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Friday, March 27, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #95

"Manhattan Rhapsody"
November 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Dirt Nap as his wild side continues to take control

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green & Matt Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

In Egypt, Cyber battles a robotic Wolverine as the Dark Riders monitor him, pleased with the results. In New York, Wolverine is walking the streets, monitored from afar by James & Heather Hudson. He oversees a strange man named Dirt Nap try to sell a kid some stolen computers & intervenes, drawing Dirt Nap's ire, but James gets involved before Wolverine can attack, thinking he's lost control, which allows Dirt Nap to escape. He & James almost come to blows, but Heather breaks them up, and Wolverine says he needs a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, at the offices of Senator Kelly, Kelly's aide Noah receives a call from Zoe Culloden, telling him they've released "the napper" too soon, but the plan is still afoot to rendezvous in the Canadian Rockies. Back in Manhattan, Wolverine spots Dirt Na outside the diner, having taken control of another host. He runs out to attack him, but is possessed himself. However, Wolverine's healing factor expels Dirt Nap, forcing him into the body of a nearby rat, which quickly scurries away, saying his boss still has big plans for Wolverine. In the wake of the attack, James apologize for doubting Wolverine, and tells him to come home to Canada with them so they can reverse his regression. But Wolverine says, after all these years of fearing it, he's starting to like his wild side now that it's taking over.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the first appearance of Dirt Nap, a mutant with the ability to possess other people/animals (it's never entirely clear what, if anything, Dirt Nap's "default" form is). He will appear in the next few issues up through issue #100 (where it's revealed he's working with the Dark Riders, with the Genesis the boss he teasingly mentions in this issue), in the form of the rat he possesses at the end of this issue, then again in a Venom limited series and for a few Generation X issues during Larry Hama's run on that title.

This issue indirectly confirms that Senator Kelly's aide Noah is the guy who's been hanging out with Zoe Culloden watching Wolverine in the previous few issues, as she calls him to discuss the release of Dirt Nap and their ongoing "plan" involving Wolverine.

Senator Kelly also learns about Graydon Creed’s presidential bid in this issue.

James & Heather Hudson are on hand once again as guest stars.

The Reference Section
Wolverine and the Hudsons grab coffee at a diner called Hoppers, a reference to Edward Hopper's famous painting "Nighthawks" (which features a similar-looking diner).

The Best There is at What He Does
While being tested by the Dark Riders, Cyber taunts the Wolverine robot with mocking versions of Wolverine’s catchphrases.

Austin's Analysis
Hama continues his series of done-in-one stories chronicling Wolverine's struggle with his growing animal side, with this issue establishing that he's starting to embrace that side of himself instead of fight it. Kubert's return after having last issue off definitely helps liven things up, but Dirt Nap is still a fairly standard "posessor" villain (like Malice, complete with a physical indication that a subject is being possessed, in this case, the red smiley face that appears on all his hosts) whose most interesting characteristic (possessing a rat, thereby becoming an evil, sentient rat) doesn't occur til the end. And while setting up the Hudsons as the angel/devil on Wolverine's shoulders (with one believing he's giving in to his worst impulses, the other arguing steadfastly for his innate humanity) isn't a bad idea, their presence don't add a whole lot to the story aside from some manufactured drama (if anything, this would almost work better if they were figments of Wolverine's imaginations, like when he was hallucinating Carol Danvers & Nick Fury in the post-Outback days). So not a bad issue, but with issue #100 looming, it's becoming clear the resolution of this plotline isn't going to come until then, and as a result, it feels a bit like Hama is spinning his wheels here.

Next Issue
Next week: Generation X #9, Excalibur #91 and Cable #25!

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  1. "Cyber battles a robotic Wolverine"

    Claremont made the same trick in Uncanny X-Men #248 - Reavers versus a robotic Wolverine. And it happens in the beggining of that issue, just like here.

    1. An earlier example, though not quite so obviously similar sequence, was in UXM #177 where Mystique killed all the X-Men expect Nightcrawler, who then were revealed to all have been Arcade's robots.

      And I'm sure there's plenty more. I think one of the older James Bond films had a cold opening where a mook took down James Bond... then revealed to be another mook wearing a mask with the features of Sean Connery (?).

  2. Cyber is terminally 90s but I have to confess that I still love his design, especially when he is drawn in exaggerated fashion like he is here. I've always gotten Sam Keith / MAXX vibes from him for some reason - ridiculously huge arms and torso, long claws, etc.

    I also think it's funny that Cyber is clearly mashing up Wolverine-isms with Popeye.

    1. The Cyber/Sam Keith influence is likely down to the fact that Keith co-created him (or at least drew his first appearance) in a Peter David-penned MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS story. At this point, he hasn't appeared in a ton of places (an X-FACTOR story, and here) and the artists that have drawn him have mostly stuck to Keith's designs/proportions.

    2. I had no idea! Wow, that makes so much sense. Can't believe I missed that!

  3. Hey guys, just want to say I love the site and have been following it like a hawk over the last month or so.

    I started collecting at about Xmen 40 - which was a very strange time to jump on given my local newsagent only carried about a third of the Age of Apocalypse comics at best.

    Anyway, I was a die-hard Wolverine fan as a result of the cartoon, and ate his solo series up from Wolverine 90 to about 102 (although its best we don't speak about how long I kept collecting it). But its funny just how much filler there is between 91 and 100. I guess I didn't notice because of how good the writing and pencilling was - which I think kept pulling me back more times than it should have.

  4. Hama's writting made me think he was was a sentimental yet tough guy, who knew how to adapt.
    He was put his style on whatever he was writting.


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