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Sep 13

The Incomplete Wolverine, Part 7

Posted on Sunday, September 13, 2020 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II
Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939
Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era
Part 6: Team X

This time, we’re covering a somewhat random collection of stories that bridge the gap from Team X through to Weapon X. As we saw last time, Team X seems to be locked to the 1960s, but Weapon X leads into the Department H material and the modern era. So, with sliding time, there’s an ever increasing gap between the two, to be occupied with stories that expressly follow Team X, or obviously aim to lead in to Weapon X, or which predate Department H while being too tied to modern timeframes or continuity to take place before Team X. Oddly, it’s a period that Wolverine: Origins entirely ignores, though we have to assume Romulus is hanging around in the background somewhere in all this.

During this period, Logan first meets Carol Danvers (later Ms Marvel, Binary and Captain Marvel). She’ll show up in Logan: Shadow Society, which we’ll come to later on, by which time they’ve known each other for “years. That creates a continuity problem during the Department H period, when they meet again, but we’ll come back to that.

We kick off with a couple of flashbacks that exist to set up minor present-day stories. Wolverine Annual vol 2 #1 has a brief flashback where Logan is randomly in the “far east”, battling criminal mastermind Chen Yu and his Dragon Warriors. Logan is helped out by immortal adventurer Adam Destine (from Alan Davis’s ClanDestine), who will call in the favour in the main story.

The 2009 one-shot Wolverine: Under the Boardwalk has a flashback to Logan sharing a night of passion in Atlantic City with waitress Katrina McCann. This brings Logan to the attention of Katrina’s boyfriend, mafia underboss Phil DeBlasio. Logan sees DeBlasio and his men bury a body under the boardwalk in Coney Island; he’ll eventually find the body in the present day. The flashback is placed as “forty years ago”, which was 1969 at the date of publication, but thanks to sliding time (and the inherent vagueness of the timeframe) that puts it shortly after the Team X period ends.

Flashbacks in CLASSIC X-MEN #26
“So Much in Common” by Tom Orzechowski & John Bolton
October 1988

“Twenty years ago”, relative to the late 1970s stories that Classic X-Men was reprinting at the time. Working on and off for Canadian intelligence, Logan gets into a relationship with “Cracklin’ Rosa”, who runs a bar in Calgary. (This builds on a passing reference in X-Men vol 1 #120.) Logan amuses himself in the bar by drinking heavily and scamming people. By improbable coincidence, his antics provide the distraction that lets Interpol agent Sean Cassidy get his man. They won’t interact until they join the X-Men, though.

In flashbacks in Wolverine Annual ’97, Logan is sent to the USSR to protect nuclear weapons designer Dimitri Suhkarov, who hopes to defect to the west with his daughter Viktoria Suhkarov. The mission goes badly, and the three are pursued for days by Russian soldiers led by a guy called Volk. Volk kills Dimitri, but Logan and Viktoria escape.

UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN #-1
“There’s a Man who Leads a Life of Danger!” by Roger Stern, John Romita Sr & Al Milgrom
July 1997

This is the “Flashback Month” issue of Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Logan is working for the CIA as “Agent 10” (i.e., Agent X), and his involvement in the story is revealed as a cute twist. He’s been captured while investigating a terrorist cell led by wealthy heiress Baroness von Krupp and “the Supreme One”; after four days of torture and interrogation, he’s rescued by the stars of the story, spies Richard and Mary Parker. Back at base, everyone is delighted to learn that Mary is pregnant with the future Spider-Man. (The “Supreme One” is Baron Strucker, and the terrorist cell is presumably a proto-HYDRA outfit, but Logan doesn’t find that out.)

In a flashback in Wolverine: Black Rio, Logan spends about a year in Rio de Janeiro working as a bouncer for the Devil’s Grill, a bar owned by Antonio Vargas.

Flashbacks in WORLD WAR HULKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VS WOLVERINE #1-2
by Paul Tobin & Jacopo Carnagni
July 2010

(Listed on Marvel Unlimited as World War Hulks: Wolverine & Captain America, but I’m going with the cover.)

