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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #7

"Inside...Out!"
April 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & the X-Men escape from the Hand.

Plot & Breakdowns: Jim Lee
Finishes: Art Thibert
Dialogue: Scott Lobdell
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco


Plot
Though it runs the risk of killing Wolverine, Matsu'o orders Dr. Cornelius to continue probing Wolverine's memories to learn the whereabouts of the C-Synthesizer. Upon realizing he buried it with Janice, scientist who died during Wolverine's first encounter with Omega Red, Matsu'o orders Wolverine killed. Just then, Psylocke springs into action, Wolverine's near death having snapped her out of Matsu'o's control. As she fights Omega Red, elsewhere, Maverick frees the captive X-Men with the help of Sabretooth, who's been telepathically ensnared by Psylocke. But when Psylocke is knocked out by Matsu'o, the X-Men have to fight Sabretooth as well. Elsewhere, upon Psylocke's defeat, Wolverine breaks free and attacks Omega Red. He's quickly joined by Maverick and the rest of the X-Men, but when an explosion threatens the building, they're forced to evacuate to the Blackbird. On Mojoworld, Longshot's rebellion has failed, but Dazzler decides to bring some X-Men to the fight. On Earth, Matsu'o digs up Janice's coffin, but finds Wolverine waiting for him. He dispatches the Hand ninjas, but Matsu'o escapes again, and Wolverine turns the C-Synthesizer over to Maverick.

Firsts and Other Notables
In the end, Matsu'o escapes again, but Wolverine does cut off one of his hands, an act which factors in to Matsu'o's next appearance, in Wolverine.


Dr. Cornelius, the scientist responsible for lacing Wolverine's bones with adamantium, dies this issue, killed by Maverick as he attempts to shoot Wolverine. I'm pretty sure he's stayed dead.


Maverick cryptically hints that if the X-Men knew the real reason he was in Berlin, they wouldn't be so happy with him. Maverick will next appear in a solo backup story in issue #10, but I don't believe this particular remark is ever clarified.


Between last issue and this one, Longshot's rebellion against Mojo has failed, with Longshot captured and Dazzler deciding to it's time to bring in the X-Men; this plotline will also be returned to in issue #10.


At the end of the issue, while still in Germany, Maverick passes along info to Wolverine regarding an old friend, with a footnote pointing to Marvel Comics Presents #101; that issue kicks off a Wolverine/Nightcrawler story set in Germany (Nightcrawler is the friend in question Maverick mentions).


In a bit I've always chuckled at, Beast says he's as thankful to be rescued as the next blue-furred mutant, then adds as an aide, "which, I suppose, is Nightcrawler." Beast gets another good line later in the issue when he asks after Psylocke, their resident "psionic Japanese by way of Britain ninja warrior" which are hard to come by (that panel is also a fairly iconic Lee panel; Maverick aside, I think at least a few of the character images get used in licensed material).


A Work in Progress
This issue confirms that Wolverine's memories of this 60s era Berlin mission that's unfolded over the course of this issue was supressed by the Weapon X project.

Carbonadium is said to be a cheaper, more malleable form of adamantium, which is why this little coalition of Upstarts wants it (and by extension, the C-Synthesizer, which creates it). It's also the thing that Omega Red's coils are made of, and which will, for some reason, allow him to live without draining other life forces.

In a Claremont-esque use of her power, Psylocke telepathically tricks Omega Red into thinking he's activated his death factor when in fact he hasn't.


Despite being seemingly gutted by Sabretooth last issue, Gambit appears to be perfectly fine this issue.

Austin's Analysis
The "Omega Red"/"Jim Lee Draws Some Stuff About Wolverine's Past" story comes to a close. This is one I remember really liking as a kid - I re-read this story a lot, moreso than others (like the Mikhail story over in Uncanny) from this time. Now, I think it still mostly holds up. It's perhaps a bit too long at four issues, but the first chapter is mainly setup and more concerned with closing out the previous arc and doing some character work, while the subsequent chapters hand over some pages to the Mojoworld subplot, so it's not all the main story, all the time. And the issue-to-issue plotting is certainly...dubious at best, notably the mysterious canister from issue #5, which has to get explained away by dialogue in later chapters, and the shifting, unnecessarily-complicated MacGuffins.

