Talking about comic books, TV shows, movies, sports, and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

X-amining Logan: Shadow Society

"Shadow Society"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Secret agents Logan and Carol Danvers are drawn into a conspiracy involving the Canadian defense ministry and the Hellfire Club! 

Plot: Howard Mackie
Script: Mark Jason
Penciler: Tomm Coker
Inkers: Keith Aiken with Octavio Cariello
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Christie Scheele
Separations: D. Chameleon
Editors: Marc Bernardo & Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Neil Langram, partner of Canadian secret agent Logan, is mysteriously killed. Meanwhile, when CIA agent Carol Danver's attempt to capture an arms dealer fails when her cover is blown, she is rescued by Logan. After learning of Neil's death and knowing he was in the middle of an investigation, Carol and Logan try to hack into the Canadian defense ministry's computers to learn what Neil was investigating. They fail, but after assassins sent by the defense ministry fail to kill them, they break into Department H of the ministry. There they discover a file named "the Mutant Agenda", which references a doctor named Perry Edwards who has written a book about a secret society of "mutants" living amongst humanity. Carol and Logan travel to Manhattan to find Edwards, saving him from more assassins. Edwards tells them there are mutants inside the upper class Hellfire Club; Logan breaks into the club, and learns of a secret Canadian installation involving the club. As he and Carol set out to find the installation, Sebastian Shaw assigns Sabretooth to kill Logan. Upon arriving at the secret installation, Logan and Carol find everyone inside dead - including several defense ministry officials and Perry Edwards. Just then Sabretooth attacks and explains how the Hellfire Club and Department H are competing to recruit mutants, and tells Logan he killed Langram, who was secretly a mutant, for refusing to join the Hellfire Club. Logan savagely attacks Sabretooth, but Sabretooth manages to set off a bomb, destroying the facility. Later, Logan and Carol are left wondering who they can trust.  

Firsts and Other Notables
Set prior to when Wolverine had adamantium bonded to his bonds (and seemingly after his stint as part of Team X), this issue features Wolverine teaming up with a pre-Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers (who is working as a CIA agent) to investigate the death of Wolverine's partner (notably, Wolverine and Carol are already familiar at the start of the issue, so this doesn't detail the beginning of their pre-superhero association). 

In the course of their investigation, they encounter a doctor named Perry Edwards who has written a book about a "secret society" working to undermine humanity called "mutants" (which is what gives the story its name). 

They also cross paths (indirectly) with Sebastian Shaw and (directly) Sabretooth, who is hired by Shaw to hunt down and kill Logan in order to keep their plans from being exposed.  

This leads to a fight between Wolverine, Carol and Sabretooth which Carol probably should have remembered when she later battles in Sabretooth in Ms. Marvel #24/Marvel Super-Heroes #10 and seems unfamiliar with him. 

In an additional indication of the story's "pre X-Men #1 setting), a young Archangel is briefly seen going into the Hellfire Club with his father. 

The branch of the Canadian government Logan is working for in this issue is said to be Department K in a later Marvel Handbook, while this issue reveals that Department H existed before James Hudson was assigned to run it. 

Creator Central 
X-Factor writer Howard Mackie plots this; Tomm Coker previously drew Wolverine #76 (but his style here is noticeably different from that issue). 

A Work in Progress
Wolverine's Canadian secret service priority code is "Wolverine". 

This story is set before Shaw's purge of the Inner Council and ascension to the head of the Hellfire Club, as seen in Classic X-Men #7

Wolverine infiltrate the Hellfire Club via nearby roofs; he notes that next time he needs to break into the place, he'll use the sewers (a winking reference to Uncanny X-Men #133). 

Sabretooth says that he and Wolverine fighting over a "frail" is familiar, a reference to probably many things but most likely Silver Fox

Carol, intrigued by the possible conspiracy involving mutants, ends the issue by deciding to feel out a freshmen senator who might be inclined to help, a reference to Senator Kelly (I'm not sure if this is meant to imply that Carol Danvers is responsible for making Senator Kelly aware of mutants and thus of all the shitty things he would do trying to address their "menace", or just a winking nod to future stories in a "he won't be friendly to mutants [sad trombone]" kind of way).   

The Reference Section
One of the Canadian defense ministry operatives looks an awful lot like Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark for some reason.

Two archivists working for the Canadian government are named Bob and Doug and are modeled after the characters of the same names from SCTV's "Great White North" sketch. 

Austin's Analysis
These seemingly-random Wolverine one-shots are always hit-or-miss. Given how many of them seem to exist for no other reason than an easy cash grab, more often than not, they miss. This, however, is something of a hit (at least by the standards of Wolverine one-shots). Part of that is the setting: Wolverine's time as a secret agent, before "Weapon X" and the implantation of his adamantium, is still largely unexplored (especially when Team X stuff isn't involved), making this story something of a novelty. Similarly, seeing him working with a pre-Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers, something Chris Claremont established as part of his backstory ages ago but which is also largely unexplored via anything more than a few random flashbacks and dialogue references, is a treat. Seeing the two of them investigate a mystery, get in some fights, and do general secret agents stuff without claws or powers is genuinely refreshing. 

