Wolverine # 51 - 65
Wolverine # 51 - 53: The Citadel at the End of Time.
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Andy Kubert (51), Marc Silvestri (52 - 53)
Let's start with a quick plot synopsis, then get into some smaller points and reaction. Mystique goes to Logan for help as she thinks Spiral is hunting her. Spiral shows up and pulls Mystique and Logan into "The Citadel at the End of Time." This is basically like this world outside of the timestream (or at the very end of time) where Mojo is up to some pretty serious villain planning, not his typical movie-like Mojo Shenanigans. All of time is in jeopardy but Mystique, Spiral, Logan, Jubilee (because she is always around as his sidekick) with a little help from a returning Albert and Elsie D are able to stop him.
Mystique and Logan have sex. Pretty impactful in my opinion. First, I think it's pretty well established that Mystique was married to Destiny, so I guess she's at least bi-sexual? Second, there is a scene in X-Men 2 (the movie) where Mystique pretends to be Jean and tries to seduce him. I wonder if that was random, or pulled from this. Third, I'm starting to be more interested in Mystique the character. They are kind of turning her into an anti-hero, or at least less of a villain and that interests me. She was always pretty compelling considering her relationship with Rogue and Destiny. Are we EVER going to get more between her and Nightcrawler!? It's been like 18 years since that was first teased. I'm also interested to see if Mystique and Logan continue to have any sort of relationship. I covered separately that Mystique hangs out at the X-Mansion after this as a favor to Logan, so there is at least that (covered in 86: UXM #288-293 (Mikhail, Morlocks, and Marriage?!) Fourth, Jubilee gets annoyed by this, but that's just because she's protective of her mentor.
Ultimately, I dig this. When you think back to Claremont having Logan play detective in Madripoor at the beginning of the series, this is a WAY better direction, in my opinion. I like him interacting with other characters that I know. I like having comic book plots as opposed to Noir B.S. I also rather enjoy the partnership between Hama and Silvestri, even knowing Silvestri is another X-Men legend who will leave to join Image (by the end of these issues).
Wolverine # 54: Shatterstar.
Writer - Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Darick robertson
This is essentially a one-off, written by Fabian Nicieza (the X-Force scribe). Shatterstar (who is a bit of a Wolverine clone himself) admires Wolverine (he was a legend growing up in the Mojoverse) and the two of them stop a group of mutant hating "Vid kids" that were killing mutants on video tape. This issue is aight. Nothing special.
Wolverine # 55-57: Death of Mariko.
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Marc Silvestri
While these 3 issues were really good, it was totally one of those kitchen sink issues. We have a storyline in Japan, so we're definitely going to have Sunfire show up. We can't forget Mariko and Yukio. Let's see here. Matsuyo, the Upstarts leader of the Hand is Japanese so let's include him. Umm, Silver Samurai, sure him too! Remember that girl Reiko who Wolverine saved from cal Dai-Kumo, yea let's get her in there. And then let's throw in some non-Japanese characters such as Jubilee, Gambit, Silver Fox, Hydra, and a new villain, Cylla the Cyborg! Ok, I'm done listing all the characters, but when you look at it that way, it's a bit ridiculous.
So to summarize the story, Logan and Gambit fly to Japan to bust Jubilee out of jail (she magically farted out of the timestream in Japan to conveniently set up this arc). Really, just a lot of characters and plot takes place, but ultimately Mariko ends up needing to align herself with Logan against a full rogue's gallery.
Mariko suggests that Logan wear his old yellow and blue costume because they symbolize her clan, and we'll see Wolverine going back to this outfit for a while. It's actually a clever way to justify the new creative team just preferring him in that costume.
This is the story where Mariko dies. It's quite touching as she had finally found a way to divest her clan from the criminal underworld, freeing her up to be with Logan again, just as she tragically dies (At the direction of Matsuyo, Silver Fox, and Reiko). As someone who has read all of X-Men's history over the last 14 months, this was a touching and quite compelling end to this character. But I must add that this probably fell flat for a lot of people who had been reading comics in real time. Mariko hadn't been around in years, so this story spent a lot of effort reminding us why we should care about her, just so that they could kill her and elicit an emotional reaction. As I mentioned, this story has a lot of plot and there is some more depth to who ordered her killing and how it happened, but I'll just stick with the big takeaways here and let you all read it
Wolverine # 58- 59: Terror.
Writer - D.G. chichester
Pencils - Darick Robertson
Wow, this was pretty terrible. D.G. Chichester (his name is fun to say) brings his character Terror (from Terror, Inc.) to the Wolverine comic. Wolverine, Jubilee, and Terror team up to save a missing girl from a vigilante named Monkeywrench.
Yo, was the monster from Jeepers Creepers just straight up copied from Terror!? They look identical and both take body parts from dead people to fix their own. I'm gonna go Google this and spend too much time reading about the plot for Jeepers Creepers 12.
Wolverine # 60 - 65: Getting the Weapon X Club back together.
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Dave Hoover (60), Mark Texeira (61 - 63, 65), Mark Pacella (64)
Let's start with a quick summary before I dissect it.
