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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #102.5

"Slay-Per-View" / "Costume Re-Partee"

In a Nutshell

Wolverine is taken to Mojoworld in an effort to goose Mojo II's ratings. 

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Mark Buckingham, Mike Wieringo (2nd Story)
Inks: Dan Green, 
Letters: Arnie Sawyer Studios
Colors: Paul Mounts & Bongotone Studios, Chick Maiden (2nd Story)
Editor: Matthew Mora

Wolverine is on Mojoworld, battling an assortment of his greatest enemies. The last thing he remembers is training with Elektra when they pair were attacked by the X-Men, shortly before Spiral arrived and teleported him away. Elsewhere, Dazzler & Longshot caught wind of Mojo II's actions, and along with the X-Babies, head to his stadium. There, Wolverine continues to fight against an onslaught of friends and foes alike (all Warwolves in disguise), but the audience begins to tune out, confident Wolverine won't last against such tremendous odds. As Dazzler, Longshot and the X-Babies arrive, they convince Wolverine to give up and throw the fight, at which point the audience tunes out entirely, depriving Mojo II of his power. They then team-up with Wolverine to defeat the Warwolves and shut down Mojo II's transmission, after which, they send Wolverine home. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue reprints the story which was originally told via the backs of the ninety-nine (non-checklist) cards of the Fleer Ultra X-Men: Wolverine trading card set, with the individual images assembled and presented in traditional comic book form. The issue itself was published by Fleer/Skybox, with Wizard magazine later releasing a variation of it with a holographic sticker on the cover. 

The cover is by Boris Vallejo, taken from the art he did for card #93 of fifth Marvel Masterpieces set (from 1996). 

The second story is a one-page story taken from the backs of the nine card holoflash chase cards; drawn by Mike Wieringo, it is a comedic story about X-Baby Wolverine trying on different Wolverine costumes for Halloween. 

The issue is rounded out with a pin-up by Julie Bell, taken from card #92 in the '96 Marvel Masterpieces set. 

Dazzler & Longshot guest star in this issue; Dazzler last appeared along with the X-Babies in X-Men (vol. 2) #47, while Longshot hasn't been seen since X-Men (vol. 2) #11 (which was also Mojo II's last appearance); all three next turn up in the Youngblood/X-Force crossover issue. 

Creator Central 
Future Marvel bigshot Dan Slott writes these stories (this is largely indicative of the kind of work Slott was doing at this point, early in his career, one-off, slightly comedic stories like these, annual backups, Marvel Comic Presents stories, etc.). Art in the first comes from occasional Generation X inker (and future Fables penciller) Mark Buckingham in the first story, and Mike Wieringo in the second. 

The Chronology Corner
Despite its numbering, this story actually takes place between Wolverine #103 and #104.

A Work in Progress
Wolverine is training/mediating with Elektra as the story begins, part of his efforts to regain his humanity following the events of Wolverine #100.

The Warwolves/whatever reference sheets Buckingham was given manage to get Bishop's new uniform and haircut right, though Jubilee is still hanging around with the X-Men in her pre-Generation X duds.  

Austin's Analysis
As stories set in Mojoworld featuring nose-less Wolverine at the near-nadir of his devolution designed to be told in 1/99th increments across the back of trading cards go, this isn't terrible. It isn't good, mind you, but it's not the incomprehensible mess the format would suggest it to be. If anything, it's almost disappointing for just being "meh" and not an epic catastrophe. Story-wise, it's fairly straightforward: protagonist fights characters who aren't the real characters but allow the issue to feature appearances from a ton of disparate yet recognizable favorites, until the protagonist stops fighting them and the story ends. The presence of Longshot, Dazzler and Mojo II make it a fun little historical artifact (it's great/sad that this is Longshot's first appearance in a story in years), though the brevity of the story understandably cuts out any attempt to do any of the media satire stuff that often pops up in Mojo stories, and there's nothing about this story that requires Wolverine to be the main character (aside from, you know, him being the star of the trading card series on whose cardbacks the story is ostensibly being told). 

Similarly, the art manages to be unremarkably average, understandably using a lot of big splashes that cover for the storytelling limitations of the format, while Buckingham goes for an "affably cartoonish" look in general that seems appropriate for the setting of the story and strikes a contrast with the more formal painted artwork that would have appeared on the front side of the cards. Again, as an issue of a Wolverine comic book, this is largely forgettable and entirely unessential. But it holds up as a highly unusual historical artifact from a very specific time in comics history, a relic of two different industries from a time when their boom markets are in their death throes. 

Next Issue
Next week, more weird promotional tie-ins with X-Men: Time Gliders

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  1. I've always been amazed that Marvel let Longshot fall into obscurity when he had started out as such a popular character. Today's Marvel would have launched him into another series right away regardless of whether or not Nocenti and Adams were available for it.

    As for the comic itself I thought it worked better than it should have. I never got the cards but I did own this issue at one point. I think the biggest compliment I could give it was that it was inoffensive. Certainly not required reading.

    Was there anyone getting this on the cards that was excited by it?

    1. Also, it feels like a missed opportunity to do a Mojoworld story on cards and not somehow work the story around that concept.

    2. Yeah, it seems like if you're going to use Mojo in a story told in an unusual medium, you'd take advantage of his role as a media satire figure and ability to somewhat break the fourth wall to address the circumstances of that medium in the story, but here we are. Probably felt too ambitious for a nine page story told in this manner.

  2. I'm always impressed when something like this is brought up and I've NEVER heard of it. I thought I had every Wolverine issue/spinoff/one shot/etc. through about 2016 and yet, this is the first I've ever seen this comic. Was this sold in stores and what was the cover price? I used to get Wizard monthly and I don't even remember it showing up in that with a different cover.

    1. I believe it was availble in shops - published circa May of 1996 according to Mike's Amazing World - but I never saw it in the wild. Mike's doesn't list a cover price, so it's possible it was a giveaway kind of thing (like MAGNETO #0 back before "Fatal Attractions"). The Wizard version just has a little Wizard hologram slapped on the cover; I believe I've seen that a few times at conventions, at least back in the day.

  3. Wieringo’s bold, simple lines and top-notch body language on that one-pager are a joy to behold; kudos to the colorist for not getting fussy, too.


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