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Mar 6

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1998

Posted on Sunday, March 6, 2022 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
1986 | 1987 | 1988
 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991
1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997

We left off with Wolverine between regular writers. Warren Ellis’s “Not Dead Yet” filler arc had already taken us through to March 1998, and so we pick up this instalment with…

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #353-354
“Blackbirds” / “Prehistory”
by Steve Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend & Steve Buccellato
March & April 1998

Rogue has a recurring nightmare in which she first absorbs Wolverine’s powers and memory without his consent, then begs him to kill her for her lack of control. Rogue and Storm won’t tell him why she’s so jumpy, and he’s also generally annoyed about losing his temper with Marrow in X-Men #72, so Logan is generally annoyed.

At this point, Board of Education inspector Margaret Stone shows up, demanding to carry out a surprise inspection, since apparently Professor X hasn’t filed the necessary paperwork for over two years. She’s predictably horrified and quickly leaves, announcing that a full inspection will follow. In a depressing sign of things to come, this plotline simply vanishes into the ether without any resolution, after getting one further passing mention in issue #355. At any rate, Logan is having a very bad day, which only gets worse when he gets knocked out from behind by Sauron. He spends most of issue #354 unconscious, and finally wakes up in time to defeat Sauron. (Sauron is just hunting down mutant energy in this arc, and has no particular plan.)

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #355
“North & South”
by Steve Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend & Steve Buccellato
May 1998

Wolverine is on his way to New York, partly to hand over Sauron to the authorities, and partly to look for Rogue. Instead, he gets attacked by Alpha Flight, who currently comprise Guardian (a clone of James Hudson), Vindicator, Puck, Sunfire, Flex (Adrian Corbo), Radius (Jared Corbo), Manbot (Bernie Lachenay), Murmur (Arlette Truffaut) and a new Sasquatch (just an actual sasquatch). At this point, Alpha Flight are being regularly brainwashed and manipulated by a particularly corrupt version of Department H, and they think they’re arresting Wolverine for the murder of Madison Jeffries. Eventually Alpha Flight figure out that they’re being manipulated, and head home. This is a basically an advert for Alpha Flight, which Seagle was also writing at the time; Alpha Flight vol 2 #9 tells the same story from Alpha Flight’s perspective.

X-MEN vol 2 #73
“The Elements Within Us”
by Joe Kelly, Joe Casey, Jeff Johnson, Dan Panosian & Steve Oliff
March 1998

This is mainly a Joseph issue, and Wolverine only appears in subplot scenes. The X-Men receive a blandly upbeat letter from Professor X, which Wolverine recognises as obviously heavily censored – he lashes out at his teammates when they try to see it as a positive sign. Later, the X-Men make new year resolutions; Wolverine’s is “to be the best there is at what I do, [as] soon as I figure out just what that is.” And Wolverine has a chat with Storm about Marrow – at least publicly, he’s insisting that his encounter with her went very well, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not meant to agree.

X-MEN vol 2 #74
by Joe Kelly, Carlos Pacheco, Art Thibert, Chris Lichtner & Aron Lusen
April 1998

Logan investigates a series of violent murders in the Salem Centre area, which appear to be somehow connected to Maggott. Later, Logan wakes up in the snow, with an apparent post mortem scar healing on his chest, and Maggott apologising frantically nearby. Again, this is a subplot; the main story is about Marrow and Angel.

X-MEN vol 2 #75
“Anatomy of a Monster”
by Joe Kelly, German Garcia, Art Thibert & Digial Chameleon
May 1998

Maggott dumps Wolverine at the Mansion and apparently goes on the run. When he finally comes round, Wolverine insists that the X-Men go after Maggott, but Reyes points out that the scars on his chest are surgical and can’t possibly have been made by Maggott’s maggotts Eeny and Meany. The actual killers are the Ru’Tai, led by Pilgrimm – a demonic race who have emerged through the N’Garai cairn. Wolverine and Maggott wind up in the N’Garai dimension, where Pilgrimm defers to Wolverine as a cultural hero – apparently, the Ru’Tai were a slave caste who were inspired to rise up after Wolverine’s berserker rampage in the Wolverine ’95 annual. Wolverine is horrified by the thought that anyone would see his berserker rages as heroic, and be inspired by him to commit murders.

