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Oct 1

Wolverine Annual #1: “Acts of Evil”

Posted on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

It’s not all Jonathan Hickman! I mean, it’s mostly Jonathan Hickman, to be sure. But there were a smattering of other X-books out last week, miles off to the side of anything that might impinge on current continuity.

First up is this year’s Wolverine Annual #1, because this is Marvel, and you have to explain which Wolverine Annual #1 you mean. There have been four this century, only one of which was followed by Wolverine Annual #2. If you’re into legacy numbering, then by my count this is actually Wolverine Annual #10, although that’s over a 24 year period, which isn’t especially annual. And I couldn’t even be confident about that because it’s so hard to search for them.

This is not the time to be treading on House of X, so naturally this is an evergreen story. It’s part of a loosely themed set of annuals bannered under “Acts of Evil”, which in turn refers back to the 1980s crossover “Acts of Vengeance.” Acts of Vengeance was basically an excuse to have heroes fight villains from other books, which was more of an event in the late 80s than it is today. Notionally there was a plot, but most of the tie-in books paid lip service to it or ignored it entirely; it was the random pairings that were the selling point, so as long as you delivered that, you’d probably be okay.

“Acts of Evil” doesn’t bother with a plot; it’s just a thematic link, and a pretty vague one at that. That leaves Jody Houser with plenty of freedom to tell her own story – but it’s a hard gimmick to do with Wolverine, who’s fought most of the Marvel Universe at one time or another. Houser’s choice is sensible enough: choose a villain from a different genre, and then set it way back in the past so that Wolverine is even less familiar. So here’s Wolverine versus Morgan Le Fey in 1930s Hollywood.

That sounds quite good, doesn’t it? And the opening pages look good too – it opens with a lovely action scene by Geraldo Borges, who proceeds to do some impressive work on a younger and more love-struck Wolverine. This is Wolverine before he was even particularly a man of action, let alone a superhero, and the more tentative body language gets that over well.

After a framing sequence, which is basically Logan going to an old woman to finally apologise for what happened in the story we’re about to read, we get to the plot. Logan and his girlfriend Cecilia move to Hollywood in 1938 so that she can pursue her acting career. It takes off, and Logan gets sidelined and dumped, but keeps hanging around on the studio staff in the hope of her coming back. Cecilia finds out about his healing powers and invites him to some weird group which is supposedly interested in such phenomena, and Logan dutifully tags along. Naturally, it’s all a trap.

Here’s the thing: this is the sort of story that reads better in synopsis than on the page, because it’s all a bit half-formed. There are a load of unrelated ideas floating around in here, stubbornly refusing to coalesce into anything very much. So the issue opens with that neat action scene I mentioned earlier, where Wolverine and Spider-Man team up in the present day to fight some robots. It’s a nice scene, but it has nothing to do with the rest of the issue – even if you want to establish Wolverine, what’s Spider-Man doing there?

Then, we’ve got a bunch of elements that should hang together, but kind of don’t, maybe because the story is being rushed into one issue. The art does sterling work in selling Logan’s attachment to Cecilia, who’s inevitably something of a stock trope. But then, halfway through, the plot takes a sharp right turn when we discover that Cecilia is actually possessed by Morgan Le Fey – and not just any Morgan Le Fey, but one who’s come back from the future to try and alter history to stop superheroes from appearing. So the story goes spiralling off into a young Logan, dressed as the future Wolverine, and fighting versions of villains he doesn’t recognise and … what?

There are a couple of problems here. On a plot level, there’s no apparent reason for Morgan to take an interest in Wolverine – precisely because they have no history – and indeed she seems to just stumble upon him. But more fundamentally, all this stuff about Logan’s future has nothing much to do with the Cecilia material that we spent half the issue on. Nor does it have anything much to do with the Hollywood setting.

I’m guessing that the thinking here was that Morgan Le Fey was naturally cast as a 30s femme fatale. That could well have worked, but Cecilia never really has that vibe strongly enough, and the twist feels flat to me. The setting, the choice of villain… this could have been a lot stronger, but it fizzles out.

Bring on the comments

  1. CJ says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t figure out what Morgan wanted.

    I think Wolverine has had about 100 jobs in the past 100 years. I would pay to read that comic, outlining each of them.

  2. Brendan says:

    Logan’s resume would have more pages than the official handbook to the MU.

  3. Si says:

    Logan’s best career of course was when he was the Beer Baron.

    I think Paul has sold Acts of Vengeance a bit short. I mean, it was still a half-baked event, but there was some interesting stuff in there. At its core was five big baddies working together, pre-empting Mark Millar’s years of nonsense in answering “What If The Baddies Teamed Up?” It turns out their egos and neuroses make them hate each other even more than they hate the goodies and the group quickly self-destructs, duh.

    Probably the best bit is at the end when we find out why exactly Magneto, a Holocaust survivor, would be working with Red Skull, a Nazi.

  4. Job says:


    “I think Paul has sold Acts of Vengeance a bit short. I mean, it was still a half-baked event, but there was some interesting stuff in there”

    Not getting into comics until a good five years later, I admit that Acts of Vengeance, as an actual story, was hard to track down and follow after the fact (there was no issue numbering, ala “Part 17,” and no obvious tells about which issues were mere participants in the main conceit and which actually furthered the “plot,” as it were), but there was some good fun in the concept with the villains teaming up and swapping enemies, especially at a time right before superhero books started getting gritty and self-serious.

    As you said, we need only look at Millar’s Marvel work to see how the concept could be done poorly.

  5. Jack Barton says:

    I’ve long maintained that Marvel should attempt to tie together every established bit of Wolvie’s history in prose form… by having him write a super Robert Evans-esque memoir.

    “Good? Depends on when you ask. Bad? Worse than I’d like to admit. The best there is at what I do? You bet your ass, bub.”

  6. PersonofCon says:

    @Jack Barton Or do it as Woolf did with Orlando, and have every era of his life written in the predominant literary style of the time. (Swapping his gender halfway through would be optional.)

  7. CJ says:


    If Wolverine (Woolferine, sorry) is Orlando, that means we’ve got Tilda Swinton playing him in the cinematic universe. I’ll pay money for that too.

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