Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1-4
Issue(s): Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1, Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #2, Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #3, Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #4
According to the UHBMCC and the GCD, Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh also gets background art credits, although apparently only for some of the pages (i can't find this credit in my issues; it may only be in the trade). The art being as weird as it is, and me not being very familiar with either artist (Muth's only Marvel universe work so far is New Mutants #62, and i've got nothing else from Kent Williams yet; both were regulars at Epic, though, and they go on to do work at Vertigo), i have trouble distinguishing which artist is drawing what when both characters (or neither) are sharing scenes. I guess that's a good thing, meaning that the art meshes well and the idea that each artist draws their own character doesn't come across as gimmicky.
Cullen has a nice quote regarding the two artists working together in the forum.
Let me summarize the story and then i'll run through some scenes in more detail and showcase the art. There is a Doctor Neutron and a General Meltdown, two Soviets not very happy about Glasnost. Meltdown is also a mutant (or is otherwised super-powered), but his powers can only be activated by absorbing concentrated bursts of radiation. The two of them contrived to cause the (or, let's say, "a") Chernobyl accident, but the radiation that was released was not enough for Meltdown. So now, working through an agent named Quark, the plan is to get Havok to absorb radiation at a nuclear plant in India and then blast Meltdown, activating his powers. Wolverine and Havok are in Mexico on a drinking binge. Quark tries to kill Wolverine by shooting him up full of the bubonic plague, and then she takes Havok to a hospital where she tries to brainwash and seduce him. The brainwashing fails due to Professor X's mental training, but the seduction works just fine, and soon he's traipsing across the world with her while a recovered Wolverine tries to catch up. Which of course he does in time for the final battle. Wolverine plugs Meltdown full of boron control rods, containing his radioactivity and killing him.
Ok, here's what Wolverine looks like.
Here's Havok talking about how he always falls for "lethal" women.
Say what you like about Madelyne Pryor; i still have a hard time accepting that everyone thinks Polaris somehow turned evil when they all know she is possessed by Malice.
Here's Quark tricking our heroes while grunts first get them on the run.
Here's my favorite shot of Wolverine, realizing that Havok is not dead after Quark's first attack.
Quark in her nurse disguise.
Havok telling her about his "history of unsuccessful relationships". Quark tells him that she's sure it was all the women's fault.
Here's our first full shot of
And here's Doctor Neutron.
Meltdown and Neutron are being held at, or are staying at (it's a little unclear), an Asylum in the Soviet Union.
Here's the kind of violence you can do in a non-code book.
And here's something to haunt your dreams.
Although would we rather have him in costume if he's going to look like this? I'm not sure.
Quark gets naked too, for reasons that don't seem to have anything to do with anything. This is in a bathroom at a small Mexican airport. Her intention is to leave her shirt behind so that Wolverine can be led into a trap. Best i can suggest is that she's trying too hard to ensure that her scent is on the shirt (and Wolverine will comment on how it's overloaded with her perfume). But really the reason for this page is again that it's not a code book.
At this time Quark manipulates Havok by making him jealous by telling him that she had to sleep with a guy to get the plane they used to get this far. It does work, and Havok sleeps with Quark on the next leg of the trip.
While the bad guys are planning on how to manipulate Havok, they also say that he's no killer so they'll have to work him up really good. That kind of ignores Havok's recent turn towards lethal violence in the Uncanny X-Men series, but it's not a direct contradiction.
But let's get back to weird panels of Wolverine.
He does fall for that trap and he gets captured by the bad guys and he's released to kill Havok.
Havok blasts Wolverine...
...and despite the way he's being manipulated, he's smart enough to lie to Quark and tell her that he killed Wolverine when he knows he didn't, and he leaves a map with Wolverine's "corpse" so that Wolvie can follow them to the power plant in India.
Meanwhile, Quark of course decides she's in love with Havok and she hopes that he'll kill Meltdown and set her free. But she still leads him into the trap.
I know that both Havok and Cyclops absorb ambient energy to generate their powers, but i never thought of Havok as being someone that consciously absorbs radiation. That's taken pretty much as a given in this story, though; it's the basis for the bad guys' plot. And here he is doing it.