It’s a nice meta idea but heavily overplayed. Kelly wants us to buy that Wolverine is shaken to the core by this revelation, but that doesn’t really work for at least two reasons. First, the annual in question is a very incidental part of his history. And second, Logan has been fretting over his berserker rages and his humanity for years. In theory, “Logan is appalled to learn people think he’s admirable” could be an interesting angle, but… well, doesn’t he have the more junior X-characters for that?

Anyway, the X-Men defeat the Ru’Tai and escape back to earth, showing in the process that they’ve figure out how to work as a functional team.

Another flashback in Wolverine vol 2 #175 is placed here, with another annual attack on Matsuo Tsurayaba. Logan cuts off his nose this time.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #123
“Better Than Best”
by Tom DeFalco, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz & Jason Wright
April 1998

The first of two outright fill-in issues by DeFalco, though at least the art is good, and DeFalco does try to tidy up some loose ends by having Wolverine reflect on the failure of his experiment at living in the East Village. That’s the last we’ll be hearing of it, though.

As for this issue’s story: Wolverine is captured and tortured by Roughouse and Bloodscream. There’s a lot of quite out-of-date material about Logan worrying whether he’s still up to par without his adamantium – it’s been nearly fifty issues by this point – but eventually he defeats both bad guys. DeFalco flags up a reasonable point  that Bloodscream should actually be more scared of Wolverine without his adamantium – after all, Bloodscream is protected by a curse that says he can’t be injured by weapons forged by man, and while adamantium claws arguably fall within that rule, bone ones don’t.

No good reason is provided for Roughouse and Bloodscream being back together, or for Roughouse in particular to be back to villainy. They just are.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #124
“Invisible Destroyers!”
by Tom DeFalco, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz & Jason Wright
May 1998

DeFalco is still writing Wolverine as worried about his recent performance in combat, which is at least some sort of hook for his two issues, but feels forced.

Wolverine teams with Captain America to fight Rascal and the Rodents, who have invisibility tech. The big idea is that Wolverine can still sense them with his other senses, but he wavers about it because he’s going through a period of self-doubt. Captain America is meant to represent a heroic standard that Wolverine aspires to, but that point doesn’t really come across. Quite a nice cover, though.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #125-128
“Logan’s Run!” / “Blood Wedding” / “I’m King of the World!” / “Green for Death”
#125-126 by Chris Claremont, Leinil Francis Yu, Edgar Tadeo, Gerry Alanguilan & Jason Wright
#127 by Chris Claremont, six pencillers, four inkers and two colourists (!)
#128 by Chris Claremont, Stephen Platt, Angel Unzueta, various inkers & Wayne Robinson
June to September 1998

Chris Claremont returns for the anniversary issue, and boy, is this a mess. Not only does the regular penciller draw only half the arc – with the rest cludged together by whoever was passing – but it was initially planned as a six issue arc and cut to four issues while it was in progress. The result is so chaotic that even Marvel’s official Wolverine Index openly speculates that lettering has been placed to obscure plot elements that had to be cut at the last minute. But even the first chapter doesn’t make a great deal of sense. So. Deep breath.

Issue #125 tries to define Wolverine by the women who know him; the man himself doesn’t appear until the end, and Kitty Pryde takes over as narrator for the issue. Viper poisons Phoenix, Psylocke, Tyger Tiger, Yukio, Rogue, Jessica Drew and Shadowcat in order to brainwash them so that they will find Wolverine for her. But Shadowcat escapes her control, then rescues Jubilee when Viper tries to get her. Everyone tracks Wolverine to Madripoor, where the brainwashed telepaths torment him with memories of the deaths of Mariko and Silver Fox. Black Widow shows up to complete the set of Important Women in Wolverine’s Life. Viper then explains that this was all an elaborate scheme to locate Wolverine so that she can call in a favour, and Wolverine explains that Viper is his wife. Somewhere in here, Kitty gets to restate that Wolverine is the self-appointed keeper of the X-Men’s conscience – hence everyone’s disappointment that he has anything to do with Viper.

