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Thursday, December 29, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #61

"Nightmare Quest!"
Late September 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine is approached by Wraith as he assembles their old Weapon X teammates.

Script: Larry Hama
Art: Mark Texeira
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare involving Sabretooth & Silver Fox to find the commercial flight he's on has been redirected to the SHIELD helicarrier. Once aboard, Nick Fury informs him that someone with significant pull needs to speak with him, and a helicopter brings Wolverine & Jubilee down to the ground, where John Wraith is waiting. Wraith tosses a Shiva head at Wolverine, which triggers a memory involving Wolverine, Wraith, Sabretooth & Mastodon in Cuba. Wraith then takes Wolverine & Jubilee to his home, where an elderly Mastodon is dying, the age-suppression factor given to him and all the other members of the Weapon X project failing. Worried it could affect any of them, Wraith says he's assembling the old team to try and figure out how to stop it, and Wolverine is shocked and enraged to learn both that Silver Fox is still alive, and that Wraith has Sabretooth chained up in his basement.

Firsts and Other Notables
Mark Texeira begins his ultimately short run as the series' regular artist with this issue (he'll stick around through issue #68, with one fill-in between now and then, before departing for the Sabretooth limited series).

It's confirmed that Wraith power is teleportation (he also appears to briefly change race in the second panel below). We also learn that his Weapon X codename (a la "Wolverine" or "Sabretooth" was Kestrel, and that he's fourth on Shiva's hit list.


Another Weapon X cohort, Mastodon, aka Elefante, appears for the first time this issue. He is currently dying as a result of the age-suppression factor given to him by the project is failing. In the grand scheme of "characters who were in the Weapon X project with Wolverine", Mastodon is more or less a footnote, and doesn't really appear much outside this story.


Wolverine learns that Silver Fox is still alive this issue as well.


This issue ends the series' last period of summer bi-weekly shipping.

A Work in Progress
Wolverine & Jubilee are picked up by SHIELD off their commercial flight back to America; Gambit has disappeared between issues, as he was in Japan last issue but is nowhere to be found here.

Wolverine is back in his blue-and-yellow costume, after donning the orange-and-brown one for Mariko in issue #57.

This issue confirms that "Carlisle", one of the figures in the shared South American memory implant between Wolverine & Sabretooth, is Wraith.

Omega Red appears briefly, in the flashback to the events immediately following the flashbacks in X-Men #5-7.


We get Texeira's interpretation of the Painscape briefly.


Austin's Analysis
After teasing it last issue and with new regular artist Mark Texeira on hand, Larry Hama takes another deep dive into Wolverine's past, more or less picking up where his last such story, in issues #48-50, left off. Thankfully, where that story was mostly an introspective one, in which Wolverine's chief motivation was "find out stuff about my past", here Hama creates some external motivations, between the ongoing threat of Shiva and the sudden failure of whatever is repressing Mastodon's age (and the fear that other Weapon X project "graduates" could face a similar problem). The end result is more or less a "assemble the team!" issue, and though the team is still mostly a bunch of guys we don't really know or just met (outside of Wolverine & Sabretooth), there's a sense of narrative momentum here beyond the promise of learning stuff about Wolverine that helps carry it.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #293, X-Force #15 and X-Factor #83.

5 comments:

  1. Larry Hama takes another deep dive into Wolverine's past, more or less picking up where his last such story, in issues #48-50, left off.

    I would say more; #50 pretty much ends with Xavier finding the original proposal for Weapon X program to create a pool of sleeper super-soldiers with awareness of their powers mindwiped from their memories (and wondering where they got the mutations) and agitated Cyclops pointing at a memo on the suppression of the aging factor.

    Gotta wonder if the ten issue hiatus was caused by editorial moving in to bring the X-MEN book also to the party. W #50 and X-MEN #4 (1/4 of Omega Red) were both Jan '92 cover date, and now this and the related Hazard story are Sept '92. The Mojo story looks more and more like an editorial mandate to "do some crap with Mojo in the meantime, everyone else will". But I like kind of like the ambition with the WOLVERINE/X-MEN tie-up.

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  2. @Teemu: It's still unclear what Charles's involvement was in Experiment X, and while X-Men #12 linked it to his father, this just doesn't make sense when the folder he was holding in X-Men #5 was labelled "Project Xavier 1964" which at this stage was long after Brian's death. So was Jim Lee perhaps planning to reveal that Charles was the one who had mindwiped candidates' memories?

    There's also the question of who the headshot clipped to the folder in X-Men #5 was. It can't have been Brian as we know he was a scientist. They appeared to be in a Marine uniform, so what involvement might the U.S. Department of Navy have had in the Weapon X programme?

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    Replies
    1. Well, "Project X" certainly must have been named after the X-tra appendixes mounted into the subjects and not anything else. (And I say subjects, plural, because in W #50 the Professor blast about every suppression program subject not remembering "their integral weapons systems", but the cabin implant leaks through with everyone.) But, the abandoned Almogordo nuclear research facility certainly brings to mind the one in Alberta in W #48.

      The military person in the picture quite possibly is a/the intended volunteer or test subject or anything of Project Xavier. It's hard to say anything of the uniform, could even be one of a captain in the Canadian army...

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    2. @Teemu: If it is about extra appendices, what were Creed's and North's, since they didn't appear to have any (all Maverick had was a cybernetic left leg) other than their inherent mutant powers? So what were "their integral weapons systems" if they were part of the experiment?

      And it was a white dan daly hat, whereas captains in the Canadian army wear berets.

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  3. Like Brent Anderson’s and Bill Siekiewicz’s, Texeira’s Wolverine has an entirely different build than the established squat, stocky “runt” of Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, and Paul Smith. I can’t fault the guy's talent but aside from attitude it’s jarring to visually read that character as Wolverine in long shots especially.

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