Monday, 7 April 2014

Marvel Comics Presents #72-#84: Weapon X

By 1991, Marvel Comics Presents had been headlined by Wolverine Team-Up stories for ages.  The story that starts in #72, by Barry Windsor-Smith (I think he's the first person to auter the X-Men) is a rather different take.  It is the story of How The Wolverine Got His Claws, finally.

Although this is a highly-serialised story (twelve parts), the trade paperback collection I am reading does not indicate the gaps.  Structurally these group into four bits.  There is a prologue, with Logan having been sacked from the Canadian army; he then gets used as a prop in a story in an unethical medical experiment.  About half-way through, Logan escapes.  Rather than the story following him, it becomes a slasher, instead, as our characters (Hines, the Professor, and Doctor Cornelius) are hunted down and killed; Logan then escapes.  And finally, it's revealed that some of that was a simulation.  Logan was loosed rather than escaping, and the trio are alive.

The beats were familiar, but some of the details of this story were surprising to me.  We know that at this stage Wolverine's claws have no bone substrate, but the idea that they just sort of happened because of excess adamantium, and the housings designed to stop him hurting himself (or rather to stop him healing after them popping) is a bit silly.  Given the lack of artifice in creating them, having them be coatings of bone claws make more sense!  Further, the idea that the staff of Weapon X didn't know that Logan was a mutant also is a bit odd. But... presumably the shadowy figure that the Professor reports to does know that?

Much of this story is lies, of course.  Apart from the bits it itself admits to (the escape), we know from later material that very little of this will stand. But that doesn't matter a bit.  It's moody, it's tense, it's pacy, it's violent, it sets the stage for more Wolverine material and a thousand other inferior 1990s imitators.

This is not really Wolverine's origin story.  It's not even pretending to be.  What his birth name is, and what his childhood like isn't Wolverine's origin story, either.  What led him to the state where he doesn't know if he has a mother, that matters.  Why Sabretooth has a grudge against him, that matters.  It'll be a while yet before we get to those, it's telling that those were left till last - it's not because they were least interesting, but because you could tell other stories revealing apparently quite profound bits of Logan's life while still retaining the Man of Mystery element.

But, as I say, that's later.  Much later.  If I ever get to it.  For now, I want to know, what effect is this going to have on the Wolverine of 1991?

1 comment:

  1. I think he's the first person to auter the X-Men

    I think you're right - the only other potential candidate I could think of was Alan Davis, but his run writing and drawing Excalibur starts after this.