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78: Wolverine Solo Series # 1 - 50 (A Legend is Born)

What’s Covered?

Wolverine V2 # 1 - 50, Marvel Comics Presents # 1 - 10, 51 - 61, 72 - 84, , Wolverine: Jungle Adventure OGN


Marvel Comics Presents # 1 - 10: Introduction to Tyger Tiger

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - John Buscema

Marvel Comics Presents was a monthly comic that typically included 3 different short stories which were told serially from month to month. Over time, this really became "Wolverine's second solo line." When this era began, the X-Men were hiding in Australia, and most of Wolverine's side stories focused on adventures he would take into the Marvel created, Eastern Asian, country of Madripoor.

The primary focus of these first 10 issues seems to focus on Claremont establishing Wolverine in Madripoor and his relationship with Tyger Tiger. Tyger was actually introduced as Jessy Hoan in UXM # 229 (covered in 52: UXM 228-234 (The X-Men Down Under)). Tyger comes to prominence as one of two major crimelords in Madripoor, however she refuses to partake in terrible things (like the slave trade) so we are supposed to see her as a sympathetic character. I assumed at first that she would become a romantic interest, but that hasn't happened to date.

It's also worth mentioning that Wolverine went by the alias of "Patch" while in Madripoor. Lol, he literally just wore an eye patch and people seem to not recognize him.

Wolverine Volume II, # 1 - 3: The Black Blade

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - John Buscema

The first 3 issues of the Wolverine solo series (Wolverine Volume 2) continues where MCP left off with Wolverine's jaunts in Madripoor.

Continuing one of Claremont's favorite go to moves, he introduces (pigeon holes?) characters from other failed comic lines into this comic. In this case, Jessica Drew (AKA Spider Woman from San Francisco) and Jessica McCabe (a popular actress also from the Spider Woman series) are the main supporting characters, alongside Tyger Tiger.

This 3 issue arc uses Silver Samurai as the primary villain. However, the real antagonist is the Black Blade. There's all sorts of lore, but essentially the Black Blade is a magical sword that takes over the user and makes them evil. Spider-Woman and Silver Samurai held the sword, but eventually Logan gets the sword himself and things look dire until all of the other side characters combine to stop him. I was crossing my fingers that Kitty would show up because she's always around to talk sense into Logan, but nope!

The overall theme of this series is more of a Noir, detective-like feel. Personally, I really didn't like it. It wasn't until Larry Hama took over (way later) and started integrating established X-Men characters like Lady Deathstrike, Jubilee, Sabretooth, etc. that it became clear what was missing to me. Part of what made Wolverine so rich was his interactions and established relationships with other characters. To take him into a new environment, have him act as a detective (not his thing), and have him supported by mostly brand new characters who are mostly weak just wasn't very compelling to me. I didn't last long in this series before giving up, however I did eventually catch back up and it got much better.

Wolverine: Jungle Adventure OGN

Writer - Walter Simonson

Pencils - Mike Mignola

This was a fun little graphic novel showing Wolverine landing in the Savage Land and being worshipped as a God. Eventually he has a fun run in with Apocalypse and it is hinted at him being responsible for Wolverine's adamantium skeleton, however this ends up not going anywhere.

Wolverine Volume II, # 4-6: Karma

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - John Buscema

In # 4 - 6, the Madripoor Supporting cast expands. Karma (from the New Mutants) and her uncle (Nguyen Ngoc Coy) show up as a rival crimelord in Madripoor. Karma ends up being a secret ally of Wolverines. Coy has two mutant henchman who work for him, Bloodsport and Roughouse, both of which will be recurring characters in this series.

Wolverine Volume II, # 7-8: Mr. Fix It (Hulk)

Writer - Chris Claremont/Peter David

Pencils - John Buscema

This arc introduces Mr. Fix it (Hulk) into the Madripoor drama. While these two are collector items (especially # 9), I still found them to be as bland as the rest of the Madripoor shenanigans taking place so far. This does serve to strengthen the relationship between these two characters, which is pretty cool.

Wolverine Volume II, # 9: Iraqi Revenge

Writer - Peter David

Pencils - Gene Colan

This is a quick solo story where Wolverine slowly terrorizes a group of soldiers from the war on Iraq and gets revenge on them for attacking an innocent woman. It's actually a pretty entertaining story compared to how bored I've been up until now. Butttt, it still feels like you're pulling teeth trying to read this series when compared to any of the core X comics.

