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Friday, April 14, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #65

"State of Grace"
January 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine deals with the death of Silver Fox.

Script: Larry Hama
Art: Mark Texeira
Art Assist: Steve Biasi
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Over Xavier's objections, Wolverine takes to the Danger Room, using it to recreate the encounter between his past self, Sabretooth & Silver Fox in Wolverine & Silver Fox's cabin as an attempt at catharsis in the wake of Silver Fox's death. When that doesn't work, he heads to a bar in Salem Center, where he hustles some pool to instigate a fight and get beat up. Jean arrives, and tries to help him work through his grief, but Wolverine points out that part of his problem is that when facing the deaths of so many people he cares about, not even his happy memories can comfort him, as he no longer knows which are true and which are fake. The next morning, he goes to Silver Fox's funeral, but learns SHIELD has appropriated her body, and that John Wraith has arranged for her to be buried at the cabin. He takes Wolverine there, and upon seeing the cabin, realizes his good memories of that time are real. He buries Silver Fox nearby, then says goodbye, promising to visit every spring.

Firsts and Other Notables
Despite last issue ending with a "to be continued" blurb, this issue is essentially an epilogue to the story, with all the characters involved save Wolverine & Jubilee (like Psi Borg, Sabretooth, Maverick etc.) all disappearing between issues and the story picking up back at the X-Mansion with Wolverine in the Danger Room.

As a result, this issue confirms that Silver Fox did indeed die, for real this time, in issue #63, despite her death coming via that old saw of being eaten by a man-eating tree, and despite the suggestion in that issue that she may still be alive.

Wraith does turn up briefly, helping Wolverine carry out Silver Fox' funeral as a thank you for Wolverine's help with the Terry Adams situation, something Wolverine doesn't remember (and which gets brought up twice in this issue); the story behind "Terry Adams" will drive the plot of the next three issues.

The opening page makes it clear this story takes place before "X-Cutioner's Song".

Creator Central 
Mark Texeira thankfully returns on pencils this issue, though he is no longer inking himself, and will be inked by other artists for the duration of his run (which only lasts through issue #68).

A Work in Progress
The previous subtext about what Sabretooth did to Silver Fox in that cabin if he didn't kill her edges even closer to full out text, with the "she said no" line repeated.

Wraith is once again said to have a lot of push, and is able to go over Nick Fury's head, though I don't think we ever find out exactly why that is.

The previous issue established the idea that while any of Wolverine's bad memories could be fakes, most of the good ones were real (since it didn't serve Ferro's purposes to make the Weapon Xers happy), yet here, Wolverine spends much of the issue once again wondering if his happy memories of being with Silver Fox are real, until he's taken to the cabin, which seems to affirm his memories (again).

Wolverine declares that he'll revisit Silver Fox's grave every spring, but I'm fairly certain we'll never actually see him doing that.

The Best There is at What He Does
Jean reminds us that while Wolverine's healing factor heals him, it doesn't prevent or dampen pain. He also manages to patch up his face (including an eyeball hanging from its socket) in a matter of pages, as the healing factor edges closer to near-instantaneous healing.

Austin's Analysis
A surprisingly effective epilogue to the Weapon X/Psi Borg/memory implant story, in which Wolverine spends an issue mourning Silver Fox' death in various ways. We see him get out some aggression via the Danger Room, then pick bar fights just to feel something, and have a heart-to-heart with Jean Grey, before presiding over a rather moving funeral for Silver Fox. Granted, it would have been nice to see Hama do an issue like this after Mariko's death, especially considering her relationship with Wolverine existed as more than flashbacks whose veracity was constantly being questioned, but still. A welcome display of emotion from Wolverine.

All that said, where the heck did this come from?!? Granted, I hadn't been following this storyline with my full attention, but nowhere in the previous issue did I get the impression it was, effectively, concluding the story. I seriously went back to that issue, and then the start of this one, repeatedly, to make sure I wasn't missing an issue or reading one ahead or anything like that. The apparent conclusion to this story had no aftermath to the fight with Psi Borg, no reunited Weapon Xers going their separate ways, resolving the question of their age-suppression factors that started it. Just Sabretooth getting eating by a man-eating tree ( Sabretooth dead?). With all the real/implanted memory fakeouts in this story, it wasn't even entirely clear that Silver Fox was dead for real; while this issue puts that question to rest, it would have been nice to *know* Silver Fox was dead before seeing Wolverine mourn her here. It's tempting to blame the previous issue's art (which certainly didn't invite close reading), but this seems like a fail on Hama's part, presenting an epilogue to a story without giving it a proper conclusion.

Next Issue
Next week: X-Men (vol. 2) #16, X-Force #18 and Excalibur #60.


  1. "Granted, it would have been nice to see Hama do an issue like this after Mariko's death..."

