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Friday, March 13, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #20

January 1990

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Tiger Shark as he tries to rescue Roughhouse.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Breakdown Artist: John Byrne
Finishing Artist: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Tiger Shark drags Wolverine underwater, lodging Wolverine's claws into the coral shelf, trapping him there and leaving him to drown. Meanwhile, La Bandera leads an attack on the Tierra Verde Medical center, but discovers the political prisoners she'd hoped to rescue gone, the whole thing a trap set by Geist. Tiger Shark appears and tries to kill her, but she escapes. Upstairs, Caridad delivers his wife, Sister Salvation, to Roughhouse, who has agreed to use her powers on him in exchange for seeing her son. Below, Tiger Shark hunts for La Bandera, but Wolverine intervenes before he can kill the girl, having fought his way free of the coral. He manages to defeat Tiger Shark but tells La Bandera he needs her help, as he's lost his hearing.

Together, they head upstairs, where Sister Salvation has cured Roughhouse of the madness inflicted by the tainted cocaine.Wolverine and La Bandera fight through the guards, taking Caridad hostage. They bring him, Sister Salvation and Roughhouse onto the roof, where a helicopter is waiting for Caridad. Geist attempts to use the prisoners to barter Caridad's freedom, but the prisoners fight back, and Wolverine, La Bandera and Roughhouse board the copter, along with a protesting Sister Salvation, leaving Caridad behind. As the copter turns out over the ocean, Tiger Shark leaps from the water, dragging it down towards the water, but Wolverine knocks him off, leaving him for the sharks swarming in the water, drawn by the blood from his injuries. As the group leaves the city behind, Wolverine's hearing returns as Sister Salvation's power starts to return Roughhouse to normal. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue wraps up Wolverine's contribution to "Acts of Vengeance", and though it's no more connected to the larger storyline than last issue, Tiger Shark does reference it. 

A Work in Progress
Wolverine notes how odd it is to hear someone speaking underwater as Tiger Shark taunts him.

The Best There is at What He Does
Dragged underwater by Tiger Shark, Wolverine wonders how long he has before his lungs burst, and later ponders how his healing factor will deal with him drowning, thinking it'll simply prolong his agony rather than keeping him alive. 

Teebore's Take
This issue wraps up the series two-part foray into "Acts of Vengeance", as well as the next phase of the larger Geist/Caridad/weird cocaine storyline. It's an interesting approach to take to story structure, with the overall narrative broken up into two part chunks (issues #17 & 18 introduce the plot, and are centered around Madripoor, issues #19 & 20 move the action to Tierra Verde and introduce La Bandera), creating smaller arcs within the larger arcs. Which, of course, is plenty common in comics, but two issue arcs within a larger story is fairly unique and here, at least, fairly effective, keeping things from getting too stale.

This issue also teams Wolverine up with La Bandera more directly, and oddly enough (given that Archie Goodwin and not Claremont is writing this story), the same kind of mentor/mentee vibe from the Wolverine/Kitty and Wolverine/Jubilee pairings is present, with Wolverine both imparting martial wisdom (Kitty) while needing Bandera's help (Jubilee). It could just be me reading that into their interactions because of my familiarity with the trope, or a sheer coincidence, but the end result is a nice bit of characterization consistency, intentional or not.

Next Issue
Next week, the Lady Mandarin arc concludes in Uncanny X-Men #258, Rob Liefeld arrives in New Mutants #86, and X-Factor returns home in X-Factor #51.

Collected Editions


  1. Yeah let's forget what I said about her offensive power, she managed to get her followers killed anyway. I'd venture to suggest that what'll eventually get her killed off-panel is her harsh experience here today, making her limit her power-usage while still feeling the responsibility for go superheroing because she got the powers. Evil universe.

    Wolverine is one harsh operator explicitly "electing" her to be his ears, because as we know, the bitchy part in revolutions is the bit afterwards when you have to get things running and it becomes obvious most people won't get their most hopes come real. He's probably subtly reminding her of the dangers of her bright idealism, and probably feeling a bit jerk after seeing all the bodies.

    It was Kitty I think on the late 90's Claremont's WOLVERINE issue (onehundredtwentysomething) who stated to Viper I think that perhaps Logan needs (young) female relationships because in them the female doesn't actively try to kill him.

  2. A good fun well-paced story with some good art. It doesn't re-invent the wheel, but it doesn't need to. Too bad this team doesn't last much longer, would have been good to have a few more stories from them before Hama starts his tenure.

  3. My big problem with this arc was Archie's establishing Roughouse as a human when his original speech patterns in issue 4 made it obvious that Claremont intended him to be from Asgard.

  4. @wwk5d: Too bad this team doesn't last much longer, would have been good to have a few more stories from them before Hama starts his tenure.

    Indeed. I'm digging this story more than I thought I would. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it is surprisingly solid superheroics.

    @Nathan: Archie's establishing Roughouse as a human when his original speech patterns in issue 4 made it obvious that Claremont intended him to be from Asgard.

    I missed that. Is it just in the implication that Geist would be able to affect Roughhouse like he does only if Roughhouse were human, or is there something in the story that directly states Roughhouse is a human?

    Because officially, whatever Goodwin may have said in this arc, I'm pretty sure he's considered Asgardian.

  5. @Austin: We learn in this story, when he and Wolverine are hung upside down in chains, that Rough-house's head was severely physically scarred by his father when he was a child, yet when introduced by Claremont he had a full crop of hair, suggesting that he wasn't invulnerable as Asgardians were known to be.

  6. There has been a high-profile precedent of an Asgardian getting so scarred on face that he has had to grow an epic beard to cover it. By Hela, he was. Makes one wonder who Roughouse's daddy really is...

  7. I have to say btw that four or so last covers have been pretty great in my mind, and what Teeb said about superheroics being good applies especially to supervillainy: Tiger Shark may seen like and odd choice for Wolverine, but he's a great villain with his hunter gimmick and I'd like to read more of him not least to find out if they always write him as an aquatic Sabretooth or is it Wolverine's presence here that pushes it forward. "runt"

  8. @Teemu: I agree re: Tigershark and would loved for him to have been revealed a part of the Weapon X programme;)

  9. Goddamnit Nathan! I'm laughing myself senseless now imagining him in the Weapon X false memory "movie" sets with his fin slapping in every doorway.


  10. In some alternate universe Roughhouse and Wolverine play each other's parts in this issue, purely so that I can pretend Tiger Shark has the line "Stay in the coral, 'House!"


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