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Friday, June 2, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #67

"Valley O' Death!"
March 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine learns the truth about Terry Adams.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Mark Texeira
Inks: Texeira & Pamiotti
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Left for dead in a Russian desert, Wolverine wakes up, still hallucinating the presence of Janice and believing the year to be 1967, and he sets off in search of Terry Adams. Meanwhile, the X-Men track down Maverick, in the hopes of learning Wolverine's whereabouts. In the Hindu Kush, the two KGB agents who shot Wolverine learn of a bounty placed on him by the Hand. They go back to try and retrieve his body, but are shocked to discover it's gone. At the X-Mansion, Maverick informs the X-Men that "Terry Adams" is the former Soviet space center at Tyuratam. As the X-Men depart for the base, Wolverine arrives there, trailed by the two KGB agents. Wolverine kills them and steals their armored car, using it to infiltrate the facility. Inside, he meets a young woman who, believing Wolverine to be KGB, takes him deeper into the base, to where her father, the Soviet super astronaut Epsilon Red, resides. Only then does she realize the truth about Wolverine: that he's actually the person who tried to kill her father years ago.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue reveals that "Terry Adams" is not a person whom Wolverine killed, but whether, an anglicized name for a Russian space launch facility called Tyuratam. It's said to be the place where Wolverine tried to kill Epsilon Red, a Soviet super astronaut. Epsilon Red will appear next issue, but his daugther (whom we'll learn is named Elena Ivanova) appears here for the first time. While Epsilon Red doesn't appear outside this story, Elena will make a few later appearances in Maverick's solo series.


Speaking of Maverick, he's said here to have been Wolverine's case officer for the Tyuratam mission (for what that's worth) and in the present, he's hunting a serial killer who is taking out mutants, though I don't believe anything ever comes of that (apparently Hama just meant it as a throwaway detail to show what Maverick has been up to since the Psi-Borg story concluded).


I should have mentioned it in the post for Uncanny X-Men #298, but this month marks the beginning of Marvel running a "30th anniversary" image for the X-Men in the UPC box of various direct market titles (though not all, as the Avengers, also celebrating their 30th anniversary in 1993, get one as well). This continues the tradition which found the Fantastic Four's anniversary being marked similarly in 1991 and Spider-Man's in 1992.

This is another one of those covers where the central Wolverine image will get lifted and used in various marketing and licensed material around this time.

A Work in Progress
Professor X acknowledges that a lot of Wolverine's current mental problems are probably being exacerbated by the recent deaths of Mariko and Silver Fox, a "no duh!" notion that's nonetheless nice to see acknowledged.


This issue reveals the Hand has placed a bounty on Wolverine.


Colossus rightly makes a point to Iceman about the vast size of Russia and how Colossus' native Siberia is very different from other parts of the country in terms of geography.


Artistic Achievements
More gratuitous butt shots from Texeira, as Psylocke is positioned closest to the reader, from behind, on one page.


The Best There is at What He Does
It's noted that Wolverine's healing factor can't really do anything about thin air (Wolverine's continued need for oxygen being one of his few significant weaknesses at this point).


Austin's Analysis
A marked improvement over the previous issue, thanks in large part to the line between reality and Wolverine's hallucinations being more coherently drawn, and in part because the issue is split about 50/50 between Wolverine and a group of X-Men, allowing all the trippy mental stuff some room to breathe. The story is also gaining some more focus, thanks to the revelation that "Terry Adams" isn't a person, it's a place, which helps make the narrative more clear as well. It's still hard to get too worked up over this, however, as the end result is still just another seemingly-random tale of Wolverine's past that seems designed more to let Hama play around with Wolverine's psyche and Texeira to play around some extreme/surrealistic imagery than to actually say or do something with the character, but at least for this chapter, things are lot more readable.

Next Issue
Next week: X-Men #18, X-Force #20, and Excalibur #64!

13 comments:

  1. "It's noted that Wolverine's healing factor can't really do anything about thin air (Wolverine's continued need for oxygen being one of his few significant weaknesses at this point)."
    I think the point was that Wolverine's healing factor needed SOME protein and water to work with (IOW, he could die of hunger or thirst).

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    1. Yeah, I think drowning/suffocation and starvation are the two most likely ways to kill him (though I think with the latter, it would take much longer than with an ordinary person).

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    2. This is a false memory scenario; you can tell from those behind it having made the novice mistake of failing to notice that a Soviet/Russian spaceman obviously would be a cosmonaut.

