Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WOLVERINE #119 - #120, December 1997 - January 1998

Welcome to the all-new, all-different Not Blog X, which is remarkably similar to the old one. I’m going to continue reviewing the main X-titles until the end of the Alan Davis run, which will take us to early 2000. My current plan is to write shorter reviews and cover at least two issues in each post, with updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When it’s over, this site should be a fairly comprehensive review of the ‘90s era of the X-Men, even though I will be missing out on many of the spinoffs from the late ‘90s. After I’m finished with the X-Men, I’m sure I’ll find other things to write about.

Not Dead Yet, 1 of 4

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo (inker), Jason Wright (colors), Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: In the past, Wolverine spends time with McLeish, a Scottish hitman, in Hong Kong. After McLeish kills the movie producer father of Wolverine’s girlfriend, Wolverine seeks revenge. After breaking his back and triggering an explosion that sends McLeish to the bottom of the harbor, Wolverine assumes he’s dead. In the present, Wolverine returns home to his apartment to discover the body of a local homeless man. A bomb with admantium shards explodes, leading Wolverine to question if McLeish is still alive.

Miscellaneous Note: According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were 251,738 copies with the most recent issue selling 214,991.

Review: This is the start of Warren Ellis’ four-part run. Marvel publicly hinted that Ellis might become the regular writer, even though he always claimed he was only going to do four issues. This is virtually an entire issue spent on selling McLeish as a credible threat to Wolverine, so you end up with pages of dialogue with the character describing all of the kills he’s made since he was thirteen. It really is overkill, but it fits the nature of the story. A lot of these elements have been done to death over the years (character from Wolverine’s past returns for vengeance, flashbacks to Wolverine’s days before the X-Men, another previously unseen girlfriend), and I can’t say that this felt particularly fresh even in 1997. It’s entertaining as a straightforward action story, though. Ellis removes virtually any superhero trappings from the story, which gives Yu’s detail-oriented, more realistic style some room to show off. Certainly not a bad start for a filler run.

Not Dead Yet, 2 of 4

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo (inker), Jason Wright (colors), Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Wolverine escapes the explosion and flees the city. Two hitmen allegedly sent by McLeish crash cars into him, but Wolverine manages to suppress his rage and spare the life of the surviving driver. He faces another hitman while picking up his motorcycle from a garage, and avoids killing him, also. As Wolverine drives out of town, a man in the shadows awaits his arrival.

Review: I seem to recall feeling that this storyline was unnecessarily padded, and this issue is the first hint. The plot consists of Wolverine avoiding hitmen while flashing back to a few of his conversations with McLeish. There’s no real connection between the flashbacks and the main story, outside of reaffirming that Wolverine isn’t comfortable with McLeish’s work, and establishing that McLeish knows about Wolverine’s berserker rage. The idea is that McLeish is doing everything he can to push Wolverine over the edge so he’ll no longer think like a rational human, which will make him an easier target. Giving Wolverine enough credit to figure this out adds another element to the story, forcing him to once again fight against his baser instincts. None of these are bad ideas, there’s just not enough here to justify twenty-two pages. Giant panels of Wolverine getting smashed by cars are fine, but large drawings of snowy hamlets and shadowy old men in rocking chairs feel like cheats.


rob said...

I recently got this whole story for cheap and did enjoy it, but I don't know if the hype since it's release was that warranted. The slower-paced, street clothes style was much more suited to Yu (for me) than his costumed stuff, and it is really nice to see his work in larger panels, but this story is also way too slow moving and light on plot.

wwk5d said...

this run was Jemas/Quesada years before they took over lol

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