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Friday, August 16, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #4

"Into the Maelstrom"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X defeats Pierce using his stump claws, allowing Gateway to send the Human Council's armada to Apocalypse.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

With the help of the Human Council, Weapon X convinces Gateway to navigate the nuclear armada across the ocean to attack Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Rex brings word of the armada and its potential threat to Apocalypse, but he is less than concerned. The armada departs from Paris, but as it nears Apocalypse's sea wall defenses, a storm kicks up, prompting Gateway to climb atop the lead airship to better navigate the storm. Just then,  Pierce and another enhanced human use the storm as cover to attack. Pierce sends his ally after Weapon X & Gateway while he radios the Infinites at the nearby defense platform to shoot down the armada. As Weapon X & Gateway realize Pierce's ally is their old friend Carol Danvers, Emma Frost tries to attack Pierce but is stopped by Brian Braddock, who reveals himself to be reluctantly working for Apocalypse. Braddock manages to briefly overcome his programming long enough to knock Pierce out the window, where he proceeds to climb on top of the ship and execute Carol Danvers for failing to kill Weapon X or Gateway. As Pierce turns on Gateway, Weapon X is forced to extend the claws from his missing hand to kill Pierce & save Gateway, who then uses his bullroarer to open a massive portal, allowing the armada to travel directly to Apocalypse.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue reveals that, while Weapon X may have lost his hand, the claws that were extended through that hand remain, having resided within his forearm since then, as he pops them through his stump this issue. On the one hand this is a cool reveal; on the other, it's hard to believe this is the first fight Weapon X has been in since he lost the hand where he was so outmatched that he had to resort to popping his second set of claws (and, I guess we have to assume that the claws were retracted when Cyclops blew off his hand, somehow severing his adamantium wrist bones).

Brian Braddock is revealed to be a traitor in this issue, something that had been mildly hinted at in previous issues, on account of a cerebral implant he received from Apocalypse's forces, but he manages to overcome the implant to fight back in the end.

Through the Looking Glass
Gateway was apparently taken out of the Outback by some Berkley scientists, accounting for his more erudite nature in this reality (though it’s unclear why there’d be Berkley scientists doing work like that while Apocalypse is ravaging the country).

A Work in Progress
Mikhail is referred to as the “missing” Horseman, as Rex provides a status on events in Europe, including X-Universe.

Apocalypse, to his credit, is less concerned with the threat of the armada, if it attacks, it will merely serve as another avenue to test the strong and cull the weak.

Carol Danvers briefly returns as an altered human cyborg before being killed by Pierce as she fights her programming.

Austin's Analysis
Chekhov's Nuclear Armada finally launches in this issue, to make its contribution to the "Age of Apocalypse" endgame in X-Men: Omega. On the way there, this issue features much of the same from previous ones: more Weapon X fighting slobbering cyborgs (particularly Pierce) and getting beat-up in the process before battling back, with this issue gaining a little added oomph from the admittedly-cool but also kind-of-nonsensical reveal that Weapon X still has the claws that were once attached to his missing hand. But the relative repetition of micro-plots (Weapon X fights cyborgs!) in this series highlight the problem with it: it's all very much the same, both in terms of issue-to-issue happenings, but also in terms of the difference between Weapon X and Wolverine.

Strip out the AoA settings, and really, the only difference between Weapon X and the prime Wolverine (aside from cosmetics, like the missing hand) is that this version of the character has, at least at the start, an long-standing relationship with Jean Grey (something the prime Wolverine has long pined for but never achieved). But that aside (and, notably, Jean leaves Weapon X in issue #2 of this series), the characters are essentially the same, more willing to cross moral lines and kill than their peers, both possessing an indomitable will that pulls them back from the brink of defeat, even in the face of painful injury, both presenting a tough exterior that protects a fierce devotion to those they care about. As with much in "Age of Apocalypse", everything here is dialed up to the Nth degree (this Wolverine is willing to rationalize the nuclear annihilation of an entire continent), but cosmetic trappings aside, Weapon X isn't terrible different from what Hama had been doing in Wolverine. Which is by no means bad (Hama's scripting remains on point and Adam Kubert - who, to his credit, turns in all four issues of the series - seems to be having a blast with the new setting, cutting loose and presenting even bigger, bolder art), but it does pale in comparison somewhat to the kinds of things being done elsewhere in the event.

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  1. Did Merlin or Roma or whomever decide that in this reality Britain, and Earth, somehow didn’t need a Captain Britain?

    Your skeptical comments about the stump/claw situation have no good answers. Plus, I think it might’ve been more visually, narratively effective for Logan’s healing factor to have sealed off his skin at the wrist around the adamantium-laced bone as triage when Cyclops’ optic blast pulverized the flesh and cartilage, leaving them unable to grow back and leaving him with just an exposed skeletal adamantium-laced hand.

    Still feel like the ramifications of history predating Apocalypse’s rise, and in particular the backstories of such characters with long pasts as Wolverine, have been ignored…

    1. Our letter col actually addressed the wrist issue: Cyclops' blast obviously cut Logan's hand off from between the adamantium-laced bones in the wrist (there's lots of little ones there, and I'm told surgering them back together correctly if they get messed up isn't an easy task). Single bones are separated off from each other, so you can easily sever limbs off of Logan... with given value of easy.

      Logan's adamantium-laced hand bones are intact, wherever he left them. I still find it an awesome reveal that the claws weren't extended at the time, as you would expect, and so lost with the rest of his hand.

      If Alan Moore taught us anything, it was that in different realities it will be some other guy than Brian Braddock who will be their Captain Britain equivalent.


    2. @Teemu: // in different realities it will be some other guy than Brian Braddock who will be their Captain Britain equivalent //

      You’ll notice that I didn’t mention him by name, partly for that reason, although given the hand of fate pulling this rewritten reality’s characters towards certain tendencies if not outright destinies familiar from the original timeline, however fouled up, I would have expected Brian or perhaps Betsy Braddock to have been the Omniversal Powers-That-Be’s first choice. My larger point, though, jibes with your response. There should still be a Captain Britain out there, as well as a Sorcerer Supreme, and Olympians and Asgardians and Inhumans and so on, which is why X-Universe needed to be more of a tangential near-afterthought.

    3. Well... I notice it *now* that you point it out. And I was questioning it myself to begin with, as it's not alternative "reality" but rather an alternative timeline from a divergence point 20 years back in time so maybe Brian Braddock was earmarked for the Captain Britain job. I did consider the Betsy option too. But maybe Merlin & co choose their champion in that particular situation and the moment of the time. It's safe to say this Brian B. has developed to be unfit for the job.

      Maybe Ancient One is still unfound to us in Tibet in lack of Dr. Strange; the Inhumans have succesfully stayed hidden in lack of FF (or Apocalypse has done away with them after learning of them from his sources); Asgardians are easy as Don Blake explicity is told to have been in Norway when Apocalypse ascended and ran from there before he could find the stick in the cave and never got to bring the rest of the Asgardians to the public knowledge and I also think the Third Host of the Celestials forbade the Olympian, Asgardian etc. gods from messing up with humans anymore.


    4. Oops... My last line should read "more than a tangential near-afterthought".


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