Captain America annual #8
Issue(s): Captain America annual #8
We start with Wolverine sitting in the middle of a bar fight. The narration panel says that Wolverine's last name was Logan. Was that ever confirmed before?
Due to the fact that a mutant walked into a "straight bar". Interesting phrase. I don't know if it has some other meaning, but it almost seems like the mutant metaphor has become overt for one second.
The mutant turns out to be Nuklo, who was depowered in his last appearance but still has residual strength. When Wolverine follows him out of the bar, he finds him getting attacked by a giant robot.
The robot gets away and Wolverine carries Nuklo to a hospital. Afterwards, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a box from a shipment from a company called Adametco, "the nation's leading manufacturer of adamantium".
Meanwhile, Captain America happens upon a town that has just experienced a cave-in, and when he investigates he finds the remnants of a bunker protected by various death-traps.
He learns that the bunker used to be the property of a Mr. Schumann, who used to work for the government. He then gets an alert from his hotline that a truck with a robot was brought to Adametco. The robot is being controlled by a man on a floating platform, called the Overrider.
I was surprised to learn that there was a company somewhere in New Jersey that seems to be developing adamantium for widespread usage. Adamantium has already been used a bit too freely, but the idea that there's a factory out there producing it in shifts really commodotizes it.
Captain America and Wolverine arrive at Adametco at about the same time, and Cap tears into Wolvie, accusing him of breaking in, calling Magneto his "crony", and then just being incredibly pompous.
This is the way i would expect Captain America to be written in a bad Wolverine story, where the writer clearly wanted to set Cap up as the unthinking establishment doofus as a lazy contrast with the rebel Wolverine. That he's being written like this in his own book, by his regular writer, is unconscionable. Chris Claremont wrote a more intelligent Cap that still managed to get across his more rigid attitude and problems with the X-Men's association with Magneto in New Mutants #40. Why is Cap getting such short shrift in his own book?
Wolverine responds as you'd like him to.
Unfortunately beyond that panel and the much more awesome cover, we don't really get to see Wolverine's claws pitted against Cap's shield.
Note Cap's shield being described as "adamantium-plus".
Their fight continues a bit...
...but it's interrupted by the robot, who is now coated in adamantium.
Overrider prevents the robot from executing its original programming and killing Cap, and escapes with the robot. Wolverine reluctantly agrees to compare notes with Cap and join forces to hunt down the robot, after they each do some independent research.
Cap's research has him investigating the name Schumann and finding out about that he was a professor involved in the TESS project. TESS stands for Total Elimination of Super-Soldiers. The idea was what if the super-soldier program that created Captain America was successful and the formula hadn't been lost with the death of Dr. Erskine. And what if after the war, they got out of hand? Well, clearly you build a giant robot to kill them all. It's a sort of proto-Sentinel.
The program was shut down after Erskine was killed, but Schumann continued to develop it on his own.
Wolverine's research involves going through Cerebro's data banks to locate mutants that control machines. He finds a Richard Rennselaer, a former SHIELD agent.
We've come a long way from the days when Cerebro was just a little board with the names of a dozen or so mutants printed onto glass slides. The idea that Cerebro has a huge database of mutants that one can sort through, mutants that we've never heard of, mutants that are 46 years old and not newly exhibiting their powers... well, this is why Marvel eventually felt that they needed to do House of M. On the other side of the coin, though, the (purported) reason Stan Lee came up with the idea of mutants was to not have to think up implausible origin stories every time he wanted to introduce a new super-villain.
We learn that Rennselaer/Overrider has a son that has become catatonic due to fear of nuclear war. So he uses TESS-One to attack America's nuclear command center in Nebraska. Cap and Wolverine arrive in a Quinjet to stop him.
Note Cap saying that his shield is "a bit stronger than adamantium".
For the rest of this issue, Wolverine is written as if he's in a Captain America book written by a bad writer. Which is more or less the case. So when Cap gives an "order", Wolverine grouses.
The way they defeat the robot is so insane it's cool, though. Wolverine goes for the non-adamantium neck joint, and Cap uses his shield to pound Wolverine's claws through.
Overridder is less dramatically dispatched. The big debate is whether or not Wolverine will catch him or impale him when he falls, and in the end Wolverine just lets him fall to the floor.
Captain America informs Wolverine that he will never be an Avenger. Full stop.
Ay-yi-yi. I don't know how the same guy that wrote Squadron Supreme and was doing at least a decent job on the main Cap series with the Serpent Squad and Scourge managed to turn in this story. It's potentially damaging in terms of the abuse of adamantium and the proliferation of mutants, but it's also just cluttered. I'm not sure how Nuklo fits into this story, and the potentially cool idea of a super-soldier killer is ruined by the fact that the *ahem* Overrider has repurposed the robot for something completely unrelated. But the real problem is just the awful awful scripting of both Captain America and Wolverine.
