How the next big X-Men comic event will bring a reckoning for Wolverine
Marvel's mutants have had a good run lately. The 2019 event House of X/Powers of X established an independent mutant nation-state on the living island of Krakoa, and the comics it spawned have marked a new golden age for the X-Men and their allies.
After years of running and fighting as they try to carve out a place for themselves in a human culture that fears and hates them, the mutants have formed their own society. To a certain degree, they've been able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of their hard-won victories.
But that doesn't always sit right with the franchise's most famous character. Though Logan has been starring in his own solo Wolverine comic (written by Benjamin Percy with art by Adam Kubert and others) and playing a major role on the Krakoan black ops team in X-Force (also written by Percy with art by Joshua Cassara), he's also been trying to keep the island at arm's length. When EW talked with Percy for our recent feature about the new age of X-Men comics, he brought up Ursula K. Le Guin's classic short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" as a point of reference for Wolverine's mindset.
"Omelas is a bright-towered city by the sea. The pastures are rich and green, and there's always a parade moving through the streets," Percy says. "Halfway through that short story, there's a single sentence paragraph that says: 'Do you believe?' And you don't believe, not until she takes you to that basement beneath Omelas, where you see that child. The child has been imprisoned there, has to suffer and be starved, for all that paradise to exist. There's sacrifices that must occur, darkness that accompanies the other side of light."
He continues, "Wolverine is deep into it in X-Force, and there is going to come a point soon where a reckoning occurs. From the very beginning, setting out to write Wolverine and X-Force, I wanted Logan in particular to be somebody who was hardly all in on this great experiment."
That reckoning may now be on the horizon. EW previously reported that Inferno, the latest X-Men event comic launching later this month, will mark House of X/Powers of X writer Jonathan Hickman's departure from the X-line for the foreseeable future (though he also wrote a new digital-only comic for the relaunched Marvel Unlimited app). But after Inferno, the next big X-event will be The X Lives of Wolverine/The X Deaths of Wolverine.
Like House and Powers, it will consist of two intertwining series released weekly — one issue a week, possibly totaling 12 issues, though given the title it could also be 10. During its run, most (though not all) other X-Men comics will temporarily pause to give it the spotlight. Just as House and Powers were split between two artists — Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva, respectively — this double-faced maxi-series will feature art from both Cassara and Federico Vicentini.
Percy says his ambition for the series, which launches in January 2022, is to tell the greatest Wolverine story ever (no pressure!). That's no small feat for someone who has been writing about Wolverine for years, not just in comics but also in podcast form. EW caught up with Percy to get a few more teases about the upcoming event.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What advice did Jonathan give you about doing a weekly spotlight series like this?
BENJAMIN PERCY: The raw pitch for The X Lives of Wolverine/The X Deaths of Wolverine was present in the bible I handed in for Wolverine... two years ago now? So we've been stewing on this for a long time. You can even see — in the very first panel of the very first page of Wolverine #1 — me tipping my hat to this eventuality as Logan talks about his many broken lives.
I'm going to make a bold statement: I set out to write the greatest Wolverine story ever told. I'm not trying to belittle previous creators when I say that. The opposite. I'm trying to honor them. When we reveal the expansive scope — and legacy elements — of the project, you'll understand what I mean. We're creating a definitive platform that channels all the Wolverine stories that came before, while shredding our way into a wild future.
Hickman is a respectful leader who wants everyone in the X office to bring their unique visions and voices to life. In the case of The X Lives of Wolverine/The X Deaths of Wolverine, he was especially helpful in broadening the scope of my initial idea and recognizing ways for it to act as a kind of continuation of House of X/Powers of X.
During our last interview, you referenced Ursula K. Le Guin's story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" as a comparison point for Logan's ambivalence about Krakoa. Might we see some sort of reckoning between Logan and the new mutant status quo in this series?
Logan ain't drinking the Kool-Aid. He appreciates Krakoa — because it's given him a home, a nation, a family — but he's never been a follower. And, as a constant loner, he naturally chafes against all forms of team and community. He also recognizes that some of what Beast has been up to — as the chief intelligence officer of X-Force, the mutant CIA — is morally repugnant. You bet I've been setting up a reckoning.
This new series' parallels with House/Powers has me wondering about parallels between Wolverine and Moira, who was one of the central characters of that previous event. We saw Logan end more than one of Moira's lives. Though he seems unaware of Moira X's powers or identity in this reality, would you say Logan and Moira have a similar relationship to death?
They mirror one another as eternals. You can kill them, but they keep coming back. Time has a different sort of currency. The X Lives of Wolverine/The X Deaths of Wolverine continues the thread begun in House of X/Powers of X by concentrating on the long view of humanity, yes, but also of mutant-kind. And there's a seismic shift that follows.
During our interview, you were a big cheerleader for your X-Force collaborator Joshua Cassara, who will also be doing some of the art for this event. What are you excited for us to see from him?
Josh can draw the hell out of action and spectacle, but he also devastates you with the quiet, emotional moments. That's always true, but in this instance he's putting everything he has on the page. And I'm especially excited for you to see — without spoiling anything — the way he channeled different iterations of Wolverine through the years. I'm also thrilled to be teamed up with Federico Vicentini, whose art has a breathless, almost kinetic energy. You might want to pause and relish his style, but you can't, because his storytelling is so propulsive and cinematic.