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True Believers – Wolverine: Fatal Attractions

With all of the Return of Wolverine stuff going on and more mini-series and such than I can keep track of, Marvel has also been putting out a wave of Wolverine-centric True Believers issues lately.

True Believers – Wolverine: Fatal Attractions reprints the 1990s X-Men #25, part of the 30th-anniversary celebration/story arc X-Men: Fatal Attractions. This is also a key issue as it’s the actual issue where Wolverine lost his adamantium–this was where Magneto had had enough, and liquified the metal and forcibly removed it from Wolverine’s body…nearly killing him in the process.

My original post about X-Men #25 is archived here.

true_believers_wolverine_fatal_attractions

I covered this issue back in 2012, when I covered the entire Fatal Attractions event.

This issue–the “final battle” between Xavier and Magneto, was along with Magneto’s character in Age of Apocalypse and the 1990s animated series a crucial part of my understanding of Magneto. It’s actually kind of fascinating to me to consider that the Magneto in contemporary X-Men comics is the same character that appears here. Of course, we’re talking nearly two full decades of character development between this and now–but it goes to show what can be done with these characters and time. (While I’ve yet to really read any of the classic Rogue issues, I’m also interested in the fact that the Rogue I grew up reading was herself once a villain in the Marvel Universe. If her character can be handled as it has, it’s not too far fetched to think the same can be done with Magneto.)

I also recall thinking it sort of odd that such a huge thing would happen to Wolverine here rather than in his own title…but then, Wolverine wouldn’t even have a title of his own without the X-men.

xmen025wraparound

On the back cover, we have an ad for some current-ish volumes featuring Wolverine that Marvel wants to push at the moment.

true_believers_wolverine_back

Though it’s sorta odd to be glad to pay a whole $1.00 for an issue I’ve pulled multiple copies of from 25-cent bins…this issue has such a place in my memory from reading it as a kid that I’m happy to get this “new edition.” There’s something cool to seeing it with a “regular” cover, too, and not the cardstock of the original; and just to see it as a new issue again for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.

I don’t agree with the ad here claiming these to be some of the “best” stories. I think I’d leave Fatal Attractions on there; I’d put the Larsen story with Wolverine going into space in here; probably Not Dead Yet, and almost certainly the stuff from when he got the adamantium back and the whole Death thing from 1999. I might even put the early Greg Rucka stuff from the renumbering back in 2003/4 or so.

I also don’t care for them pushing a vol. 2 over a vol. 1 (suggests to me that vol. 1 is already out of print). The Venom volume doesn’t even look to be Wolverine-focused, just that maybe it guest-stars the character…Wolverine doesn’t even make the cover (unless in that tiny image it’s actually a “Venom-ized” Wolverine). And I don’t remember the actual Wolverine being a major part of the early Exiles issues, though I think I remember there being a story where they guest-starred a bunch of Wolverines?

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Wolverines #1 [Review]

wolverines001Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Alisson Borges
Inker: Walden Wong
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editors: Katie Kubert and Mike Marts
Cover: Nick Bradshaw, FCO Plascencia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

In a lotta ways, I’m lost. I recognize some characters, of course (at least by name/vague recollection)…but it’s rather difficult to reconcile this as taking place in the same continuity as the stuff I grew up reading in the ’90s and early/mid-2000s. It’s also quite a challenge to consider that Wolverine–Logan–is really, truly, permanently, not-coming-back-ever-never dead-is-dead DEAD. Moving on…

Thankfully, the “Previously…” page is there–I don’t have to track down all those Death of Wolverine follow-up minis I skipped. Sure, they’d flesh out the DETAILS, but for where this series and this first issue in particular picks up, that’d be superfluous for me.

We open on a bloodied Mystique getting psyched to go through a door; then jump “back” to present. Where we find Mystique, Sabretooth, Daken, and X-23 being forced to work with some escapees from Dr. Cornelius’ experimentations. The mission is to locate/retrieve an object to help them survive. Unfortunately, the Wrecking Crew has also appeared in the vicinity, and confrontation ensues. Though the object sought is located–the adamantium-encased remains of the late Wolverine–this success is short-lived with the appearance of an old villain I certainly would not have suspected. The villain absconds with precious bounty, leaving our protagonists’ situation in disarray.

