Issue(s): Wolverine #4, Wolverine #5, Wolverine #6, Wolverine #7, Wolverine #8
These issues show a gang war in the aftermath of the death of the previous Madripoor warlord, Mr. Roche. It seemed like Tyger Tiger would simply replace Roche and be a kinder, gentler crimelord, but Karma's uncle, General Nguyen Coy moves in and makes a bid to take over.
And working as Coy's enforces are Marvel's greatest odd couple: Roughouse and Bloodsport. Roughouse is an Asgardian giant, somehow shrunk and banished to Earth. He is boisterous, uncivilized, and rude. Bloodsport is a vampire from the Medieval era, raised with a strict upbringing that demanded the finest manners before he was turned. These two unlikely companions are united by one thing: their shared love for eating babies.
OK, i made up at least 90% of the above. It's actually not possible for vampires to exist right now thanks to that spoilsport Dr. Strange. And the only clue to Roughouse's origin is that he throws in the occasional "in a troll's age" or "Ymir's icy breath!" to pepper up his ordinary modern tough guy vernacular. We don't get any backstory for these guys in this arc, and as far as i'm concerned any later revelations aren't canon because they interfere with my copious fan-fiction based on my own true interpretation of these characters. Heck, in later appearances they don't even get Bloodsport's name right (it gets changed to Bloodscream).
We first see these characters putting pressure on allies of Tyger Tiger. First killing a Chancellor to Prince Baran, the ruler of Madripoor, who was going to recommend that the prince make Tyger the official crimelord of the island city.
Then demanding fealty from a pilot of Tyger's named Archie Corrigan, who will remain a supporting character in this book. It's with Corrigan that we see that Bloodsportscream isn't quite a vampire.
Wolverine gets involved because he has a stake in seeing Tyger Tiger succeed (he also tells her that he is her conscience), so he investigates Coy and finds that Karma is working for him. Like Spider-Woman, Karma seemingly fails to recognize Wolverine throughout this arc.
Separately, Jessica Drew and Lindsay McCabe bump into Roughouse and Bloodsport...
...and then discover that they are coming back from a massacre of some of Tyger's minions. Investigating that, Drew says "Thank heaven, I still possess... my ability to stick to walls.".
Oh, um, you do? Because in Uncanny X-Men #206 you explicitly said that you have no super-powers. We did see Wolverine dismiss the idea that she had lost her powers in the previous arc, but i didn't know that automatically made it true.
When Wolverine and Jessica and Lindsay meet up to compare notes, there's a case of exposition gone horribly wrong.
Ok, so a mutant who "psychically possesses people, uses them as puppets" is exactly the opposite of a nasty piece of work? If you already know Karma and are bringing your own information to the table, that makes sense, but that could have been scripted better for new readers.
Notice also in that scene above it says that Wolverine has bought into the Princess Bar that is the hangout location for this series.
Tyger Tiger then shows up and says she's been invited to the prince's palace. She asks Wolverine to accompany her. They are waylaid by Roughouse and Bloodsport.
Wolverine isn't having much luck against the two of them, but Karma shows up and possesses them...
...allowing Wolverine to escape with Tyger, who is in need of medical attention due to blood loss. Karma prevents Roughouse and Bloodsport from knowing about her own involvement, and she goes back to working with her uncle. However, she's obviously not happy about it (we'll later learn, and anyone familiar with the character has already surmised, that she's doing it to use her uncle's criminal network to search for her missing siblings)...
...and she gives Bloodsport an opportunity to taste her blood, which apparently creates a bond between them.
The difference between Coy and Tyger is that Tyger refuses to get involved with drugs or the slave trade, so Coy is able to use his resources from those endeavors to bribe Prince Baran. So Wolverine decides to go to the pilot, Archie Corrigan, to get a ride to Coy's opium fields in the "Golden Triangle" (no specific country is mentioned), with the idea of wiping them out and cutting off Coy's funding.
On the way there, Archie considers killing Wolverine due to the earlier intimidation from Bloodsport...
...but ultimately decides not to (Wolverine has already picked up Bloodsport's scent on Archie and was ready if anything happened). Archie's plane is then attacked by another plane, sent by some guys with names like Battleaxe and Shotgun and run by a guy named Hardcase. They seem to be guarding the opium fields.
Wolverine doesn't have much trouble with them...
...although Hardcase says that if he had brought his entire team, they'd be enough to take on the Avengers.
Wolverine manages to destroy the drug fields as intended. As he leaves, we're promised a next time.
That next time will occur later in Uncanny X-Men #261, which was actually my first encounter with the "Harriers". Having subsequently read this didn't help my bewilderment with that issue, but we'll cover that in good time.