Wolverine Volume II, # 10: Sabretooth!

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - John Buscema

Now we're talking! This is another highly collectible issue! This is really the first comic that took the relationship between Sabretooth and Wolverine and gave us a glimpse into their past. The comic splits time between the present and the past showing us when the tradition of Sabretooth attacking Wolverine on his birthday began, apparently with the slaughter of Logan's lover, Silver Fox.

Wolverine Volume II, # 11 - 16: The Gehenna Stone Affair

Writer - Peter David

Pencils - John Buscema

Wolverine's new buddy Arch is a pilot, whose brother needs help in San Francisco. This arc gave me hope because we finally got out of Madripoor, but that didn't help much. I'm not going to lie. I stopped reading this. I read all of 11, I skimmed 12 and 13. I then skipped all the way #17. Something about a stone that controls people or something. Yadda yadda. Skip.

Wolverine Volume II, # 17-18: Roughhouse and Gheist

Writer - Archie Goodwin

Pencils - John Byrne

Ugh, another brutal story. One of Coy's bodyguards, Roughhouse, is kidnapped by this old Cyborg guy named Gheist. Wolverine decides to help him out and shenanigan's take part. Wolverine wins. This was another point where I had fallen behind on my Wolverine reading and tried to catch back up, but the boringness of this really didn't help.

Marvel Comics Presents # 51-53: Wild Child

MCP goes back to the well with more Wolverine content, this time focusing on Alpha Flight's Wild Child villain. He was always seen as a derivative of Wolvie and Sabretooth, so this makes sense. This creates a bit of a rivalry between them, but I have yet to see it built upon anywhere else. I'll keep my eye open.

Marvel Comics Presents # 54-61: Hulk and the Mimic

More MCP Wolverine action, this time giving us more Hulk and a surprise splash of the Mimic of all people!

Wolverine Volume II, # 19-23: Central America

Writer - Archie Goodwin

Pencils - John Byrne

Ugh. I must just not like Archie Goodwin. This was a 5 issue story that took place in Central America. Again, I was happy to be out of Madripoor but...yuck. Some hispanic super heroine, La Bandera (who has like national pride power) is trying to fight a revolution but look out for super scary villain Tiger Shark and this Spore thing. Full discolsure, I couldn't bear to keep reading this either and began skimming. We're close to it getting good though!

Regardless of what I have to say, John Byrne thought Archie was swell. He had the following to say in Comic Creators on X-Men:

"My main reason for doing Wolverine at that point was to work with Archie and it was everything I had hoped for. He was such a brilliant writer."

Wolverine Volume II, # 24-30: Hodgepodge

Writers and Pencils: Various

There are probably some Wolverine truther's out there who are going to read this blog post and lose respect for me. I'm sorry people, I just couldn't get into this. This was just 7 more issues of mostly solo issues with next to nothing compelling going on.

Marvel Comics Presents # 72-84: WEAPON X

Writer and Pencils - Barry Windsor-Smith

Here we go. The good stuff! Marvel Comics Presents # 72 - 84 gives us the most iconic Wolverine story around. Pretty much every X-Men movie has appropriated some part of this for the various movies. If you are even remotely interested in Wolverine, I would highly recommend reading this arc.

A mysterious group led by "The Professor", female agent Hines, and Dr. Cornelius, kidnap Wolverine and begin experimenting on him. They inject his entire body with liquid adamantium which solidifies around his bones, including giving him his retractable claws. It appears as though their goal is to turn him into a weapon by giving him the adamantium, erasing his memories, giving him new memories, and programming him to respond to their cues. Wolverine, of course, escapes and kills practically everyone in his path.

Wolverine Volume II, # 31-33: Lara Hama and The Yakuza

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

While this 3 issue arc still took place in Madripoor, I could tell there was something different about it. It had purpose. Hama seemed to get Wolverine in a completely different way. The Yakuza comes to town and decides they need to take out Patch/Wolverine. This is basically 3 issues of Wolverine getting pissed and killing many Yakuza mobsters.

Wolverine Volume II, # 34: Memories in the Canadian Woods

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

This was a really cool one-shot issue. Wolverine is in Canada (Yay, not Madripoor) and ends up helping two Mounties track down a killer. As the issue goes on, the elder Mountie ends up realizing that he's encountered Logan twice before. Once years ago, right after he escaped from Weapon X (and the old man mistook him for a wild beast) and another time long before that during the World War Two, where we learn that Logan was a Colonel in the war.

