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Wolverine is the best at what he does, and last year's Wolverine: The Long Night proved that podcasting is one of the things the gruff mutant does, and he's pretty good at it. The first season of the audio drama, a collaboration between Marvel and Stitcher, followed two government agents up to a remote town Alaska as they tried to track Logan down. For most of the season, Logan is a mystery who only appears fleetingly. That won't be the case in Season 2.
"I didn't realize how I sort of just dipped in and out of last season," admits Richard Armitage, the voice of Logan, at a press event. In the podcast's sophomore outing, Wolverine: The Lost Trail, Logan will be at the forefront, as the season follows him down in the bayous outside New Orleans as he attempts to track down his ex, Maureen, who he believes holds the key to his forgotten past — as well as redemption.
"I think the lost trail is Maureen," Armitage says of the season's title. "He's lost her and he's on a mission to find her. In a way, it's a reversal of last season, because whereby the last time that Logan was the hunted, he now kind of the hunter, the detective."
"I think you understand much more about him. You get much more of his internal fight," Armitage adds. "Last season he felt much more like a beast, this season we see much more of the human side of him."
Logan's increased agency in the second season means X-Men fans will get a lot closer with the audio version of Marvel's most famous mutant. They'll also get to hear from some familiar characters, like Gambit and Jason Wyngarde (better known as the comics villain Mastermind, a devious foe that voice actor Bill Irwin says "makes a case for the superiority of the mutant strain").
"I think it's safe to say [The Lost Trail] will feel a little bit more like a comic book, in the traditional sense," says Bill Heck, who plays the fan-favorite mutant Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit.
"We're sort of old comrades. There's history there," Heck says of Logan's relationship with Gambit. "But, it's really hard for Logan to know any of this because his mind keeps getting wiped."
Heck doesn't want to give much more away, opting not to offer a preview of his take on Gambit's distinctive accent. However, he says that Gambit will be a grounded character, as keeping in line with the podcast's aesthetic, which borrows a realism listeners have come to expect from shows like Serial.
"In some of the comics there's a lot of cajun going on, just in the text and the writing," Heck says, explaining how the podcast puts character before costume. "We're not talking Gambit, Wolverine when we're in the room. We're saying, Logan, Remy. We're human first, and that strengthens the story and the fun of that comic book extra push."
All the voice actors on The Lost Trail, including Rachael Holmes (Maureen) and (Rodney Henry, Logan's unwanted sidekick Marcus Baptist), are quick to note that the way in which the podcast is recorded helps the show sound dynamic, the way an audio comic book should. The audio is recorded with a high-tech ambisonic microphone which has cameras on it that track where the actors' mouths are in relation to the mic. This can be as subtle as the turn of a head, or as drastic as getting thrown against a wall. In either case, the voice actors get the chance to interact with one another and physically embody the characters they're voicing — a rarity in the voice acting world.
Armitage compared the experience to his work voicing Trevor Belmont on Netflix's Castlevania, which had him record in a small booth by himself. The Lost Trail is much more cinematic.
"I'm convinced that we're making movies," he says of the recording process. "We talk about "where's the camera at this point, who are we focusing on?" because it in my mind works like a movie director. I'm still convinced that this is going to be seen one day."
The physicality behind the recording has some drawbacks, however.
"When you get yourself fired up, it's hard to sort of do a pretend punch with all the energy of a real vocal commitment," Armitage says.
The first two episodes of Wolverine: The Lost Trail will premiere on Stitcher Premium on Monday, March 25th. Subsequent episodes will be released on a weekly basis.