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  3. Nice art. Good point about the story faring better with parts of it more grounded in contrast to Wolverine’s hallucinations, too.

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  4. We all must be pretty damn stupid for failing to note yet that names "Epsilon Red" and "Omega Red" obviously both fall to the same naming theme based on Greek letters, and most likely belong to the same program (or series of) for superpowered Soviet operatives.

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    1. Speak for yourself. 8^) I made the connection right away, roughly 60% wondering just how many “_____ Red” operatives there were but at the same time 40% being afraid that it was lazy editing rather than the establishment of an intentional pattern. “Red” after all was a go-to component of Soviet/Russian codenames on the order of “Black” for characters of African heritage and “X” for any kind of clandestine governmental program or paramilitary operation.

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    2. Yeah but I meant like noting the thang out loud here. I'm 98%/2% myself on them being program names, but then again I don't think Red really ever was used that much for Soviet operatives. There's Red Guardian, yes, and Red Ghost (though he's private sector I think), but other than that not even the early 60's one-offs were that Red. Dynamo is Crimson and all that. Plus, it's not just (anything) Red here, it's (Greek letter) Red.

      Would hate to be Gamma Red or Delta Red, though. First would so be a one-off Hulk villain by PAD and I fret to thing what sort of Louisiana-based horribleness they would make of the latter one.

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    3. DC in the ’80s had Red Trinity in Flash, Red Star (the renamed Starfire, once the new Starfire had come along) in Teen Titans, and the Rocket Red Brigade in Justice League in addition to the Marvel examples you cited, but really I was joking a bit by lumping it in with the questionable “Black _____” trend and the proliferation of X stuff we’ve recently discussed here, specifically because of confusion over whether and how Team X, Experiment X, and Weapon X were related.

      This era also had a tendency towards the Robert Ludlum style of “_____ [Agenda/Sanction/Directive/etc.]” storyline titles and, of a piece in my mind anyway, the postmodifier style that gives us names like “Weapon X” and “Omega Red” (not to mention "Siege Perilous"). In the case of Weapon X and Weapon Alpha, the noun is a constant while the modifier changes; in the case of Omega Red and Epsilon Red, it’s the modifier that’s constant. The existence of one-off examples, albeit fewer, is what led to my 60/40-ish split on whether the “_____ Red” characters were meant to be associated or they were just each an isolated part of a trend of pretentious nomenclature.

      Anyway, I look forward to the introduction of “Weapon X-Factor Omega Flight Red”.

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    4. I assume your lumping in the "Siege Perilous" is a test? :o)

      It was a valid point about Blacks and X's, though. And I guess it's plausible that with the political happenstances of the era they'd suddenly have a haste to get the Reds out of their system.

      I feel like picking the nit by reminding that Weapons X and Alpha had already appeared in the late 70's, because the late, great Terry Pratchett certainly was on the same page with you when he once referred to the kind of novels that print the author's name on the cover bigger than the title, which on its part has the name of a Greek letter paired with "Agenga/Directive/Conspiracy". :)

      May even be that there being a series of "____ Red" programs informed the later reveal that "Weapon _" was a series too, because our actually meeting Epsilon Red in the next issue may turn out to be a percentages-changing experience.

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    5. I didn’t say that “Siege Perilous” dated to this era — just that it was another example of the style, one that often tends (again, to me) to sound oddly formal or clinical in English (see also “court martial” or “attorney general” with their attendant unusual requirement of the first word in the compound taking the pluralization) if not outright archaic (which of course “Siege Perilous” is/was before Claremont borrowed it from Arthurian literature). Nor did I say that “Weapon X” and “Weapon Alpha” did, although I believe their type proliferated after elements of Wolverine's backstory got explored and expanded. Nor am I really interested in defending my previous comments as anything more than freewheelin' spitballin' thoughts on comics. 8^)

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    6. My apologies, though, if my original comment about indeed having made the Omega/Epsilon Red connection came off as overly defensive.

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    7. Absolutely no apologies needed. Like always, a differing (or any) viewpoint with reasoning and examples is but most welcome, and anyway I myself was speaking from the position of having read the following issue and seeing more similarities between the Reds.

      If my arm was twisted behind my back and I was forced to guess, the described style with adjective following, when used in English language, comes from the French (Anglo-Norman) side of the development of the language, "court martial" and "attorney general" certainly so. "Eminence grise" would be a prime example of one with a color following. On the other hand, "red" being a word with Germanic root instead, probably should not be expected to be a part of compound word formed in this fashion.

      I swear I'm not trying to upstage the octopodes. :)

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