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Mar 28

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1985

Posted on Sunday, March 28, 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

When we left off, Wolverine had disappeared from the pages of Uncanny X-Men for a few months to be in another miniseries. And here it is…

6-issue miniseries
by Chris Claremont, Al Milgrom & Glynis Oliver
November 1984 to April 1985

There’s a lot of plot here, so deep breath…

The Pryde family’s bank is in trouble because it’s just too generous in lending to local businesses. Kitty’s father Carmen sells out to new Japanese owner Heiji Shigematsu, actually a Yakuza obayun who intends to use the business as a money-laundering front. Kitty tails her father to Japan to learn all this, and gets captured by Shigematsu’s supposed “intermediary”, Ogun. Ogun brainwashes her and trains her as a ninja. But before she was captured, Kitty phoned Logan, and he duly shows up in Japan looking for her. Logan and Yukio fight a masked ninja who, you guessed it, turns out to be Kitty. Yukio drugs Kitty and the heroes regroup at a Clan Yashida stronghold, where Kitty seems to return to normal.

Wolverine explains that Ogun was his sensei, that he may or may not be a legendary samurai, and that he has imprinted his psyche onto hers, either through magic or psi-powers. Eventually this Ogun personality will overwhelm her entirely. The suggestion is that Ogun is basically a psychic parasite / ghost that moves from host to host. Conveniently for the plot, Logan believes that Kitty can only defeat Ogun’s influence by beating it herself. Logan mentors and trains her, and puts her through the same drills as Ogun, but gives her more choice, so that she has to make the decision to press on.

Kitty decides she’s ready to confront Ogun, and faces him alone as Shadowcat. She stops Ogun from killing Mariko. But with Ogun’s influence receding, Shadowcat’s ninja skills fade too. Wolverine shows up just in time to save her life, but he can’t beat Ogun in a straight fight either. He nearly surrenders in order to save her, but she encourages him to fight on. Finally, Wolverine defeats Ogun by going into a berserker rage. He tests Shadowcat by giving her the chance to kill Ogun, but she pulls back at the last minute. When Ogun tries one more time to kill her, Wolverine kills him. Wolverine wonders whether Ogun represented his true self, but Shadowcat tells him that he’s a man and a hero. Wolverine then destroys Ogun’s demon mask. (The mask will eventually resurface during the Larry Hama run, with the explanation that it’s a magic artefact that can’t be permanently destroyed through purely physical means.)

In the epilogue, Carmen goes to the authorities with what he knows about Shigematsu, ending his banking career. Mariko shows up to remind us that she can’t marry Logan until she’s proven herself worthy of him.

If this sounds more like a Kitty Pryde story, well, it is. It’s the coming of age turning point where she stops being written as the X-Men’s child member and becomes Shadowcat. But it’s also the story where Wolverine most obviously plays the mentor role to Kitty, and where he starts to take an explicit sensei role, in repeating Ogun’s training function. He’s kind of had this role in the past, chipping in with oddball training ideas and provocations, but this series sees him developing into a more conventional leader and teacher figure. In that role, he dresses in traditional Japanese style. In some ways, this shift of role makes Kitty Pryde & Wolverine as significant a turning point for him as the Wolverine miniseries; it completes his transition from being a violent brat to the voice of older wisdom.

His opening monologue in issue #3 flags up the oddity in his love of Japan: in America, Wolverine hates cities, and prefers the freedom of the mountains, yet he feels at home in what he describes as “probably the most structured society on earth”. The idea may be that he’s drawn to a society that seems to have sublimated its animal impulses. Intriguingly, the same issue has Logan tell Yukio that he can’t really explain what attracts him to Mariko either. (Mariko, by the way, is less of a stereotype than before; she’s started wearing business clothes, though she still treats it as part of the unwelcome chore of running the Clan.)

