Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Wolverine #10: What Day Is Today? It's Logan's Birthday!

Wolverine #10 is a rather important issue, and kicks off what I will call the second phase of his development. In the first phase, he grew as a character, but his backstory remained mostly a blank book, other than that he seems to know everyone and everywhere. (Clearly Wolverine is a networker as well as a multitasker.)

Now we start to look at that history through the gloom of hazily-remembered flashbacks, as we find out that Wolverine isn't just some generic man of mystery, but actually cannot remember his past (if you know your Logan you'll be able to take a good guess where I'm going to declare the third phase of Wolverine to start). In this issue, Wolverine is in Madripoor, still going by the name of Patch (natch). He is attacked by some people on his birthday, and as he defends himself and his friends from them, he is surprised to find them turning up dead. He knows why when he gets back to base, to find a letter proclaiming that nobody kills him (especially not today), apart from the writer, Sabretooth.

This Wolverine/Sabretooth rivalry occupied a few pages of Uncanny's Mutant Massacre issues. As I wrote there:

In those two pages (issue #212 13-14), everything we need to know about their pre-existing relationship is lain in front of us. They're rivals, but Sabretooth thinks Wolverine is beneath him.

I stand by that. Those pages were a manifesto for the Wolverine/Sabretooth dynamic, which sprang unusually clearly right from that first appearance. If it were anyone other than Claremont I'd say it was surprising that it took so long to explore it. But... it's Claremont. He still hasn't explained the Mystique/Nightcrawler connection and that's been seven years. So by that standard, this is quite hasty.

Many years ago, we are shown in flashback, Sabretooth killed Wolverine's lover, Silver Fox. No particular motive is shown to us other than sadism, we don't even have the context of knowing when this took place (we know it's before he's been implanted with adamantium bones, and he doesn't have any claws), or anything about Silver Fox. In one way, she's just one of the many people Wolverine has known who has ended up dead (this time before we even met Wolverine).

But she's more than that: she's his first lover. Wolverine has always been - and make sure you're not drinking when you read this as I will not take responsibility for drowned keyboards - a figure with a touch of asexuality about him. And I don't mean that he reproduces asexually. He makes a show of lusting after Jean (Inferno has emphasised this), but back around 1980 he was more a soppy romantic - he picked up flowers for Jean in #101. His admiration for Mariko has been a little self-denying. And yes, I link him and Yukio on the roof; but let's remember the context here - Yukio was lusting after him and he was sating her so as to keep her onside. The man, to put in in a nutshell, fucks. Animalistically. But he has fuck-buddies, not lovers.

So for us to finally hear of an old lover of Wolverine. Someone he had given his heart to, only for it to be ripped out. Well, that makes sense of his gingerness around Jean and Mariko, then. As to Sabretooth? Well, we don't know much more about him and Logan than we did already. But I will note that his repeated use of "runt" implies a familial relationship, to me at least.

1 comment:

  1. But she's more than that: she's his first lover

    I'm no Wolverine scholar, but I'm curious how that gels with what we've learned in the years since, and whether that still holds true or if pre-Silver Fox lovers have been retconned in before this story (he certainly seemed to be in love with Rose, from Origin, for example, but I don't think they were ever lovers).

    Of course, if Wolverine is the one referring to Silver Fox as his first lover in this story (as opposed to the narrator), then it doesn't really matter, since we all know how shoddy his memory was at this time.

    Claremont or Byrne, or both, intended for Sabretooth to be Wolverine's father, right? That certainly seems to be where all the hints are leading, until Claremont leaves the franchise and Larry Hama definitely establishes (as much as one can in comic books) that they are not related.