When Meltdown first shows up, Havok attacks him non-lethally...
...but Meltdown gets him to go full force by killing Quark.
Somehow, Havok zaps Meltdown full force, Meltdown establishes a permanent connection between them, so that Havok continues to drain radiation from the melting power plant and transferring it to Meltdown. That takes Havok out of the fight, but that's when Wolverine shows up.
Meltdown is so full of power that Wolverine is unable to hurt him, so that's why he has to use the control rods. Which, by the way, he's still able to toss despite this happening.
So here come the control rods.
And a final slash with that disintegrated arm.
Wolverine doesn't tell Havok that Quark was working for the bad guys when it's all over.
Dr. Neutron never got involved in the battle, and so he's still out there somewhere with a chess set made of Marvel characters.
But we never see him or Meltdown again. Quark, we sort of do see again, but i think she's a copy from the Age of Apocalypse universe or something.
This series is all sizzle but no steak. The experimental art is interesting to look at (although Wolverine is so weird looking it's more funny than anything), but there's no real justification for such an unusual style. Because it's really a very straightforward and mundane action plot. And the little bit of character work that is done, playing off of Havok's supposed habit of falling for bad girls, is based on a very faulty premise. It's nice that this exists because i like to see Marvel experimenting, but i wish the Simonsons had been able to come up with a storyline that could have matched the art.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: There are (jokey) exit and entry points for Wolverine and Havok to appear in this series in Uncanny X-Men #245 and 246. Looking at the MCP, it seems there may have been some new material added for the trade paperback release of this series; i don't have that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Posted by: Robert | October 6, 2014 7:24 PM
One thing never made sense to me- if the bad guys couldn't find Alex on their scanners and Alex had never been to this part of Mexico before, how did they know he was there?
Posted by: Michael | October 6, 2014 9:57 PM
Havok makes a pretty good James Dean. The art can look good at times and then really really awful. I don't know if it's trying too hard to be 'grown up' but it fails miserably.
Posted by: JSfan | October 7, 2014 6:24 AM
Meltdown in seen again in a Wolverine fill-in about two o three years ago.
Posted by: Midnighter | October 7, 2014 11:47 AM
All distorted anatomy is courtesy of Kent Williams; Jon J. Muth did everybody with realistic proportions.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 11, 2014 7:38 PM
A National Coalition on TV Violence report contained this review of #3:" Spy tale about an American seeking a fellow spy trapped in the USSR. The KGB has turned him into a sort of mutant, a beast. Violence consists of beast mutant trying to kill the American spy trying to rescue him; he in turn is killed by the spy; also graphic electrocutions of a Russian agent."
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 26, 2015 11:46 AM
I never even bothered to read this series, let alone buy it because I thought the art looked so terrible. But what bothered me more was the way characters were now just being dragged out of the X-Men with no end results. When we had the original Wolverine mini-series, and then the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series, there were both real impacts on the characters and gaps where they weren't appearing in the X-Men. Those stories actually had a point and they fit somewhere. Yes, there are the little mentions of this story in the two issues of X-Men, but basically, you could skip this series and it made no difference whatsoever. Just pointless.
Although, to be honest, that was part of why I never cared about the regular Wolverine series either. It was, for the most part, being ignored in X-Men so I never had to care. It was only later that he was away for important events and the dissolution of the team that it actually had an impact.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 31, 2015 12:47 PM
Erik, that is a great point. Shooter was much more conscious about making sure the continuity fit and that stories outside the main title were properly referenced. This was not a priority in the DeFalco era. Instead, he pumped out any number of stories and formats to pump sales and more of them essentially became meaningless. It worked short term, but I think it ate a lot of seedcorn which cannibalized future growth - although the real excesses which caused the market collapse is still a few years off.
The Jon J Muth art is beautiful as always. The Kent Williams art is off putting though.
Posted by: Chris | August 31, 2015 4:18 PM
anybody has an idea of what the added material in the TPB is about?
Posted by: Bibs | December 8, 2017 11:49 AM
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