Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Friday, September 26, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #8

"If It Ain't Broke...!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine tricks Mr. Fixit into further damaging General Coy's operation. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Buscema
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Your Tour Guide: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Mr. Fixit awakens in his hotel room to discover that Wolverine has replaced all his clothes with tattered purple pants. Later that evening, Wolverine is at the Princess Bar when Fixit busts in, looking for Patch to ask him about General Coy. Wolverine agrees to help Fixit locate the general, and takes him to a brothel run by Coy which is actually a clearing house for the slave trade. Once there, Wolverine manipulates Fixit into taking out the criminals on guard and freeing the enslaved women. The next evening, Fixit awakens to angrily discover the female companionship arranged by Patch was enjoyed by Bruce Banner while Fixit slept, then sets out again to find Coy.


Once again, Patch maneuvers Fixit to take out one of Coy's operations, this time a cocaine processing plant, which attracts the attention of General Coy himself. Patch introduces Fixit to Coy, but when Fixit learns of Coy's role as Madripoor's co-crimelord, he walks away, saying both he and his boss were lied to, as he doesn't do mob jobs. The next day, Fixit, now suspecting Patch's true identity, says goodbye to Patch as he boards an airplane, not realizing that Wolverine has tricked him into boarding an eastbound flight that takes him directly towards the rising sun and thus a transformation back to Bruce Banner. 

Firsts and Other Notables
The Hulk guest stars in this one again. And that's about it, in terms of notable things. 

A Work in Progress
It's suggested that Lindsay McCabe will be staying on as the new headline act at the Princess Bar, ensuring she and Jessica will be around as part of this series' supporting cast.

Wolverine's barely even trying to hide his identity in. I mean, he isn't even wearing the fedora that obscure his trademark hair chops. How can the (not mindless at this point) Hulk not recognize him? That's just Wolverine with one eye in shadows.


It's suggested Hulk does figure out Patch is Wolverine later in the issue, but only after Wolverine uses his claws out of Hulk's sight and Hulk recognizes the "snikt" sound effect.


I Love the 80s
At the end of the issue, Wolverine sees the Hulk off by walking him to the departure gate of his flight home, because that was still a thing you could do in 1989.


The Reference Section
Wolverine's narration goes right ahead and hangs a lampshade on it, directly comparing the Princes Bar in Madripoor to Rick's Bar in Casablanca, from the movie, Casablanca

Wolverine quotes an old army buddy, saying he loves it when a plan comes together, a reference to A-Team leader Hannibal Smith.


Teebore's Take
With that, the gang war storyline comes to a close. It's tempting to say it ran too long, but the odd turn it took last issue, seemingly wrapping up the conflict at the center of the story and bringing in the Hulk, shifted things enough that the entire narrative doesn't feel too drawn out. Besides, this issue is actually pretty fun, as it's essentially just Wolverine messing with the Hulk for 22 pages. Tricking him into further crippling Coy's operation is one thing; replacing all his luggage with torn purple pants is just being a dick (and hilarious). In the end, this whole story isn't the most original or complex of stories (I doubt I'll ever be compelled to read it again), but it does its job: it establishes a setting, status quo and supporting cast for a relatively new series. The biggest problem with it is that it wasn't the first story of the series. 

Next Issue
Next week, Havok is featured in Marvel Comics Presents #24-31, followed by New Mutants Annual #5 and the Havok/Wolverine: Meltdown limited series.

16 comments:

  1. Did Peter Davis do a follow-up to this issue? As much as I enjoy his writing, he does seem to be a bit prickly when other people write one of his characters and one-ups them in another title...and I wonder if Garth Ennis has seen this as well?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Mr. Fixit awakens in his hotel room to discover that Wolverine has replaced all his clothes with tattered purple pants."

    So this means that Logan has seen Hulk's junk? And where'd he find a pair of purple pants big enough to fit a guy that weighs over half a ton?

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can find everything in Madripoor, if you got the money, or people who owe you. Including purple pants.

