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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #72-84: Weapon X

"Weapon X"
March - September 1991

In a Nutshell 
The details of how Wolverine received his adamantium skeleton. 

Writer, Artist, Co-Letterer: Barry Windsor-Smith
Co-Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Downtrodden Canadian secret agent Logan is targeted by a mysterious group conducting Experiment X. He is captured and, against his will, undergoes an extremely painful process in which adamantium is bonded to his bones. Unbeknownst to everyone involved, Logan is a mutant, whose ability to heal quickly helps him survive the process. He also unexpectedly develops three adamantium claws on each hand. In the aftermath of the bonding process, the leader of the project, a man known as the Professor, attempts to condition the nearly-savage Logan, altering his behavior, honing his fighting skills, and making him loyal to the Professor. Following an extended virtual reality scenario in which Logan believes he's hunted down and killed the Professor, chief scientist Dr. Cornelius, and Cornelius' assistant Miss Hines, he's noticeably more calm and docile. However, realizing what he's become, he attacks his handlers, fighting his way into the facility and to the Professor's lab, before departing alone into the snowy wilderness. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This story marks the first concerted effort to tell a Wolverine origin story, and "Weapon X" will quickly cast a large shadow over the character, working its way into the Wolverine ongoing, influencing other titles (like X-Force), and becoming a consistent presence throughout the X-books, to the point that a Weapon X series will run for a couple dozen issues in the 00s.

Though Wolverine has been referred to as Weapon X in the past, this story ties that codename with the process which bonded the adamantium to his bones. Later, Grant Morrison will establish that the "X" in "Weapon X" is not a letter but a roman numeral, and that the Weapon X project is but one facet of the larger Weapon Plus project, which began with Operation: Rebirth and the creation of Captain America (considered Weapon I).

The image of the post-bonding Wolverine, wearing a sensory helmet and strapped down with monitoring equipment, has become something of an iconic one, and the 90s X-Men toy line even produced a "Weapon X" figure with that design.


This story is written and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith who, amongst other things, collaborated with Chris Claremont on the Wolverine/Lady Deathstrike brawl in X-Men #205 and the two "LifeDeath" stories. 

Issue #72 marks the first appearance of the Professor, the individual running the Weapon X project at this time, and Dr. Cornelius, the chief scientist working on the project. Both will appear again in later stories, with the Professor eventually revealed to be a cousin of Wolverine's (presumably, at the time, Windsor-Smith was simply playing with the irony of a bald man called "Professor" being responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium and trying to make him a better fighter). Both characters also eventually appear in animated form thanks to the X-Men cartoon.


At various times throughout the story, the Professor is shown to be taking orders from a higher power, someone who knows more than he's let on and seems perfectly willing to sacrifice the Professor. This person was, at the time, meant to be Apocalypse (following on from a hint at a past between Wolverine and Apocalypse from The Jungle Adventure), as Windsor-Smith discussed this story with Chris Claremont and Claremont told him he was planning to establish Apocalypse as being responsible for Wolverine's skeleton. Of course, Claremont left the X-Books before establishing that connection, and eventually, the mysterious individual talking to the Professor in this issue was revealed to be Romulus, the less said about the better.

In issue #73, it's noted that Wolverine is targeted for the project because of his skills and his remarkable stamina, but the fact that he's a mutant with a healing factor is unknown to everyone involved until after they begin working on him; later stories will retcon this idea, saying that Wolverine was specifically chosen for the adamantium bonding process because of his healing factor, that it would ensure he'd survive the process when it had killed others.


Similarly, issue #74 notes that an excess of the metal is gathering in Wolverine's hands, making it clear the claws weren't part of the project's goals originally, something which actually fits (entirely accidentally) with the later reveal that Wolverine has always had bone claws which were simply bonded with adamantium like all his other bones, resulting in his famous claws.


The Chronology Corner
This represents the oldest point in time which readers have seen Wolverine at this point (though they knew he had served in WWII at this point): previously, we'd see him in what we now know is the aftermath of this story, running wild in the Canadian wilderness where he's found by the Hudsons and nursed back to some semblance of humanity, in Alpha Flight. This story takes us back one step further.

