In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Archangel set out to find the Crimson Dawn in order to save Psylocke
Writers: Scott Lobdell & Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inker: Tim Townsend
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras
Observing events in his scrying pool, Dr. Strange realizes Wolverine & Archangel may soon need his help, whether they realize it or not, and sets out in his astral form to assist them. Meanwhile, Wolverine brings Archangel to a tea house in Little Asia, insisting they will find the help Psylocke needs inside. Their entrance is noticed & reported to a shadowy figure who says he was prepared for their arrival. Shortly after they sit down, they are attacked by the Steam Ninja. The ninja's weakness towards metal gives Archangel the edge in the ensuing fight, but it takes Wolverine seemingly killing an old woman in the back of the shop to dissipate the ninja. Archangel is outraged at Wolverine seemingly taking a life, but Wolverine reveals the old woman was actually a man named Gomurr the Ancient, who was controlling the ninja, and is alive and well. Wolverine convinces Gomurr to aid their quest to find the Crimson Dawn, the one substance Wolverine believes will save Psylocke's life. Just then, Dr. Strange arrives, and joins them on their quest as well.
Firsts and Other Notables
With the conclusion to Sabretooth's escape last issue wrapped up in Sabretooth Special #1, this issue kicks off the two part "Crimson Dawn" story as Archangel & Wolverine seek out a mystical cure for Psylocke's Sabretooth-induced injuries, one which will lead to additional changes to her character that carry through the rest of the decade. For now, it's mostly just an Asian-tinged buddy comedy-style story starring Wolverine & Archangel.
Dr. Strange, somewhat randomly, involves himself in the proceedings (Strange, as Marvel's Master of the Mystic Arts, certainly has a connection to the story; his presence within the context of this particular X-Men story is still a bit random).
The diminutive Gomurr the Ancient and Tar (the shadowy figure who is made aware of Archangel & Wolverine's arrival at the tea house) make their first appearances in this issue. Gomurr is another in the long line of "old acquaintances of Wolverine he's never mentioned before".
X-Force/Cable writer Jeph Loeb joins Scott Lobdell to write this issue.
Electric Crayon's Richard Stu gets a special thanks int he credits for his work on the Steam Ninja.
A Work in Progress
Wolverine argues that since her transformation into an Asian ninja was mystical, Psylocke needs magical help to stitch her body back together.
Archangel is still suffering from the injuries he sustained in the Sabretooth one shot.
He also objects when Wolverine seemingly kills someone to end the threat of the Steam Ninja.
Wolverine notes that Archangel has been riding Wolverine since he joined the X-Men, a reference to, amongst other things, the Classic X-Men #1 backup story that saw them butt heads over Jean and the time Angel quit the team rather than be on it with Wolverine any longer.
The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
The Steam Ninja is rendered via some very 90s computer effects (which isn't to say it isn't cutting edge for the time).
As Dr. Strange’s Astral self floats across the city, Joe Mad does that Jack Kirby thing where he superimposes the drawn figure over a photographic background.
The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine does the old “threaten to pop the third claw” routine to convince Gomurr to help them.
Joe Mad goes full manga with this issue, as Lobdell & Loeb give him a plot clearly catered to the artist's tastes & sensibilities, shifting from the tension & visceral horror of Sabretooth's escape last issue (with the immediate aftermath of which being handled in a standalone oneshot) to a lighter, quasi-mystical story colored by anime & manga tropes. But as much as this represents the moment when Madureira lets his inspirations be truly known, it is, beyond all that, a really well-drawn issue. The Steam Ninja effects are dated, certainly, and the shift in tone between issues is somewhat jarring, but Madureira's figure work is dripping with characterization, such as the way his Wolverine is diminutive, hunched over, and almost ape-like while Archangel is tall, lithe, and willowy: it would be clear who was who even if they were rendered in silhouette, or with no dialogue, or without their respective signature claws & wings. Stuff like that is a reminder that, as much as it is the more obvious manga trappings that stick out in this issue (and that Madureira is remembered for, in large part due to the wave of imitators his popularity inspires), it's his understanding of fundamental storytelling that enables Madureira to get away with his stylistic touches, that the visual depth in his work shows his style is more than a novelty act.
Tomorrow, X-Factor prepares for the Adversary by hanging out with Bishop's holographic sister in X-Factor #119. Friday, Nate Grey continues to do his best to avoid the X-Men by running into Excalibur instead, in X-Man #12. Next week, more fun with Bishop in X-Men #49!
Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon!