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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

X-amining Wolverine #1-4

"I'm Wolverine/Debt and Obligations/Loss/Honor"
September-December 1982

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine goes to Japan to fight for Mariko. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller  
Finisher:Josef Rubinstien
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein, Lynne Varley (issue #4)
Editor: Louise Jones
Supervisor: Jim Shooter

Plot
Issue #1: In the Canadian Rockies, Wolverine tracks down a wounded bear and puts it out of its misery, before capturing the hunter who broke the law in poisoning the bear. Returning to New York, he attempts to contact Mariko, but is rebuffed, prompting him to fly to Japan. In Japan, he meets with his friend Asano, a government agent, and learns that Mariko's father, Shingen, has returned and forced Mariko to marry a man to whom Shingen is indebted. Wolverine confronts Mariko, who insists she must honor her father's wishes. Wolverine is suddenly drugged and awakens before Mariko and Shingen, who challenges Wolverine to a duel with wooden practice swords. Groggy from the drugs, Shingen easily overpowers Wolverine, forcing Mariko to concede that Wolverine is not worthy of her. Knocked out, Wolverine awakens in Tokyo and is attacked by a street gang, but is saved by a mysterious woman.


Issue #2: Wolverine awakens in a strange apartment, surrounded by ninjas of the Hand and the woman who rescued him, who introduces herself as Yukio. Together, they fight off the ninjas and retreat to Wolverine's hotel, where Yukio attempts to seduce him, but thinking of Mariko, he rejects her. Later, Yukio angrily meets with her employer, Shingen, who explains the Hand had to attempt to kill her in order to fool Wolverine into thinking the attack was real. He then orders her to kill a rival crime lord, Katsuyori, before killing Wolverine. Yukio tells Wolverine that Katsuyori is the master of the Hand who tried to kill her, and together they infiltrate his castle on the night he's meeting with Mariko and her husband. When Katsuyori's assassins attack, Wolverine is forced into a berskerker rage to defeat them, horrifying Mariko, who had never scene that side of him. Yukio blows up Katsuyori in his car, pleased with Mariko's reaction to Wolverine.


Issue #3: Drowning his sorrows in booze, brawls and Yukio, Wolverine is approached by Asano, who wants his help identifying and neutralizing a new crimelord who has taken over the Japanese underworld, but Wolverine refuses. That night, as Wolverine dreams of Mariko, Yukio is visited by the Hand, who insist that she kill Wolverine, but she kills them instead. As Wolverine awakens, he mutters Mariko's name, infuriating Yukio. At Wolverine's hotel, Yukio mistakes Asano for another Hand assassin, and kills him. When Wolverine finds Asano, he smells Shingen on the blades which killed him, and realizes that Shingen is both the new crimelord and that Yukio is working for him. Chasing her to a Zen garden, Wolverine attempts to kill Yukio, but the Hand attack. Wolverine and Yukio defeat them, but Yukio escapes in the process, at which point Wolverine decides to take the fight to Shingen and prove he's a man, not a beast, by rising above his recent circumstances.


Issue #4: One by one, Wolverine sets about systematically dismantling Shingen's criminal empire. Shingen sends the Hand after him, but Wolverine overcomes them all, sending their hoods with a note challenging Shingen to combat. Meanwhile, Mariko, having realized how evil her father is, agonizes over her desire to stop him and her duty to obey him. As Wolverine prepares to assault Shingen's manor, Yukio sneaks inside, hoping to kill Shingen to make up for killing Asano, but she is captured. Wolverine fights his way inside and when Mariko's husband tries to flee using Mariko as a hostage, Yukio kills him. Face to face, Shingen and Wolverine fight, with Wolverine barely but ultimately coming out on top, killing Shingen. Worried that Mariko will now feel honor bound to kill him for killing her father, Mariko instead presents Wolverine with the Honor Sword of Clan Yashida, revealing she would have killed Shingen for dishonoring their clan had Wolverine not. Months later, the X-Men receive an invitation to Wolverine and Mariko's wedding. 

Firsts and Other Notables
In addition to being Wolverine's first solo series, kicking off what will eventually comprise countless ongoing series, miniseries, one shots and specials, this is also one of Marvel's first limited series ever (a distinction it shares/vies for with Contest of Champions, depending on how you define "first": cover date, on sale date, date of conception, etc.), making it a significant benchmark in the rising popularity of Wolverine as a character at the time of publication.

