The aftermath of ‘Killable’ leaves Wolverine out for ‘Payback’

(CBR) Marvel Comics‘ Wolverine has been making difficult choices for decades thanks to the longevity his mutant healing factor provides him. The mutant healing power that allows him to survive almost any injury has always made those choices a bit easier for him. What kind of choices would Wolverine make if he suddenly found himself robbed of his healing factor and targeted by some of his deadliest enemies? What would he do to survive?

Those questions are at the center of writer Paul Cornell and artist Alan Davis current arc of “Wolverine,” aptly title “Killable.” The arc come to a close in January, but the fallout from Wolverine’s choices in the story will be felt for months to come. Marvel is marking the occasion in February with a brand new volume of “Wolverine” by Cornell and incoming artist Ryan Stegman. CBR News spoke with Cornell and Stegman about their plans for the series featuring the best there is at what he does and the possibly fickle nature of his mortality.

CBR News: Paul, your “Killable” arc still has three more chapters to go and I know you’re wary of spoilers, but what can readers expect from these final three issues of the arc which also end the current volume of “Wolverine?” How do they set the stage for the new volume you’re launching in February? Cornell’s Wolverine is “Killable”

Paul Cornell: Readers who’ve been with us for the previous volume will see this new story as developing out of what happened there, we hope, but new readers will be absolutely able to treat this as a new title, with a new situation. In the last three issues of “Killable,” Logan takes Kitty Pryde into a terrible situation, and the end point of that changes everything. In “Payback,” the first four issues of the new run, we start with Logan working for a small time super villain as an enforcer, and keep flashing back to how, in the wake of “Killable,” all his relationships crumbled.

His new role is the format for the series. We explore what the life of a minor villain in the Marvel Universe is like, and the tough moral choices Logan has to make. He still feels, for example, that he won’t kill innocents, and that’s part of the new deal he’s made.

Ryan will be your artistic collaborator when this new volume of Wolverine” begins. What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?

Cornell: A tremendous sense of energy and vitality, with edgy, modern character designs and a lot of emotion. I’m trying to write differently to suit his style, so it’s a great adventure for me. I was delighted to hear he was onboard.

Ryan, you’re moving from the adventures of one of Marvel’s biggest characters, Spider-Man, to another one of their icons, Wolverine. How does that feel? What made Wolverine an appealing assignment for you?

Ryan Stegman: Wolverine’s rise to prominence seemed to really coincide with my youth. He was created in ’74 and I was born in ’81, so as he got his legs as a character I came into the world. Then I saw great artists like John Byrne, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and Frank Miller tackle him. And we also had the classic X-Men cartoon that pretty much every kid watched.

So essentially, I grew up with the character. I feel like it’s a rite of passage to get to draw him at Marvel. Some of my favorite comic book images ever feature him. It’s a little intimidating, but I’m excited.

What’s it like working with Paul? Which elements of his scripts do you especially enjoy as an artist?

Stegman: Well, I’ve been reading Paul’s work on “Wolverine” since issue one. And it’s really, really great. Throughout reading it I felt many times, “Oh man, I wish I could draw that scene” because Paul really puts some great stuff to draw in there.

Paul is also really great at character moments, and that’s my favorite part about doing single-character books. You need to nail the quiet moments and Paul does that.

You’ve drawn both Scarlet Spider and the Superior Spider-Man, both characters who have no problem dishing out extreme forms of punishment to those who get in their way. Wolverine shares their penchant for violence, but is obviously very different in lots of other ways. What can you tell us about the overall look of your “Wolverine” work? How do you want Logan’s adventures and world to look?

Stegman: I have felt that there’s been this move to make Wolverine look very heroic lately. Sometimes he’s not drawn short, and he’s handsome and he puffs out his chest, etc. When I draw Wolverine I immediately get into the mindset of making him more animalistic. I like him to be hunched over and short and stocky. I like him to be a little bit scary on top of being heroic. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s just how I feel about the character.

It will be interesting to see him react to threats differently in this series. Some times we’ll see him listening to his instincts and diving head first into a fight. Other times he’ll tackle threats from a distance.

Let’s move on to some of the connection between the current volume of “Wolverine” which comes to a close with the end of “Killable” and this new one. How much story time passes between the end of this volume and the beginning of the next? Where will Logan be physically and mentally when we begin?

Cornell: A few weeks have passed between the end of “Killable” and the “then” part of our first four issues, while the “now” sequences take place a few weeks later still. We wanted to show how Logan got from the singularity of pain and horror that happens at the end of “Killable” to a kind of denial to realizing he has to change everything in his life.

Ryan what’s your take on Wolverine when this volume begins? Which of his traits do you really want to capture and bring forward in your depictions of the character?

Stegman: I mentioned it before, but yeah, I don’t want him to be pretty like Hugh Jackman. He will be heroic, but the heroism won’t come from his posture or stature. He will be heroic because of his actions. But I’m going to let him be Wolverine. At times scary and animalistic.

What else can you tell us about the opening story of this new volume of Wolverine? In terms of plot and themes what is your first story about?

Cornell: It’s about showing how Logan initially tries to get back to normal life, but how he can’t. Apart from Storm, an alienated Kitty and the rest of Logan’s friends, there’s also a notable encounter with the Black Widow in issue one, and issue two revolves around a disastrous conversation between Logan and the Superior Spider-Man.

What adversaries will Wolverine face off with in the new volume? Will any of them be familiar to readers of “Killable” or are you dealing with a new batch of antagonists?

Cornell: A whole new bunch of antagonists, and a whole bunch of new allies in the form of Logan’s new gang soldier friends. But the presence of Sabretooth still looms over the series.

Moving forward, what kinds of tales do you want to tell in this new volume of “Wolverine?” Will Logan be able to go anywhere and allow you to tell a multitude of stories with a variety of tones or are you aiming for a more grounded and realistic feel?

Cornell: We’re going around the world, searching for something and exploring Logan’s new situation, with a grounded, thriller vibe.

Stegman: I can’t wait for people to get their hands on this book! I’m pushing myself to (hopefully) new heights with this stuff. It’s very important for me to come out throwing haymakers with issue one and throughout my entire run.

Cornell: Wolverine carries guns now, and wears armor. This is all a bit different.

The next volume of “Wolverine” by Cornell and Stegman begins in February 2014.