Rising Star Cullen Bunn Takes over Wolverine


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Fresh off an Eisner nomination for his creator-owned supernatural western The Sixth Gun, Cullen Bunn takes aim at Marvel’s most visible badass.

It could be argued that Wolverine is the last of a dying breed. Never mind Decimation or the Weapon Plus program, if we set aside content, Old Man Logan (as I like to think of him nowadays) is arguably the last mainstream comic book character published by either of the Big Two in thirty years capable of sustaining an ongoing series.

If we dismiss creator-owned properties such as Hellboy, Invincible, Spawn, and The Savage Dragon, mainstream superhero comics haven’t been a creative wellspring for the medium since the mid-Eighties. Oh sure, there have been numerous popular and critically acclaimed works published by both Marvel and DC in that time but the only original sustainable characters created during this period that come to mind are Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and James Robinson’s Starman, both of which can only be considered marginally mainstream, at best.

What is it then about the current state of the medium – or more properly in this case – the industry, that discourages the emergence of a new creative touchstone? And what is it about Wolverine that gives him such staying power in the minds of fans and creators alike?

Taking over the reins of everyone’s favorite Canucklehead in this week’s Wolverine #305, rising star creator Cullen Bunn believes it’s Logan’s rich history and relentless drive to do whatever it takes to win the day that keeps fans coming back for more.

“Everyone loves a bad-ass who is willing to do whatever it takes for the right reasons. Wolverine’s a scrapper, willing to fight through physical and emotional pain to get the job done. I think that appeals to people. Also, there are countless stories to be told featuring Wolverine. The variety of tales to be told means there’s something there that will appeal to a broad audience.

“I know, a lot of people say Wolverine is played out, but I think they have an inaccurate preconception about who the character is and what kind of stories have (and will) be told featuring him.”

Bunn makes a valid point about Wolverine’s appeal and current fan perception of a character that in many ways has degenerated into a roster-filler and guest star for virtually every book Marvel’s produced since his popularity exploded in the nineties. It’s been a well-known, if cynical, fact of publishing at the House of Ideas, that if you want a book to sell, find a reason to slap good ol’ Wolvie on the cover. Even today, it’s hard to keep track of how many books per month Wolverine appears in.

Couple that with one of the most convoluted and amended back stories in the history of the medium and Bunn’s surely got his work cut out for him. The challenge is to contribute to the character’s richness without muddying waters already a-swirl with false memories, multiple deaths, and a handful of alternate realities. According to Bunn, the task of navigating such a labyrinthine history and developing a story hardcore fans could appreciate, was a little intimidating.

“It can be a little daunting, especially following Jason Aaron’s run on the book. One of the things I like about writing Wolverine, though, is that there are so many story threads to draw upon. My goal is to balance that by writing some stories that draw upon the character’s history and some that blaze new trails.”

Bunn wasn’t left totally unprepared for the spotlight, though. Having just cut his teeth with various well-received contributions to Marvel’s Fear Itself event, Bunn quickly learned how to deal with the pressure that comes with high fan expectations. He maintains Wolverine is a whole different ball game, though.

“My Fear Itself books let me get my feet wet dealing with characters who have these detailed histories and these dedicated fan bases. In the end, though, I think this run on Wolverine will be unlike anything I’ve done before.”

Although understandably reserved about specific plot points, Bunn’s enthusiasm for his newest gig is infectious. With nothing but “bad” intentions for Logan, Bunn promises his first arc will be as fun as it is twisted and violent.

“I don’t want to spoil too much. My first arc deals with the return of Dr. Rot, a villain from Jason Aaron’s Weapon X run. He comes for Wolverine with a vengeance, and he really tests Wolverine in every way. This is a violent, twisted arc—but it’s actually fun, too! I can tell you this—Wolverine’s world will be different when Dr. Rot is done with him.”

For Bunn, it seems like everything is going according to plan, then. Maintaining a healthy presence in the creator-owned arena through The Sixth Gun, The Damned, and a slew of new projects on the horizon, it seems the secret to his success is staying busy and remembering where he came from. If anyone deserves to have his cake and eat it too, it’s the hard-working Bunn, whose output during Fear Itself alone, puts to shame some of his more well-known and experienced peers.

“My goal has always been to work on my own creator-owned books AND work on some of the existing comic book characters that I love. I have several other creator-owned projects that are nearing the point of being announced. I’m pretty excited about each of them.

“I’m equally excited about the books I’m doing for Marvel, though. My fondest desire is that people who read my Marvel books will check out The Sixth Gun or one of my other creator-owned books.”

Wolverine #305, Cullen Bunn (W), Paul Pelletier (A). Marvel Comics, ongoing series, $3.99. Released on April 25, 2012.

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