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Apr 11

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1986

Posted on Sunday, April 11, 2021 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
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 
1980 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984 1985

When we left off, Professor X had just handed the school over to Magneto and disappeared off to space. Oh, and we’re still in the middle of Secret Wars II.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #201
by Chris Claremont, Rick Leonardi, Whilce Portacio & Glynis Oliver
January 1986

On returning home from Paris, the X-Men meet the newborn Nathan Summers (the future Cable). Magneto takes up his role as the New Mutants’ mentor. And Storm beats Cyclops in a duel, to become the X-Men’s leader again. Wolverine blatantly supports Storm in that argument, arguing that Cyclops’ heart is no longer in it – presumably because of Cyclops’ conflicted feelings about his duty to his family. Wolverine thinks of Scott’s non-combatant family as a liability.

“Shadows on the Soul!”
by Chris Claremont, June Brigman, Terry Austin & Glynis Oliver
February 1987

The X-Men, Magneto and Lee Forrester are holidaying on Island M (despite everyone finding the place a bit creepy) when the statues come to life and attack. This turns out to be the work of the Chief Examiner, who wants to copy Magneto’s powers and use them to save his alien race. Magneto agrees to be scanned. As for Wolverine, he gets turned to stone for most of the issue.

This story was commissioned for the unpublished Questprobe #4, and eventually wound up in Marvel’s inventory dumping-ground title. Questprobe was a projected 12-issue miniseries, promoting a series of text adventure games. The whole thing fell through after the developer went bust, and the X-Men game was never completed.

POWER PACK vol 1 #19
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
by Louise Simonson and various artists
February 1986

Logan and Kitty go to the Thanksgiving parade in Manhattan, and have a minor role in clearing up some confusion caused by the Morlock empath Annalee. Later, they go to Power Pack’s Thanksgiving party, also attended by Annalee, Leech, Franklin Richard, Beta Ray Bill, Cloak (Tyrone Johnson) and Dagger (Tandy Bowen). As with her appearance in Uncanny X-Men last year, Annalee’s behaviour towards Leech is horrific, and by today’s standards everyone is far too tolerant of her behaviour.

ALPHA FLIGHT vol 1 #33-34
“A Friend in Need” / “Honor”
by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, Gerry Talaoc & Bob Sharen
April and May 1986

This one is significant. Heather Hudson shows up at the X-Men Mansion wearing the Guardian battlesuit, and asks Wolverine to train her as a superhero. He isn’t keen on her using the battlesuit, considering that it killed James, but he agrees anyway. They’re attacked by the debuting Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama) and her samurai henchmen. Yuriko has previously appeared in Daredevil, which is where her back story originates, but this is her first appearance as Deathstrike, and the first time Wolverine has met her. At this point, she’s just a regular samurai. She accuses Wolverine of using power stolen from her father – she believes that he was given his adamantium skeleton using techniques stolen from her late father, Lord Dark Wind. Wolverine and Heather drive the villains off, and Heather proves herself as a superhero. She becomes the new Vindicator.

As well as introducing a major Wolverine villain, this story has a lengthy flashback to Logan’s time with the Hudsons, and strongly hints that James Hudson was involved in Wolverine getting his adamantium skeleton. Mantlo takes the line that Logan was in love with Heather; that she was the one who helped him regain his sanity, not James; and that he left Department H because he knew she would never leave James for him. James was being treated as quite a compromised character at this point, and there’s been some heavy backpedalling on a lot of this material in later years.

Chris Claremont will later import Deathstrike into Wolverine’s rogue’s gallery. He converts her into a cyborg, but otherwise keeps her more or less as seen here. She seems to know that Wolverine didn’t get his adamantium by choice, but presents her vendetta as a matter of honour for them both. She also gives a back story for her father, which Claremont adopts in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #205, in which he developed his adamantium bonding technique to atone for the shame of being a kamikaze pilot who survived.

by various creators
December 1985

Psychic scavenger Hungry attacks the X-Men with hallucinations in order to feed on their misery, but the X-Men track him to famine-stricken Africa and defeat him. Wolverine, specifically, is presented with a doppelganger of himself, and told that he has to defeat it in order to get all the answers to his past. He breaks the spell by defeating the duplicate, but refusing to kill it.

This was a jam story released as a famine relief fundraiser. Mercifully, Hungry is not presented as the cause of the famine, but simply as a parasite taking advantage of it.

flashback in Wolverine: Weapon X #16 shows Logan and Kurt helping to deliver aid while they’re in Africa. They discuss how Kurt deals with the fact that even here, people are afraid of his appearance.

by Mark Gruenwald, Mike Zeck & John Beatty

Wolverine teams up with Captain America to battle Overrider (Richard Renselaer), an ex-SHIELD agent with the mutant power to control technology, and his stolen anti-supersoldier robot TESS-One. Overrider plans first to get TESS-One coated in adamantium, and then to destroy the US’s nuclear missile stockpile so that World War III can’t happen. Oh, and Logan also crosses paths with Bob Frank (sometimes known as “Nuklo”).

This is quite a good story. Gruenwald clearly understands that Wolverine is supposed to have hidden depths, but deliberately makes sure that Captain America fails to spot any of them. The result is an utterly dysfunctional team-up which ends with Wolverine making a polite concession to Cap’s sensibilities by not actively killing Overrider (but still letting him fall to severe injury), and Cap yelling at Wolverine that he’d never be allowed anywhere near the Avengers. So Cap treats Wolverine’s code of ethics as utterly beyond the pale, but at the same time the story as a whole is more sympathetic to him.