Art in this series comes from superstar artist Frank Miller, at the time in the midst of his acclaimed and groundbreaking run on Daredevil. Not yet at the height of his abilities, Miller's work is still remarkably strong, featuring some amazing panel/page layouts that make the most of white space and some wonderfully choreographed fights. 

Yukio makes her first appearance in the first issue of the series. She will go on to play a significant role in the upcoming story in Uncanny X-Men #172-173, and remain a minor supporting character in the X-Men universe and Wolverine's titles.


Mariko's evil father, Shingen Yashida, also makes his first appearance, and while he doesn't make it out of the miniseries, his actions therein will have reverberations on Wolverine and Mariko for years to come.


Wolverine mentions the only family he knows is his father; later stories will make it clear that he shouldn't have any recollection of his actual father at this time, though with all the various memory implants we'll eventually learn he's been given, it's possible he believes he knows his father at this point. Similarly, Wolverine doesn't recognize the ninjas of the Hand, though later stories will reveal he's fought them before. 

Early in issue #1, Wolverine returns to New York after his Canadian vacation, at which point he attempts to contact Mariko, leading him to go to Japan. The events of "God Loves, Man Kills" are intended, I believe, to occur during that period of time.

A Work in Progress
Asano, whom Wolverine's calls one of his oldest friends and whose murder helps push him into action against Shingen, represents the first in a long tradition of characters who pop up in a Wolverine story, are proclaimed to be one of Wolverine's oldest/best/dearest/most important friends despite having never appeared before, and then are killed and/or never mentioned again once the story is over. 


Wolverine tracks a hunter to Josie's Bar in the Canadian Rockies, a setting/encounter that often gets ported over into other mediums. 


Wolverine's healing factor remains remarkably down-to-Earth throughout this story; he takes time healing, poisons affect him, and he can get drunk.

Miller draws Wolverine's mask as a cowl attached to his costume which can be pulled off and left to hang around his neck, the first such depiction of the mask in this manner (as opposed to the more helmet-like mask that Byrne and Smith have drawn).


I Love the 80s
It has to be noted that much of Claremont and Miller's depiction of Japan throughout this series is ridiculously stereotypical (not that they are alone in this depiction of Japan in comics or other mediums), with all the characters talking of honor and large swaths of story that, if you didn't know any better, could be assumed to be taking place in feudal, not 20th century, Japan. 

Claremontisms
Claremont dusts off and tweaks a favorite turn of phrase, describing Shingen as moving with a "grace which belies his age.


Young Love
Wolverine spends a good chunk of this series in a friends-with-benefits style relationship with Yukio (though she sincerely loves him), but ends the series engaged to be married to Mariko, leading in to the events of Uncanny X-Men #172-173.


The Best There is at What He Does
Though we've already encountered it, the first page of the first issue of this series constitutes the first usage, in terms of publication date, of Wolverine's catchphrase.

Teebore's Take
Though this series doesn't represent Wolverine's first time in the spotlight, it does serve as a benchmark for the character's rising popularity, as fans were clamoring enough for more Wolverine that Marvel decided to make him the star of arguably their first limited series. Its success, in part, led to Wolverine's popularity snowballing to the point where, today, he appears in approximately 629 different comic books each month. But we shouldn't hold that against this series, which in addition to being groundbreaking and historically significant remains a rollicking good read, as well as the definitive Wolverine story.

The "film noir meets Shogun" sensibility which informs Wolverine to this day begins in earnest here; Wolverine's past ties to Japan had been previously established, and Claremont had already toyed with the idea of Wolverine as the noble savage before, but all of that becomes codified in this series: the Wolverine we know today is more or less born in this series. Claremont eschews a third-person narrative voice throughout, instead telling much of the story through first person captions written in Wolverine's voice (a technique he also used in the contemporaneous X-Men #162, the solo Wolverine issue of the Brood saga). Not only will that voice become the predominant one used by Wolverine in the years to come, the technique itself will eventually come to dominate modern comics.

