After a successful run with his own indie comics, former lawyer Charles Soule has become a major force in the comic book world. He's killed Wolverine, explored the history of "The Green" on Swamp Thing, examined the legal system with She-Hulk, and provided some of the juiciest bits of backstory for Star Wars icons like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, and, of course, Darth Vader.
Soule is finishing up his successful run on Daredevil this month and capping Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith run with the Fortress Vader arc in December. That's in addition to his work on Return of Wolverine, in which Logan has returned to the Marvel universe after four years away, and his Image series, Curse Words. In between all of that, Soule published his first novel, The Oracle Year, in April.
SYFY WIRE caught up with the incredibly busy writer this week to talk about his illuminating run on Darth Vader, why Wolverine's claws are now red hot and what he'll miss most about writing Matt Murdock.
Since the acquisition of Marvel and Lucasfilm by Disney, the Star Wars comic books are more closely tied to the films than ever. Joining the Marvel team at just the right time, Soule has been responsible for answering many long-standing fan questions, including where Darth Vader got his red lightsaber, what rank Vader holds in the Empire, and most recently, how did his castle of Mustafar come to be?
Can you tell us a bit about the research that went into your Darth Vader run, since you cover some major character developments? Additionally, how do you get into Vader's head to provide an authentic telling of the character?
Let me answer the second bit first — these days, anger, pain and hate seem to be all over the place. It's not hard to tap into a worldview where everyone you see is your enemy. I just have to spend five minutes on social media, or read the news. As far as the specifics of Vader, well, it's just about doing the homework. You read all the other appearances, you watch the films and TV, etc. I'm already very familiar with almost all of it, and going back through the stories is a blast. It's Star Wars, after all.
Can you tease a bit about the end of your run on Darth Vader and how important Mustafar is to his character?
My run will wrap on Vader with #25, which also concludes the Fortress Vader arc that began with issue #19. It's a huge epic about Vader building that cool castle on Mustafar we saw in Rogue One, and gets into his reasons for doing that. It is also, however, about Vader building himself, and becoming something more like the Vader we know from the Original Trilogy. My book is set almost 20 years before that, so he's had some growing up to do.
How did you initially pitch the book? Was it something that the folks at Star Wars already had planned or was it your idea?
Lucasfilm and Marvel came to me with the idea of doing a series set immediately after Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. The rest was mainly based on ideas from me and Giuseppe Camuncoli, the lead artist on the series (and of course, also the series editors, David Curiel on colors, Elia Bonetti on covers, Joe Caramagna, and everyone else who has contributed creatively to the book — it never happens because of just one person.)
Where did the idea for Lord Momin come from? He's an incredibly dark and powerful character and seems like he could demand a whole series on his own.
Lord Momin was a character Alex Maleev and I created, sort of, for our Lando miniseries back in 2015. I say "sort of" because at that time, we saw him only through a relic, his mask, all that was left of him. The mask seemed to have some powerful Dark Side energy swirling around it, and caused some havoc, but that's all we knew. Even then, though, I had a story for him in mind. I didn't know when, or if, I'd get to tell it, but the wheel turns and I got lucky.
I've always liked the idea of looking at different interpretations of the Dark Side, the Sith, etc. We've only seen two kinds, really — subtle political operators (Palpatine, Dooku, and Snoke — assuming you consider Snoke a Sith) and hyper-skilled warriors (Vader, Maul, and Kylo Ren — assuming you consider Kylo a Sith). That's a bit reductive to Vader and Kylo, but you get my meaning. Those can't be the only kinds of Sith out there, and I thought Momin was a great opportunity to give the fans something a little different.
What was it like to work around the new Star Wars movies with your Poe Dameron series? Can you tell us a bit about the process of working with the folks at Disney to make sure things all make sense?
Oh, just a blast. I've been really lucky to get to know the folks at Lucasfilm pretty well over the years, and I've been out to the offices a few times. Everyone over there is extremely supportive of the stories, from the creative executives to Story Group, and the idea is to make (and keep) Star Wars as vibrant and fascinating as possible. No one steps on ideas or stories, and it's always very encouraging — these are folks with Star Wars PhDs, basically. They're a fantastic resource.
