Uncanny X-Men #268
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #268
Captain America appearing in an X-Men comic is pretty cool, and unusual.
It only occurs to me now, after noticing an ad that was published around this time (not in this issue), that the reason Captain America was appearing here is because he was "hot" at the time thanks to the "movie" that turned out to be a direct-to-video dud that didn't end up getting released for another two years. We were also approaching Cap's 50th anniversary.
But i'm not sure the best way to honor him was by revealing that he was in Madripoor in the Summer of 1941 (which would have been pretty soon after his debut), getting rescued by Wolverine. And that's what i don't like about this issue. As much as it's a lot of fun - and it is - it dumps a whole bunch of retconned backstory on us that is unnecessary and in some cases damaging. We have: 1) Captain America in Madripoor in 1941, at a time when was really supposed to just be dealing with spies and the like on the homefront. 2) Wolverine in Madripoor way earlier than its publication debut, and with that 3) A fully adult Wolverine in 1941. It always gets a little confusing thanks to half-developed clues and comments dropped along the way, plus all of the various continuity inserts, but this is i think the first time we're getting real confirmation that Wolverine has been around for so long. And the idea that he's been hanging out in Madripoor for that long makes it extra weird; if the place is that much of a home to him, why didn't we ever see him go there for the 47 years between this story and Marvel Comics Presents #1. Next up we have 4) the fact that Captain America, Wolverine, and the Black Widow all met in 1941. Captain America might not recognize Wolverine, but the reverse shouldn't be true, and the two have come into conflict a few times where you'd think a "Hey, dude, remember when i helped you out in Madripoor in 1941? Maybe you should trust me!" might have helped smooth things over. And of course the Black Widow has never sought out her "little uncle" in all the years since they've both resurfaced, and it doesn't seem like she's mentioned the event to Cap, either. Finally we have 5) the fact that the Black Widow is alive, albeit a child, in 1941. This story notes that that would make her well over 50 years old, but doesn't provide an explanation for how that can be. To be fair, something like this might have been necessary in order to keep her Cold War origins while allowing her to still be active today, but if you're going to drop something like that, it should be developed in some way.
One final note, probably of lesser concern than the rest. This story also features Baron von Strucker (so all these heroes have had a very early encounter with him). Oh, and the Hand are active at this point as well (which isn't surprising).
Anyway, let's start at the beginning. Captain America is attacked by Hand ninjas in Madripoor, and their fighting style proves to be a challenge for him.
Luckily Wolverine is there to help out.
With Cap is Ivan Petrovitch. They are both after Strucker, who has kidnapped Natasha Romanoff.
Forty nine years in the future, the Black Widow is also fighting Hand ninjas...
...and she also has to be rescued by Wolverine (and his partners Psylock and Jubilee, and note that the Hand still consider Psylocke to be a "renegade" from their ranks).
After the fight, Black Widow passes out. I love how Psylocke is just totally passive about it. No reaction.
It's the same when she wakes up.
Cute scene with Jubilee, surrounded by all these impossibly endowed women.
In the present, the threat is the children of Baron Strucker, Andrea and Andreas, aka Fenris, who are meeting up with Matsuo Tsurayba, the current leader of the Hand. (This is also the scene noting the Black Widow's age).
Back in the past, Wolverine forces a reaction with Baron Strucker at Seraph's, the same bar that is now called the Princess Bar where Wolverine always hangs out, except in 1941 it was run by a dwarf named Seraph.
They then go to rescue young Natasha. Wolverine is seemingly killed during the rescue attempt...
...so Cap and Ivan abandon his plan to take Natasha back to Seraph's, and instead go to the US embassy. Unfortunately, the US ambassador to Madripoor, Geoffrey Sydenham, is a Nazi supporter, so Cap and Ivan wind up getting take captive, and Natasha is returned to the Hand, who want to turn her into a master assassin (maybe someone with a better knowledge of Russian history can explain the relevance of her name).
But of course Wolverine wasn't really dead, so he comes to the rescue again.
In the end, the joke is that Wolverine doesn't want Captain America as a sidekick.
They are less successful in the present. They raid a party boat looking for Fenris and Tsurayaba, but it turns out their targets were decoys.
Definitely a fun story, but i wish it could have been done without retconning in so much backstory for so many characters.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAndrea Strucker, Andreas Strucker, Black Widow, Jubilee, Matsuo Tsurayaba, Psylocke, Wolverine
Probably the last Claremont X-Men comic I really enjoyed.
Posted by: Robert | May 27, 2015 2:30 PM
I don't know if his art deteriorated afterwards, but, of the artists associated with the 90s, Jim Lee is miles above the likes of Liefeld. This art is much more an evolution of the 80s house style at Marvel than the idiosyncracies of Liefeld, or even McFarlane. The women here seem to be drawn a little less as pure cheesecake than may be yet to come, and I like his Black Widow. If only Marvel hadn't given into the cult of the artist, and found a way to integrate the best of the new artists with the established writers, the 90s may have been rather different.