The story itself is tight and focused: this truly is a Wolverine solo series, written almost entirely from his perspective and with few supporting characters sharing the spotlight. Aside from Wolverine's claws, mentions of his healing ability, and the Hand ninjas, there is little to suggest this is even a superhero story. At its core, it's a story about a guy trying to overcome his worst instincts and win back his girl. While plenty of material herein will be mined almost to the point of caricature by later creators (the tough guy persona, the ironic connection to Japan, the preponderance of ninjas), it's important to try and not hold its success against what is, first and foremost, a well-written and magnificently-constructed story. 

Next Issue
Uncanny X-Men #172 has the X-Men arriving in Japan for Wolverine's wedding, while New Mutants #7 introduces us to Mr. T stand-in Axe. I pity the fool who doesn't like...he.

25 comments:

Matt said...

PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

I've only ever read this series maybe two times. I really should look through it again. The problem is, when I was young and stupid, I didn't really enjoy Frank Miller's artwork here. It wasn't as clean and polished as Byrne and Smith and even Cockrum. I have since come to appreciate Miller -- at least, the Miller of this vintage -- but while I've read all of his Daredevil stuff a few times, I've not gone back to this series.

As you note, we can't hold anything against this series even knowing what it would later spawn. No one could've foreseen at the time the explosive floodgate it would open. And when you think about it, at least under Jim Shooter, Marvel kept Wolverine in check for years after this. One more mini-series and occasional guest appearances were pretty much all we saw of him outside of the main Uncanny. It wasn't until Tom DeFalco took over that Wolverine's over-saturation began, with the ongoing solo series, the headlining serial in Marvel Comics Presents, and countless one-shots, limited series, and guest appearances. But at least he wasn't an Avenger! The character's ubiquity nowadays makes his DeFalco-era oversaturation look tame in comparison.

But anyway...

Matt said...

PART TWO IN A 2-PART COMMENT

"Asano ... represents the first in a long tradition of characters who pop up in a Wolverine story, are proclaimed to be one of Wolverine's oldest/best/dearest/most important friends despite having never appeared before, and then are killed and/or never mentioned again once the story is over."

It's very James Bond-ish, at least as far as the movies go. I've never read a Bond novel. But with the exception of Felix Leiter, Bond's on-screen allies were often killed off before the movie came to an end.

Also, did Wolverine ever find out that it was Yukio who killed Asano? I had completely forgotten about that.

"Wolverine tracks a hunter to Josie's Bar in the Canadian Rockies..."

I didn't know Josie had a franchise!

(Josie's is also the bar where Daredevil frequently gets into brawls -- introduced during Miller's run on the title.)

"Wolverine's healing factor remains remarkably down-to-Earth throughout this story; he takes time healing, poisons affect him, and he can get drunk."

I say this often, but a lot of folks -- not necessarily you -- seem to forget that Wolverine's healing factor was always pretty down-to-Earth, even after Claremont left the title, until he lost his adamantium skeleton in "Fatal Attractions" -- at which time we learned the healing factor had been fighting adamantium poisoning or something most of the time. It became turbocharged once the adamantium was gone. The problem is, after Wolverine got his adamantium back, everyone seemed to forget that his healing factor had been amped up, and so they kept writing it as if it had always been that strong.

Though I suppose we could chalk it up to Apocalypse improving the adamantium bonding process so that the healing factor no longer needed to focus on the "poisoning" issue. But even so, these days Wolverine is basically at comically Deadpool-like levels as far as his healing goes.

"It has to be noted that much of Claremont and Miller's depiction of Japan throughout this series is ridiculously stereotypical..."

I assume I'm not alone in that a great deal of my impressions of Japan were formed by stories like this, the afore-mentioned James Bond movies, and the like. Even though I've since learned otherwise, I still have a hard time believing Japan isn't like this! Same goes for other "exotic" locales in comics which are frequently presented in a very outdated and/or stereotypical light.

"Not only will that voice become the predominant one used by Wolverine in the years to come, the technique itself will eventually come to dominate modern comics."

Does anyone know where this technique appeared for the very first time? I'm really curious.

Michael said...