“The Hunter”
by Chris Claremont & Marshall Rogers

Wolverine returns to Tokyo to rescue Mariko Yashida from Sabuka, a tycoon with yakuza connections, whose henchmen are a mixture of traditionally-dressed goons and Mandroids. Wolverine outwits Sabuka’s schemes and terrorises Sabuka into giving up his criminal ambitions.

Best of Marvel Comics vol 1 (there is no vol 2) was a Sears-exclusive reprint collection, but it also contains this original short story. The official timelines place this story between Uncanny #148-149, but Wolverine is identified as “the so-called ‘champion’ of Clan Yashida” – which to my mind places it after the Wolverine miniseries. On that basis, I’m sticking it in the last available gap before the X-Men start the storylines that lead to their (first) San Francisco phase; the plot seems consistent with Logan and Mariko’s status quo at that point.

“Growing Pains”
by Louise Simonson, June Brigman, Roy Richardson & Tamra Bonvillain
August 2019

On the night before his 13th birthday, Alex Power goes to see an open air Lila Cheney concert in New York, accompanied by his family and Allison McCourt. Allison was a  Power Pack supporting character who Alex had a crush on, so this is his big chance.

Kofi shows up in Smartship Friday with the Brood in pursuit. Alex dithers over whether to leave Allison before finally joining the fight. Kitty and Wolverine show up for the end of the fight, and Logan gives Alex some reasonably sensible big-brother advice, reminding him that at least he made the right decision in the end.

This story is surprisingly easy to place: Wolverine and Power Pack already know each other, so it’s after Uncanny X-Men #195. The Morlocks are still around, so it’s before Uncanny X-Men #211. And the only significant gaps in that period fall during Secret Wars II.

“Charge of the Dark Brigade!”
by Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom,  Steve Leialoha & Juliana Ferriter
January 1986

The X-Men and the New Mutants appear in a single panel, watching news coverage of the Beyonder. Phoenix wants to go after him, but Magneto rules that they should leave him alone, since he isn’t actually doing anything. This sets up…

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #202
“X-Men, I’ve Gone to Kill the Beyonder!”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Al Williamson & Glynis Oliver
February 1986

Phoenix goes after the Beyonder anyway. The X-Men follow her to San Francisco, where the Beyonder makes her choose between killing him and saving the X-Men. He thinks he’s giving her a chance to purge her survivor’s guilt from her time as a hound, but she doesn’t see it that way.

Wolverine sides with Phoenix – he’s all for killing the Beyonder as an unacceptable danger. He’s also gone back to his usual pattern of needling the new leader, this time by reminding Magneto about the problems that his past schemes are still causing for the X-Men. Kitty thinks that Wolverine is trying to test their new leader, but also thinks that it’s bad teamwork because Magneto isn’t getting the point.

After this story, the X-Men hang around in San Francisco to help rebuild. They stay at the home of Jessica Drew, which I think is Wolverine’s first meeting with her. According to Wolverine vol 2 #1, he also meets her roommate Lindsay McCabe.

Secret Wars II has a little bit left to run, but there’s not much to say about it from Wolverine’s standpoint.

by Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom, Steve Leilaloha & Julianna Ferriter
February 1986

Convinced that the Beyonder is indeed a threat, the X-Men attack him and get absolutely nowhere. But the Beyonder  realises that he provoked the fight, and wanders off to have a think about that.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #203
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Al Williamson & Glynis Oliver
March 1986

Without their permission, Phoenix takes the souls of the X-Men and the Starjammers into the M’Kraan Crystal, which she plans to destroy in order to reboot the universe without the Beyonder. She backs down after everyone confronts her about what this would mean in practice. The Beyonder shows up and admits that he was rather hoping she’d do it. Instead, she gives him cosmic awareness of the lives of individuals, which he experiences as an epiphany; he wanders off to contemplate the attraction of mortality.

“God in Man, Man in God!”
by Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha & various colourists
March 1986

Phoenix summons an army of heroes to Colorado for the final showdown against the Beyonder. Eventually, he seems to die while trying to decant himself into a truly mortal body. The Molecule Man redirects his power into another dimension.

The gathered heroes are mostly people that Wolverine has met before, but it’s his first encounter with Mockingbird (Bobbi Barton), the Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Box (Roger Bochs), and the West Coast Avengers (as a team – he’s met most of the members before).

Wolverine doesn’t appear in Uncanny X-Men #204, which is a Nightcrawler solo story.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #205
“Wounded Wolf”
by Chris Claremont & Barry Windsor-Smith
May 1986

Lady Deathstrike has hired Spiral to turn her into a cyborg. She is now accompanied by henchmen Cole, Reese and Macon – the three mercenaries that Wolverine injured in the Hellfire Club back during the Dark Phoenix Saga, and who were turned into cyborgs as a result. Deathstrike and co ambush Wolverine and seriously injure him, but Energizer from Power Pack helps shelter him while he heals. Once he’s sufficiently recovered, Wolverine defeats Deathstrike, but refuses to kill her, telling her instead that she has to earn her freedom.

