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Friday, April 10, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #22

"Outburst"
March 1990

In a Nutshell 
Caridad transforms himself into Spore. 

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Breakdown Artist: John Byrne
Finishing Artist: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine is tortured on orders from Caridad, then returned to his cell, as Caridad fulfills his promise and reunites Sister Salvation with their son Palo, serving as a solider in his army. Wolverine, sharing his cell with Roughouse, worries what will happen if Caridad proceeds with his plan to infect someone with the tainted cocaine and Spore is freed. Caridad is still insistent on creating a superhero for Tierra Verde, and plans to use the cocaine on his son. Meanwhile, Wolverine urges Roughouse to break free of his chains, and when he hears Sister Salvation cry out, he does so, then frees Wolverine and they set out to find Sister Salvation and stop Caridad. However, despite his mother's objections, Palo is willing to receive the treatment, hoping to make his father proud and confidant his mother's healing abilities will keep him safe.


But as Geist prepares to inject him, Wolverine and Roughouse burst into the room. Wolverine deflects the injection darts as Giest fires, and though one of them hits Palo, most go into Caridad. Giest flees as La Bandera suddenly attacks the compound, leading the political prisoners and the native population she befriended in the jungle, but Caridad picks up the injection gun and doses himself more, determined to become a superhero. Instead, Spore emerges and attacks first La Bandera and then, after he distracts the creature, Wolverine, who is quickly smothered in Spore's bulk.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue seems to suggest that Roughouse is not Asgardian, as he talks about being beat by his father and getting scars as a child, and is in general presenting as a more common thug who grew up hard and became a heavy as a result, though nothing directly contradicts the idea that he's Asgardian (which remains the official line), as it could have been an Asgardian father attacking him.


Spore appears for the first time in the, uh, flesh, as Caridad willingly injects himself with the tainted drug, allowing Spore to take over his body.


A Work in Progress
Wolverine flashes back to the events of his first limited series, mentioning Mariko in this series for the first time in a long time.


Geist's whole shaving bit has developed to the point where it's a clearly a weirdo obsession with him, as he's now bringing it up unsolicited ("What wants a shave? Anyone want a shave? You know what I could go for? A good shaving") and Caridad is calling him on it.


Roughouse says he won't hurt anyone again, his violent tendencies having been healed by Sister Salvation.


Sister Salvation says she can only heal one person at time, choosing to heal her son (hit with one dart) instead of Caridad.


Teebore's Take
We're firmly in the territory of diminishing returns with this story at this point, which seems, as of this issue, that it's probably at least one too long. This is the story's penultimate chapter, and as such, it's chiefly concerned with moving the players into place for the finale next issue. Penultimate chapters can be good on their own ("The Dark Phoenix Saga" has one of the all time great ones), increasing the tension and piling on events in the race to the climax, but often, they feel like water-treading exercises, designed to kill some time before the big finale in the next issue, and that's what this feels like.

It doesn't help that the main plot of this issue involves the Caridad family, as we finally meet the son of Caridad and Sister Salvation, somewhat cleverly being hidden in plain sight by Caridad as a grunt in his military. The reunion with her son is what has driven Sister Salvation throughout the story, notably last issue when she betrayed Wolverine and Roughouse, so this should be a big deal, but it's really not. Even without the benefit of hindsight, it seems pretty clear that the Caridad family isn't long for the narrative, and it's simply hard to care too much about characters that won't make another appearance after the story concludes, especially when they're taking center stage while the character we do care gets into place to do something cool in the next issue.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #260, New Mutants #88 and X-Factor #53.

Collected Editions

26 comments:

  1. it's simply hard to care too much about characters that won't make another appearance after the story concludes, especially when they're taking center stage while the character we do care gets into place to do something cool in the next issue.

    Bring Teebore back to us, Liefeld!

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  2. I can't hold it in anymore, I have to say something...

    ...these past few Wolverine covers have been absolutely dire. If I saw them on a shelf I wouldn't even give them a second glance. They're just so... uninteresting!

    21's cover is probably the worst of the bunch; it tells you nothing about what's inside.

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  3. I kind of like the covers.

    Though I do agree with Teebore, this storyline could have been a bit better had they trimmed off an issue or 2. It's still a good story overall, and is good enough to make me wish this creative team had struck around a bit longer.