We begin with Logan grieving over the loss of Mariko. This was nice (and essential) to see after the last two issues practically ignored this. Sabretooth is attacked by Shiva, who is still working his/its way through the Weapon X hit list. Wolverine also gets in a fight with Matsuo and mutilates him further.
The story gets on it's true trajectory when a man from Logan's past, John Wraith (codenamed: Kestral, also on Shiva's list) shows up. Kestrel, a teleporter, seems to have better use of his memories compared to the rest of the group. The gang is brought back together as Kestral had captured Sabretooth, Silver Fox had been tracking them down, Hines (the only surviving scientist from Barry Windsor Smith's Weapon X story) is brought into the fold and Maverick is thrown in for good measure.
Kestral introduces them to a new Weapon X'er named Mastodon (also on Shiva's list) who is apparently melting due to whatever was giving them all slowed aging is deteriorating. This didn't really track with me because Wolverine and Sabretooth don't age due to their healing, but this makes sense for the rest of the group.
The Weapon X group eventually meets up with a Cuban gangster named Aldo Ferro, codenamed: Vole (also on Shiva's list). Apparently Ferro is one of the strongest telepath's on the planet (surprised we hadn't seen him yet) and has also become part cyborb (since it's the 90's), going by the term "Psi-borg." We learn that Ferro was the one responsible for all of their memory loss, where apparently he used his telepathy as opposed to more conventional methods (which we had been led to believe happened).
Before shit goes off the rails, Ferro confirms that he only "wasted his time" implanting new negative memories, so all the happy memories are real. This means that his happy memories with Silver Fox are real, something that makes Logan feel great.
At the end, it all blows up. The Weapon X team (Logan, Sabretooth, Maverick, Kestral, and Silver Fox) battle with both Ferro (The Psi-borg) and Shiva, leaving Hines dead. Charles Xavier and Jean randomly show up, kind of. Before Ferro is beat, he takes over Sabretooth and forces him to kill Silver fox, for real.
This is where my analysis comes in. I REALLY didn't like how Silver Fox was handled. Where do I start?! Pretty much all of my anger comes from how quickly she was both introduced and cast aside. I did some Googling and it looks like she REALLY stays dead, which is crazy and pretty disappointing to me.
First of all, this happened way to closely to the Mariko story. I get that Wolverine always needs to be a loner and can't settle down and be happy, but we just got done having his "love" killed and now we're doing this again!?
Second, her and Logan never even made up! There's just way too much red meat on the bone here. When Silver Fox was introduced, there was a memory implant that made her think Wolverine had killed someone important to her. The whole time they are "on screen" together, she hates him. Eventually Logan learns that their past was real, but she never figures that out! I mean, what a missed opportunity! You bring her back, she's in a lot of issues, and they never even have any sort of re-kindled thing? She literally dies before she's even used. Ugh! Also, Silver Fox had been introduced as leading Hydra. What's up with that!?
This all just makes me wonder if this story was supposed to drag on, but some editorial reason pushed them to wrap it up quicker.
Wolverine # 66-68: Epsilon Red.
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Mark Texeira
This is a short and pretty boring story with art that I really didn't care for. To make a long story short, Xavier agrees to help Wolverine with his memories, which accidentally makes him crack and think he's back in the 60's on a mission to kill someone named Terry Adams. A bunch of Shenanigan's occur and Wolverine finds himself in Russia fighting it out with a Russian super soldier astronaut named Epsilon Red. Eventually they make nice and this character helps to remove some of Logan's memory gaps, although we find out at the very end that Epsilon Red's daughter was really the one pulling the strings and she seems to be set up as a future villain.
Inverse recently published "The oral history of Wolverine, the unlikely superhero who saved the X-Men" and in this interview Scott Lobdell shared:
"One thing that is a testament to the character of Wolverine is that he has gone through so many iterations and yet people still find him interesting. He’s a character so strong that he can withstand so many different interpretations, yet still remain intact."
I feel like this is very true of Wolverine at this juncture of his solo comic. He's seen 5 or 6 different handlers on this series before they settled in on Larry Hama. Each writer has taken Wolverine a slightly different direction, but luckily it's always the same character at it's bones. On the artistic side, the series has seen a bunch of different artists as well, but this is the start of a long run with Adam Kubert (who's brother is the regular penciler for Adjectiveless X-Men.) In an interview with the two gentleman on the Epic Marvel Podcast, Hama has the following to say about Kubert:
"I really enjoyed working with Adam. It was really amazing to see what Adam would do with my plots. Adam always made me look better than I was."
I actually didn't realize Hama was historically an artist before taking over as writer on this series. You could see the mutual admiration and respect these two had for each other as Kubert had the following to say about Hama:
"Larry is a little different than other writer’s because he’s a writer’s artist. He writes good for artists because he is an artist himself."
Going back to that first passage about from Lobdell about Wolverine's strength, I was struck by scholar Neil Shyminsky stating that
“It is important to recall that Wolverine’s masculinity is dependent on his mutant biology. Through a mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones, masculinity is actually part of his power-set. He can be more manly than any human.
It's really quite true that masculinity really is Wolverine's power-set!
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