Friday, October 17, 2014
X-amining Wolverine #9
In a Nutshell
In a flashback story, Wolverine stalks a group of mercenaries.
Writer: Peter David
Art: Gene Colan
Inker: Al Williamson
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Mark Chiarello
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
In the past, a group of mercenaries, on the run from Wolverine, rent a cabin, but he tracks them down, killing one of them then disappearing into the night. One of the remaining mercenaries, Rollins, takes first watch. As another merc, Malone, sleeps, he dreams of when this first started, back in Iraq. He wakes with a start to find Rollins dead. Malone, along with the remaining mercs Bruno and Needle, head out into the woods, recalling their job in Iraq, in which they helped a group of militants take over the American embassy, and how Malone tormented one of the female hostages until special forces retook the embassy and they fled. They suddenly realize Wolverine was amongst the operatives that freed the hostages, an operation which ended five years ago tomorrow.
Reaching the river, they steal a canoe and head downstream, but Wolverine follows and kills Needle. Bruno and Malone reach shore, but Bruno turns on Malone, offering to kill him if Wolverine lets Bruno live. But Malone kills Bruno instead and is confronted by Wolverine. He tells him the woman he tormented in Iraq was a Canadian nun, whom Wolverine promised to avenge. Refusing to give him the satisfaction, Malone kills himself before Wolverine can do it, but Wolverine considers that good enough. In the present, on the anniversary of the nuns death, Wolverine remembers his vengeance, and tells the waitress to bring him another drink, as it looks to be a long night.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is written by Peter David, who in addition to currently writing Incredible Hulk and eventually taking over X-Factor, will shortly write a multi-part story for this series. Art comes from Gene Colan, arguably best known for his work on Marvel's Tomb of Dracula series, as well as lengthy runs on Captain America and Daredevil.
A Work in Progress
Wolverine appears in the main part of this story, set in the past, in his old blue and yellow costume.
The Best There is at What He Does
In one of those "badass action movie" moments, Malone tells Wolverine he can't kill him yet, because the anniversary of his attack isn't until tomorrow. To which Wolverine responds that he's forgetting the time difference; in Iraq, it's already tomorrow.
Pun with Peter!
Back in the present at the end of the issue, Wolverine says he's remembering old friends and "X-Friends", but the waitress of course assumes he means "ex-friends".
When I first began considering whether or not I'd cover Wolverine, this is the exact kind of issue that gave me pause: the standalone fill-in/inventory story which doesn't add anything to the character or move the overall narrative along, usually featuring, as either a villain or supporting character, a heretofore unknown individual who we're nonetheless told is super-significant to the title character. Every series has issues like that, of course, but it's always seemed like Wolverine gets saddled with more than his fair share, and I worried that I'd never have enough to say about them to fill this space.
With issue #9, we hit the first such issue of Wolverine, but it's actually not all that bad. It is, of course, inconsequential to the overall narrative of the series or the X-Men books as a whole, and does little to advance Wolverine's character, but Peter David at least shakes things up by essentially making the villains the protagonists of the story, casting Wolverine, glimpsed briefly and only in part for most of the story, as the antagonist. This gives the whole thing a kind of stalker movie vibe, with Wolverine operating as a kind of righteous Jason Voorhees, that suits Gene Colan's atmospheric pencils well. Completely non-essential, but not without its charms.
Of course, now that I've burned through my "I was worried about writing up the standalone stories" spiel, I'm dreading writing about the next one even more...
Next week, Excalibur encounters mayhem in the Mojoverse in Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem, followed by the final "Atlantis Attacks" annual, X-Factor Annual #4.