Issue(s): Wolverine #60, Wolverine #61, Wolverine #62, Wolverine #63, Wolverine #64, Wolverine #65
Storywise, Larry Hama comes back to exploring Wolverine's backstory, and he admirably works in elements that were introduced in the adjectiveless X-Men series. In practice that really just means that Maverick makes an appearance here, but i think it's good that the books were coordinating at least at that level. In X-Men, Cyclops tried to warn Sabretooth that Shiva was coming for him, and in this story Hama acknowledges the introduction of Maverick into Wolverine and Sabretooth's history. Little things like that go a long way to making me feel like there's still a cohesive continuity between Wolverine's appearances.
The arc begins with Wolverine still mourning at Mariko's grave. Gambit, Jubilee, and Yuriko are there as well. But Wolverine is catatonic, envisioning warped images of Mariko, Silver Fox, and the Weapon X program. He eventually, but violently, snaps out of it.
A separate scene reveals that Matsuo Tsurayaba has super-hands. That's just a dummy Wolverine that he's practicing on.
It took me a while to figure out when Matsuo lost his hands. It actually happened at the end of X-Men #7. I had to really squint to see it.
Matsuo's (no pun) Hand ninjas tell him that it's not safe for him to remain in Tokyo, but he refuses to leave. The real Wolverine then shows up, kills a bunch of ninjas...
...cuts off one of Matsuo's new hands, and then tells him that he's going to keep coming back and cutting off a little more of him each time.
Meanwhile, Sabretooth is at a professional wrestling match (which he winds up getting personally involved in) when Shiva shows up.
I love Sabretooth's "You gonna solve me? What's that mean?". So innocently dumb. I kind of wish he'd go back to fighting Spider-Man so that he could constantly get befuddled by the wise-cracking.
A guy named John Wraith shows up to help Sabretooth...
...and coincidentally Wolverine's flashbacks have been expanded to include this character. Specifically the memories from the Omega Red / carbonadium story.
Wolverine isn't the only one having flashbacks.
Sabretooth manages to destroy the current Shiva body, but Wraith informs him that it will return with a new body, and having learned from the previous fight.
Later, Wolverine and Jubilee (Gambit is not seen) are returning from Japan (on a commercial flight), when the plane is stopped by SHIELD and forced to land on the helicarrier. Nick Fury tells Wolverine that "somebody with a lot of push" wants to see Wolverine, and Fury escorts him and Jubilee down via helicopter.
After Fury leaves, the mystery person turns out to be John Wraith. Wolverine recognizes John Wraith by both that name and as "Carlisle". We'll also learn that Wraith is "Kestral", a name that we saw on the list of Weapon X enrollees that are on Shiva's hit list. It also seems that he has vanishing powers (Wraith makes a reference to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man which to be very clear is not a book about someone with super-powers).
Wraith puts a gun to Jubilee's head to get Wolverine to listen to him...
...and it triggers a flashback that takes place in "some rotten... jungle in south east Asia" where Wolverine was on a mission with Wraith and Sabretooth. Wraith was threatening to shoot a local woman but Sabretooth didn't think he was going to pull the trigger, so Sabretooth killed the woman instead. Back in the present, Wolverine takes that as a sign that Wraith won't shoot Jubilee either. Wraith is surprised that Wolverine remembers the incident.
Wraith takes Wolverine and Jubilee to a house where we meet another person on Shiva's list: Mastodon.
Mastodon being old and weak is a new development, and Wraith is therefore gathering all of the Weapon X participants up to see what's going on. He's got Sabretooth locked up in the other room, and he's even contacted Silver Fox. Wolverine goes a little crazy when he learns that she's alive. Sabretooth escapes and he and Wolverine get into a brief tussle..
...but it ends with Silver Fox's arrival.
Silver Fox has brought Carol Hines, the Weapon X scientist, along with her.
There is a lot of in-fighting as well as continued interruptions by memories/flashbacks, but things get focused when Mastodon melts into a puddle of goo. Well, focused but kind of weird, with everyone settling in at (i think) the house of a neighbor of Wraith's, where there is a young computer hacker.