Meanwhile, on Wolverine's recommendation, Jessica and Lindsay take the injured Tyger Tiger to a building owned by Landau, Luckman, & Lake.
They are met by a Mr. Chang, who apparently knew "Patch" in the days of tintypes.
It's serendipitous that "Patch" is in quotes even in Jessica's thought balloons, giving the revelation about Wolverine's "secret" identity that comes in Peter David's upcoming run.
The name Landau, Luckman, & Lake was basically an in joke (they were the owners of Forbidden Planet in the UK), but the organization will become important later in Joe Kelly's Deadpool series. Even now there's clearly meant to be something unusual about them, given that picture and the fact that it turns out they are the company that supplies Psylocke's armor.
Unfortunately, especially for Chang (who is killed), Roughouse and Bloodsport track Jessica, Lindsay, and Tyger and capture them. Even though Lindsay is still wearing the armor when they attack...
...we'll see that by next issue it somehow winds up on Tyger Tiger.
Issue #6 has is a big fight rumpus as everyone converges on the prince's palace...
...and it even includes a tentacle monster that John Buscema slipped in from Conan.
The fight is interrupted by the first on-panel appearance of Prince Baran. Everyone stops to laugh at his pants.
The Prince turns out to be a big fan of Lindsay McCabe's acting career, thus shifting the Prince's favor towards Tyger's organization.
Where have i seen this before? Uncanny X-Men #217? One thing that seems odd is that Lindsay's career all seemed to happen before her run-in with the Viper in Spider-Woman #42-43. I always thought Lindsay was just an aspiring actress. It seems like not long before the Viper incident, Lindsay was willing to take very questionable assignments just to get her career kickstarted. This seems to indicate she had quite a career already, albeit in B-movies. I wonder why Claremont didn't just have her moderate success take place after the Spider-Woman series ended.
The net results of all of this is that the Prince, who is no saint, offers General Coy control of the drug and slave trade in Madripoor, and Tyger Tiger gets the remainder of the city's criminal activities. Wolverine convinces Tyger to accept this deal.
This is putting Wolverine in a weird situation, morally. First, he's accepting the continuation of slave trade, at least for now. He's also condoning the activities of whatever Tyger is left with: prostitution for sure, but what else? Gambling? Pickpocketing? Protection rackets? If that was the price to pay for eliminating drug and slave trading in Madripoor, i could see it. But what's the benefit now? I'm not arguing that Wolverine should just bring in the X-Men and clean up the city, and i guess he's playing a long game with his hopes pinned on Tyger, but it's very realpolitik of him.
That plotline basically ends midway through issue #7 while something else is getting set up for issue #8.
Wolverine twice in the preceding events makes references to taking a hit from the Hulk (once while jumping off a plane and once while exchanging punches with Roughouse). And in issue #7, we find that the Hulk, in his current "Mr. Fixit" incarnation, is being sent to Madripor on a criminal exchange program.
The idea is a mobster who Fixit's employee, Mr. Berengetti, owes a favor to, is actually in a partnership with General Coy. and the guy wants Fixit to go to Madripoor to investigate reports that Coy isn't doing so good over there. Much of #7 is spent showing the Hulk on his way to the airport and getting into a fight with some local bikers...
...but he eventually gets to Madripor and attracts "Patch's" attention when a group of thugs start a fight with him. Wolverine assumes that the goons were sent by Coy to stop the investigation. Wolverine recognizes Mr. Fixit as the Hulk, but the Hulk doesn't recognize Wolverine as Patch.
Patch even drives the Hulk to his hotel room, and later comes back to find Bruce Banner impersonating David Byrne.
Now i have to admit, when i read this, and even when i re-read this again for my project, it didn't occur to me at first that the Hulk didn't recognize Wolverine. Because, duh. So when i saw this scene, i first thought it was hilarious, but just an in-joke between Hulk and Wolverine, a semi-friendly prank.
But no. Wolverine stages it as a threat.
Still, funny. But Claremont keeps going with it. He later shows up at the Princess Bar, where Lindsay McCabe has become the chanteuse, and where Tyger Tiger and General Coy are all hanging out...
...and he has Wolverine again make a (silent) crack about purple pants.
And then Claremont actually contrives to have the Hulk end up in purple pants after all.
It's stretching the joke a bit thin at this point.
In-story, it ought to make the Hulk suspicious too, but he doesn't (as far we see) connect this with the threat given to him earlier, and he allows "Patch" to lead him around Madripoor to bust up Coy's slavery and drug activities without realizing that he's busting up the operations of the person he's supposed to be helping and/or investigating (the fact that the person he's looking for, General Coy, was actually in the Princess Bar that Patch led him away from is not commented on although it fits the story).