Kitty Pryde & Wolverine tends to be overshadowed by the Wolverine miniseries in memory, and there are good reasons for that – Wolverine had art by Frank Miller, for a start. But it’s a companion piece, and not just for the Japanese setting. Wolverine wins here by succumbing to his berserker impulses. Or rather, he moves beyond denying and suppressing his animal side, and starts harnessing it and being the best of both worlds. It’s a story that deserves more attention, at least in terms of its wider significance.

Rather embarrassingly, Amiko simply disappears after this point, not to resurface until the 90s. If Wolverine makes any further attempts to maintain a fatherly relationship with her, we don’t see it, and 90s stories show Amiko idolising him as a distant and mythical figure. A flashback in Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #3 shows Logan and Mariko packing her off to a boarding school in Yamaguchi, which presumably happens not too long after this miniseries.

by Chris Claremont, Salvador Larroca & Val Staples
June 2019

An old Japanese astronaut friend (sure, okay) asks Wolverine to help out his wife Hoshiko. Their family ramen shop, the Logan Noodle House, is under pressure from the criminal Goro, who wants Hoshiko’s family recipes. Kitty is surprised to see generations of family photos all featuring Logan, who seems to have married Hoshiko’s great-great-great-grandmother. The bad guys back off when they realise they’re messing with Mariko Yashida’s fiancé.

This is an anthology story, evidently intended to fit in this slot, given Kitty’s appearance. It’s something of an oddity, adding a chunk of unexplored detail to Logan’s back story, all in the midst of what seems to be a cooking manga pastiche.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #192
“Fun ‘n’ Games”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Wein
April 1985

These were the days when characters actually dropped out of the main title in order to appear in a miniseries, and so Wolverine doesn’t apear in Uncanny X-Men until April. And even then, he only appears in a subplot, where he and Kitty return to America. They’re met at the airport by Charles, Storm (who lost her powers while they were away), Illyana, Lockheed and Rachel Summers (who joined while they were in Japan). The group return to the Mansion just in time to miss a fight with Magus; Wolverine won’t meet Magus himself for a while.

There’s a lengthy gap between the main story and the epilogue (“some months later”), which doesn’t really concern us, because Wolverine isn’t in the epilogue. Strictly speaking, though, the following stories take place during that gap.

ALPHA FLIGHT vol 1 #16-17
“…and Forsaking All Others” / “Dreams Die Hard…”
by John Byrne, Bob Wiacek & Andy Yanchus
November & December 1984

Logan drops by to offer his consolations following the recent death of James Hudson (which he learned about in Kitty Pryde & Wolverine #4). This is the story which includes an extended reprint from X-Men #109, re-dialogued to tell the story from James’s point of view. Puck also drops by, and he and Logan encourage Heather to take over as leader of Alpha Flight.

This story really hammers home that Logan and Puck are meeting for the first time, something which has been contradicted many, many times since.

X-MEN ANNUAL vol 1 #8
“The Adventures of Lockheed the Space Dragon and his Pet Girl Kitty”
by Chris Claremont, Steve Leialoha & Glynis Wein

The X-Men and the New Mutants tell stories around a campfire. Illyana tells a pulp sci-fi story about Lockheed and Shadowcat, which is meant to encourage her to reconcile with Colossus and Storm. We also get a bit of Logan’s story. It’s about a samurai, and he delivers it in full-on storyteller mode, with dramatic gestures and language like “All was dark and supernally still as she mounted the hillside.” He’s camping it up outrageously, and it’s an interesting register for him. The story itself is intended to allude to Kitty’s recent experiences in Kitty Pryde & Wolverine, though it’s fairly oblique in doing so. (This is also the first time that Wolverine appears on panel with Warlock.)

