Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Well, we’re four weeks into Marvel’s X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine epic, so there’s no better time to check in with its writer and real-life Logan, Benjamin Percy! Despite jetting around the country last week, jumping from one comic shop signing to another (possibly with an assist from Charles Xavier and Jean Grey), Ben still made the time to answer these questions. Thanks, bub!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Ben! You’ve mentioned the raw ideas at the center of X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine were in your original Wolverine bible. But I’m curious what steps you took when the time came to finally put this time-shredding epic together. Re-reading classic Wolverine stories? Mapping Logan’s lengthy timeline? Spreadsheets? Basically, how did you keep everything straight?
Ben: An abbreviated version of the X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine pitch was included in my original bible for the Wolverine series. And you can see, in the very first page of Wolverine #1, the narration tees up the eventuality of the event. Logan is talking the names he has assumed over time, the places he has called home, the scramble of allegiances and the enemies, and how time is slippery and his brain is bruised black from the century-plus of living from the mind-wipes and mind-plants.
X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine leans into this by taking us on a journey through time to explore what I guess you could call the greatest Wolverine stories never told. How did I prep for this? I mean, there’s the accidental research of growing up as a nerd who religiously read Wolverine, so I already have a pretty big stockpile of comics in my brain. But yes, I also did some intentional research, pulling old volumes off the shelf.
And then there were the conversations I had with Josh Cassara during which I asked him: what time periods and locations do you want to draw?
AIPT: Since you mentioned him, getting to see Joshua Cassara flex his creative muscles in X Lives of Wolverine #1 and #2 has been a real treat. How has your creative process with Josh evolved since X-Force #1? Do you approach scripting any differently?
Ben: Josh has been a badass since day one, but I think everyone will agree that he’s operating on another level entirely in this event. My inbox was on fire for six months, as he handed in these extraordinary pages.
He anchors the historical moments with authenticating details. He projects so much complicated emotion through the “acting” of the characters. And he stages the relentless action in such a way that you can’t turn a page without saying, “Holy shit.” We talk a lot, nearly every day, and I’m always asking what ideas he has, what he wants to draw. When the X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine story was just a glimmer in my eye, I pitched it to him and immediately began riffing on various ideas.
AIPT: This week’s first X-Fan question comes from Ashley, who said Wolverine has always had a very “Americana” persona — one that doesn’t often reflect his Canadian origins, his centuries of life and travel, and his time living in other places. What are your thoughts on this? Is this a result of his inability to remember his life as a whole?
Ben: Well, as a Minnesotan, I practically live in Canada. The frozen north is a place of extreme temperatures and enormous weather that tests you and makes you feel more alive. To me, that’s an essential quality in Logan, as is his want to get away from the rest of the world, isolate himself in lonely territories — because his company is best suited for the woods, yes, but also because he knows the harm he’s caused others. That shame and regret — along with the want for atonement — is one of his defining characteristics.
AIPT: In X Lives of Wolverine #1, Logan admits that maybe nobody’s ever loved him better than Jean Grey. Having written several notable Logan-Jean interactions in the Krakoan era, what makes their relationship special to you?
Ben: Wolverine has a history of being used. The mind wipes made him a weapon wielded by larger forces. Jean knows a version of this herself, as a result of her time with the Phoenix. What it means to be possessed by another and what it means to deal out death on an unimaginable scale. This shared wound is an important bond.
They’re of course not perfect for each other — they have a lot of conflicting personality traits — but they understand one another and feel safe with one another because they’ve loved one another so long.
And since Logan can’t know himself fully — or articulate himself perfectly — it’s comforting to be with someone (like a telepath) who can recognize all the ugliness he carries inside him and still wants to keep him close.
AIPT: X-Fan Stephen pointed out that Laura, Gabby and Akihiro are set to appear in X Deaths of Wolverine #3 and was curious to learn your approach to writing these three characters. How does it differ from your approach to writing Logan?
Ben: Indeed, a Wolverine family team-up is on the horizon. And hopefully, it will be as meaningful as it is fun and kinetic to have them all hacking and slashing and bickering together. Wolverine is not exactly the greatest dad in world history. His relationship with the others is fraught. But that tension is what makes the dynamic between them so interesting. They all have distinctive personalities that I’ve tried to highlight — and they’re all drawn into this mission for different reasons (some of which aren’t altruistic; I’m looking at you, Daken).
AIPT: X Lives of Wolverine #1 featured the Five’s complaint about X-Force’s Omega Red resurrection request — and Beast’s very blunt reply. Does Hank have any friends left on Krakoa?
Ben: Hank might have villainous qualities, but he also has a code. He believes in utilitarianism. The greatest good for the greatest number of mutants — no matter the cost. He’s willing to kill and scheme for Krakoa. And he’s eager to condescend to others because in his mind, he is absolutely in the right. The only real friend he has is Brand.
AIPT: Good to hear it’s someone he can really trust. X-Fan John said that Inferno revealed there are X-Force recon agents (like Tommy) and multiple failed attacks on the Orchis Forge. John was curious if you’ll follow up on these plot points in your work?
Ben: You betcha.
AIPT: X-Force returns this April with #27. While details about what comes neXt are obviously classified, where should X-Fans look for more developments in Colossus’ ongoing storyline involving Mikhail and the Chronicler?
Ben: Russia is front and center in X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine. Without giving too much away, I like to cycle in and out of stories. We’ve got lots and lots of plans for Colossus and the Chronicler, but some other troubles might come swinging into view first.
AIPT: When Wolverine returns this April with #20, Deadpool’s coming along for the ride. What do you love about writing the Logan-Wade dynamic?
Ben: Sonny and Cher. Kirk and Spock. Felix and Oscar. Everybody loves an odd couple. Logan and Wade. The grump and the goof. It was so much fun to write them into the same adventure. Especially after the grim chaos of X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine, I enjoyed the tonal variation of this story arc and the way we’re blending humor and pathos. Adam Kubert makes his triumphant return to the mainline with some of the most dynamic layouts I’ve ever seen him compose. He’s so good about the violent ballet of the action sequences, as well all know, but he draws a GREAT Deadpool and knows how to make Wade hilarious and badass in his body language and staging.
AIPT: Can’t wait! Finally, if Ben Percy were to have his own time-shredding adventure, hopping from one past Ben moment to another, what would Ben’s mission be?
Ben: I was kind of a dipshit trouble-maker in middle school, so I’d probably start by going back in time and kicking my own ass.
AIPT: I respect that. Protect the present to save the future, Ben! But on that note, thanks again for taking the time to chat X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine and what comes neXt! And speaking of the future, here’s an eXclusive sneak peek courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
X-Fans, because we here at X-Men Monday at AIPT love you all so much, we’ve got a special treat coming your way neXt Monday, which just so happens to be Valentine’s Day! Awww. To help get you in the mood, here are some past romantic editions of X-Men Monday.
- X-Men Monday #11 – X-Couples With Jordan D. White
- X-Men Monday #47 – Rogue and Gambit With Tini Howard and Kelly Thompson
- X-Men Monday #95 – Cyclops and Jean Grey With Jordan D. White
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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