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  4. ♪ Sporrre cocaine
    They wrote another issue about you ♪

    While the talk of his father confuses things even further, Roughouse's speech pattern has always been at odds with Asgardian heritage — and it can't just be something he put on to effect a certain persona on Earth because he's clearly unguarded when talking to Logan.

    Territory of Diminishing Returns is my new band name. It also seems to be a sentiment applicable to the extended storylines in every one of the satellite X-Men titles during this period.

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  5. @Blam: Morrison was obviously reading this and Byrne's Avengers Avengers West Coast at the time as this is where both Sublime and Kick begin as concepts.

    Okay more theorising for you: Which parts of Asgard do Roughhouse and Bloodsport come from?

    And what do I call you: ToDR or Crushing Mole? I'm confused;)

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  6. Bloodsport is a draugr and thusly someone originally from Midgard* who died ungloriously enough to become an vampire-like creature. He may really have been a sawbone on Frank Drake's fleet (no, the other one, not Borderline Investigation Services), a seaman drowning fits the bill as mythologics go, and with enough Scandinavian blood in him and religious affinations to go with it to give the dips on him to Hela, who chose to play a cruel joke on him and release him from Hel as draugr. Then he met Roughouse somewhere along the path.

    His origin story as told by him, with it having been instead a dark magic medicine MAN who he killed immediately after making him undead, is a lie to cover that in reality he totally is Hela's bitch.

    *Earth

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  7. @Si: .these past few Wolverine covers have been absolutely dire.

    I don't know that I'd call them dire, but they're certainly not terribly exciting. I do at least appreciate they're not just an assortment of Wolverine pin-up images.

    @wwk5d: It's still a good story overall, and is good enough to make me wish this creative team had struck around a bit longer.

    Yeah, I'm still in that boat, even though this issue was kinda meh. Hopefully it finishes out strong.

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  8. @Teemu: Good play suggestion BS is a draugr. But he was a crew member on the Serpent's Crown;)

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  9. This issue isn't the first mention of Mariko in a long time. She was just mentioned in Issue 17, part one of this storyline. The narration here, "Her father showed her the animal in me," alludes to the flashback from issue 17.

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  10. @Nathan, oh he was, was he? In what position, the rear lookout? ;)

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  11. @Teemu: Depends if more bloodsport is likely at the stern;)

    But come on, what about Roughhouse?

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  12. @Teemu: On second thought, draugr are just undead, and that says nothing of their life. In life, Bloodsport looks to be an Asgardian elf. He certainly didn't look anything like how I've always imagined a draugr to look, which is more like a typical zombie.

    But if a draugr, what was he before undeath?

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  13. @Teemu: Also, if he's a draugr, he's en extremely weak one, IMO. The draugr of Norse myth had better shapeshifting ability than Bloodsport ever displayed (turning into animals and growing to immense sizes), major amounts of telepathic ability, weather control, and other magical abilities.

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  14. Well, let him be a dark elf then. Some renegade from Malekith's gang, taken down by Morbius, Hannibal King or someone of that ilk off-panel during Surtur War. Roughouse anyway is a frost giant, whose father was ashamed of him because of his tiny-for-a-giant size and used to torment him because of that. A cousin of Laufey's possibly, that sort of thing is known to happen in the family. Neither having a place they would belong, they ran away hand in hand landed to that final sewer of Midgard: Madripoor.

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  15. This business about Geist's shaving fetish reminds of a Comic Book Legends Revealed column from just a few weeks ago, wherein it was revealed that John Byrne had a standing offer to pay anybody a hundred dollars if they'd let him cut their hair. Maybe Goodwin came up with Geist's "hobby" as a tribute to his artist...?

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  16. @Teemu: So Roughhouse is Jack Frost!?

    @Matt: Didn't Byrne get a crew cut as a dare back in 1989?

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  17. @Nathan: Do you really consider Roughhouse to be someone in habit of drawing frost flowers into people's windows? Besides, there already is the Jack Frost in Marvel Universe, adventuring in WWII-era superteam Liberty Legion alongside Whizzer and Miss America of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch backstory fame.

    But actually I'm starting to think it was Deacon Frost who turned our dark elf Bloodsport into a vampire, and Roughhouse just by coincidence happened to walk in on it right then because of seeking out for Deacon because of an embarrassing misunderstanding over the "frost" bit. Deacon Frost's ill-thought "Do I look like an ass-guardian to you, oaf?!" turned out to be fighting words and Bloodsport/Roughhouse parthership started there and then from a spontaneous tag team fight.