That said, yes, of course, the comics and so on are part of a big shared universe, and you have to be aware of the fact that someone else might have gotten to one of your story ideas first in another section of Star Wars. That's just the game you're playing, and hey, ideas are easy. There are always more.
Soule began his run on Wolverine with the Death of Wolverine mini-series in 2014, eventually killing the beloved character with liquid adamantium. Soule returned to the character earlier this year with the Hunt for Wolverine and continues to oversee his return with issue #2 of the Return of Wolverine earlier this month.
It's been about four years since you "killed" Wolverine, what's it been like to return to the character and bring him back to life?
Pretty wonderful! It's a rare opportunity in comics to be able to do something like this, to bring a character full circle and do a true "sequel" that ties up story threads from an earlier project. Even more, getting to work with Steve McNiven again (who did Death of Wolverine with me in 2014) is a joy. He's one of my favorite comics collaborators and favorite people, and I love telling stories with him. This project also brings in Declan Shalvey for interior art on issues 2-4 (it's a five-issue series), the legendary Laura Martin on all the colors and Joe Sabino for the letters. It's an all-star group, and I'm lucky to be part of it.
Can you talk a bit about why you wanted to return to a large aspect of Wolverine's character, a mutant without any memories of who he is, with this arc?
Well, first of all, because I always thought that was a cool part of Wolverine, and putting him in a place where he doesn't know what he's done in the past, or why, or who he is… I think it's an important element. It makes him mysterious, both to himself and the readers, and mysterious characters are cool. This story has an added edge, too, because we know all about Wolverine at this point — so we're sort of ahead him on the discovery curve. It's just a fun story and character-driver.
Can you tell us a bit more about Wolverine's red-hot claws? Are they here to stay?
Wolverine's claws, on occasion, can now become extremely hot, like metal on a blacksmith's forge. As I write this, the second issue of the series has dropped, and we've seen a big action scene in which this happens. We don't know the exact reason yet (in the series), but it seems to be tied to his death and resurrection, and perhaps his healing factor. More will come, but I will say that I don't put a specific pin on it in the series. I give a lot of clues, but part of the fun of these characters is debating how their powers and abilities work. As far as if they're here to stay, that's up to other writers, really. The hot claws are designed as an important element of this story, and that's where my job ends.
What do you enjoy most about writing Wolverine as a character?
Well, he's an icon. Put him in a scene and everything gets this dark, swirling energy. He's more "real" than some characters, for better or for worse, and that makes him fun to use. I also like his long, detailed history — it's fun to write a character who is his own legacy, who can flashback to the 1920s as easily as he can tell a story set now.
Soule began his run on Daredevil back in 2015, as Matt Murdock got a new job, a new protege, Blindspot, and returned (briefly) to his black and red suit. Soule's work on the long-running title is coming to a close with the Death of Daredevil later this month.
Ending your run on Daredevil, you've said you're hoping to leave him in the worst spot imaginable. Does Daredevil work best when he's down and out? (End of Days, Born Again)
I don't know if he works best, but he works really well in that sort of situation. I don't think Matt Murdock is a very happy person, or believes that he ever deserves to be happy. He works out his guilt over… everything… by trying to do good in the world. I have a sort of tagline or theme statement for my run, which is "If I can't see the light, I must be the light," and I think that's how Daredevil sees himself. Poor guy.
What's it like to leave this character to someone else after such a long run. What do you love, what will you miss about the character?
It's always fun to be "the" writer for a while on a huge character with a big legacy and devoted fanbase, to be part of that shared story we've all been telling for decades. I will definitely miss writing Daredevil, but I think I've told some great stories during my tenure, and I have no problem handing it off. I have other stories to tell, with other characters, both mine and the big ones we all know. I'll probably cycle back to Matt at some point in the future, but the arc Phil Noto and I are doing now, "The Death of Daredevil," seems like a great place to wrap things up.
In the vein of your novel The Oracle Year, what advice would you give yourself in 2000 just after graduating law school?
"You know what you actually want to be doing with your life. Get started now, and don't stop until you get there."
That is, in fact, actually the advice I gave myself immediately after I took the bar exam. I went out and bought a notebook and started working on my first novel that very summer. And… here we are!