Monday, August 18, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine #11

Ever since Wolverine’s upcoming death was announced months ago, I’ve approached Wolverine comics the same way I approach a prostate exam. I know what to expect. I know it’s going to be uncomfortable, but I hold out hope that it can be awesome in a weird way if done right. The march to his inevitable date with the Grim Reaper has been chaotic. Sometimes it even feels like a drunk is leading the parade. But over the past few issues, things have finally started to sober up. The extent of Wolverine’s plan to confront Sabretooth has been revealed. He has reconnected with all the friends and allies who he went to great lengths to piss off. Now he’s got to work with those friends to take on Sabretooth as he prepares to take a huge shit all over New York City. It would be so exciting if the outcome hadn’t already been spoiled. That doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome. Wolverine #11 has a chance to prove that and I’ve made sure to keep an extra tube of lube handy just in case.

At the very least, it proves that Pinch is not capable of outwitting Sabretooth when he’s holding her daughter hostage. She knows that Sabretooth will use that alien device to paint New York City in his blood and jerk off with the entrails. She knows he’ll probably use it to do a salsa dance on top of Wolverine’s grave. But she has to help him anyways. She’s not Captain America or Superman. She’s just the latest woman to jump into bed with Wolverine and end up on Sabretooth’s shit list. It’s a pretty long list, but one that doesn’t afford her the luxury of making hard choices. For that, I can’t entirely blame her. She still has to know on some levels that Sabretooth is going to kill her and her daughter just for shits and giggles.

Flash back an hour ago and we see that Wolverine is prepared to unfuck the Sabretooth shit, with or without his healing factor. This time, he’s bringing backup. He’s got a fuckton of SHIELD personnel, courtesy of Nick Fury Jr., and Thor at his side. Sabretooth has a little girl for a hostage and Mystique, aka Mrs. Charles Xavier. It’s a very unbalanced fight to say the least, but it’s a fight with many personal dimensions. Nick Fury Jr. even points that out, which leads to a nice little exchange about bearing the burden of being a killer and learning how to live life without the ability to shake off gunshot wounds. It shows that Wolverine has come to accept his mortality, but he’s still willing to fight and be the same badass that he’s always been. Something about that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and for once it didn’t come from heroin.

Flash forward and Sabretooth is ready to get to work, killing more of Wolverine’s friends. He intends to start with Lost Boy, who bonded with Wolverine over beer and video games earlier in the series. He probably doesn’t recall those times very fondly because Wolverine ended up ditching the team and going back to the X-men, having basically used them as part of an elaborate plan to get to Sabretooth. But Wolverine does his part to make him seem like less a dick when he drops in and saves his hoodie-loving ass. He doesn’t bring his army. They have their role. Wolverine is keeping his parts of the battle personal, which he should. He’s screwed over enough people in his life. He doesn’t need anyone else aching for revenge.

Lost Boy doesn’t completely ignore Wolverine’s betrayal, but he doesn’t belabor it either. He’s a lot more reasonable than Sabretooth. Plus, they’re both surrounded by ninjas who still want to kill them. Forgiveness is a lot easier when surrounded by killer ninjas, I imagine. Wolverine doesn’t make a big deal about it either. He just joins Wolverine in killing ninjas, something I’m sure is a much better bonding experience than any video game that isn’t Call of Duty. Sabretooth is hardly surprised. I’m sure Wolverine’s appearance gave him a semi because just killing a woman and her daughter doesn’t do it for him anymore. Too bad Pfizer doesn’t make a pill for that.

While it is as fun a battle as Wolverine and a bunch of ninjas can be, it isn’t very epic in the classic Akira Kurosawa sense. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of stories that involve Wolverine fighting ninjas. They’re almost as overdone as slutty cheerleaders being slaughtered in slasher movies. What makes this fight and this overall battle feel meaningful is the personal aspects of it. Wolverine established some level of rapport with this team, even though it was all a bullshit ruse. He didn’t just love them and leave them like a Las Vegas whore. He cared enough about them to save them. That shows that while he’s no Goku, he does have a sense of honor to go along with his brutal badassery. That’s what makes him Wolverine.

On the other side of that coin, absurdly huge dick moves are part of what makes Sabretooth the unlovable bastard we all know him to be. He might be foaming at the mouth like a dog in a bacon factory, but he is still treating this like he’s about to fight the same Wolverine he humiliated recently in the Killable arc. He’s basically assuming that a Wolverine without a healing factor is no more dangerous than a bunch of hippies protesting an oil rig. The Offer says that’s a mistake. He makes a sound, logical case that Wolverine will use a different approach this time. And Sabretooth responds to this reasonable argument by flat out murdering his ass.