A Work in Progress
Even pre-experiment, Wolverine notes that he doesn't know who his mother is.

Though the entire process of bonding adamantium to Wolverine's bones is commonly referred to as the Weapon X project, throughout this story the term "Experiment X" is used more regularly.

Issue #76 shows the Weapon X project trying to suppress Wolverine's identity, something that will become a significant plot point later in Larry Hama's run on Wolverine.


The Best There is at What He Does
The Professor notes that Wolverine can't heal if he's in pieces, though later stories will suggest otherwise. 

Teebore's Take
Often billed as the origin of Wolverine, "Weapon X" isn't, really. More specifically, it's the origin of Wolverine's adamantium skeleton, and maybe this is just because I grew up reading comics knowing the general idea behind it, but "he got it via a shadowy government experiment" isn't the kind of answer that necessarily cries out for a thirteen part story, as revelatory as that idea might have been to readers in 1991 starved for details about Wolverine's past. Nevertheless, despite being fairly light on plot, "Weapon X" works exceedingly well as a story (if not an origin story).

And that's all down to writer/artist Barry Windsor-Smith, who takes a small tale about a big event in an extremely popular character's life and tells it extremely well. As much as this is considered the definitive Wolverine origin story, Wolverine himself barely has any dialogue or first-person captions in it. But Smith manages to render the three main characters (the nefarious Professor, the dubious Dr. Cornelius, and the in-over-her-head Hines) well enough that they can carry the story, even while the title character is sidelined or in a state of incoherent pain or rage for most of it. He also tells the story in interesting ways, such that the telling itself is entertaining even if the story is mostly straightforward: shifts in perspective from character to character, using narrative captions more often than dialogue bubbles, juxtaposing the hard angles of the panels and captions against the smoother lines of the tubes and bubbles during the bonding process, and rendering the whole thing in a muted cacophony of colors, so that the whole thing is bright and overwhelming (as it would look from Wolverine's perspective) yet dark and dismal (which is the feeling of what is actually happening) at the same time.

Even the serial nature of Marvel Comics Presents, usually such a hindrance to the stories contained in its pages, helps. This is easily the most cohesive story yet in the title, as Windsor-Smith eschews handing over a page or two each chapter to recapping the previous one, letting the story flow directly from chapter to chapter. But because the plot is fairly minimal, each chapter can do less, and so the shorter page count-per-chapter is less jarring, quickening the pace of the story without rushing it, allowing the issue-ending cliffhangers to develop more organically (and be more subtle). Even more impressive, at thirteen chapters long, this barely feels padded (the final twist - that the entire sequence of Wolverine hunting down the Professor, Cornelius, etc. was just a simulation - is the one thing that feels extraneous, like Windsor-Smith reached the end of that sequence but realized he still had one more chapter to go). The end result isn't necessarily the jaw-dropping origin of Wolverine it's often purported to be, but it is nevertheless a stunning story in its own right, a marvelous bit of craftsmanship by its creator that deserves the acclaim it routinely gets.

Next Issue
Next week, Deathtrap: The Vault!

39 comments:

  1. At this point, we have seen Logan in WWII, haven't we? In the flashbacks in Wolverine #34? Or was that published after this?

    I didn't like this story, probably because I wanted more "answers." I didn't really appreciate it as a mood piece when I was twelve or thirteen. I haven't revisited it as an adult. Perhaps one day ...

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    1. We had certainly seen him in WWII in UNCANNY #268...

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    2. Yeah. I wondered if maybe Teebore was specifically differentiating "Wolverine" from Logan, as this is arguably where he becomes that character.

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    3. "Wild Frontier" starting at MCP #93 may wish to argue with that, in interesting Howlett-eschewing fashion, Blam.

      There is also the Ogun phase to be fitted somewhere, and arguably Logan has at this point broken Carol Danvers out of the KGB prison in Ljublianka among other spy shenanigans, but the starting point of a dishonorable discharge of more generic variety grunt here feels to disagree with that background.

