Friday, July 18, 2014
X-amining Wolverine #3
In a Nutshell
Lindsay & Silver Samurai work to free Wolverine from the Black Blade.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
As Lindsay and Silver Samurai watch, Wolverine, possessed by the Black Blade, escapes into a burning building with Jessica Drew, leading Silver Samurai to believe that Wolverine intends to sacrifice her. The pair goes to the Princess Bar, where O'Donnell is holding the captive Black Blade cultists. In order to learn where the sacrifice will take place, Lindsay tricks the captives into believing she's tortured and killed one of them. Together, the three head out to an old temple in the jungle outside the city. Leaving O'Donnell outside to deal with the authorities should they fail, Lindsay and Silver Samurai enter the temple.
As Wolverine begins the ritual, Lindsay shoots him in the head, seemingly killing him. Lindsay then rushes to free Jessica as Silver Samurai fights the cultists, but a still-possessed Wolverine rises and attacks her. Silver Samurai intervenes, and the pair battle. During the course of the fight, Wolverine manages to shake the influence of the Black Blade, tossing it aside just as he's about to kill Jessica and Lindsay. Silver Samurai retrieves the blade, but isn't possessed, believing himself to be the warrior fated to be the blade's master. He leaves with the weapon, while Wolverine, Lindsay and Jessica return to the city to celebrate their victory.
Firsts and Other Notables
O'Donnell, the owner of the Princess Bar from the Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine serial, appears in this series for the first time, and helps Silver Samurai and Lindsay rescue Jessica and Wolverine. It's said that he's taken on a silent partner in running the bar; I believe this will eventually be revealed to be Wolverine.
Police Chief Tai, though unnamed this issue, appears for the first time; he'll become part of the book's supporting cast when in Madripoor.
The issue ends with Silver Samurai taking ownership of the Black Blade, able to withstand its influence. This is the last we'll see or hear of the blade.
Kevin Nowlan provides the back cover illustration.
The Chronology Corner
Between this issue and the next, Wolverine appears in X-Men #232-234, X-Men Annual #12, X-Men #235-238, "Inferno" and Punisher War Journal #6-7.
A Work in Progress
We see Silver Samurai without his armor for what I think is the first time. Though he's still humorously wearing a little silver mask.
The possessed Wolverine appears sans patch, making it even harder to believe that neither Silver Samurai nor Lindsay recognize him (not that the patch is any great shakes as a disguise).
Wolverine draws his claws this issue, prepared to take out Silver Samurai if need be, but keeps them hidden from view.
I Love the 80s
Lindsay says the temple where Wolverine is prepared to perform the ritual execution of Jessica Drew is very Indy Jones.
Later, she displays military knowledge she learned from working on Tour of Duty.
As the first story arc of Wolverine's solo title comes to a close, it's clear that while Claremont is keeping the noirish/adventure serial tone that so characterized earlier Wolverine solo stories, he's continuing to do different and unexpected things with the book's protagonist. Already, the main character hasn't been called by the name he shares with his book's title within the pages themselves, and he's gone entire issues without using his trademark claws. Here, thanks to the MacGuffin that is the Black Blade, Claremont positions Wolverine as the chief antagonist in the climax of his very first story, leaving it to guest stars Lindsay McCabe and Silver Samurai to stop the book's protagonist from murdering Jessica Drew.
While this initial arc drops the new series in thoroughly average territory (nothing here is bad, but it's definitely more "enjoyable yet routine" than "must-read" at this point), it also makes it clear that though Claremont can no longer ignore the character's burgeoning popularity (or the desires of his Editor-in-Chief) such that he's writing a solo book for Wolverine, he still has enough clout to write the book in a manner he finds interesting, consistent with the somewhat atypical status quo of X-Men at the time and well outside the usual structure and story beats of a traditional solo hero book. And that, in and of itself, is rather fascinating.
We go back to "Inferno" with Madelyne confronting Mr. Sinister in Uncanny X-Men #241, Illyana struggling with her dark side in New Mutants #72 and Cyclops reuniting with his wife in X-Factor #37.