I picked this up to give it a shot–I’m currently buying all 3 weeklies from DC Comics, might as well give Marvel‘s a try. Moreso than that, though…the cover intrigued me. Kinda generic in a way, but it certainly grabs my attention, seeing the adamantium-encased body of Wolverine surrounded by individuals tied to him (from life, and from what he gave it for). We only get the arms of Deathstrike, Sabretooth, Daken, and X-23 (with a couple of the Weapon X kids in the background)…no Mystique. But that’s not something I even noticed until writing this review.

The actual story is ok enough…where I’d thought the premise of the series might be the characters tracking the body, the cover suggested otherwise, which was why I bought this. And since (thankfully!) the cover suggests these characters around the body and the opening of the issue has them seeking it…hardly spoilers to say that yeah, they find the body IN THIS ISSUE. However, the villain that showed up and left the group in bad shape gives the characters a new quest/hunt, which should sustain the weekly nature of the series for a bit.

I appreciate Soule being on this, given my understanding that he’s the architect of the death of Wolverine…good to see that he’s the one to follow-up “long term” on the development, rather than just killing the character and moving on. And while I wouldn’t think I’d care about the characters involved, have not kept up with them (for example, the last I recall of Sabretooth, he was beheaded by Wolverine…though I’m loosely aware there was a recent-ish story that saw his return) the interactions are not too bad here and I’d be interested in seeing more, seeing these characters in a world without Wolverine.

The issue’s visuals are not bad…there’s a cartooney quality at points that’s mildly distracting and reminds me of Humberto Ramos‘ work. Not a terrible thing, but not entirely my cup of tea. On the whole this simply has the look of a comic book…I credit that to the strong linework (and I suppose that’s a shared credit with the inking). Ultimately the art’s relatively neutral for me…neither a significant turn-off nor a draw. It’s just there, it does its job, and I’m satisfied with it.

Had Marvel priced this at $2.99 as an enticement to investing in FOUR issues monthly, I might’ve been tempted to give it a shot on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, this is a $3.99 book…and a large contributing factor to my having been almost completely driven me away from Marvel stuff is their pricing. Their $3.99 price point combined with frequent double-shipping was a huge turnoff…and if 2 issues at $3.99 apiece each month is enough to frustrate me away from Marvel books, DOUBLING that frequency does nothing positive to my mindset.

I did see somewhere (Bleeding Cool, perhaps) that this series is scheduled to be collected in monthly volumes…provided those are not $20 apiece and I can find ’em at a discount, there’s a possibility I’ll go a bit further into this series that way…or perhaps consider an advance/pre-order for a discount on almost certainly inevitable Marvel Omnibus.

If you don’t mind the $3.99 and are a fan of Soule‘s work with Wolverine and/or Wolverine’s death so far, this may be a decent series to consider. As a single issue this fits the norm…the overwhelming part of the price comes from the realization of the series’ shipping frequency.

[ My thoughts on the final issue of The Death of Wolverine (the week it came out) ]

The ’90s Revisited: Wolverine #79

wolverine079Cyber! Cyber! Burning Bright!

Script: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer and Mike Sellers
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.75
Cover Date: March, 1994

I was introduced to the X-Men in 1992 or so–though I have a vague memory of a 1989ish viewing of the one-shot “pilot” Pryde of the X-men. My clearest memory of early discovery of the X-Men is a re-viewing of that episode along with the initial premiere of the 1990s X-Men cartoon. And of course, Wolverine was quite a stand-out character. But it was barely a year after I was introduced t othe character that he lost his adamantium in the Fatal Attractions crossover…it would be about six years and another 70-odd issues of “bone-claw Wolverine.”

Which makes this issue that much more significant to its time: now that his claws are “just” bone, an interesting question was answered as we learned that yes, indeed, his claws could now be broken.

