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Thursday, July 29, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #106

"Openings and Closures"
October 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine and Elektra visit Silver Fox's grave and Elektra's childhood home.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Val Semeiks
Inks: Chad Hunt & Al Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Kolja Fuchs 
Colors: Derek Bellman & Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Traveling through the Canadian Rockies, Wolverine & Elektra are surrounded by wolves, but Wolverine wins them to their side by sharing their food stores. Later, the pair arrives at the cabin Wolverine once shared with Silver Fox, and visits her grave. Later, Wolverine accompanies Elektra home to Greece. There, he meets Stavros, who recalls having served with a Canadian corporal during World War II. Stavros and the rest of the staff tell Elektra they have located Sawyer, the last of the men involved in the murder of her father, but Elektra insists it is time to move past vengeance. That evening, Stavros and his associates free the captive Sawyer in response to Elektra's wishes. As he rushes away to alert the police, a waiting Wolverine confronts him and scares him into staying quiet. Wolverine then covers for Stavros with Elektra, having been the Canadian corporal who fought with Stavros during the war. 

Firsts and Other Notables
As a sort of sendoff to their master/student relationship (Elektra's new solo series kicks off next month), Wolverine & Elektra visit a pair of locations with personal meaning to each of them in this issue, Silver Fox's grave and Elektra's childhood home. 

Included amongst the staff who greet Elektra when she returns home is Stavros, the gardener who taught Elektra an important lesson as a child and Theo, the would-be assassin whose life she spared as a result of that lesson, as chronicled in Wolverine #102.  

Stavros recounts having served with a Canadian solider in World War II who looks an awful lot like Wolverine and who helped him get revenge on the SS officer who killed Stavros' wife. 

Sure enough, in a twist straight out of O. Henry, it turns out Stavros still has the knife we was given by that corporal, but because Stavros can't read, he doesn't know the name "Logan" is written on it. 

A Work in Progress
As they travel through the Canadian wilderness, Elektra notes that the man in Wolverine is ascendant, but questions whether it's for real. 

Wolverine says he makes an annual pilgrimage to Silver Fox's grave every year (as well as a similar trip to Mariko's), though he missed the most recent anniversary on account of recent events. 

Elektra compares Wolverine to Daredevil. 

Young Love
Wolverine recounts his various love interests through the years. 

Austin's Analysis
As it effectively marks the end of Elektra's tenure in the book (and, to some extent, represents a quiet conclusion to the "Wolverine struggles to regain his humanity" arc, though it'll be a bit before the character is entirely back to "normal"), this is something of an elegiac issue, the kind of thing Hama has done before, where he slows down the narrative and tells a quieter, more contemplative story. Here, he splits the setting in two, featuring first a return to the Canadian wilderness (the better to highlight the progress - or lack thereof - in Wolverine's struggle), offering the chance to once again mourn Silver Fox and Wolverine's love life in general, then taking the characters to Greece to give Elektra something of a sendoff as she leaves for her new solo series. 

Both halves form a fairly low-key whole, with limited stakes that doesn't so much aim to explore Wolverine & Elektra as characters so much as to showcase where their characters are at the moment, while the art is blandly effective enough to neither get in the way of the stories, nor add much to them. The best moment is arguably the O. Henry "twist" at the end in which it's confirmed that Wolverine was indeed the Canadian who helped Stavros achieve his World War II-era vengeance, even though the illiterate Stavros remains ignorant of that fact because he can't read Wolverine's name on the knife he gave him. Not the most engaging of issues, then, but after "Onslaught" and the whole physical de-evolution/noseless Wolverine business, something a little quieter and more contemplative has its charms. 

Next Issue
Next week, Uncanny X-Men #338 and X-Man #21!

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  1. Not to much to say here as the issue doesn't really lend itself to a lot of deeper inspection. It's a serviceable quiet issue but not particularly memorable. The twist at the end would have more impact if this kind of thing wasn't so cliche. Especially where Logan is concerned.

    However, I love the black & white covers of this particular stretch of issues. They are very striking and Kubert is a great artist for this kind of showcase. I'm honestly surprised we didn't get the Black, White and Blood series until this last year.

  2. Despite the Everyone Has Met Logan At Some Point trope, I appreciated Stavros not recognizing him due to his current altered state — as well as, presumably, Stavros’ own age, plus the sheer unlikelihood of this man being that one from 40-50 years ago — but the “O. Henry” ending as you call it, with the knife’s sheath, clawed back a fair bit of my appreciation by making it a bit too cute.


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