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Friday, August 18, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #71

"Triassic Park"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine defeats Sauron

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Dwayne Turner
Inks: Bennet/Barta/Rubinstein
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Rogue flies into Sauron's citadel and attacks him, Wolverine climbs up out of the pit via the stampede of dinosaurs being dropped on him. He and Rogue capture Sauron and bring him to Brainchild's laboratory, intending to use Brainchild's genetic transformer to revert Sauron to Karl Lykos. But Sauron argues that he and Lykos are essentially two different people: to bring back Lykos is to kill Sauron. He maintains that, in the Savage Land, Sauron has a better right to life than Lykos, and Wolverine grudgingly agrees, setting him loose. Shortly thereafter, Storm and Bishop arrive in the Blackbird, sent by Xavier due to the lack of communication from Wolverine and Rogue. They load up the fist made of iron to bring back to the professor, and when Storm asks what he thinks of the evidence they found, Wolverine declares that he saw enough to know that a storm is brewing, with the X-Men caught in the middle of it.

Firsts and Other Notables
Wolverine's latest Savage Land adventure concludes, with him summing up the various teases about the return of Magneto sprinkled throughout the story by declaring that a storm is brewing, which is one of those fictional tropes that always gets me (ie "we just got through some bad stuff, but there's a storm brewing, meaning something worse is coming down the road...") and, as a kid, helped build up the mystery around and anticipation for the return of Magneto far better than all of Brainchild's constant shrieking urging people not to say Magneto's name (of which he does one more time in this issue).


Jubilee's adventure with the pterodactyl riders comes to a close off-panel, as Bishop reveals that he and Storm rescued her just as she was about to be married off, with the riders believing her to be a boy.


A Work in Progress
Hama apparently forgot (and never knew) that Rogue is invulnerable, as he has her dodging spears thrown by Sauron's followers, which should be of no concern to her whatsoever.


As Wolverine attempts to use Brainchild's genetic machine on Sauron to revert him to Karl Lykos, Sauron argues that he and Lykos are functionally two different people, and that forcing a transformation back to Lykos is essentially killing Sauron.


He then argues that he, Sauron, is worth saving over Lykos because the Savage Land is a place for savages, and everyone there is savage (which doesn't quite seem to fit given the X-Men's history with the seemingly-benevolent Fall People, who, while "savage" in an old world, colonial kind of way, never seemed all that aggressive and warlike when left to their own devices.


The Reference Section 
Wolverine compares his claws to Ginsu knives, a brand of knives famously hawked on TV infomercials in the 70s and 80s which led to a fair amount of pop culture ubiquity around that time and after.


The title of this issue's story is, of course, a reference to the colossally-popular Michael Crichton book and film adaptation, Billy and the Cloneasaurus.

The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine once again suggests that his healing factor is in low gear despite the fact that it healed his hamstring in moments.


Austin's Analysis
Wolverine, Rogue & Jubilee's Savage Land adventure comes to a close, not because of significant narrative resolution, but rather because Hama decided this would be a three issue story, and the third issue was up. Wolverine climbing out of a pit by riding an avalanche of dinosaurs is certainly fun, but everything after that is fairly arbitrary: once he's face-to-face with Sauron again, Sauron capitulates because he apparently is also aware this is the third issue of a three issue story - there's no real reason given for why Sauron wouldn't continue to fight Wolverine, given how evenly matched they mostly were last issue. After that, Wolverine has to barely restrain the villain as they bring him to Brainchild, and while the notion that bringing back Lykos essentially means killing Sauron is interesting, there's no room at this point to really explore it (and the end result is that Lykos is still "dead" by Sauron's logic, so the resolution is, at best, a wash in terms of saving lives).

Combine that with some other sloppy writing (like Rogue having to dodge spears) and Jubilee's whole subplot resolving off panel, and the story ends up feeling very rushed and, Magneto teases aside, ephemeral (and even the Magneto teases, by their very nature, don't amount to anything more than teases in this story, despite all the page time handed over to them). Three issues should be more than enough for a proper Wolverine/Sauron Savage Land showdown, but after an all-fight issue last time out, Hama apparently didn't save himself enough room to pay off even the basic requirements of the story in a credible manner. Which is a shame, because the end result is a story that feels superfluous, despite also being one of the first stories in this series to directly connect to happenings in the other X-books.

Next Issue
Next week: X-Men #22, X-Force #24 and Excalibur #67.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, you have got to be kidding, sir!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...on the bestseller list for 18 months!

      Delete
    2. ...most popular movies of all time, sir! What were you thinking?!
      -Pushpaw

      Delete
  2. "Hama apparently forgot (and never knew) that Rogue is invulnerable, as he has her dodging spears thrown by Sauron's followers, which should be of no concern to her whatsoever."
    If you think this is bad, wait until we get to "Help me Remy".
    Some of the problems with this issue might be due to the fact it was four weeks late.

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  3. I thought the Magneto stuff here was fine. Because, considering that Equilibrius made only his third appearance here after UXM #62 and Avengers #105, and that the scene of his reappearance in #69 was pretty much the same as in UXM #62,

    there's no chance that Magneto's helmet leaving a mark on the dust on shelf wasn't an international call-back to #62 and iconic "perhaps the clothes do make a man!", to mark the return of the unhinged Silver Age villain.

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  4. “You could even cut a tin can with it — but you wouldn’t want to!” from Weird Al Yankovic’s “Mr. Popeil” is one of my favorite lyrics ever.

    // Wolverine's latest Savage Land adventure concludes //

    I had to look up at Fnord’s whether Professor X, Cyclops, and Storm were in the Savage Land in X-Men Unlimited #1 after Wolverine, Rogue, and Jubilee (and Bishop and Storm…) are here, but still before Magneto’s reemergence, or whether this fact-finding mission came after — and thus was partly in response to — events in that story like the Professor’s mysterious rescue. Fnord goes with the latter.

    // Hama apparently forgot (and never knew) that Rogue is invulnerable //

    Sauron also refers to her flight as a mutant power, which it really isn’t, although that’s easier to hand-wave.

    // He then argues that he, Sauron, is worth saving over Lykos //

    I do like the blunt logic of That’s why they call it the Savage Land!” regardless of how apt it really is (or isn’t) when you think on it more.

    // Wolverine has to barely restrain the villain as they bring him to Brainchild //

    Same thing stuck out to me.

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  5. As a kid, the logic of letting Sauron go as opposed to reverting him to Lykos was awesome (never thought about it being a wash until now). But I still like it in a "the X-Men didn't want to kill even if it was 'technically' not killing anyway," just because Rogue to me sells her reaction when faced with the question of how she felt when the machine was pointed at her. I figured they just got a bad taste in their mouths at the idea of it and changed their minds now that things had cooled.
    Of course, I also had a 'Wolverine vs. Sauron' trading card so I'm totally biased toward this issue.

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  6. I also just reread X-Men Unlimited #6 and forgot it retcons it so that Sauron hypnotized Wolverine into letting him go.
    (Doesn't say he hypnotized EVERYONE though...)

    ReplyDelete

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