Uncanny X-Men #139-140
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #139, Uncanny X-Men #140
He's been out of practice so it's understandable. But what's really interesting is that it's Wolverine who gives the pep talk, telling Angel that the X-Men will help him get back into top shape.
We're seeing some real natural character development for Wolverine as he becomes a team player. In the earliest issues of the new X-Men, Wolverine would have probably escalated things with snide comments until there was a brawl. However, in the next issue when Angel is giving a private assessment of the new team to Xavier, he still says Wolverine is crazy.
More superficially, Wolverine is also wearing a new costume - the brown and tan (and my personal favorite).
Despite her best efforts, Kitty flinches whenever she sees Nightcrawler. His appearance is too creepy for her. She also gets assigned a super-hero name. Xavier suggests 'Ariel', but Kitty doesn't like it, choosing Storm's idea of 'Sprite' instead. Xavier also sets her up to go to a dance class in the city, and we meet her dance instructor - Stevie Hunter. Storm has a weird possessive thing going on with Kitty, and is jealous of Stevie.
Wolverine decides he needs to go back to Canada and settle things with their secret service. He takes Nightcrawler with him. He shows up at the Hudson's house and we possibly meet Heather Hudson for the first time (the Classic X-Men added scenes muddy things up a bit for me) and confirm that Wolverine's name is Logan (We heard some leprechauns call him that in Uncanny X-Men #103, but none of the other X-Men were around. Certainly Nightcrawler hears the name here for the first time.).
We also get a little bit of Wolverine's backstory. Heather and her husband James (now the Guardian) found him freezing to death in the Canadian Rockies with adamantium claws recently installed. They nursed him to health. James convinced him to join the Canadian Secret Service, which he did, but he didn't like the dirty work that they did (really? The Canadian Secret Service? What could they have been doing?), or what he'd been made into, so that's why Wolverine jumped at the chance to join the X-Men.
It turns out that Guardian is up north with some members of Alpha Flight...
...hunting the Wendigo. Wolverine and Nightcrawler join them.
The Wendigo is a nearly invulnerable opponent...
... but when Snowbird transforms herself into an actual wolverine, she's able to injury him long enough for Shaman to remove the wendigo curse.
Nightcrawler has a talk with Wolverine about using his claws for killing. Wolverine isn't moved so far, but it's the beginning of further development for the character.
Guardian agrees that Alpha Flight won't go after Wolverine any more for abandoning the Canadian Secret Service, but it's a moot point because when Guardian gets back home he finds out that Alpha Flight has been disbanded. It's implied that they might be allowed to go on in an unofficial capacity.
Meanwhile, the Blob escapes from prison, using a body density trick he says his "lady lawyer" taught him. He's talking about Mystique, and he's off to join her new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Overall, a really great set of issues.
John Byrne has complained that in every issue since the death of Jean Grey, Claremont made someone lament her death or reference her in some way:
After the Phoenix Saga -- and long before it developed this retroactive titling -- Chris would simply Not Let Go. Not an issue of X-Men passed without SOME reference to Phoenix. (I still remember being annoyed when he wrote the Wendigo-eye-view scene with Nightcrawler in the second Alpha Flight appearance as if it was a sunset (I'd asked Glynis for red tones in my margin notes) and had NC launch into a whole schpiel about how the colors reminded him of Jean, etc, etc. He, of course, should not have been Seeing those colors! Thus the effect of the scene was lost.)
It's only been two issues since her death! I really don't see the problem. Frankly, i think it's good writing. (Reading that FAQ entry, Byrne is also confused about the coloring issue - Nightcrawler is clearly referring to an actual sunset that he can see, not the view from Wendigo's eyes below.)
Beginning with these issues of Classic X-Men, the series is renamed X-Men Classic. With the renaming, it thankfully drops the horrible back-up stories. Yaay!
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: More or less concurrent with Machine Man #18.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: X-Men Classic #45, X-Men Classic #46
Inbound References (5): show
Angel, Blob, Colossus, Guardian, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Shadowcat, Shaman, Snowbird, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Vindicator, Wendigo II, Wolverine
Chris Claremont first wrote the Wendigo in a solo story in Monsters Unleashed #9(Marvel was sorta hurting for new monster features at the time).
Byrne might have complained about the dialogue cluttering his marvelous sunset scene, but it resonates for anyone who has ever experienced grief--especially the final scream to God: "How could you have been so cruel"?
The back-up stories in Classic X-Men were anything but horrible. Well, most. Yes, there were a few stinkers, but they were very, very few. And many had some beautiful John Bolton artwork.
Also? Damn, but Byrne really hates Chris Claremont.
Byrne doesn't hate Chris Claremont. However, he is bothered by some of Claremont's ticks as a writer as a fan and fellow professional. And he also disagreed with him on how the X-Men should be handled, and that's why he left the book.
Byrne is just very blunt and open about his opinions.
Around the time #140 was published, there popped up a Pocket Books anthology called "Marvel Superheroes", one prose story of which starred the X-Men by Jo Duffy. Obviously non-continuity as far as Marvel goes, but it has 3 significant bits: 1)Xavier is stated as having trained other mutants who died or turned evil, 2)Xavier outright manipulates scores of people who come into contact with the X-Men, and 3)Magneto threatens to rip out Wolverine's metallic skeleton years before we saw it in the comics.
Claremont intended to write a follow-up Wolverine & Snowbird story, but scrapped it when Byrne quit.
Byrne stated later that the first page to #140 finally tipped him over the edge to quit; he thought it was stupid to have Colossus straining so hard to pull out a stump after he'd successfully pulled off more difficult stuff.
Much better issues than the debut of Alpha Flight, which felt like an annoying backdoor pilot for a new team. Good character work. Shame we never got more Wolverine/Snowbird.
Haven't re-read this in a while, but that panel of Logan complaining that he never has a fair fight as an intelligence agent makes sense of his discontent. Presumably, except for the Hulk/Wendigo brawl, even black ops (Canadian black ops!) are too easy now. Good enough reason to join a team of other super folk.
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