Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine #1
Comic book relaunches have been going around more frequently than cases of the clap at a Tijuana whore house. The hope is that by simply slapping a pretty new #1 on a book, it will sell better. And while it seems shallow and shameless, it fucking works. I’m sure the sales teams at Marvel and DC Comics are still shaking their heads at how often this works, but I’m also sure they don’t give a shit. For whatever reason, new #1s get people to throw money at a book as if it were a stripper with a new boob job. And Wolverine’s solo series has had more than its share of boob jobs in recent years. It has been relaunched almost as often as North Korean executions. While I roll my eyes and grab a fresh bottle of vodka at the news of every relaunch, I try to keep an open mind. Now a new Wolverine #1 promises to tell a new kind of Wolverine story, one where he has no healing factor and is painfully vulnerable. The final arc of his last series had him reject an opportunity to get his healing factor back. So now he can’t regrow limbs or keep a boner for six straight hours. While that may suck on the surface, it opens the door to many possibilities for Wolverine and I’m trying to stay sober to see some of them realized in Wolverine #1. Emphasis on trying.
Wolverine’s first major act in this new life without his healing factor is actually somewhat jarring. At the end of Wolverine #12, he flat out said “The Wolverine is dead.” Yet he starts Wolverine #1 as if he blacked out when he said that because he’s back to slicing up killer robots and taking shots that would shatter Chuck Norris’s ribcage. What the fuck happened? Did I go on a cocaine bender in Costa Rica again and miss a whole Wolverine mini-series? Sadly, I didn’t. Wolverine is back in action thanks to a kick-ass new battle suit that is made to look exactly like his old uniform. It’s not an Iron Man rip-off. Tony Stark’s lawyers stop jerking off at the prospects of suing the Jean Grey Institute. All it does is allow him to keep being Wolverine.
Now I’m perfectly okay with this. I want Wolverine to keep being Wolverine. But he’s already back in action after saying outright “The Wolverine is dead?” I still feel like I got blacked out drunk and missed the part where he said, “Fuck that, I’m just getting a kick-ass new uniform.” Also, he’s now working with a small team that isn’t the X-men who appear to be helping him. I’m a bit too drunk right now to identify them, but it still feels just as jarring and I wouldn’t mind an explanation for when I sober up.
His teammates include such creatively named figures like Lost Boy, Pinch, and Fuel. That sounds like a sex toy when said a certain way, but for whatever reason they’re helping Wolverine break in his new suit. In the process Wolverine also has to deal with some of the more cumbersome aspects of this new way of operating. Now that he’s relying on a suit to keep his ass durable, he needs to fuel it. And that’s what Fuel helps him with. The fact that she happens to be a pretty girl is just a bonus. It allows Wolverine to cop a feel so I guess that’s refreshing in some respects. Wolverine just wouldn’t be Wolverine if he didn’t get to fool around with pretty girls. To take that away from him would be like making James Bond a Mormon.
And it’s also just as refreshing to see that this suit still allows Wolverine to be the best he is at what he does. His mission isn’t exactly clear, but it involves killer robots and armed faceless guards trying to shoot him. Since this is the beginning of a new volume of Wolverine, it just wouldn’t be right if he didn’t get to sink his claws into something that exploded. It makes for some appropriately visceral action. However, it would be a lot more exciting if there was some context. I’m not sure if this is an actual mission or if this is just how Wolverine chooses to spend his Monday mornings. I still think it’s healthier waking up hung over and getting a coffee enema.
There is at least some effort given to providing that context. As Wolverine and these three new friends of his that few will give half a fuck about, a typical mysterious nobody that people will give even fewer fucks about is watching the whole thing like a pervert hiding in Scarlet Johanssen’s closet. He calls himself “The Offer.” It sounds like the name of a secret whore house in Texas, but it sends the necessary message. He’s the guy who apparently gave Wolverine this new armor of his. I guess Wolverine must have stolen Tony Stark’s imported cognac because I’m pretty sure he would have given him some armor just for something to do in between three-ways with Playboy centerfolds. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it does mean he has Wolverine on his payroll and that’s intriguing for some people. I guess these are the same people that never saw the body count he left with Weapon X.
Now as little sense as this makes in the grand scheme of things, it is at least consistent with Wolverine traditions. Someone is always trying to use him and exploit him. He’s like a drug-addict stripper that can’t seem to get her shit to get her shit together. It’s different in some respects because now Wolverine needs help from someone to keep being the Wolverine he has always been. What makes it bullshit is that it still directly contradicts the whole “The Wolverine is dead” speech and ignores that he has some very smart allies that would probably do this without screwing him over. I guess Wolverine’s only reason would be “Now where’s the fun in that?”