The group eventually sets out in search of Vole, aka Aldo Ferro, another name on Shiva's list. They find him in Sicily, guarded by Maverick.
Mark Texeira's art sometimes retains the comedic facial expressions that Silvestri used, and i like the depth and shading that he brings. But he's also making Wolverine way too big, even misshapen.
Vole seems to have mental powers, and is able to freeze all of the Weapon X-ers. It turns out that he was a criminal overlord, and he helped the Weapon X program with his mental powers, by implanting false memories in the subjects, in return for getting access to Wolverine's DNA, so that he could have Wolverine's regenerative properties investigated for his own sake. But it hasn't worked out that well for him.
Note the name Psi-Borg as well. That seems to stick as a name for him, but we already have one of those in the Nick Fury series so i'm just tagging him as Aldo Ferro.
It turns out that even Ferro's transformation was just an illusion created by him, and the characters have to work their way deeper into his compound. They find the real Ferro (maybe?) disguised as a computer server.
He eats Silver Fox.
And that makes Wolvie sad.
In the meantime, Professor X and Jean Grey notice the mental activity, prompting Jean to vamp for the camera.
They seem to show up at the compound, but clearly that's not really the case.
However, whatever those things really were, they give up on their plans to attack Jubilee, withdrawing when the other mutants start destroying Ferro's computers. I guess they were just more manifestations of Ferro/Psi-Borg.
We are into the Mark Pacella issue now. I like Larry Hama's writing, but he's been lucky to have artists like Silvestri and even Texeira. With this issue i have to fight the urge to declare the story incredibly goofy.
The story feels clumsy, but that's really more a factor of the way the pages are laid out.
Psi-Borg was supposed to have gotten age suppressors, which all of the other Weapon X participants either already had or were given as part of the program (it's not clear to me which). But the Professor "cheated" him, so now Psi-Borg has lured all of the Weapon X-ers to him so that he can experiment on them.
His scheme is interrupted by the arrival of Shiva.
What happens next is a bit messy and confusing thanks to Pacella. Shiva dives into Ferro's compound and explodes.
This frees Wolverine from the mental attacks that Ferro has been subjecting Wolverine to. Wolverine then attacks Sabretooth.
Pacella's art is really an exemplification of the 90s.
Sabretooth winds up getting eaten by Ferro as well.
Issue #64 ends saying, "To be continued", but issue #65 is more of an epilogue, with Wolverine back at the X-Mansion. So i guess that's it for Ferro and Shiva and everyone. Carol Hines was definitely killed by Ferro's mental attacks. I'm not quite sure what happened to Shiva - he's supposed to have multiple bodies, right? - but this seems to be the last we'll see of him. John Wraith appears in this final issue, but the other characters are just gone.
The issue starts with Wolverine in a Danger Room session, basically using it to get out his aggressions about Sabretooth and Silver Fox. During that session, the virtual Sabretooth mentions "the Terry Adams kill", which upsets Wolverine. After the session is over, Wolverine goes to a bar and gets into a fight with some local toughs. Then Jean shows up.
Note that Wolverine's face, including a missing eyeball, is all healed up in a few pages.
Wolverine then goes to a funeral for Silver Fox, and Nick Fury and John Wraith show up.
Wraith offers to take Wolverine to the cabin where he and Silver Fox had a few moments of happiness, from Wolverine #10. Wolverine agrees to be blindfolded while being taken to the cabin, because the location is "still classified". Wraith is doing Wolverine this favor because "I owe you a large one... for Terry Adams". Wolverine says that he doesn't remember that.
Seeing the cabin confirms for Wolverine that at least the "good stuff" in his memories about him and Silver Fox are real, even if some of what he remembers were memory implants from Ferro.
The Terry Adams situation will be the plot for the next few issues. But since this book has been on a continuous run since more or less issue #51, that doesn't take place directly after this.
I'm glad that Hama addressed the mystery of the other names on Shiva's list in fairly short order. I don't think John Wraith, Mastodon (who we don't see much of), or Vole/Psi-Borg/Ferro are all that interesting, and the fact that they've been added to Wolverine's backstory in such a short period of time, along with Maverick and Cyber, is just too much. I wouldn't mind if a lot more of these characters were all wiped out by Shiva and forgotten (as it is, if you're looking at my Historical rating, neither John Wraith or Ferro have much of an impact).