    Funny you say this -- as I never read WOLVERINE and so didn't know exactly when Mariko died, for years I saw this cover now and then and figured this had to be the issue that featured her death or funeral or something, to the point I think I convinced myself this was that issue. I forget when I finally learned the truth, but it was probably only about four or five years ago.

  2. I always get chuckles of their attempt at confusing Logan of the location of the cabin by blindfolding him. I'm pretty certain with his senses he can navigate perfectly well even in total darkness. Which they probs understand because allowing him to find his own way back to civilisation will make it quite easy to home at it once he finds himself back on the map. The blindfold is only for show.

    "Every person I ever loved... includin' you!" And then in the follow-up Jean will telepathically reach out to him from the Moon. The triangle drama is in full force now.

    Speaking of which, the scene at the pool table personally makes me to remember the very first panel in which Wolverine walked into my life, in UXM #199 where he asks Scott to remind him never to face him on a pool table after a nifty use of optic beam.

    The moron never realized it was Silver Fox who had Mariko killed.

    1. Technically, didn't Matsu'o have Mariko killed, and Silver Fox was just the brains/agent behind it.

      Which, yeah, is still rife with dramatic irony that would have been to see explored, but it's more of a "Silver Fox was the gun, but Matsu'o pulled the trigger" kind of thing (unless I'm remembering it wrong).

    2. The way I read it, Silver Fox arranged Cylla to distract Logan from the scene, and narrates the crap while it takes place, about Reiko being immune to blowfish toxin and taking herself out upon realization. All's on her, Matsu'o is a total extra here.

      He may have wanted it, yes, but so did Silver Fox. Matsu'o was ready to kill Reiko a moment before and was out of the cycle how it was to happen until it did.

      He's pretty much a fall guy for Logan to have it at.

  3. "Wolverine declares that he'll revisit Silver Fox's grave every spring, but I'm fairly certain we'll never actually see him doing that."

    I remember some story circa Onslaught that Wolverine does that, but after spring.

    Wolverine picking a bar fight made me remember a Six Feet Under episode where Nate discovers his wife is dead and he goes to a bar do the same thing Logan does this issue - bar fights to feel something over dead beloves ones is a thing?

    1. That has to be a trope by now, right? I feel like we see "pick a fight so a dejected protagonist can feel SOMETHING" a lot in fiction, especially genre fiction.

    2. Maybe something like that happens in Grey's Anatomy too, but I can't remember clearly.


  4. Steve Biasi is credited with art assist, not with inking, and that assistance could come in a variety of forms — faces, backgrounds, breakdowns, finishes.

    1. You had me scared - I did credit Biasi as such in the credits section. I was, however, being less precise in my discussion of Texeira being helped out on the rest of these issues of his run. You're right that "inking" is both too specific and not specific enough a descriptor.


    2. My comment was in response to “he is no longer inking himself,” and I definitely could’ve been more precise about that.

  5. I recently reread this volume of Wolverine (and then found my way to your blog) and was disappointed that Wolverine never discovered Silver Fox's role in Mariko's death, although it does have the effect of making this issue more downbeat with Wolverine coming across especially pitiable (unless that's what Hama was going for?)

    The business with Silver Fox got messier in recent years with Loeb and Way seemingly ignoring everything that happened after Claremont's #10...

    Anyhow, all up I had a great time revisiting these comics, and I'm enjoying going through your reviews :)

    1. Thanks!

      And yeah, I haven't actually read much of the Loeb & Way stuff yet (mostly because I've always heard it was terrible), but I know they make a pretty ugly hash out of Wolverine's already-convoluted past.

  6. I'm way late to the party on this, but I have to thank you for acknowledging the complete punking out of resolving the previous storyline. (Which started in issue 60! That's a five-month commitment, and then in month 6 ... an epilogue rather than a conclusion?)

    The failure of the ending of "X-Tinction" to offer any kind of actual resolution or catharsis to the "Stryfe is the son of Scott and Jean" stuff had already felt like a whiff to me, and then this issue was a second strike. I love Larry Hama, and as you pointed out, this issue is -- out of the context of the disappointment -- rather nice.

    In fact I love Hama's writing here. I don't think you mentioned it in your write-up, but there's an angle to Logan's healing factor that I don't think any writer had used up to now: The fact that for people who have seen battle, there is a certain pride and satisfaction in having the "scars to prove it." But Logan doesn't have that. And combined with faulty memories, it's as if he can't really take pride in anything he's done, because there is no proof -- mental or physical -- that he's even done it.

    I thought that was really poignant.

    It almost was enough to make me buy Wolverine #66, but I was like, "Sorry, love ya, Larry, but I'm not going to embark on another six-part storyline that has no ending ..." This issue was my last for a long time.

    (Of course, the third strike was PAD quitting the franchise, Claremont-stye, out of frustration. X-Factor 89 was the last of the last for me, at the time...)


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