The wheels are coming off right from the start. If Viper controlled everyone else with poison, why is the attack on Jubilee telepathic? How does poison let Viper control any of these women? And if Viper is able to locate and brainwash Phoenix and Psylocke, why one earth does she need such an elaborate scheme just to find Wolverine? There are no answers.

Issue #126 then makes matters worse by revealing that, actually, Viper isn’t Wolverine’s wife; he’s just honouring a promise to marry her. That promise was made decades ago, after she rescued him from Sabretooth on the mission were Seraph died. All the women are appalled that Wolverine would marry Viper and leave, except for Kitty (though Jubilee at least tries to stay). Logan and Viper are duly married, and Sabretooth immediately attacks. For reasons that are never revealed, Sabretooth now has a vastly powered up healing factor and his own adamantium skeleton. So he shatters Logan’s claws, and Kitty has to throw Logan into the sea. Meanwhile, HYDRA and the Hand are trying to take over Madripoor in the power vacuum left by Baran’s death. In a screeching gear change, issue #127 focusses on Wolverine impersonating various superheroes to make them think they’re facing an army. Sabretooth also opposes this takeover, since he believes that a HYDRA-run Madripoor would be a fascist dictatorship, without the chaos that he loves.

This all leads to Wolverine, Shadowcat and Sabretooth collaborating to instal Viper as the new ruler instead. Issue #128 has a weird sequence in which the Hand somehow alter characteristics between the three, with Wolverine acquiring Kitty’s innocence, Kitty taking Sabretooth’s ferocity, and Sabretooth getting Wolverine’s sense of honour – none of which would be particularly apparent if the dialogue didn’t spell it out directly. Claremont is clearly trying to do something about parallels between the characters. When the effect wears off, Wolverine claims that being exposed to a sense of honour will slowly drive Sabretooth mad, and show that he’s the inferior one… none of which will happen. Finally, Viper banishes all three of Wolverine, Shadowcat and Sabretooth from Madripoor – despite the fact that we were told earlier in the issue that she can only hold the position of prince thanks to the credibility she gets from her marriage to Wolverine. That was why she wanted the marriage. But… she can openly banish Wolverine himself and still benefit from that? How does that work?

This is a genuine disaster. Nobody really knew what to do with the Viper-as-wife concept either – it hangs around for a while being ignored until Frank Tieri quite reasonably gets rid of it. But we’ll come to that.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #129-130
“Survival of the Fittest”
by Todd DeZago, Leinil Francis Yu, Edgar Tadeo & Jason Wright
October & November 1998

Another fill-in. In the aftermath of the previous arc, Wolverine is worrying about whether he’s lost his edge. He was similarly preoccupied in the Tom DeFalco issues, so perhaps this was the direction coming from editorial.

While revisiting the Weapon X facility, he encounters a new Wendigo (Andre Mornet) and gets badly injured while driving it off. Farmer’s son Tommy Jarman nurses him back to health over three days, until Logan finally regains his senses and realises that the Wendigo will be coming after him. He finally drives the thing away by setting it on fire and hitting it with an axe, lamenting to Tommy that in the end they are both just doing what it takes to survive. The irony is that poor Mornet became the Wendigo after being trapped under a felled tree and eating his own flesh, so he’s fallen foul of the letter of the Wendigo curse without doing anything beyond trying to survive. It’s meant to be a story about the limits of morality in life-or-death situations.

It’s tempting to roll one’s eyes at the fact that Marvel cut short Claremont’s arc only to go back to running fill-in story… but this is actually pretty good, and certainly better than what it replaced.

