Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WOLVERINE #101 - May 1996

The Helix of an Age Foretold
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Val Semeiks (penciler), Chad Hunt (inker), Joe Rosas & Malibu Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Wolverine breaks free of Ozymandias’ grip and jumps down the chasm to save Cyclops. While falling down the chasm, Cyclops hits his head against a rock and falls unconscious. Wolverine manages to grab Cyclops and uses his claws to grab hold of the nearby spiral. He drags Cyclops to the top of the spiral, as the remaining X-Men continue their fight against Ozymandias’ stone replicas. Unbeknownst to the team, Elektra is secretly aiding them in their battle. Cyclops comes to and sees Phoenix buried under debris. He angrily blasts Ozymandias and breaks his body apart. Ozymandias responds by destroying the spiral with his engraved drawings. Realizing that he's defeated, he then forces his own body to fall apart. Iceman saves Cyclops and Wolverine from the collapsing spiral. As the team leaves, Cyclops wonders what Ozymandias’ engravings mean for the X-Men, and Wolverine senses Elektra’s nearby presence.

Continuity Notes: In the previous chapter of this mini-crossover, Phoenix was having the life choked out of her by the stone replica of Magneto (which was her excuse for not rescuing Cyclops). This issue opens with Phoenix standing a good ten feet away from the stone Magneto. Her excuse for not helping Cyclops in this chapter is that keeping the stone doppelgangers away is taking all of her telekinetic powers, and if she diverted any energy away to help Cyclops, Cannonball and Iceman might be killed.

When Cyclops hits his head against a rock, the narrative caption claims that it “wrecks a subtle change upon a section of cerebral cortex that was damaged once before.” This is a reference to the fact that Cyclops’ inability to control his optic blasts is due to the brain damage he suffered after his childhood plane crash. I have no idea why the story makes a big deal out of his head being hit in the same place again. I certainly don’t recall this going anywhere.

Phoenix sees Elektra’s silhouette in the shadows and comments that it’s “someone who is capable of shielding their thoughts from a psi-probe”. I have no idea if this has been kept consistent over the years, or if this Elektra was supposed to be a Skrull or not.

While climbing up Ozymandias’ spiral, Cyclops sees an engraved image of Xavier. Cyclops wonders why “the scribe of Apocalypse” would have rendered Xavier with such reverence. I’m not sure what exactly this is supposed to mean, unless it just signifies that Apocalypse respects his opponents. I suppose it could be more Onslaught foreshadowing, too.

According to the letter column, when Magneto removed Wolverine’s adamantium, it was broken down into its “component elements”. The editor claims that because of this, his original adamantium skeleton no longer exists. Of course, the editor also claims that Rose Wu is “convalescing in the Madripoor hospital”, which contradicts her on-panel death in issue #98.

Production Note: This is yet another issue with only nineteen pages.

Creative Differences: This issue is filled with third-person narrative captions, which Hama never used in his previous issues, and has claimed in interviews that he never wrote into his scripts.

Review: It’s an issue long fight scene, which really just covers the same ground as the last chapter in the story. Because Ozymandias first appeared in Uncanny X-Men’s installment of the storyline, I guess someone felt the need to firmly establish who he was in this issue, too. It makes this chapter seem extremely repetitive, especially if you happened to read both installments within a day of each other. The only aspects of the story that break up the monotony of the fight scenes are the cryptic hints of future storylines that I don’t think were ever resolved. Cyclops seems horrified that a servant of Apocalypse knows so much about the X-Men, but nothing comes of it. Cyclops getting hit on the head again is treated as an important event, and is then forgotten. Ozymandias’ reverent etching of Charles Xavier is portrayed as significant, but I’m pretty sure that goes nowhere, either. Aside from the rather uninteresting action sequences, there’s also the fact that the title character is literally acting like a dog (he even licks Cyclops’ face in one scene). In the previous issue, he was at least capable of speech, but here he’s limited to just grunts and growls. It’s a weak issue all around.

3 comments:

x-man75 said...

I can remember an image from this comic where Wolverine is literally carrying Cyclops up the side of a mountain in his mouth like an animal carrying its young! Looking back at these comics is actually kind of funny.

I can remember laughing through most of this comic book when I read it because it was SO ridiculous. I would have to imagine that wasn't the reaction Marvel was going for when they ran this story! Wolverine was really terrible back then!

Matt said...

I recall reading someone's reaction to this issue somewhere online when it first came out, and they said that in that one panel (the one where Wolverine licks Cyclops), Marvel managed to completely ruin the character. I thought that was a bit extreme... I always found that panel to be funny and even a little cute.

It just occurred to me that looking at all the covers as they get posted here, it occurs to me that I really, really miss all those old Comicraft-lettered cover blubs. Marvel rarely uses cover blurbs today, but on the occasions that they do, they're never as bold, striking, and exciting as the Comicraft ones were...

PeterCSM said...

Terrible issue. Elektra's mental power levels seem to change drastically from one appearance to the next. But her being able to shield her thought here seems legit since she does much more impressive mental acrobatics in the Elektra Assassin series.

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