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  18. Bloodsport was one of the numerous dark elves participating to Malekith the Accursed's Casket of Ancient Winters ceremony in England and Roughhouse tagged along the Einherjars plus other Asgardian forces coming to Midgard for the Surtur War. Both got kind of lost in the surrounding shenanigans, and there really was nothing for then in Asgard anyway to try return.

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  19. @Blam: It also seems to be a sentiment applicable to the extended storylines in every one of the satellite X-Men titles during this period.

    True. Though this one, at least, is diminishing the...least? It's not as good as it was, but still better than where, say, "Cross-Time Caper" is at.

    @Jason: This issue isn't the first mention of Mariko in a long time. She was just mentioned in Issue 17, part one of this storyline. The narration here, "Her father showed her the animal in me," alludes to the flashback from issue 17.

    Er, uh, 5 issues ago is a long time. Yeah, that's it...

    @Matt: wherein it was revealed that John Byrne had a standing offer to pay anybody a hundred dollars if they'd let him cut their hair.

    That's just...weird.

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  20. I still believe this storyline was expanded from six to seven issues because of Tiger Shark. The Marvel Age interview with Goodwin and Byrne promoting this storyline had them mentioning the various elements ... the cocaine, Caridad, La Bandera, Geist ... but no mention of Tiger Shark whatsoever. (And of course the article calls it an upcoming six-part storyline rather than seven, so ...)

    Still, I think it all works pretty well in seven parts, at least in trade. Maybe not as well reading an issue every two weeks. (I do have a recollection of being annoyed as a kid that this issue wasn't the conclusion, when it had been solicited as a ssix-parter in Marvel Age. But I guess that's a minor infraction compared to the nine-part Crosstime Caper being expanded to roughly eight dozen issues.)

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  21. @Jason: Still, I think it all works pretty well in seven parts, at least in trade.

    I imagine it would read better in trade - my biggest criticism of this issue is that it's treading water, which isn't as much of a problem when read as a chapter as opposed to its own standalone thing.

    But it by no means spoils the whole thing - barring a catastrophic failure in the next issue, this will still probably go down as my favorite story from this series yet.

    And I bet you're right about Tiger Shark. Take him out, and you'd lose an issue's worth of material, and given he constituted the entire "Acts of Vengeance" tie-in, that seems the most likely culprit for the extension of the story.

    (To be clear, I still rather like the inclusion of Tiger Shark, as I mentioned in my reviews of those issues, but it definitely seems like he's to blame for the extended length).

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  22. Nathan -- I know I've seen a pic or two of Byrne with a crew cut, but I'm not sure if it was on a dare or not. Wouldn't necessarily surprise me, though. He's an interesting guy.

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  23. "But it by no means spoils the whole thing - barring a catastrophic failure in the next issue, this will still probably go down as my favorite story from this series yet."

    Wow! I probably prefer the "Gang War" arc from issues 4 to 8. But I think this is a worthy story as well, for sure. I think you'll not be disappointed in the ending either.

    Fair warning ... the seven issues afterward are terrible. Talk about "treading water" ... it's just marking time until the glory of the Hama/Silvestri run.

    "He's an interesting guy."

    And also juuuuust a bit of a jerk. (At least online. Perhaps in real life he's a pussycat.)

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  24. Jason -- "And also juuuuust a bit of a jerk. (At least online. Perhaps in real life he's a pussycat.)"

    This is like... third hand hearsay at this point, but on a message board I saw a few years back, somebody who knew a comics pro/friend of Byrne said that the pro described Byrne this way: "He's the nicest guy in the world until you ask him to have an opinion on something." (Paraphrased, but you get the gist.)

    Based on what I've seen, this sounds about right to me.

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  25. Sounds right, yeah. I used to be a member on his message board, and generally to me personally he was fairly civil. But I saw so many people have terrible experiences with him there.

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  26. @Jason: Yeah the "Gang War" was an absolute rollicking adventure and those first 10 issues are my preferred run on the title (along with the additional first 10 issues of Marvel Comics Presents). Claremont is so channelling the fun adventuresome spirit of Robert E. Howard in his early run on the Wolverine ongoing, and the humour comes across that much more naturally for him than Excalibur which always seemed forced.

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