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Friday, December 4, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #37

"Fall Back & Spring Forward"
March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike and Puck return to the present. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Dan Green
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Defeating the Nationalist forces sent against him, Wolverine cries out to Lady Deathstrike, telling her to show herself so they can finish this. Having climbed up the sheer face of an overhead cliff, Lady Deathstrike leaps down, attacking Wolverine as a time vortex pops up nearby. When Wolverine tosses Deathstrike towards the watching Nazi tank, she attacks it in a rage, destroying the vehicle and killing Hauptmann Schlachter, causing the time vortex to grow bigger. On the south side of the pass, the injured Puck suddenly wakes up and rushes back towards Wolverine, not wanting to be left behind in the past. In the present, Pierce is completing work on his latest project when the time vortex appears and spits out a piece of paper with the name and location of Wolverine and Deathstrike's fight. Using that information, Pierce realizes that everyone the time travelers have killed were destined to die in the pass or during the war, except for Schlachter.


Just then, the vortex scoops up Wolverine, Deathstrike and Puck, sending them back to the future, but stopping periodically along the way. First, they witness Deathstrike's father's plane crashing during World War II, then end up in Spiral's Body Shoppe as she's transforming Yuriko into Lady Deathstrike, then New York during Wolverine's first fight with the cybernetically-enhanced Deathstrike, before everyone is deposited in the present. Puck, back in his dwarfish form, has no memory of the time travel, but sees that his snapshot from the Spanish Civil War now includes Wolverine. In Australia, Lady Deathstrike returns to find that Pierce has created an android replica of Wolverine which he intends to use as bait, with the killing stroke delivered by another robot resembling a small girl he's named Elsie-Dee.

Firsts and Other Notables
Though she doesn't yet do much, this issue marks the first appearance of Elsie-Dee, a small child-like android built by Pierce as part of a plan to destroy Wolverine (her name is pun on the acronym"LCD"). Notably, Pierce asks Bonebreaker if he stopped the logic circuit installation on the robot at the five-year-old level, as he instructed, but doesn't get an answer - this will become important to Elsie-Dee's development in the next story.


Also making his first appearance (though as yet unnamed) as part of Pierce's "kill Wolverine plot" is Albert, a cybernetic duplicate of Wolverine.


The pair will feature in the next story, break free of their original "kill Wolverine" programming, and become semi-recurring supporting cast members in the book during Larry Hama's run, with Albert even getting his own action figure eventually (it helps that being a robot duplicate of Wolverine makes for a good excuse to release yet another Wolverine action figure).

A Work in Progress
Pierce determines that the changes to the timeline wrought by Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike's trip to the past were limited because most of the people who died as a result of their actions were already slated to die in the avalanche, and/or didn't make it out of Guernica at that time for other reasons anyway.
During their trip back through time, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike end up in the midst of Deathstrike's transformation at the hands of Spiral.


Then, they get tossed out at the site of their first encounter, post-Deathstrike's cybernetic enhancements, during the events of X-Men #205 (which the footnote erroneously references as issue #204). Present Wolverine even interacts with Katie Power, who doesn't realize she's talking to a chronologically-different Wolverine because her eyes are still closed per Wolverine's command in X-Men #205.


The Reference Section
Wolverine references Roseanne Bar's infamously-bad rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.


The biggest change to the timeline caused by Wolverine and Deathstrike, according to Pierce, is the elimination of the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (though I'm not entirely sure how he would know one existed if the timeline was changed around him).


Teebore's Take
"Blood and Claws"/Wolverine's Adventure in the Spanish Civil War comes to a close with the best chapter in the story, one which fully embraces the time travel aspects of the plot to send Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike and Puck careening through time, weaving them in and out of significant moments from the history of the first two. While that is a more standard trope of time travel stories, this issue expands on the "time twister" concept from the previous one to actually show Pierce reacting to the changes wrought by Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine in the past, something we don't see too often in time travel stories (usually, it's just the "before" and "after" timelines, not the "in flux" timeline). The whole "fifth Ninja Turtle" bit at the end is perhaps a bit too cute, but kudos to Hama for writing in explanation for why more of the timeline wasn't changed (I'm not sure the "they only killed people who died in the avalanche anyway" idea really holds together under scrutiny - the Butterfly Effect, especialy, would suggest it doesn't - but the effort is nonetheless appreciated).