This is an excellent issue, and also an important one, in that it imports Lady Deathstrike from Alpha Flight into the X-books, where she stays. The story is very clear that she only becomes a cyborg in order to pursuer her mission against Wolverine. Spiral has supposedly promised to restore all four to full humanity once the mission is over (though only Deathstrike really cares). Deathstrike claims here that she feels honour-bound to kill Logan to avenge her father, but that her main motivation is simply to free herself of that duty and move on with her  life. Logan dismisses this whole scheme as futile and unnecessary even by the standards of X-books giri – and he sees Deathstrike as having thrown away the humanity that he would “give pretty near anything to possess.”

Logan takes brain damage at the start of the attack, so he spends most of the issue mute and confused. He sees this as a regression to his animal state, reminding him of the bestial period he thought he had put behind him. In Wolverine vol 2 #37, a time-travelling Wolverine and Puck briefly pop through this story.

Wolverine doesn’t appear in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #206, because he’s still recovering from his injuries. At some point before issue #207, the team cart him back to New York to get the Morlock Healer to sort him out – though he continues to complain about his injuries all the way through to the Mutant Massacre.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #207-210
“Ghosts” / “Retribution” / “Salvation” / “The Morning After”
#207-208 and #210 by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Oliver
#209 by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, P Craig Russell & Glynis Oliver
July to October 1986

Phoenix dreams about being killed by Wolverine for her crimes. The implication is that she’s reading his mind in her sleep, and that he’s angry about her high-handed treatment of her teammates during Secret Wars II. But he’s also serving as a general Nemesis figure for her storyline. On recovering from his healing session, Logan goes after her, and catches up to her just as she is about to kill the new Black Queen (Selene). He regards this as murder, apparently because it’s a premeditated assassination. When Rachel refuses to stand down, he claws her.

The other X-Men are naturally appalled by all this. When they finally catch up with Rachel, she berates Wolverine, and tells him that Selene has already gone on to kill more innocents. This leads to a multi-way fight between Phoenix, the Hellfire Club and Nimrod. This seems to be Wolverine’s first encounter with Hellfire aide Tessa (later Sage). The X-Men and the Hellfire Club defeat Nimrod, at the cost of the lives of Harry Leland and the Black Rook. Nimrod escapes, and Phoenix is led away by Spiral – her storyline picks up in Excalibur. The next day, the X-Men assume that Phoenix has deserted them. Wolverine follows her trail, but it’s a dead end. Storm tells him that he should never have gone after Phoenix alone, and that if the whole team had been there, it might have made a difference. Wolverine replies that he’s a loner by nature, but promises to work as a team member in future, because the team depends on him.

This storyline is notoriously difficult. Wolverine’s thinking is difficult to make sense of – or at least, difficult in any way that’s consistent with his other appearances. Logan’s main points seem to be that (1) Phoenix’s attack on Selene is unprovoked and amounts to murder, and (2) as heroes, the X-Men have to stand for higher principles and play by the rules. You can make a case for one of the X-Men being willing to injure a teammate (who’s their responsibility) to stop them from crossing a line in injuring a villain, but Wolverine is not well placed to make that argument. It’s not easy to square with later stories showing Wolverine in X-Force, but also earlier stories in which Wolverine is more than willing to use lethal force.

But the other X-Men don’t find his reasoning remotely persuasive either. So perhaps we’re not meant to be persuaded. The real issue may be simply that Wolverine has come round to believing in the importance of higher ideals as part of his own programme of personal redemption; it’s important to him that the X-Men stand for those ideals because his membership of the X-Men is one of the symbols of his own personal improvement.

In the back-up strip in X-Men Annual vol 1 #14, Wolverine and Phoenix talk about this incident. Wolverine claims that the moral is “the stronger you are, the more power you possess, the more you need limits” – i.e., if Phoenix rationalises one execution, she’s on a slippery slope that will lead to more. This argument seems to depend more on a particular concern that Phoenix needs to be held to higher standards because she’s so powerful, which really isn’t what he said at the time.

X-MEN ANNUAL vol 1 #10
by Chris Claremont, Art Adams, Terry Austin & Glynis Oliver

Psylocke (Betsy Braddock) has moved into the Mansion, but unknown to all, her cyborg eyes are actually providing footage for Mojo. Mojo dumps Longshot into the Mansion. The next morning, the X-Men, Longshot and Psylocke all turn into little kids, and are drawn to a portal to the Mojoverse. Mojo starts ageing them again, in his desired image. The New Mutants rescue them. Wolverine, specifically, is regressed to animal status, and is the first to recover his normal personality by force of will. The X-Men and the New Mutants drive Mojo away, and force Spiral to set things right.

(This isn’t the first appearance of the actual X-Babies, who started off as callbacks to this story – and parodies of the overexpansion of the line.)

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #211
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Bret Blevins, Al Williamson & Glynis Oliver
November 1986

Wolverine is still meant to be taking it easy, given his injuries from issue #205. Colossus and Rogue both note that Wolverine has recovered more quickly from far worse injuries in the past, and wonder if something is wrong – but that plot just fades out.

The Marauders attack the Morlock tunnels and slaughter the inhabitants. The X-Men go to fight them – Wolverine, in particular, encounters Vertigo, Riptide, Scrambler and Harpoon here. As they search the tunnels, Wolverine is surprised to pick up the original X-Men’s scent – all five of them, meaning that Jean Grey is back. (This is X-Factor, in the tunnels for their own part of the crossover.) But Wolverine isn’t totally sure that it’s the real Jean, so he keeps quiet about that for now.

