RSS Feed
Dec 28

Weapon X #7-11 – “The Hunt For Weapon H”

Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

(Before we start, you’ve still got time to vote for our end-of-year awards.)

With the knowledge that Marvel are launching a Weapon H series in March, this storyline makes rather more sense.  It’s not so much Weapon X #7 to #11 as Weapon H #-4 to #0.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that the new title needs to be set up, you wonder if Weapon X would really have stayed with this plot thread for quite so long.  To judge from issue #12 (which has been out for a while, because I’m really behind on these), the ongoing set-up of Weapon X is supposed to be that, having beaten the Weapon X Project and stolen a fancy flying base, the team steal the Weapon X name and stick together as a sort of black ops squad hunting down Weapon X-style schemes around the world.  So they could always have come back to this thread later.

But instead, after an opening arc and a crossover with Totally Awesome Hulk, we’re barrelling straight into a third arc with the Weapon X Project, as everyone goes looking for Weapon H.

At this point I should probably explain what Weapon H actually is, as the idea is very silly.  He’s a random henchman who was experimented on by the Weapon X Project’s pet mad scientist Dr Alba, who turned him into a hybrid Hulk / Wolverine.  He was supposed to be a devastating anti-mutant weapon, but instead he just smashed up the Weapon X Project and wandered off, so now everyone’s trying to find him before something awful happens.

And a Hulk / Wolverine hybrid is a very silly idea.  Once you’ve got the Hulk, it’s not obvious what the Wolverine bit is contributing, particularly if he’s meant to be a nearly mindless brute who won’t be making much use of those tracking abilities.  The Hulk already has healing powers.  So it’s a bit like taking a Sherman tank and bolting on a pen-knife.  But never mind, because that’s what Dr Alba has done, because she’s a mad scientist.  Specifically, of course, she’s Frankenstein, and what she’s created here is a sort of Frankensteined character, built from the parts of other characters.

So this is an arc in which the amnesiac Weapon H goes hunting for secret bases that contain information about his family, while Weapon X and Dr Alba both try to track him down.  Naturally, Dr Alba has a good go at getting him under control again, which leads to the inevitable big fight before he departs again to appear in his solo book.

And this is very much Weapon H’s story.  It happens to use Weapon X as the heroes because it’s their book and they were in the previous arc, but so far as this arc is concerned, you could pretty much plug in any team.  Some of them have clearly defined roles – Logan as the wily team leader, Creed as the insubordinate, Domino as the team joker – but there’s not much for Lady Deathstrike or Warpath to do here, and no real reason for the new Wolverine to show up halfway through (except maybe to gesture at raising the stakes).

As for Alba, she remains a fabulously unrepentant, one-dimensional villain, which is just fine as long as the idea is for other characters to bounce off her.  There are some endearingly over-the-top ideas in this story – it is written by Greg Pak and Fred van Lente, after all, and we get some cute set-pieces like Weapon H deafening everyone for a couple of pages, or Dr Alba trying to make the big guy more murderous by hacking his brain so that he sees everyone as, um, Dr Alba.

If anything, I wonder if this isn’t a story that would have benefitted from going further over the top.  The art, from Marc Borstel and Ibraim Roberson, is perfectly sound; the narrative flow is decent, the characters emote nicely.  But a Hulk / Wolverine hybrid feels it ought to look a bit more nuts than just a grey Hulk with claws and a few lumps on his back.  Visually, he’s rather underwhelming, and maybe this is the sort of idea that needs a Simon Bisley type to push it into the realms of unqualified ridiculousness.

The hook here is that Weapon H can in fact still turn back into his human form, though he doesn’t remember very much. He’s meant to be a soldier from a private military contractor who switched sides during a particularly objectionable mission, and got himself beaten up and sold off as a test subject.  The running theme with the character seems to be his refusal to play the role that other characters want him to.  He had moral red lines when he was meant to be a soulless henchman; he wouldn’t be a weapon for Dr Alba; and when she isn’t actively messing with his mind, he’s actually pretty calm and rational.  Although he is indeed looking for information about his family, the twist is that he doesn’t want to learn about his past – he just wants to destroy the records so that Alba can’t use them against him.

There’s something in this – a character who’s forced into the absurd role of being Hulk and Wolverine at the same time but stubbornly refuses to act the part.  But it feels like a concept for a supporting character, rather than something that could carry its own book.  And the Marvel Universe has enough Hulks, not to say Wolverines, running around already; the old joke about filling a much-needed gap in the market applies.  Still, while a Weapon H series doesn’t sound like a great idea, there’s a bit more going on here than you might expect.

Bring on the comments

  1. Joseph says:

    Meh. How long is this book going to last? Sad that instead of telling a story with its core team we waste so much of the book’s real estate with this absurd character.

  2. Moo says:

    “It’s not so much Weapon X #7 to #11 as Weapon H #-4 to #0.”

    Preparation H.

  3. mark coale says:

    Too bad this won’t be discussed on the pod, for the “Weapon Haitch” humour. 🙂

  4. Omar Karindu says:

    Fred van Lente really likes the idea of legacy characters who won’t play to expectations: he’s used it before for the Carmilla Black Scorpion character and the Victor Alvarez version o Power Man. And van Lente’s been interested in playing with the “henchvillain” idea since at least the Taskmaster miniseries.

    Combine that with Greg Pak’s interest in exploring variations on the Hulk and it’s possible to see where this character concept came from.

    There’s definitely room for van Lente’s oddball take on the Marvel Universe, especially its villainous side, much as there is for Nick Spencer’s. But like Spencer, his ideas work better with quirky C-listers and limited series than they do with bigger-name characters and ongoing books.

Leave a Reply