I'm sorry to do this, but --

When Katsuyori's assassins attack, Wolverine is forced into a berskerker rage to defeat them, horrifying Mariko, who had never scene that side of him.

scene = seen

Wolverine tracks a hunter to Josie's Bar in the Canadian Rockies, a setting/encounter that often gets ported over into other mediums.

mediums = media



This is probably my all-time favorite mini-series, so I am having a hard time commenting on the entire thing without resorting to flat-out gushing.

I will say this, though -- it is hard for me to imagine reading that at the time of its release. Not just because it was our of continuity for its time (published months before it was to actually take place in Marvel time), but because it is stylistically different from what was on stands at that time.

Claremont and Cockrum were off on their space epic. There playing in an entirely different genre than this story -- and visually, Cockrum's clean lines and bright colors couldn't have been a bigger departure from what we see here.

Reading it after the fact, I love these four issues. Honestly, this is my favorite mini of all time. But I imagine that I'd have hated it if I'd been reading it back in the early-80s.

Chris said...

I completely missed this when it came out and I still haven't read it. I didn't even bother trying to track issues down for a long due to scarcity and general Wolverine saturation burnout. My local public library has a copy of the trade, so perhaps it's time to read it.

Looking through Sept. '82 cover dates on Mike's Amazing World of Comics, I noticed the Hercules mini also began at the same time, and over at Dc the Tales of the Titans mini (one of my favs) was winding down.

MOCK! said...

Always been a favorite of mine. I like the "realistic" approach to Wolverine and his abilities during this time.

Once I started collecting in earnest, I found the first two issues on a local newsstand. Sold it during a dark time....recently reaquired individual issues.

One of the Twisted Toyfare Theater's had a somewhat humorous take on Wolverine's multiple monthly appearances.

MOCK! said...

Wolverine!

Blam said...


I miss the days when it was exciting — and not at all inevitable — for a group member, supporting character, or new would-be star to get his/her own miniseries.

Not yet at the height of his abilities, Miller's work is still remarkably strong, featuring some amazing panel/page layouts that make the most of white space and some wonderfully choreographed fights.

Well put.

I'm actually surprised at how meh — and sometimes just plain ugly — the art is to me now in terms of the rendering. The layouts are, like you say, really interesting; the white space is indeed unusual, especially for this era, where if there was any experimentation at all it tended to be within the grid structure rather than breaking it, and while the vertical panels are neat too it's the horizontal panels in battle scenes that really stand out to me. Even beyond the fairly iconic covers, what comes to mind when I think of this mini is those long, "widescreen" poses of Wolverine and his adversaries having run past one another in a kind of ninja or samurai joust, blood trailing each participant's weapon.

As striking as those last three covers are, the first one is probably the best known and the worst realized. Maybe it's a function of Miller's relative inexperience at this time, having an innate understanding of how to lay out a page but still being uneven in his details, or maybe he just didn't mesh all that well with Josef Rubinstein, but the cover to #1 is a great concept poorly executed (IMO).

Sometimes pencilers, especially those often used to inking themselves as most fledgling professionals are likely to be, produce finished art that looks more like theirs the less detail they put in — if the inker is on the minimalist side, anyway; look at how the most Simonson-like faces in X-Men #171 are the barely detailed ones in long shots. Rubenstein has a fairly strong hand, which is great in an inker/finisher if you need to save rough pencils (either kind of "rough" — loose or not so pretty), and I remember Mark Gruenwald or someone saying that he was chosen to ink everyone's work for The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to provide a somewhat unifying look to the diverse styles therein.

In fact Miller's Wolverine early in the miniseries resembles Cockrum's, and not in a bad way to my eyes, which may well be Rubinstein's influence.

One thing that I've always found curious about the art here is that Miller distinctly draws Wolverine's claws as a set of flat katana-like blades rather than the traditional curved cylinders tapering to a point. It's certainly a neat interpretation, and I think that it's been mimicked often (including by the Hugh Jackman film version), but it strikes me as perhaps just beyond the line of what's open to artistic interpretation because of the differences in how the kinds of claws would function. The housings on Wolverine's gloves suggest rounded girth, and when we finally saw his bone claws — I worked at a comics shop and briefly read the X-Men titles off the racks circa "Fatal Attractions" — they weren't flat at all; in fact, some of the gnarls had a diameter that seemed larger than even the traditional adamantium(-sheathed) claws could house.

Blam said...


