Published June 3, 2021

Writer Benjamin Percy on Crafting the World of 'Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord'

The 'Wolverine' and 'X-Force' scribe digs into the process of sculpting an audio experience!

In a post-apocalyptic future, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord finds Peter Quill and Rocket a little paunchier, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during the glory days of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

They quickly discover the Earth isn’t what it used to be either, when they crash land 30 years after all the world’s Super Villains seized control.

In the barren, desolate wasteland of the mid-west as controlled by Doctor Doom, they encounter the ageless telepath Emma Frost, outlaw Ghost Riders, Doomwood locals, and the bloodthirsty Kraven the Hunter. Who will find the Black Vortex first and what will be the price of its power?

The new show was scratched into the Wastelands dirt by WOLVERINE and X-FORCE writer Benjamin Percy. Sourced from his self-described "apocalyptic mindset," as well as previous comic book forays into this time and place, the radioactive landscape felt like home to the series scribe.

"I've been a nerdy fan of the 'Old Man-iverse,' as I call it, since those stories first started hitting the stands," Percy explained. "Ethan Sacks and Robert Gill's OLD MAN QUILL. I read my way through all of that. I read all the way through all the OLD MAN LOGANs. I read my way through all of the OLD MAN HAWKEYEs... It's a unique take on the Marvel universe, a dirtier take on the Marvel universe."

The soundscape of Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord recalls desert winds, acidic sunshine, hoodoos and clay soil—hallmarks of not just post-apocalyptic stories, but of the Old West.

"I grew up out West," he continued. "I grew up in rural Oregon. And my mother is obsessed with Lewis and Clark and obsessed with frontier history. And as a result of that, I grew up reading the journals of Lewis and Clark, watching John Ford and Sergio Leone Westerns, stopping along the Oregon Trail, stopping along the Lewis and Clark Trail. I visited Fort Clatsop so many times I should have had a punch card.

"It was just ingrained in me, the history, the geography, and the mythology of the West. And I even, in my previous life, when I was a professor, taught a grad class called 'Rewriting the West,' which was about Western revisionism, going from early stories like The Virginian by Owen Wister, all the way through Ceremony by Leslie Silko. And all of these things came to inform my excitement and perspective on writing this as a podcast, writing this as an audio drama."

Having previously written Marvel's Wolverine: The Long Night and Wolverine: The Lost Trail, Percy had been primed for the challenge of presenting a story strictly for ears—and the mind's eye. 

"Writing for audio completely broke my brain because the rules are different. The techniques are unique. The manner in which you set the stage, relay exposition, orient your characters—aall the things that you take for granted in a visual medium are absent from audio. So every single day at the desk, questions arose—aquestions like, 'How do I write a fight scene for your ears, and not completely confuse the audience?' 'How do I make certain that the listener knows where and when they are, without awkwardly shoving that into dialogue?' And on and on and on and on.

"So I developed a new arsenal, a new toolbox of storytelling. And it was a great way to shake up my sense of narrative, a great way to sort of shake the dust off of my brain and really think about how I could tell a story in a new and exciting way. And I love it when that happens.

"I work across a lot of mediums. I write short stories. I write novels. I write comics. I write podcasts. I write for TV and film occasionally. I wrote journalism as well. And every time I leap into a new medium, I discover new things that help me become a better writer overall. So that was certainly the case here. And I think that writing Wolverine: The Long Night and Wolverine: The Lost Trail—those were two of the most challenging and the most rewarding storytelling experiences of my career. So I was thrilled to get the opportunity to set the stage for this next chapter of audio dramas coming down the pipeline from Marvel."

Listen to the first two episodes of Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord with SiriusXMPandoraStitcherApple PodcastsSpotifyPocket Casts, or wherever you get your podcasts! And stay set for new installments of the show, plus interviews with its cast and creators, every week on Marvel.com!


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