Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WOLVERINE #114 – June 1997

For The Snark Was A Roojum, You See!
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas (colors)

Summary: While chasing down Helen, Wolverine runs into Damion Hellstorm. Hellstorm warns him that the artifact must be guarded at all times. As soon as Hellstorm leaves, Lady Deathstrike leaps from the shadows and attacks Wolverine. She demands that he turn over the artifact to her. Because he recognizes her family’s markings on the box, he offers to return it to her after he speaks to Zoe Culloden. Meanwhile, Storm and Phoenix continue to guard the artifact box. When it begins to glow, Storm opens it. Phoenix suspects that the force inside the box has traveled throughout various dimensions. A possessed Helen suddenly enters, dressed in her military uniform and brandishing a machine gun. Phoenix enters her mind and fights the spirit that’s possessing her on the Astral Plane. She defeats the spirit and saves Helen. Wolverine enters with Deathstrike, who is soon targeted by the spirit. After it possesses Deathstrike, she jumps out of the window and disappears. Wolverine finally recognizes the spirit as his former mentor, Ogun.

Continuity Notes: When Phoenix fights Ogun in the Astral Plane, he’s revealed as the same spirit Wolverine faced in the Danger Room in issue #111.

According to Kirstin, her boyfriend Clive was crippled by a “psycho in a costume”, which I’m sure was foreshadowing for a story Hama never got to. Helen is revealed as a Gulf War vet who was tortured by Iraqis and discharged for being psychologically unstable. Afraid of becoming a victim again, she kept an arsenal in her apartment. I’m pretty sure Clive’s backstory gets mixed up with Helen’s during Warren Ellis’ brief run.

Production Note: My copy of this issue has a gold background, unlike the purple one I see online.

Miscellaneous Note: The title of this issue is a Lewis Carroll reference (although it's "boojum", not "roojum", in the poem). It's significance to this issue isn't very obvious to me, unless it's simply that Ogun is supposed to be the "boojum" that's being chased.

Commercial Break: This is the month Marvel began running ads for Oreck vacuum cleaners. There’s not even an attempt to make the ad “edgy” or “extreme”…it’s just a middle-aged woman in high-waisted pants holding up a vacuum cleaner against a white background. Oddly enough, ads for household cleaning devices never caught on in comics.

Review: I had a vague memory that the ending of this story made no sense, and I wasn’t far off. After three issues of build-up, the mystery of the box continues to deepen until it’s totally forgotten about in the last few pages of the story. What exactly happens when Storm opens the box isn’t even clear. The story cuts away for a few pages, and when it returns to this thread, Phoenix and Storm are calmly discussing “it” possibly traveling through multiple dimensions. What? Since the box was introduced in the same issue Ogun reappeared, I’m assuming that there’s supposed to be a connection between them. It seems like the climax of this issue is going to reveal the link, but instead Ogun just possesses Lady Deathstrike and runs away. The box, from what I can remember, is never seen or spoken about again. It’s an extremely awkward ending that reeks of a last-minute rewrite. Aside from the weak ending, the story also has its fair share of clunky dialogue and gratuitous narrative captions and thought balloons. I would be curious to know how much of this was in Hama’s original draft.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember hating this story arc, id have to say this is by far the worst year for X-Titles in the entire 90s. At this point you were getting better X-Men stories and art over in Incredible Hulk.

This is when they moved Kupert over to Hulk yet still had him drawing X-Men characters for about five issues. That whole Apocalypse/War Hulk storyline.
Much better then anything going on in the X-Titles at this time. (Although I did enjoy the Shiar stuff over in Uncanny at the time)

Unfortunatly things dont pick up over here in the X-Titles for atleast another year. Then we are treated to some real gems until the "Twelve" storyline kicks off and everything goes down hill from there.

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