Back as a spy, Logan shadows a woman who’s believed to be the mistress of missing (and probably corrupt) Chicago politician Monte Boscardin. The Winter Soldier, still a brainwashed Soviet assassin at this point, is on loan to Boscardin. Logan has met the Winter Soldier before, but he was barely conscious at the time and understandably doesn’t remember. Even so, Logan instantly recognises him as Bucky. While the two get into a fight, Boscardin and his mistress are killed by Logan’s partner. It’s a weird sort of story to nail on to the World War Hulks crossover.

Next, we return to X-Men Origins: Sabretooth for another five pages. It’s been around ten years since Logan quit Team X, and he finds a quiet bar for his birthday, hoping to have no innocents around when Creed shows up for the annual fight. (He pays off the barmaid to leave.) When Creed arrives, Logan refuses to fight, and instead tries to persuade Creed to stop being a sadist. Creed is not dissuaded, and when he brings up Silver Fox’s name, Logan flies into a rage. Quite what Logan believes about Creed and Silver Fox at this point is less than clear, given the stories that show her involved in Team X. But you get the idea.

FIRST X-MEN #1-5
by Neal Adams & Christos Gage
August 2012 to January 2013

Over a couple of years, Logan has noticed more and more young mutants starting to emerge, and become worried that the government will go after them. When he finds feds taking a dead mutant’s body for inspection, Logan is prompted to act, and enlists Creed to help steal files on mutants from the federal Project Chimera. Creed is unusually sensible and helpful throughout this series, and he’s evidently reconciled with Logan at some point before it starts.

As the title might suggest, Creed and Logan then race round recruiting teenage mutants – or rescuing them from the FBI – and attempting to train them. The group eventually consists of Holo, Yeti, Bomb, Forrest Goldendawn, Shadowshift, Scout and Meteor. Fortunately, these proto-X-Men never actually give their team a name in the story.

Logan also tries and fails to recruit some older mutants: Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr (the future Magneto) and a mentally ill homeless man in New York (the amnesiac Namor the Sub-Mariner). Logan shows no signs of remembering these encounters when he meets these characters again, but when it comes to his continuity, memory wipes are the gift that keeps on giving. Logan’s group also come into contact with sympathetic FBI agent Fred Duncan, who goes on to become the X-Men’s rarely-seen liaison in the Silver Age, and tries to form a working relationship with Logan.

Forrest is under the control of Virus, a mutant allied with the FBI. So the FBI and Virus show up at the team’s makeshift base with a bunch of prototype Sentinels in tow. This doesn’t make sense, since the Silver Age is miles off and the prototypes seem far more stable and useful than any of the Sentinels we see in the Silver Age, but that’s First X-Men for you. At any rate, Holo is killed during the FBI attack. Logan tries to make a heroic last stand so that the other kids can escape, but winds up believing that they’ve all been killed. (In fact, Scout and Shadowshift are spirited away by Xavier, but Logan never learns that.)

Logan concludes that he’s a terrible leader who has achieved nothing mroe than to get some innocents killed. And so he abandons his plan to train a group, and settles for killing the guy in charge of Project Chimera.

In a subplot, Creed falls in love with Holo and blames Logan for her death. The series seems to be trying to make this Creed’s motivation for his vendetta against Logan in the future, which makes absolutely no sense and predictably failed to take. Frankly, First X-Men can only be seen as a bizarre anomaly – even on the most charitable reading, it fits poorly with any of the history around it. That said, Logan’s preoccupation with the mutant question is mentioned at the start of “Weapon X”, and First X-Men is the main story to show anything along those lines. In terms of his personal character arc, it isn’t too problematic – it’s everything else that’s a stretch.

In an epilogue, a drunken Logan stumbles out of an Albertan bar and is approached by two men from the Weapon X Project, who offer him the chance to become a super-soldier. Despite the warning that it could kill him, the dispirited Logan signs up. This is obviously meant to lead in to “Weapon X”, but it doesn’t fit – in that story, Logan is abducted. The scene comes very close to being disqualified from canon as an egregious continuity error, but if you want it to count, evidently Logan changes his mind when he sobers up.

In a flashback in Excalibur vol 3 #14 – also referenced in a photograph in Giant-Size X-Men #4 – Logan is shown as a soldier alongside US Army Captain Charles Xavier in an unspecified south-east Asian conflict. (Originally Xavier’s military service was in Korea, then Vietnam; sliding time means that it may now be the catch-all Sin-Cong Conflict.) Also serving at this time is Carmen Pryde, the future father of Kitty Pryde. This is a bizarre concept that Claremont was trying to shoehorn into continuity towards the end of his time with the X-books, and it’s difficult to understand how it can possibly work – Carmen shows no signs of recognising them in the present day.

In Wolverine vol 2 #26, a short flashback shows Logan visiting Bando Saburo once again for rest – which presumably means that he returns to Jasmine Falls. Logan and Bando enjoy tea, and Bando introduces his nephew Weston as his heir.

LOGAN: SHADOW SOCIETY
by Howard Mackie & Keith Aiken
February 1997

This is the canonical lead-in to “Weapon X”, and the other story to do something with the idea of Logan’s mutant obsession. Logan is back with Canadian intelligence. When his partner Neil Langram is murdered and framed as a traitor, Logan concludes that they must have been on the verge of discovering something big, and enlists Carol Danvers to help him investigate.

Together, they steal files from Canada’s secret Department H which point them towards Perry Edwards, an apparent conspiracy theorist who has somehow learned about an entirely genuine secret society of mutants – the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Logan tries to visit the Club, but doesn’t get past the front door – though he does cross paths with little Warren Worthington III, tagging along behind his father. This doesn’t make any sense at all – how can Warren be a child when the very same story has the Inner Circle up and running, and Carol Danvers as an adult?

Creed, now in costume as Sabretooth, claims credit for murdering both Perry Edwards and Neil Langram, and tells Logan that Perry’s theory was basically true. Logan defeats Sabretooth, but still isn’t convinced that the whole conspiracy theory is true. A month later, Carol tells Logan that she’s trying to get her government interested in mutants, and hopes to speak to newly elected Senator Robert Kelly about it. But for some reason Logan hopes it’ll all blow over in a few years. Apparently hoping to sit things out until it all blows over, he decides to head to the Yukon for solitude.

That won’t turn out well.

Bring on the comments

  1. […] But… apparently Logan does indeed quit Team X, which disbands shortly after. He doesn’t go to Weapon X just yet, though – there are a few more stories first, most of which either attempt to lead in to Weapon X, or simply take place in the 1970s. And we’ll cover them next time. […]

  2. Luis Dantas says:

    Clearly Logan’s main mutant power is lending random amounts and duration lengths of canonicity to fanfic.

    Man-Thing should pursue him to learn tips on how to manage Nexi of All Realities. Has it (already?) been revealed that Logan was around in the background in those Steve Gerber stories that introduced Howard the Duck?

    I can’t believe that I am actually suggesting new stories about Wolverine to be published…

  3. The Other Michael says:

    I doubt anyone cares enough about The First X-Men to bring them back even in the Krakoa era, but it would be interesting if they did. First off, what about bringing back Holo to give Creed someone with whom to reconnect? (Assuming that her death wasn’t in its own way an illusion designed to allow her to escape, now thought dead by everyone…)

    Frankly, we only have unsubstantiated word that most of them died in that final battle anyway. They could have been retrieved and hidden away/imprisoned for the years after…

    It’s weird that the only two who specifically survived never even got any sort of proper introduction, spotlight, or development between “rescued by Logan’s team” and “helped to escape by their father and Xavier.” Scout and Shadowstrike or whatever seemed poised for reintroduction later or -something-.

    It was a mess of a story, true, especially since the creation of mutants in any number -before- the early x-days, ones we’d never heard of, means that this was never going to come to a happy ending.

  4. Chris V says:

    I didn’t think that the First X-Men was in continuity.
    It doesn’t seem to work at all, even as a continuity implant.
    It was created simply to have some comic to tie in with the X-Men prequel movie that was in theatres at the time, I’m pretty sure.

    It doesn’t really matter what Creed wants. He’s been sent to Hell, perhaps for all eternity.

  5. Mark Coale says:

    I was a fan of many of those Flashback Month stories.

    Wolverines real name should actually be Zelig.

