As previously teased — first at Fan Expo in Toronto back in August, and then again earlier this month — DMZ and Northlanders writer Brian Wood is back at Marvel, and his first project is Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, a five-issue miniseries with art from Mark Brooks and Roland Boschi announced during Marvel's "X-Men: Regenesis" panel Sunday afternoon at New York Comic Con. It stars Wolverine and Kid Omega, Quentin Quire — who was recently taken from Utopia in chains by Logan — in a clash for dominance of the newly formed Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Newsarama has the first interview with Wood on the series.
Newsarama: Brian, let's just start with the obvious — after more than a decade away from Marvel, a time period that has clearly been greatly significant for your career, what are you looking forward to exploring at the publisher?
Brian Wood: Really, I am just looking for a home to work on some company-owned superhero books, something there is very little of in my 15-year resume of writing comics. I’m still pretty much a creator-owned guy — that won’t change — but it's good to stay moving and to take on new challenges and find new audiences. Marvel was willing to give me that opportunity.
Nrama: As you note, you don't have a ton of experience with mainstream superheroes. You've said in past interviews that it's not a matter of you being unwilling to write superheroes, it's more that the right opportunities haven't materialized — so, at this point in your career, is it exciting to not only be writing a superhero book, but one starring one of the most iconic comic book superheroes out there in Wolverine?
Wood: Absolutely... Wolverine is a household name now (I think?) as is the X-Men, and it's something that, like so many of us, I felt an emotional connection to on a conceptual level. And yeah, I’ve always felt open to writing superheroes, but I’m not that conventional with the material, and my pitches have, more often than not, fallen on uninterested ears.
But going back about 12 years, I did a year on Generation X, I did 18 issues of Demo, which is very unconventional superheroes but I think still qualifies in that basic, conceptual way. There’s DV8 more recently. So its been just a few things but I’ve never been that adverse to it.
Nrama: Of course, that said, Wolverine isn't really a conventional superhero much as you're not a conventional superhero writer, so is it reasonable to assume that this will be definitely a different type of superhero book? Is there anything from your past work you might compare it to?
Wood: I don’t know what to compare it to. I think it’ll feel and read very “Brian Wood” but its not that similar to past stories I’ve written. And yeah, the fact this miniseries is kind of off to the side of the main book means I can make it’s a little different and a little weird.
Nrama: How closely have you kept up with Marvel books over the years? Going into this project, did you have to do a good amount of catch-up, or were you pretty well-versed with the current Marvel Universe status quo?
Wood: It’s difficult to keep up with such a dynamic and evolving story, and I tend to follow creators more than titles. That said, I’d be reading Jason Aaron anyway so doing that research was easy, and my editor pointed in the right direction as far as past Quentin appearances and other issues she felt were relevant. Coming in with this story right at the start of a major change on the X-Men titles actually helps me quite a bit, since its something like a launching pad.
In addition, I’ve done a fair amount of video game writing in the past where it’s the same sort of situation, having to get up to speed really quickly on something that's at least partially unfamiliar and basically start delivering work right away that looks like you’ve been in the loop for years. It’s not easy, but at least its a familiar process.
Nrama: A lot of major developments are unfolding in the X-Men books as of late, with Schism leading to Regenesis and Cyclops and Wolverine heading up their own respective camps. What was it about the current X-Men environment that made you want to get involved?
Wood: None of that. Haha! Seriously, I was ready to get involved in the X-Men office regardless of the current storylines. My basic approach to Axel, earlier this year, was: I’m ready! What can I do?
Nrama: Kid Omega is the other half of the just-released teaser, and a produce of Grant Morrison's beloved New X-Men run. What do you like about Quentin Quire?
Wood: He’s a young guy with too much power and a load of attitude that’s probably hiding some deep-seated pain and/or insecurity. That right there is like catnip to a writer. It practically writes itself. And Quentin is such a great character, the kind you love to hate... and just plain love in the end.
Jason Aaron wrote some great notes for the guy, which I’m taking with and running, really using this opportunity to flesh him out in ways that haven’t been seen yet. This should change him forever, and certainly change the nature of the relationship he has with Logan.
Nrama: It looks like Wolverine and Kid Omega are, not so surprisingly, on opposite sides for your story. How would you characterize their dynamic?
Wood: Contentious. Very much the rebel-v-authority dynamic, but Quentin, for all his youth and inexperience, has some pretty significant advantages over Logan, so how long until that becomes a serious issue? Answer: not long!
Nrama: Mark Brooks and Roland Boschi, two artists with very different styles, are on art for the book. How are both of their unique strengths being utilized?
Wood: Well, not to give too much away, but this story flips from one specific setting to another, back and forth, and so the art is being handled that way, since the differences between the two settings is like night and day. It’s all in service of the story. And the art I’m seeing is fantastic.