The battle goes catastrophically, with Nightcrawler badly injured and Shadowcat stuck in her intangible state. While Storm evacuates, she tells Wolverine to stay in the tunnels, and take one of the Marauders prisoner – the rest are his.

POWER PACK vol 1 #27
“Whose Power–?”
by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove, Al Gordon & Glynis Oliver
December 1986

Wolverine picks up Sabretooth’s scent, and starts tailing him. He comes across Power Pack – now going by the names Destroyer, Molecula, Counterweight and Starstreak, and accompanied by Tattletale (Franklin Richards). Wolverine tells them to go home, but has to race off and help screaming massacre victims before he can press the point. (They don’t leave, but that’s not Wolverine’s problem.)

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #212-213
“The Last Run” / “Psylocke”
#212 by Chris Claremont, Rick Leonardi, Dan Green & Glynis Oliver
#213 by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis, Paul Neary & Glynis Oliver
December 1986 and January 1987

Wolverine fights Sabretooth, who identifies the Morlocks’ employer as Mister Sinister. (Wolverine has met Sinister / “Nathaniel Essex” before in Origin II, but even if he remembers that story, he doesn’t know they’re the same person.) Wolverine brings down the tunnel roof to trap Sabretooth, before escaping back to the Mansion with the Healer. Wolverine sees this as a sign of his maturity – he’s walked away from a fight with his hated rival Sabretooth in order to take the honourable course and save Healer. For Wolverine, this proves his growth as a member of the X-Men; Sabretooth, of course, is an echo of how Wolverine used to be.

In issue #213, Sabretooth shows up at the Mansion and attacks Psylocke. Wolverine fights Sabretooth again, but this time there’s no overriding urgent mission to make him keep his focus. So he joins Sabretooth in a berserker rage. In narration, Psylocke describes this as “matched by a terrible, transcendent joy – they so love what they do.” Generally, she spends a lot of this issue playing up their similarities. During the fight, Psylocke takes advantage of the distraction to read Sabretooth’s mind for info. During that, we get some out of context images of a younger Logan, defeated by Sabretooth in the snow – this is the story about the death of Silver Fox, which eventually gets told in Wolverine vol 2 #10. Wolverine claims by the end of this issue that distracting Sabretooth was a deliberate plan, but the narrator strongly suggests otherwise. At any rate, the story ends when they hurl themselves over a cliff (another piece of foreshadowing for Wolverine vol 2 #10), and Sabretooth escapes.

Although Sabretooth was hinted to have some connection with Wolverine back in his first appearances in the 1970s, this is the first published story where they interact. It introduces him as Wolverine’s arch-enemy and shadow version – Sabretooth represents the berserker side that Wolverine is now transcending, and perhaps the sort of person he used to be. Sabretooth has since been retconned into large chunks of Wolverine’s history, but his role as arch enemy only fully makes sense in the light of the development that Wolverine has undergone to date.

This is also the first story where Wolverine has any significant interaction with Psylocke. Initially he doesn’t seem very impressed, and dismisses her as an upper-class outsider who should shut up until she’s learned more about the X-Men. Of course, she proves herself against Sabretooth by the end of the story. This is more about Psylocke than Wolverine – she gets treated very similarly by Storm.

Oh, and presumably Wolverine meets Sharon Friedlander and Tom Corsi during the Mutant Massacre arc, if he hasn’t already done so – both are helping out at the Mansion throughout.

Next time, in 1987, the aftermath of the Massacre and the build towards Fall of the Mutants.

Bring on the comments

  1. […] Next time, in 1986, more of Secret Wars II, and the first of the annual X-crossovers. […]

  2. I thought Cole, Macon & Reese were converted to cyborgs as far back as X-Men #152?

  3. Paul says:

    You’re right – Spiral promises to restore them to human, but doesn’t actually seem to upgrade them further. I’ll get that corrected.

  4. Thom H. says:

    A couple of possible explanations for Wolverine’s weird decision to kill Phoenix for going after Selene:

    — He’s still recovering from the brain damage he recently received from Deathstrike.

    — He’s sick of Phoenix’s crap after going rogue with the Beyonder just prior to this similar attempt on Selene’s life.

    Neither of those is supported by the text at all, so I’m not suggesting that they’re canonical explanations. It’s just interesting to speculate because it’s so out of character for Wolverine. Almost any other teammate makes more sense in his place, but Claremont would normally favor Storm or Kitty as the voice of reason.

    Unless that story was supposed to be a turning point for Wolverine that never came about. Maybe it was supposed to show the completion of his arc before he went into a gradual decline. Even if that’s the case, it was so abrupt that I still remember reading it back in 1986 and thinking “what?”

    It does lead into one of the best fights Claremont ever staged, though. I love that Hellfire/X-Men/Nimrod fight so much. The choreography, the stakes, the shifting motivations — good stuff.

  5. Chris V says:

    Yes, I’ve always found that scene with Wolverine and Rachel to be the worst writing by Claremont on Uncanny X-Men also.
    It’s bizarre. “X-Men don’t kill, bub…unless it’s each other.”
    Then, Selene is allowed to escape so she can kill lots more people.

