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Friday, June 22, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #82

"Omnia Mutantur"
June 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine returns to Japan & sets his ward up with Yukio

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert with special assist by Bob McLeod
Inker: Mark Farmer & Joe Kubert
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine lights incense at Mariko's tomb on the anniversary of her death. Outside, a group of hand ninjas wait to attack him, but Yukio convinces them that, since Wolverine lacks his healing factor & adamantium claws, he couldn't possibly be the Wolverine they are after. In Canada, Bloodscream discovers the inert Elsie-Dee. Reviving her, she proceeds to revive Albert, while Bloodscream lies to her, proclaiming himself a friend of Wolverine's. On Muir Island, Moira MacTaggert is concerned about Wolverine's physical regression, but Zoe Culloden leaves the island, declaring she has some ideas on how to address it. In Japan, Wolverine poses as a social worker to interview the abusive foster parents of his foster daughter Amiko. That night, donning his X-Men uniform, he removes her from the home and brings her to Yukio. He then cuts a deal with Silver Samurai: in exchange for the Honor Sword of Clan Yashida, Silver Samurai will ensure the Japanese child welfare authorities accept Yukio as Amiko's new guardian.

Firsts and Other Notables
Wolverine is in Japan in part to pay his respects on the anniversary of Mariko's death (meaning that, at least as far as Hama is concerned, it's been one year since issue #57). Also, it's worth noting that despite swearing to find Matsuo on the anniversary of Mariko's death every year and cutting off another piece of him, we receive no indication of that here (presumably because Wolverine is feeling so underpowered at the moment). One of the Hand ninjas calls out Wolverine having maimed their leader, but that's meant to be a reference to the hand-cutting-off in issue #57.


However, a flashback story in issue #175 will reveal that Wolverine did indeed visit Matsuo between last issue and this one, and it is that more recent attack on Matsuo that the Hand is attempting to avenge here. So technically (at least, retroactively) Wolverine has been keeping to his vow.

As promised in Uncanny X-Men #313, Yukio has returned to Japan from New York in time to appear in this issue, help Wolverine fend off the Hand, and assume guardianship of Amiko. In a subtle bit of writing, it's also implied that Yukio specifically rushed back to Japan from New York because she knew Wolverine would be visiting Mariko's tomb on the anniversary of her death, and wanted to be there to help him (as opposed to Wolverine having contacted Yukio ahead of his trip to arrange a meet-up).


Amiko, Wolverine's long-neglected foster daughter (whom he promised her dying mother he'd look after in Uncanny X-Men #181) was last seen in the Kitty Pryde & Wolverine limited series, where Mariko was meant to be serving as her foster mother. Presumably, in the wake of Mariko's death, Amiko was placed in the Dickensian foster home she's at as this issue begins, and it simply took Wolverine this long to follow-up and check in on her, setting things up so that Yukio is now, effectively, her foster mother. Amiko will, after this issue, unfortunately slip back into comic book limbo (she next appears in the series' '96 annual), but when she does pop up, her relationship with Yukio is mostly maintained.


Albert & Elsie-Dee, the robot Wolverine and ten-year-old girl created by Donald Pierce in an attempt to kill Wolverine, return this issue. They were last seen being sent back in time by Spiral in order to investigate their discovery of a Wolverine skeleton, in issue #53. Bloodscream discovers the inert Elsie-Dee in a Siksika burial mound, with a footnote referencing an as-yet-untold adventure as the explanation for it; that story will be told in issue #86.


The legendary Silver Age artist (and comic art educator) Joe Kubert inks his son Adam's pencils on pages 17-22 of this issue (former New Mutants artist Bob McLeod, meanwhile, pencils the five page Bloodscream/Elsie-Dee/Albert interlude in the middle).

A footnote declares that the issue's title translates to "everything changes", though "everything gets changed" is more accurate.

A Work in Progress
Moira expresses concerns about Wolverine's physical regression (first noted last issue); he already appears notably different here, with larger hair, a broader nose, and more pronounced canine teeth.


In a rather humorous bit, Amiko's foster parents immediately see through Wolverine's ruse and recognize him as the "social worker" who visited them earlier in the day when he shows up at night, in costume, to rescue the girl.


The Honor Sword of Clan Yashida, which was instrumental in Wolverine's (temporary) killing of Bloodscream in issue #78, is given to Silver Samurai.


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Questionably, Amiko's foster parents' translated English is written in the stereotypical manner of replacing "Rs" with "Ls" (even though what we're viewing on the page is meant to be a written representation of them speaking Japanese).