Posted by: Harry | May 27, 2015 2:44 PM
fnord, you forgot to add Captain America as a character appearing in the issue ;)
This story always bothered me because of how old it makes the Widow, and as pointed out, it's never been followed up on that I know of. Also, the meetings between Cap and Wolverine prior to this story don't make any sense as fnord pointed out. If they have this (albeit short) history together, would Wolverine really have pitched a fit about Captain America being appointed the leader during the Secret Wars? Just for one example.
Posted by: Bill | May 27, 2015 4:01 PM
Cap only appears in flashback so i didn't include him (or Ivan or Strucker).
Posted by: fnord12 | May 27, 2015 4:04 PM
Oh! Duh! Makes sense.
Posted by: Bill | May 27, 2015 4:28 PM
Canada was in WWII at this point for two years, and here is Wolverine pissing his time away in Madripoor. why don't you enlist in the Royal Canadian Army, you big coward!
Posted by: Chris | May 27, 2015 8:09 PM
Regarding Wolverine's age, the major hint before this was a reference to Wolverine spending a winter near Monte Cassino. Monte Cassino was the site of a major World War II battle in 1944, so if Wolverine was referring to the battle, then he was an adult in 1944.
Posted by: Michael | May 27, 2015 8:26 PM
Geoffrey Sydenham should be tagged: he returns in a continuity-implant Avengers series by Howard Chaykin.
This issue confused the hell out of me in 1990: I knew that Romanoff was a variant of Romanov, so I took this all to mean we were being officially told Natasha was a lost tsarina. I think that's what Claremont intended here: he has a bit of a royalty fetish. (See also Judith Rassendyll, "Lilibet" in True Friends, and--I suspect--certain implications that Alysande Stuart might be the heir of the House of Stuart.)
So that and 1940s Wolverine was odd enough, but who the hell was Ivan? He hadn't been seen in a Marvel comic as long as I'd been reading, since the mid-'80s, and no explanation for him or his Cap/Wolvie-level fighting skills is offered here.
As Michael says, this atory also doesn't mesh well with the later (but conceived earlier) True Friends story. Strucker should recognize Logan based on that story--indeed, it seems like Logan was the ine who influcted the "dueling" scars on Strucker's face.
I doubt the Cap film or anniversary had anything to do with this issue. I think Jim Lee just wanted to draw Cap for a few pages. Natasha's inclusion is probably Claremont's doing, as she continues the Frank Miller homaging of Claremont's stories from this era.
Another thing that was unclear even in 1990 was where the Hand/Japan/Strucker connection was leading. I knew from the Handbooks that the Japanese had actually launched or helped launch Hydra after WWII. Presumably this was setting the stage fir that. I assume it's all been superseded by waves of later retcons.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 28, 2015 12:26 AM
@Walter: The Wolverine we see in X-Men: True Friends though has adamantium claws, so is not the young Logan we see here but undoubtedly one from the future who was working for Landau, Luckman & Lake at the time, who Irene Adler and Mr. Raven we no doubt also. So Strucker is unlikely to have made the connection given that Logan was much older and this one wasn't using his claws at this stage.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 28, 2015 1:20 AM
If the idea was indeed to have Natasha be a lost tsarina, they should have her team up with Colossus, who was eventually revealed to be a descendant of the historical Rasputin!
Posted by: Berend | May 28, 2015 4:06 AM
@Walter- Natasha's too young in this story to be a survivor of a massacre in 1918.
Posted by: Michael | May 28, 2015 7:43 AM
Reading over the Thanos Quest comments, it does remind me that reading this over sort of rubs me a bit the wrong way in regards to some of Claremont's own self-promoting in a similar fashion to what Starlin is doing elsewhere. While I'm sort of fine later with the whole "he's been alive a long time and thus has experience" they go with later (since it becomes standard), the whole idea of him looking down on Cap as a "kid" during WWII just makes it seem like its the same exact thing as Claremont wanting Phoenix to defeat Thor earlier on, as if they want to self-promote their own characters as greater or more important than any others, including the foundations of the universe. Thats probably just ego but it just felt like it came off wrong here with this interpretation. (at least when later interpretations have Cap and Wolvie working together during WWII, it does feel more on equal terms...and Wolverine probably working more in line with the Canadian military instead of just "a freelance Canuck on his own in a strange land during a world at war".)
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 28, 2015 8:48 AM
@Walter, Geoffrey Sydenham only appears in flashback, so he shouldn't be tagged. But i've added his name to the review. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 28, 2015 9:10 AM
I suspect Alysande Stuart was supposed to be a reference to Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart from Dr. Who.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 28, 2015 5:56 PM
She's named (and ranked) after the Brigadier, and her brother is a bit like the Doctor himself. But Claremont reveals in upcoming Excalibur issues that something is weird about Sandy: her born-minutes-later twin brother can be mesmerized by Mesmero, but she's immune. Years later, Claremont gives us an alternate-dimension Alysande who is the superhero Caledonia and the last surviving free Scot of her world.
