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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #137-142: Rumble in the Jungle

"Rumble in the Jungle" / "Arena" / "Masque" / "Bedlam" / "Battleground" / "Afterburn"
September - November 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Doc Samson team-up to defeat an alien invasion

Plot: Erik Larsen
Script: Chris Marrinan
Pencils: Chris Marrinan
Inks: Mike Machlan, Scott Koblish (issues #140 -142)
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: Joe Andreani
Editor: Richard Ashford
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

On another tropical vacation, Wolverine spots a group of stereotypically-garbed natives attempting to sacrifice a young woman. He rescues her, but in the process gets knocked out by a large ape and his armored companion. Wolverine awakens in an arena where he fights the ape, until the armored individual joins the fray. Knocking off his helmet, Wolverine is shocked to discover it is Doc Samson. Wolverine then manages to escape from the arena and a clearly-brainwashed Samson, but is recaptured by Samson's native-esque allies, all of whom speak a strange language. Wolverine is placed in a high-tech machine operated by Samson, but the feedback causes Samson to break free of the natives' control. He and Wolverine fight back, during which a portal opens. Wolverine leaps through, fighting back a group of robotic insectoid aliens, of whom the natives are an advance guard for their invasion. On Earth, Samson destroys the portal, just as Wolverine leaps clear. However, the gorilla remains under the aliens' control, and it attacks Wolverine & Samson. Wolverine maneuvers the ape into a nearby temple, which is then blown up by an unscrupulous scientist hoping to clear the land for development, trapping the ape inside.

Firsts and Other Notables
This story marks the end of a string of continual Wolverine stories in Marvel Comics Presents. Every issue since #38 has featured such a story of some sort. This isn't his last appearance in the series (he'll be back for issues #150-155), but it marks the end of near-constant dominance of the title.

Erik Larsen receives plot credit for this story; presumably it's a leftover from before he left to co-found Image Comics that was dusted off and dropped into this series.

Hulk supporting character, Doc Samson, most recently seen (by us) psychoanalyzing X-Factor in X-Factor #87, guest stars in this story.

Wolverine bemoans the ease with which he takes out the native goons, saying good goons are all about quality not quantity, which seems like a lesson this series should take to heart. 

The Chronology Corner
This story takes place immediately before Wolverine's appearance in the Sabretooth miniseries, which takes place right before Uncanny X-Men #304.

A Work in Progress
This issue begins with Wolverine on vacation in a tropical location, just as the previous MCP Wolverine story did (something issue #137 at least acknowledges).

The large gun-toting ape Wolverine fights a few times in this story bears a resemblance to Beast, particularly as he appeared during Claremont's first return to the X-Men, when he regularly wore a pair of goggles and had buzzed off his Wolverine-esque hair wings.

Austin's Analysis
"Wolverine & Doc Samson team-up to defeat an alien invasion (which should probably be a big deal but isn't)" is pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the vast majority of Wolverine's MCP stories, in that they often feature a guest star from outside Wolverine's usual orbit teaming up with him to foil a plot that should be a big deal, but coming as it does in Marvel Comics Presents, inherently is not (because rarely does anything important happen in this series). One of the slightly notable things about this particular MCP team-up is that it comes from a plot by Erik Larsen whose later Wolverine run will be notable for Larsen's efforts to also feature more of the wider Marvel Universe alongside the title character there. Other than that, it's worth mentioning that the art from Chris Marrinan, who's turned in some pretty rough stuff in Excalibur, is not terrible. It's not great, but it's far sight better than his Excalibur work, suggesting he may have been dealing with a shorter turnaround time for some of those issues. Those minor creator notes aside, there's not much else to this story (which also makes it representative of the vast majority of Wolverine's Marvel Comics Presents tenure).

Next Issue
Unstacking the Deck takes a look at the second series of Marvel Masterpieces!


  1. Somehow it reads like the early 1980's Tarzan comicbooks they put out for us in the old continent. And that's all I have to say. Kreegah bundolo!

  2. A few nice covers from George Pratt.

  3. The outlook is certainly very pleasing. The black backdrop complements the comic strips quite nicely. The writer has done a good job.


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