X-MEN vol 2 #76
“A Boykie and his Dinges”
by Joe Kelly, Mat Broome, Sean Parsons & Liquid!
June 1998

Wolverine plays the voice-of-authority, voice-of-experience father figure, as Maggott finally reveals his origin story in an extended flashback. He also gets to see Storm receive a mystical message from her “mother” Ainet, summoning her to battle Ananasi.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #356
by Steve Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend & Steve Buccellato
June 1998

In a one-page subplot, Wolverine finally gets around to handing Sauron over to S.H.I.E.L.D.  Obviously there isn’t supposed to be such a long gap between issues #355-356, but the intertitle continuity at this point was just a bit garbled.

X-MEN vol 2 #77-78
by Joe Kelly, German Garcia, Art Thibert & Liquid
July & August 1998

The X-Men battle Ananasi, who turns out to be the Shadow King. A discharge of psi-energy is released during the battle, which disrupts the psychic plane worldwide – this seems to have been intended as a device to downgrade Marvel’s overpowered telepaths, but it soon gets forgotten about. Eventually Psylocke contains the Shadow King within her mind.

Wolverine is just there as part of the regular cast – Shadow King torments him with past traumas, but it’s all familiar stuff and Kelly clearly has no real interest in going over it again.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #359
“Power Play”
by Joe Kelly, Steve Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Ryan Benjamin and various others
September 1998

Wolverine only appears on the last page, welcoming Rogue back to the Mansion.

“Desperate Measures”
by Todd DeZago, Jason Craig & Thomas Mason
July 2010

Wolverine #900 was an anthology one-shot. The bizarre numbering is because Deadpool had already done an issue #900 – in that case, it was a meta joke to do with DC’s anniversary issues of the time, but Marvel seemed to have completely forgotten that by the time Wolverine #900 shipped.

The X-Men stop three Sentinels from attacking the Morlocks, and Wolverine uses his claws to perform emergency surgery on a Morlock. (Along with various one-shoot characters, he meets Ape for the first time.) A footnote expressly says this takes place around this time, but it doesn’t read at all well in sequence. For one thing, Wolverine’s wrongly drawn with adamantium claws. More fundamentally, the basic premise is that Marrow and Wolverine both think of themselves as living weapons; and Wolverine shows that his powers can be used constructively, specifically for emergency surgery.

It’s not a great story to start with, but in a chronological read through, it suffers even more from the fact that the same basic idea is worked into X-Men #70, which does it better.

by Joe Casey, Paul Pelletier, Leo Fernandez and various others

The X-Men and the Fantastic Four team up to defeat bitter scientist Bradley Beynon and the Psycho-Man. Marvel did a wave of team-up annuals in 1998, but this one is close to being a Fantastic Four story with the X-Men as guest stars. There’s a bit of schtick based on Wolverine and the Thing being the blue collar guys on both teams, but that’s about it.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #131
“It Fell to Earth”
by Todd DeZago, Brian K Vaughan, Cary Nord, Scott Hunter & Kevin Tinsley
November 1998 

Viper sends a reluctant Wolverine to Shangri-La to recover a “pure” sample of a virus which infected previous explorers, and is now supposedly rife in Madripoor. Viper claims that she needs the sample to develop a cure. During the mission, Wolverine realises that he’s just being used to recover a bioweapon and there is no public health risk. The “virus” inexplicably turns out to be a giant spider; Wolverine destroys it, and fulfils his promise to Viper by bringing back a sample but then immediately destroying it.

At least this tries to do something with the Viper status quo, and there’s an okay plot in there somewhere, but the virus/spider stuff doesn’t make much sense. It’s one of Brian K Vaughan’s early scripting jobs, and he’s already doing his trademark factoids. (“One out of seven. That’s how many people die trying to conquer these old hills…”)

Capping off a less than stellar year for the X-office, this issue was notoriously recalled after it somehow managed to see print with a racial slur in the dialogue. The corrected version reads “killer”. The story goes that it was a hand-written editorial change to the script and the letterer misread it on the fax. He didn’t know what the word meant but apparently figured that if the spell checker was okay with it, it must be fine – and the book was running so late that it wasn’t properly proofread. Strange as all this sounds, it’s clear that something along these lines must have happened, since the dialogue in question relates to Sabretooth, and the original version just doesn’t make any sense.