Following on from his use of details from the previous Yakuza story to help setup this story in issue #35, Hama is also writing to the series more here, weaving in setups to the next arc by teasing Albert and Elsie-Dee in this issue amongst all the time travel shenanigans. It's a technique that is always appreciated as helps the series read less like a loose collection of finite stories strung together (which it has for most of its post-Claremont existence), and more like a larger, Claremontian narrative where individual stories don't so much end as overlap and bleed into the other.  

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #275, New Mutants #100, and X-Factor #65.

Collected Editions

12 comments:

  1. Jeez, I can't believe I never twigged the "LCD" pun!

    I really like the bit where Spiral notices Wolverine and Deathstrike for a second, and is unmoved because it's the kind of thing she's used to.

    Yeah, at that this point the series is kind of an unbroken serial story, with lots of "to be continued" ... until a kind of weird sudden stop at issue 46, which ends cliffhangery, but then issue 47 is a done-in-one that completely ignores the previous issue. Hama did this a couple times, and it always frustrated me, much as I loved his writing.

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    1. Completely? Come on now, Wolverine's 'one panel, several blurbs' recap of the happenings in the previous issue to the parking lady is wholly cromulent. And #47 even introduces a hitherto-unknown character that'll show up in the next arc too.

      It just looks out of place because it's not Silvestri.

      I like the whole bit where they visit the scenes of #205, which was my sixth UNCANNY issue ever read. Throughout the years I have been especially glad of having filled and posted the subscription ticket from the back cover of (our) previous issue, because BWS having clawed people bloodily slashing each other was a bit much for the 8-y.o. me and I might have had second thoughts about my X-Men readership then otherwise. Since then I have learned to appreciate the story, and the artist.

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    2. Also, I read a bit ahead because it kind of catches you on, and but surely #44 is even worse offender than #47 in that regard? (I can bear waiting the answer till we get there, and may have insights myself, but I'd rather we reserve it as Teeb's prerogative to start dissecting it up first)

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    3. Issue 44 isn't written by Hama.

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    4. There is that. But both issues have the similarity that they are not drawn by Silvestri and have an awkward framing device and are published during twice-a-month phase, which I think is the key factor here in determining the exact nature of the issues.

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    5. The other thing is that after the issue 44 interlude (which I did hate as a kid, despite normally loving the PAD), issues 45 and 46 continue the Deathstrike/Sabretooth/Albert/Elsie stuff that was in the earlier issues.

      But after issue 47's interlude, all the stuff before it gets dropped, in order to do "origin" things. So it feels less interludey and more just "cold stop"-ish.

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  2. The whole time-travel effect is a bit confusing. How and why does Pierce remember any of the changes that are made? Granted, it is a bit refreshing to see it buck the usual time travel conventions we see in stories.

    Overall, a solid, fun story. One of the things I like about Hama's run is how he mixes various elements like pulp & film noir elements with big superhero action and science fiction elements. It isn't a mix all people who write Wolverine's solo adventures are able to balance out, so kudos to Hama.

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    1. The shenanigans are caused by Gateway using his powers, and the geas Pierce has on him probably states that he is not to mess with Pierce's thoughts, memories and perceptions by the use of his powers, so Gateway probably is protecting Pierce from such effects, mayhap keeping Pierce aware of both the original and altered timelines' histories. This would explain how Pierce was able to immediately cop on that the freak gale was due to a temporal anomaly.

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    2. ... and I always took the Ninja Turtle pun as nothing more than an off-joke, but what was said above considered, maybe Pierce, not a known joker, is being dead straight with it. Maybe he does have intimate knowledge of Verrocchio armed with kyoketsu-shuki, the rope-knife.

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  3. Good stuff. Except for that, yes, too-cute Ninja Turtle line.

    // Elsie-Dee, a small child-like android built by Pierce as part of a plan to destroy Wolverine //

    I assume she’s equipped with a high-quality system…

    Albert? Seriously?!? Albert?!?!?

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    1. There's Mount Logan in Canada, there's Alberta. It's all good.

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    2. That was supposed to read "high-quality sound system..."

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