    The only explanation I’ve ever seen that makes sense is that Logan was afraid that Rachel was becoming another Dark Phoenix, and couldn’t deal with that reality.
    The dialogue still reads completely at odds.
    If that was Claremont’s intent, he certainly failed to make it clear.

  6. Chris V says:

    Oh, I was going to say that I had never heard of the Best of Marvel Comics story before, but I realized it was reprinted in the Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades hardcover by Les Daniels.
    I’m not sure if it was ever reprinted anywhere else.

  7. wwk5d says:

    “When they finally catch up with Rachel, she berates Wolverine, and tells him that Selene has already gone on to kill more innocents.”

    Technically, they never catch up with her. Rachel comes across the bodies of Selene’s victims and in rage telepathically reaches out across the city to not only berate Wolverine but also attacks him (visually) via a Phoenix effect.

    Rachel’s encounter with Wolverine at the club is the last time she interacts with any of the X-men face to face until Exaclibur: The Sword is Drawn.

    “The narrator describes this as “matched by a terrible, transcendent joy – they so love what they do.” Generally, the narrator spends a lot of this issue playing up their similarities.”

    The narrator was actually Psylocke in this issue.

  8. Paul says:

    You’re right that Psylocke is the narrator; I’ve clarified that.

  9. Not that it matters to the chronology project, but “The Hunter” is also reprinted in Les Daniels’ Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics, which I’m sure at least 50% of us were given as a birthday or Christmas present circa 1992 by a relative because we “like comics”.

  10. Mark Coale says:

    Ah, Questprobe. What could have been.

  11. ASV says:

    Wow, lots of iconic solo Wolverine cover art this year.

    It’s interesting how long Claremont let Sabretooth sit. I read his Iron Fist run earlier this year, and discovered that my long-held assumption that #14 and #15 ran together was wrong. Sabretooth appears in #14 and is basically nothing special, and recurs a few times as a Power Man and Iron Fist villain, before Claremont finally makes the Wolverine connection direct. That’s a nine-year wait.

  12. wwk5d says:

    Apparently Sabretooth was supposed to show up in X-men during the CC/Byrne years. He would kill Mariko and then be killed Wolverine in revenge or something. I guess once Byrne left it became another dropped storyline and CC lost interest in Sabretooth until Mutant Massacre/Classic X-men.

  13. Luis Dantas says:

    IIRC DC had a “Heroes Against Hunger” book coming out at this time as well – one of the very last appearances of the pre-Crisis main characters. Maybe there was some sort of campaign or joint effort.

  14. Jason Powell says:

    As you noted in the 1983 entry, Yuriko Oyama first debuted in Daredevil that year, although she wasn’t calling herself Lady Deathstrike yet.

  15. Jason Powell says:

    “. Maybe there was some sort of campaign or joint effort.”

    If you mean a DC/Marvel joint effort, there wasn’t.

  16. David Goldfarb says:

    I played the first one of those Questprobe games, and “text adventure” isn’t quite right inasmuch as it did have graphic illustrations.

    Did Psylocke reading Sabretooth’s mind ever go anywhere? It seemed like a smart idea to me at the time, but as far as I can recall the X-Men didn’t get a single piece of actionable intelligence from it.

  17. Chris V says:

    They got the name of the Marauders’ leader as Mister Sinister, but it went nowhere.
    If I remember, they were surprised when Sinister first appeared, even though Psylocke had already discovered that information.

    Luis-Marvel and DC both released jam benefit comics in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia during that time period.
    The two companies didn’t work together directly, no.
    If that’s what you are wondering about.

  18. Paul says:

    I meant that she was debuting as Lady Deathstrike, but I’ll clarify that.

  19. Jason says:

    “If I remember, they were surprised when Sinister first appeared, even though Psylocke had already discovered that information”

    It wasn’t a secret even when Psylocke read it. Sabretooth had already given up tht name of his own volition, just chattin’ with Wolverine, in the previous issue.

  20. Jason says:

    “Did Psylocke reading Sabretooth’s mind ever go anywhere? It seemed like a smart idea to me at the time, but as far as I can recall the X-Men didn’t get a single piece of actionable intelligence from it.”

    That always bugged me too.

    I tried playing that Questprobe game. It almost put me off videogames for life. 🙂

  21. Evilgus says:

    The Wolverine staging Rachel thing has never made sense to me. I could understand it for the dramatic build up – but even when I was younger, the logic just didn’t wash. I remember re reading the issue incase there was something obvious I’d missed! I always thought Wolverine was just a hypocrite. And Selene so manifestly evil!

    Rachel really didn’t play well with others, but I always thought it was a crummy way for her to bow out the main series too – broken and bleeding out and effectively forgotten. Much redeemed in Excalibur, though.

  22. Evilgus says:

    *stabbing. Sigh.

  23. Luis Dantas says:

    It seems that I take Claremont’s writing during this time period to be more tentative than most people commenting here.

    This is the timeframe when it was up in the air whether there would be some sort of romantic involvement between Cypher and Psylocke. Rachel turned up initially in New Mutants and IIRC her membership in the X-Men was unofficial all this time. Wolverine, quite clearly, was indeed being a hypocrite -and given the events as portrayed, I expect that Claremont wrote him that way on purpose in order to gauge how willing to overlook his flaws the audience was (obviously on the whole a lot more than I was or am still).