Wolverine mentions the only family he knows is his father; later stories will make it clear that he shouldn't have any recollection of his actual father at this time, though with all the various memory implants we'll eventually learn he's been given, it's possible he believes he knows his father at this point.

I'm glad you said this for two reasons. The first is that the line jumped out at me, too, as totally wrong and I wondered if I was forgetting something. The second is that I enjoy your rationalization. 8^)

Wolverine tracks a hunter to Josie's Bar in the Canadian Rockies, a setting/encounter that often gets ported over into other mediums.

Do you mean that this is a familiar trope in the abstract, or that this particular scene is known in, say, the X-Men cartoon(s), or that Josie's Bar has been picked up by other creators as a sort of cross-continuity nexus like Grimjack's Munden's Bar? I'm not taking you to task for sloppy writing, mind you; I suspect that I'm just missing the reference.

Miller draws Wolverine's mask as a cowl attached to his costume which can be pulled off and left to hang around his neck

Hate! Pet peeve! Shibboleth!

the first page of the first issue of this series constitutes the first usage, in terms of publication date, of Wolverine's catchphrase

And I've blessedly read little enough X-Men / Wolverine stuff on the whole that, even though I realize that it's totally worthy of parody and in fact have seen some of the parody usage as well, I don't completely roll my eyes at it when it's used for real. Having actually been there at the time, as it were, probably helps.

Wolverine's past ties to Japan had been previously established, and Claremont had already toyed with the idea of Wolverine as the noble savage before, but all of that becomes codified in this series: the Wolverine we know today is more or less born

Nicely said.

Claremont eschews a third-person narrative voice throughout, instead telling much of the story through first person captions written in Wolverine's voice

I'd actually forgot that this was done, as you pointed out, in X-Men #162. The usage of it here really struck me as modern and, for lack of a better term, sophisticated — not exactly because that's how things are done now, in modern (or more modern) times, but rather because it stands out in contrast to the largely dated, arguably more juvenile thought balloons expected in stories from this vintage (if you see the hairs I'm splitting). I know that thought balloons have enjoyed some vocal defense in past comments here, and I'll be among the first to agree that first-person caption narration can be done exceedingly poorly; my sense is that when such captions are done poorly, however {coughBradMeltzercough}, it's due to them essentially aping the old usage of thought balloons in terms of all-too-convenient, frequently overlapping selected omniscience/insight. Yukio's and others' thought balloons stand out all the more, in a bad way, given that they shouldn't be "possible" due to Wolverine's caption narration. Which does admittedly point out a tricky aspect to such captions, namely that multiple POVs can't be employed in a story without multiple first-person narrations, something that can as noted quickly get out of hand.

I like how you wrap up your thoughts, and I agree most emphatically that this miniseries should not be blamed for later excesses that revisit its well. My problems with the later overexposure and confounding backstory (or backstories) of Wolverine are mostly in the abstract, based on things that I've heard or read about rather than read first-hand, which coupled with my having lived through this era likely makes it easy for me to still see Wolverine as the character he was/is in these stories.

Blam said...


@Matt: Even though I've since learned otherwise, I still have a hard time believing Japan isn't like this!

I had a Japanese girlfriend about 10 years after this mini came out. Part of me totally wanted her dad to be head of a yakuza clan or her brother to be a ninja. It was a fine consolation that we could sing the theme songs to what in English are known as Star Blazers and Speed Racer, each in our own language, to the same tune.

@Michael: mediums = media

Both are correct as plurals, actually.

@MOCK!: I like the "realistic" approach to Wolverine and his abilities during this time.

DITTO!

Teebore said...

@Matt: The character's ubiquity nowadays makes his DeFalco-era oversaturation look tame in comparison.

Sad but true.

It's very James Bond-ish, at least as far as the movies go.

Nice observation. I've never thought of it that way.

Also, did Wolverine ever find out that it was Yukio who killed Asano?

Yes, I believe so. Yukio tells him she saved Mariko to make up for it.

Josie's is also the bar where Daredevil frequently gets into brawls

I knew I recognized the name from somewhere, but couldn't place it...

The problem is, after Wolverine got his adamantium back, everyone seemed to forget that his healing factor had been amped up, and so they kept writing it as if it had always been that strong.