    Fedora, though? I thought it was a cowboy hat that Wolverine usually wears. Or did Wolverine wear fedora also before it got mainstream... for hipsters to wear trilbys which too many people confuse for fedora, the elegant hat for an adventurous gentleman?

    ReplyDelete

  4. I enjoyed this. Even though we didn't actually get the matching-suits buddy image on the cover in the story itself — "Lo, There Shall Come a Pair of Nattily Dressed Undercover Antiheroes Whom You Cannot Believe Nobody Recognizes!"

    Great art. Buscema inking himself. Just some gorgeous figurework.

    I'm happy to see Wolverine setting out to handicap Coy's slave trade already. Last issue it bugged me that he would settle for basically splitting up the tolerable vs. utterly immoral vices between Tyger and Coy, then just leave Coy alone, given how complicit he was in the whole arrangement and how seriously he seems to take his protection of Madripoor's Lowtown. I didn't raise the subject out of hope it would be addressed in the series and I'd rather find out by reading than by getting spoiled by a reply in the comments; while spoilers aren't a big deal, this being a retrospective of stuff I've either read or, by now, I haven't read but had no particular intention of ever reading, all things being equal my preference is to let the stories unfold themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't remember this story, but I love the idea of Wolverine playing Bugs Bunny to the Hulk's Daffy Duck. It's just crazy enough to work, and feels like Claremont channeling his inner Peter David a bit.

    That said, I have a hard time believing the always loyal-to-Betty (even though she thinks he's dead and has moved on by this point) Bruce Banner would spend the day banging hookers in the Hulk's hotel room. I'm going to chalk that up to the Hulk's imagination, as implied in the scene you posted.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @wwk5d: Did Peter Davis do a follow-up to this issue?

    Probably? I honestly have no idea, but you're right that he usually likes to weigh in on these things.

    @FuryofFirestorm: So this means that Logan has seen Hulk's junk?

    I don't believe Logan put the pants on him - Hulk is wearing a towel/sheet around his waist when he wakes up and discovers the purple pants. So presumably, Wolverine just snuck in, took out the regular clothes and replaced them with the pants.

    @Teemu: Fedora, though? I thought it was a cowboy hat that Wolverine usually wears.

    Usually, yes, but the hat he's been wearing in this series, while in Madripoor disguised as Patch, seems more like a fedora than the traditional cowboy hat.

    So I think Wolverine, hanging out in his denim tuxedo for a night on the town=cowboy hat.

    But Wolverine, doing the Bogart thing as Patch in Madripoor=fedora.

    @Blam: I'm happy to see Wolverine setting out to handicap Coy's slave trade already.

    Me too. Like you, I withheld comment on it last issue, hoping it would get addressed eventually (and, having not read these issues before, not knowing for sure whether it would).

    @Matt: It's just crazy enough to work, and feels like Claremont channeling his inner Peter David a bit.

    We've talked plenty about Claremont's efforts towards humor being very hit or miss, but this definitely works. I hadn't thought of it in the Looney Tunes terms before, but that's clearly what he's channeling.

    I'm going to chalk that up to the Hulk's imagination, as implied in the scene you posted.

    Yeah, it's never implicitly stated what, if anything, Banner did with the women. Despite Fixit's imagination, they could have just been giving him (non-sexual) massages and a bit of company.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I once saw this document about Jean "Moebius" Giraud (associated with the TV showing of the movie Fifth element for which he planned the visual image) where the master himself complained about the American superhero comics for the men having no cocks and the women having no pussies. I have to say he may be onto something if we are straight-facely expected to assume that Bruce Banner had three hookers in his hotel room only for a game of bridge, while Betty was being massaged by Ramoón elsewhere.

    Shutting out his emotions like that prolongedly could have severe consequences, you know.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I read all the Peter David Hulks, and he never retaliated for this issue. I don't think he had a beef with Claremont, and I don't remember him "getting back" at other stories until the '90s.