ROM #65-66
“Doomsday!” / “The Day After!”
by Bill Mantlo, Steve Ditko, P Craig Russell, Steve Leialoha & Petra Scotese
April and May 1985

The X-Men are among a veritable horde of superheroes who show up to fight the Dire Wraiths as Rom nears its climax. Most of them Logan has encountered before, but he does meet Gremlin of the Soviet Super-Soldiers and Beta Ray Bill.

by Archie Goodwin, Paul Chadwick, Jackson Guice & Petra Scotese
July 1985

Dazzler asks the X-Men for combat training. Most of the team are impressed, and invite her to join. But Wolverine thinks she’s only playing at being a superhero while her singing career is in a downturn. He also disapproves of her going public with her mutant powers, which he thinks was a career move that risked provoking an anti-mutant backlash. (1985 was a different time.)

To prove a point, she challenges Wolverine to ambush her whenever he wants. Once she’s back working as a lounge singer in San Diego, Wolverine and Colossus duly take up the challenge, and get beaten up, because it’s her book. Wolverine still won’t concede, but Dazzler feels she’s proved her point. This is macho nitwit Wolverine, and thus a few years behind his depiction in Uncanny X-Men.

by Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Richard Ory & Barb Rausch

When Wolverine learns that old friend David Nanjiwarra has died in battle with Scorpio, he insists on joining Nick Fury’s investigation into Scorpio and his terrorist network Swift Sword. Scorpio is actually Nick’s previously unknown son Mikel Fury, brainwashed by his mother Amber D’Alexis. Wolverine kills Amber and Mikel surrenders for deprogramming. Despite the co-billing, this is Wolverine lending some star power to a Nick Fury story. Goodwin writes a decent Wolverine by this point, but the story really doesn’t need him.

This story has continuity problems. The basic problem is that it can’t happen when it was published, because the X-Men were feigning death in Australia in 1989 (and S.H.I.E.L.D. had been disbanded the previous year). Unfortunately, the X-Men make a cameo with a 1989-era roster, which doesn’t work at any point before Australia (there’s no earlier point where Colossus and Dazzler are both on the team). The official explanation is that Dazzler must have just been helping out for some reason, so it makes sense to stick this near Dazzler #38 – perhaps during her training visit.

X-MEN & ALPHA FLIGHT vol 1 #1-2
2-issue miniseries
by Chris Claremont, Paul Smith, Bob Wiacek & Glynis Oliver
November and December 1985

When Scott and Madelyne’s plane crashes in a magical storm in Canada, the X-Men and Alpha Flight team up to investigate. They discover Scott, Madelyne and their passengers in a utopian magical city, all with super powers given by a magic “firefountain”. Madelyne has become the healer Anodyne, and she “heals” Wolverine by removing his berserker madness – which he’s very happy about, cheerfully announcing that he’s now “sane” and “human”. Kitty immediately points out that this ignores the moral of Kitty Pryde & Wolverine, but Wolverine is offended by the suggestion that he “can’t hack it as a man, only as a psycho.”

The firefountain will give everyone in the world powers, but it will eradicate magic. Everyone argues about whether that’s a price worth paying for global peace, and Wolverine is predictably on the “no” side. But when it turns out that the fountain also destroys the creativity of the people it empowers, everyone agrees it’s a bad thing. Loki, who created the fountain, throws a tantrum at this rejection – he was trying to do a good deed in order to impress the higher powers, Those Who Sit Above In Shadow. After the heroes beat Loki’s Frost Giant, Those Who Etc show up to tell Loki that by trying to force his gift on the humans, he missed the point. Loki promises revenge, and everyone else goes back too normal.

Wolverine meets new Alpha Flight member Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen) here. Madelyne reveals that she’s pregnant; the unborn child will be Nathan Summers, later Cable. And there’s a brief scene where Logan declines Heather’s veiled invitation to return to Alpha Flight, explaining that in his eyes, the X-Men are his family. He stresses that while he also regards Heather as his family, the rest of Alpha Flight are just friends.

(The reason for placing this so far out of sequence is that Professor X is using his powers freely; he gets beaten up at the end of Uncanny #192 and his injuries inhibit his telepathy for months afterwrads.)

