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Friday, June 1, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #81

"Storm Warning!"
May 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Excalibur battle Cyber

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mike Sellers & Mark Farmer
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Arrving on Muir Island, Zoe Culloden helps Excalibur subdue a raving Wolverine, hallucinating from Cyber's poisons. Meanwhile, Cyber pulls himself from the ocean and commanders a speed boat, heading to Muir Island. As Excalibur debates the best way to treat Wolverine, he wakes up and attacks again, thinking everyone is Magneto. Outside, Cyber arrives on the island and knocks out the power. When Wolverine lunges at Kitty, she phases through the attack, but the shock of having almost killed her brings him to his senses. Just then, Cyber attacks Wolverine, knocking them both into a cell. Kitty rushes inside, telling Zoe to close the door. As she does, Kitty phases herself & Wolverine out of the cell, leaving Cyber trapped inside.

Firsts and Other Notables
Wolverine's broken claws (snapped by Cyber in issue #79) have started to grow back, with the healing bones depicted as shorter and more gnarled than the unbroken ones, a condition which will persist for the next few issues.


Nightcrawler notes that Wolverine's face has changed structure, gaining a more pronounced brow (something not terribly well-depicted in the art); this marks the beginning of a series of subtle physical transformations Wolverine will undergo in the months ahead as his body reacts to not having the adamantium in it anymore, reverting to a more bestial form, which will culminate in issue #100 with the emergence of the much-derided "noseless" Wolverine and the character losing much of his intelligence and speaking ability for a time.


Cyber is captured on Muir Island at the end of this issue; he will next appear in issue #93, when the Dark Riders break him out as part of the first attempt to restore Wolverine's adamantium bones.


A Work in Progress
Wolverine is apparently disoriented enough by Kitty phasing through him to allow Moira to get close enough to sedate him, though it's never been established before that Kitty disorientates people when phasing through them (she just screws up electronics).


Kitty is notably suspicious of Zoe Culloden.


In turn, Zoe points out Wolverine's tendency to take adolescent girls under his wing (first Kitty, now Jubilee); this is probably the first place I saw that bit of characterization explicitly pointed out.


The Painscape, the spiky representation of Wolverine's mind in each memories inflict physical pain on him, used by the Weapon X project to alter his mind, appears briefly.


Artistic Achievements
There's a well rendered bit where a hallucinating Wolverine slashes through images of the important women in his life.


Austin's Analysis
Though the return of Adam Kubert on pencils and the presence of Nightcrawler & Shadowcat help enliven the final part of this three part "Wolverine vs. Cyber" story, those elements can't change the fact that the story is entirely one chapter too long (mostly the entirety of the previous "Wolverine & Cyber fight on the road" issue). Bringing Cyber into the Wolverine fold and making him a stop on Wolverine's "fighting old foes in his new condition" tour makes sense, but the previous encounters to that effect with Lady Deathstrike & Bloodscream worked in large part due to their relative brevity. His encounter with Cyber, meanwhile, has been stretched out over three issues, all of which hit mostly the same beats (Cyber is a raving loon, Wolverine is hallucinating). Ultimately, the introduction of Zoe Culloden will prove to be of mild significance, the breaking of the bone claws is a great "holy crap!" moment, and it's fun to see Nightcrawler & Shadowcat reacting to Wolverine's diminished capacity here, but otherwise, too much of this story feels like filler.

Next Issue
Next week: the truth about Psylocke in X-Men (vol. 2) #32, Rictor goes home in X-Force #34, and Nightcrawler batles D'Spayre in Excalibur #77.

7 comments:

  1. As much as I consider Chris Claremont the one who made the X-Men the characters we love, O always found terribly unrealistic how he made them completely forget people with whom they had a long history. The moment Rachel Summers disappeared, all the X-Men forgot about her. Rogue made a brief flu looking out for Rachel, and that was it. No balloon of thoughts about her. Done. Same with Nightcrawler and Kitty, once the X-Men “died”. Storm, Wolverine and Colossus never thought about them, wondered how they were. I accepted this behavior when the original X-Men left, because the newer ones had no reason to care about them. But, afterward, it became silly. Now, another writer tries to make us (readers) care about the long forgotten relationship between Nightcrawler, Kitty and Wolverine, the latter not having thought for a second about them between Fall of the Mutants and... ever. They met on Excalibur, but on the X-Men comics, they were forgotten

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    1. They met on Excalibur, but on the X-Men comics, they were forgotten

      Not quite - certainly, for a good long while (too long) that was the case, but with the post-Image Exodus, that started to change. Nightcrawler showed up in UNCANNY #300, Kitty had a run where she was hanging around the mansion while Illyana was sick and the aftermath of her death. Rachel was on hand for Scott & Jean's wedding, and EXCALIBUR became part of the crossover rotation.

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  2. Wolverine is apparently disoriented enough by Kitty phasing through him to allow Moira to get close enough to sedate him, though it's never been established before that Kitty disorientates people when phasing through them (she just screws up electronics).

    I have no idea if it has been ever explicitly noted, but the neural synapses are either chemical or electrical in nature, and it only makes sense that Kitty's phasing would mess up the latter ones.

    ... unless the organic electricity is too low voltage to be messed akin to the electric devices of 230 or whatever Volts.

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    1. I have no idea if it has been ever explicitly noted, but the neural synapses are either chemical or electrical in nature, and it only makes sense that Kitty's phasing would mess up the latter ones.

      I don't know if that's ever been established in-universe, but I once used a similar idea in a story I wrote involving a character with phasing powers (and it certainly works as a No-Prize-y explanation here, even if we've seen Kitty phase through people plenty of time before without incident).

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  3. // Kitty phases herself & Wolverine out of the cell, leaving Cyber trapped inside. //

    And in doing so should fry the cell’s electronics if that aspect of Kitty’s power were ever displayed consistently. Speaking of which...

    // Wolverine is apparently disoriented enough by Kitty phasing through him to allow Moira to get close enough to sedate him, though it's never been established before that Kitty disorientates people when phasing through them //

    I'm always glad when something I was going to call out like that is mentioned by you first, since I have a shorter (and longer-ago) span of X-Men memories to draw from.

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    1. And in doing so should fry the cell’s electronics if that aspect of Kitty’s power were ever displayed consistently.

      For what it's worth, Cyber had knocked out the power on Muir Island at that point, so the cell's electronics were already off.

      Which then raises the question of how they closed & sealed the door so thoroughly, but I guess there's a mechanical aspect to it that can be manually triggered in the absence of power?

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    2. Moira said they “cannae lock the module withoot electrical power,” and she locks it on the last page as you mention, so I’d thought the emergency generator had kicked in by then — but you’re right, there’s Moira also on the last page saying “We cannae hear [Cyber, in the chamber] until we get our power back on!” Hmm… Aha! They mention a manual override that “activates the emergency battery to power the magnetic locking [mechanism],” which I do recall reading the first time through as it triggers Wolverine again (“Magneto???”). Points to Hama for thinking it through.

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