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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.

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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?

true_believers_wolverine_fatal_attractions_blogtrailer

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Showing off the Shelves: X-Men January 2017

Today, I’m showing off my current X-Men shelf configuration, with some volumes "weeded out" for present, possibly permanently, or to be added back in once I expand my shelving, which my collection has pretty much outgrown at the moment.

showing_off_the_shelves_xmen_shelf01

One of my earliest collected volumes ever was that original The Essential Uncanny X-Men 1 that I bought right before leaving for college back in 1999. Obviously, my X-collection has grown significantly in the last 17 1/2 to 18 years!

I have stuff largely in chronological–or near-chronological–order, moving through the franchise’s history, with this first shelf pretty much covering 1963-1994-ish.

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Picking up in 1995, this second shelf pretty much takes us through the later ’90s, early 2000s, Morrison, Whedon, and up to 2010 or so.

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And moving beyond Second Coming and the Fraction run, a bunch of the miscellaneous/skinnier volumes taper off the X-Men proper, and get into other stuff…primarily Wolverine and X-Factor.

Of course, with Marvel discontinuing the Essential line in favor of the Epic line, I may eventually be swappign out some of the Wolverine and X-Factor stuff, or pay inflated prices to fill the Wolverine run in. Time will tell!

The X-books are–next to Superman–the most significant part of my entire collection, and certainly out-do the rest of my Marvel collection; while not exact, I’d say these account for at least 35% of my entire Marvel collection.

Impressive as they can be…knowing the "gaps" in content from the various X-Men oversized hardcovers and omnibus volumes…I find it kinda hard to imagine sticking just to the omnibus/OHC format…there’s so much more to be had by combining the formats. That said…I’d be interested in the Inferno and Inferno Crossovers volumes if I could get them relatively cheaply…though more immediately I’ll probably be content to just get the paperbacks as those’ll be much cheaper, period, and there are several other paperbacks that I want that do not (to my knowledge) have hardcover counterparts…including several Gambit volumes!

But that all gets off on other topics (like "wishlists")…

#NotAtComicCon – But Probably a Better Haul

moving_books_summer_2016Without getting much into it for now…2016 is another year that I am #NotAtComicCon. And frankly, I’m glad for it…in some ways it’d be kinda cool to go, just to HAVE gone, but it’s not my scene; it’s gotten too huge, too many people in too small a space, it’s too non-comic focused, all the “good” panels would be full before I could get there, it would not be a conducive environment to hunt back issues and bargain books, the cost of admission and lodging and food and travel would eat up any “margin” of bargains anyway, and for what dealers pay to be there, they aren’t gonna be just peddling the kinda bargain-priced stuff I’m after anyway, etc.

Amidst a major shift in my personal life, I made it to a couple of Half-Price Books stores last week, taking advantage of two 40%-off coupons and a “surprise” 50%-off coupon. I’ve had my eye on the Lois Lane: a Celebration of 75 Years for several months now, not pulling the trigger, and other stuff beating it out on previous coupons. Along with that, I paid “full price” (half of cover price) for the two Alex + Ada books; vol. 2 to replace a damaged copy I hadn’t realized was damaged when I bought it, meaning that across editions I’ve functionally paid full price for the 3 good-copy volumes I have (the complete 3-volume series).

The day before that, I got the Absolute Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War which was a bargain at $40 (carrying a $100 cover price); got it for 40% off that $40, bringing it down to the cost of 5-6 Marvel single-issues!

With the 50%-off coupon, I bought the X-Men: Fatal Attractions volume. $25 cover price, HPB had it priced as $20 (ugh!), but I got it for $10, which is what I’d seen it for at a convention maybe a decade ago. (And then I learn there’s a new edition coming out in about 3 months…). I also got the Superman: Escape From Bizarro World just to fill in a gap…I’m not overly interested in the Superman volumes from this era, but the Superman fan that I am, I’m not opposed to expanding my Superman sub-collection.

Finally, stopping in at a shop I hadn’t been to in awhile, browsing bargain bins, I found the 2nd volume of Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection by Matt Fraction, which completes the ‘set’ I’d started five months ago.

I highly doubt I’d’ve been able to score this kinda haul at any convention; these come from three separate stores, each in a different city, some 10-15 minutes’ drive apart…not all one location a couple minutes’ walk apart. But I’m good for the prices I paid for them.

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My desk at work has amassed another small collection of randomness in recent weeks. Target clearanced the larger-sized monster figures several weeks back, so I got the Marshmallow Man for about 30% off (turns out the clearancing was an error…I’d wondered about that, considering it was a week before the new movie had even come out!)