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    4. I correct myself so you won't need: forced retirement rather than dishonorable discharge. Anyhow, top espionage operative needing to attend at a firing range raises eyebrows, but perhaps that can happen with suicidal alcohol abuse connected to near-psychotic morbid preoccupation with 'current "mutant " sca--'... do we have chronology for this story, is this happening prior to UNCANNY #1 or afterwards? What scandal, assuming it is a scandal?

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    5. I think it was supposed to be a scare, not a scandal.
      Wolverine's first meeting with James Hudson has been said several times to take place before Fantastic Four 1, so this is before Uncanny 1.

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    6. Ah, of course "scare", as depicted in early UNCANNYs and later on (again) in Marvel Sagas. Now that I think, they did show Logan extending his claws next to James Hudson in Marvel Saga #1 (and of course on the cover too), I believe chronologically before the FF #1 shenanigans. Thanks, Anonymous.

      Quite hilarious that one of the early televized mutant menaces of the scare that's morbidly fascinating Logan was none other than one Slim Summers. Like, subtext hilarious.

      Not to pick nits, but in UNCANNY #139 Wolverine tells that the Hulk Wendigo threeway of HULK #181 was his first mission (as Weapon X/Wolverine assumably), so he must've spent quite amount of time doing something else before donning on the costume (which time is of course also necessary for the friendship with the Hudsons to develop).

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    7. Weirdly the dialogue in issue 140 seems to contradict it, when Wolverine thinks about how the Canadian government sent him on many unethical missions. But Giant-Size X-Men 1 seems to take place at most a couple months after Hulk 181. How many missions could they have sent him on in the meantime?We've seen flashbacks to other missions Wolverine went on for the Canadian government- Wolverine 9, a 1992 Alpha Flight special, the Wolverine/Cable: Guts and Glory oneshot, etc. and some of them seem to take place before his battle with the Hulk. (I really don't blame the writers for getting confused- the way Claremont scripted Wolvie in X-Men 139-140 was odd.)

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    8. Technically the "To the Canadian Secret Service he was a gift from Heaven" bit could be pointing to his pre-adamantium days as secret agent. He may have had quite a gray/black op career under his belt already (Carol Danvers' spy days and the KGB prison bust-out thing must've been before her Captain Mar-Vell association), until he succumbs to what's told on the opening pages and then gets turned into Weapon X, which he takes awfully badly.

      Was the adamantium thing a Canadian government project after all, or did Department H/Secret Service (are they the same or totally different agencies? Secret Service pre-adamantium and Hudson and Dept H afterwards? And some writers just mess them up?) just take their stray back? It's probably not the PM of Canada who the Professor is calling to and who had access to Lord Dark Wind's adamantium bonding process.

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    9. Yeah, I pretty much came up with the "furthest back" comment on the fly, gave it a quick thought, then decided, "yeah, that's right, this IS the furthest back we've seen him", totally forgetting about UXM #268 and it's WWII-era flashback.

      Which is proof of why I shouldn't toss out declarative statements like that, which come to mind only as I'm putting the finishing touches on a post, without thoroughly vetting them first. :P

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  2. I've never actually read this one, due mainly to the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Windsor-Smith's artwork. Though honestly, regardless of the artist, I've really never had that much interest in the story.

    Also, for many years I had no idea it was published in 1991. I always just assumed it was from the eighties.


    " Later, Grant Morrison will establish that the 'X' in 'Weapon X' is not a letter but a roman numeral..."

    The dumbest thing Morrison did in his run, far as I'm concerned. That was some kind of a clerical error to result in everyone involved somehow forgetting the project name was a number rather than a letter. Plus, why wasn't Garrison Kane Weapon XI? Or Deadpool or whoever came after Wolverine? And why do the origins of Captain America and Wolverine need to be tied together? It's all too clever for its own good.

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    1. I too long thought this was from the 80s, and was shocked when I looked it up and realized it came out in '91. Though at least it was still published pre-Claremont's departure, which is still kinda like the 80s, even though he obviously hung around for a couple 90s years.

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  3. Barry Windsor-Smith : wires/tubes :: George Pérez : rubble

    // a man known as the Professor //

    I was definitely confused by this at first, as there wasn’t much to immediately distinguish the guy from BWS’s Professor X.