    I truly believe that by this point he was still leaving his options largely open by hedging his writing so that he could fine tune the direction ahead according to reader reaction. Readers believe him to have hidden depths, so he is said to have them. And a lot of retcons and continuity implants follow.

    Had readers expressed more of a dislike for his personality and flaws, Claremont might just as easily have brought Scott and/or Charles back to put Wolverine back in his place and reign Storm’s worst impulses back.

    This is also a period of a lot of emotional turmoil for Kitty Pryde, no doubt intentionally. She has to deal with significant disappointment regarding Wolverine, Storm and her parents in short order. The situation with Storm was reasonably well addressed, the others largely ignored.

    But Claremont’s writing at this point time is just like that. He leaves a lot of room indeed for readers to decide how situations ought to be resolved before he commits to writing the canonical resolution… and sometimes he just never manages to.

    Apparently that played a large role into making Wolverine a popular character. Objetively, he is rather minor and perhaps meant to be that way, but a significant fandom arose anyway.

  24. Chris V says:

    Rachel was never in the New Mutants.
    She arrived in the 616 past during New Mutants #18 looking for Professor X. In the issue of Uncanny X-Men published that same month (#184), Rachel became a regular character in the X-Men title.

    Claremont was simply weaving sub-plots between the two X-books he was writing at that point.
    If you were reading both Uncanny and New Mutants you were getting the full picture.

  25. Nu-D says:

    “… Colossus and Rogue both note that Wolverine has recovered more quickly from far worse injuries in the past, and wonder if something is wrong – but that plot just fades out…”

    Not really. Logan’s waning healing power was a long running subplot at least until the X-Termination Agenda. It did kind of fade away after that, but mostly because Claremont was driven off the books. I believe it was leading to his big Death of Wolverine story he had planned for c. #300 thereabouts.

  26. Chris V says:

    I wasn’t aware that Claremont was reading this idea as long ago as “Mutant Massacre”.
    I know it was brought back when Deathstrike and the Reavers crucified Wolverine during the Silvestri-era.

    Then, Claremont hinted at it again when Gambit and Wolverine fought each other, and Gambit was able to beat Wolverine.
    Unfortunately, due to the plot being dropped, it makes it look like Gambit was the cool new badass character taking Wolverine’s place.
    It was actually supposed to show how weakened Wolverine was growing as his healing factor failed.

    It was leading to the death of Wolverine story-arc, which Claremont was planning to write before he left the title.

    We saw the original story partially used again during Claremont’s X-Men: Forever, where Wolverine died in the first issue.

  27. Nu-D says:

    I’m not sure when it began, but it was a king running subplot. At one point he smokes a cigar and has a coughing fit, and decides he has to give it up. I can’t place the scene, and I’m mixing it up with Uncanny #195, where Kitty does the same.

    Anyhow, the failing healing factor was a plot point in he Mutant Massacre, the first Genosha arc, the second Brood story, the Reavers crucifixion, the jaunt to Madripoor and Japan to save Psylocke (where he’s such a wreck he’s hallucinating), X-Tinction Agenda, and as mentioned, it factored into the Wolverine-Gambit fight. I don’t remember it playing a part once they went to Shi’ar space, in the Muir Island Saga, or in X-Men v.2.

  28. Chris V says:

    Probably because it dawned on Claremont that Bob Harras would never allow that story.
    Wolverine was the most popular character in Marvel’s top selling comic, had his own series, and was often headlining Marvel Comics Presents.
    So, Claremont just quietly dropped the idea.

  29. >IIRC DC had a “Heroes Against Hunger” book coming out at this time as well – one of the very last appearances of the pre-Crisis main characters. Maybe there was some sort of campaign or joint effort.

    Per Christopher Priest, no — it turned into yet another unfortunate instance of Marvel vs. DC.

  30. Jason says:

    Paul and Chris V. are correct that the “failing healing factor” thread is dropped. As Chris V. pointed out, then Claremont makes a second attempt starting in 1989. It’s certainly not a plot thread that runs contiguously from his injuries in issue 205 all the way up to 1991.

    The injuries in 205 and Logan’s ability (or lack thereof) to deal with them is a plot point that fades, just as Paul says. Post-Mutant Massacre, there is nothing to suggest a problem with the healing factor all the way up through 1988, both in Uncanny and Claremont’s first 10 issues of the Wolverine ongoing (which are set roughly concurrently with the start of the Australian era, and then before and after Inferno, give or take). The Genoshan arc sees Logan’s healing factor stolen away for three issues, but that’s just a temporary situation thanks to Wipeout. There’s no healing factor issues during “Inferno,” for example, set after the Genoshan arc. And there is nothing wrong with his healing factor during the second Brood arc either. If anything, Logan’s healing factor is able to expel a Brood embryo much faster than it seemed to do during the first Brood storyline in 1982.

