Thursday, September 4, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Death of Wolverine #1

Comic book fans love to bitch and moan every time somebody tries one of these bullshit death gimmicks. I certainly don't blame them. I've done more than my fair of bitching every time Marvel or DC decide to kill off some big name character for shock value, sales, and a note in Section F of the New York Times. But as I've gotten older and had more time to reflect in my least sober moments, I realized something. Marvel and DC are not the problem. We, the comic book fans, are the problem. We're the reason they keep churning shit like this out. We're the reason it keeps getting more and more infuriating. And it's not because the editors and writers jerk off to cries of enraged fans. It's because we buy this shit. We still fork over our hard earned money that could be far better spent on beer and weed to buy these stories that piss us off. I'm sure they're as confused about it we are, but it's giving them money so like any competent business they keep feeding us these gimmicks and we keep choking them down like Homer Simpson chokes down donuts.

I feel that needs to be said because I know there will be plenty of standard bitching surrounding the of Death of Wolverine. Like the movie Snakes on a Plane, there's no need to explain what it's about. There are no spoilers involved whatsoever. Marvel isn't even trying to be coy with this one. They're going to kill Wolverine. They're going kill one of their most popular characters of all time and by far the most popular X-man of all time. They've been building towards it since he lost his healing factor. Now they're finally getting around to finishing the job. They've even made a mini-series of it so that fans have four entire issues to build up their rage boner. I would ask these same fans that before they start sending Marvel hate mail, look in a mirror and bitch at the reflection first because that's the reason they're doing this. That's who I'll keep in mind with Death of Wolverine #1. Like getting maimed by the IRS every April, we know what's coming. So let's just brace ourselves and try to maintain some perspective before our rage boners kill us.

Perspective is something Wolverine has been avoiding like I avoid going to traffic court. Since he lost his healing factor, he's been trying to keep being the Wolverine he's always been. He hasn't always been successful and he has had to cheat a few times, relying on special suits and time-displaced allies to help him. That and I'm sure sleeping with Storm helped give him as much strength and more as his healing factor did. But now even the power of Storm's sweet naked flesh can't keep Wolverine's overly Wolverine-like activities from catching up with him like an overdue hangover. And after years of being able to shake off the kind of shit that would put most people in a coma, all those hangovers are starting to hit Wolverine all at once.

But before the hangover started kicking his ass and sending his insides up the wrong way, we flash back to what led Wolverine to this painful point in his blood and alcohol soaked life. Since he can no longer rely on rest and whiskey to heal him, he starts consulting doctors. And these aren't the WebMD style doctors either. These doctors include the likes of Reed Richards, a guy who has more medical expertise in his pinkie toe than a dozen Doogie Howsers. He's not the kind of guy people get a second opinion from. But as qualified as he is, that doesn't mean Wolverine can expect to go back to drinking booze and making out with Storm.

Reed gives Wolverine some overly sobering news. While he lost his healing factor, he didn't lose his adamantium skeleton or any of the other physical endowments that make him Wolverine. I'm assuming that means his penis didn't shrink so I guess there's some good news to come out of this. But because he's now walking around with metal in his body, he's prone to a host of diseases that he used to be able to shake off like an overgrown toenail. Reed even mentions that the metal may be slightly radioactive because he got too close to one too many nuclear blasts in his life. In terms of a prognosis, it's not exactly dire. But it's not the kind that makes him able to go rock climbing naked.

End the flashback and Wolverine finds himself at a bar, the only place he can still heal. He enters looking the way most people look when they get thrown out of a bar. While a little whiskey won't mend his wounds, it'll help him in its own unique way. There's no way this can be the last major Wolverine story for a while without him visiting a bar so it's good that we got that off the checklist. It also gives him time make a phone call and get a little extra liquor for the road. In doing so we get some hints that people are aware of his vulnerability at this point. Hell, I'm surprised it didn't start trending on Twitter the very next day. But I guess it takes a while for Wolverine's enemies get their shit together.

This is somewhat of a shortcoming though. Wolverine has been killable for a while now. Yet it's only now that he starts worrying about his enemies coming after him? Hell, Sabretooth already came after his ass and that amounted to an inconvenience on the scale of a pothole on the highway. While there is a clear sense that Wolverine's lack of a healing factor is finally catching up to him, it's also somewhat fucked that it's taking his enemies this long to take advantage of it. And no, I'm not counting Sabretooth's bullshit plot because he got laid out with a single punch. That couldn't have been more poorly planned without George W. Bush coming out of retirement.

