WOLVERINE #11 - Early September 1989
If you thought you weren’t getting enough Wolverine before his solo series, now you’re getting WOLVERINE twice a month! No wonder Claremont left.
Peter David returns, while Buscema is joined by Sienkiewicz, reinventing the book’s visuals. The lushness is gone, replaced by sketchy lines. I’m happy either way, although the darker art doesn’t match the story. David is going for comedy for much of the arc, with Wolverine as the well-intentioned friend who’s thrown into a wild adventure.
Archie Corrigan’s past is fleshed out a bit, as we discover that his brother has mental problems and is soon to lose the family’s wealth. Burt Corrigan routinely convinces himself that he’s movie heroes, and this time it’s Indiana Jones. Who knew that the public would become so sensitive to these issues one day that this story might be deemed offensive? Who knew that a massive media conglomerate would own both Marvel and the Indiana Jones property?
WOLVERINE #12 - Late September 1989
More of Wolverine and friends being chased around San Fran by vampires. Supposedly, there’s a long-unspoken ban on car chases in comics, but this one isn’t so bad. David’s script is thick with one-liners, although he manages to keep Wolverine’s character pretty consistent throughout. There’s a flimsy excuse for everyone to return to Madripoor at the end, but I get the sense that David couldn’t care less about the setting.
WOLVERINE #13 - Early October 1989
More Gehenna Stone, more PAD jokes, more Nowlan covers that I didn’t like as a kid…
This issue, Wolverine confronts the leader of the Gehenna cult, while two brothers who’ve acquired a piece of the stone end up in Madripoor, coincidentally. They end up killing each other in the Princess Bar.
All of these chapters on their own have been fine. The art’s great, and the story keeps moving at a decent pace. Overall, though, there’s a sense that any hero could’ve been plugged into this story, which is often a problem with these WOLVERINE fill-ins. There haven’t been enough solo tales to define what a Wolverine story really is, so the title suffers while Marvel decides what to do post-Claremont.
Another note about the issue -- it’s the final one to feature Wolverine out of costume. The experiment lasted just under a year.
WOLVERINE #14 - Late October 1989
As the cover indicates, Wolverine is now dressing like Wolverine.
Story-wise, there’s no justification for this. Logan declares that he wants to change into something “apropos.” This happens while on a plane ride to Madripoor, where he’s explicitly hiding his Wolverine identity -- so, this makes zero sense. Clearly, this had to be editorial fiat. I don’t know if sales were harmed by the initial decision to downplay the superhero element, but I wonder today if perhaps I wasn’t so excited by this book as a kid because it didn’t truly resemble other Marvel books. Were there legions of kids not buying WOLVERINE because they didn’t see that costume on the cover?
The big revelation this issue - Jessica Drew has always known Logan is Patch. Certainly not what Claremont intended, although I’m not sure if it harms the status quo. Jessica can keep a secret, so the X-Men will remain “ghosts.” It’s amusing Marvel launched WOLVERINE during the time Claremont was adamant about keeping them “dead” to the world.
WOLVERINE #15 - Early November 1989
Apparently, this cover gave us the standard WOLVERINE corner box art.
I’ve never understood why this figure was selected. Nowlan’s style doesn’t match any of the regular artists on this title, the pose is awkward, and the recycling just feels cheap. Was Marvel in a hurry to reassure fans that, no, Wolverine really does wear his real outfit in this book?
This issue - Wolverine is mocked thoroughly for his Patch disguise, the Madripoor cast is enchanted by the Gehenna Stone and tries to kill each other, and the Prince joins forces with Ba’al, the ancient evil god who created the stone. No real justification for this story to still be going, but it’s mindlessly entertaining. Peter David has Wolverine utter his first pun, which is also the first time David’s attempt at a jokier Logan falls flat. The rest of this story has actually managed to keep Logan jokey and in-character.
WOLVERINE #16 - Late November 1989
The final issue in the collection, and the storyline. Thankfully, this Epic reprint doesn’t drop off on a cliffhanger, which I wish was a basic rule.
There’s an attempt at making this specifically a Wolverine story, and fan reaction was mixed. David never outright says that Wolverine represents the “Hand of God,” but he steps right up to the edge. Not only does Wolverine feel in touch with a higher power, and is compelled to offer an earnest prayer, when facing Ba’al, but he’s remained immune to the Gehenna Stone throughout the arc. It is a role that you couldn’t place Spider-Man into, and I suppose Wolverine’s healing power leaves the door open to this interpretation. But that’s not really how people want to see Wolverine, is it?
The rest of the trade is a thick collection of promo interviews and art for the series. I love seeing this stuff reprinted. The people working in Marvel’s trade department deserve immense credit for the work that they’re doing. Not only is the fanzine press of the era represented, but even unused covers that appeared in MARVEL AGE are slotted in. As a reprint collection (an affordable one!), this is a fantastic package.