    It’s not until the crucifixion issue (251) that Claremont inaugurates a second attempt at the “failing healing factor” deal. That’s the storyline that then continues through the Lady Mandarin trilogy (the one which has the scene of Logan coughing while trying to smoke), and into X-Tinction, and issue 273’s Gambit/Logan fight. It does, I believe, last all the way to issue 275, the middle of the Shi-ar/Warskrull storyline, wherein Jubilee is still expressing concern at the way Logan is pushing himself despite the fact that he doesn’t heal quickly anymore. There may be a few final shades of Jubilee’s concern in issue 276, but I think that’s it, because she and Psylocke and Wolverine then end up getting put into that hive that lets them be impersonated by Warskrulls. I suppose a potential head-canon explanation could be that something about that Skrull thingie fixed him — rejuvenated his cells with Skrull shape-shifting magic. Obviously that wouldn’t be where Claremont was going with it, but hey.

  31. wwk5d says:

    Yeah, Jason pretty much summed it up correctly regarding Wolverine’s healing factor. The only things I would add would be I think Rachel supercharges his healing factor in #202, and CC has Deathbird herself comment on how Wolverine is a “shadow of his former self” in #275.

  32. JD says:

    Small typo : there’s an “UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #211-213” entry, but it only covers #211 (#212-213 have their own entry a bit further down).

  33. Paul says:

    Thanks – fixed.

  34. James Burdo says:

    Lord Darkwind’s origin as a failed kamikaze pilot was given in Daredevil before his actual appearance.

    Claremont’s plan for Wolverine was to have his adamantium removed like in Fatal Attractions, becoming a natural version of his former self with bones that were too dense to be broken and a revived healing factor.

  35. Jerry Ray says:

    I have that Best of Marvel Comics book. It was an oddity, released exclusively through the Sears department store (as Paul notes), which basically had no other comics or books business. It was a faux-leather hardcover (at a time when collected editions were still pretty rare), and I think it was released at Christmas.

    IIIRC, the Phoenix story was meant to pick up in her own miniseries (by Claremont and Leonardi?) that never materialized, much to my disappointment at the time.

  36. Chris V says:

    James-Claremont’s plan for Wolverine was that he was going to be killed in battle when his healing factor failed.
    He was going to be revived from death by the Hand as their new “Elektra”. A story that Mark Millar decided to tell with his “Enemy of the State” story-arc.
    Eventually, he would overcome his brainwashing and return to being a hero.

    I do remember an interview where Claremont mentioned something about Logan’s body rejecting the adamantium, so that after he is resurrected, he is monstrous in appearance.

  37. Omar Karindu says:

    As you noted in the 1983 entry, Yuriko Oyama first debuted in Daredevil that year, although she wasn’t calling herself Lady Deathstrike yet.

    Additionally, Mantlo and Claremont have Yuriko Oyamado a complete 180 on her motivation and characterization in the Daredevil storyline.

    There, she’s opposed to her father’s fanaticism and presented as his abuse victim, trying desperately to keep her more committed lover, Kiro, from being destroyed by Kiro’s loyalty to her father. In fact, she kills her father to save Daredevil!

    In her 1986 appearances, the idea is that Kiro committed suicide after her father’s death, which somehow makes her decide that her father was right all along and adopting his views wholesale.

    It’s a very odd turnaround, and, as a side effect, no one ever seems to bring up that she should really hate Bullseye, who flat-out betrayed her father in the Daredevil storyline, nor is the fact that she killed her father herself brought up much.

    It really feels as if Claremont and Mantlo liked Lord Dark Wind’s villainous motivations, but wanted a female villain instead of using Kiro.

    It might have made more sense to have her fall into Spiral’s clutches before her Alpha Flight appearances, since Spiral is still very much interested in twisting people’s minds around along with their bodies.

    Of course, that would also fall into the recurring Claremont trope of the woman who is brainwashed into uninhibited, aggressive behavior and discovers she likes it.

  38. Thom H. says:

    @Jerry Ray: Yes, Claremont and Leonardi were supposed to continue the Phoenix story in her own mini. I recently saw a few pages of art online somewhere. I’m still not sure why that series didn’t happen. Maybe it had something to do with overall plans changing as Claremont lost sole control of the X-books? Or they didn’t want to distract from the Mutant Massacre/Fall of the Mutants storylines?

  39. Taibak says:

    Thom: I’d be curious to see those pages. It wasn’t all that long ago that I read fans were still asking Joe Quesada about it.

  40. Thom H. says:

    @Taibak: They’re spread pretty thin over the internet, and this message board doesn’t like multiple links in the same comment. So, here’s probably the best one:

    If you Google “phoenix leonardi pages” you should be able to piece together the opening 6 or so pages to issue 1.

    And from the link above, the mini was apparently scuttled because the continuity got too convoluted. That’s not a huge surprise given that we’re talking about Rachel.

  41. James Moar says:

    “ I played the first one of those Questprobe games, and “text adventure” isn’t quite right inasmuch as it did have graphic illustrations.”

    Depends on the version (like several text adventures back then) — no pictures on the BBC Model B versions that I played.

  42. Andrew says:

    This is around the time that we start to get a greater cast turn-over, with Nightcrawler, Kitty and Rachel all departing the cast for Excalibur, Cyclops departing for X-Factor and Charles obviously had just left for what ended up being five or six years.

    It’s really interesting to watch Claremont pivot the books as we head towards the Australia and eventually blowing up the book entirely with the 20-plus issue period where there’s no team at all (and no real regular art team as Silvestri gradually bows out and Jim Lee’s presence becomes increasingly known.

    It’s funny looking back that, given the incredible influence he had on the books, their look and everything, Lee himself didn’t actually draw that many issues of Uncanny X-men (obviously he’s best-known for adjectiveless X-men).