In general, i still feel like we're getting a lot of things that feel like revelations about Wolverine's past without ever learning anything, and it's a little weird how we're getting an alternate explanation for the memory implants that issues #48-50 explained. I'd rather that these issues cleared up the memory situation entirely, but as the Terry Adams thing that comes out of left field shows, there are still plenty of things that Wolverine doesn't remember. The story also seems to collapse at the end, largely due to the changing artists (and Pacella's lack of story telling ability). There are still some fun points along the way, and the decision to slow things down with a character driven epilogue in issue #65 is admirable (even if it makes Wolverine seem a bit whiny).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins with Wolverine sitting at Mariko's grave. She died in issue #57, and issues #58-59 were an out of sequence fill-in. A footnote says that this story takes place before issues #58-59. Wolverine is said to have been sitting at the grave "for days". But no appearances by Wolverine, Gambit, or Jubilee should take place in between. Nick Fury appears in issue #61. It's not 100% clear that he is running SHIELD at this point (although it was clearly the intent); he stops the X-Men on their return from Japan and tells Wolverine that John Wraith wants to talk to him. Fury could have been chosen for that job by Dum Dum Dugan simply because he and Wolverine have a relationship. Fury again shows up at the end, after Silver Fox's funeral, and again he's not necessarily the director of SHIELD at the time. The fact that in both cases he seems surprised at how much "push" John Wraith's connections have could almost be seen as confirmation that he isn't director, in fact. But i'm placing this prior to Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #33-35 when Fury resigns, just to be safe. Since this story runs until Jan 93, a footnote in the final part also tells us that it takes place before X-Cutioner's Song.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAldo Ferro, Carol Hines, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, John Wraith, Jubilee, Mariko Yashida, Mastodon, Matsuo Tsurayaba, Maverick, Nick Fury, Professor X, Sabretooth, Shiva, Silver Fox, Sunfire, Wolverine, Yukio
Note the tribute to Mike Zeck by Dave Hoover above.
TeX was great on this book. Pacella does a decent Jim Lee swipe with that Sabertooth pounce.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | February 15, 2016 7:31 PM
Jubilee is said to be dyscalculic in this story. This is never mentioned again.
Posted by: Michael | February 15, 2016 8:15 PM
Wolverine is definitely not a character that appeals to me. And I now realize that Larry Hama's writing is not helping any, either.
Back in the day I was wondering if they had any hope of convincing me that the solo book was worth a try. Almost 25 years later I still wonder. Nothing there sounds like I might want to read more.
How come Marvel even suspected such disjointed, aimless stories would sell? I have no idea.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 16, 2016 4:48 AM
Tex is great at mood, expression and textures, but his anatomy is just awful.
Posted by: Bob | February 16, 2016 11:14 AM
@Bob - I thought Tex was mindblowingly great at the age of 11. I didn't realize how much Saltares contributed to that art until later when Tex was inking his own work. I guess getting your start with Power Lords can screw with anyone's idea of anatomy.
Posted by: Mark Black | February 16, 2016 11:24 AM
Wow, looking at this art, I didn't know I could dislike Texeira for reasons other than him playing for the Yankees, but I do.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 12, 2016 11:40 AM
I liked Texeira at the time, although I see weaknesses now. I was just going to say that we'd reached the point where I stopped reading "Wolverine," but then I realized I have my comics collection back and I could actually go check. Turns out I was collecting up through #67. Who knew? I recognize the beginning of this storyline up through the appearance of Maverick, but the rest of it is effectively brand-new to me. Go figure.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 13, 2016 3:05 PM
Who was Wildcat on the list?
Also, Wraith has one of my favorite scenes: riding the subway, he sees some thugs hassling someone, and he just throws a bullet at them. It bounces harmlessly off them, then he pulls his gun and says "the next one's coming a lot faster." They wisely flee. Was that in this story?
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 26, 2016 7:49 PM
Yeah, issue 60.
Posted by: Michael | August 26, 2016 11:32 PM
Comments are now closed.
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