The attempts to tie this all to a specific time - before mutants became publicly known, before the X-Men, when Sebastian Shaw was still a rising power in the Hellfire Club and not yet the head of its Lords Cardinal - helps the story crackle a bit in the context of the larger narrative (we know this story is set on the verge of some big happenings, even if the characters don't), but without entangling itself so deeply into past events as to be littered with distracting continuity problems. The art is a nice treat as well; I'm not familiar with Tomm Coker's work outside that one issue of Wolverine he penciled (which looks nothing like this), but be brings a noirish sensibility to the art, a little Mike Mignola crossed with Shawn Martinborough that both suits the tone of the story well, and also strikes a different note from the hyper-stylized art that often populates these sorts of things. All in all, while I wasn't really looking forward to yet another Wolverine one-shot - especially one written by Howard Mackie - I came out of this pleasantly surprised. 

Next Issue
Next week, go back to Bishop and Shard's future in XSE #1-4

Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon & gain access to exclusive reviews of X-Men: The Animated Series, Classic X-Men and more!


  1. I've been slowly building up a collection of all comics X-Men and I really wrestle with the weird, random Wolverine stuff since it often feels the same with a different coat of paint. However, based on your recommendation and Carol Danver's involvement I may actually track this one down.

  2. Is that cover from the Marvel Unlimited version of the issue or something? For some reason it has the 21st century Marvel trade dress/logo instead of the 1990s "Marvel Comics" logo.

    And speaking of the cover -- what an odd choice to have a black-and-white cover with a color interior. If anything, I would've expected the opposite! Or maybe a B&W cover with B&W interiors. I think that's actually what I would expect from a B&W cover.

    Last thought -- how much older than Warren Worthington is Carol Danvers supposed to be?? He looks early teens at the oldest here (and really I'd say he looks more like maybe 10), while she's an adult CIA field agent. I mean, I suppose it's possible she's got a decade-plus on him, given she had such a storied career before she even became a superhero, but that feels a little off somehow.

    I guess the real question is, how old was Angel supposed to be when Carol became the editor of WOMAN magazine? I guess he was in his twenties around the "All-New, All-Different" era, so she could be, say, 10 years his senior and maybe 35 at the time. I guess it can work, but it still feels a little off somehow.

    1. Is that cover from the Marvel Unlimited version of the issue or something?

      Good eye! Yes. I usually pull the covers from the GCD (for just this reason), but apparently when I googled "GCD Logan Shadow Society", I just clicked on the first result, which was from, and never even noticed. :P

      I've now gone to the actual GCD and replaced the cover. :)

      Last thought -- how much older than Warren Worthington is Carol Danvers supposed to be??

      Good point! I hadn't considered that, but you're right that she'd have to be at least a decade older than him (I agree he appears to be ten-ish here, certainly on the younger side of being teenager) whereas she'd have to be realistically in her early 20s at the youngest.

      Which, yeah, isn't entirely inconsistent with her portrayals through the years - she was a pilot, a secret agent, a security chief and the editor of a magazine more or less all before she became Ms. Marvel (at a time roughly contemporaneous to Angel's stint in the Champions) - but I agree that it seems a little off.

  3. I’m not familiar with Mark Jason — which could be an alias since this is his only credit in the GCD — but I was mentally editing a lot of the clunky, artless, redundant dialogue as I read.

    While the gag of Logan resolving to go in through the sewers next time isn’t bad, that Bob & Doug McKenzie stuff is a complete tonal shift and just awful on its own terms as schtick. Even worse than the ironic, wah-wah-wahhh ending where Logan scoffs at the very idea of a team of super-powered mutants. Toht popping up was distracting for sure; just not as distracting as the winky references to things we know will come to pass.

    Carol doesn’t give her exact age, but says in one panel that Logan couldn’t buy her a drink in certain states — which narrows it down to pretty darned young, since I’m fairly sure no place had a minimum drinking age higher than 21. And it doesn’t compute for me that Carol dismisses the very concept of mutants here, maybe a half-dozen years prior to X-Men #1 based on Warren appearing to be, like Teebore says, ten or so.

    1. I was mentally editing a lot of the clunky, artless, redundant dialogue as I read.

      This is definitely a script that could have used a second pass (or two).

      Carol doesn’t give her exact age, but says in one panel that Logan couldn’t buy her a drink in certain states — which narrows it down to pretty darned young, since I’m fairly sure no place had a minimum drinking age higher than 21

      That's it! I knew her age was referenced somehow in this issue but couldn't find it whilst quickly flipping through.

      In addition to that being exceptionally young for her to be a CIA operative of this caliber, I'm pretty sure it's inconsistent with her backstory (her future backstory, certainly, if not her already-established-at-this-time backstory) of having gone from the Air Force to the CIA. But maybe I have that sequence backwards.


Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Are mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!