Characters Appearing: Archie Corrigan, Ba'al-Hadad, Lindsay McCabe, O'Donnell (Princess Bar), Prince Baran, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Tai (Madripoor police), Wolverine
Issue(s): Wolverine #11, Wolverine #12, Wolverine #13, Wolverine #14, Wolverine #15, Wolverine #16
These issues are all part of a single "Gehenna Stone Affair" storyline by Peter David. It's the first of a few short runs by different creators before Larry Hama takes over the title with issue #31.
This is just a really fun adventure story. Peter David gets Wolverine out of the Madripoor setting for the most part and replaces it with something in the style of an Indiana Jones adventure. Explicitly so, thanks to the introduction of Burt Corrigan, the brother of the pilot Archie Corrigan who was introduced during Claremont's issues. Burt is wealthy, having inherited all of the Corrigan family fortune, unlike Archie and their sister, Ruth. But Burt is also "flaky", taking on the personality of characters from movies and literature - Indiana Jones for the majority of this story - and Ruth is trying to get him committed so that (according to Archie) she can get control of the family fortune. Archie convinces "Patch" to go with him to San Francisco to support his brother in court, and Jessica Drew decides to go along to visit her old stomping grounds from when she was Spider-Woman.
The conflict, aside from how Burt's aforementioned craziness affects his competence hearing...
...is that the Mesopotamian demon-god Ba'al is trying to collect all of the pieces of a gem called the Gehenna Stone.
And Burt has already stolen one of the pieces out of the local museum.
The gem will allow Ba'al to create his own brand of vampires (despite Dr. Strange's spell, although that's not specifically said), and his followers already like to dress up and act like vampires.
We don't learn a lot of the backstory in the first two issues, which just keep things moving with a lot of wit and action.
Very much a Harrison Ford vibe.
The next issue blurb for part #2 lets us know we're finally going to have to deal with some exposition (it's not actually the title of issue #13, though).
The story is that outside of ancient Jerusalem, there was Gehenna, ruled by the demon Ba'al.
And one day a warrior sent by God came to kill him.
Ba'al's soul then went into a gem, which the warrior smashed into a million scattered pieces.
In recent times, archeologists have been finding the pieces, and Ba'al's minions have been collecting them. That's why Burt stole the one in the museum. Another piece winds up at the Princess Bar in Madripoor. It's clear that the gems have a corrupting influence, and both Burt and the two brothers that bring the piece to the Princess Bar start acting funny. The brothers wind up killing each other and the gem ends up with the bar's owner, O'Donnell.
Meanwhile, Wolverine is trying to get his crew back to Madripoor where he thinks he can protect the gem better, but they are attacked by Ba'al and his minions.
You can see from the above scan that one additional thing that happens during the course of this series is that Wolverine starts giving up on the idea of protecting his secret identity as "Patch", and we'll soon see that Peter David disposes of it entirely.
Despite a clarification that Jessica Drew's powers are not quite up to the levels they were when she was officially Spider-Woman...
...the group does okay against Ba'al's minions...
...but Wolverine has less luck against Ba'al himself.
Ba'al manages to get Burt's segment of the stone, but "Patch" insists that they follow in Archie's plane. While following Ba'al, Patch makes a joke about going to the "little mutants' room" and then changes into his Wolverine costume before jumping onto Ba'al's plane.
Jessica had already jumped to the plane, and when she sees Wolverine in costume she tells him it's about time he "ditched the Patch nonsense".
This is from a flashback in issue #15 showing the rest of that conversation.
We'll soon find out that Lindsay McCabe knew as well...
...and she told O'Donnell.
We already saw in Wolverine #10 that police commander Tai at least knew when "Patch's" birthday was, so he probably knew as well. The upending of the Patch identity may be done a little flippantly, but the idea that Wolverine could have been keeping his identity a secret just by wearing an eyepatch seems silly. Good enough for O'Donnell and Tai and maybe even Lindsay, but hard to believe for Spider-Woman. We don't see a reaction from Karma in this story.
The scenes above with Linday and O'Donnell are also from #15. Let me jump back to Ba'al's plane in issue #14.
Over the (comic) years it's been hard to track the continued increase of Wolverine's power levels, but it's worth noting that in issue #12 of this story his head is grazed by a rifle shot and it does knock him for a loop. And while he's on Ba'al's plane fighting through his minions, we see him wishing that Colossus was with him.
