Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WOLVERINE #123 – #124, April – May 1998


“Better Than Best!”

Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz (artists), Comicraft (lettering), Jason Wright (colors)

Summary: Wolverine ponders his New Year’s resolution as he’s abducted by Bloodscream and Roughouse, who are working for a crimelord in New York. He escapes his manacles by breaking his wrist, and then faces the duo. The fight destroys their hideout, allowing Wolverine to walk away victorious.

Continuity Notes: This issue ignores the fact that Roughouse reformed during the Goodwin/Byrne issues of the series, and the X-Men Unlimited story that had Bloodscream lost in a mystical vortex with Belasco (Bloodscream was trying to “redeem his humanity” in that story, so that’s two reformations ignored in one issue). Wolverine’s New Year’s resolution, as revealed in X-Men #73, was to “be the best there is at what I do…and to figure out what that is” (which isn’t an exact quote from that issue, but close enough).

Review: I’m not sure why, but it seems like Tom DeFalco became the standard Wolverine fill-in guy during this era (I think he also wrote the Wolverine cyber-comic for Marvel’s website). It’s interesting that someone within the X-titles, like John Francis Moore or new writers like Ben Raab and Joe Casey, weren’t brought in to do these stories. I’m sure even Larry Hama would’ve come back to do a few more issues if he had been asked. I don’t say this to dismiss DeFalco, who has written some enjoyable comics over the years, but he just seems like an odd choice for the title. If you’re willing to overlook the continuity problems with this one, it’s a tolerable fill-in. The plot’s extremely light, but DeFalco gives Wolverine enough personality to keep the story from feeling too generic. Any edge in the comic comes from the combination of Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz, who predictably make the art as dark and gritty as possible.


Invisible Destroyers!

Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz (artists), Comicraft (lettering), Jason Wright (colors)

Summary: Outside of a public appearance by Captain America , Wolverine suspects something is wrong. He enters the building and is confronted by invisible foes. Captain America joins the fight, as their opponent is revealed as Rascal, who is trying to build a reputation with his men, the Rodents. Wolverine, who was questioning his instincts earlier, is able to see through Rascal’s suicide bluff, which enables Captain America to defeat him.

I Love the ‘90s: There are two separate Spice Girls references in this issue.

“Huh?” Moment: Wolverine’s narrative captions make such little sense on one page, I can only assume that a major typo occurred. After commenting that his instincts were wrong about sensing danger inside (which is blatantly false), Wolverine goes on to say, “Does that mean I should stop doubtin’ myself, I never once questioned my senses until today..Does that mean I should stop doubtin’ myself -- or keep questionin’ my instincts?!” I’m assuming the letterer accidentally retyped the wrong lines from the script, or some lines were changed by editorial but not fully corrected.

Review: And here we have the legendary debut of Rascal and the Rodents. To be fair, Rascal’s motivation for killing Captain America, only for self-serving publicity reasons, is somewhat novel. However, the man’s name is Rascal, and his henchmen are called the Rodents. Unless you’re fighting Adam West in 1960s primetime, this is really inexcusable. This is the type of story that seems tailor made for annoying seventeen year olds who really want to take their superhero comics seriously. Aside from the fact that the story is obviously time-killer, large sections of the dialogue consist of dull exposition (explaining things that have already been made very clear), and awkward banter between the two heroes. The rough, scratchy art isn’t bad, but it’s flagrantly inappropriate for such a Silver Age throwback story.

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