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Friday, September 11, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #99

"Of Mythic Metal Forged"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine is captured by the Dark Riders, who intended to rebond his bones with adamantium!

Script: Larry Hama
Guest Penciler: Val Semeiks
Guest Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Chad Hunt
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Wolverine & Zoe Culloden emerge from the Madripoor warp chamber in Akkaba, birthplace of Apocalypse. Spotting Chimera's trail, she tells Wolverine she'll meet him at Apocalypse's former citadel, then departs. Just then, the young mutant Jamil appears, offering to guide Wolverine to the citadel. Meanwhile, in Madripoor, Cannonball, on the trail of Wolverine, is accosted by a group of thugs amidst the wreckage of the Princess Bar, but they are chased off by Tyger Tiger. In Egypt, the citadel emerges from the sand as Wolverine & Jamil draw closer, and Wolverine, sensing Jamil is leading him into a trap, breaks off, entering the place his own way. Back in Madripoor, Tyger Tiger brings Cannonball to the Landau, Luckman & Lake warp chamber door, and sends him through to Egypt. In the citadel, Wolverine observes the Dark Riders herding prisoners into the citadel, as Cannonball takes off, following Wolverine & Jamil's footsteps towards the citadel. Inside, Wolverine is spotted by Dirt Nap, who brings him before Genesis. After Wolverine is captured, Genesis reveals he intends to brainwash him into serving as the captain of the Dark Riders, once they've completed bonding the adamantium taken from the deceased Cyber to Wolverine's bones!

Firsts and Other Notables
The cliffhanger ending of this issue, which leads into the next, 100th, issue, reveals that Genesis intends to use the adamantium harvested from Cyber to rebond Wolverine's bones. This will not, as we'll see, ultimately be successful, but when Wolverine does get his adamantium back, it will be via similar means (ie given to him by a villain who harvested the metal from another villain).

Genesis also reveals that he intends to brainwash Wolverine into serving as the "Captain of the Dark Riders" after the bonding process; that also won't happen but, again, when Apocalypse actually does later succeed in re-bonding Wolverine's skeleton, he also brainwashes him into serving as one of his Horseman for a time. 

Cannonball pops up in this issue, looking for Wolverine, putting him in position to serve as witness to the events of next issue.

Jamil, the one-time pupil of Storm's thief mentor introduced in X-Men Unlimited #7, returns in this issue to help lead Wolverine into the Dark Riders' trap (he was last left serving the External Candra, and I don't believe it's ever established how he came to serve Genesis, however briefly, here). 

Looking out over the ruins of Akkaba, the birthplace of Apocalypse (as established in Cable #17-19), Wolverine references the literary character Ozymandias; in just a few months time, a servant of Apocalypse will be introduced by that name who will go on to play a minor role in "Onslaught".

Creator Central
Val Semeiks fills in on this issue, presumably to give Adam Kubert extra time to finish the double-sized 100th issue.

A Work in Progress
Tyger Tiger asks Cannonball to give Wolverine something for her, then proceeds to kiss him; hopefully this means Cannonball proceeds to pass on the message and kisses Wolverine when next they meet. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Cannonball compares Akkaba to the 13th level of Doom.

Austin's Analysis
The penultimate chapter of the Wolverine regression/Dark Riders/Genesis storyline, this issue does all the things penultimate issues do, focusing the plot & moving the characters into place for the climax of the story. It does that job well enough, though some of the moves here are a bit abrupt: the story needs a character to serve as the protagonist once Wolverine gets captured (so we don't have to spend all of next issue watching the story unfold from his captive perspective), and Hama has used Cannonball as a sort of "male Kitty Pryde/Jubilee" for Wolverine often enough post-AoA that his presence here to fill that role makes sense, but it seems like some of the pages used to kill time in the issues prior to this one could have instead been used to integrate him into the story a bit more elegantly than what happens here (where he just abruptly shows up in Madripoor, looking for Wolverine).

