Lair of the N’Garai
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), J. H. Williams III (penciler), Mark McKenna w/Gray & Palmiotti (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Kevin Somers & Electric Crayon (colors)
Nightcrawler travels to New York to check on Wolverine, but he refuses to leave the woods outside of the mansion. Wolverine comes across one of the N’Garai’s cairns in the woods and attacks the demon that escaped from it. Wolverine chases the N’Garai through the cairn’s dimensional portal and ends up in the N’Garai’s dimension. After being alerted to activity outside, Nightcrawler comes across the cairn and teleports into the portal. Inside, he encounters Wolverine savagely attacking a group of N’Garai. They nearly kill him, but his enhanced healing factor quickly repairs the wounds. Nightcrawler suspects that Wolverine wants to stay in this dimension and “revel in the carnage”. Wolverine faces Kierrok, the N’Garai’s leader, and is surprisingly able to stand up to him. Kierrok orders the N’Garai to invade Earth, which forces Wolverine to abandon his fight and help Nightcrawler stop the N’Garai escaping through the portal. After Wolverine and Nightcrawler return to Earth, Kierrok reveals that his order was a ruse to force them to leave his dimension. He closes the portal as the rest of the X-Men arrive. Wolverine mentally acknowledges that Nightcrawler was right, and that he isn’t afraid of his killing rage anymore.
This is the year Marvel dropped the numbering on their annuals and just named them after the year they were released. I’ve never understood why they did this, since it instantly dates the comic in an obvious way. This is technically the first Wolverine annual, even though Marvel released yearly bookshelf comics with him in previous years.
I Love the ‘90s
Boomer is wearing a Filter t-shirt. Hey Boomer, nice shirt. (I know that’s lame, I’m sorry.)
This is an extremely action-heavy story that gets some mileage out of Wolverine’s new status quo. J. H. Williams’ art is exceptional, handling the superhero elements and the horror elements equally well. The story requires a never-ending barrage of demons for Wolverine to slice through, which suits Williams’ dark style very well. I had mixed feelings about the art when I first saw this issue, since I didn’t usually like artists that play with a lot of shadows, but I can appreciate it more today. There isn’t a lot to the story, but Hama is able to make Nightcrawler’s concern for Wolverine feel genuine, and at least the action does tie in to Wolverine’s ongoing character arc. It’s not an essential chapter in the storyline, but it manages to be more than filler. I like the ending, which basically has Kierrok tricking Wolverine to go away so that he’ll leave him alone. It’s not really played for laughs, but it amuses me.
What the Cat Dragged In
Credits: Christopher Golden (writer), Ben Herrera (penciler), Vince Russell (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Ian Laughlin (colors)
After Slayback attempts to kidnap him, Maverick turns to Wolverine for help. He knows that Slayback is being hired to abduct Weapon X veterans with healing powers, so that a private research firm can conduct tests on them to find a Legacy Virus cure. Out of respect for their friendship, Wolverine goes along with Maverick to rescue Deadpool, who is being tortured by the amoral scientists. Maverick and Wolverine rescue Deadpool, but he disappears as SHIELD agents raid the lab. Later, Deadpool sends cell samples to Beast, but he concludes that his healing factor won’t cure the virus.
According to Maverick, both he and Deadpool have a healing factor taken from Wolverine’s DNA template. I think this is the first time Maverick having a healing factor is mentioned. Since Maverick isn’t scarred, this seems to contradict the idea that the process of giving Deadpool a healing factor scarred his skin. However, Deadpool has an extremely accelerated healing factor, which could explain why the process took a heavier toll on him (that’s my No-Prize explanation).
I seem to recall Christopher Golden saying that this was his first job in comics, and that years went by before he got another one. It actually isn’t that bad of a story. It has too much plot for an annual backup, so it comes out pretty rushed, but it’s still marginally entertaining. Golden makes nice use of the ongoing storylines in the various titles by finally acknowledging that the numerous characters with healing powers might be able to cure the Legacy Virus. It turns out to be a dead end, really because Marvel just didn’t want to finish the story yet, but it’s an angle someone should’ve used by this point. Golden also captures Wolverine’s voice rather well, and is able to neatly tie the plot into the ongoing “feral regression” storyline. Wolverine’s closing monologue about the importance of friendship is a little much, but he does capture the character’s strong loyalty to his friends, which is one of the things I really liked about Wolverine growing up. I didn't like Herrera's cartoony, angular art when I first read this issue, but most of it actually holds up pretty well.