Wolverine Volume II, # 35-37: Puck, Lady Deathstrike and the Spanish Civil War?

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

The last two story series seemed to get Wolverine better than earlier issues, but this is when some characters from other X books with ties to him started to pop up. Lady Deathstrike's begins a long running concept with her as the respectable antagonist, constantly chasing him. Wolverine also spends some time with his Canadian bro, Puck of Alpha Flight.

Gateway accidentally teleports the three of them back in time to 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Wolverine and Puck (who is no longer short) get involved with the local Shenanigans while Lady Deathstrike hunts them down. All the while, Donald Pierce and the Reavers are trying to stop them from creating a time vortex that will mess up the present.

Wolverine Volume II, # 38-42: Albert, Elsee-Dee, and Sabretooth

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

Alright, so this is probably the meatiest run. Hmm, where do we begin?

We're introduced to two new recurring characters, who are both robots. The first is Elsie-Dee, a robot created by Donald Pierce to imitate a young girl and explode upon contact. The second is a cyborg named Albert who looks like Wolverine. I'm pretty sure he got his own toy in the 90's, probably because moreso because this gave them a chance to sell a second Wolverine as opposed to the character himself being great. However, I don't hate these characters. They both set out to destroy him and end up caring for each other and ultimately allying themselves with Logan.

We also have some high profile guest appearances with both Cable and Storm showing up. To be honest, neither of them have much to do except chew up scenery. I'm guessing that they boosted sales by being put on the cover, but the story would have been fine without them. Regardless, that didn't stop me from being happy to see them!

Also, a big part of this story takes place in the sewers where Masque and the Morlocks are making appearances. While they are villanous at times, the true big bad of this arc is Sabretooth. There's also a very confusing point where Sabretooth reveals himself to be Logan's father, but Nick Fury claims it isn't true. I believe we're led to believe he isn't at this point, but it's all a bit confusing.

The actual plot is really just Sabretooth calling Logan son, trying to kill him, Morlocks coming and going, Storm and Cable hanging around, and the robots threatening to kill and eventually befriending him.

Wolverine Volume II, # 43, 44, & 47: Solos

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri, Gerald DeCaire

Three below average solo issues. In 43 there is a killer on the loose in Central Park, who Logan finds the time to dispatch while all beat up himself. In 44, Logan solves some crimes while trying to relax on a cruise ship. In 47, there is a junkie on a rampage that Logan takes out.

Wolverine Volume II, # 45 - 46: The Hunter of Darkness

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

In this mini arc, Logan goes to save this beast known as the Hunter of Darkness while both Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike attack at once. The Hunter ends up helping Logan (because we found out Logan had helped him during a flashback from the elderly mountie in # 34). Also, Jubilee shows up and will be a recurring sidekick for the immediate future.

Wolverine Volume II, # 48-50: Memories!

Writer - Larry Hama

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

And this is where I stop for this blog. Wolverine decides to get serious about learning about his past. Nick Fury (his buddy) clearly knows what was going on with him, so Logan single-handedly attacks a helicarrier to get access and answers. Logan also hangs out at the X-Mansion for the first time in a while, recruiting none other than Professor X and Jean Grey to help him access his own memories.

We end up learning that Logan had a lot of his memories deleted (or blocked) and a number of his memories are fake. He also seems to have a number of shared fake memories with Sabretooth and Silver Fox (even though we've barely met her yet). He finds his way back to the Weapon X Facility where Silver Fox shows up and kills the Professor who was behind his transformation. A cool looking robot named Shiva (who I vividly remember being obsessed with his super hero card when I was younger) is dispatched to kill Wolverine, but after failing moves on to Sabretooth and others on his list.

My Connections and Creators

Ahh, the Wolverine Solo Series. Good old, Wolverine Volume II. If you're one of my faithful readers, you've probably been wondering "Where the hell are all the Wolverine blogs!?" The truth is... I really, really didn't like the series. I kept on taking long breaks and then coming back to it, finding myself really bored, and then taking another break. For a long time I relegated the series to the same status as Dazzler and Alpha Flight where I would see how long I could go before I felt like I was missing something in the larger universe. For a very long time I was getting by just fine, however more recently (like Jim Lee's re-launch), events have been impacting the larger X-line (which is a good thing) so I decided to jump back in and spend a few weeks doing nothing but Wolverine reading.

