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Berserker Brawl

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Superman? Check. Spider-Man? Check. Batman? Check. Daredevil? Check. Hulk? Check. During his career, and this millennium especially, super-scribe Jeph Loeb has worked on virtually all of the top characters in comics, rolling out blockbuster after blockbuster with superstar artists. The one hot shot not on list, but arguably more popular than any of the above is Wolverine.

Check Wolverine too, as Loeb starts a sure-fire landmark run on the title with Simone Bianchi come January’s issue #50. While Bianchi is not yet considered to be in the same class as Loeb’s other cohorts like Michael Turner, Tim Sale or Jim Lee, his star will be part of the comics walk of fame soon enough—the last time a remarkable stint on Wolverine hurt anyone’s career was in early summer of 1982, a few weeks before one Chris Claremont and one Frank Miller launched the first Wolverine mini series. You get the point…

With Loeb gearing up for a showdown for the ages between age-old foes Logan and Sabretooth, BF picked his thoughts on what he’s got in store for Marvel’s loveable dirtbag.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of interpretations of Logan, ranging from the ‘warrior in Japan’ to the ‘Weapon X’ subject and the ‘feral outcast’, just to name a few. What kind of angle are you aiming for?

JEPH LOEB: Some of a lot of that.  What I like most about Logan is that he’s damaged. Like Batman, he keeps it all inside. Unlike Batman, he gets to go berserker.  I like that!

BF: Taking into consideration the writers whose runs have graced the current volume of Wolverine (Greg Rucka, Mark Millar, Daniel Way and Marc Guggenheim), which of these takes is yours closest to in terms of feel and scope?

JL: All.  I try and blend in the best of each piece of things past and present. 

BF: As for aiming for a specific angle on Wolverine, Simone Bianchi brings in a remarkable flavor on the artistic side. His rendition of Logan is very distinctive from what we’ve seen before…

JL: It sure is. Trust me, Simone will set a new benchmark.  With all due respect to the incredible artists who have worked on Wolverine, I sort of feel like Leinil Yu was the last person to leave an indelible mark.  I love John Romita, Jr., I love Humberto Ramos—but those guys were well known.  Simone brings a little Neal Adams, a little Frazetta, and a lot of his OWN thing. It’s very, very cool.

BF: He’s a relative newcomer in US comics, something that can’t be said of your other—and superstar—artist like Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Michael Turner, Ed McGuinness and Joe Madureira. Do these factors make your relationship with Bianchi special in one way or another, compared to prior collaborations?

JL: Yes, it has been a long time since I “broke” someone.  I’m very proud to have been there for some of the earliest work of Ed McGuinness, Jeff Matsuda, Ian Churchill and a fella named Tim Sale.  It’s a hard process because you don’t have the shorthand I have with my artists who are friends.

But almost immediately, Simone and I took to each other. Lots of emails, lots of phone calls (sorry I woke you up, Dude!), which keeps it fresh. The bottom line is that I love what he’s doing and he gets me jazzed.  He’s my Italian Rob Liefeld in terms of energy.  Just POW.

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BF: Bianchi is also someone who, at first glance, seems better suited for cover work in the US industry because his bombastic, but immensely rich style works best on a larger canvas. Since you’re a writer known for playing up to your artists’ strengths, how do you translate Simone’s style to interiors without reverting to 22 pages of splashes and pin-ups?

JL: You’ll see.  He’s an excellent storyteller and I’ve given him a very detailed script.  That being said, yes, the power of his work is in the BIGNESS, but so are Jim Lee and McGuinness. So it’s different muscles, different guy.  And I love the splashes!

BF: Ultimates 3 is a project you only wanted to do if Madureira was drawing it. Does the same hold true for Wolverine? Was Bianchi the key to you agreeing to put this on your schedule?

JL: Absolutely.  It worked differently though.  With Ultimates, I wanted to do it, and I wanted to work with Joe Mad.  And it’s totally worth it.  On Wolverine, this was a story I had wanted to do and THOUGHT I would be doing with Andy Kubert (nobody, including Andy knew that, it was just in my head), but when the Kuberts left for DC, I shelved the story. It was Joe Quesada, boy genius that he is, who pitched Simone to me for that story.  He was right!

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BF: Your run starts with a big blow-out between Sabretooth and Wolverine. What leads up to the fight?

JL: Well, somebody went and made Sabretooth an X-Man—or at least offered him safe harbor in the Mansion.  Logan’s reaction?  “They say there’s only 198 of us left.  Can’t think of a good reason why Creed should be one of them.”

BF: Arguably, the last memorable battle in the Marvel Universe between the two dates all the way back to 1994’s Wolverine #90. Why will the current one become the benchmark showdown for the next several years?

JL: Simone.  And we’re going to some very cool places.  And I loved Wolverine #90 and we’re going to have to top that—6 times!

BF: About Sabretooth specifically, he’s probably the one villain everyone immediately associates with Wolverine. What makes Victor Creed so interesting as a character? Is it the fact that he’s basically Wolverine, only taller, and doesn’t fight the good fight, while Logan does… well, sort of?

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JL: Two things.  Yeah, he’s the Dark Wolverine if you will.  And that’s fascinating to me.
Secondly, there’s this mystery thing about who he is and what he means to Logan.  THAT’s our story.

BF: Will the fight also have repercussions on Mike Carey and his treatment of Sabretooth as a team member in X-Men?

JL: I imagine so!

BF: There’s already talk of you and Bianchi staying on past the initial six-issue arc, butregardless, what else can fans look forward to on your run aside from the showdown with Sabretooth?

JL: It’s a wild ride and has a bunch of twists and turns that (hopefully) nobody is expecting.  And some guest-stars who I don’t wanna give away JUST YET. See you in January!

Oh, and Wolverine #50 is an oversized issue with a 12-page back up with Me and McGuinness retelling Hulk #181—Wolverine’s first fight with The Hulk—and a twist that NOBODY will see coming!!!

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