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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

X-amining Wolverine: Bloody Choices

"Bloody Choices"

In a Nutshell
Wolverine teams up with, then fights, Nick Fury en route to killing a Hawaiian mobster and child molester.

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: John Buscema
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Color Artist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Ralph Macchio

On holiday in Hawaii, Wolverine intervenes when a small boy tries to assassinate Mr. Bullfinch, a local crime lord, and is attacked by Bullfinch's bodyguard, Shiv. Wolverine takes the boy to a doctor he knows, and learns he has been abused by Bullfinch, who still has the boy's brother imprisoned. Wolverine tries to track down Bullfinch but finds Shiv waiting for him, and after escaping, is joined by Nick Fury, who is in town to take down Bullfinch. Together, they attack Bullfinch's mansion, and Wolverine battles Shiv once again. Bullfinch ultimately escapes, but Wolverine's pursuit convinces him to cut a deal with SHIELD. This enrages Wolverine, who wants Bullfinch to pay for his crimes, particularly the ones involving children, but Fury insists they can save more lives by letting Bullfinch live and feed them information. After locating the SHIELD safehouse where Bullfinch is being held, Wolverine and Fury comes to blows, with Fury fighting his best to honor his promise to protect Bullfinch but Wolverine ultimately prevailing, after which he chases down Bullfinch and kills him.

Firsts and Other Notables
This was originally published as a prestige format, squarebound, magazine-sized graphic novel, priced $12.95, and I believe it was technically released as part of Marvel's Graphic Novel line (though they were no longer numbering them at this point, it would have been #67). It features a rather overblown introduction from editor Ralph Macchio, who really tries to sell this story as something thematically significant and, overall, as a BIG DEAL.

Shiv is teased as possibly being Wolverine's brother; they look similar (at least in terms of their hair), Shiv seemingly has a solo metallic claw, and he calls Wolverine "bro", but this idea is ultimately dropped in the story, and Shiv has yet to appear again outside this story.

Nick Fury guest stars in this issue, the only character other than Wolverine to appear before or after this issue.

We meet another of Wolverine's patented "old friend we've never seen before nor will ever see again" in the shady Doc Corbel, who runs a clinic on Hawaii.

Creator Central
Story and script come from Marvel Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco, while John Buscema, who launched Wolverine's solo series, provides the art.

The Chronology Corner
This is considered to take place between issues #44 and #45 of Wolverine (well, between the opening page setting up the fill-in story of issue #44 and #45, technically), and, more generally, in the gap between the end of "The Muir Island Saga" in X-Factor #70 and X-Men (vol. 2) #1 (which is where a ton of Wolverine guest appearances in other titles around this time, most of which we're not covering, take place).

A Work in Progress
Despite coming to blows later in the story, the initial relationship between Nick Fury and Wolverine is much more cordial than one would expect, given their last encounter in Wolverine #42-43, in which Wolverine was pissed at Fury for withholding secrets about his past with Sabretooth.

Fury also (rightly) gives Wolverine crap about his Patch identity.

Wolverine's encounter with a young boy makes him recall another young boy, the one about whom he told a story (and may or may not be Wolverine himself) in issue #25.

The Reference Section
Wolverine gets mistaken for Batman (excuse me, Bat Guy).

Teebore's Take
Despite what Ralph Macchio says in his rather overblown introduction to this issue, this is a pretty standard Wolverine story; certainly by today's standards, and really even by 1991's. Wolverine is in a vaguely-exotic locale, runs afoul of some kind of local evil, fights local evil's superpowered henchman, struggles with controlling his animalistic side in the face of said evil, and either succeeds or fails depending on how artsy the writer is feeling. This particularly story adds an additional wrinkle via the presence of Nick Fury, who sets up a "lesser of two evils" conflict between his goal and Wolverine's (though DeFalco certainly stacks the deck in Wolverine's favor by making Bullfinch an out-and-out child molester, which robs their conflict of some of its impact), and the John Buscema artwork looks especially lush in the prestige format. This could work as a perfectly serviceable but unexciting annual with some especially nice art, but it doesn't exactly earn its prestige format, and in no way, shape or form is it worth thirteen 1991 dollars, no matter how many overblown introductions it has trying to sell the idea that it's somehow deeper and more significant than an average issue of the regular series.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Beast gets the Liefeld treatment in Marvel Comics Presents #85-92. Friday, a look back at the first 70 issues of X-Factor. Next week, Scott Lobdell's Excalibur "run" ends with Excalibur #41.


  1. It seemed when Claremont left, every man and his dog at Marvel wanted to contribute to Wolverine's origin.

    I thought back then how odd it was that Wolverine's possible brother was called "Shiv", and then Hama reveals Weapon X's "cleaning program" is called Shiva!?


  2. DeFalco’s narration isn’t exactly consistent with the character’s voice, either as established by Claremont and more recently Hama or even within this story, veering from Logan’s usual bluntness to purple, indulgently hifalutin prose, but it begins with some hard-boiled captions that work fine when ended with periods yet are jarring upon the haphazard inclusion of exclamation points as if the writer can't entirely shake that old-school habit. This is a surprisingly tough, weird read given that it’s as you say a pretty standard Wolverine tale. Maybe that’s DeFalco just figuring that a “graphic novel” demands bigger words to go with its higher quality of color reproduction, square binding, and of course stomach-churning sexual violence.

  3. One would want to write this one off completely but it's sadly very topical, what with the recent reports of stuff the US army is told to look the other way from in Afghanistan. I kind of hate when entertainment from 25 years back disturbingly could be telling of this day.

    Shiv, though... I'm reminded of the childhood urban legends of everyone having a doppelganger* somewhere in the world while I move away permanently from this in rabid fashion. It's not like Wolvie could be having a slightly different clone or anything with different amount of claws, that would be ridiculous.

    "Shiv", though... really not a straight face name, considering.

    * Nein, ich bin nicht Deutsch.

  4. RE: Wolverine/Nick Fury relations, I've been binging on early 90's Marvel UK stuff lately, and there Wolverine is one of the go-to guys for Fury's distress signal, post "give you your dossier now Logan" but before "found you a cabin Logan".

    All this is of course only an excuse for asking: Teebore, are you going to include the Marvel UK stuff to any extent for your X-aminations? There are very two-dimensional, stale and from US view totally indifferent X-Men and Cable essentially as supporting cast for some of the books (and the very least cameoing in pretty much every title). It mayhap needs addressing if only for completeness' sake, but there's extremely little meat there on the bones, adamantium and otherwise.

  5. I remember this one. I was excited about it, but ultimately it was a whole lotta nothin'.


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