On the plus side, the original purpose of TESS-one remains cool, and there's the Mike Zeck art, and at least one example of Wolverine's claws and Captain America's shield connecting.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Cap is back in his easy rider phase. The MCP places it between Captain America #320-321. For Wolverine, they place it between Uncanny X-Men #203-205 (Wolverine doesn't appear in #204).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
In the Cap 319 review you say the unmasked Sidewinder looks like Gruenwald. The unmasked Overrider looks even more like Gru to me.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 6, 2013 11:04 PM
It's been a long time since I read this Annual, but I did not get the same vibe from Adametco as you did even though I share your general idea of how adamantium should be handled (especially in overuse of it). It makes sense that some specialized private sector company should be the one making it. Even if though US government owns the formula/secret, probably only the private sector would have the technical know how to mass produce it.
Second, such a company probably makes many things other than adamantium: secondary adamantium, vibranium alloys, and other fictitious metals like omnium steel.
Third, because of the temperatures involved and other costs associated with revving up production, it makes more sense to schedule production throughout the day rather than only have one daytime shift. It takes a long time to start up a blast furnance, and once it is up you don't want to bring it down - too much waste.
Fourth, we know that in retrospect there had to be several large scale adamantium production (or one of its lesser spin offs) going on at this time because the US government is building the Vault.
Even though "adamantium" is used in describing the coating on TESS-1, I always took it to be secondary adamantium. If there is some kind of bonding going on, it has to be the less form.
Posted by: Chris | December 7, 2013 1:15 AM
While I admit Gruenwald's writing is clunky, I don't have a problem with the portrayal of Cap or Wolverine.
First, Cap is investigating a disturbance at Adametco. Wolverine's presence there is noteworthy and not tolerable unless he has a very good reason. Adametco has to be of prime importance to national security. The appearance of a known accomplice of Magneto is not something to handle lightly. If this encounter took place elsewhere, somewhere not vitally important to national security or a legitimate target for Magneto, I think Cap would act differently.
Second, Cap is simply using his cop voice and projecting authority, not pomposity. He doesn't do it very often, but he is trying to take control of the situation. He's letting Wolverine know he isn't going to tolerate any BS. He makes it clear he knows how superheroes operate and will accept a reasonable explanation, but he wants is ASAP. I think most heroic characters would understand that and comply, even most X-Men.
Third, Wolverine is in the wrong. "Listen, someone just tried to murder a mutant for no reason, and I think he's wrong," could have ended the situation very quickly. Instead, Wolverine escalates it. I also don't see it very out of character. What has always seemed out of character to me is how quickly Wolverine stopped acting like a jerk when Storm became leader of the X-Men. It's been many years now so people just accept it, but Wolverine gave Cyclops far more grief for far longer than he did Storm. In fact, the only reason I can understand for Wolverine's change is that Claremont likes writing strong female characters (alas, mostly with the same personality) so he didn't want Wolverine to undermine his new portrayal of Storm. Wolverine seems to have a huge problem with male authority figures. He seems much more reasonable if its a woman, or if the man is merely a peer or inferior.
Lastly, there has not been a satisfactorily resolution to the Magneto issue. One actually won't be done until the upcoming Avengers vs X-Men limited series, and even that gets interrupted in the last issue.
Posted by: Chris | December 7, 2013 1:31 AM
I have to say I agree with Chris. Wolverine is a known killer who works with a mass murderer (X-men #150), no matter how it is spun. I know cap worked with him the secret wars but that situation was a bit different. And Wolvie was dickish to Cap's authority in secret wars, too.
Posted by: kveto | December 7, 2013 4:02 AM
I got to side with Captain America on this and I really like 80s Wolverine, also really like Cap.
Posted by: David Banes | December 7, 2013 1:08 PM
At the risk of sounding defensive, i just want to respond to make sure i'm being understood here. As i wrote in the entry i link to for New Mutants #40, i have no problem with the Avengers thinking that Wolverine is a psychopath or for Cap and Wolverine to be distrustful of each other and get into a time-honored Misunderstanding Fight. The problem is the dialogue is just awful. I don't know how anyone can read that panel with Cap first encountering Wolverine and not cringe. Captain America calling people cronies and launching into that diatribe - he sounds like a joke, or like i said, the way a lazy writer would depict Cap in an x-book to establish him as the jerk authority figure. Wolverine is equally ridiculous. "Wolverine, help me save these people." "Waaah, i'm not doing what you tell me." That's not rebellious, that's childish.
