Monday, December 17, 2007

WOLVERINE #61-#65

Continuing with my look at the “other” X-books, I’m looking back at the Hama/Texeira issues of Wolverine. I’ve mentioned before that I couldn’t afford every X-book as a kid, so I didn’t read these issues until they were reprinted in the Essentials format years later. I enjoy most of them as an adult, and I think I would’ve been really into them as a kid. Larry Hama used to have a weak reputation as a writer amongst the net elite (I remember people ridiculing his runs on Generation X and Batman), but that opinion seemed to soften once the ‘80s nostalgia movement began and people took a look back on his G. I. Joe run. I’ve always enjoyed Hama’s work on G. I. Joe, its spinoffs, and other series like Nth Man and Bucky O’Hare. I think he’s a talented writer who doesn’t receive enough credit. His lengthy run on Wolverine was essentially ignored once he left the title, even though Hama probably revealed more of Wolverine’s history than any other writer did. Heck, even the Wolverine Origins series that’s supposed to clear up Wolverine’s continuity has directly contradicted Hama’s stories (though to be fair, this will apparently be addressed in future issues).

This storyline is a follow-up to an earlier arc about Wolverine’s past. According to interviews, Hama wasn’t really interested in doing stories about Wolverine’s history, but editor Bob Harras wanted a way to incorporate the popular Weapon X serial into continuity (why exactly he felt it didn’t fit is unclear). Hama’s solution was to reveal that Wolverine had fake memories implanted into his brain, explaining away any conflicting flashback stories. This could’ve been a one-issue continuity patch, but it became the basis for several stories in Hama’s run. Stories about Wolverine’s past have been done to death at this point, but I can remember fans being truly excited about finally “getting answers” in these issues.


#61-#63 (Hama/Texeira/Brosseau/Buccellato/Javins) – During this arc, members of the Weapon X project are reunited to discover why one of them, Mastodon, is dying. They discover the psychic responsible for their false memories, Aldo Ferro. Hama’s use of gunplay and military terminology reminds me of his G. I. Joe run, and his handling of Jubilee and Sabretooth is very strong. In issue #63, Hama introduces the idea that Wolverine’s false memory reinforcement is tied into physical pain, referencing “initiation rites of the Mandans and Australian Aborigines”, and “African tribal scarring.” Not really the references you might expect from an early ‘90s X-comic. Texeira’s art is gritty and suitable for this story, but sometimes his anatomy is a little odd (Wolverine has a tiny waist that comes and goes for some reason).

#64 (Hama/Pacella/Panosian/Brosseau/Javins/Tinsley) – The arc concludes with this disappointing installment. Most of this issue consists of illusions cast by Ferro (or “Psi-Borg”, his hilarious supervillain name) as rendered by Mark Pacella. As a result, it’s hard to tell what’s going on, as the issue ends with Silver Fox dead (again), and Ferro escaping with Sabretooth. Ferro claims that he drew all of these characters together to learn the secret behind the Weapon X project’s age suppression factor, but it’s unclear if Ferro himself was responsible for Mastodon’s death at the beginning of the story. It’s the type of vague non-answer you often find in the X-books at this time. Hama does reveal that Wolverine and Silver Fox did have a real relationship in their cabin (as Ferro tells Wolverine, he didn’t waste time implanting “smarmy tripe”, he only made up the “bad stuff”), which is the only real highlight of this issue. There’s also a blatant Jim Lee swipe of Sabretooth on page two that’s hard to ignore.

#65 (Hama/Texeira/Brosseau/Buccellato/Javins) – Fortunately, the quality improves as Wolverine buries Silver Fox in this issue. Hama’s able to convey Wolverine’s anguish over recent events while at the same time staying true to his “tough guy” persona. Wolverine and Jean Grey have a nice conversation that does a lot to humanize the character, even if it is occasionally interrupted by Wolverine's eyeball popping out. Even though Silver Fox mainly existed as plot device, Hama still gives her an emotional sendoff in the end. One of the best issues of this run.

5 comments:

Fnord Serious said...

Welcome back, G.

I never liked Wolverine as a solo character as much as I liked him as a member of a team, but I think I'd be up for reading the Essentials now. I'm only on volume 2 of the X-Men Essentials, so it will be a while before I hit the Wolverine volumes.

Teebore said...

Welcome back!

De said...

How come you only make the 12-ounce sausage roll?

In all seriousness, welcome back.

Luke said...

Welcome back, Kendall! Wolverine never did much for me in either a solo or a team setting -- I've always been more of a fan of mutants like Nightcrawler personally -- but I had a friend who was really into this title back in the 90s. He would also go on about what Hama and Tex were doing with the title and how deep and meaningful it all was. I like Hama, as a general rule, and Texiera's style always struck me as visually interesting if a bit different from the artists I normally liked. It stinks that Marvel is apparently ignoring Hama's contributions to the character, but unfortunately that seems to be par for the course.

If you have a few minutes, I'd really appreciate if you could check out my blog, as I have recently put up some thoughts about vintage Excalibur in a format you might just be familiar with! I'd love your feedback, since your blog has brought back so many memories of the early 90s and breaking into the "comic habit."

jim said...

I remember hating the art in these issues so much that I stopped reading the book until the artist changed.

Also, welcome back.

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