Characters Appearing: Black Blade, Lindsay McCabe, O'Donnell (Princess Bar), Silver Samurai, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Tai (Madripoor police), Wolverine
Issue(s): Wolverine #1, Wolverine #2, Wolverine #3
These issues do still use the Madripoor setting that was introduced in the prelude to this series in Marvel Comics Presents. But we first start in Indonesia, where Claremont is unfortunately going to the rape well again, this time having some pirates having their way with the female members of a downed airplane.
Wolverine shows up and goes the full Conan on the pirates.
He finds out that the pirates were working for the Cult of the Black Blade, and were after the Murasama Sword. He gets this info from a samurai working for Lady Mariko who was mortally wounded by the pirates.
Wolverine narrates these issues in the first person, and he says that the Black Blade Cult goes back centuries and that their last big resurgence was during the 1920s as part of the pre-War rise of Japanese militarism. He says that MacArthur's counter-intelligence crew supposedly took care of them, and he thought that "we" did a good job of it, but obviously they are still around.
It turns out the sword wasn't even on that particular plane, so Wolverine goes to Madripoor to scope out other planes, and he runs into Lindsay McCabe, the supporting character and actress from the original Spider-Woman series.
He follows her and rescues her from some of the cultists.
Actually, she does a decent job in participating in her rescue, thanks to her acting experience. This will be a repeat theme in these issues.
Note that Wolverine, er, "Patch" recognizes Lindsay from his encounters with Jessica Drew, but Lindsay doesn't recognize him.
It turns out that Lindsay doesn't have the sword either. Jessica Drew - formerly Spider-Woman - does, and she's now in danger.
In issue #2, Lindsay gets drunk on a Long Island Ice Tea...
..and she'll remain tipsy for the rest of this story. Wolverine leaves her at the bar and goes to find Jessica, and instead finds a room full of slaughtered men. And he's then interrupted by the arrival of the Silver Samurai.
They both soon find the perpetrator of the slaughter. It's Jessica, possessed by the Murasama Sword. While that's happening, Lindsay gets alcohol all over her clothes and has to change into a slinky dress.
What follows is a big four way fight between the Samurai, Jessica, Patch, and the ruffians in the bar.
Wolverine secretly brings down the house with his claws to end the fight, and then goes after Jessica.
Lindsay, meanwhile, decides to help the Samurai, even though he's tried to kill her in the past.
The fight with Jessica ends with the sword in Wolverine's possession...
...or rather vice versa.
This leaves as the protagonists of issue #3 the unlikely duo of the Silver Samurai and Lindsay McCabe.
They go to the cultists that attacked her earlier. They're currently being held at the Princess Bar by Patch's friend O'Donnell. Lindsay takes the lead in the interrogation.
It's all an act but obviously one that Lindsay gets pretty involved in.
To complete her transition to action hero, she gets herself some nice dark clothing...
...and they head out to the cultist's temple. I told you this was an Indiana Jones style adventure.
They find Patch in full ceremonial garb, getting ready to sacrifice Jessica.
So Lindsay shoots him in the head.
Her ability to shoot is said to be thanks to having acted on an episode of Tour of Duty where she hung out with the gun experts that were on staff.
Meanwhile the Silver Samurai deals with the cultists.
But Wolverine of course isn't dead, so the Samurai has to fight him as well.
Wolverine eventually makes his Saving Throw and breaks free of the sword's control.
The Silver Samurai then takes the sword, and unlike the others who have held it, he doesn't seem to be affected by it.
The Silver Samurai's comments to "Patch" about his ability to resist being due to him already having a sword of honor, a reference to the Samurai's sister Lady Mariko having offered Wolverine their familial blade in the original Wolverine mini-series, is a nice touch. It also makes sense that the Samurai, unlike Lindsay, would recognize Wolverine. Jessica Drew is too out of it at the end of this issue to recognize anyone.