That is a point worth making.

Does anyone know where this technique appeared for the very first time?

I have no idea, and I feel like any guess I could make would feel ridiculously wrong.

@Michael: scene = seen/mediums = media

That's a typo/brain fart. I was taught that "mediums" is an acceptable plural, and I tend to use it in place of "media" since that word has loaded meaning these days that takes it further away from being simply the plural of "medium".

But I imagine that I'd have hated it if I'd been reading it back in the early-80s.

Good point. This definitely was groundbreaking, atypical stuff for the time, and without the benefit of hindsight, I could easily see being turned off by it initially.

@Chris: My local public library has a copy of the trade, so perhaps it's time to read it.

Definitely worth a read, especially for that price (nothing but time...). I can totally understand being burned out on Wolverine, but it is a solid little story nonetheless.

I noticed the Hercules mini also began at the same time

Ah yeah, I'd forgotten about that one. I wonder where it fits in the "first limited series" timeline?

Teebore said...

@Mock: One of the Twisted Toyfare Theater's had a somewhat humorous take on Wolverine's multiple monthly appearances.

Which was one that? I've read them all, but it's been ages, and I don't recall it.

@Blam: I miss the days when it was exciting — and not at all inevitable — for a group member, supporting character, or new would-be star to get his/her own miniseries.

Ditto.

what comes to mind when I think of this mini is those long, "widescreen" poses of Wolverine and his adversaries having run past one another in a kind of ninja or samurai joust, blood trailing each participant's weapon.

That's exactly the image that comes to mind when I think of this series.


In fact Miller's Wolverine early in the miniseries resembles Cockrum's, and not in a bad way to my eyes, which may well be Rubinstein's influence.


Huh. I'd never really noticed that before, but now that you mention it, I can't "unsee" it (not that it's a bad thing).

Miller distinctly draws Wolverine's claws as a set of flat katana-like blades rather than the traditional curved cylinders tapering to a point.

That's actually a pretty big deal, and something I probably should have pointed out. There's definitely a "flat claws vs. cylinder claws" thing that breaks out after this, with dueling depictions showing up all over the place, as you mention. The "flat" claws become the dominant interpretation, I think, but then the bone claws come along and throw all that out the window.

Do you mean that this is a familiar trope in the abstract, or that this particular scene is known in, say, the X-Men cartoon(s), or that Josie's Bar has been picked up by other creators as a sort of cross-continuity nexus like Grimjack's Munden's Bar?

The first one. Just the idea of Wolverine getting into a brawl in a rowdy, back woods, redneck-y bar is a familiar trope for the character (we saw it in the movie, for example).

I know that thought balloons have enjoyed some vocal defense in past comments here, and I'll be among the first to agree that first-person caption narration can be done exceedingly poorly

My only issue with thought balloons (and the lack thereof) in modern comics, is that too many creators/readers view them as "old-fashioned", from a time when comics were just goofy kids stuff, not the Serious Works of Art they are today. I think there's a time and place for both thought balloons and narrative captions; it just depends on the story, and one method shouldn't be universally banned from use.

Excellent thoughts on the use of narrative captions overall, too.

Blam said...


I read this in TPB form rather than the individual issues since those are harder to get to right now — which isn't all that worth mentioning except for a few small points.

One is that I'm pretty sure that the original TPB, from 1987, is among the earliest that Marvel published itself rather than through a mass-market book publisher like Fireside / Simon & Schuster (home to the Origins of Marvel Comics books, a handful of character-specific anthologies, and eventually a couple of dedicated storyline collections like that of Dark Phoenix saga). While there was an ISBN on the back, there's no proper indicia/copyright page, which the Library of Congress hates. Claremont's foreword is set in tiny type crammed to the margins on one page; Miller's afterword is likewise given its own page but has plenty of breathing room given its relative terseness. There aren't any design elements on the text pages, nor any other supplementary material, with just the covers, minus logos and other trade dress, offered in addition to the four-issue story. Marvel clearly wasn't used to this.

Another point is that the TPB's cover shows how much Miller's style changed in the 5 years since the mini was published, although really there was a huge difference just between his work as inked by Rubinstein on 1982's Wolverine and what he did himself, with Lynn Varley coloring, on his 1983 Ronin mini for DC. Logan's claws on the newer cover are not flat; Logan himself looks like one of the Mutant gang members in The Dark Knight and the scrum foreshadows similar shots in Sin City.