    // the Weapon X project is but one facet of the larger Weapon Plus project //

    So if Cap’s Weapon I how does Guardian being Weapon Alpha fit in?

    // the fact that he's a mutant with a healing factor is unknown to everyone involved until after they begin working on him; later stories will retcon this idea //

    Good. While I don’t really like such egregious retcons as a rule, the way it unfolds here, given how thorough the documentation on / surveillance of Logan seems to be, is hard to swallow. Likewise hard to swallow is Wolverine’s hair growing back so fast as part of his healing factor — to the exact coiffure he prefers, longer on the head and muttonchops but no chin beard, unless there’s a suggestion somewhere I’ve missed that his healing factor somehow ties into his subconscious desires. Might as well also mention the Experiment X paperwork asking if the applicant had “been exposed to Radiation or Irradiation”; since the dictionary defines irradiation as “the process by which an object is exposed to radiation,” I suppose there’s a snarky meta No-Prize answer in there: “Have you been exposed to Radiation, or been exposed to Other People being exposed to Radiation? Do you have a problem with randomly capitalizing some Common Nouns?”

    // And that's all down to writer/artist Barry Windsor-Smith, who takes a small tale about a big event in an extremely popular character's life and tells it extremely well. //

    Yep. I really do recommend Matt and Jason give this a read.

    // rendering the whole thing in a muted cacophony of colors, so that the whole thing is bright and overwhelming (as it would look from Wolverine's perspective) yet dark and dismal (which is the feeling of what is actually happening) at the same time //

    Very nicely observed.

    // Even the serial nature of Marvel Comics Presents, usually such a hindrance to the stories contained in its pages, helps. //

    I agree, down to the simulation, although the literal arcs of the floating dialogue balloons take some getting used to. I know I flipped through the first TPB collection of this when it arrived at the comics shop where I worked but hadn’t given it a straight read until now and it didn’t disappoint. I think it’s better than the vast majority of contemporary X-Stuff and fathoms more satisfying than the disposable, often unbearable ancillary one-shots and other MCP serials of the era.

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    1. So if Cap’s Weapon I how does Guardian being Weapon Alpha fit in?

      They never enhanced Jimmy Hudson or use him as a lab animal, instead he's a perfectly willing and salaried government official who developed his armor himself. He's not a project but a Greek letter sideshow.

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    2. Likewise hard to swallow is Wolverine’s hair growing back so fast as part of his healing factor — to the exact coiffure he prefers, longer on the head and muttonchops but no chin beard

      I haven't myself been to barber since July 2004, but my hair just has stopped growing about six inches below neck. On the beard section I can only grow musketeer-type moustache & goatee, but not even pitiful stubble elsewhere. I find it buyable Logan has his personal patterns.

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    3. “Have you been exposed to Radiation, or been exposed to Other People being exposed to Radiation?"

      That's how we lost Mary Jane in SPIDER-MAN: REIGN! Terribly personal question in government forms, IMHO.

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    4. Like you, I agree with the "chosen BECAUSE OF his healing factor" retcon. Not only does it make more sense, it also eliminates the problem in this story, which you point out, of the project somehow knowing all about Logan but NOT knowing he's a mutant.

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  4. I think Morrison's implication was that Weapon X (Ten) ended up "diverging" from the others in the numerical series, and taking on a life of its own. So Morrison's Weapon Plus program (which led to Fantomex) continued running parallel to the divergent "Weapon X" series that created Kane. Which also speaks to why all the Weapon X folks like Cornelius didn't think of "X" as a number.

    I always thought Morrison was just stealing the reveal from Moore's V for Vendetta, that V is actually a Roman numeral five. (Since Morrison likes to steal from Moore every chance he gets.)

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    1. You're understanding of Morrison's intent is my understanding as well - that Weapon X became it's own thing, not beholden to Weapon Plus, while Weapon Plus moved on to Weapon Xi, XII, etc.