This is what makes Sabretooth such an unrepentant dick. He sees everyone around him as walking meat bags that he’ll throw in the deep fryer, even when he’s not hungry. He has no honor, no class, and no tact. I’m willing to guess that he has a very small penis as well because he has to be compensating for something pretty fucked up. That’s not to say he completely writes off the Offer’s warning. He just solves it with another dick move, taking Pinch’s daughter and basically using her as a meat shield so that any of Wolverine’s friends that tagged along have to be extra careful. Even if they are, that’s not going to stop him from making another massive dick move. That’s just what he does and sadly, he’s pretty damn good at it.

Now armed with a cute and adorable hostage, Sabretooth meets up with Mystique and takes the alien weapon. He wants to activate it, but only when he’s in the perfect position to maim Wolverine and everyone he holds dear. He tasks Mystique with slowing Wolverine down. I’m thinking he means try to bone him again. I think that might be pushing the power of her pussy. Then again, this is Mystique. She gave birth to Nightcrawler, Raze, and Xavier Jr. The power of her pussy is beyond dispute here.

There’s also still the matter of all the backup Wolverine brought with him. This gives Sabretooth a chance to show that he’s capable of sound tactics as well as dick moves. He unleashes Lord Deathstrike and Silver Samurai on the SHIELD army. This keeps the battle somewhat even, but it’s a battle that is poorly detailed and not very epic. It doesn’t have any of the personal elements that the others have had. It’s purely pragmatic, making sure that Sabretooth isn’t relying too much on Mystique or her pussy.

In the end, Mystique doesn’t get a chance to use the power of her pussy. Pinch allows them to skip the part where Mystique tries to kill him through a mix of strangulation and dry humping. She puts her in a great deal of discomfort before Wolverine can even pop a claw. She claims Wolverine might actually like the world Sabretooth is trying to create, but she might as well claim she can make soy milk taste good. It’s a somewhat inglorious role for Mystique, who hasn’t done much in this series other than give Sabretooth some eye-candy. I guess she’s busy being Mrs. Charles Xavier and pumping out evil children. That makes me feel somewhat less conflicted about seeing Pinch torture her ass.

After some moderate to severe brain damage, Mystique generously points them in direction Sabretooth went. SHIELD continues to play their supporting role, holding back the ninjas and giving Wolverine the time he needs to confront Sabretooth. It’s pretty pragmatic plan, although it is lacking details and scale in some areas. Sometimes it’s too pragmatic, giving the impression that it’s just fancy decorations around a plate of bacon. It doesn’t matter though. It’s still a plate of bacon. The bacon in this case is just another showdown with Wolverine and Sabretooth.

The pragmatic details get a little contrived along the way. Once Sabretooth activates the alien artifact, it conveniently creates a barrier that Pinch and Lost Boy aren’t able to pass through. That means Wolverine is on his own again and all that backup he brought can’t help him. They can only continue beating up the ninjas so they can’t help Sabretooth. It’s still a perfectly legitimate part of the plan, but it’s an awful lot of work to just get Sabretooth and Wolverine in the ring again. Inviting them both to a whiskey drinking contest would have worked just as well.

What keeps this setup from being too generic is that it still ends up being very personal. The site Sabretooth chooses to activate the weapon isn’t Times Square or a liquor store in Brooklyn. He does it in a mall. That might sound like a shitty place to hold the final showdown between Wolverine and Sabretooth, but it’s a place that recently became meaningful for both of them. When Wolverine first lost his healing factor, he took on Sabretooth in a mall. It was the first time he fought while being so vulnerable. Now, after all this time learning how to fight while being vulnerable, he’s in the same predicament. It might not be that pragmatic, but it couldn’t be more fitting without taking place in a brewery.

That tube of lube came in handy after all. This issue showed that a climactic battle need not be so big that it takes up an entire hemisphere to be epic. The battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth is epic enough from decades of bloodlust, bitterness, and bullshit. The strength of this story and the series as a whole has come from making Wolverine’s battles personal. It sure as hell didn’t start out that way and parts of it still make less sense than the plot of the last two Matrix movies, but it succeeded in making this drawn out battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth both personal and epic. This issue helped bring many parts of the story full-circle, albeit in a somewhat messy manner. It helped give this overall series the feeling of being Wolverine’s last great battle against Sabretooth. That will only help give meaning to Wolverine’s death in a universe where death is less meaningful than a trip to downtown Detroit. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself, which is why I give Wolverine #11 a 7 out of 10. So now the stage is set for one last battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth. I suggest Wolverine fans everywhere enjoy it while they can before Marvel resorts to retcons, clones, or time travel to undo it. Nuff said!


  1. The finale to this is going to be so epic...

    1. It certainly has the potential to be, but potential in comics isn't even worth its weight in light beer so I'm going to maintain a strict wait-and-see approach.