Which reminds me that Varley colored the story in Wolverine #4 after Glynis Wein doing the chores on #1-3. She has only a few credits per the GCD before this, so I wonder how that came about.

I passed the TPB along to my 13-year-old cousin Jack last night. He's only just getting into comics now, really, although I've given him a few over the years, mostly thanks to friends and the Marvel films. He's seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I figured that this mini would be a good primer for the next Wolverine movie since it apparently shows him in Japan — as well as just being good vintage stuff in its own right.

MOCK! said...

@Treebore: Which was one that? I've read them all, but it's been ages, and I don't recall it.

It is entitled "Up And Adamantium". I have it in Twisted Toyfare Theater Volume 7 with Indy and Skeletor on the cover...the table of contents claims it was in Toyfare #106.

Teebore said...

@Blam: Marvel clearly wasn't used to this.

Ha! Thanks for the rundown on the TPB. I've actually only ever read it that way (well, until I read the issues for this post). My cover matches the one you posted, and while I highly doubt my copy comes anywhere close to being a first edition, it is similarly bereft of any extra material. I wonder if, in later, more recent printings of the series, Marvel added any supplemental material?

@Mock: I have it in Twisted Toyfare Theater Volume 7 with Indy and Skeletor on the cover

Ah, even better! I can go look it up and refresh my memory. Thanks!

Matt said...

Teebore -- "I wonder if, in later, more recent printings of the series, Marvel added any supplemental material?"

In the Premiere Classic hardcover version from a few years ago, they actually included UXM #172 and 173!

Teebore said...

@Matt: In the Premiere Classic hardcover version from a few years ago, they actually included UXM #172 and 173!

That's pretty cool, actually.

Blam said...


@Teebore: Ha! Thanks for the rundown on the TPB.

John Hodgman stole his book title More Information Than You Require from my personal mission statement. 8^)

Since you guys are subscribed and obviously still willing to chime in on this thread...

My cousin Jack's interested in Deadpool, too, and I'd love to get some recommendations. (Of course Jack likes Deadpool and my 5-year-old nephew's fascinated by Venom, characters that stem from my '90s blind spot / aversion.) I read the first Deadpool mini at the comics shop where I worked when it came out, just because I was a fan of Mark Waid's, and I recall it being pretty danged good. The Joe Kelly ongoing was less my style, although I know I bought the issue where Deadpool time-travels back to Amazing Fantasy #15 because I'm also a fan of meta stuff like that. I like Gail Simone's writing, too, but not being aware of the larger context and knowing that it would frustrate me in a way that it actually might not frustrate a new reader I've never picked up her run. Jack's birthday's coming up and I know folks at my current local comics shop who are pretty good with recommendations, but I figure this is just as good a place to ask if there's one or two collections that are both good on their own merits and good entry points.

Matt said...

My Deadpool recommendations are:

- The Joe Kelly run, specifically up to issue #25. That's where the title was slated to be canceled, and the reast of Kelly's run really feels like he was making it up as he went along.

- The Gail Simone run, which is mostly self-contained, though it ends on a cliffhanger which requires the first and last story arcs of Agent X for resolution

- Cable & Deadpool: I personally rate this series higher than any other Deadpool material. It's very funny and has lots of crossover with the larger Marvel universe.

I didn't enjoy most of the more recent Deadpool material, up to the point where I gave up on modern Marvel entirely a few years ago. I did enjoy the Merc With a Mouth maxi-series, but depending upon your nephew's parents' sensibilities, it might be too "mature" (which is to say it's filled with tons of gratuitous cheesecake and zombie-related violence).

Also, for the record, I think Venom is a great character in his initial storylines, the ones by David Michelinie and drawn by McFarlane and Larsen. But around the time Bagley came on board, Marvel started to turn him into an anti-hero. And while I enjoyed his initial "Lethal Protector" mini-series on its own merits, the moral hoops they had to navigate Spider-Man through to get us there were a little disturbing.

Teebore said...

My Deadpool reading is much more scattered. I remember enjoying both of his original limited series, though I think both were tied, at least somewhat, to events in other titles.

