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Friday, October 11, 2019

X-amining Wolverine #91

"Path of Stone, Wood of Thrones"
July 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine and the X-Men try to come to terms with Wolverine's new mental state.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

From the woods surrounding the X-Mansion, Wolverine watches two kids return to their house on the border of the property, having picked some flowers for their sick mother. Meanwhile, Xavier, Beast & Storm discuss Wolverine's mental state, while Psylocke joins Cyclops & Jean Grey for dinner at the boathouse, where Psylocke senses the presence of Wolverine, watching from outside. They worry that he is losing control. Later, Xavier shares data he's assembled suggesting that Wolverine's adamantium skeleton had retarded his mutation; with the metal gone, his increasingly-feral state is the result of his mutation continuing to evolve him. Outside, Wolverine watches the neighbor family as the father begins assaulting the mother. He is interrupted by Xavier, Storm & Beast, but when the domestic fight spills out into the yard, Wolverine intervenes, prepared to attack the father. But he is held back by the other X-Men, and relents when the mother comes to her husbands' defense. As she orders the X-Men off her property, Wolverine tells his friends he's remaining outside. When they insist they want to help him, he says they also wanted to help the abused women, but now she'll likely die at the hands of her husband, and that'll be on their heads for stopping Wolverine just now, just like it'll be on their heads if they don't deal with him before its too late.

Firsts and Other Notables
Picking up from X-Men Prime, which established that Wolverine had taken to living on the grounds of the X-Mansion (rather than in the mansion itself) following his attack on Sabretooth in the previous issue of this series, this issue establishes that in the wake of that attack, Wolverine is struggling to control his animal side like never before. This new status quo (of a more animalistic Wolverine is technically part of the X-Men again for the first time since issue #75 but still living somewhat apart from them) will last through issue #100, which will feature the next big status quo change for the character.

Professor X has come to believe that rather than the loss of adamantium causing Wolverine’s reversion to a more feral state, it was the adamantium itself which, for all these years, had regressed his mutation, preventing his transformation into a more animalistic state, a theory James Hudson/Guardian of Alpha Flight supports. This is setting up the next stage of Wolverine’s development over the next nine issues, culminating in the debut of feral noseless Wolverine.

Xavier has invited the Hudsons to examine Wolverine; their visit will occur next issue.

This issue introduces a family that lives on the border of the Xavier grounds, in which the mother is suffering physical abuse at the hands of her husband. Wolverine tries to intervene here, and but is stopped by the X-Men (and the mother's defense of her husband); the father will pop up again next issue.

Duncan Rouleau fills in on this issue, in his first Marvel work. He'll bounce around the X-office for a bit (including a brief sting as the regular artist on X-Factor, shortly before it becomes Mutant X), but is probably most notable for drawing the Big Hero 6 miniseries that served as the (highly limited) inspiration for the later Disney animated film.

A Work in Progress
Storm, Beast & Xavier discuss Wolverine’s mental state, with Storm coming off very differently than her depictions in both X-Men books (where she makes a point of telling Wolverine he’s still a man and deserves to live inside with everyone else).

Human/Mutant Relations
Despite ostensibly trying to help her, the abused mother is none too pleased to be dealing with the mutant X-Men.

Austin's Analysis
Hama dives into the post-AoA status quo with one of those done-in-one morality tales he periodically trots out, making for a relatively quiet return following the larger-than-life events of issue #90 (and some of the bigger swings at establishing new status quos done in the other "first issues back" issues). Plot-wise, not a ton happens here, and it doesn't really cover much more ground than had been previously established in X-Men Prime & Uncanny X-Men #322. But as is his wont, Hama uses this issue to present a view inside Wolverine's head, and as is typical for him by now, does so pretty effectively, as Wolverine's always-below-the-surface struggle with his animal side becomes much more front and center. The art is shaky and Hama can't quite seem to settle on how Storm feels about Wolverine (at times both worrying he is a risk to others and urging him to rejoin his friends inside the mansion), but the issue at least makes it clear where Wolverine is at as the next big phase of his evolution begins.

Next Issue
Next week: Generation X #5, Excalibur #87 and Cable #21!

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