Austin's Analysis
After the hyper-kinetic and drawn-out story of the previous three issues, this marks a return to form for the more measured, elegiac post-adamantium era of the series, with Wolverine tying up personal loose ends, believing, with his healing factor seemingly gone and his body more vulnerable than ever, that he's on the verge of death (an idea hinted at previously, but explicitly stated here). Of course, this issue also gets points in its favor for being steeped in continuity references, from Wolverine acknowledging the anniversary of Mariko's death, to the return of his long-forgotten foster daughter Amiko, to even something as simple (and recent) as Yukio popping up in this issue and referencing her *just* completed adventure with Storm & Gambit in Uncanny X-Men.

But the biggest impacts of this story still come from the quieter moments, like Yukio tricking the (extremely) gullible Hand ninjas to save Wolverine, or Amiko's Dickensian existence and the sheer joy on her face when Wolverine plays into her fantasy about a ninja coming to rescue her, or just Wolverine, quietly shuffling through the issue, believing he's on death's door and trying to make life better for the people he cares about before he goes. We know that, ultimately, Wolverine isn't on the verge of death, but *he* doesn't, and so his actions motivated by his belief in his impending death still resonate.

Next Issue
Next week: Sabretooth & Gambit butt heads in X-Men #33, Nimrod returns in X-Force #35 and Douglock debuts in Excalibur #78!

8 comments:

  1. I strongly dislike the idea of Wolverine cutting pieces of someone once a year. That’s not Wolverine. He’s a violent and explosive man, but he’s not sadistic. He’s not cruel. He’s the kind of man who’d hunt down and kill the murderer of someone he cares, but he wouldn’t come up with sadistic ideas of slowl and painful deaths. That’s NOT Wolverine.

    Also, I have no idea what Chris Claremont thought when he has the idea of giving Wolverine am adopted daughter. It never went somewhere. Wolverine never once thought about the girl’s well being. She was a newborn when the giant dragon killed her mother. Realistically speaking, Wolverine should be a complete stranger to her. I presume in present-day Marvel she may have become a super-hero with claws and healing factor as well? There seems to be ten Wolverine and ten Spider-Man nowadays.

    My X-Men canon goes as far the X-Men/Alfa Flight miniseries of the 80s. It’s the perfect ending.

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  2. Questionably, Amiko's foster parents' translated English is written in the stereotypical manner of replacing "Rs" with "Ls" (even though what we're viewing on the page is meant to be a written representation of them speaking Japanese).

    Landau, Luckman & Lake are English words and thusly difficulty pronounced as usually in a sentence that's otherwise spoken in Japanese. What we are supposed to "hear" is some Japanese with "Randau", "Ruckman" and "Rake" namedropped in middle of it.

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  3. I like this issue. It works well as an ending for Yukio, settling down to start a family (of sorts). Kudos to Hama. This is probably the last issue of his run that I really dig.

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  4. That is a good effective cover.

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  5. // Albert & Elsie-Dee, the robot Wolverine and ten-year-old girl created by Donald Pierce in an attempt to kill Wolverine, return this issue. //

    … *sigh*

    // even though what we're viewing on the page is meant to be a written representation of them speaking Japanese //

    What Teemu said. It’s still of questionable taste, but since Hama’s own background is Japanese and he must have had his reasons, hey, I’m not going to die on that hill. Most odd to me is that the name “Zoe Culloden” is transliterated into Japanese pronunciation in the same word balloon while other than the initial consonant under discussion the names in “Landau, Luckman, and Lake” are not.

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    1. "Zhio-ry Cu-ro-dan" is probably a hidden joke and supposed to be the name of the sub-agency of LLL from where Logan claims to be from. If Google Translate is to be believed, "cu" means ward and "ro" means filtration, which sounds apt in the case.

      Probably very funny if one can language.

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    2. Yeah, no. It's just Zoe Culloden's name; Logan's using her card. Dunno why Hama chose to do that when he didn't have the guy likewise at least start to sound out "ran-da-oh ra-koh-man an-doh reh-ee-ku" although that's obviously a mouthful.

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    3. Damn, you're right. The joke probably is just that Logan is using Zoe Culloden's name there, and the reader gets to spell it out together with the foster parents but with superior knowledge of Logan's real identity.

      I can see someone carefully spelling out out the actual person's name, with less emphasis put on LLL which is a name they're already familiar. The foster parents also seem like the uncooperative type who would mockingly exaggerate a person's name when reading it on a calling card. The scene gives the air that Logan is a couple of steps ahead of them the whole time.

      If they were stupid enough to have a vocal grief afterwards on what "Zoe Culloden" did to them, their future meeting with the actual Zoe would probably be memorable. Logan has also mischief in his bones.

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