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Friday, January 15, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #39

May 1991

In a Nutshell 
Albert and Wolverine help disarm Elsie-Dee. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inkes: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Mark Chiarello
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Storm and Wolverin try to rescue Elsie-Dee from he burning warehouse, but Elsie-Dee makes it so that only Wolverine can enter the building, walking through the flames to save her. Impressed by his devotion to saving her, Elsie-Dee is reluctant to kill him. Meanwhile, Bonebreaker considers admitting to Pierce that he misprogrammed Elsie-Dee, but decides against it. Back in Venice, the damaged Albert meets up with Sally and his gang, and agrees to help them if they help him. At the warehouse, Elsie-Dee admits to Wolverine what she is, and though both she and Storm insist he get as far away from Elsie-Dee as possible, Wolverine refuses, instead telling Elsie-Dee to fight her programming.

Just then Albert contacts her through their radio link, pleased that she's still alive, and with the help of Sally's gang, breaks into a Radio Shack and uses their equipment to hack into Federal databanks, searching for the detonation sequence for Elsie-Dee's bomb. Just as Elsie-Dee can no longer hold back the explosion, he finds the sequence and transmit it to her, enabling her to disarm herself. However, his actions have drawn the attention of the FBI, and when Albert emerges from the Radio Shack, he's gunned down. Back at the warehouse, Wolverine applauds Elsie-Dee for not giving up, telling her everything is going to be fine. But she disagrees, saying she's trying to reach her friend Albert, but his frequency is dead.

Firsts and Other Notables
This can't be the first time Wolverine refers to himself as "the ol' Canucklehead", can it?

A Work in Progress
Storm hangs a lampshade on Wolverine's affinity for developing strong bonds with young women.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
This issue once again features a crowd of onlookers who believe the fantastic things they're seeing are the result of special effects from a movie shoot.

Storm uses the word "animatronic" this issue, which appears with a trademark symbol behind it for some reason.

The Best There is at What He Does
We are reminded that while Wolverine's healing power fixes his wounds, it doesn't prevent pain.

We also distinctively see that his hair regrows as part of the healing process.

Wolverine says the thing he's really best at is not giving up. And that's one to grow on!

Teebore's Take
While the plot doesn't really move forward all that much (Wolverine spends the majority of the issue doing little more than hugging a robot) and Storm seems slightly out of character (I can see Storm ultimately buying into a pragmatic argument, but she's too quick to just write off Elsie-Dee as a soulless automaton), the same sort of absurdist energy that carried the previous issue remains, making the story, at the very least, a different sort than the usual fare. Also, while it goes unstated here, there's some interesting thematic dynamics in play regarding Wolverine sticking up for Elsie-Dee so strenuously: while Pierce simply intended her five-year-old form to lure in Wolverine from the perspective of a hero wanting to save an innocent child, instead, Wolverine has been "caught" by Elsie-Dee because he sees her fighting to overcome her programming just as he's done, in a manner, most of his life. Intentional or not, it adds a bit of depth to an otherwise delightfully absurd story.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #277, New Mutants Annual #7, and X-Factor #67.

Collected Editions


  1. Audio-Animatronics (Animatronics, AA) is the registered trademark for a form of robotics animation created by Walt Disney Imagineering for shows and attractions at Disney theme parks, and subsequently expanded on and used by other companies.

    This was my first guess, but I went to look it up so I don't have to shame.

    I think the Elsie Dee/Wolverine parallels are intentionally left unsaid, because it (or something in that vein) is kind of obvious notion. Everyone can take home what they like (or curse the stupid androids forevermore if they got nothing - the G.I.Joe guy set up a trap for shallow people:) )

    1. I had a hunch Disney was responsible for the animatronic TM. I knew they were certainly big innovators in that field; I never realized they legally were THE innovators of it.

  2. Wow. This issue really is the most Mignola-esque we've gotten yet, no? And its interesting because this isn't Silvestri with a new inker, its someone we're used to seeing him work with.