HEROES FOR HIRE vol 1 #18-19
“Danny and the Pirates” / “Sold Outs!”
by John Ostrander, Pascual Ferry, Jaime Mendoza & Joe Rosas
December 1998 and January 1999

Guest star outings to the wider Marvel Universe were rare in the late 90s, and this is the only one we really get this year (aside from the FF team-up annual).

A priceless statue of Mulan is secretly auctioned in Madripoor, having supposedly been stolen by Viper. Wolverine investigates, suspecting that Viper has been framed for political reasons. Also investigating are Jessica Drew and the Heroes for Hire – Iron Fist, Colleen Wing, Shang-Chi and Cat (Shen Kuei). The true villain turns out to be Chinese General Lo Chien, who is trying to assemble culturally important artefacts in order to build a power base for himself when Chinese Communism eventually falls. Well, it’s certainly a novel motivation. Wolverine derides the Heroes for Hire as a bunch of amateurs, but Iron Fist gets the chance to save him in the end.

by Joe Casey, Oscar Jimenez, Eduardo Alpuente & Gina Going

This is essentially the 1998 annual. In Rio, Logan helps his old friend police officer Antonio Vargas investigate “vampire killings”, where victims have been drained of blood. Logan and Vargas encounter apparent vampires, among them Vargas’ missing wife Ezra Asher, who promptly kills him. Continuing the investigation alone, Wolverine learns that vampire leader Cyrus Leviticus is not a true vampire, but rather bonded to some sort of symbiote. Cyrus plans to slaughter Rio’s carnivalgoers for personal power, but Logan kills the vampires, the symbiote and Cyrus. He visits Vargas’s grave one more time before leaving.

It’s a slight story with a weak ending, but the first half is pretty good and the art is lovely. Partygoer Logan is a bit weird, but it kind of works – he’s on holiday and away from the people that he normally keeps up a front around, after all. There are some interesting parallels drawn between Wolverine’s immortality and the undead, too. But it just kind of ends in a fight against villains who don’t feel like a threat.

AVENGERS vol 3 #10
“Pomp & Pageantry”
by Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Al Vey & Tom Smith
November 1998

The X-Men have a brief cameo, watching the Avengers on TV.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #132
“A Rage in the Cage”
by Fabian Nicieza, Leinil Francis Yu, various inkers & Jason Wright
December 1998

Remember the Higgins family and their abusive father Bob, from way back in issue #91? Well, when Linda is killed and daughter Jane is hospitalised, Logan is convinced that Bob is to blame, and hunts him down. But Linda was actually killed by son Richie, who was trying to stop her from shooting Bob in self-defence. Logan says it was still Bob who really killed them. A fill-in story, but one that ties up a loose end and tries to disavow the uncomfortable moral problems of the original story – with hindsight, Logan now believes that he was too proud of keeping his composure the first time round.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #360 / X-MEN vol 2 #80
“Children of the Atom”
#360 by Steve Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Shannon Blanchard & Mike Rockwitz
#80 by Joe Kelly, Brandon Peterson, Art Thibert & Liquid!
October 1998

Things aren’t going so smoothly in the X-office, so… time for another relaunch. Peter Corbeau is kidnapped, with the X-Men as prime suspects. And Professor X has gone missing from government custody. The trail leads the X-Men to Cape Citadel where they come under attack from rival “X-Men” (Chaos, Crux, the Grey King, Landslide, Mercury and Rapture) who answer to their own “Professor X”. The “X-Men” are trying to hijack a new and sinister-sounding “mutant defence net” for their own purposes. Wolverine identifies that “Professor X” isn’t even human; the “Professor” confirms that, and claims to be “the ultimate extension of Charles Xavier’s most noble designs”.