Speaking of his allies, Wolverine does attempt to explain himself in a flashback with Storm. They’re just out having a drink at a bar, discussing how fucked up things will be now that he’s killable. His explanation for his words basically amounted to “I was being melodramatic and was probably fucked up on pain killers.” It’s as unsatisfying as it sounds, unless those pain killers were provided along with the comic. Yet being the man she is currently boning, Storm expresses sincere concern for him. She’s the one that urges him to try something like armor, if only to protect the future he still has. So at least that idea didn’t come from nowhere.
It’s a nice scene that highlights the continued interaction between Storm and Wolverine, which really took on a new kind of drama during the Killable arc. But it was somewhat lacking of emotional resonance. Wolverine’s flip-flopping on “The Wolverine is dead” really kills the sense of drama. And even when he entertains the idea of growing old and needing boner pills to get it up, it just rings hollow. For a guy who now has to find a whole new way to be the best he is at what he does, that’s pretty fucking underhanded.
That’s not to say that Wolverine doesn’t take it seriously. Since Storm is letting him see her naked on a regular basis, he does apparently commit himself to learning new ways to be Wolverine. That involves getting help from some of his allies, but not someone like Tony Stark who can build a pretty damn good suit of armor, unless he tries to use it to shoot cosmic forces. He catches up with Black Widow, someone I’m sure he has seen naked at some point as well. And she helps him re-connect with the joys of shooting a gun. Even though he still has adamantium claws, it couldn’t hurt to diversify his killing skills. That or he just wants to cop a sympathy feel from Black Widow. Nobody would blame him if he did. It doesn’t look like much comes of this at first, but Wolverine does show that he can get the job done with more than just his claws. It’s called multi-tasking and it’s not just some bullshit that bosses in offices make up.
Back in the present, Wolverine’s new suit of armor gets its first major test. The mission was apparently to free some random Hand ninja. Considering how many Hand ninjas Wolverine has killed over the years, I get the sense that’s like sending Pat Robertson to save Richard Dawkins from falling off a cliff. Yet his new armor is able to withstand the rigors and he manages to escape with the Ninja and his team. In the process it reveals that this test run for his armor took place in space aboard some big ass space station. That’s like taking a brand new car to a demolition derby and winning.
But when they get back to Earth, they don’t immediately go and celebrate with a cold beer and a joint. The man who gave Wolverine his suit, The Offer, had been showing off his new skills to a prospective business partner that claimed to have ties to Sabretooth. However, The Offer seems to think that dealing with one former living weapon is troubling enough. So he stops treating him like a banking lobbyist at a congressional fund raiser and more like some asshole that tried to cop a feel from a stripper at a strip club. He finds out that the man isn’t really in league with Sabretooth. He’s a reporter for the Daily Bugle, the same paper that likes to shit on Spider-Man and spit on mutants. So this will not end well for him.
And it doesn’t. As soon as The Offer informs Wolverine, he takes care of it the same way Ted Nugant takes care of squirrels on his lawn. He shoots him in the fucking head. It’s bloody and gratuitous, but it’s fucking Wolverine. Anything else would just be an insult to his character. It seems to give the message that Wolverine is no longer going to rely on his claws. He’s okay with using a gun and a suit of armor. It’s acceptable, but it still lacks impact and a sense of logical progression. In the end I’m still left scratching my head at how he can go from “The Wolverine is dead” to “I’ll just shoot motherfuckers instead of stab them.”
So I guess we can say that whole "The Wolverine is dead" mantra was bullshit. He’s not dead. He’s just finding a new way to be Wolverine. And so what if it rips off Tony Stark? That brainy pussy hound can stand to let someone borrow his ideas and unless he has friends in the RIAA, Wolverine should be allowed to keep being the best he is at what he does. This issue proved that he could still do that, although now he’ll need help from a gun. While I’m sure this brings tears of joy to the Ted Nugant’s of the world, this transformation to this new Wolverine is still poorly refined and poorly detailed. We don’t get a sense of just how the fuck he ended up with The Offer and his buddies or how losing his healing has affected his relationships with the rest of the X-men. It’s like I got so stoned that I missed an issue in between, but I managed to sober up long enough to confirm that this was not the case. And since Wolverine #1 forced me to sober up to confirm that it was as disconnected as I thought, I can only give it a 5 out of 10. It still has Wolverine being the kind of badass that will shoot a guy in the head and gain the same satisfaction as Jack Bauer and John McClane. It just does a piss poor job of showing how he got to this point. Nuff said!