Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #11

Mourning the loss of a loved one is like the antithesis of masturbation in that there’s no wrong way to do it and nobody really enjoys it. I imagine it doesn’t suck quite as much in the Marvel universe because death is such a revolving door that for some characters, their loved ones might as well treat it as one of Brett Favre’s temporary retirements. Some may argue this limits the emotional impact of death. I think it’s refreshing because death sucks enough in real life. We don’t need it to suck as much in comics. That doesn’t mean it still won’t suck for Wolverine’s loved ones. His death has just started to reverberate throughout the X-men comics like letter from the IRS at Willie Nelson’s house.

Wolverine and the X-men #11 continues to follow Melita Gardner, one of Wolverine’s ex-girlfriends that didn’t wind up dead somehow, as she compiles stories and pictures for a book she’s writing to celebrate Wolverine’s life and the fact she got to bone him without dying. She’s already interacted with the students and staff of the school he helped found and they’ve recounted some fun stories, many of which ignore certain unflattering details like Wolverine’s whiskey stash, his temper, and his tendency for hitting on married women out of respect. Hopefully that means they don’t forget those shortcomings when he eventually returns, most likely in time for his next shitty solo movie at Fox. And hopefully, Melita doesn’t let that stop her from doing her job. That would make her more dedicated than half the people at CNN.

Much of Melita’s story and the work she’s been doing on this book has been built on flashbacks. Lots and lots of flashbacks. While flashbacks are usually a good way to make a comic difficult to read while stoned, the nature of the story here makes it work. Melita has triggered many in interviewing the folks at the Jean Grey Institute. But there’s still room for her own flashbacks. It’s hard to believe, but she did actually date Wolverine for a while and she actually survived. I know I said that already, but I think it’s worth repeating. Melita dated Wolverine, survived, and didn’t swear revenge on him. That makes her one of the most mature relationships he’s had in recent years. It also makes a flashback of her and Wolverine when they were together feel fitting. It even shows that in terms of ex-girlfriends, she’s a freakin’ unicorn in terms of ending things on good terms.

In the present, Melita is still seeking out stories about Wolverine from those who knew him best. She spent all of last issue exploring the Jean Grey institute. Now she seeks out others he worked with. In the same way Wolverine gets around every bar and Japanese whore house, he’s also had quite a few crossovers. Spider-Man is by far one of the characters he’s worked with the most and Melita makes it a point to get in touch with him (through Peter Parker, of course). While Wolverine’s reputation among the X-men is solid, his reputation with Spider-Man is slightly more complicated and not just because they’re both so fond of sexy redheads.

But the meeting doesn’t just lead to another flashback. It actually gets even more emotional than Melita’s flashback. It’s easy to forget in this era when we know celebrities die every time they start trending on Twitter that word doesn’t always travel as fast. The news of Wolverine’s death hasn’t exactly leaked out. It’s not like a reporter found him lying dead in a tub of whiskey. So that means those not in the X-men, like Spider-Man, wouldn’t know about his death. And when Melita reveals it, this makes for another emotional moment that hits all the right chords.

But it doesn’t get too depressing. This is where can do more than just confuse the hell out of stoners and drunks. Spider-Man recounts to Melita one of his many crossovers with Wolverine, but he singled out a battle against an army of Doombots as the story most worth telling. I can’t say I blame him. Any memory that involves busting up Doombots with Wolverine is a memory worth cherishing. But it’s a memory that does more than just mix in some action. It actually involves a meaningful conversation between Spider-Man and Wolverine about the merits of him starting the Jean Grey Institute and what kind of example a hard-drinking, temperamental Canadian would set. It’s not just fitting. It’s downright relevant and shows that even when he’s in the middle of fighting armies of Doombots, Wolverine can inspire more than just violence and redhead fetishes.

It’s a good flashback during an emotional moment. That’s exactly why it’s somewhat jarring when it skips right ahead to Melita and Spider-Man confronting Kid Omega. I won’t say that’s completely random. Kid Omega is someone who was heavily influenced by Wolverine and not always in a good way. In fact, they both influenced one another in way too many bad ways, but it was part of what made them both better as characters so I’m not going to get too picky about the details. I’m too drunk for that.

Regardless of what those details might be, Kid Omega is still an omega-level prick. While others are reacting to the death of Wolverine, Kid Omega threw a big ass party. And even after everybody passed out, he decided to deal with it by sitting on his ass and watching movies. Laziness is a good reaction to many things. The death of a friend isn’t one of them.