The two blind-pack Ghostbusters I’d gotten awhile back, as well as a miniature Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon) from 2014 or ’15… and some Pokémon. Seems what I’m most a fan of are the “Generation 1” characters, and here I’ve scored several of my favorites, from a couple of 2-packs.

So again…I’m quite happy enough with what I’ve gotten lately along with “regular” comics, even not being at Comic Con.

The ’90s Revisited – X-Men: Fatal Attractions

My six-part look back at the Fatal Attractions even/crossover that celebrated 30 years of the X-Men. Links below.

X-Factor #92  |  X-Force #25  |  Uncanny X-Men #304

X-Men #25  |  Wolverine #75  |  Excalibur #71

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Excalibur #71

Crossing Swords

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: Ken Lashley, Darick Robertson, Matthew Ryan
Inkers: Cam Smith, Randy Elliot, Randy Emberlin, Mark Nelson
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Pat Brosseau, Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Cover: Joe Madureira and Joe Bennett
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: November, 1993
Cover Price: 3.95

After Nightcrawler confronts one of the Acolytes and–thanks to Kitty–narrowly avoids killing him, the X-Men burst into things, “recruiting” the remanants of Excalibur’s help in a particular task: they want to “fix” Colossus. After an injury he’d suffered, he was unable to revert to human form, and they figure that’s the cause of his ‘defecting’ to Magneto’s camp. If they can heal him, surely that’ll fix him and any brain issue, and he’ll return to them.

The various characters react to stuff–some for, some against. While they do, Cable shows up for Colossus, and winds up confronting Phoenix (Rachel Grey) in a less than pleasant battle. Once Colossus arrives (thinking Kitty wants to return to Avalon with him), the “trap” is sprung and the plan revealed. Though Colossus declares he does not want the help of the X-Men, they “help” anyway, and his ability to shift back and forth between human and metal forms is restored. Though he has a touching moment with Kitty, he still opts to return to Avalon with the Acolytes.

Finally, as all of this has been going on, an idea has been building for Nightcrawler, and he decides that with the “old team” basically no more, he’ll have a “new team,” a new Excalibur, that will operate at Muir Isle with Moira.

After rereading X-Men 25 and Wolverine 75, this issue was a bit of a letdown. I’m probably least-aware of ’90s Excalibur of all the X-teams of the time, at least prior to Age of Apocalypse. Reading this, I had a vague sense of deja vu, that I’d read this before. Yet I can’t honestly say with certainty that I’d read the issue any time before reading it for this posting. I know t was at least a few years after the fact that I even acquired the issue for the first time (whether before or after college I don’t even know at this point). For quite awhile, Fatal Attractions (for me) ended with Wolverine 75.

Story-wise, this is a transition issue–we go from whatever recent stuff’s gone down with Excalibur to the end of the issue setting the stage for a whole new team. And in the middle of it we have Cyclops, Jean, and Professor X thrown in–familiar faces that made this issue seem much more an X-Men issue than it would have otherwise, which also ties it into the events of Fatal Attractions in general. It’s also kind of odd having the sense of continuity that there is here–but then, this was back when such things were important to stories and “families” of titles and not some loose option seen as detrimental to the nature of “the story.”

Visually, the issue is a bit uneven with multiple artists–though it’s not terribly detrimental to the issue. It seems like the various scenes had an artist, so there’s some internal consistency that way. I really like the look of Colossus costume in this issue–one page has a nearly full image of him, and it’s one of the best depictions of the character I can recall ever seeing.

It seems the two main things to come out of this issue are the “new” Excalibur team and Colossus is no longer confined to his metallic form. If you didn’t know he’d been injured, that’s probably not a huge plot point (before this read-through, I never would’ve been able to tell you where or when that little problem was dealt with–I’d once been aware that he was so injured, but never really thought about it much or cared to find out its resolution). That this is the beginning of a new Excalibur team has me interested in seeing that team; if this were a new issue, I’d definitely be back for the next. As-is looking at this nearly twenty years after it came out…I could simply track down the next few issues to read.

This is probably the “simplest” of the covers…it’s bright and colorful, but somehow not exactly my cup of tea, so to speak. The hologram of Nightcrawler is–like the others in this series–not bad, though at least on the copy I read, felt like I have to look at it somewhat from an angle to really get the best 3D effect.

So ended the official 30th Anniversary “event” for the X-Men. I loosely followed the X-books here and there over the next year-plus; it wasn’t until the end of 1994 with Legion Quest and then the Age of Apocalypse that I began a run of following the entire X-Universe.

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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