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Jul 16

iWolverine 2020 #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

iWOLVERINE 2020: This is a two-issue miniseries ostensibly tying in to the Iron Man 2020 event. Albert debuted in Wolverine vol 2 #37, by Larry Hama and Marc Silvestri, and he was a recurring character throughout Hama’s Wolverine run alongside his partner Elsie-Dee. The back story is that Donald Pierce came up with a convoluted scheme to assassinate Wolverine which involved making a robot duplicate of Wolverine, and a little girl robot with a bomb inside. The girl was accidentally given superhuman intelligence, broke her programming, and upgraded the Wolverine doppelganger at the same time, naming him Alfred. Since then, they’ve basically been wandering adventurers.

Prior to this crossover, Albert was last seen in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost #2-3, where he was hunting for the missing Elsie-Dee. This miniseries picks up on that thread. On the strength of this issue, it appears to be a red-skies tie-in, linked to the wider event only by the fact that the lead character is an artificial intelligence, and a scene where somebody mentions the pro-AI movement in Iron Man 2020, and he replies that he’s not interested. (In fact, Albert was shown as a member of the AI Army in Iron Man 2020 vol 2 #1, but that doesn’t seem to feed into this story at all.)

This issue is listed on Comixology as 2020 iWolverine #1, and appears in the crossover reading order as just iWolverine #1. But I’ll go with the logo, since it matches the name format of the other tie-in issues.

COVER / PAGE 1: Albert fights some of the Reavers in a snowbound landscape. This isn’t a scene from the story. The four Reavers seen here are all from the 90s line-up – Donald Pierce on the left, Cylla to the top, Bonebreaker on the right, and Pretty Boy at the front.

PAGE 2: The recap page. This refers to the AI Army as “the Artificial Life Army”, which isn’t actually the name it’s given in Iron Man 2020.

PAGE 3: Yakuza boss Kimura learns that “Patch” is back in Madripoor.

Madripoor is a standard setting for Wolverine stories; Patch is a cover identity he often uses there; and the Princess Bar is a bar that Wolverine’s commonly associated with. Tyger Tiger is a Madripoor crimelord, sometime ruler of the island, and occasional ally of Wolverine. You probably know all that, but hey, just in case.

Dai Kumo was a Yakuza crimelord from who appeared in a single storyline in Wolverine vol 2 #31-33. Despite what these characters say, he wasn’t killed by Wolverine, but by his reluctant aide Reiko.

PAGES 4-9: Albert meets Tyger Tiger in the Princess Bar.

“One Juliet and Romeo”. Lime, gin and cucumber.

“I always knew you couldn’t possibly be dead.” This seems to be a continuity error, since Wolverine isn’t publicly dead at this point in continuity (and this story certainly takes place during the Krakoan era, since Homines Verendi are mentioned later).

“I was there the first time you were exhumed.” That’s not ringing any bells.

“I was … made in his image…” Albert gives a basically straightforwad recap of his origin story from the early 90s.

“Since he and his friends, the Verendi, have taken over the Madripoor government…” Referring to current storylines in Marauders. Since Pierce is part of the government, and Tyger isn’t, it’s less than clear what she means by “We’ve had no official problem with him” – presumably she just means that they’re letting her get on with business.

“Reavers Universal Robotics.” The Reavers are Pierce’s well-established cyborg henchmen. As Albert notes on the next page, this is a reference to the play R.U.R. (1920) by Czech playwright Karel Čapek, which coined the term “robot”. In the play, R.U.R. stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots (“Rossum” being a pun on the Czech word for “reason”). “Robot” comes from the Czech word robota, meaning “forced labour”, and with an etymological link to the Czech word for “slave”.

PAGES 10-14: Albert goes to RUR and finds out where Elsie-Dee’s parts are.

Bonebreaker has been around in the Reavers since the 80s. He normally has a tank for his lower body, rather than the spider legs seen here – though he was complaining about wanting to change them when we last saw him, during Matthew Rosenberg’s Astonishing X-Men run.

“It’s all done with biological 3D printing these days.” This has parallels to Xeno’s lab-grown soldiers in X-Force, but that’s probably just coincidence.

PAGES 15-22. Albert retrieves Elsie-Dee’s parts, and the bad guys gear up for revenge.

All of which speaks for itself. The Jade Dragons and the Karamazov Brothers are all new characters.

Bring on the comments

  1. Paul says:

    (I’ll review it when the story is completed, but if you liked the early 90s Larry Hama Wolverine stories, this is good fun.)