There have been a number of different creative teams. Chris Claremont and Steve Buscema kicked things off. This situation kind of reminds me of George Lucas and Star Wars. George Lucas created the original Star Wars, which everyone loved, but when he came back and created the prequels with a different style, everyone was pissed. That's kind of what I see here. No one is questioning that Chris Claremont put X-Men on the map and did a fantastic job. To be clear, I LOVE Claremont's X-Men run. But he's tried to go off and do other things (Excalibur included), and it's just felt a bit flat. With Excalibur, Claremont wanted to do whimsy. With Wolverine, he wanted to Noir.

Wolverine spends his time in the made up, southeast asian country of Madripoor. He's surrounded almost completely by new (and uncompelling) side characters and he acts more like a detective than a superhero, even going by the moniker "Patch" to help hide his true identity (since the X-Men were supposed to be dead when the series started). It wasn't until 40 issues later that I realized what was missing at the beginning...his connection to the larger universe. He was completely disconnected from the people we've loved to see him interact with over the years (Kitty, Jubilee, Jean, Nightcrawler) and the villains whose rivalry we've come to adore (Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, etc). John Byrne, life long fan of Chris Claremont and critic of happiness, had the following to say in Comics Creators on X-Men:

"I had pitched a Wolverine series, but it never went anywhere. Then Chris went off and did his, which was very different than what I had in mind."

My head cannon tells me that Byrne was feeling the same way as me, thinking "this is all you're doing with him!?"

As time went on, Claremont left the series and a bunch of fill in writers stepped up to the plate, including future X-Factor writer Peter David. There was also an extended run by Archie Goodwin and John Byrne which succeeded in taking Logan away from Madripoor and shaking things up, but in my opinion left things bland.

Things really turned around, in my opinion, when writer Lara Hama and penciler Marc Silvestri took over. In a Wolverine centric interview on Inverse, Larry Hama said:

"When I came onto Wolverine [with issue #31], it was really close to being canceled. I guess they figured Hama couldn’t screw it up any more than it already was, so they let me do whatever I wanted. Two years later, it was the number two book in the country."

The two of them (Hama and Silvestri) really seemed to pay more attention to who Wolverine had been all these years, not who Claremont tried to turn him into...a 1950's detective. In that same Inverse article, Hama talks about his focus on character:

"See, I’m not a story guy, I’m a character guy. To me, a plot is just a basic framework to hang great characters on. I was concerned about Wolverine’s inner self — his moral and ethical center and how that contrasts with his gruff exterior.”

Silevestri agreed that he liked focused on character. In Comics Creators on X-Men, Silvestri says

"Working with just a single character like Wolverine and doing these more meat-and-potatoes stories was a great relief. I felt a little less constrained by the plots (in his time on X-Men) and freer to interpret the stories, to visually tell the story the way I wanted to."

Hama earned some brownie points with me for bringing in characters like Forge, Jean, Xavier, Storm, and Cable to make guest appearances. It was nice to see him back with characters I know and in settings I'm familiar with. In an episode of The Epic Marvel Podcast, Hama was asked why he blew up the Princess Bar and killed a number of key characters. His response was simple, and excellent:

"The character seemed to get bogged down in Madripoor. I just wanted to cut him loose from there. I wanted him to be in the United States and Canada."

But he really made the story better when he let his true sidekick Jubilee become a regular star and really leaned into the rivalry with Sabretooth (and to a lesser extent, Lady Deathstrike). Hama also shared thoughts on Sabretooth in his Inverse interview:

"Another great character I got to explore was Sabretooth. Sabretooth and Wolverine are two sides of the same coin. Wolverine actually represents restraint. He’s got all these powers and he keeps it tamped down and, once in a while, it breaks out. That’s the dramatic tension.
Sabretooth is always jumping. He’s always over the top. That's the essence of Sabretooth — he doesn't have restraint and he’s always worse than you can imagine."

Hama has begun (through issue #50, which is where I paused my reading to write this) to dive into Wolverine's past, which seems like an area of red meat that I can't believe more authors weren't diving into up until now.

My Rating - 5/10

Next up, we'll dive into another series that I almost gave up on but hung on long enough to see it start to turn around. I'll be covering Excalibur # 35 - 41.


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