A while after Wolverine leaves, one of his enemies finally decides to show up, albeit ridiculously late. This time it's Wolverine's old pal Nuke, who is basically what Captain America could have been if he had been raised by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. He comes to the bar looking for Wolverine because he knows that every search for Wolverine either begins at a bar or within a 50 foot radius of Storm or Jean Grey. The poor bartender tries to defend his best customer, but Nuke takes the Donald Rumsfeld approach and demands answers. He doesn't end up having to crack any skulls to get them because Wolverine actually left the bartender a note on where he could be found. He also probably left a note telling him to spare the bartender and his innocent whiskey. I have to believe that even Nuke isn't that sadistic.

The note leads them to an isolated part of British Columbia that can only be reached by boat. They send one of their guys to check out the dock. Naturally, the dock explodes. Without his healing, Wolverine has to work smarter and not harder. It's crude, but it works and it pisses Nuke off to the point where he decides that working smart is overrated. He basically tips over his own boat and decides to swim to shore, assuming Wolverine didn't rig it with mines or explosives. Sure, most of his men end up drowning. But he just wouldn't be an all-American anti-hero if he weren't okay with letting expendable soldiers die for no reason. It's like the third bullet of the Bush Doctrine.

But when Nuke arrives on the shore, he finds out that Wolverine didn't just leave that note for him. He made sure everyone looking to exploit his newfound weakness knew where the find him. They beat Nuke to the punch and their reward was a brutal, bloody death. It's exactly as badass and satisfying as it sounds. Sadly, we don't get to see the epic battle that led to the shores being littered with the bodies of AIM operatives and Hand ninjas. We're just left to assume that Wolverine did to them exactly what he did to Sabretooth, albeit with more than one punch. If nothing else, it's a bittersweet reminder that Wolverine is capable of some pretty badass shit and that this kind of shit will be badly missed when he's gone.

This still doesn't dissuade Nuke. He's American, damn it. He doesn't give up, change his plan, or try to find a more efficient means of accomplishing his goal. He keeps doing what he intends to do, no matter how dumb or inefficient it is. And he doesn't even need subsidies from the oil companies to do it. He just attacks Wolverine exactly as he planned, ignoring completely that he just eviscerated an army of AIM and Hand agents. He even reveals that somebody put a huge fucking price on his head the likes of which would make Bin Laden himself jealous. And like any red-blooded American, he wants that money and he doesn't want to pay a lick of taxes on it.

Like the beginning of the second Iraq war, it starts off pretty well. He roughs Wolverine up, taking full advantage of how AIM and the Hand softened him up. Then Wolverine starts to get pissed and the fight plays out just like his fight with Sabretooth. But unlike that fight, this one wasn't built up or needlessly elaborate so it's only slightly disappointing. It could've been a lot more brutal and bloody, but I suspect Marvel wanted to keep this whole death issue PG-13. It sounds like making a clean version of Deadwood, but I understand the logic behind it.

After the fight plays out with fairly predictable brutality, Wolverine gains the upper hand and ruins Nuke's chance at being a male model. He then starts demanding some answers and since he's not American, he doesn't resort to waterboarding. I'm sure Nuke and everyone at the CIA is calling him a pussy at this point. Eventually, Nuke channels his inner Frenchman and reveals who placed the bounty on Wolverine's head. For once, it isn't Sabretooth. I'm pretty sure Wolverine got his point across with that asshole now. He says it's someone called the Green Queen. It sounds like a stripper name or whatever Gordon Gecko calls his blow-up doll, but Wolverine still takes it seriously.

Anyone expecting this to be some sort of elaborate Scooby Doo style mystery can put away the Scooby Snacks because there's no ambiguity here. The Green Queen is Viper, a woman who treats Madripoor the same way Donald Trump's ex-wives treat him. She's the one that wants Wolverine beaten to a pulp and brought to her alive, probably so she could masturbate while she has Sabretooth peel his skin off like a banana. It's almost fitting in some ways. Wolverine has screwed and been screwed by so many women in his long illustrious life. Now it a woman might end up being the one that kills him. It's the kind of irony that would put a smile on any feminazis face.

This first issue of this already-spoiled story should only give most people a semi-rage boner. This issue didn't have a whole lot going on in the sense that it only established that everybody knows Wolverine lost his healing and someone is willing to pay a metric fuckton of money to bring him to Madripoor alive, even if he's not in one piece. But it's done in a way that helps convey what Wolverine is going through. He's not making light of how fucked he is. He understands that he's dying. It looks like he's even starting to accept it. It makes for a far more engaging plot that involves more than him just kicking the ass of some wannabe Captain America meth head. We already know Wolverine is going to die. The challenge of this series is to make us give a damn and this issue is off to a good start. That's why I give Death of Wolverine #1 a 7 out of 10. It's not going to make anyone shit their pants in anger or disappointment, but it will humanize Wolverine in a way not usually seen without a pretty redhead being in close proximity. That in and of itself is an accomplishment and one that'll make his death slightly less the bullshit marketing gimmick it inherently is. Nuff said!

1 comment:

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