Due to my previously-established avoidance of whimsy and overt humor in my genre fiction, I've never read any of Joe Kelly's series, so I can't back Matt's recommendation despite having heard nothing but good things about it.

I did read the Gail Simone run, and would recommend it, though I seem to recall it was perhaps a bit edgier in terms of content, for what that's worth. It also features manga-inspired art by Udon, which, aside from enjoying myself, would probably, if not appeal to, at least be familiar to your cousin, considering the prevalence of that style throughout pop culture these days.

I'll also second Matt's recommendation of Cable & Deadpool, which was a lot of fun (in a way that didn't turn me off) and featured more interesting and though-provoking ideas than you'd expect in a book staring Cable and Deadpool. The art was more workmanlike than exciting, but clean and mostly consistent. It does have strong ties to the events of the Marvel Universe at the time, so that may or may not be a turn off for your cousin.

But that's pretty much where my regular Deadpool reading leaves off, so I can't speak intelligently to the variety of series he's had since then.

Matt said...

Teebore -- "The art was more workmanlike than exciting, but clean and mostly consistent."

It started off with UDON, so it looked very similar to the Gail Simone stuff, but I think they only did the first story arc.

After that was Patrick Zircher, who I thought did a terrific job. Unfortunately he was so good that Marvel yanked him from C&DP to put him on a higher profile project (I think it was Iron Man, though I could be wrong).

Following that is when think it became truly workmanlike. I believe Ron Lim did a couple issues, but if I recall correctly, the main artist for the rest of the series was Reilly Brown, who, as you said, was clean and consistent if not overly dynamic.

One thing I noticed as I read C&DP was that Fabian Nicieza kind of pulled a Chris Claremont, starting off writing Deadpool more or less just as he had last left him, but then about halfway through the run it looked like he had actually gone back and read the Deadpool ongoing, as he suddenly began to work in some characters and concepts from that series. It was a little jarring, but I appreciated it.

Also, Blam -- I apologize; I accidentally referred to your cousin as your nephew. Sorry!

Teebore said...

@Matt: I believe Ron Lim did a couple issues, but if I recall correctly, the main artist for the rest of the series was Reilly Brown

Yeah, Reilly Brown was who I was thinking of. I'd forgotten about Udon and Zircher.

Blam said...


@Matt: Also, Blam -- I apologize; I accidentally referred to your cousin as your nephew. Sorry!

It's completely fine. We actually make the same kind of mistake in the family, sometimes deliberately, because it can be awkward to refer to multiple generations as cousins when you're trying to distinguish them (without being pedantic, anyway; I'm actually quite well-versed in what a second cousin once removed is). To at least one of my cousin's kids I am more-or-less officially Uncle Cousin Brian due to tongue-tripping that has stuck.

I appreciate the recommendations, fellas. Not to be too nasty, but I can't see myself intentionally giving anything drawn by Ron Lim to anyone I care about. As for the rest, I'm still not sure where to fall on the old/new and self-contained/Universe axes because I can see benefits in all directions; it would be a little easier if I were more familiar with this stuff, so that like the Wolverine TPB I could say, "Here's what it's like when I was younger" and back it up with the kind of knowledge that impresses him. 8^)

Pete said...

"But we shouldn't hold that against this series..." Quite right, as you and commenters state.
This point can get lost when discussing this series.
I believe the real "beginning of the end" was during the period leading up to early Image when Wolverine appearances were reaching saturation levels.
I've only read #1, and years ago: must try & read the rest.

Pete said...

"But we shouldn't hold that against this series..." Quite right, as you and commenters state.
This point can get lost when discussing this series.
I believe the real "beginning of the end" was during the period leading up to early Image when Wolverine appearances were reaching saturation levels.
I've only read #1, and years ago: must try & read the rest.

Teebore said...

@Pete: I believe the real "beginning of the end" was during the period leading up to early Image when Wolverine appearances were reaching saturation levels.

Yeah, right around the time of the revamping of the line, with the launch of the second volume of X-Men, seems like the time it really kicked into overdrive. He certainly had his own title before then, and the feature in Marvel Comics Presents, but his appearances just EXPLODED in the early 90s, and it's only gotten bigger since then.