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Friday, June 27, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #2

"Possession is the Law"
December 1988

In a Nutshell
Wolverine fights Silver Samurai for the Black Blade. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine, disguised as Patch, joins Lindsay McCabe at a hotel in Lowtown to meet Jessica Drew. As Lindsay remains at the bar, Wolverine searches the hotel, following a trail to a roomful of corpses and Silver Samurai, who is seeking the Black Blade himself. They fight, with Wolverine refusing to use his claws in order to keep his identity a secret, until they are interrupted by Jessica, who has been possessed by the Black Blade. She attacks both Wolverine and Silver Samurai as Lindsay helps evacuate the bar. Wolverine brings the hotel down, and Lindsay pulls Silver Samurai from the wreckage as Wolverine chases after Jessica.


The two fight their way across Madripoor rooftops, and eventually Wolverine manages to wrest the Black Blade from Jessica. The mystical weapon immediately recognizes the power of Wolverine, and Jessica returns to normal as the blade possesses Wolverine. Below, Silver Samurai and Lindsay arrive, just as Wolverine appears carrying the unconscious Jessica and the Black Blade, declaring that at long last, the Black Blade has found a worthy master.   

Firsts and Other Notables
Wolverine appears as Patch wearing an eye patch for the first time (though his ridiculous hair spikes still remain, somewhat dulling the effect of his disguise).


Silver Samurai pops up, the first member of Wolverine's established Rogues Gallery to appear in his regular series.


Jessica Drew, the former Spider-Woman (who will eventually become Spider-Woman again), with whom the X-Men stayed while in San Fransisco circa X-Men #202-206, appears in this issue, having been possessed by the Black Blade. She is freed when the blade takes control of Wolverine.


Buscema is inked by Klaus Janson this issue, making the series look and feel even more like the Marvel Comics Presents serial. Bill Sienkiewicz provides the back cover illustration. 

A Work in Progress
Wolverine notes that Silver Samurai believes his sword could cut through Wolverine's claws.


We learn more about the Black Blade this issue, including the whole bit about it being a possessed weapon that can take control of those who wield it.


Helping pull Silver Samurai from the wreckage, Lindsay references a past encounter between the two from Spider-Woman


I Love the 80s
Lindsay and the hotel bartender, who turns out to be from New Jersey, speak of Long Island Ice Teas as though they're some local, highly secret recipe. Maybe it wasn't as ubiqitious a drink back in '88 as it is now?


Teebore's Take
This is the first occurrence of something I fear will be far too common while reviewing this series: an issue about which there isn't much to say. The Saturday morning adventure serial vibe begun in the Marvel Comics Presents continues, as does the noir-ish vibe carried over from the Miller limited series. Silver Samurai's appearance marks the beginning of the integration of established Wolverine villains into the series. The plot advances, as the Black Blade makes it's first appearance, and with it comes a possessed Jessica Drew and one of Claremont's favorite tropes (mind control). Wolverine continues to try and hide his identity, which manages to be both interesting and a little boring at the same time (punching with fist knives > regular punching). That's about it. I suppose it's enough.

Next Issue
Uncanny X-Men #239 kicks off "Inferno", New Mutants #70 brings the Spyder story to a close, and X-Factor #35 returns Cyclops to his childhood orphanage.

10 comments:


  1. // punching with fist knives > regular punching //

    Ha! True enough — but the pulpy feel is enough for me, even with Logan's self-imposed handicap.

    Were I scanning this on the racks as a kid I'd almost certainly have dismissed it as not superheroey enough to care for. From my vantage point now, I find it a pretty good issue; I'm honestly looking forward to reading at least as long as this vibe is maintained, although I understand that while the series has little connection to X-Men history you might find yourself without much to say.

    Sigh... I'll give him the hat, I guess, but just wearing an eyepatch with all that unmistakable Wolverine hair and attitude is ridiculous. Lindsay calls him "Patch" (with the quotes, according to the dialogue), so I'd like to think that she was onto Logan and just humoring him, especially when a panel later she says "I'm coming with you, Bub."

    Lindsay and Belle finding out that they're from neighboring high schools in Massapequa — New York, not New Jersey — feels like a Claremontism to me, the way it's played out and given his personal geography.

    Buscema and Williamson is a good pairing, but I might like Buscema and Janson better.

    That Sienkiewicz pin-up has Logan wearing a First Flight T-shirt. Get the reference! 8^)

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  2. "Wolverine appears as Patch wearing an eye patch for the first time (though his ridiculous hair spikes still remain, somewhat dulling the effect of his disguise)."

    I'm confused. He wrote the patch in Wolverine #1 as well.

    What am I missing?

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  3. So, this is the issue that brings up some questions for me. Maybe someone can explain it.

    Basically anyone who touches the Black Blade gets possessed. Jessica and Lindsay were hired by Mariko to be the couriers to move it from America to ... Madripoor? (Were they going to meet other couriers to take it the rest of the way to Japan? Otherwise, why did Mariko want it taken to Madripoor?)

    Also, so Mariko and her clan are apparently the rightful "owners," so to speak, of the sword? Alright, fine, but how does this thing ever get moved anywhere, if you can't touch it without getting possessed? Where in America had it been hiding?

    Even if we presume that there is a mechanism for touching the sword without getting possessed (some kind of special case) ... well, then how did Jessica ever get possessed?

