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Aug 30

Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends

Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Well, this is complicated.  Hunt for Wolverine is the sequel to Death of Wolverine, but it’s preceded by the four Hunt for Wolverine miniseries, which had a lead-in issue of their own, and now get a further wrap-up one-shot to draw them together and set up the main event.  So it’s the coda to the prequels to a sequel to a finale.  Lovely.

It’s a quirk of ultra-commercial superhero comics that the need for intertitle continuity and sprawling crossovers can lead to odd structures like parallel, intertwining narratives.  It’s not exactly a structure that other media are queueing up to use, but at the same time the serial format of comics does lend itself to this kind of thing.  So if you actually have a reason for doing four parallel narratives, it can be interesting.

Does Hunt for Wolverine really need four parallel stories?  Um.  Kind of?  It has an idea, at least – defining Wolverine by his absence, with different characters approaching the character from different angles.  In theory it ought to work.  There’s a lot to play with in Wolverine, plus it helps build up the dubious idea that he’s actually been absent, even though Old Man Logan is still being published.

The reality is a bit patchier.  Weapon Lost, the Daredevil book, was decidedly unfocussed.  Adamantium Agenda and Claws of a Killer, the New Avengers and Sabretooth/Daken books, hit their required tone.  Mystery in Madripoor wasn’t all that Madripoor-y and got a bit distracted rebooting Psylocke.  And in plot terms, all four basically established that Soteira are the baddies, while dropping some hints about what they might actually be up to.

So in this issue, Kitty, Iron Man and Daredevil gather to compare notes.  Sabretooth isn’t there but apparently passed on what happened in Claws of a Killer, since even though he was trying to kill Wolverine, his general post-Axis confusion has led him to tip off the X-Men anyway.  But the wider plot requires Soteira’s actual plans to remain a mystery – so the upshot is eight pages of Kitty explaining that the baddies are Soteira, which we already knew.

I mean, if you didn’t read all four series, it’s a perfectly useful recap of the key plot points.  But I did read them, and there’s only so much the dialogue can do to jazz it up.  There’s one neat bit, where Iron Man recaps  Adamantium Agenda as if it had been immediately obvious to him that he needed to destroy Mister Sinister’s DNA collection.  This isn’t lampshaded at all, and it isn’t especially relevant to this issue, but if you have read that series, it’s a nice touch that Iron Man is completely glossing over his big ethical dilemma and acting as if there was never any doubt that he would do the right thing.

Anyway, this gets interrupted by Soteira attacking the Mansion.  I think the suggestion is meant to be that they attack as soon as Kitty names them as the baddies, but that really doesn’t make any sense, because she’s clearly worked it all out before Iron Man and Daredevil arrived – she’s got a powerpoint presentation and everything.  So maybe it’s just meant to be coincidence.

Soteira’s approach is to drop some metal rods from orbit in the general direction of the Mansion in order to keep the X-Men occupied – this is a genuine idea, by the way – so that they can set up a little presentation.  This is the first time we see Persephone, the woman in charge, who basically claims that she loves the X-Men, but she’s doing wonderful work and Wolverine is helping her with it, so would they mind leaving her alone, please.  Her big threat is that she’s got the stolen copy of Sinister’s DNA database from Adamantium Agenda, and so she can find and kill mutants whose powers haven’t emerged yet (and thus can’t be found using Cerebro).  So basically, if the X-Men don’t back off, she’s going to keep killing random mutants.

It’s a good looking issue; Ramon Rosanas does a reasonable job with the talking heads.  There are some solid locations in the opening pages, and plenty of energy in the action set piece.  Persephone’s swirly design looks pretty good as well.  The main problems here are that we’ve taken an awfully long time to get to unveiling Soteira, and the plot is pushing into seriously over the top territory.  It does seem we’re meant to take literally the claim that Sinister had a DNA database of everyone on Earth and, as I mentioned last time that came up, that’s just too silly for me.

There’s a certain charm to Persephone’s evident conviction that she’s the good guy, but really she’s something of a Mark Millar character: totally absurd, seemingly oblivious to her own lack of subtlety, and kicking gratuitously at the limits of credibility.  That’s not an easy thing to make work, and the story is trying a little too hard to sell her as an A-list villain by making her All Kinds of Awesome.  Perhaps things will come together in time, but as it stands, I’m not convinced about where this is heading.

Bring on the comments

  1. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I have a problem with Persephone’s plan. It’s way too complicated in a very pointless way. She has Sinister’s database, so she uses it to kill x-gene carriers before they manifest mutant powers – thus making her targets invisible to Cerebro, thus making sure the X-Men can’t get to the targets to protect them, which makes the whole thing into a blackmail, because after killing ten of them Persephone says she’ll kill more if the X-Men don’t leave her alone.

    Buuut… how is that different from threatening to kill random people on the street?

    The only difference is, of course, that the targets are future mutants. But the X-Men are superheroes. They would be just as unwilling to let Soteira kill any other random person.

    I just… I just don’t get the point of all of that. I hope there’s some more use for this Sinister database and it wasn’t introduced just for this ridiculously overcomplicated blackmail scheme.

  2. Voord 99 says:

    I think, to be fair, one can make that work in a couple of ways.

    1) The X-Men are superheroes, but they’re extra-invested, psychologically, in mutants. Especially if we’re still in a set-up in which mutants were recently Doomed to Extinction and have been rescued from that — emerging mutants are particularly precious. And while other superheroes care just as much about ordinary humans as the X-Men, no other group of superheroes cares as much about mutants in particular.

    So, yes, it would work if Persephone threatened random people, but it works better if it’s (potential) mutants. An analogy might be the difference between threatening to kill one person and threatening to kill the entire population of New York City. The superhero is going to feel just as obligated to save the one person, but the psychological pressure is greater with the threat of mass destruction.

    Or, to put it another way, it’s the equivalent of threatening a superhero’s love interest. There’s an emotional tie between the X-Men and their fellow mutants that there isn’t between the X-Men and random people, and that adds extra motivation.

    2) It may say something about Persephone. I haven’t read any of this, and won’t until it’s on Unlimited, so there’s a lot that I don’t know about the character. But my sense is that Soteira want to do research involving mutant DNA, possibly actual living mutants? That suggests that Persephone, despite claiming to admire the X-Men, is callous about mutants in a way that she might not be about humans.

    3). Whether or not (1) and (2) are actually true, they might be. It’s a perfectly credible belief in the Marvel Universe that the X-Men care more about mutants than humans. Similarly, whether or not Persephone actually assigns a lower value to mutant life than to human life, lots of people in the Marvel Universe do.

    This makes the threat credible, both in that Persephone may think that the X-Men are more likely to respond to it, and – more importantly – that, even if she has a completely accurate read on the X-Men, she knows that threatening mutants makes it just that little more believable that she will persist with carrying out her threats, no matter what.

  3. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    These are all good points, well made.

    As for point 3, I think there actually were instances where the X-Men were written as basically uncaring for baseline humans… I can’t recall exactly where, but I remember hating that characterization quite vividly.

  4. Thomas says:

    Wow. I just kinda shrug. This was a thing. Rosanas was a nice surprise though. The fact that only three of us even commented says it all.

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