Through a Dark Tunnel
Credits: Fabian Nicieza and Erik Larsen (writers), Mike Miller (penciler), Durruthy/Massengill/Christian (inkers), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Archangel, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Jubilee search the Morlock Tunnels for Death, who’s recently escaped the mansion. Psylocke uses Cerebro to telepathically connect with the team, which is soon ambushed by Death. Individually, they try to revive his memories and restore Wolverine’s proper persona. Eventually, Psylocke reaches Wolverine, as Jubilee stands before him offering no defense. However, just as Wolverine’s personality reemerges, Archangel undergoes a strange transformation.
- Psylocke must use Cerebro to access her telepathy, since directly entering her mind would release the Shadow King following the events of X-Men #79.
- Shadowcat shows no reaction when she phases directly through Wolverine’s adamantium, which would seem to contradict Wolverine #126’s claim that phasing through adamantium is horribly painful.
- I can't recall any issue from the main chapters of this crossover that had Death/Wolverine captured and actually contained in the mansion.
“Huh?” Moment: An errant word balloon belonging to Nightcrawler appears after Death/Wolverine stabs Shadowcat in the foot. I can’t tell if it’s meant to be there or not. I guess it could work as Nightcrawler’s response to Shadowcat’s line (She tells Wolverine he isn’t this mean, Nightcrawler interjects “Hah! Kitty may have ‘pegged’ me, mein freund, but she skewered you.”), but it doesn’t match the tone. Why would Nightcrawler joke around like this after seeing his friend get stabbed?
Review: Even while these issues were being released, I think Erik Larsen made it clear he wasn’t overly interested in keeping up with all of the details of the latest line-wide crossover. My memory is that Fabian Nicieza was brought in to co-write these issues while Larsen was on a vacation, although I’m not sure how the labor was divided. The dialogue doesn’t read like Larsen’s work, leading me to wonder if his main contribution was in the plotting. Larsen’s Wolverine issues tended to have references and flashbacks to various Uncanny X-Men stories from the Claremont era, and this issue is filled with them as the team tries to talk Wolverine out of Apocalypse’s brainwashing. Perhaps Nicieza provided a rough outline based on his knowledge of where the crossover would be, Larsen plotted it out page-by-page, and Nicieza scripted it? Then again, the dialogue doesn’t really sound like Nicieza’s, either. Considering the state of the X-office during this time, it’s also a possibility that much of the script came for editorial.
Regardless, this is a little more coherent than the average Larsen issue, and its insertion into the ongoing Apocalypse crossover works rather well. The chapter that has Wolverine returning to his true personality probably should be run in his solo book, and the addition of Archangel is a smart decision. (Archangel was severely underused in the other X-titles during the 1999 Apocalypse crossover.) Drawing Archangel back into whatever Apocalypse might have planned is a nice way to pull the story away from a pat happy ending, and it works with the established continuity.
Continuity purists would also be happy to see the return of the classic Wolverine/Archangel rivalry (“classic” to anyone who remembers Claremont’s portrayal of their relationship, at least). I was always bothered as a kid that the post-Claremont writers just ignored the fact that Wolverine and Archangel hate each other after the X-Men and X-Factor teams merged. I was certain that one day someone would do a story following up on the rivalry, but it never happened. Instead, we got Bishop, Omega Red, and the Upstarts.