On the other hand, his main opponent for this storyline is a demon god, so there's that. Instead of Ba'al himself, though, at this time Wolverine fights a powered up version of one of his minions.
Wolverine ends up stabbing the plane's control panel...
...and he and Jessica jump back to Archie's plane while Ba'al explodes with his.
Meanwhile, Lindsay McCabe is also drawn to the final portion of the gem that O'Donnell is holding, leading to this. Oh boy.
But that piece of the gem winds up getting confiscated by Tai and brought to the prince of Madripoor. Who, it turns out, is entertaining a still-very-much-alive Ba'al.
Jessica Drew is actually employed by Prince Baran, so he listens when she tries to explain that Ba'al is an ancient demon god trying to reconstitute his soul. But he still finds the explanation absurd, leading to this funny panel.
Baran does try to keep the gem from Ba'al while he negotiates a deal, and he tries to hide the gem by having one of his servants swallow it. That turns out to not be a healthy idea.
Once Ba'al has the completed Gehenna Stone, he's able to turn his minions into "true" vampires. I still assume that whatever these creatures are, they aren't the same as what Dracula and his ilk were. Alternatively, the Gehenna Stone is able to override the spell that Dr. Strange cast that keeps vampires from returning to Earth. Either way i think it's fine.
Ba'al recognizes Wolverine as a reincarnation of the holy warrior that killed him last time...
...and the art seems to confirm that.
On top of that, when the situation gets bad, Wolverine finds himself praying.
I'm assuming all this overt religious talk is inspired by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was out the year this was published and clearly influenced Peter David here. For the most part, that influence is very welcome, but it's odd seeing religious overtones in a Wolverine book of all places.
Wolverine shatters the stone and then kills Ba'al, therefore eliminating anywhere for his soul to hide this time. And that's the story; there's actually no resolution to Burt Corrigan's sanity hearing, and he's seen in an epilogue acting like James Bond in Monte Carlo. Presumably when his interrupted competency hearing is rescheduled, he won't burst in on a horse again, so he'll be ok.
Nothing "important" happens in these issues except the revelation that Wolverine's "Patch" identity was a bust (and even that is largely played for laughs) but it's a fun adventure. The issues are fast paced and full of dumb, funny jokes.
Sometimes the jokes step on characterization. I'm not sure i like this kind of attitude from Wolverine.
But a lot of the humor from Wolverine himself is in the tough guy variety that one might see in an action movie staring Clint Eastwood (and of course Harrison Ford). And when it's not coming from Wolverine specifically, i don't have any problem with it at all and enjoy it quite a bit.
There's some real characterization as well, such as in the beginning when Wolverine realizes that while he goes to Madripoor to get some space from the X-Men, he's winding up with a separate "family" here, and hopes he'll never have to choose between them. So it's a good arc, and i continue to enjoy the unusual John Buscema / Bill Sienkiewicz combination.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Ba'al, sometimes spelled without the apostrophe, is presumably the "real" Mesopotamian god. A character with the same name and origin appears later in Johnny Blaze's solo book, and it's possible the character could one day appear somewhere else, like in Thor. The MCP lists the character appearing in Wolverine and Blaze as the same character, and i'll follow that. The MCP has Wolverine #4-16 between Uncanny X-Men #243-245 (Wolverine doesn't appear in #244). Wolverine is still wearing his patch in Madripoor in Punisher War Journal #6, but as Michael notes in the Comments, Wolverine continues wearing it for a while, so that's not a consideration.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Wolverine Classic vol. 3
Wolverine still wears his patch in Madripoor in several issues (including next issue) between this arc and the X-Tinction Agenda, so that shouldn't be a factor in placement.
Posted by: Michael | September 28, 2014 7:41 PM
Thanks Michael. I guess it's just too comfortable and stylish to give up.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 28, 2014 8:20 PM
This was my first exposure to Peter David's writing [well, other than the "Fall of the Mutants" crossover with "Hulk," and I didn't care for that because I didn't like McFarlane's art, and the Hulk was so far away from the character I knew. Oh, and the "Death of Jean DeWolff" which I loved. And its sequel, which I liked. And he contributed to "What The..." too. "Blasters"? The previous issue of "Wolverine" that he wrote? Look, maybe it wasn't my first exposure to Peter David's writing after all. Stop judging me! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!]