The impostors are repelled, the mutant defence net is destroyed in the fight, and the real X-Men naturally get all the blame. During all this, Colossus, Shadowcat and Nightcrawler rejoin the team (following the cancellation of Excalibur), joining Wolverine, Storm, Rogue and Marrow as the new roster. A coda establishes that the “Professor” is actually Cerebro, which has developed A.I. thanks to Operation: Zero Tolerance’s tinkering.

There are some nice incidental character moments in Kelly’s issue: Wolverine still bears a grudge against Colossus for joining the Acolytes. He’s especially concerned about his close friend Nightcrawler. And he derides the younger X-Men for voicing their doubts about the plan, only to turn round and quietly raise exactly the same concerns himself with Storm.

X-MEN vol 2 #½
by Todd DeZago, Mike Wieringo, Brad Vancata & Mark McNabb

The X-Men defeat Mesmero, despite his illusions making them think that they’re in a medieval world.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #361
“Thieves in the Temple”
by Steve Seagle, Steve Skroce, Tim Townsend & Shannon Blancard
November 1998

This is mostly a Storm and Kitty story, involving the return of Gambit. In subplots, Wolverine tells Rogue that she’s obviously still hung up on the missing Gambit. And when Colossus mentions that Wolverine is in his old room (intending to make the point to Marrow that it really doesn’t matter), Wolverine promptly offers to give it back. As played here, it comes across as if Wolverine’s going to go and sleep rough in the grounds again, but mercifully that’s not what happens – when we next see his living arrangements, in issue #365, he’s moved into a log cabin.

X-MEN vol 2 #81
“Jack of Hearts, Queen of Death!”
by Joe Kelly, Adam Kubert, Mark Farmer & Steve Buccellato
November 1998

The X-Men finally have the Danger Room up and running again – albeit with non-Shi’ar technology – and they train in it for the first time in ages. Wolverine and Marrow are still butting heads, and Nightcrawler queries whether Wolverine is really going the right way about winning her over. Later, Wolverine also talks to the newly-returned Gambit – he’s open to giving Gambit a second chance even after everything, but gives him a stern warning about not breaking Rogue’s heart again. This is Wolverine as the team patriarch.

A more interesting scene has Wolverine and Kitty discussing Gambit’s return; she doesn’t know or trust him, and Wolverine teases her by suggesting that he reminds her of Pete Wisdom. There are nice bits in all this, but we’re in a phase that suffers badly with hindsight, because it all proves abortive when the next relaunch comes.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #362-364 / X-MEN vol 2 #83-84
“The Hunt for Xavier!, parts 1 and 3-6”
UX #362-363 by Steven Seagle, Chris Bachalo, Art Thibert, Tim Townsend & Liquid!
UX #364 by Steven Seagle, Ralph Macchio, Leinil Francis Yu, Tim Townsend, Edgar Tadeo & Liquid!
X #83-84 by Joe Kelly, Adam Kubert and various
December 1998 to February 1999

The X-Men hunt for Professor X using Muir Isle’s spare Cerebro. But confusingly, it comes up with two signals. Wolverine joins Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Marrow in following one of the signals to the Golden Gate Park, where Logan’s old friend Black Crane (now a herbalist) points them to Alcatraz. There, they find the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Blob, Mimic, Post and Toad) protecting the real Professor X from Cerebro. Cerebro sends Cerebrite-Beta to recover him, and it manages to teleport Professor X, Wolverine and Shadowcat (among others) away to join the final battle against Cerebro. Cerebro turns out to be a standard “AI takes its mission too literally” villain: it plans to “catalogue” the whole human race and create peace by sticking everyone in cocoons. Nina, one of the mysterious nanotech-based Mannites that Professor X met in government custody, restores Professor X’s telepathy; he then defeats Cerebro by telepathically showing it the variety of human minds, which apparently somehow makes it cease to exist as an AI.