Needless to say, Meltia and Spider-Man don’t take kindly to him. At the same time, Kid Omega does offer a very different take on Wolverine. Whereas others share fond memories and relevant flashbacks, Kid Omega offers none of that shit. He basically spits on Wolverine’s fresh corpse, saying he was just a killer at heart who pretended to be a school headmaster. And that school he ran might as well have been a training ground for kids destined to scare the shit out of ordinary people. It leads to Melita and Spider-Man each taking turns shutting him up, but that doesn’t make what he says less relevant.

Kid Omega is a dick so what he says about Wolverine shouldn’t be taken with the same credibility as Bill Maher’s last drug test. But what he says is somewhat valid. Wolverine was, at his core, a killer. He always reverted to his killer instincts in some form or another. Even when he tried being a peaceful headmaster, he still went out on missions that involved him stabbing people. It is a disconnect, but Spider-Man rightly points out how full of shit Kid Omega is in using it as the sole basis for judging Wolverine. Part of what made Wolverine such a hero was that he fought so others wouldn’t have to. That makes him awesome in ways that most asshole teenagers can never understand.

So meeting with Kid Omega didn’t lead to a flashback or give Melita a balanced perspective for her book, but it did offer some insight. She and Spider-Man leave in what I imagine to be a pretty pissed off state of mind. They end up parting ways, agreeing that Kid Omega is full of shit and deserves more than a few spankings. But that only makes getting a better perspective more important.

And who better to give that perspective than Storm? It’s a moment that has been building since the previous issue, two of Wolverine’s ex-lovers meeting and recounting the life of a man they one loved. This isn’t like Jerry Springer when two angry ex-girlfriends to at one another in a way college students can cheer for and/or jerk off to. These two women both loved Wolverine dearly and Storm happened to be the one Wolverine was actively dating when he died. It sounds crazier than anything Kid Omega could say, but it is possible for two women who dated the same man to bond and Storm gives her the best possible perspective Wolverine could hope for that doesn’t involve a bartender.

It leads to another flashback. This one is a lot less complicated than the one Spider-Man recounted. It’s as basic a recollection as anyone can have with Wolverine. Storm goes on a trip to Japan with Wolverine, they get attacked by ninjas, and they kick the asses of said ninjas. It’s practically a dinner date for Wolverine and the women he loves. Hell, it might even count as foreplay. It doesn’t come off as overly romantic, but it shows that Wolverine and Storm could kick a lot of ass together. They could battle an army of ninjas, still catch a movie, and then make sweet love on top of Mount Fuji. It’s as romantic and as awesome as it sounds. It is also by far the most meaningful flashback in this whole arc.

Beyond the flashback, Storm makes a very powerful point that effectively tells Melita all she needs to know about Wolverine. This is a man who will fight, stab, and swear his way through any battle. But he’s also willing to trust others to be just as awesome. He trusted Storm to hold her own against an army of ninjas, just as he trusted her give horny every time they were behind closed doors. It’s a special kind of trust that most killers and stab-happy drunks don’t give, but he gave it to those he cared about. It’s a powerful message and one that could only be delivered by Storm. It gives Melita just the right perspective she needs to make her book work. As the woman whose love for Wolverine was probably the most genuine, it makes for such a satisfying moment.

Leave it Kid Omega to cheapen that moment. Melita and Spider-Man must have made a couple of brain cells semi-functional because Kid Omega finally decided to deal with Wolverine’s death in a somewhat less-douchy way. For him, that means traveling to the Savage Land and leaving a monument for him. Sure, it’s a shitty monument. A rocking chair is hardly a monument to Wolverine. If he really gave a damn, he would leave a giant case of whiskey. But still, it’s better than nothing and probably the most Wolverine could’ve expected from Kid Omega.

The main theme of this story isn’t built around funerals, vengeance, or killer robots. For once, the death of a major character is explored in a way that feels genuine. The X-men aren’t setting out on some mission to turn Sabretooth into a rug. They’re just recounting how he affected their lives and Melita Gardner provides a perfect perspective for that mission. Some of the stories she explores are cheesy, but they all hit the right emotional chords. Even Kid Omega’s brief sliver of emotion felt genuine. That alone gives this story the depth it needs to be awesome. It’s still lacking in some areas and the constant flashbacks are somewhat jarring. But it feels like a much healthier way to deal with the death of a character. That’s why I give Wolverine and the X-men #11 an 8 out of 10. In a comic book world where every great loss seems to require more therapy than anyone could reasonably provide, this is probably as healthy and competent a recourse as we’ll get. And it didn’t even require Oprah or Dr. Phil. Nuff said!


  1. How many months will it be before Marvel ends this absurd bathos and brings him back. Then again, maybe they'll do something even more preposterous, like bringing Jimmy Hudson over to the 616 for a while.

  2. ^If Wolverine does come back and interacts with Jimmy, maybe it would do him some good to see non-evil offspring. Frankly these issues make me miss Marvel Adventures.

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