      I'm not terribly opposed to the idea of Weapon X turning out to be a number not a letter; I'm less enthused about the whole "and then became a divergent thing from Weapon Plus" idea, simply because it seems to exist only to make the initial "X means ten!" retcon work in light of the history of the program that contradicted that notion. If you need a second retcon just to setup your first one, maybe it's not worth it?

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  5. They certainly keep dropping Apocalypse's name in the opening monologue.

    Beautiful little tidbits all around the pages. Cornelius' background hints with "mercy killing quack" newspaper headlines. The professor being made bumbling fool about once an issue. And most of all, the professor pouring his coffee of Logan's face to try get a reaction. Or, mayhap cocoa...

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  6. This story was the only time I ever bought MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS because it was deemed as "important". I always enjoyed this story. I, recently, reread it and I think it reads better in one sitting.

    >> This story marks the first concerted effort to tell a Wolverine origin story, and "Weapon X" will quickly cast a large shadow over the character, working its way into the Wolverine ongoing, influencing other titles (like X-Force), and becoming a consistent presence throughout the X-books, to the point that a Weapon X series will run for a couple dozen issues in the 00s.

    And one of the main characters from the 00s series was Malcolm Colcord who was revealed to have been one of the no-name guards that Wolverine violently disfigured during his rampage through the facility.

    >> ...with the Professor eventually revealed to be a cousin of Wolverine's

    I guess I missed that. I know The Professor's name was, later, revealed to be Truett Hudson, suggesting a familial relationship to James Hudson (Guardian). Wouldn't you know it, the Marvel Wikia confirms that he's related to both characters (thus, Wolverine and Guardian are related):

    http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Truett_Hudson_(Earth-616)

    You learn something new every day.

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    1. I know The Professor's name was, later, revealed to be Truett Hudson, suggesting a familial relationship to James Hudson (Guardian). Wouldn't you know it, the Marvel Wikia confirms that he's related to both characters (thus, Wolverine and Guardian are related)

      Ah, will they never stop trying to control him with these exceedingly nonsensical false memory scenarios? "For the next one can we like make both of them Jameses, at least to confuse Hudson's bitch if not anything else?." "You're really scraping the bottom there, but, sure. Whatever."

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    2. Ah, yeah, I forgot that Colcord was revealed to be one of these guards! I should have mentioned that (even though we have no way of knowing WHICH guard in this story is him).

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  7. This story seemed to me to finally give something worthwhile from the pages of Marvel Comics Presents, but by then I refused to buy those books due to the low page-count for the story I wanted. This was probably the first time I was unwittingly "waiting for the trade". I still have it, and consider it one the best Wolverine stories.

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    1. This is easily the best story I've yet to read in MCP, and I doubt anything coming up will top it.