    1. Maybe its the colorist?


    2. I think so. Chiarello did colors on a fair bit of Mignola-drawn work around this time, including the comics adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the first Hellboy miniseries, and (most relevantly as well as most immediately before it) Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure.

    3. Yeah, I meant to mention that in my review. This is definitely the most Mignola-esque art yet from Silvestri and Green.


  3. What Teemu said re “Audio-Animatronics” — from which “animatronics” seems to have become a generic shortening or back-formation. Per Wikipedia, “The term ‘Audio-Animatronics’ was first used commercially by Disney in 1961, was filed as a trademark in 1964, and was registered in 1967.“ I recall it being used particularly in regard to the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.

    // We also distinctively see that his hair regrows as part of the healing process. //

    Yeah. I called bandersnatch on this in Weapon X and I’m doing it again, even if the consistency is an unexpected "cheer within a jeer". This is by far the fastest his healing factor has ever been shown to work, in my recollection, excepting the M’Krann Crystal story. And the hair just makes no sense. I also find it jarring to see this sequence before any indication in either this title or X-Men that the recent, prolonged, unexplained failure of Wolverine’s healing factor has been reversed.

    // Wolverine has been "caught" by Elsie-Dee because he sees her fighting to overcome her programming just as he's done, in a manner, most of his life. //

    Nice observation. Even if Teemu finds it more obvious than I did.


    1. On the subject of trademarks, by the way, I should point out that the story itself uses the fictional analogue “Radio Hut” for Radio Shack.

    2. Blam: Nice observation. Even if Teemu finds it more obvious than I did.

      Ha, let me stress the "something in that vein" bit, because Teebore puts his take of it really beautifully into words, while for example my own take would have been to more crudely reach back to DPS and Wolverine's retort to Pierce about his knowing all about cyborgs, nearly being one himself ("oh, it was Pierce of all people back then!" is actually a thought I just now got upon writing this).

      Moreover, I am a firm believer that 90 % of genius is to come up with some concept or something that's really simple and obvious to everyone afterwards, but which existence no one before has just managed to elaborately point out, like for example the 'transaction cost' concept in economics as a real-life hindrance to the fluid economic activity of theories, which is just obvious when you think about it and for which they still have deservedly slapped Nobels on people.

      So, well done, Teeb. :)

    3. Blam: What Teemu said re “Audio-Animatronics” — from which “animatronics” seems to have become a generic shortening or back-formation.

      My vote would be it being one of those cases where a trademarked product/name by one manufacturer becomes so de facto general word for all the products of similar vein that the trademark holder actually find themselves incapable of enforcing it in courts anymore. See: Hoover vacuum cleaners.

      Marvel of course would be more prone than averagely to continue slapping the TM on such properties nevertheless, what with they on their part wouldn't exactly delighted (I assume) to see any extreme sportser climbing tall buildings to be called 'spider-man', especially when the Brits already use 'spiderman' for steeplejacks.

    4. Of course in this case the trademark is specifically on "Audio-Animatronics", but the "animatronics" bit either isn't an obvious word that would be directly lifted/formed from Greek or something. Quite curious really that Disney would have specifically wanted the Audio bit into it, unless of course the other word already existed prior their laying their hands on it.

    5. Great point on the complete reversal of the "Wolverine's lost a step" quasi-subplot here. His battle with Deathbird in UXM #276 is, I think, the last time Claremont even subtly hints at it, but this definitely shows the complete opposite of it. I know it more or less just goes away in X-Men, never getting formally resolved, but one of the problems with stuff like this that just goes away is finding a good place to formally acknowledge as such. This issue, with super-healing Wolverine in three panels, was probably the place to do it.

  4. There's a page in this comic that is placed incorrectly.

    ... That's all I got. :)

    1. You recall which page offhand? Unless the mixup is *really* incidental, I suspect the scan I have of the issue corrected it.


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