Tuesday, January 19, 2010

WOLVERINE ’96 - 1996

The Last Ronin

Credits: Jeph Loeb (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Ed McGuiness (penciler), Nathan Massengill w/Norman Lee (inkers), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: In Japan, Bastion encourages the government to use the Red Ronin robot as an anti-mutant mechanism. Meanwhile, Silver Samurai convinces Wolverine to help him break Sunfire out of a government facility, where he’s been kept ever since his powers went haywire months earlier. When Wolverine and Sunfire reach Red Ronin, they run into Yukio, who is trying to find a way to deliver the robot to the highest bidder. On the government’s command, Red Ronin is activated when the intruders are detected. Wolverine disables the robot, but Sunfire’s powers go out of control during the fight. After Wolverine calms him down, he takes Sunfire to Canada to train with Mac and Heather Hudson.

Continuity Notes: It’s revealed that Sunfire lost control of his powers due to Magneto’s electromagnetic pulse in X-Men #25.

Review: Is this the first Loeb/McGuiness collaboration? It does follow their future path of minimal plots that revolve around giant robots and gratuitous action scenes. There’s barely anything to this story, but it does take advantage of a few existing continuity points. I remember some fans were convinced that Sunfire was killed in X-Men #25, due to the brief scene that had him consumed in a flash of light as Magneto’s electromagnetic pulse swept the planet. Picking up on that scene and using it to justify his lack of appearances since then (I’m assuming he didn’t appear in-between these two stories) is a nice use of the past. Showing Bastion’s actions overseas also helps to develop him as a more credible villain, and pitting Wolverine against an obscure character like Red Ronin is fun. For whatever reason, Red Ronin is only operational for a few pages, and McGuiness doesn’t really get to do much with him, so it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity. Ralph Macchio, one of the routine fill-in scripters of this era, delivers another mid-70s style script. Everything is spelled out in great detail, so over half of the script consists of exposition or descriptions of events that are clearly depicted in the art.

The Golden Temple

Credits: Joseph Kelly (writer), Tommy Lee Edwards (penciler), Rich Case (inker), Paul Becton (colors), John Workman (letters)

Summary: Amiko runs away to find the Golden Temple, where she hopes to find the samurai who once saved her life. She’s joined by a grizzled homeless man who helps her on the journey. When they reach the temple, Amiko is disappointed to see it’s been abandoned. The homeless man reveals himself as Wolverine, the “samurai” she’s been searching for the entire time.

Review: This has Tommy Lee Edwards art, and John Workman even hand-lettered it, so it’s a little “arty” for a mid-90s annual backup. I assume Joseph Kelly is Joe Kelly, making what might be his debut on an X-title. It’s an adequately told story about a child’s imagination, believing in yourself, and accepting change. Wolverine’s Japanese supporting cast never really received the attention they deserved, so I’m glad someone decided to do a character-driven piece with Wolverine’s adopted daughter. This might also be the only Wolverine story set in Japan that doesn’t feature the Hand, so it probably deserves an award just for that.

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