But there's also a lot of energy to this story, enough to help carry it past the iffy plotting. Lee is clearly having a blast, and that comes across on the page. Wolverine's past at this point hadn't yet been strip-mined to death, so there's still some novelty to seeing it explored (and really, on the grand scale of Wolverine Past Explorations, this is fairly minor, simply showing one of his previously-mentioned missions as secret agent and working Sarbretooth into it, hardly a revelation either). Maverick, meant to be the kewl new character of this story, doesn't overwhelm the main cast (somewhat ironically, it helps that Maverick never really develops into that big a deal as a character, in the way Deadpool kinda sucks attention away from the main cast in his early X-Force appearances nowadays), and while Wolverine is clearly the star of this story, Lee leaves enough room for each of the rest of the X-Men to get at least a moment or two in the spotlight along the way.

It's a big silly jam story, featuring villains old and new, a lot of Wolverine, and a few fun twists. By no means is this on par with Claremont at his height, or really even the best of the more recent Claremont/Lee collaboration. But it's a pretty close facsimile thereof, with just enough competency in the plotting and scripting to not drag down the still-energetic and exciting artwork, which continues to carry the day.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Necrom gets to work in Excalibur #49. Friday, more fun with Mojo in Wolverine #53. Next week, Bishop settles in, in Uncanny X-Men #288.

Collected Editions

21 comments:

  1. (that panel is also a fairly iconic Lee panel; Maverick aside, I think at least a few of the character images get used in licensed material)

    For me that's one prime example of what I said in the other post's comments about the fourth-wall breaking posing. Despite the banter being quite in character there, as the later re-usage for merchandise in its part stands to witness the art here certainly is drawn more with the out-universe financial consideration than in-universe story-telling purposes foremostly in mind. Mid-sory is a wrong place for pin-ups. In my book this is a minus and not a plus for Jim Lee.

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    1. But as a counter-note, I just love the cover.

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    2. In Lee's defense, it's not entirely a pin-up, in that it's one panel on the page and not the full page. For another, he does make at least some effort to illustrate characterization via the image (ie the way Jubilee is standing).

      If anything, my biggest gripe with it is the awkward underhand way Cyclops is pointing. Who points like that?

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  2. [ThomasDolby] “He buried it… with Janice!” [/ThomasDolby]

    Yet again, Orz’s lettering is the key ingredient in this scanning as — and to the extent possible, feeling like — X-Men. I guess Lee’s also been around long enough by now for his style to register in my head as the proper… um… imagery for the book, though, because even with some of his less appealing tendencies (and even through the finishes by Thibert) I accept this as X-Men almost as much on that score and in fact I find a good amount in the layouts to appreciate.

    Lobdell does a pretty good job here with the sort of quippy dialogue under discussion in comments on last week’s Uncanny post, the Beast lines you mentioned in particular; the group’s round-robin banter upon breaking into the room where Omega Red and Wolverine are fighting may sound a bit too “written” but I like the next panel, with Cyclops zarking Matsuo over Psylocke’s body, enough to allow it.

    I didn’t even realize that Wolverine had sliced off Matsuo’s hand until you brought it up.

    Matsuo: “‘[H]er bones were not all that was interned within the ground that night.”
    Me: “You mean ‘interred’. Unless the bones are being held prisoner or Janice has some postmortem job prospects down there.”

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    1. I did know Wolverine cut off Matsuo's hand, but I don't know if I ever actively got it happening here or if I just have always taken it granted from later WOLVERINE issue's dialogue. Also, if I'm not mistaken it's a right hand we see flying in the air but in the next panel Matsuo is holding his cut-off left arm with the right hand. Jim Lee's Berlin, where tit-windows rotate and hands wander. I've been left understand that should rather be the Hamburg scene.

      Could be worse for poor Janice though. Scarlet Witch once during the Serpent Crown shenanigans used her "inbred" mutant powers according to the narration.

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    2. It was AVENGERS #148, btw, where Scarlet Witch's "spell contained in her innocuous words fueled by her inbred mutant might, takes hold" of Hyperion. Lest someone mistake I falsely attributed to a Maximoff a gaffe later done by the Talent USA judge Hasselhoff who got good taste inbred in him.

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    3. Would you believe that’s a correct use of “inbred”? Given the meaning to which you refer, of course, it still would’ve been better to go with “innate” or “inborn”.

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    4. Well. This took an unawaitedfor turn. But, considering I went to read said issue through reading SPIDER-WOMAN issues and then tracking Viper appearances I guess I have little choice but to acquiesce to Merryam-Webster's judgement here.

      Teaches me to listen to people slagging off the Hoff.

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    5. However, in a later Avengers issue, issue 317, the Vision is described as having complete control over his own DESTINY. Does he also have complete control over his own Blob, Pyro and Avalanche?

