Thursday, June 12, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine #8
Reading the Wolverine comics these past few months has been a lot like watching the first half-hour of a slasher movie. All the characters are in place. We then make note of the slutty girls and douche-bag jocks because we know their asses are going to get horribly butchered first. That's a given. It's how the ugly girls and dorky guys get through the last leg of the movie that makes the story. However, that's not what Wolverine now offers. Like the slutty girl and dumb jock, we know Wolverine is going to die. Granted, he's not going to stay dead. Hugh Jackman will probably refuse to show his bare ass in another X-men movie if Marvel does this and the reaction from women alone would raise unholy hell. But watching Wolverine work his way towards his impending death, trying to maim Sabretooth one last time, has not been without its moments. His new ongoing has finally become more organized to the point where I don't have to be sober when I read it. And now that his little ruse to the Offer has been exposed, maybe I can add a joint or two as I read Wolverine #8. It could end up being fucked up in an entirely new way, but that's never stopped me adding in an extra joint or two before.
Whereas a glass of wine or a nicely rolled joint can act as a good way to get a party going, Wolverine runs with a crowd that takes a different approach. While I don't deny that whiskey has its place in circles like his, I don't think anyone should be surprised that a few punches to the gut and a kick to the face counts as a handshake to some of his friends. That's exactly what he gets when he meets up with Iron Fist and Shang Chi on an island called Itsukushima. I have no fucking clue how to pronounce or even spell check that so I'll just make sure I tip the next Japanese hooker I see extra to make up for it. Given Wolverine's history with Japan, it's not an inappropriate setting. And given that he just betrayed his new team, including a beautiful woman who let him see her naked, a good ass-kicking is more than warranted.
Warranted or not, there is another reason behind Iron Fist and Shang Chi's rough greeting. In the same way a sleazy talent agent gets pretty girls to show him their tits, they use this well-deserved ass-kicking to assess Wolverine's current state. Being masters of Kung Fu, who are also probably Wolverine's Facebook friends, they know he has lost his healing and they notice that he now hesitates when he fights back. It's not the first time either. It happened earlier in this series with a Sentinel and if Wolverine is hesitating in the face of Sentinels and ninjas, then they know as well as him how fucked he is.
Aside from being highly handicapped in his usual badassery, Wolverine needs help from Shang Chi and Iron Fist to help him unfuck the situation he now finds himself in. Because of him, Pinch's daughter is in danger and Sabretooth is one step closer to taking a giant shit on everything he holds dear. He still wants to take down Sabretooth, but he might as well be hoping to beat up the 1985 Chicago Bears with a feather duster. He needs help and since he hasn't screwed over Shang Chi and Iron Fist yet, they agree to help him. They're the ones that suggested they meet on this island whose name I'll never be able to pronounce, even if I were sober. They claim death is forbidden on this land, which I guess would make it the ultimate retirement community. But since Wolverine contemplates retirement the same way Wesley Snipes contemplates his taxes, it's a given he probably won't stay.
It's also a given that the friends Wolverine screwed over are going have a lot of incentive to get him off that island as quickly as possible. At the end of the previous issue, Sabretooth revealed that he had Pinch's daughter. That pretty much ended the fight and forced Pinch and Lost Boy to surrender. Now she's trapped and surrounded by ninjas, but she still has something Sabretooth wants so they're both intact for now. And Sabretooth being Sabretooth, he has to let them know that he likes to play with his prey before he maims it. He's like a cannibal who enjoys jerking off on the bodies of his victims before he eats them. I'm sure Pinch was ready to throw up through her nose when she saw Sabretooth playing with her daughter. I'll bet she'll never claim that playing Grand Theft Auto games are as dangerous again. It's disturbing, but it gets the point across. Sabretooth is a psychopath and he's willing to do some pretty fucked up shit to get what he wants.
After Pinch is done throwing up, the Offer arrives. He's understandably worried, but probably only to the point that Donald Trump is worried that he'll run out of hair gel. He's still no Kingpin. He had no idea Wolverine would screw them over, but he probably should have. Since when has a former Avenger or X-man not screwed over a criminal? That's like hoping the IRS will forgive back taxes or a bank will forgive student loan debt. It just ain't happening. I want to say I have sympathy for the Offer, but there's only so much sympathy anyone can have for a guy who wears a suit that probably cost more than my last five mortgage payments.
I can't say I have much more sympathy for Wolverine either at this point because he's still on an island where death is forbidden. But he's not there to snort snake venom and dine on poisonous spiders. He's there to get help from Shang Chi and Iron Fist. They give him this help by taking him to a temple they claim to be the Temple of Death. It seems strange yet appropriate that there would be such a temple on an island where death is forbidden. They claim death treats this place in the same way billionaires treat their own private islands, as refuges from their hectic life of screwing people over and listening to the whining of every overpaid asshole on CNN.
That's not to say that it's a very welcoming place either. Death is still an asshole, even while on vacation. As Wolverine enters the temple, he finds that it has a hell of a security system in that it unleashes an army of hideous demon creatures. It's the kind of system I would love to have in my car because these creatures only attack those who fight constantly. These are people who already have a death wish and once Wolverine figures that out, he's allowed to move forward. It's basically like a system that would only let me lend my car to people I knew would bring it back without a scratch. Fuck, I wish I had that.