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #193
“Warhunt 2”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Wein
May 1985

The original Thunderbird’s younger brother James Proudstar declares himself the new Thunderbird, kidnaps Sean Cassidy, and challenges the X-Men to face him at NORAD headquarters. James has vowed to kill the X-Men to avenge the death of his brother, and his plan is to force them into a confrontation with the US military. But when Thunderbird actually encounters the X-Men, he can’t bring himself to kill them after all. On top of that, his Hellions teammates Empath (Manuel de la Rocha) and Roulette (Jenny Stavros), and the mind-controlled Firestar (Angelica Jones) have been interfering in his plan. Professor X convinces Thunderbird that he isn’t letting down his family by abandoning the vendetta, and Thunderbird and Firestar depart on good terms with the X-Men.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #194
“Juggernaut’s Back in Town!”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green, Steve Leialoha & Glynis Wein
June 1985

When the news reports that the Juggernaut is back, the X-Men track him down, but he seems just to be going about his business. Nimrod attacks the Juggernaut, and the X-Men help to drive the robot away. In the middle of this story’s battle, Wolverine is snatched out of time by Isbisa (Simon Meke) to appear briefly in Sensational She-Hulk #29 (July 1991), where he materialises in mid-strike in order to distract the She-Hulk. He’s returned to his own time with no memory of the diversion.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #195
“It was a Dark and Stormy Night…!”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Wein
July 1985

The Morlocks abduct Power Pack – at this point going by the names Gee (Alex Power), Lightspeed (Julie Power), Mass Master (Jack Power) and Energizer (Katie Power) – and try to make them into replacement children for Annalee, thanks to Masque’s deforming powers and Beautiful Dreamer‘s mind-altering powers. Energizer escapes, and gets help from the X-Men. Her siblings want to stay with Annalee, and other Morlocks try to defend them, including Leech and Sunder. Finally, Callisto shows up and orders that everything be put right. Power Pack decide to befriend Annalee, and amazingly, everyone seems to agree that this is a good idea.

Wolverine is noticeably kind towards Katie, insisting that she call him Logan rather than using his codename. He also keeps teasing Shadowcat about her role as acting field leader on this mission, but he’s clearly quite proud of her.

by Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha & Christie Scheele
July 1985

The Beyonder shows up on Earth in human form, looking for “experience”. Professor X senses his arrival, but he’s over on Muir Isle recuperating, so he asks Magneto to step in and lead – which the X-Men very sceptically agree to. The X-Men, Magneto, Dazzler, Cannonball, Magik and (for some reason) Lila Cheney pursue the Beyonder to Los Angeles. They wind up fighting Thundersword (Stuart Cadwall), an embittered screenwriter to whom the Beyonder has casually given super powers, and who is taking out his frustrations at Hollywood. (Cadwall is a parody of Steve Gerber, as seen from the perspective of Jim Shooter.) When Wolverine mistakenly thinks the Beyonder has killed some of the group, he claws the Beyonder, to no effect. Lila very sensibly teleports everyone away so that they can come up with a better plan. The Beyonder wanders off, and Thundersword winds up getting beaten by Captain America and Iron Man.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #196
“What was That?!!”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Oliver
August 1985

Professor X senses that one of the students in his lecture class is planning a murder, but his injuries prevent him picking up any more detail telepathically. So he asks the X-Men to investigate. They uncover a planned attack on the Professor himself, which is thwarted despite the disruption of the Beyonder showing up again (because this is a Secret Wars II crossover). It’s mainly a Rachel issue; this is the story where she reveals to the X-Men that she was a mutant-hunting Hound in her own timeline.

The Professor is still covering for his injuries, and gives a very unconvincing explanation of why he can’t simply read minds to find out the truth. Wolverine is obviously sceptical, but he’s willing to trust the Professor for now, mainly because he feels that the Professor is owed some loyalty. Magneto is still hanging around, and Wolverine argues that he should be given a chance to prove himself. Though Wolverine has his doubts, his instinct is that Magneto is genuine trying to switch sides.