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    6. I didn’t even realize that Wolverine had sliced off Matsuo’s hand until you brought it up.

      I missed it completely on my first read-through for the review. It wasn't until I was doing screen caps for the post that I noticed it, and was like, "oh yeah, this is the issue where he cuts off his hand, which comes up in that WOLVERINE arc later".

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  3. "Dr. Cornelius, the scientist responsible for lacing Wolverine's bones with adamantium, dies this issue, killed by Maverick as he attempts to shoot Wolverine. I'm pretty sure he's stayed dead."
    Actually, Cornelius inexplicably turns up alive in 2014- he's the villain responsible for Wolverine's death.

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    1. That sounds about right. I remember reading the first issue or two of that Death of Wolverine series, but I don't remember Cornelius' involvement. Oh well.

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  4. "In the end, Matsu'o escapes again, but Wolverine does cut off one of his hands, an act which factors in to Matsu'o's next appearance, in Wolverine."

    And leads to something of a running gag between the two.

    "I'm pretty sure he's stayed dead."

    What Anonymous said.

    Also, some of the dialogue in the panel you posted, specifically the part about the head shot being more dramatic, almost has a CC quality, in the sense of the dialogue covering up/commenting about the art, no?

    "In a Claremont-esque use of her power, Psylocke telepathically tricks Omega Red into thinking he's activated his death factor when in fact he hasn't."

    Clever, yes, but does highlight the problem with telepathing characters. Why didn't she just use her powers to make him go to sleep or attach Fenris or whatever. Of course, at least in Psylocke's case, you can fanwank it to her being an all-out action junkie who prefers fighting that way, as established in #1.

    Overall I liked this story as well, even if it does feel a bit long, and does have too many scenes of characters running down corridors. But as you said, the energy of the art does keep things moving along nicely, even if the art is starting to look dodgy and less polished than Lee's usual standards.

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    1. Also, some of the dialogue in the panel you posted, specifically the part about the head shot being more dramatic, almost has a CC quality, in the sense of the dialogue covering up/commenting about the art, no?

      I can see that. Generally, I think Lobdell, at least early in his run, does a pretty good job aping Claremont, quipiness aside. It's never quite as good, and usually reads like someone aping Claremont, but the effort is appreciated.

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  5. As I've noted before, for some reason I generally like the contemporaneous UNCANNY issues more than these X-MEN issues. I don't necessarily dislike this story; it's just that it doesn't do much for me. I think the length is a big part of it. It should've just been a two-parter (or, at most, a three-parter if we count issue 4 as the first chapter).

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    1. Whereas that cross-dimensional Mikhail story in UNCANNY should have been a zero-parter. :)

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  6. I wonder if Matsu'o losing a hand to Wolverine was to some extent (pre-)planned already when he made his "whatever happens to one hand" speech to the Mandarin in UXM #256, or if it was all Jim Lee now harking back to one of his earliest X-Men job. It's hard to take as random thing just happening coincidentally to that context, because on general note the creators usually don't have the heroes just cut off appendixes from villains.

    (Yes there was the Absorbing Man in the Secret Wars but still I wouldn't say Wolverine is like making it a habit or anything)

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    1. I'd say it was neither, and just a lucky coincidence at best. Given the plotting style the Image guys had displayed, I doubt any one of them would be that clever.

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    2. Pre-planned by Claremont, obviously. ;) Who possibly told of his pre-plan to Lee (or/and Hama). As wwk5d said, Hama will get mileage from the hand thing, and Hama also did pick up a lot of (other) cues from the Mandarin story.

      On the other hand, the hand cut is so haphazard and blink-and-you-miss here in small panels it feels like it may have been a last minute editorial mandate so that Matsu'o can show up next in Hama's WOLVERINE, because one would expect an Image guy milk everything of Wolverine meaninfully cutting someone's hand if it was plotted in in time to the issue.

      There is also the boring option that nothing was planned and it's Hama who's kind of awesome and goes over the top all by himself on Lee's random hand slice. In which case I feel bad for pre-empting for future X-aminations stuff.

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    3. Well...I'd probably side with the "happy coincidence" theory myself, and Hama and others just ran with it after the fact lol

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  7. @Teebore: @Teebore: Was Maverick's hint about the X-Men not being happy if they knew the real reason he was in Berlin because he was getting hold of the C-Synthesizer to bring back to Weapon X so it could be bonded to a mutant that could take out Omega Red? And did Jim Lee plan for that mutant to be Warblade before he ended up using him in his Wild C.A.T.s series?

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