When he enters the temple, he finds out that death has a secretary and death is also a chick. Somehow, I find that incredibly appropriate and not just because I know how vindictive women can be whenever a significant other sells their panties on Ebay for crack money. Women are the ones that give birth to us. Why shouldn't they be the ones that kill us? I'm sure plenty of feminists can appreciate that, but some will find a way to bitch about it. However misogynistic it might be, death's adorable little secretary leads Wolverine through a strange maze that gave me the urge to play Pac-Man for some reason. It's a bit confusing about how this temple works, but the end result is pretty clear. Death has been expecting Wolverine and knows all the ways he has kept her busy. In other words, he's fucked on an entirely new level.
In preparation for his arrival, Death has prepared a statue of sorts and a pile of skulls representing the many people he's maimed. Frankly, I'm surprised it isn't the size of the Great Wall of China. Keep in mind, death is still on vacation. I'm assuming she didn't want to bother getting too elaborate. It still gets the point across because one of the skulls belongs to Rose, a sort of proto-Jean Grey that Wolverine fell in love with long ago and who was also referenced in an earlier issue. It sends an even more powerful message than before. He's got a lot of bad karma built up with death so he's more fucked than he thought.
The Rose connection adds a badly needed personal touch to a story that has been so disorganized and chaotic at times. This series was billed as the countdown for Wolverine as he neared his death, assuming of course his death will only be as permanent as the release date of the next Wolverine movie. It hasn't delivered at times, but it has made connections with parts of Wolverine's past that aren't often touched on. Rose, who might be the reason he has a boner for Jean Grey, is a big part of that past and adding her to the story helps add to the drama. It's not much in that it doesn't cover the vast clusterfuck that is Wolverine's past, but it does give a more profound message than, "You gonna die, bitch!"
The mention of Rose isn't just intended to torment Wolverine, although I'm sure that's 80 percent of the reason. The point Death tries to make here is that Wolverine has spent a good chunk of his ridiculously long life never fearing death. She points out that even children learn to fear it at a young age when they find out their goldfish don't like it when they pour mountain dew into their tank. Now he has lost his healing factor and he has to get used to the idea that he can die really fucking fast, otherwise Sabretooth will be the one that reminds him and he'll be a lot less generous about it. Yes, Sabretooth is less generous than death at this point.
It's the kind of mid-life crisis that Wolverine probably should've had decades go. He's finally having to confront death. Conceptually, that's a pretty important plot to cover in this whole "Death of Wolverine" story. It's a fitting conflict for him to explore, but one that lacks the impact, at least in this issue. Let's face it, Wolverine has a list of sins longer than Led Zepplin's hotel bills. An entire season of Game of Thrones could be dedicated to the fucked up ways he's built up bad karma. Mentioning Rose helped make it personal, but it didn't give Wolverine the sense of just how fucked he is.
If Death really wanted to make Wolverine shit himself, she would first show him images of Cyclops and Jean Grey's honeymoon. Then she would show him the deal that the Offer is now making with Sabretooth. Since he doesn't like being screwed over anymore than Pinch, it's not too surprising that he's willing to cut a deal with Sabretooth. A man doesn't get to wear an overpriced suit like that without learning to negotiate with sadistic assholes about ways of screwing other people over.
And he still has leverage. He and Pinch still have that glowing orb they found in the previous issue and at the moment, only Pinch knows how to work it. Sabretooth wants that orb, if only to give him a more efficient way to make Wolverine suffer. So the Offer reveals that he knows how to find Wolverine. He apparently slipped a tracking device into his suit when he was busy banging Pinch. It's his way of demonstrating that he has the cunning and Ayan Rand caliber spirit to get shit done in a way that will benefit his organization. Sabretooth may be an asshole, but he knows the value of amoral assholes to criminal organizations like his.
Sabretooth makes good use of this new information. As soon as the Offer reveals Wolverine's location, he unleashes another wave of Hand ninjas. Now I doubt he expects that these ninjas will kill Wolverine. Even without his healing factor, Wolverine maims ninjas the same way sumo wrestlers maim buffets. But they'll at least rough him up a bit, ensuring Sabretooth can torment him with greater ease. They'll still have to go through Shang Chi and Iron Fist. Wolverine better make sure he doesn't screw those two over because he really can't afford to be without allies at this point. He's already rubbing elbows with death herself. He couldn't be living more dangerously if he were snorting anthrax and touring with Ozzy Osborne.
In terms of the bigger picture, this issue does have a novel concept in that it has Wolverine confronting his own mortality in a way so literal that it could be a skit on Saturday Night Live if it weren't so serious. He's screwed over his new team, lost the orb that was supposed to give him another crack at Sabretooth, and created another vindictive ex-girlfriend in the process. Donald Sterline might be able to get away with that shit and come out two billion dollars richer, but Wolverine can't. Seeing him confront death while teaming up with Shang Chi and Iron Fist in the process was a somewhat abrupt, yet still welcome chance of pace. With his time running out, he damn well better get used to the idea of death because it's about to kick him in the balls and slap him in the face. He took his first step here and Sabretooth took his first step towards screwing Wolverine over again. Granted, the whole plot about Pinch's daughter was basically forgotten faster than Johnny Depp's last movie that didn't involve Tim Burton. But the big picture is still solid and for a series that started off less coherent than stoner reciting Shakespeare, that's still saying something. I give Wolverine #8 a 6 out of 10. Wolverine has now looked death in the eye. Now he has to fight more ninjas. Sounds like an average Tuesday for him. He doesn't have much time left though so he better enjoy maiming these ninjas while he can. I'm sure he'll miss that almost as much as he'll miss whiskey and sexy redheads. Nuff said!