Exclusive: ‘Wolverine’ writer Paul Cornell on the now mortal mutant in ‘Killable’ arc

(CBR) When a villain plans to take over the Marvel Universe, they want to make sure its greatest heroes don’t stand in the way. That’s what a sentient extra-dimensional virus thought it was doing in recent issues of “Wolverine,” using an alien weapon to rob Logan of his mutant healing factor. However, Wolverine isn’t about to let a little thing like being vulnerable stop him from doing what he does best. So in “Wolverine” #8 writer Paul Cornell and artist Alan Davis kick of a new arc titled “Killable,” which finds Wolverine hot on the virus’ trail. What happens though when word of Wolverine’s condition leaks to the Marvel U’s super villain community? For the answer to that question and more, CBR News spoke with Cornell about the arc. Plus, exclusive art!

CBR News: Paul, while Wolverine may have defeated the outbreak in New York and on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, it appeared in issue #7 the threat of the Microverse virus is far from over. Will they continue be a threat and presence in the book moving into “Killabale?”

Paul Cornell: They will indeed. The virus is in the background throughout “Killable” and twists its way into the finale.

Wolverine’s battle with the virus led to him being exposed to a weapon that robbed him of his healing factor — is his adamantium a liability now as well? In issue #7, Beast synthesized a drug to counteract the effects of adamantium poisoning, but what happens if Wolverine is put in a situation where he’s unable to take that drug?

Our hero is going to have to keep taking the drugs, for, potentially, the rest of his life. The consequences of not doing so would be terrible.

In issue #7, Nick Fury mentions another bit of protection Logan has in any upcoming scrapes with the virus — an anti-virus field developed by his friend Victoria Frankenstein who is one of a group of regulars at the Guernica Bar you introduced in issue #3. This group includes an interesting and eclectic cast of supporting characters, so what inspired their creation and do they play a significant role in upcoming issues? Also, is Marcus H. Harold related to the old “Tomb of Dracula” character Harold H. Harold?

Well, he certainly looks like him, doesn’t he? They’ll continue to be Wolverine’s supporting cast for the duration, although he and Kitty Pryde are about to set off on a rather terrifying road trip away from New York. I wanted a non-powered supporting cast who are nevertheless intimately involved with the business of superheroes. I’ve always wanted to write about such people, and their street level nature fits Wolverine.

“Killable” begins with issue #8 where Wolverine is assisted by Storm as they travel to Wakanda investigating a conspiracy involving the Virus. Setting foot in Wakanda means a likely encounter with Black Panther, Storm’s now ex-husband. How would you describe the current dynamic between Storm, T’Challa and Wolverine?

I’d say incredibly delicate, given how T’Challa reacted to the idea of Storm getting close to Logan. This encounter would indeed be dangerous even without the possibility that the Panther’s been taken over by the virus. That’s absolutely what this issue revolves around.

The solicits for issues #9 and #10 suggest the action in “Killable” is going to take some interesting turns involving mercenaries and Wolverine’s past. What can you tell us about the plot of these issues?

Everyone in the supervillain community has heard Logan can now be killed, and someone’s put a bounty on his head. As a result, various new and old adversaries — and some who’re just after the money — are going to have a go at Wolverine. This leads to the showdown of all showdowns.

Those solicits also suggest Kitty Pryde plays a significant role in the story. What made you want to bring Kitty into play, and how has Logan being made “Killable” affected her?

I’ve always loved Kitty and wanted to underline the mentor/student role Wolverine has had in her life. So now she’ll try and take care of him as they go into the valley of the shadow of death together. She’s desperately worried for him, doesn’t want him to take stupid risks. But something under the surface is driving him.

The upcoming adversaries in “Wolverine” include Batroc the Leaper — what do you find most interesting about Batroc, and what made you want to pit him against a healing factor-less Wolverine?

What I like about Batroc is he should be a pushover for Wolverine, but in Logan’s current state, that might not be the case anymore. I also like that these days he has a reputation as a silly character, which might make us underestimate him even more. Making him into a credible threat and giving him new forcefulness is a nice challenge.

Alan Davis is back on art duties with this arc. What can readers expect from his work on “Killable?”

Sheer, sheer glory. The character work and the big action at the same time — it all leads to a sort of singularity which I can’t describe here and can’t wait to see him draw.

Is it true Wolverine’s difficulties in dealing with the loss of his healing factor aren’t limited to your story? Do other X-Men writers deal with this thread in their titles, and if so, does this have an impact on the story you’re telling in “Wolverine?”

Absolutely. Wolverine lost the healing factor in issue #6, but the big change in his life doesn’t happen until the end of #13. The Watcher appears one more time. This is big stuff, changing the shape of the Marvel Universe. I’ve loved the response to “Wolverine” #7. I think that’s where readers started to really get onboard with what I’m doing — Nineteenth Century Logan dialogue and all. We now have a healthy letters page, with some well thought out criticism as well as the positive stuff. I like that readers seem to enjoy the idea of us doing big, passionate emotion in this comic — the relationship stuff that’s at the heart of the X-Men titles. We want to make you care about Wolverine… while we hurt him horribly.

“Wolverine” #8 by Paul Cornell & Alan Davis goes on sale August 14 from Marvel Comic