Friday, September 12, 2014
X-amining Wolverine #7
In a Nutshell
The Hulk arrives in Madripoor.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Buscema
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Consigliere: Tom DeFalco
In Tahoe, Nevada, Mr. Fixit is tasked by a mob don to check on the recent setbacks of his partner in the Far East. In Madripoor, the prince admonishes everyone present for fighting in his home, but when he spots Lindsay McCabe amongst them, he is delighted and declares everyone his guests, much to General Coy's consternation. En route to the airport, Mr. Fixit's car stops for gas and his driver is harrassed by a biker gang, prompting Fixit to fight them off. Back in Madripoor, Wolverine helps Tyger remove her protective armor, telling her the prince has agreed to allow both her and Coy to continue to operate, each focusing on their respective activities, a compromise that Wolverine believes to be good enough for now.
In Los Angeles, Mr. Fixit boards a flight for Madripoor. At the prince's palace, the prince oversees the agreement between Tyger and Coy and shows them out, then reveals himself to be a fan of Lindsay's acting work, bringing her to a room filled with memorabilia from her movies before asking for her autograph. At the Sovereign Hotel, Wolverine meets with Karma, who asks him to protect her uncle from Mr. Fixit, as he is still her best hope to find her siblings. At the airport, Wolverine, recognizing Fixit, watches as he's attacked by a group of thugs, presumably sent by Coy. After Wolverine intervenes to save Fixit's driver, Fixit hires Wolverine to drive him to his hotel in place of his shaken up driver. Curious why Fixit was so insistent on arriving before dawn, Wolverine sneaks into his room after the sun rises and discovers a sleeping Bruce Banner. Wolverine laughs, thinking it's going to be fun making Fixit regret stepping foot in his town.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue guest stars the Hulk, who at this point in this history is still a surlier, more sarcastic grey Hulk who comes out at night. He is currently working under the name Joe Fixit as a casino bouncer/enforcer in Las Vegas, and is sent to Madripoor as a favor to a mob boss who is a friend of his employer and who is owed money by General Coy (which Coy lost when Wolverine destroyed his opium supply in issue #5). It's also suggested that he drugs himself so that when he reverts to Banner's form during the day, Banner just sleeps until nightfall (I'm not sure if that's something from Hulk's series at this time, or an invention this issue of Claremont's). Wolverine-as-Patch battling the Mr. Fixit Hulk makes for a pretty great microcosm of Marvel in the late 80s/early 90s.
The gang war between Tyger Tiger and General Coy comes to close this issue, as a stalemate is suggested by the prince in which Coy is given control over Madripoor's drug and slave rackets (two areas in which Tyger won't participate) while Tyger handles everything else, which will be the new Madripoorian status quo, at least for awhile.
In the wake of the gang war's end, Karma continues to stand by her uncle, asking Wolverine to help protect him from Mr. Fix-It because Coy is still her best chance at locating her missing siblings.
Much is made of Mr. Fix-It needing to get to his hotel by morning (before he turns into Banner), meaning the fight at the airport which closes this issue is taking place at night, yet the art in no way makes that clear, with the brightly colored (or just white) panel backgrounds used at various times creating a sensation that it's broad daylight during the fight.
John Buscema inks himself this issue, giving the art even more of a classic, retro feel.
The Chronology Corner
Hulk appears in this issue following issue #354 of his series.
A Work in Progress
It's revealed that Prince Baran (who is named this issue) is a Lindsay McCabe superfan, to the point of having mannequins decked out in outfits from her various film roles, and this is essentially what prevents the prince from executing (or trying to execute) Wolverine and his allies on the spot.
It's fairly clear in several places in this issue that Wolverine is indeed wearing a pseudo-mask over his eyes.
The prince's chancellor, whose death kicked off this gang war storyline is issue #4, is confirmed to have been ordered by General Coy.
I Love the 80s
Mr. Fix-It's driver in Madripoor offers to call ahead to the hotel via a "cellular telephone".
Wolverine punches out Roughouse with a mighty "slammo"!
Following up on last issue's structurally-atypical ending, this issue brings the Tyger/Coy gang war story to an end in a similarly atypical manner, as Madripoor's prince simply declares the conflict over halfway through the issue as Wolverine convinces Tyger to accept, for the time being, a place as a kind of co-crimelord of Madripoor with Coy. In doing so, Claremont transitions into the next story arc (a confrontation with the Hulk) midway through this issue rather than between issues, and puts Wolverine in a position to be defending Coy only pages after he was about to slit his throat (though abrupt, this transition mostly works, and fits the more morally gray Wolverine of this series).
That transition, and the ultimate resolution to the gang war, also makes it clear that it wasn't just the characters who were establishing a setting for the series, it was also the plot itself, as now we're left with the new, seemingly ongoing, status quo of Tyger and Coy vying for supremacy (and the Prince's favor), with Wolverine caught in the middle. It's a non-traditional ending for what, until the very end of last issue, was structured like a very traditional superhero adventure story, and it makes for effective world building for the young series, which is rarely a bad thing.
The X-Men battle an invasion in Uncanny X-Men #245, the New Mutants battle a sea monster in New Mutants #76, and X-Factor battles trolls in X-Factor #41.