Friday, June 20, 2014

X-MEN FOREVER #2 - August 2009

Comes the Father!
Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)

Summary:  In Central Park, officers discover the adamantium remains of Wolverine.  At the mansion, Storm enters as the X-Men are recovering from the psychic scream unleashed by Jean.  Storm walks to the mansion’s generator to restore the electricity that was disrupted by Jean’s outburst.  She’s ambushed by Sabretooth, who cuts her arm.  The X-Men enter to defend her, but Storm ends the fight by burning his eyes with electricity.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Jean Grey's psychic scream was the result of being in telepathic contact with Wolverine as he died.  Professor Xavier explains that Jean diverted her psychic shockwave into the mansion’s electronics systems to protect the team.  According to Cyclops, telepathy and telekinesis are all energy manipulation, which apparently gives her some control over electronics.  As awkward as this explanation is, it’s consistent with the way Xavier’s powers were portrayed in the earliest issues of the Uncanny X-Men.
  •  Wolverine’s skeleton is missing one of its claws.  This becomes important later, in one of the series’ more annoying plot twists.
  •  A mystery girl is asking questions of a SHIELD agent at the scene of Wolverine’s death.  Another hint that will be paid off soon.
  • Gabriel Jones, Jr. is one of the SHIELD agents in Central Park.  He’s the first of the second (and third) generation SHIELD agents Claremont will introduce in the series.
  • Beast comments that the rest of the X-Men are “scattered across the globe,” which is the only explanation we’ll ever receive regarding the whereabouts of the rest of the team.
  • Jean Grey’s costume was damaged in the previous issue following the team’s fight with Fabian Cortez, but it’s in pristine shape now.  In more fashion news, she’s wearing a totally different outfit on the cover, along with Storm and Rogue (Storm’s wearing a variation on her original costume, while Jean and Rogue are in outfits they won’t don until later in this series).  Also, Cyclops is wearing the giant rectangular glasses he wore back in the ‘70s and ‘80s again.
  • Gambit can actually pronounce words like “this” and “that,” which is consistent with the way Claremont originally established his speech pattern.

Review:  One aspect of the early issues of this series that I enjoyed is that, upon a rereading, it’s easy to pick up on subtle clues Claremont’s dropping that are paid off in future chapters.  And they’re actually paid off very quickly.  It’s a great way for Claremont to subvert his reputation, and to work the momentum of a bi-weekly series to his advantage.  I’ll go ahead and spoil the next few issues by revealing that Storm is actually Wolverine’s killer, which is why Sabretooth (soon “confirmed” as Wolverine’s father in this book’s continuity) has stalked her and attacked her at the mansion.  A cursory reading of this issue won’t give you any real clues that something’s up with Storm; she even has fairly innocuous thought balloons in one scene, with the only questionable revelation being that she has a secret she wants to keep from the team.  That could mean anything in comics, so I don’t think anyone pegged her right away as the killer.  The issue’s climax, which has Storm viciously blinding Sabretooth, is another clue that’s obvious in retrospect, but it’s not so outrageous that the reader is going to assume she’s now a villain.  

Wolverine’s death is also a great way to fake out the reader -- Nick Fury and Xavier are dubious that the body’s really him, and usually having any character express doubt in comics means that the reader is supposed to be suspicious.  And, of course, the audience is already trained to believe that any hero death will ultimately be undone anyway.  Add this to the general knowledge that Claremont always intended a fake Wolverine death during his initial run on the books, and it’s easy for the audience to just assume Wolverine’s coming back soon.  Knowing now that Claremont’s actually serious this time makes his ambiguity in the early issues more admirable.  Unfortunately, the impact of Wolverine’s death is soon muted as Claremont has 4,000 other things he wants to get to, which is one of the problems that plagues the series.  Also, it’s a shame that we’re not going to see Tom Grummett draw more scenes of Wolverine in his brown costume, since I think he draws one of the best interpretations of Wolverine’s classic look.  I admire the fact that Claremont didn’t want this series to be an exercise in nostalgia, but surely a little nostalgia wouldn’t have hurt.


Jeff said...

So these reviews have been making me wonder what stories Claremont talked about online that we got alternate versions of. I know Mark Millar's "Enemy of the State" covers his Wolverine resurrection story; Gambit did get tied into Mr. Sinister by Lobdell/Nicieza, albeit differently than originally planned; Claremont himself got to do something similar to his original ending to the Muir Isle saga in X-Treme X-Men Annual #1; the Wild Boys got turned into the Upstarts. Those are the main ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Also, Millar had to have read Claremont's interviews before writing his Enemy of the State arc, right? It's almost the exact same beats.

Matt said...

I don't know many rapid Wolverine fanboys still exist out there(though Marvel's insistence on having him headline multiple solo titles, plus star in several team books, would seem to indicate he's still a money magnet), but I do wonder if removing him entirely from this series could have hurt sales at all?

Matt said...

Ugh... that should say "rabid" rather than "rapid" at the beginning of my post.

Anonymous said...

I'd guess most people would expect that Claremont was going to go ahead with his original "death and resurrection" of Wolverine plot.
Claremont might have been planning to go that direction eventually in this series too.
I think even with him gone, the core readers for this book were fans of Claremont's original run who were still reading comics, so they wouldn't really care much about one character. It was always going to be a niche book, which was probably why Marvel charged an extra dollar (at that point's line pricing).

j said...

Topical time to review this issue considering marvel just announced that they are "killing" 616 Wolverine because we have announcements for these things in 2014. They're actually taking it a step further and creating a miniseries called "The Death of Wolverine" to kill him in.

One of these days you're going to review Death of Superman and get to the bottom of this death thing right?

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