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  8. And yes, in the Wizard Wolverine Tribute Edition (1996), Barry Windsor-Smith recalled that Chris Claremont always intended for Apocalypse to be the real villain behind the Adamantium experiment. But Claremont had similarly claimed his intention to reveal a major Marvel villain to be responsible for the Adamantium experiment years before Apocalypse was ever created. I'd suggest that by the time of Windsor-Smith's Marvel Comics Presents serial, Harras had forced Claremont to change his plans and institute Apocalypse, a villain introduced under his editorship of X-Factor, as the brains behind Weapon X. So back to Claremont's original intention for a major Marvel villain to be behind Weapon X… I believe it is explained by Wolverine as the earliest candidate in print. That is, Baron Von Strucker who first learns of Logan in Madripoor in 1941, shown in flashback scenes in Uncanny X-Men #268. Strucker then encounters Magneto near Kenya's Lake Rudolf in Uncanny X-Men #161 where he first comes to understand the threat of mutant powers (after Magneto crushes Strucker's hand within his Satan's Claw gauntlet). After his run-in with Magneto, I'd suggest Strucker sets Hydra's then science division to determine the origin of these powers, which leads to the revelation they are derived from the X-gene. This then leads him to recall his earlier above encounter with Logan, and being the sociopathic Nazi that he is, he envisions the concept that would become fully realised as the Weapon X program. Why no one before this has considered that someone of a Nazi psychopathology is more likely to conceive the mutant equivalent of Josef Mengele's experimental program has always been beyond me. So Apocalypse as the originally intended brain behind Weapon X!? Balderdash! It can't be a coincidence that Claremont's Baron Strucker was Claremont's go-to villain, not once in the brilliant Uncanny X-Men #161, or twice in the rollicking Uncanny X-Men #268 but thrice in his two Excalibur Special Editions promised in Excalibur #22 in 1990 which was later released in mini-series format as X-Men: True Friends. It's even there in our own World War II history; Camp X was the unofficial name of a paramilitary and commando training installation on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa (its trainees included Ian Fleming). One of the camp's unique features was Hydra, the highly sophisticated telecommunications centre. So a nice "real world" link there with Camp X and Hydra. Claremont being the vintage that he was, and having parents as veterans of WWII, had to have been aware of this! So Baron Strucker establishes Camp X to transform mutants into weapons to hunt down and imprison their own kind. And the delicious irony is Strucker gets to settle two scores, firstly capturing Magneto and coercing him to enable the bonding process as payback for crushing his hand in Kenya – as a reminder to Magnus that the Nazis are the more dominant species and that he would use him just like they did back in Auschwitz where the mutant was forced to work as a Sonderkommando – and secondly with Logan for preventing the Hand from transforming Natasha Romanoff into his master assassin. Consider that Magnus was a codename! What if Weapon X had Magneto trapped and used as a battery, his brain no doubt thoroughly washed, shaved head with electrodes on it... and that the rank-and-file guards called him "Magneto" because some higher-up scientist had made a flip comment in their hearing about him being like "the magneto of our machine". "Magnus" simply meant "top-level mutant power", it was a classification. And then Magnus manages to break free and it's the shitstorm he causes when he does that enables Logan to escape the facility. And what a much better explanation for why Magnus then decides to become Magneto! In response to Allied governments siding with Nazis against his kind!

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    1. I'd suggest that by the time of Windsor-Smith's Marvel Comics Presents serial, Harras had forced Claremont to change his plans and institute Apocalypse, a villain introduced under his editorship of X-Factor, as the brains behind Weapon X.

      Do you happen to have sources to back that up, or just a general dislike of Harras and the notion of Apocalypse as the secret force behind the project?

      I mean, yeah, if Claremont had someone else in mind before Apocalypse was created, then of course he didn't ALWAYS intend for Apocalypse to be the force behind it. But even if he had Strucker (or someone else) in mind before hand, isn't it possible that Apocalypse came along, and Claremont, of his own volition, thought "hey, he'd make for a great "secret villain" behind the Weapon X project. It totally fits Apocalypse's MO and this way, Wolverine's past would be tied more tightly to a X-specific villain instead of a more general Marvel Universe one!"

      I mean, I don't like the way Harras treated Claremont towards the end of Claremont's run, but at the same time, I'm reluctant to blame Harras for every story idea I don't personal like or every change in direction a creator working under him may have had.

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  9. Grant Morrison wasn't the first to come up with the X=10 derivation for Wolverine. Roger Stern first did that back in 1997 in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #-1.

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    1. That was... interesting. Von Strucker would certainly know where to find a man of constitution should a later experiment need one. There really needn't to exactly have been previous experiments VII, VIII and IX; devious evil geniuses are sometimes known to skip to Ten from unrelated numbers of 8, 7, 98, 95 and 3.11.

      I'd need to see Hydra to take interest in oncoming Wolverine revelations though, I won't believe otherwise. His once marrying one Madame Hydra proves nothing.

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    2. Darn it. Now I'm torn. I either need to backtrack and say "Weapon Ten" is not dumb after all because Roger Stern, a writer I really like, did it first, or I need to say that something Roger Stern did was dumb, which I really don't want to do.

      Curse you, Adler!

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    3. No, curse you, Matt, for because of your thoughtless choice of word I now have Natalie Imbruglia singing her greatest hit with Weapon X lyrics in my head.