There was an opportunity to do this better. Wolverine hunting a proto-sentinel and winding up at a facility seemingly guarded by Captain America is just perfect for a paranoid outlaw mutant to get suspicious. And Wolverine could have had previously learned special knowledge about TESS that gave him a reason to reject Cap's orders in a way that made sense. And we could have used a lot more subtlety from Gruenwald on Cap, maybe with a thought bubble as a precursor establishing that Cap thinks he's a psycho who is maybe doing something shady for Magneto instead of having him get in Wolverine's face about that.
Gruenwald is normally a clunky writer, but it's really amplified in the Cap/Wolverine interactions here. Obviously that's subjective, but just wanted to make it clear i agree with a lot of what Chris and Kveto have said but think it's executed really poorly here.
As asides, Chris, the reason for Wolverine's personality shift has the in-story explanation that comes from his experience in his first solo series. Also, if Adametco was even a quasi-governent facility like a Lockheed Martin factory, it had all the security of a vegetable canning plant. Ultron has attacked government adamantium stores before so you'd think SHIELD or something would be on premise 24/7. The setting to me has the feel of ordinary factory workers going about a mundane routine for mass production.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 7, 2013 2:34 PM
Uh...what DOES a Sentinel smell like? WD40? Sweaty metal?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 7, 2013 4:21 PM
FNORD12, I don't think you sound defensive. While I agree that Gruenwald is not as talented a scripter as Claremont, I don't get the same dickish vibe from the speech as you do. At least, it's no more dickish what any normal cop would do. I've been in situations where cops go from being friendly to projecting authority. So it doesn't seem out of character to me, or portray Cap in a bad manner. As for the "crony", I think it's a projection of Cap being disappointed he can't trust the X-Men as much as he previously could. Understandable too. But yes, it could have been scripted better. De gustibus non est disputandum.
I agree Adametco's security precautions are terrible. Now that is bad writing! Presumably it has advanced electronics security, but Overrider took them out, while TESS-1 handled any physical security. So while I can come up with justifications in my head, it is still bad.
Gruenwald is a writer of uneven quality. His work is generally average or just a notch above average, but occasionally rises to greatness or plumbs to awfulness.
I think "Wolverine changed" policy occurred earlier than that. The only real challenge he made to Storm's leadership is in Byrne's second to last issue when fighting the new Brotherhood. The limited series isn't for another 2-3 years. It's probably because without Byrne, Claremont decided to change some tack. there is a period when Wolverine should have been challenging Storm more, and he didn't. So there is an incongruity there.
Posted by: Chris | December 9, 2013 8:58 PM
No one's gonna talk about the utterly hilarious final panel?
Unfortunately this the Captain America we'll see during (ugh) Avengers vs X-Men.
As for the Cyclops vs Storm leadership debate, I think recent Wolverine appearances and comics gives some big hints about the Logan's actions towards them.
Posted by: Jon dubya | July 19, 2014 3:39 PM
"Well, this is why Marvel eventually felt that they needed to do House of M"
Less that, and more because during Morrison's run and the period after, those mutants stopped being "in the closet" or "potential" mutants and started becoming "there are millions of active mutants around the world." So much so that they could establish an actual slum neighborhood in NYC that was almost entirely mutant (which I've always had a hunch was taken as an idea from the Wild Cards novels), complete with their own mutant police force.
Marvel basically reached a point where it became ridiculous that the entire setting wasn't radically different from the "real world" with the massive mutant presence (which was also undermining the "specialness" of nearly every other non-mutant Marvel character), so they either had to pull the trigger and have the entire world start changing (and turning their universe more into sci-fi), or find a way to retcon all of the mutants away.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 22, 2014 3:45 PM
I think this is the true beginning of "Let's put Wolverine on the cover to increase sales."
This issue was an example of why I only filed my comics by series, not overall - I could figure out where to put this for Cap, but not very well for Wolverine (it works best where it is, but still seems a bit clunky between the SF stuff and his brutal beating in 205).
It did feel weird to me that Wolverine doesn't explain why he's there, and ironic, of course, since Cap knows Nuklo and was friends with his father.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 18, 2015 8:33 PM
Years later Captain America briefly recounts the events of this story to Deadpool. When Cap gets to the "I guarantee you the Avengers would never have you" line, naturally enough Deadpool bursts out in hysterical laughter.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 27, 2016 10:15 PM
I just did a write-up on this annual on my blog. Also offered up a nod to both Wolverine vs Capwolf and Steve Rogers' team-up with Deadpool where he recounts the events of this story...
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 7, 2016 11:57 AM
All Cap v. Wolvie debating aside, I really dug the Indiana Jones part of this story where Cap is navigating through the booby-trapped bunker, unsure of what to expect next. There was some cool imagery in there that stuck with me as a kid (such as using his shield to slide across the floor of spikes). Fun stuff.
Posted by: Paul Peterson | May 2, 2018 9:48 PM
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