The writing is better than the story. It involves all of Wolvie's supporting cast, it gives Wolvie interesting non-X-related things to do in his solo noir setting - the "Indiana Jones" references themselves are enough to make that point - and it addresses the difficulties of Logan pretending to be dead when nobody could miss the hair and attitude. He's not much of a secret agent.
In a genre founded by where Clark Kent wearing glasses for a disguise, it's understandable, but more and more unbelievable as time goes on. At least Clark is a total geek while Superman is inspiring and wonderful. Patch is a badass who knows everything that's going on and leaves a lot of claw marks in his wake. Peter David chose the best way out of this problem, 'when someone with claws and a temper wants to believe he's fooling people...' And we'll never have a good answer for why he even tried, or thought anyone would believe him. PAD does a good job of covering.
And the story is fun enough in itself, with humorous bits and character development. This is Peter David doing his best with the series Claremont left, and fitting it into the Marvel Universe whenever possible. I would say these are not true vampires, because vampires no longer exist. But it's also a good enough signal to the editors that - similar to when the Comics Code relaxed its standards - vampires are too good as villains to simply declare them all dead. They need to come back, and a future "Dr. Strange" story will make that happen.
I also don't like the Buscema/Sienkiewicz collaboration but that's mostly due to the awesome Buscema/Williamson art of the first several issues. Buscema wasn't meant to be a minimalist, and Sienkiewicz isn't either. Together it just looks poorly drawn, which is the worst way to describe two such incredible artists.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 29, 2014 9:24 PM
Unless someone has seen Wolverine with his mask off and that weird haricut, why would anyone think Wolverine was Patch? If they did, yes, it won't full anyone. If not, it's a good enough disguise as another alter ego.
Has Jessica Drew ever seen Logan with his helmet off? If so, she would be the only person who would know.
Posted by: Chris | September 29, 2014 11:06 PM
Jessica saw Logan with his helmet off in X-Men 203, and Lindsay was implied to have since he was staying with both of them. And Karma also saw him with his helment off. It was really those three that were the problem. If Claremont had just used characters that hadn't seen Wolverine with his helmet off, there would have been no problem.
Posted by: Michael | September 29, 2014 11:32 PM
With Wolverine's distinctive height, haircut and personality, one wonders why he even bothers with using any mask.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 29, 2014 11:34 PM
"Ba'al recognizes Wolverine as a reincarnation of the holy warrior that killed him last time...
Really? Unless you're seeing a different scan than I am, there's a person who somewhat looks like Wolverine in a similar pose. I don't see any other resemblance that would suggest any connection to Wolverine whatsoever.
"With Wolverine's distinctive height, haircut and personality, one wonders why he even bothers with using any mask."
If Superman can hide as Clark Kent with a pair of glasses and slick-backed hair, I don't think a patch over an eye is too unbelievable.
Posted by: clyde | July 10, 2015 2:30 PM
I just mean the way the artist chose to create the parallel by putting the symbolic image of the holy warrior over Wolverine. I agree the character doesn't look like Wolverine.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2015 2:36 PM
The warrior who defeated Ba'al in the past... for the sake of it, I really want it to be Hercules or Gilgamesh or something.
Posted by: AF | October 31, 2017 5:06 AM
Note to self: read to end of story before commenting...
Posted by: AF | October 31, 2017 5:45 AM
I'll never get why Wolverine became such a popular character in the 80s if every single series he had aside from the X-men turned him into a ninja/secret agent. He barely even uses his claws. Most boring series ever.
Posted by: will | December 15, 2017 12:59 PM
I don't think anyone actually says "Indiana Jones" in these issues.
Several of the issues DID have ads for the "Indiana Jones Interactive Telephone Adventure Games!"
Posted by: Brian | March 27, 2018 3:13 AM
@ Brian -
Bear in mind that when Marvel characters were constantly referring to Star Wars, it was also a comic then being published by Marvel, so it was also cross-promoting.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 27, 2018 6:50 AM
And one imagines that while Marvel was doing an Indiana Jones book -the Lucasfilm contact was alleged to be very difficult- the terms of the license agreement may have been different to somehow short-circuit any cross-promotion, and they couldn't expect not to be caught, Lucasfilm having notoriously aggressive legal representation...
Posted by: BU | March 27, 2018 10:35 PM
Comments are now closed.
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