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  10. @Teemu: Recall Strucker would be further insistent on paying Logan back not only for their encounter in Uncanny #268 but X-Men True Friends. So if Hydra later encountered a younger Logan, the Baron would have seen a great opportunity fall into his lap (remember the Shadow King got the idea of Hounds from Rachel going back in time in that tale so it would be typically canny enough of Claremont to consider pulling the same trick with Wolverine;)

    And there is a precedent for Hydra's earlier interest in mutants. Think about the Demi-Men plot! That is, Strucker knew about mutants thanks to his encounter with Xavier and Magneto. He had an interest in co-opting mutants for his own plans (as shown by his experiments to produce Fenris). The Demi-Men plot and robot Magneto may kill several birds with one stone for Strucker: he gets to lure mutants into his service while depriving Magneto of followers and maybe discrediting him. If Lorna really is Mags' daughter, there may be the added benefit for Strucker of corrupting his enemy's offspring. Trouble is, Strucker dies while the plan is in motion. And Magneto, captured after his FF appearance, naturally gets questioned by agent Fred Duncan about those Demi-Men in San Francisco. Magneto quite honestly tells Duncan he doesn't know a thing about it. Once Mags breaks out, though, he goes to San Francisco to investigate. And he finds the Demi-Men in an underground Hydra base. They're not androids (OHOTMU may or may not say otherwise, but I don't believe any published story canonised their status), they may be humans using technology to fake mutant powers, or they're mutates created by Hydra, or perhaps they really are mutants. Magneto of course hates Strucker and Hydra, so he tells these hapless goons that they can now serve the real Magneto as his latest Brotherhood – and he subjects them to the "universal machine" (actually the genetic transformer he used to create the Savage Land Mutates) and turns then into the monstrous "mutants" working for Mags in San Francisco during his clash with the Inhumans. After Mags' defeat in that story, the former Demi-Men may die off as a result of all the genetic tampering they've suffered. Or they may continue to live underground as San Francisco's own Morlocks. Or perhaps SHIELD eventually rehabilitates them. This might be preferred since it links Steranko's work here with his Captain America and SHIELD work. And Hydra, unlike say Starr Saxon working on his own, would have the resources to have a Death Valley base and all the equipment the Demi-Men have. Note, by the way, the Death Valley base is later used by the Resistants, who are of course secretly backed by the Red Skull, who had seized control of Hydra after Strucker's death. So that too seems like a natural connection. Finally, the use of robots to manipulate Mesmero is done again in Claremont's final Excalibur issues. There the manipulators are Fenris. Maybe they got the idea to use robots to control Mesmero from their father's use of the Magneto robot in the Demi-Men plot.

    @Matt: While I somewhat agree with you re: Roger, he similarly set a messy precedent with Busiek with the Avengers Forever tripe that so badly retconned the whole of The Crossing which while a mess was salvageable if a good writer had just done their homework. To use the excuse of "they were all Space Phantoms" completely messed up the initial Kirby origin for SP's powers, among other things.

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  11. I haven't read this since it came out, but I remember that even as a kid the revelation that Wolverine's first escape was a simulation bugged me, because it made no sense. If the simulation is inside Logan's head, why does it include stuff that he isn't
    around to witness? And if the Professor, Cornelius, and Hines are from some inexplicable reason taking full part in the simulation (which would explain the third person point of view we have of it), why do they stay in character even when Logan is somewhere else? And why does the simulation include the bit where the Professor is betrayed by his employer? Like you said, it feels more like Windsor-Smith first wrote one ending, then decided to add another one, without thinking whether the first one would make sense anymore.

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    1. Good point. It also robs the second ending of any impact, because it could also be a simulation. (And indeed apparently it was, since Cornelius and the Professor didn't die the second time either, we all soon learned.)

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    2. We'll also learn then that the post-Weapon-X professor has a certain physical deficiency they have already played here with in the first scenario. That scenario has also taught them (through Hines) that the way to survive is to not be a threat to Weapon-X, so they probably are whimpering there "please don't kill" after the ending panel, but with the professor that strategy doesn't quite fully, eh, cut it.

      But if BWS was writing it as he went, and then it got changed midways, I'll blame Harras wanting to save the characters for upcoming WOLVERINE and X-MEN issues.

      "Interlude" at the end of things? Who does that, except Monty Python?