I forget whether there are more telling clues, but my guess about why she's Mesmero-proof and Alistaire isn't is that she's the spirit of Scotland, of royal Stuart blood, and having been born earlier is the first born. But that's just my theory, unless there's better evidence that I've forgotten.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 28, 2015 7:52 PM
Walter, Alysande was being controlled by the Shadow King when Mesmero tried to control her. I always assumed that the reason that Mesmero couldn't control her mind was because the Shadow King took control of it first.
Posted by: Michael | May 28, 2015 8:22 PM
@Walter: How do you propose being first born, and of royal blood (which in essence gifts no one anything but relation to a certain name), makes Alysande immune to Mesmero's powers?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 29, 2015 2:20 AM
Claremont also contradicts Daredevil #88, which establishes that Natasha and Ivan met during the siege of Stalingrad, which was in late 1942-early 1943. So, according to that, they wouldn't have even known each other in 1941.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | May 29, 2015 5:12 PM
Cap and Wolverine have met before on panel, but hasn't it always been while Wolverine's had his mask on? I can think of Secret Wars I (when Wolverine has a feisty exchange that foreshadows was Cyclops thinks about him years later in AvX) and the crazy UXM issue from the mid-eighties where New York was under a spell from a Hyborian lich.
In both those encounters, I think it's possible to imagine that Wolverine knew that he had met Steve before, but Steve didn't recognize him in mask, or was just being weirdly honorable in respecting the secret identity. That's something in character.
And, as fnord has stated elsewhere, Steve /does/ meet a lot of costumes. He could have just forgot.
Posted by: FF3 | September 22, 2015 12:26 PM
Wolvie wasn't in the Kulan Gath two-parter. I believe he was hanging out with Kitty in their own miniseries at the time. In "Secret Wars" they were just both being really stupid.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 22, 2015 9:00 PM
I remember this issue didn't show up from Marvel for my brother's subscription and by the time he realized it the shops were out of it and the price had already leaped.
"A little less as pure cheesecake", Harry? Even the scene where Natasha gets out of bed wearing a couple of handkerchiefs? I'm not complaining though, since I don't think anyone draws cheesecake better than Jim Lee.
This seemed an odd time to establish Natasha as being this old, just as we were reaching a point where having any characters alive from WWII other than Cap was starting to be problematic.
Is this the first issue where Cap is drawn with his eyebrows visible while his mask is on?
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 30, 2015 5:55 PM
This issue brings up the question of when Logan hooked up with Seraph? Was it just prior to this issue or was his mission with Eric Raven and Irene Adler 5 years prior (seen in X-Men: True Friends) on her behalf? It would seem to be quite a bit prior to 1941 since Logan refers in Wolverine #126 to being kind of innocent before hooking up with her.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 27, 2016 5:50 AM
I can try to No-Prize Wolverine not remembering his meeting with Cap as his brain being weird. We all know he has memory problems and shadows in his past, and some mental instability from his regenerative powers and other traumatic experiences, so he could have forgotten how things exactly went. Despite the fact that he seems to remember Natasha. So I guess hot women unlock his memories. That wouldn't be too out of character for him. And they're implied to have met many other times so she doesn't disappear from his mind right away.
I like retroactive adventures but I dislike when it messes with backstories, something most writers don't seem to care about. What especially bothers me is that we never really had indication Wolverine was familiar with Madripoor before Marvel Comics Presents #1.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | September 4, 2017 2:32 PM
Um, Nate, Wolverine explicitly says in Marvel Comics Presents 1 that he's been to Madripoor before.
Posted by: Michael | September 4, 2017 2:41 PM
Sorry, guess I forgot it. Now I like to imagine he secretly went there during small breaks in Claremont's early stories, sneaking off on weekends or something and making lame, dismissive excuses when asked where the hell he was when returning. Totally "Untold Tales of Wolverine" potential.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | September 4, 2017 3:25 PM
I'm sure you guys know about this, but the flashback story is expanded upon in Wolverine: Origins #16
Posted by: Bibs | December 28, 2017 4:09 AM
Uhm, why are you people suggesting the "present day" is 1990? It isn't. The "present day" in Marvel comic books is WHATEVER year they want it to be. For this particular story, it takes place around 30 years after 1941, because Natasha is OBVIOUSLY not even in her late 30s.
Posted by: richie | January 18, 2018 9:00 PM
The captions in the panel fnord scanned say "Forty-nine years later".
Posted by: Michael | January 18, 2018 9:27 PM
Is there any reason why showing off his bone claws wouldn't have helped Logan out in 1941? Could the reason be that they didn't actually exist and they were a stupid %@@^$ retcon?
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2018 10:20 PM
To those of you arguing about Natasha's age:
It has been established that Black Widow was born in 1928, and that she was given a serum similar to the one Captain America was given, making her age resistant. So it makes absolutely no difference how old Natasha "looks" in this comic.
I don't know enough about Black Widow's history to know if that continuity was in place at the time of this issue, but that is how it would all be explained now, regardless...
Posted by: Ghost | June 4, 2018 1:21 PM
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