That ends the abortive Kelly/Seagle run on the X-Men, with most of the outstanding plots simply being abandoned. The whole thing is a desperate waste of talent, both of writers and artists.

4-issue miniseries
by Joe Harris, Phil Jimenez, Keith Aiken & Shannon Blanchard
November 1998 to February 1999

Logan and Kurt accompany Peter back to Russia to commemorate his parents’ deaths. Logan and Kurt are attacked by a monstrous mutant boy, Nikolas, who has the power to wither living things around him. Logan claws Nikolas in self-defence before succumbing to his power. Province 13, a Russian government project searching for Russian mutants, take Wolverine away. Astoundingly, the Russian scientists – who are experts in the field of mutants, and actually notice his healing powers and claws – fail to recognise him as Wolverine and dump his body, whereupon he promptly heals. The X-Men rescue a bunch of children from Province 13, fighting Omega Red in the process. Nikolas helps to defeat Omega Red, but is killed by his own estranged mother as an act of mercy; she takes in one of the Province 13 children, Nanya, as her foster daughter.

This is mainly a Colossus story, despite Logan and Kurt getting co-billing as stars. It’s above average for a random miniseries, but the main draw was Jimenez’s pencils, and he scales back to doing breakdowns with issue #2. In theory the Wolverine angle here would be exploitation of mutants by the authorities, but he’s really just here to add star power.

X-MEN UNLIMITED vol 1 #25 (backup story)
by Doug Moench, Mark Texeira & Marie Javins
December 1999

In a bar in Manitoba, Logan reflects once again on the difference between men and animals. He drives off some obnoxious yuppie hunters who the locals tolerate for the tourist income. As he burns their kills on a funeral pyre, he reflects that even though men have greater powers of thought, there is more nobility in beasts.

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, and it’s done with some rather clumsy speechifying – it even has Logan reciting John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud”, which doesn’t feel to me like the sort of thing he’d be memorising.

Next time, Wolverine enters 1999 and the Erik Larsen era.

Bring on the comments

  1. Nu-D says:

    @Thom H.

    Carey’s run is what I meant, not Brubaker. Thanks. I kinda liked the dynamism of the art in those issues. But I’ve probably only read them once, more than a decade ago, so it’s hard to recall the specifics.

    I hated what he did during the Bendis run. The character designs were a travesty. Cyclops’s visor is iconic. Changing it to an X was like painting Captain America’s shield with stripes. And putting Emma in black was just a pointless stunt.

    But beyond that, the panels were just a jumbled mess. We”re admiring the sort of abstract which-way-is-up style at earlier stages, but with the Bendis run it just exploded into incoherence. What a fracking mess that was.

  2. Taibak says:

    I was just spoiled by getting hooked on comics on issues drawn by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and Glynis Oliver.

  3. Josie says:

    “Covers without captions or a speech bubble are boring, usually.”

    I’d point you to any DC comic covers with captions or speech bubbles from the past 10 years as an argument that they should be excluded.

  4. Thom H. says:

    @Nu-D: I see what you mean. Maybe there’s a sweet spot in his chronology where the abstraction is heightened but not illegible.

    Early: Shade the Changing Man
    Middle: Carey’s X-Men
    Late: Bendis’ X-Men

    “Middle” being my favorite part.

  5. Chris M. says:

    I still have fond memories of Bachalo’s brief work on Ghost Rider 2099, which he launched before leaving to do Generation X. I think the main component of why that early Bachalo art looked so great completely comes down to Mark Buckingham, who was Bachalo’s finisher up until his lengthy hiatus from Generation X. It was after that when his artwork started to degenerate. I think Buckingham did a LOT of heavy lifting on Shade, Death, GR 2099, early Gen X.

  6. YLu says:

    What timing. All these years later, Carlos Pacheco today finally settles who Cerebro’s X-Men were amalgamated from:

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