Benjamin Percy Explores the X LIVES and X DEATHS OF WOLVERINE

Back in 2019, Marvel’s X-Men family of titles entered a new era, one radically different from anything that had come before. House of X and Powers of X found the mutant community relocating to the living island of Krakoa, forging an X-Nation. And everything changed. Now, with the currently running series Inferno, things are about to change again. And feeling the full brunt of that change is none other than Wolverine.

The next stage in this new era begins with X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine, two concurrently running mini-series which promise to shake up the mutant status quo once more. Particularly, that of Logan’s. X-Force and Wolverine writer Benjamin Percy writes the two series, and we got the chance to chat with him about the most epic story yet about the man who’s “the best he is at what he does.” And in case you forgot, what he does ain’t pretty.

The cover for X Lives of Wolverine #1 by Adam Kubert.
Marvel Comics

Nerdist: You’ve written Wolverine for a while now, first in Marvel’s scripted podcasts, then in X-Force, and then in his most recent solo book. But this is a whole different ball of wax. You’ve said that with this series, you’re setting out to write “the greatest Wolverine story ever told.” Without giving anything big away, what makes this story the greatest Wolverine story?

Benjamin Percy: Logan’s brain has always been broken. He has been unable to properly patch together everyone he has loved and killed, every decade he has endured, every army and team he has been a part of, every organization that has used him, every bottle of whiskey drank and claw popped and mouth mashed against his in a savage kiss. It’s the mind wipes, it’s the memory implants, it’s the expanse of time, the century-plus of living and fighting that has taken a toll on him.

He’s never known, and so we’ve never known, what was real or not. Now we make it real. Now we make the old known but new. Here are all the hidden lives, but revisited from the vantage of Krakoa. There is a reason I prefer analog clocks. Because I can see the possibility of all time at once. Time is sideways and forwards and backward and upside down. And that is, in essence, what this event will do for Logan. We are getting all the Wolverines. Got that, bub?

Wolverine poders his storied past in the X Lives of Wolverine #1.
Marvel Comics

Jonathan Hickman introduced the current Krakoan era of X-Men with two interlocking series House of X and Powers of X. Now, the second Krakoan era begins with these two interlocking series you’re writing. What’s it like having the keys to kick-starting this new phase? Especially since readers seem to love this take on the mutants?

X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine is certainly told in the same spirit and design of House of X/Powers of X, in that the 10-issue weekly event will offer up a mind-flaying tour through time (and dimensions) as we track the greatest Wolverine stories never told and come to understand how a mission a thousand years in the making might save mutantkind (and humankind) from… oh, wait. I can’t tell you that part, because: spoilers.

But as you already mentioned, there is a baton pass from HOX/POX. But you should also note there is a baton pass from Inferno. So this big bad hairy event is indeed the next seismic shift of the Krakoan era. What’s it feel like? It feels f***ing great. I’m having the time of my life. Wolverine is my favorite character, and I’m somehow the custodian of him, and you bet your ass I’m putting all my piss and blood and whiskey into this—the biggest, wildest story I’ve ever told in comics.

Logan thinks back on his violent history in the X Lives of Wolverine.
Marvel Comics

You’ve written members of Logan’s family before. But it looks like this time, everyone is going to be together. Daken, Laura, etc. Now, with some of these characters, their interactions with each other have been sort of limited. What’s your take on the concept of the “Wolverine family” for these two series?

It’s something I’ve been building toward from the beginning. Wolverine might not have drunk the Kool-Aid, but he likes the idea of Krakoa. Because it’s a nation he can finally call his own, a place where mutants can seek refuge, and a patch of real estate where he’s surrounded by his family (biological and chosen).

This combo platter offers the promise of—no other word for it—happiness. Is he capable of it? Does he feel he deserves it? Probably not. And a lot of complicated questions rise up when it comes to his relationship with Laura, Daken, Scout. He’s a problematic “father” for sure, but a moment of crisis can clarify feelings and some of the family scenes in this event will maybe break some hearts.

The official announcement for this series seems to suggest time travel, in some form. Some of the greatest X-Men stories have involved time travel. Were any of those an influence on these series? Or is this a totally different kind of time travel story than say, Days of Future Past?

Cover art for The X Deaths of Wolverine #1.
Marvel Comics

This is a story that channels Wolverine’s legacy from start to finish. But with that said, it’s very much its own thing. I don’t do karaoke. In other words, I am tipping my hat to Days of Future Past, yes, but the X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine is its own signature narrative. I’ve got a thing for time travel stories (and stories that play with time). The Time Machine. The Terminator franchise. Back to the Future. Looper. Cloud Atlas. Endgame. I’ve always wanted to take on the genre—and we went all out. The clocks and the compasses are spinning wildly. Be ready for a blood-soaked, mayhem-packed, kaleidoscopic journey through time and space.

Logan once constantly talked about how he’s not a team player, and a wild card. Flash forward thirty years, and he’s the headmaster of the school for a time. Do you feel Logan has left his loose-cannon status behind, or will it always rear its ugly head?

He’s always evolving of course. But fundamentally he knows his company is best suited for the woods. Despite the fact that he’s always getting dragged into trouble that demands he join forces with others. He’s not a team player. He’s a reluctant hero. And that adversity—the lone wolf who’s forced to work with the pack—makes for compelling storytelling.

Wolverine and Jean Grey on the island of Krakoa in The X Deaths of Wolverine.
Marvel Comics

We’ve seen a metric ton of Wolverine’s past in so many stories. Logan in World War II, the Old West, etc. Is there a particular era that we the readers still know nothing about, that you’re dying to tell? And are we going to see it in these two series?

You’ll see World War II, and you’ll see the Old West, yes. But I’m especially excited about returning to a certain lab and learning about what happened before… oh, wait, we’re getting into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, Joshua Cassara is going to make your jaw drop with his art throughout, but particularly in that moment.

You’re working with two different artists for these companion series, Joshua Cassara and Federico Vicentini. What’s it been like working with them, and what do you feel they each add to their respective series that’s unique?

They’re both badasses. I’ve obviously been working with Josh for several years, and we’ve become close pals. I email and text with him pretty much constantly, and we’ve been brainstorming ideas long enough that we’ve achieved a kind of mind-meld. So he’s heard me out and given me feedback and made suggestions when X Lives was nothing more than a gleam in my eye.

It’s been great and meaningful to collaborate on what is the biggest thing either of us has done in comics. He’s a perfectionist who labors over every panel, and it shows. The backgrounds are exquisitely detailed. The acting is Oscar-worthy. And the storytelling is dynamic and expertly cinematic.

Using Cerebro, Wolverine's past exploses in his head.
Marvel Comics

This is the first time I’ve worked with Federico, but damn, he’s been so much fun to get to know through his art and over email. He is pure kinetic energy. The panels are breathlessly paced. He won’t let your eyes rest. X Deaths of Wolverine is relentless in its action, and I can’t imagine anyone else capturing that better. He has a vivid manga style that is all his own. I think—no, I know—his work on this event is going to turn heads.

 Final, silly question: Are you a yellow spandex guy, or do you prefer Logan in the brown and tan?

Everybody has a right to their favorites, and even though the yellow spandex looks cool, I never understood it. Logan’s not a flashy guy. And—just from a practical point of view—that neon palette makes it hard to sneak up on baddies. Brown and tan are earth colors, which not only allow him to blend better with wild places, but match a personality best suited for the piney escape of the north.

X Lives of Wolverine #1, by Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara, goes on sale on January 5, 2022. X Deaths of Wolverine, by Benjamin Percy and Federico Vicentini, goes on sale January 12, 2022.

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