Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Anthony Winn (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Dana Moreshead & Graphic Color Works (colors)
Summary: Wolverine returns to the mansion, as Iceman prepares to leave the X-Men. The team throws Iceman a party, but Wolverine feels uncomfortable. A package from Zoe Culloden arrives for Wolverine. A holographic display of Zoe tells him to take care of the artifact she’s sending him, and that dark times are coming. The next day, Wolverine trains in the Danger Room. A mystical entity appears, overriding the computer program. He tells Wolverine that he can resurrect his deceased fiancée Mariko, but he has to do a favor for him. Mariko’s corpse suddenly materializes, dragging Wolverine into the ground. Wolverine stabs the mystery man with his own sword, forcing him to retreat. Stick suddenly appears, and forces Mariko back into the ground. Stick tells Wolverine that it’s time for him to move away from the places that protect him and the people he loves. The next day, Wolverine leaves his new motorcycle with Cannonball for safekeeping. He tells him that he’ll be away from the mansion for a while.
Continuity Notes: The artifact Zoe gives Wolverine is a tiny box with Xs written on the sides. I’m pretty sure it appears again, but I don’t recall a payoff for all of her cryptic comments. I assume the mystery figure that approaches Wolverine in this issue (the character on the cover who is never named) ties in with the artifact in some way. I don’t recall his cryptic comments being resolved, either. Stick claims that he sent Elektra to help Wolverine stay on “the path” because of this mysterious entity.
Anthony Winn is still drawing Wolverine normally, even though last issue’s fill-in artist went back to the more feral design. The image inducer explanation doesn’t work here, as Wolverine has no motive to disguise his appearance when he’s with his friends, or alone in the mansion.
Review: This is intended to set up a new status quo that doesn’t last for long -- Wolverine living outside of the mansion and making new friends in New York City. It’s similar to the early issues, which had Wolverine spending time away from the X-Men in Madripoor, and it’s a reasonable direction to take the series. However, Hama only had a few issues left as writer, and the subsequent writers quickly abandoned the idea. All of the mysterious comments feel annoying, simply because the X-office’s reputation for paying anything off is shot by this point, but it does work as a nice character piece.
The entire issue is Wolverine narrating his feelings about the X-Men, which is something you rarely see in his solo series. The repeated theme in this issue is that Wolverine is still a loner by nature, and isn’t bound to Xavier’s school the same way most of the X-Men are (he even disses Harry’s Hideaway, the X-Men’s classic hangout). Hama has Wolverine acknowledge that he isn’t close with most of the current X-Men, which almost comes across as a meta-commentary on the post-Claremont era’s inability to recreate the “family” feeling amongst the team. When Wolverine tries to console Iceman about his father, Iceman’s response is that he barely knows him and it’s too late to start being pals. It’s rough, but it’s true. Wolverine and Iceman have barely had anything to do with one another, even though they’ve been teammates since 1991. It reminds me of the Archangel/Jubilee exchange in UXM #319, although in that scene, Lobdell seemed to be drawing attention to the problem and not doing much else with it. Hama at least uses it to make a statement about Wolverine as a character. It’s too bad the ideas established here never go anywhere, since the new direction Hama’s going in seems to have promise.