  2. kelvingreen says:

    I find it bizarre and charming that there’s a crossover named after that weird Iron Man knock off from the back-up stories in Transformers. The character was always a bit naff and now he’s famous!

  3. Chris V says:

    Iron Man 2020 was actually introduced in that Machine Man mini-series from the 1980s, with art by Barry Windsor Smith.

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    Speaking of that, when did we most recently see Arno Stark and Machine Man?

  5. Allan M says:

    Arno’s been a regular cast member in Iron Man since 2013, during the Gillen run. The big retcon there was that Arno is Howard and Maria’s biological son, who was badly sick from birth and has been living in isolation for decades, whereas Tony is the Starks’ adopted son. So they’re adoptive brothers instead of father and son as in the original story. The current Iron Man 2020 storyline is about Arno forcibly taking over the Iron Man identity and Stark Industries, and Tony starting a robot revolution to stop him.

    Machine Man has similarly been a regular in Iron Man throughout the current Slott run, in a difficult romance with Jocasta. He’s also a big part of the current Iron Man 2020 story.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    Thanks, Allan!

  7. Si says:

    I always liked Albert and Elsie-Dee back in the day. Though I missed the origin so they were just two bizarre robots. I didn’t even get the Elsie-Dee = L.C.D. thing til years later.

    We really are suffering from Too Many Wolverines though.

  8. Andrew says:

    I loved that Barry Windsor Smith artwork. I miss seeing his pencils. He’s an incredible talent who I wish we got to see more often.

  9. kelvingreen says:

    @Chris V it was a joke. The BWS comic was reprinted as a back-up strip in Marvel UK’s Transformers.

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    I wonder if they acknowledged the duplicate Machine Man that Sunset Bain created in 1990’s Iron Man Annual #11.

    To me it seemed to be meant to be the protagonist of the BWS series which introduced Iron Man 2020.

  11. Col_Fury says:

    The divergence point between Earth-616 and Earth-8410 was shown in 1984’s Machine Man v2 #3 in a flashback. Immediately following the events of Marvel Two-In-One #93, Sunset Bain sends her men to steal Jocasta and Machine Man, and Peter Spaulding is killed during the attack (Gears Garvin was out getting lunch or spare parts or something). Jocasta will eventually become Sunset’s assistant (basically) and Machine Man will be deactivated, to be awoken in the future of 2020 at the start of Machine Man v2 #1.

    I only know this off the top of my head because I recently re-read the mini about a month ago. 🙂

  12. Allan M says:

    I think the duplicate Machine Man from Iron man Annual #11 has remained dead/destroyed, but it turns out that Sunset Bain’s been continuing to salvage and rebuild earlier X-series robots over the years, as well as building a more advanced model, the X-52. Machine Man fights them in the Machine Man 2020 miniseries (2 issues) from earlier this year.

    Related tangent: I am now remembering the 90s X-51 series from the short-lived M-Tech line, which featured Sebastian Shaw and Tessa/Saga is the principal villains who are hunting Machine Man. Given the dates, this is probably one of the last examples of Sage in a pure baddie role. Also, a series which eventually touches on the idea of mutants (and humans? I think) fighting against artificial life supremacy. Clearly, this 12-issue series from the 90s was the big inspiration for HoXPoX.

  13. Chris V says:

    If only Hickman had put the Casey Deathlok series on his pull-list instead of the X-51series….

  14. Luis Dantas says:

    IIRC, the duplicate from Iron Man #11 was put into storage at the end of that story and pretty much never seen or mentioned again.

    About three years ago I speculated that the intent may have been to have a convenient in-continuity potential protagonist for the 1984 series, in case Aaron went through too much in the following years to be a good fit for that series (which I would argue turned out to be true).

    One of the reasons why I thought that was because there is a lot of similarity between the situation in Machine Man (1984 limited series) #3 and that of Iron Man Annual #11 (1990). Both have Sunset Bain acquiring (a) Machine Man and Jocasta and both feature Spaulding’s death while ignoring Gears entirely.

    But clearly, and probably wisely, Marvel decided to acknowledge the opportunity for an Iron Man 2020 storyline while not feeling too bound by stories of 30 years ago.

  15. Chris V says:

    The Marvel superheroes aren’t dead and the world isn’t run by mega-corporations. Plus, the word “Scrag” isn’t the cool new slang term.
    Marvel never intended for that Machine Man series to be a true future for the Marvel Universe. It always seemed like it was meant to be an alternate universe. It was just playing off of the popular Cyberpunk science fiction of the 1980s.

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