And just as the cover focuses on the agonized broken-claw Wolverine, the issue itself isn’t all that memorable other than the fact that Wolverine’s claws are broken. Musing at recent events, Wolverine finds himself having to face Cyber, yet another villain after him for his adamantium…only to have the villain realize that Wolvie no longer has the famed metal, and is far more susceptible to a sound beating. During their scrap, Cyber sees an opening and takes it–stomping the exposed claws and breaking them off, a whole new experience for either character.

So, not a whole lot to the story itself, but definitely an extremely key moment in Wolverine’s history…the first time his claws had ever been broken. And the question also set out would be: do they regenerate? And how would this affect the character moving forward?

Visually, I quite enjoyed this revisitation of Kubert‘s take on Wolverine. As this is from very early in my experience reading the Wolverine solo title, this really IS “my” Wolverine. I’d forgotten all the double-page “tall” layouts, though…something I never really cared for. Takes me out of the story a bit having to physically re-manipulate the way I’m holding the issue and re-orient visually.

Overall, definitely a “dated” issue–between Cyber himself, and the bone-claw Wolverine, and given how common it became for the claws to get broken and grow back (I believe Kitty Pryde at one point was shown to use old broken claws as weapons herself?). And as a piece of “history,” not a bad issue to snag for a one-off read; though I’m sure I appreciated this more having read it before, as well as surrounding issues before and after, and remembering this “era” rather fondly.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Wolverine #75

Nightmares Persist

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Dan Green, Mark Pennington
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Cover: Adam Kubert, Mark Farmer
Editor:
Bob Harras
Published by:
Marvel Comics
Cover Date:
November 1993
Cover Price:
$3.95

Bishop arrives in the blackbird (having been called by Colossus) to take the X-Men home. Wolverine’s obviously gravely injured from losing the adamantium. Xavier, weakened from the exertion of the exo-suit and shutting Magneto down gets Jean’s help to go into Wolverine’s mind, to try to deal with the psychological trauma of what’s happened. They see bits of his past–as he remembers it–but it’s not much help. They’re ripped out of his mind when the Blackbird hits turbulence and Jean winds up having to hold the plan together with her telekinesis, leaving Xavier alone to keep Wolverine alive. As things get particularly bad, Jean is taxed to her limit and about to lose it–while on the ground, Moira, Cyclops, Jubilee, and the others are horrified by what they’re hearing. Just as Jean does lose the plane, she’s caught by a bandaged arm–Wolverine. They share a moment, as they realize that while he was basically dead, some part of him was aware of her situation and he came back–for her.

Later, Wolverine’s determined to prove himself, to see if he still has what it takes to call himself an X-Man, and takes on a Danger Room scenario. Others watch, and while he’s holding his own, he’s having trouble. Instinctively, he finally pops his claws, to everyone’s horror–not only does he still HAVE the claws, but they’re BONE…and his healing factor so taxed, the punctures of them ripping out of the back of his hands are not closing easily, leaving him literally a bloody mess. A couple weeks later, Wolverine spends some time with Jubilee, catching up a bit, before offering some “final advice” that makes her suspicious. Finally, we close with a letter he leaves for her as he’s made the decision to leave the school and strike out on his own–to find himself, and deal with what’s happened and how it affects things moving forward.

This is the only “solo” title of Fatal Attractions-all the other issues are team-books: X-Factor, X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Excalibur. As such, the hologram on this cover is the most appropriate–Wolverine himself. While it’s a cool hologram, it’s not my favorite–I think that distinction goes to the Havok or Magneto ones. The cover takes a different perspective than X-Men #25, showing Wolverine with all these curvy spikes sticking out of his body, apparently representing the adamantium; rather than him just injured with metal/bone showing through.