I think this is also the first time that Wolverine points out that he can only smoke freely because of his healing factor.

Wolverine doesn’t appear in issue #197, in which Colossus and Shadowcat fight Arcade. Nor is he in issue #198, which is a Storm story.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #199
“The Spiral Path”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Oliver
November 1985

Moira MacTaggert tells Wolverine and Cyclops that Professor X is dying, and that he may be planning for Magneto to replace him as head of the school. Cyclops is appalled. Later, the debuting government-sponsored Freedom Force attempt to arrest Magneto while he’s attending a reception at the National Holocaust Center. The X-Men fight them, but ultimately Magneto surrenders, setting up his trial in the next issue. Freedom Force, of course, are the revamped Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, consisting of Mystique, Pyro, Avalanche, Destiny, the Blob and  Spiral (“Ricochet” Rita Wayword).

X-MEN ANNUAL vol 1 #9
“There’s No Place Like Home”
by Chris Claremont, Art Adams, Alan Gordon, Mike Mignola & Petra Scotese

This is the second half of a crossover that began in New Mutants Special Edition #1. When Kitty receives a psychic message that Storm and the New Mutants are stranded in Asgard, Cyclops and the X-Men travel there to help. For this mission, Rachel makes her official debut in costume as the new Phoenix.

On arriving in Asgard, the X-Men save Wolfsbane’s boyfriend Prince Hrimhari from a group of trolls, whose souls are duly collected by Hela. The heroes split up, with Wolverine, Shadowcat and Phoenix finding half of the New Mutants. Everyone else is captured and brainwashed by Loki, who offers Storm a magic hammer that can restore her powers. Poisoned during an initial skirmish, Wolverine battles on to try and save Storm, convinced that it’s the last thing he’ll do before dying. When Storm assumes he’s a demon impostor and blasts him, Hela shows up to claim his soul. The X-Men, the New Mutants and the Valkyries hold Hela at bay, and she retreats in order to deal with more pressing business over in Thor #361-362 (where Hel is being invaded). Apparently that saves Wolverine’s life.

Loki eventually agrees to turn everyone back to normal and send them home, in exchange for not exposing what he was up to. As part of that, Storm and Wolfsbane give up their happiness in Asgard for the greater good. Sunspot quite liked the place too, which Wolverine dressed him down over, apparently on the basis that he was running away from the real world. Not sure that really makes sense in a world where Asgard exists, but there it is. This is mostly a New Mutants and Storm story.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #200
“The Trial of Magneto”
by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr, Dan Green & Glynis Oliver
December 1985

Loki returns the X-Men and New Mutants to Paris, where Magneto’s trial for crimes against humanity is beginning. The prosecutor is Sir James Jaspers and the defence counsel is Gabrielle Haller, though Wolverine doesn’t really deal with either of them.

As the trial proceeds, the X-Men deal with a series of terrorist attacks made in their name, and demanding Magneto’s release. The real villains are Fenris – Andrea Strucker and Andreas Strucker – and the X-Men fight them at the court. Injured in battle, Professor X persuades Magneto not to be a martyr, and to quit the trial and take his place as leader of the X-Men. Magneto agrees, and Xavier is spirited away to the Shi’ar Empire for treatment.

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

Edited on 23 July 2021 to add the reference to Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #3.

Bring on the comments

  1. Nu-D says:

    For the most part, Claremont wanted us to excuse the killings either because (a) they were in self-defense, or (b) they were of demons or aliens (the Brood) which don’t have the same moral weight (in Marvel logic). I think his arguments are debatable—some of the “self-defense—killings were very attenuated from any direct threat—but those were his justifications.

  2. […] The Silver Age 1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979  1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 […]

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