Warning - spoilers in here, so if you haven't read the end of my Death of Wolverine series (or any of it, for that matter), I would avoid this post, unless you don't mind being spoiled. 3
And there we go. It's out - Logan's gone, kaput, see ya. Reaction so far has been generally very positive to the whole story, which I think is due in large part to Steve, Justin, Jay and Chris, who made the thing look as good as it did. The story's only about 90 pages long, and each chapter is really its own little mini-story, so a lot of ground had to be covered very quickly. The goal was to make each issue evocative of a particular part of Logan's life, and pay homage to some of the great stories from his past that I've loved. For those curious, here are the specific influences for each issue, as well as a few thoughts about the decisions I made in them:
1. ORIGIN - although there were a bunch of other Logan-in-Canada stories that played a role too. The other theme was Logan the eternal warrior - he's fought in just about every war he could reach since he was young. That's part of why I included Nuke, the lost super-patriot, as a villain. I thought he was such a great dark reflection of what Logan could become - or could have become. In fact, I originally included a scene set at the famous Battle of the Choisin Reservoir in the Korean War, which would have been a callback to Logan's long history as a soldier in numerous wars, but ended up cutting it for space. It's a nice scene, though, which develops some of the overall themes of the book (Logan is not and never was just a killer) - maybe it will show up somewhere in a super-director's-cut version.
2. CLAREMONT's MADRIPOOR STORIES - Chris Claremont did some amazing things with reinventing Logan during his storied run on the character. The Japan stuff is the best-known, but he also set up the "Patch" persona, who was a tuxedo-wearing, bar-owning one-eyed (not really) fellow who was half James Bond half Humphrey Bogart. The version of Logan we see in this issue isn't really that close to Patch, but it's in the vein. Sabretooth claws out Logan's eye in this story - another intended homage to good old Patch. Mostly, I just like Madripoor as a location. Super evocative - like an evil Singapore. I love it. I wrote the script to this and #3 over the course of a single week early in the summer. I sequestered myself in a hotel and just banged them out in about four days.
3. KITTY PRYDE & WOLVERINE - More Claremont! This story introduced Kitty Pryde's "Shadowcat," identity, on sort of a weird adventure to Japan, and introduced one of my all-time favorite villains, the body-hopping demon ninja Ogun. It turned out he hadn't been used in a while, which meant I got to pick him up and re-establish him, which was a real treat. Ogun will be a big part of my post-DoW plans, especially in DoW: Weapon X Project and the upcoming weekly Wolverines series. He was actually Logan's original martial arts instructor - he taught him his ninja skills. And that look! I thought Steve did amazing work here. The suit with the red demon mask on top... just awesome. Get me an Ogun action figure!
4. WEAPON X - Barry Windsor-Smith wrote and drew an incredible miniseries in 1991 that told the story of how Logan got his adamantium skeleton and claws. It's an extremely dark, very psychological adventure, almost more of a horror story than a typical superhero comic. I loved it when I read it for the first time, and loved it just as much when I reread it as part of my research for this project. There's just nothing else like it. The script for this issue originally included a scene with Logan making his rebar claws we see him using in the early fights, but again, maybe that's for the director's cut. I could easily have done a 150-page version of this story fleshing out some of the stuff we see, but I had four issues, so the idea was to make sure the emotional beats were there. I think that when you have four twenty-page (or so) issues, you have to use a bunch of shorthand to make stories that work both in and of themselves as well as a larger whole. It's complicated - you almost never have as much space as you'd like, which forces you to be creative in some of the storytelling. I dig it, though.
And the ending! I think it's all there on the page, so I won't get into specifics about the story, but I considered a LOT of different beats for this story, and particularly the end. A completely different version of the story was set all in one location, sort of like one of the Clint Eastwood Man With No Name films. Logan would have rolled in, met some people under the thumb of local bad guys... that kind of thing. Closer in tone in some ways to the great Brian K. Vaughan Logan mini. Ultimately, I stepped away from that because it didn't seem grand enough. It would maybe have been the sort of Wolverine story we'd seen before, with the main difference being that this time he wouldn't make it out.
What I will say about the way this story ends is that I didn't necessarily want it to be on a "stage," if you know what I mean. Logan doesn't die saving the world (in one sense he sort of does, as Cornelius was intending to screw over the planet, given enough time, but it's not the typical doomsday device thing...) He dies saving three people. No one knows he did that - probably not even the people he saved. That doesn't matter. We know what Logan did in his life (we've read the stories), and so does he (because he "lived" them). He has absolutely nothing to prove - to himself, or to us as readers. He's realizing this at the same time we are. This time, as his writer, I didn't want to save the world in the traditional, seen it before way. Instead (and this will sound grandiose, I know), I wanted to save Logan's "soul" - preserve it, almost. We saw him at his very best at the very end - that's the story I wanted to write.
I hope you enjoyed the ride.