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  12. This is one of those things where, whether you like the story idea or not, or are a fan of BWS or not, you definitely should check out. Its interesting to read, if nothing else as a time capsule piece, of a time before all the non-stop retconning of Wolverine's past and the Weapon X project somewhat dragged down the character's backstory.

    Until we get confirmation from CC himself, we'll never know who he had in mind for being behind the Weapon X project. Its possible that when CC made his comment about a master villain being behind it all, he just had the idea itself, without anyone specific at the time. And I agree with Teebore, I doubt Harras forced the idea on CC. If he had, then there would have been a follow-up story to it once CC left. Instead, the one reference/hint we did get to it was the Jungle Adventure, written by Walt Simonson. So who knows.

    The idea of it being Apocalypse isn't a bad one. It does fit in with his motives, if not his method (we know he has the resources and technology to do this on his own, so why go through all of the cloak and dagger routine which if anything would fit Mr. Sinister's style more), and anyway, is a million times better than Romulus.

    Retconning them knowing about Logan's healing factor is a good idea. Otherwise, you have to wonder why they would want to bond the adamantium to him in the first place. Especially since it seems they didn't know about his claws as well, and that wasn't part of the procedure as conceived. Without the healing factor and claws, he is just with an adamantium skeleton, which...isn't that impressive if you want a black-ops assassin.

    For the faults this story does have, the pluses do outweigh the minuses. Definitely worth checking out.

    One thing Teebore didn't mention was there are some interesting back-up stories during this run. One issue has a story featuring Shadowcat and Meggan, another has Selene. What makes both interesting is it shows how disposable some of the stories in this series were, and how long some of them sat in someone's drawer, so to speak, till they were used. Kitty laments how the X-men are dead in her story, which by now shouldn't she have found out the X-men are alive, if she still hasn't met up with them? The Selene story is an even bigger head scratcher, as it ends with Selene attending a meeting at the Hellfire Club, which is chaired by Magento (who should be long gone from the HC at this point), and has in attendance Emma Frost AND a bunch of nameless, faceless people as well.

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    1. and anyway, is a million times better than Romulus.

      True. Then again, anything > Romulus. :)

      One thing Teebore didn't mention was there are some interesting back-up stories during this run.

      Yeah, I ran out of time, but I did intend to mention the two you mentioned. Though I only would have mentioned their existence, as the scans I have of these MCP issues don't include them, so I haven't actually read them.

      Kitty laments how the X-men are dead in her story, which by now shouldn't she have found out the X-men are alive, if she still hasn't met up with them?

      You could probably make a case either way, but Kitty was still referencing the X-Men as dead in WEIRD WAR III.

      Then again, that story probably had a gestational period close to the same length as this MCP story, so who knows? Certainly, we have yet to see an acknowledgement of the X-Men's survival by Excalibur on-page.

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  13. @wwk5d: Ah but recall in Classic X-Men #25, it is revealed that Apocalypse upgrades Moses Magnum's power after Power Man Annual #1 and prior to Uncanny X-Men #118. Given the power he grants him, it is rather strange that Apocalypse never made use of him as War at some point. While it could be argued that this was written by Claremont so proves his intention for Apocalypse to be behind Weapon X, the issue was edited by Harras, so this might suggest Harras was imposing his plans that much earlier (given he was likewise editor of Jungle Adventure which Claremont had nothing to do with)!?

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  14. Not that strange. Apocalypse released him as because he liked his style and wanted him to cause chaos. The main reason I'm guessing is because they retconned Apocalypse into Magnum's story, so he couldn't really fit into the role of a Horseman.

    Then again, I'm not sure why CC came up with that retcon. Again, still no concrete evidence that Harras forced/coerced/pushed CC into making Apocalypse behind Weapon X. Given CC's friendship with Walt Simonson, it could be just as possible they discussed the issue prior to Simonson writing the special.

    As per Secrets Behind the X-men, CC did make a subtle hint about the Wolverine/Apocalypse connection, which I forgot about, during Inferno, where Archangel's scent sets off Wolverine.

    http://secretsbehindthexmen.blogspot.com/2012/04/strip-mining-wolverine.html

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