    In the first issue, Kojima seems aware that the Black Blade is capable of this ... and he worked for Mariko, so ... Mariko also knows this, right? So why did she put these American couriers in danger by having them grab it?

    I"m also confused by the whole mixup last issue with Lindsay McCabe arriving in Madripoor and being confused by both Logan and the Cult as the real courier. Was she deliberately sent there as a decoy? It seems unlikely since McCabe last issue was completely surprised that there were any evil forces who were after the sword.

    Was Lindsay just coming along so that she and Jessica could have a fun vacation together in an exotic place? (That would seem to be the case, since the two are still hanging around Madripoor seeing the sights in issue 4, after their Black Blade job has concluded.) But then why didn't they arrive together on the same flight, on the same day? Again, it could have been to keep Lindsay out of danger, but they didn't think there WAS danger.

    Also, I guess it's just a typical Claremont coincidence that of all the people in America Mariko could have hired, she ended up hiring Spider-Woman. Maybe that's not a coincidence, as the Silver Samurai might have told Mariko about her at some point ... ? I guess why it bothers me is that it is played as coincidence when it didn't have to be.

    It seems like they could have cleared all this up by saying that Mariko knew that Harada wanted the sword so she hired Spider-Woman because she knew that that was someone who could handle Kenuchio if he showed up. And it could also explain why Lindsay traveled separately from Jessica (to keep her out of danger from the Samurai) but was still surprised by the existence of the Cult.

    But none of that explains how anyone was supposed to act as "courier" for something that can't be touched.

    Anyway. That's my rant. If someone can tell me why I'm all wrong and this arc makes perfect sense, I'd be grateful!

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  4. Keep in mind that we only see people get possessed when they actually touch the sword-i.e. not a case containing it. As for how Jessica got possessed, maybe she was attacked by the Cult goons and it fell out of the case?

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  5. I wonder how many people saw the cover and thought to themselves "Awesome, Wolverine and Silver Samurai slashing the crap out of each other, like that time he fought Sabertooth!". Then picked up the issue and thought "The fuck?"

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  6. @wwk5d: // I wonder how many people saw the cover and thought to themselves "Awesome, Wolverine and Silver Samurai slashing the crap out of each other, like that time he fought Sabertooth!". //

    Good point. And until now I hadn't explicitly realized that the entire premise of the new ongoing solo Wolverine series when it launched was that he can't be Wolverine. It's a good thing his unmasked look was at least as iconic as his X-Men outfit, and that Claremont had proven that the character worked so well outside the usual X-Men setting, because on paper it's a tricky sell: "Sure, Wolverine solo adventures, great idea. Just as long as he doesn't wear his costume or pop his claws in front of people or interact with the team or, y'know, let anyone realize that he's Wolverine."

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  7. "Keep in mind that we only see people get possessed when they actually touch the sword-i.e. not a case containing it. As for how Jessica got possessed, maybe she was attacked by the Cult goons and it fell out of the case? "

    How did anyone get it into the case, and what was the plan for getting it out?

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  8. @Blam: Lindsay calls him "Patch" (with the quotes, according to the dialogue), so I'd like to think that she was onto Logan and just humoring him, especially when a panel later she says "I'm coming with you, Bub."

    I missed the quotes in Lindsay's dialogue - that's pretty great. I'm pretty sure a later issue reveals they are, indeed, humoring him, which makes those quotes even better.

    That Sienkiewicz pin-up has Logan wearing a First Flight T-shirt.

    Ah, yeah, I meant to point that out. Wonder if Sienkiewicz added that himself, or Claremont asked him to? :)

    @Jason: I'm confused. He wrote the patch in Wolverine #1 as well.

    What am I missing?


    You're right, I'm wrong; I had it in my head that he didn't wear the patch in issue #1, because he spent most of it with the weird nylon-thing over his eyes. But looking back, yeah, he clearly had it on while in his "civilian" guise as he tracked Lindsay.

    But none of that explains how anyone was supposed to act as "courier" for something that can't be touched.

    I have many of the same questions about this story that you do, but, having never read it, I assumed they'd be answered in the course of the story. Your questions lead me to believe that's not the case.

    Some of your questions can probably be chalked up to the MacGuffin nature of the sword - it doesn't really matter to the story why it's being moved now, for example, just that it is - but some of them legitimately should be answered (like how does one safely transfer a demonic sword, and how was it able to possess Jessica if those safeguards were in place, is there any reason beyond sheer coincidence that Jessica was hired to be the courier, etc).

    @wwk5d: I wonder how many people saw the cover and thought to themselves "Awesome, Wolverine and Silver Samurai slashing the crap out of each other, like that time he fought Sabertooth!". Then picked up the issue and thought "The fuck?"

    Your comment and Blam's response reminded me that I meant to mention all that at some point - that while Claremont deserves credit for working the rather unique status quo of the X-Men at the time into the Wolverine solo series, yeesh, was this a bad time for Wolverine to launch a solo series, considering those same circumstances.

    The end result is, as you point out, a series that can't quite be what a lot of people picking it up probably expected it to be, at least not without also completely undermining the X-Men status quo.

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  9. I'm almost positive I've seen a Claremont interview referenced somewhere that said keeping Logan as not-Wolveriney as possible was part of the concept of the series, and why he agreed to do it. This way he could limit the over-exposure of the character as much as possible, and tell different sorts of stories.

    Hi, longtime blog fan BTW, though I rarely comment for some reason. Probably because I'm always playing catchup.

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