Hulk eventually recognizes Wolverine by the snikt of his claws.
But in the end he decides he's glad he's busted up Coy's operations since they aren't something that either he or Berengetti would condone.
Notice that Roughouse and Bloodsport don't attempt to take on Mr. Fixit.
Wolverine is a jerk to the Hulk throughout the story, even possibly setting up Banner with prostitutes during the day as a way to torture the Hulk (we only see it as a kind of hazy dream as the Hulk persona wakes up, so it's not definite that Banner's been unfaithful to Betty).
And he similarly tricks the Hulk onto a plane that is flying into the sun the whole trip so that Hulk will remain as Banner.
I think it's cool to acknowledge that both characters are in similar scenarios at this moment, and that it's an odd scenario for both of them, but i wish it had played out without Wolverine being a pranking ass the whole time.
Generally speaking these are very fun stories, all with nice art from John Buscema. They actually seem more focused than Claremont's X-Men at this point. Ironically, though, these are basically Claremont's last issues on this title, excepting issue #10.
I offer this strange panel without comment:
A note on the References section. Sometimes i get overzealous about counting things as References, and i try to note when there's not an explicit footnote or flashback scene. But you'll notice that there are no footnotes in these issues. This is part of a trend i'm noticing, especially in the X-books (it happens on Louise Simonson's books too, to a lesser extent), where the stories play so naturally off of their existing history that i don't think the writers even realize they're playing off of issues that not everyone might have read. It's especially notable here where Claremont references events to his run on Spider-Woman. I think it's great that these stories use so much of what's come before (even if in this case it's all Claremont books), and i don't think it hurts the flow too much; it's not necessary to know, for example, when or how Spider-Woman previously thwarted General Coy. But one thing it does do is open up a little uncertainty. When characters like Roughouse and Bloodsport or Hardcase and his crew pop up with no backstory provided, the fact that there are no footnotes can help a casual reader understand that they aren't missing anything, that these are indeed new characters. But since there's no footnotes anywhere in these issues, that's less of a sure bet. Even the appearance of the Psylocke armor or the Hulk's unusual status quo could have benefited from a footnote (albeit not necessarily with a reference to a specific issue); in a different sort of book that would have definitely been done. I'm really just noting this now to track the decline of the use of footnotes. We are a long way away from it being semi-official policy that footnotes stop getting used, and i think what's happening here is less about avoiding footnotes than realizing that footnotes might be helpful. But i thought it was worth calling out.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has Wolverine #4-16 between Uncanny X-Men #243-245 (Wolverine doesn't appear in #244). And i've got the Hulk here during a long gap in his series, between Hulk #354-355.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Wolverine Classic vol. 1, Wolverine Classic vol. 2
Inbound References (5): show
It's fairly clear that BOTH Roughhouse and Bloodsport were intended to be Asgardians- Wolverine notes something alien about both their scents that he finds familiar. Interestingly, it's stated that neither can be killed by mortal steel but later it's suggested that only Bloodscream is immune to mortal steel.
Posted by: Michael | September 26, 2014 3:52 PM
I saw that Path of the Warlord issue and assumed (hoped?) it took place before World War II so i wouldn't have to get it. I forget i already had it on the What's Missing page. Listed Chang as a character. And yeah, i'll add a qualifier to Tai's tag at some point.
Getting soft or maybe just worn down.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 26, 2014 4:45 PM
Hardcase and the Harriers might be intended as some sort of commentary on G.I.Joe, with all the codenames. Battleaxe even looks like Roadblock. If so, what that commentary is trying to say is beyond me.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 27, 2014 1:50 AM
That would fall under what Fredric Jameson calls "blank parody."
Posted by: cullen | September 27, 2014 1:59 AM
Archie Corrigan is a reference to Archie Goodwin and the comic strip he wrote for a long time, Secret Agent Corrigan.
"Baran" could be a Flash Gordon reference.
Bloodsport's name may have been changed because John Byrne had already created a Superman villain with that name(it wouldn't surprise me if Byrne was the one who complained to Marvel about it).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 27, 2014 2:25 AM
At about the time #4 was published, Amazing Heroes #157 had a weird announcement: Marvel was considering an Alf Spring Special guest starring Wolverine. No idea if that actually happened.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 16, 2015 5:21 PM
Amazing Heroes #160 had a notation that Wolverine's appearance in the Alf Spring Special was vetoed, not by Marvel higher-ups, but by Alf's owners.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 6, 2015 11:42 PM
Might the tentacled monster suggest an N'Garai cairn;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 2, 2015 10:56 PM
Bloodsport telling Karma they are now bound together is reminiscent of Dracula to Mina Murray;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 6, 2015 7:19 AM
Nathan, fnord reviews stories according to when they occured chronologically, not when they were intended to be released, so X-Men:True Friends would have to take place after Excalibur 41, since Kitty makes it clear in that issue that she hasn't seen Wolverine since he "died" in Dallas.