Similarly, after a fair amount of teases and setups, the role of Zoe/Landau, Luckman & Lake in the endgame of the story continues to feel half-baked, with the mystery of their involvement essentially amounting to "transporting Wolverine from physical point A to point B", making them, for all the build-up, the functional equivalent of the Blackbird or a commercial airliner (Zoe does return next issue, but, spoiler alert, her appearance does little to add to the plotline). Still, the reveal that this has all been in service of an attempt to restore Wolverine's adamantium - thereby restoring a two-years-gone status quo at that point in time - is a hell of a note to go out on, the final step towards the big 100th issue Hama's been building towards since the return from "Age of Apocalypse" and, arguably,  since issue #75, when Wolverine returned from the attack on Magneto sans adamantium and found himself struggling to hold onto

Next Issue
Next week: M battles Emplate in Generation X #13, X-Man battles Excalibur (again) in Excalibur #95, and Cable sets out in search of X-Man in Cable #29!

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  1. I really like this book and Val's art was a good fill-in, I liked it a lot better than X-Force/X-Factor at this time. Anytime we had anything Dark Riders at this time, I was in. We needed more information on some of the characters, motivation, history, etc. I wish they had fleshed them out a little more.

    1. Val Semeiks art is decent enough (he fills in a few more times), though I'm instinctively inclined to push back against it because it only ever shows up in place of a different (usually better) artist (what I call the "Terry Shoemaker Effect"). :P

      We needed more information on some of the characters, motivation, history, etc. I wish they had fleshed them out a little more.

      Yeah, this second batch of Dark Riders make the first batch seem like deeply nuanced & developed characters by comparison.

  2. Looking back at what happened since issue 75, it seems like there was a lot of story up to the big throwdown with Sabretooth in issue 90, and then the AoA. After 90, it feels like they're just spinning their wheels waiting for 100.

  3. I'm glad I was done with the X-titles/Wolvie by '95. Would have sucked trying to keep the faith in hoping each new issue was going to improve on the last, only to be disappointed. Really enjoy this site to see what all went down after I stopped reading.

    Really, really hoping Cannonball plants a big 'ol kiss on Wolvie next issue.

  4. I was usually happy enough whenever Shoemaker showed up as a fill in artist. Nothing flashy, and not as good as, say, Leonardi, but still always turned in more than a solid effort.

  5. Like Anonymous above, I was long gone from the X-books at this point, so it's great to come here to get advice on what issues are worth looking up and which ones I'm glad I missed (far more of the latter, but I value the former tremendously.)

    If I'd still been following along, I think I would have been livid at the notion of Wolverine being re-adamantiumed a mere two years after such a huge deal was made of its removal. A quick google search says he was re-bonded with it in 1999, so... yeah, six years isn't bad.

  6. I doubt anyone intended it, but I love the idea, which you touched on above, that Genesis, the self-styled “heir” to Apocalypse, tried to A) restore Wolverine’s adamantium and B) brainwash him into a servant — and failed at both. Then, a few years later, the actual Apocalypse did both successfully.

    1. On the same note, it's a fun unintended bookend of sorts that "Genesis", the first book in Bible, as the self-appointed heir goes to the beginning of "Apocalypse", who took his cues, horsemen and all, from the last book in Bible, to do the thing that was passingly hinted during Inferno; that Wolverine would've been initially bonded with adamantium by Apocalypse.

      And if we make point of issues #100 and #75, we can hardly pass on how #50 was about returning to the scenes of the original Weapon X process.

      It's a fun war of succession when we got Genesis here claiming the throne of Apocalypse at the same publicational time as his uncle-of-sort Stryfe does so in the future.

      There needs to be a What If on What If Louise Simonson had gone with the Owl in the early issue of the X-FACTOR.


    2. @Teemu: // it's a fun unintended bookend of sorts //

      As I’ll note in a comment on that post as well, I came to the realization when Genesis asks rhetorically “Am I not the single, undisputed heir of Apocalypse?” in #100 that if you were reading the (Christian) Bible over in a loop you would indeed get Genesis following Apocalypse.

  7. // and found himself struggling to hold onto //
    The suspense is killing me! And my healing factor ain’t what it used to be.


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