  43. Jason says:

    Another stray observation re: the Deathstrike stuff here. The write-up for Alpha Flight 33-34 mentions that after this story, “Chris Claremont will later import Deathstrike into Wolverine’s rogue’s gallery.” In Uncanny 205, one presumes, and then the write-up for Uncanny 205 say it’s “an excellent issue, and also an important one, in that it imports Lady Deathstrike from Alpha Flight into the X-books, where she stays.”

    All of which gives a sense that Claremont dug Alpha Flight 33-34 after reading them and then went about importing her over into Uncanny X-Men starting with issue 205. That has the ring of truth when you look at all the material that sits chronologically in between those two stories. But check out those publication dates:

    Alpha Flight 34: May, 1986
    Uncanny X-Men 205: May, 1986

    The vicissitudes of chronology are such that any sensible reading order has the two issues widely separated, but to readers picking up the comics at the time, this would have seemed more like what it must have been: a coordinated quasi-crossover by Mantlo and Claremont, to introduce Deathstrike as a villain for Wolverine in two different stories, simultaneously.

    It always struck me as odd that Uncanny 205 had no footnote for a reader searching for context for who the heck this Deathstrike lady was; a caption pointing the way toward Alpha Flight 34. But it turns out that’s because Alpha Flight 34 would have been sitting on the shelf that very same month, easily accessible.

    Anyway. Doesn’t really change anything for chronological purposes, but it’s always struck me as an odd quirk of the reading order — like how X-Men/Alpha Flight 1-2 with their Loki stuff were published in the same two months, respecitvely, as the “sequel” in New Mutants Special and X-Men Annual 9, the Art Adams-drawn comics where Loki “returns” for revenge. He was returning for revenge in the New Mutants comic a month BEFORE the comic that has him swearing revenge in the first place!

    Marvel chronology, ya gotta love it.

  44. Nu-D says:

    As a reader who came on in 1988-89, and collected the back issues in question from 88-90, I certainly read it as a continuous storyline. It was certainly mentioned during the Old Soldiers arc. I recall it being mentioned during the Brood saga, as Logan was unsure whether his weakened powers could heal him. Obviously, in Genosha it was complicated by Wipeout, but I always thought it was following the same story. I believe it was mentioned in he Havok & Wolverine mini, which took place right after Inferno.

    My read was that the healing factor was weakened, and while there were times Logan was feeling good and healed, when he was injured it took longer to come back, and it was getting worse. That’s why it wasn’t mentioned in every issue. But It hit a nadir c. 257-60, when he was hallucinating in Madripoor, and then back in Genosha for the XxTinction Agenda.

  45. […] Wolverine. Thanksgiving Parades, rock star mutants, and […]

  46. Nu-D says:

    Ok, having gone back and flipped through the issues, I acknowledge the last time it was mentioned was in #220, when Storm tracks Logan to Canada to ask him to lead the team and he protests he’s not fit for the job. The Genosha interlude is not expressly tied to the MM injuries, and I didn’t find any dialogue after the crucifixion issue through X-Tinction Agenda to tie his condition back to MM. So I interposed continuity as a reader that wasn’t express in the text.

  47. Nu-D says:

    Of course, one could argue when the X-Men died and Roma resurrected them, Logan was healed.

  48. Walter Lawson says:

    There seem to have been a few false starts with plans to reveal Logan’s backstory in the ‘80s. Byrne and Stern wanted to do a Cap-meets-Logan story that would place them together in WWII. Byrne’s idea for Logan’s origin was that he was crushed to a pulp at one point and his healing factor couldn’t fix his bones, so the Canadians rebuilt him with adamantium.

    Then in ‘82-‘83, in addition to Claremont exploring Logan’s Japanese connections we get Denny O’Neil in Daredevil indicating that Wolverine is looking into the origins of his adamantly and thinks Dark Wind is connected to it. Wolverine was supposed to guest star in several DD issues, and presumably if he had this would either have revealed something big or set up an X-Men storyline to make such a reveal. But in ‘83, it didn’t happen.

    Then in ‘86, the hints start popping up again: now Dark Wind’s daughter has become Deathstrike, but we also get hunts that James Hudson was involved in the adamant out implantation. Not coincidentally, I think, this year also brings us a story in which Cap meets Logan and they fight an anti-super-soldier robot. Is ‘86 also the year Nuke debuts as a mad super-soldier in DD’s book?

    The hints all seem to suggest an origin involving super-soldier programs and the legacy of WWII. But the story doesn’t get told.

    Later, hints about Apocalypse being the source of the adamantium will appear in Louise and Walt Simonson stories, as well as Uncanny. And the idea that a super-soldier program is still running appears in some very weird Ann Nocenti Daredevil comics. (As well as her Mad Dog Ward story in the Spider books.)

    The BWS Weapon X story that finally reveals a part of Logan’s backstory, though not really all that much, is consistent with earlier clues. But I get the impression that not only Claremont but Marvel editorial as a whole was putting a lot of thought into Wolverine backstory possibilities. There’s a shadowy super-soldier program thread that parallels some later Morrison stuff about Weapon Plus, or even Image Creator-era stuff about new Weapon X programs. The groundwork seems to have been laid, however tentatively, in the 1980s.

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