As I’ve been saying over the past several posts, this issue and X-Men 25 are my favorites of the 6, and form the “heart” of the story. X-Men 25 climaxes with Wolverine losing the adamantium; this issue picks up the pieces, and ultimately results in Wolverine leaving the team for a time. Also as I’ve said, this issue is such a core part of my childhood with comics that it’s not an issue I see particularly objectively. It’s an iconic, key issue in things–and began nearly six years of Wolverine NOT having the adamantium (a long enough time and becoming a part of the character that the depiction even made it out into licensed products at the time). From #75, Wolverine was without the adamantium until #146, 71 issues later; nearly half the entire run of his series to that point.

I remember this issue being a tense read–the situation the characters were in, and their not knowing what was actually gonna happen. I like the way it shows the characters working together–a team–and the sense of family sprinkled in. There are a lot of great moments that are truly enhanced by knowing about the characters and continuity; maybe even moreso now, with the knowledge of where many of the characters wind up. Xavier’s sense of responsibility to Wolverine–bringing him into the X-men to begin with, involving him in the mission to Avalon, his inability to help Wolverine break through the memory implants, but the help he has provided the man through the years. Stuff with Jean–her past with the Phoenix, and that other horrific return-journey to earth.

The art is a pretty definitive take on the characters–everyone’s familiar, and the visuals are very similar to X-Men 25, further placing both issues at the heart of the story. It also definitely helps that it’s one art team rather than an entire group, and thus a singular consistency throughout the issue.

Probably the roughest part of the issue for me is Wolverine’s letter at the end–the font is hard on the eyes after the lettering of the rest of the issue. I appreciate the representation of a hand-written note, but for just reading the issue, it’s a bit jarring.

On the whole, though…this is one of THE most memorable issues of Wolverine for me, in all the series/incarnations. It’s certainly my favorite, particularly for the time. And for awhile, this was the end of my experience with Fatal Attractions. I originally missed the Excalibur issue as these were coming out, and I’m not even 100% sure if I’d even read the issue until I read a copy for this series of ‘Fatal Attractions Revisited’ posts.

This issue is definitely well worth picking up–particularly if you come across it in a bargain bin. In the years since it originally came out, I’ve paid up to cover price for it–but know I’ve snagged at least one copy from a quarter-bin and one from a dollar bin, another as part of a 3-for-$10 purchase.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Men #25

Dreams Fade

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Cover: Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1993

The UN decides that they have to protect the world against Magneto, so they initiate “The Magneto Protocols.” Basically, this is an energy grid formed from a bunch of satellites, keyed to Magneto and his powers specifically. If Magneto enters Earth’s atmosphere, he will be rendered powerless. Effectively–this bans him from Earth. Of course, he doesn’t take it lightly–and generates a global EMP wave that causes untold death and destruction as Earth’s electronics are knocked out, if only (in this case) temporarily.

Xavier realizes that he cannot simply wait for peace…and after such a devastating global attack from Magneto, he organizes a special strike team of his X-Men to invade Avalon, to finally put an end to him. He leads this team himself, using a previously-unknown exo-armor powered by his psychic abilities, but which necessitates he take Jean along so they can stop Magneto together. He also takes Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, and Quicksilver; leaving everyone else behind to carry on the dream. Once on Avalon (unknowingly assisted by Colossus), the group faces Magneto’s Acolytes until they’re teleported away–leaving things just the X-Men vs. Magneto. His back against the figurative wall, Magneto deals a horrific blow to Wolverine, which seals the deal for Xavier, who lashes out with his own powers to take away Magneto’s mind, leaving him in a vegetative state.

I’m pretty sure I got this issue the same evening I got Wolverine #75…and I vaguely recall stopping at KFC with my dad to get dinner on the way home. Probably what makes a memory like that stick while I can’t remember the first time I read earlier chapters of this story…this issue was one of the most definitive, key comics of my youth. I do not recall if I truly knew what was going to happen to Wolverine or not–though I have a vague recollection of a mail-order comics catalog giving something about it away.

At least at the time, this issue was extremely important, and from what I recall, really set the stage for the next few years of X-Men comics; from Magneto to the genesis of Onslaught, and through that to the subsequent years of things that came about from Onslaught and Heroes Reborn.

