes his return to Marvel and looks to reconcile the many sides of the man called Logan in the new WOLVERINE ongoing series. Giving a visual dimension to Wolvie’s adventures will be no less than legendary artist Alan Davis, a veteran of UNCANNY X-MEN several times over who knows the ol’ Canucklehead well.
We welcomed Paul back to the House of Ideas by grilling him on his plans for Marvel’s most dangerous mutant.
Marvel.com: How did you personally come to this project?
Paul Cornell: I met with Nick Lowe and Axel Alonso at the San Diego Comic Con, and we talked about the sort of thing I'd like to do for Marvel. I said I wanted something central, big time, meaningful, and goodness, they certainly delivered!
Marvel.com: What is the mission statement of this WOLVERINE series?
Paul Cornell: This is the series that gets into what makes James Logan tick, that shows him being, as he puts it, “a regular guy,” interacting with civilian friends of his in New York City. The most amazing thing about James is that he's been alive so long, gone through so many extraordinary things, is such a strange being, but holds on—very hard—to being a guy who likes to hang out in bars with good company, who can run a school, who's a decent, civilized man. Most of the time. No vampire alienation and boredom for him. He's a man of the people. I'm going to poke that and see what happens.
|Sabretooth vs. Wolverine by Alan Davis|
Marvel.com: Is Logan a character you have a history of affection for?
Paul Cornell: He was huge for me in school, one of two characters—the other being Rogue—that I thoroughly identified with, that got me through some tough times. I remember with vivid detail picking up my first American Marvel comic in years—I'd seen a few when I was very young—in the newsagent, and being amazed at the spread where a super hero with claws was leaping at Sauron. I became a fan of that comic and that character literally on the spot.
Marvel.com: With a character like Wolverine, who has had so many stories told with him across so many genres, how will you carve out your own memorable contribution to the canon?
Paul Cornell: By looking hard at who he is, dealing with him in the here and now, exploring that voice I'm so fond of. Why does he call people “bub?” That's now a tic that's peculiar, that says something. I've been a Dad for four weeks now, and it occurs to me that James is the super hero I would be most comfortable in handing my child to. You know he's going to take care of him, you know he'd be willing to just about die to do it, that while he's got him, nothing is going to hurt that child. That's what we're going to get into: James the determined, bastard hard defender of innocents. I'm an enormous fan of Chris Claremont. I think his contribution to comics is just gigantic, that these days he's enormously undervalued, to a degree that just staggers me. I'll be drawing on the love of this character I felt from my childhood, and that means drawing on my own inner Claremont.
|Wolverine by Alan Davis|
Marvel.com: What's it like working with Alan Davis and how much of your direction are you tailoring to knowing what you've got at your disposal artistically?
Paul Cornell: It's a great joy to actually be working with someone who connects me to the mother lode of that character, who was there for the stuff that influenced me. Having him onboard means I'm going for action, action, action, because I know it'll look great. And it means I can frame certain character moments very simply, because I know he can do the acting too. I'm also very much enjoying working with editor Jeanine Schaefer. She brings a lot of her own storytelling sense to the project.
Marvel.com: As Alan is experienced as a writer in addition to his art, how does that contribute to your process?
Paul Cornell: He's said he just wants to draw, but already he's given some really useful suggestions, changed our course in a major way with one of them. I'm looking forward to listening to that sense of what works and paying attention.
Marvel.com: What is the first arc of the series about?
Paul Cornell: James is involved in a hostage situation in the heart of New York, which spirals into an action-movie chase with him pursuing...he has no idea, and neither do we. It's something absolutely disciplined, ruthless, and absolutely unconcerned with harming innocents. James has to do something not very nice in front of one such innocent. He's damned if he's going to let it happen again.
Marvel.com: What type of threats will Logan be going up against?
Paul Cornell: New villain, the scope of which will grow and grow.
|Wolverine and the X-Men by Alan Davis|
Marvel.com: Logan has connections to a huge extended supporting cast not to mention most heroes in the Marvel Universe; will you be bringing those ties to bear? Will you be adding to the cast?
Paul Cornell: I'll be touching on those relationships very lightly, but there will be some. I'm going to introduce the audience to the people James knows in NYC, the cops and the bar owners and the specialists in his business that he naturally gravitates to. There's one particular bar where he hangs out that's a kind of “cop joint” for those with a professional interest in the super hero community. I'm aiming to make this a big budget action series with a touch of “Person of Interest” to it, one that's largely set in New York.
Marvel.com: For all his roles in the world—friend, lover, teammate, teacher, father—Logan still seems in many ways cut off from humanity; is this a theme you'll be exploring?
Paul Cornell: I'll be exploring why he's not. He's one of the few super heroes who one could have a drink with. And he really should be a lot weirder. So there's something going on there. I'll also be examining the consequences of some recent decisions he's made, but that would only be obvious for those who've been following the character lately. You can start with this first issue, not knowing anything, and absolutely know who he is, and what he does. It's kind of a continuity-free first issue, from which we'll gradually move to bring in wider aspects of the universe.
Marvel.com: How much will the X-Men, Avengers and
|Wolverine by Alan Davis|
Paul Cornell: Only slight plans so far. I want to make this the central title for James, the one with his name on it, and so people have to come here for the character and the story, not for the crossovers.
Marvel.com: Where does Wolverine, both the character and the series, fit in the big picture of Marvel NOW! in your opinion?
Paul Cornell: I want it, and him, to be central. I want other titles reacting to what happens here. It's an accident of history that WOLVERINE as a title has often been following what happens in other books, rather than originating the direction of the character because the title started so late. A new number one gives us the chance to change James' standing a little, to make him as obvious a lead as Batman is, not just the eternal supporting character.
And could I just say how excited I am to be back at Marvel? My X-Men love gets a chance to express itself!
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