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Friday, April 24, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #23

"Endings"
April 1990

In a Nutshell 
Spore is defeated and Tierra Verde begins rebuilding. 

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: John Byrne

Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Spore attacks La Bandera, Wolverine bursts forth, alive after all, and flies into a berserker rage, slashing at the creature. The sight of Wolverine fighting back inspires La Bandera's ragtag army, and their inspiration in turn powers her. Working together, they distract Spore long enough for Sister Salvation to get close and use her healing power to destroy the monster, though doing so injures her hands and seemingly burns out her power. The next morning, with Caridad dead, La Bandera announces that she's heading for the capital city while Roughouse declares he's going to stay with Sister Salvation. Wolverine manages to track down Geist, destroying his armor and turning him over to La Bandera, who has helped take the city, and the the newly formed government.  


Later, Wolverine storms into a cabinet meeting, outraged that Geist was turned over to the US. Outside, CIA agent Bascomb reveals to Wolverine that the CIA is behind Geist's extradition, as Geist was working with the agency. Disgusted, Wolverine returns to Madripoor, capturing both General Coy and Prince Baran, destroying Coy's sample of Caridad's tainted cocaine and then chasing the pair through the city's sewers as payback. Wolverine then returns to the X-Men's Australian base, while in Washington DC, Magneto confronts Geist, telling him he always enjoys conversing with former Nazis...

Firsts and Other Notables
Returning to Madripoor to confront General Coy over the role he played in this story, Wolverine tosses him his eye patch, presumably effectively retiring the Patch identity (though he'll still use it in Uncanny X-Men #257-258, set after this story).


Magneto makes a brief appearance on the last page, having apparently learned of Geist's continued survival and tracked him down, the implication being that he's going to kill him for the crimes he committed as a Nazi.


Wolverine's old CIA buddy Bascomb from issue #19 pops up again, letting Wolverine know that Geist was working as a mole for the CIA and they're the ones who ferreted him out of the country. I know I said this when he first appeared, but now I bet this character never appears again.


John Byrne inks himself this issue. The cover is credited to "Byrne and Mac", as Byrne used a computer to digitally stretch the reflection of Geist in Wolverine's claws.

The Chronology Corner
A footnote declares that this story takes place before Uncanny X-Men #251, and the issue ends with Wolverine returning to the Outback, possibly the point at which he's grabbed by the Reavers, per the flashbacks in #251.


A Work in Progress
Wolverine and Sister Salvation debate the origin of Sister Salvation's powers.


Roughouse declares he's going to stay in Tierra Verde to protect Salvation and her son.


Magneto tells Geist his wife died in a concentration camp, though in fact she died years later. 

Teebore's Take
Wrapping up both the Goodwin/Byrne run on the title and the only storyline of that run, this issue serves as an effective payoff to both. The battle with Spore, to which most of last issue built up, is handled almost as an afterthought, but that's okay, as "Wolverine slashing at a fleshy cloud" is only entertaining for a brief time. After Sister Salvation finishes the creature for good (a resolution that seems painfully obvious in hindsight but less so as the story unfolded), the issue settles in for a fair amount of denouement, as Wolverine wraps up his time in Tierra Verde, then returns to Madripoor to tie up the loose threads of the story left there from its opening chapters, and finally, Magneto drops in to give Geist a chilling adieu.

It's a strong finish to a relatively strong story. While it remains perhaps a chapter too long (possibly a victim of the "Acts of Vengeance" tie-in, but then, Byrne probably has no one to blame for that but himself), Goodwin & Byrne nonetheless do an effective job of keeping the narrative moving, switching settings and character goals to keep things fresh within the confines of the same overall plotline. The introduction of elements from the Celestials and the Eternals/Deviants war could have caused things to go off the rails, but ended up fitting in nicely, giving the story an interesting twist and a larger connection to the Marvel Universe without taking it too far off track from its previously established "80s action movie with super-powers" aesthetic.

In fact, this is probably one of the series' strongest stories yet, on par with Claremont's "Gang War" (which benefited from doing a fair bit of world-building for the series) and topping the more uneven "Gehenna Stone Affair". Goodwin manages to write Wolverine without going too overboard with the tough guy narration, and though Byrne's pencils are a far cry from his earlier work on X-Men, Janson's inks give it a suitably gritty look, and the overall effect is fitting for the story. In short, while nothing in this issue or the story as whole is particularly earth shattering, it's nonetheless good, strong super-heroics, and it's a shame Goodwin & Byrne didn't stick around for more.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #261, New Mutants #89, and X-Factor #54

Collected Editions

10 comments:

  1. Magneto tells Geist his wife died in a concentration camp, though in fact she died years later.

    Were they ever explicit that he didn't in fact have a wife when first taken to the concentration camp? He said he was the last of a large family in UXM #150 if I remember correctly, that could have included a wife of his own. I always got the impression he met Magda in Auschwitz, took her into his protection and broke out with her. So, Magda would have been his second wife.

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  2. So was Wolverine the person who tipped of Magneto?

    Not sure if it was intentional or not, but Byrne's sketchier form of inking does at least mesh well with the previous chapters.

    So yeah. A good end to a good story. I guess if you're left wanting to see more from a creative team, then they did a good job.

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  3. Byrne said on his website that he altered his inking style for this issue to make it match up more with Janson's style on the previous issues.

    Man, I loved that Magneto ending. I always liked to think that Magneto killed the guy, but then I read that Captain America issue where he let the Red Skull live, and that gave me doubts ....

    Teeb, I almost said something about your Bascomb prediction, but I didn't want to spoil the ending, with the reveal about Geist and all. :)

    Reading this as a kid, I think I preferred Gehenna, being a fan of PAD's sitcommmy style. Reading this in trade as an adult, I liked it much more ... I especially appreciate how tight the story telling is, with all the elements coming together in such a clean, economical way.

    And now begins the long wait for Larry Hama...

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  4. Didja notice: Even the "close clean shave" thing had a payoff!

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  5. "Were they ever explicit that he didn't in fact have a wife when first taken to the concentration camp?"
    Magneto's usually written to be around 16 when first taken to the concentration camp, so it's highly unlikely he had a wife.

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  6. @Anonymous, I seem to have caught bad habits from Nathan so that only what's from Claremont's pen really counts. But, of course in this case we would have to go with NEW MUTANTS #49, where he was young enough to indeed not have a wife.

    Which seems to also make my bitching about Dai Thomas's wife on EXCALIBUR unfounded, apparently these sort of minor details can slip from mind. I suggest new "I tell you guys it's Mefisto again!" segment for this kind of thing, too much forgetting about the wife going on in Marvel Uniiverse.

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  7. // As Spore attacks La Bandera, Wolverine bursts forth, alive after all //

    Surprise!

    // the issue ends with Wolverine returning to the Outback, possibly the point at which he's grabbed by the readers //

    Reapers.
    Although if this were written by Grant Morrison… 8^)

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  8. @wwk5d: So was Wolverine the person who tipped of Magneto?

    I assumed as much. Anonymously, of course.

    I guess if you're left wanting to see more from a creative team, then they did a good job.

    True.

    @Jason: Even the "close clean shave" thing had a payoff!

    I did appreciate that.

    @Blam: Reapers. Although if this were written by Grant Morrison…

    Reavers, actually (Jason beat me to it). So we were both wrong our first time through! :)

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