This issue–the “final battle” between Xavier and Magneto, was along with Magneto’s character in Age of Apocalypse and the 1990s animated series a crucial part of my understanding of Magneto. It’s actually kind of fascinating to me to consider that the Magneto in contemporary X-Men comics is the same character that appears here. Of course, we’re talking nearly two full decades of character development between this and now–but it goes to show what can be done with these characters and time. (While I’ve yet to really read any of the classic Rogue issues, I’m also interested in the fact that the Rogue I grew up reading was herself once a villain in the Marvel Universe. If her character can be handled as it has, it’s not too far fetched to think the same can be done with Magneto.)

I also recall thinking it sort of odd that such a huge thing would happen to Wolverine here rather than in his own title…but then, Wolverine wouldn’t even have a title of his own without the X-men. It also would not have made sense or allowed the conclusion of this issue if such a thing had happened off-panel or they tried to “hide” it to unveil in his own title. And here I am dancing around it as if an event from 19 years ago that was “resolved” 13 years ago is “spoiler territory.”

Magneto destabilizing and forcibly removing the Adamantium from Wolverine’s body was shocking, devastating…and hard to believe it hadn’t much been dealt with before: man of magnetism vs. man of metal bones.

The story itself in this issue is hard to look at critically, because this was such an impactful issue on me as a kid. I suppose that’s one way of suggesting that the story’s not bad. Some stuff I notice now, though seem petty quibbles–such as Xavier’s exo-suit (where’d it come from and why hadn’t it ever come up before–the characters seemed surprised he had it!), and I was reminded of Pryde of the X-Men the way the characters kinda peeled apart to fight smaller battles as the main group moved on. But this issue’s story gave a sense of urgency and finality for Xavier and his strike team, and perhaps it’s hindsight, but it just gave the whole issue an epic feel. Nicieza‘s narration and bits of dialogue also have stuck with me through the years, on the same level as Bane breaking Batman’s back in Batman #497 and Superman’s death in Superman #75.

And it begins with a small tug–an almost gentle pull–a harder yank–then a wrenching tear–

“We are all but bit players in a tragedy far larger than any of us…a tragedy called LIFE, Logan. But today, for you, perhaps for me–the curtain falls…and the play is FINISHED!”

The art is equally hard to look at critically–much as I’ve loved Jim Lee‘s X-Men art, this issue probably subconsciously became my standard of “good” X-Men art vs. “not-so-good” X-Men art in the ’90s. It’s also great to see a single art team rather than a whole mess of folks being involved; the consistency helps things flow, and I’m never taken out of the story, jarred by an art change or such.

This issue’s cover is one of the simpler ones, unlike the clutter on the X-Factor and Uncanny X-Men issues. This one, you see Magneto blasting Wolverine, and of course the excellent Gambit hologram. Of course, I like to think the Magneto hologram from UXM 304 would have been more fitting here, but it was appropriate for the X-Men’s oldest foe to be spotlighted on the anniversary issue of the series that counted back to the beginning. Even taking a look at the entire wraparound cover, things are pretty simple, so to speak…and very indicative of what happens in the issue, without giving it away in and of itself–we see Xavier and the rest of his strike team reacting to Magneto mid-attack on Wolverine who’s obviously in some trouble here.

This issue and Wolverine #75 are the heart of this event, for me; when I think of this story, it’s these two issues–Magneto vs. Wolverine, and then of the X-Men’s return-journey to Earth and Wolverine dealing with the aftermath of stuff. You can take away the previous three chapters and skip the sixth chapter without really losing anything of what I’ve thought of as Fatal Attractions. Offhand, next to the likes of X-Men #41 (the finale of Legion Quest) I can’t think of another single X-Men issue that’s had more impact on me and my X-Men reading.

If you find this in a bargain bin, I highly recommend it–you’ll do well with context and/or nostalgia driving you, but I daresay that even coming in cold but with a basic/generic understanding of X-Men, one can appreciate the enormity of what unfolds in this issue.

X-Men #25 Wraparound

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