  6. Eric G says:

    @Chris V, in addition to the movie tie-in, most publishers will still pretty much let Neal Adams do anything he wants and they’ll publish it. Which seems weird considering his track record on projects like First X-Men or Batman: Odyssey, but there are still enough people out there (including a lot of people at the publishers) who view him as the greatest and most important living comic artist based on his works in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Goodness knows I can’t resist his recent work; even if the story is gibberish I still love the art.

  7. David Goldfarb says:

    It’s not clear from your text whether you realize that “Cracklin’ Rosa” is a song reference. (The song is “Rosie” instead of “Rosa”, but artistic license.)

  8. Daniel says:

    Question I’ve had for a while. In AoA, while Logan and Creed aren’t exactly BFFs, they are teammates in the then present and can apparently work well enough together not to kill one another. Creed is also a much more sympathetic character and forms a bond with Blink. How does any of that jive with the characters’ past considering the alternate reality break only occurred “twenty years ago”? Everything we’ve read in the Incomplete Wolverine would still have happened in the AoA’s history. I find it hard to swallow that AoA was enough to have the two on the same team again and have Sabretooth not being a complete psycho and one who bonds with a teenage girl.

    Also an AoA Romulus one shot needs to happen.

  9. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men went through AoA recently – they’ve found at least several other instances of changes that didn’t make sense as being due to a 20-year divergence.

    Annoyingly enough, I can’t remember what they were now.

  10. Daniel says:

    Another being how Changeling / Morph was still alive considering he had a terminal illness in the Silver Age. Asking the real questions here.

  11. SanityOrMadness says:

    Silver Age was less than twenty years in-continuity before the mid-90s. Maybe he was exposed to actual carcinogens some time and avoided that in the AoA.

  12. Mark Coale says:

    Questions about medicene are always weird. I mean, all the super science and technology in superhero comics, but they camt cure (disease X).

  13. Luis Dantas says:

    Come to think of it, in the Marvel and DC Universes people regularly come back from death and even regain youth, but have a hard time treating baldness, cancer or cervical cord injuries.

    No, it is not a particularly easy aspect to suspend disbelief on.

    Oddly, Xavier is very much the exception. He has been ressurrected at least twice, lost and regained the ability to walk at least three times each.

    But he is still bald. There is some lesson there to be learned, but I sure don’t know which it is.

  14. Chris V says:

    Xavier has been shown to realize how much the women love his bald look.
    He could cure his baldness, but he realizes he’d lose what makes him such a ladykiller too, so he stays bald.

  15. Taibak says:

    Which of course brings us back to a certain Spider-Man meme:

    https://cdn.jwz.org/images/scaled/768/2015/tumblr_niwt5knkdl1qfe9fvo1_1280.jpg

    But the whole medicine thing gets even wonkier when you realize there’s characters like Elixir and the Healer running around.

    Hell, at least Aurora worked with actual patients when she developed healing powers. There aren’t many characters who have done that.

  16. Daniel says:

    Yep, Xavier was basically Yul Brenner and as such he was a hit with the ladies.

    Wasn’t it implied very early on that his powers caused him to lose his hair at a young age? Didn’t seem to bother any of the other hundred telepaths with flowing locks running around.

  17. Zoomy says:

    I think Xavier, like all right-thinking people, sees baldness as a thing to be admired rather than something that needs to be cured!

    But yes, he does say in his first origin story in X-Men #12 that part of his mutation was starting to go bald in his teens. But maybe he just assumed that, and the stress of his parents’ deaths actually had more to do with it…

  18. GN says:

    Thank you very much for these Wolverine posts, Mr O’Brien, they have been very helpful. I have always been apprehensive of getting into previous Wolverine solo books due to what I suspect is haphazard to non-existent continuity, so these summaries provide a useful baseline. However, I do suspect that there is additional material on the way:

    a) Marvel is teasing that Wolverine’s arch nemesis will be introduced in issues 6 and 7 of the current Wolverine series (part of the X of Swords crossover). They could mean a new arch nemesis, but it could also be something that ties into Wolverine’s history (hence flashbacks).

    b) After X of Swords, solicits say issue 8 will start a new arc involving Team X (so more opportunities for flashbacks).

    c) Marvel is also publishing a secondary Wolverine title, Wolverine: Black, White and Blood starting in November (though it is not part of the Dawn of X branding), that supposedly consists entirely of new flashbacks to Wolverine’s past.

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