    So, this issue is fun and entertaining. The pants gag is great. The problems I had with Claremont's portrayal of the Hulk are relatively minor, but he didn't write the grey Hulk as clever. Although he seemed to have average intelligence, the grey Hulk was regularly described as "crafty." Indeed, he defeated the powered-up Thing, Blob, Abomination, and Ms. Marvel through creative uses of his strength rather than smashing.

    Claremont makes him a patsy. While not inconceivable, I doubt the grey Hulk would allow himself to be made a fool of. The punch at the end was satisfying, though.

    Teemu: nerd points for remembering Ramon!

    - Mike Loughlin

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm late to the party so maybe the discussion of this issue is over. If so, curses.

    But ... something about this story never made sense to me: What was "the Don" actually trying to accomplish? At the end, Coy tells the Hulk, "The Don sent you here to help me, not cripple my operation!"

    The Hulk replies with "From what you're tellin' me, the Don lied."

    And indeed if we go back to issue 7, we find the Don saying that he just wants Fixit to go to Madripoor to see what his business partner (Coy) is up to. "Find out what the score is." Later in issue 7, Karma seems to confirm this, telling Patch that Fixit is an enforcer sent to f*ck up her Uncle.

    So ... I don't get it. I assume the guys who attacked the Hulk in issue 7 worked for Coy. But why did Coy send them if he thought Fixit was there to help him? And why did Karma think the opposite of what her uncle thought? Didn't she only hear about Fixit from him?

    Is it just me? I can't parse it out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I read all the Peter David Hulks, and he never retaliated for this issue. I don't think he had a beef with Claremont, and I don't remember him "getting back" at other stories until the '90s."

    That's my recollection as well. The Peter David of the 80s seems to have been a much more easy-going chap. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm way too late to the party but for posterity - the cover is an obvious homage to the movie poster for the 1988 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito comedy "Twins". That image was ubiquitous back then.

    This issue was one of the first American comics I ever picked up. I still think it holds up pretty well.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Huey: I'm way too late to the party but for posterity - the cover is an obvious homage to the movie poster for the 1988 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito comedy "Twins". That image was ubiquitous back then.

    That's a good point. I think it was ubiquitous I didn't even consciously notice it, but it definitely deserves a call out.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I guess these means nobody has answers to my questions about the plot.

    Alas. :(

    ReplyDelete
  14. @Jason: I guess these means nobody has answers to my questions about the plot.

    It's definitely unclear. I think it works a little better if we don't assume the thugs at the airport were sent by Coy (the Marvel Index suggests they were not), but were instead, I dunno, random thugs?

    So the idea then, I think, is that the Don sends Fixit to check in on Coy, not telling him he's a mobster. The Don then tells Coy he's sending someone to help him, even though he's really sending Fixit to assess the situation, hoping to motivate Coy into stepping things up, something Karma realizes but Coy doesn't.

    Fixit gets there and Wolverine uses him to mess up Coy, Coy gets mad because he thought Fixit was supposed to help him, Fixit gets mad because the Don lied about Coy not being a bad mobster guy.

    Toss out the notion that the airport thugs were sent by Coy and squint a little, and it almost all works.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Cool. Thanks for getting into it even though you're two issues past this one! I appreciate it.

    I think everything you said does make sense ... Even the random thugs, I'll buy ... except ...

    ... What was the Don expecting Fixit to find when he investigated Coy? He knew that Fixit and Berengetti were "Straight arrow" guys. What's the best case scenario for the Don? He knew from his reputation that Fixit was a formidable dude, and he knew he was a "good guy," so it seems strange to point him like a bullet towards Coy for any reason, if they're allies.

    I dunno. I have no real problem with the Patch disguise -- I can accept that as a given for whatever reason -- but these other logic flaws in these early Claremont Wolverine stories bug me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, I absolutely *loved* this issue! Claremont's gags hit the mark every time, and the way he plays Logan and the Huk off each other suggests they might've made a good 'Odd Couple' version of DC's World Finest.

    John Buscema inking himself brings out the master we remember from the 60s.

    Overall, the best issue yet.

    ReplyDelete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Am mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!