There's nothing wrong with Lindsay taking the lead role in this story except that it's another, albeit minor by comparison, example of Claremont's trademark move of turning every female character into a warrior woman. And this is a fun action story with nice adventure art from John Buscema. Nothing particularly monumental going on here (i don't think the implications of the Silver Samurai having this cursed weapon now is ever even explored in the future), but it's fun.
And just to show we haven't completely neglected the Casablanca elements:
As Michael and Walter Lawson note in the Comments below, this Wolverine comic was going to happen whether or not Claremont wanted it. From Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story:
By now, Marvel determined to introduce a regular Wolverine solo title as well. Chris Claremont had just launched Excalibur when he was informed of the plans. He complained to DeFalco about the integrity of the character, and about the threat of dilution, but the editor in chief would have none of it. Wolverine was his own franchise now, one that had become too big to contain. The series would happen with or without Claremont. After twelve years, the idea of someone else determining the character's fate was unthinkable, so once again Claremont rolled up his sleeves and got to work.
Based on that, the idea of Claremont using the book to do genre stories makes a lot more sense, and i'm glad that Claremont decided to stay with the character.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places Marvel Comics Presents #1-10 and these issues between Uncanny X-Men #231-232.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
There was nothing wrong with the idea that Logan's Patch disguise could fool a normal person that hadn't met Wolverine before. The problem was that Claremont kept dragging in supposedly intelligent characters that had met Logan before (Lindsay McCabe, Jessica Drew, Karma) and making them look like idiots by failing to recognize him because of an EYEPATCH. Peter David eventually explained that everyone recognized Logan and nobody had the courage to tell him how stupid he was.
Posted by: Michael | July 27, 2014 6:26 PM
Peter David probably had the right idea. Wolverine is not a character people would have any difficulty in recognizing, even if they had reason to believe in dead.
I wonder what led Marvel to make a lead out of him, though.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 27, 2014 9:04 PM
Marvel knew the book would sell, which was probably enough. I think was a case of Claremont being told there'd be a Wolverine solo book whether he wrote it or not, so he accepted even though he didn't like the idea of an ongoing Wolverine book. If I recall, Claremont had pitched a series of Wolverine limited series instead.
That said, I don't think there was any sabotage here: as Fnord notes, these issues are Claremont doing what he enjoys, writing genre adventure stories. I only read this run for the first time a few years ago, and I was surprised it didn't have a better reputation: this is a fun series with an interesting cast that successfully avoids treading on the the X--Men stories of the era. Even the "Patch" silliness is likely a bit of consciously lighthearted genre spoofing on Claremont's part: he's gently mocking the convention that says Clark Kent with glasses is in recognizable as Superman.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 28, 2014 12:02 AM
The title to #3 is probably a Michael Moorcock reference.
The cover to #1(and the advertising for it)drew criticism from fanzines due to trying to attract readers by promising a "large body count".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2014 7:11 PM
If people had seen Wolverine without his helmet, yes, it's obvious. If only in costume, I'm willing to buy it. Who would ever guess that much hair was under the costume?
Madripoor is a cool setting. The problem is that Claremont wants to bring in his old toys. There is no reason for Jessica Drew and Lindsay McCabe to be here. What might be nice is Bethany Cabe and Lynn MacPherson from Iron Man who can fill much of the same roles and be nice guest stars. I'd have also liked to have seen other characters more appropriate for international intrigue type stuff - old characters from MOKF, Moon Knight, or PM&IF.
Posted by: Chris | July 31, 2014 10:12 PM
In Comics Journal #122, it was reported that at Marvel's sales conference in Tampa in 2/88, this book was promoted as having 75 people dead in the first 5 pages and an average of 125 dead bodies in each issue thereafter. It wasn't specified if this was done in a joking manner or if it was intended as a serious selling point.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 28, 2014 6:18 PM
In Comics Interview #62(8/88), Buscema stated that he designed Wolverine's bodysuit and that the shadows around his eyes was supposed to be a painted-on mask.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 20, 2014 4:23 PM
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