Posted by: Michael | April 6, 2015 8:17 AM
So under what circumstances do we think Claremont intended to have Banapur Khan, Cheong, Lal, Amram Singh, Hanrahan, Krause, Rohmer all come back as a team wanting revenge on Wolverine?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 7, 2015 6:09 AM
It is revealed in the Gehenna Stone affair that Chang was murdered by Baal's vampires, but its obvious that Claremont intended Bloodsport to be the perpetrator from issue #5.
I suspect that change was Peter David's subtle payback for Chris's use of Hulk in #8.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 10, 2015 4:48 AM
Some rather late items and maybe the discussion of this issue is over. If so, curses.
But... something about this story never made sense to me: What was "the Don" actually trying to accomplish? At the end, Coy tells the Hulk, "The Don sent you here to help me, not cripple my operation!"
The Hulk replies with "From what you're tellin' me, the Don lied."
And indeed if we go back to #7, we find the Don saying that he just wants Fixit to go to Madripoor to see what his business partner (Coy) is up to. "Find out what the score is." Later in #7, Karma seems to confirm this, telling Patch that Fixit is an enforcer sent to f*ck up her Uncle.
So... I don't get it. I assume the guys who attacked the Hulk in #7 worked for Coy. But why did Coy send them if he thought Fixit was there to help him? And why did Karma think the opposite of what her uncle thought? Didn't she only hear about Fixit from him?
Is it just me? I can't parse it out.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 10, 2015 4:50 AM
Nathan, where is it stated in the Gehenna Stone affair that Chanf was murdered by Baal's vampires? Because in Larry Hama's run, Chang's death is mentioned a couple of times and Wolverine always refers to Bloodscream/sport as a perpetrator.
Posted by: Michael | April 10, 2015 8:05 AM
@Michael: Pretty sure it's either #11 or the final part.
Re: the Don, glad I'm not the only one.
Perhaps it works a little better if we don't assume the thugs at the airport were sent by Coy, but were instead random thugs?
So the Don sends Fixit to check in on Coy, not telling him he's a mobster. The Don then tells Coy he's sending someone to help him, even though he's really sending Fixit to assess the situation, hoping to motivate Coy into stepping things up, something Karma realises but Coy doesn't. Fixit gets there and Wolverine uses him to mess up Coy, Coy gets mad because he thought Fixit was supposed to help him, Fixit gets mad because the Don lied about Coy not being a bad mobster guy. Toss out the notion that the airport thugs were sent by Coy and squint a little, and it almost all works... except...
... what was the Don expecting Fixit to find when he investigated Coy? He knew that Fixit and Berengetti were "straight arrow" guys. What's the best case scenario for the Don? He knew from his reputation that Fixit was a formidable dude, and he knew he was a "good guy," so it seems strange to point him like a bullet towards Coy for any reason, if they're allies!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 10, 2015 9:17 AM
In Wolverine #6, Claremont establishes that both Roughouse and Bloodsport cannot be killed my mortal steel suggesting their powers don't derive from magick. Bloodsport is resistant to telepaths as Karma's attempt to possess him fails. He also only needs flesh-to-flesh contact to drain someone’s blood, and it’s further established he has a healing factor to rival Wolverine's.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 18, 2015 2:52 AM
"Can't be killed by mortal steel" suggests their powers DO derive from magic. Why would scientific powers depend on who made the steel?
Posted by: Michael | April 18, 2015 11:56 AM
@Michael: Ah, but might this suggest they are impervious to iron also, since that metal tends to be a threat to those deriving their powers from magic?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 19, 2015 3:59 PM
Man I loved these issues. Just good fun. I'm not sure Claremont ever assembled a better supporting cast. I always thought it was a shame the series moved away from Madripoor so quickly.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 29, 2017 9:26 PM
John Buscema drew a better Hulk than his brother did. Better everything really but Sal was no slouch.
Posted by: Mizark | June 2, 2017 8:29 AM
In issue 8 some of the of goons comment that "last month, the General's crop of raw opium was destroyed." which happened in issue 5.
Lindsey's "slave" outfit looks very inspired by Leia's metal bikini in Return of the Jedi
Posted by: Brian | March 25, 2018 4:03 AM
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