Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverines #1

Having a great legacy is like having a big penis. Many men seek it, few achieve it, and those that do cast a large shadow. Those that attempt to honor that legacy within that massive phallic shadow have a lot to live up to. I believe Steve Young was constantly measuring his dick every day after he took over for Joe Montana on the 49ers. He may still do it to this day, if only to assure himself that he can wear briefs without shame. Anybody attempting to carry on Wolverine’s legacy will have plenty of measuring to do. But in wake of his death, that’s exactly what a group of friends and enemies (mostly enemies) must do. And if I were them, I’d be stuffing my pants with rolls of quarters already.

Wolverine is dead, at least for now. But his legacy left a lot of unresolved conflicts. Now it’s up to Mystique, X-23, Daken, Lady Deathstrike, and an inverted Sabretooth to finish the job. Not all of them liked Wolverine. Some of them slept with him. Some of them dedicated a good chunk of their lives to killing him. But for reasons that can only be attributed to confusion and boredom, they’ve taken it upon themselves to carry on. Wolverines #1 is the beginning of that journey and like Steve Young, they need to earn the right to have their legacy be part of his. And it can’t just be accomplished with loose underwear and lots of whiskey either.

That’s not to say that a team of pro-bowlers can’t help. They’ve already got a mission and they’ve drafted a few newcomers to the team as well in Shogun, Neuro, Endo, Skel, and Junk. These are all basically Weapon X cast-offs, the late round draft picks that nobody wants. They want help from Wolverine’s frenemies to get the fuck out of the Weapon X business once and for all and they’re not afraid to use these special “control words” that kill them instantly. It’s like a team-up/hostage situation. Basically, it’s like every team-up that ever involved Deadpool.

This new team continues a story that has been unfolding in the aftermath of the Death of Wolverine for a while now. So it’s only fitting in a sense that this new struggle begins where Wolverine’s life ended. These two teams that could kill each other at any moment end up at the same base in Nevada where Wolverine met his end. It’s a shitty place to be right now. It’s like John Lennon’s tomb for Beatles fans. But this is where they’re going to find what they’re looking for.

What they’re looking for isn’t clear at first, but there’s a distinct mood amongst the team. None of them come off as heroes and none of them trust each other. They treat each other the same way co-stars treat Shia Lebouf. They work together and tolerate each other, but they make clear that they’re willing to murder each other the moment they have a reason. This same mood also highlights some recent changes in certain characters, most notably Sabretooth, who is still inverted from the events of AXIS. Few still buy him being a hero, but being inverted might actually help this situation because aside from X-23, there aren’t many other heroes. We don’t need a team of assholes carrying on Wolverine’s legacy. Anyone who wants to root for a team of assholes can just stick to rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite all the tension and bad blood between these characters, they still come off as a coherent team with a common goal. And remarkably, they don’t immediately give each other reasons to kill each other. In fact, they end up getting a very good reason to work together because before entering the base, they see the Wrecking Crew showing up. It’s not exactly Dr. Doom and an army of Doombots, but it is a complication that is best resolved with claws. Given their connections to Wolverine, it’s a good way to honor his memory.

The teams enter the ruins of the base before the Wrecking Crew can arrive, if only to give them time to sharpen their claws. This also gives them time to have a few interesting chats along the way. It may sound out of place, but it actually helps provide additional depth to who these characters are, something that many Wolverine comics overlook with a typical, “Let’s not and say we did,” approach. And with some of these characters being so new and/or inverted, it’s important to establish their personalities.

That’s not to say these characters get the depth of a Stanley Kubrick movie, but the interactions help establish a sense of dynamics, even among those such as Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. It even gives the new guys a chance to bust the balls of the experienced Wolverine-haters. Sabretooth may be inverted, but Lady Deathstrike has no such excuse. Now that Wolverine’s dead, she has to find a new reason for existing that doesn’t involve looking hot in a kimono. It’s something to think about, but none of them get much time because the Wrecking Crew does eventually catch up with them. It’s still a Wolverine comic. At some point, someone has to start breaking shit.

The Wrecking Crew are basically playing the part of killer robots/Nazis. But their presence is still secondary compared to what’s going on with the characters. Those such as X-23 and Daken are already established. We know their personalities. One is a messed up clone/teenage girl who has a thing for time-displaced X-men. The other is Wolverine’s even more fucked up son who will fuck anything with a pulse. But they both carry themselves in a serious, genuine way that we didn’t see with their first encounter. Granted, they’re not trying to kill each other this time, but it still feels like progress.

That progress turns to results when they finally find what they’re looking for. Fittingly enough, it’s the adamantium casing that is Wolverine’s unofficial tomb. He’s still in the exact same state he was during his death. Now his enemies and friends and a few assholes that he would’ve beat up in between drinking binges are after it. Something about that just feels so right. It couldn’t have been more fitting without someone bringing a case of beer.

So now it’s clear what everyone is after. Wolverine’s dead adamantium-covered body is still very valuable, if only as a centerpiece for a shrine where pretty redheads get in free. It’s not clear how this is the key to helping these new Weapon X rejects. They all clearly have enough problems. One of them, Endo, actually tries to get advice from Mystique about holding herself together. And if someone is looking to Mystique for advice, then that’s a bad sign. That’s like going to MC Hammer for investment advice. It’s another instance of these characters who are one bad joke away from murdering each other getting a little personality. It’s a nice touch, but the arrival of the Wrecking Crew fucks that up. However, they do so in the most appropriate way possible.

There’s a time and a place for good character development. But there’s also a time and a place for mindless violence. Since this comic isn’t a Michael Bay movie, the mindless violence is fitting because it doesn’t feel like it dominates the story. The Wrecking Crew are just the guys with matches lighting the firecrackers. It helps get Wolverine’s frienemies and the Weapon X rejects into a more uncomfortable situation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. No awesome story ever came from comfortable circumstances. This isn’t a reality show featuring douche-bag rich kids complaining about a dig in their BMW. This is a fucking Wolverine comic and the action helps give it that feel. Someone at Fox better be taking notes from this shit.

But the Wrecking Crew on their own cannot provide the kind of visceral action that will soak the panties of mourning Wolverine fans. That’s fair because they always have been a semi-pro team and/or the Cleveland Browns of bad guys. So who could provide a sufficient “We’re fucked” moment? How about Mr. Sinister? Saying that name, which has a history of fucking up a great many characters not named Wolverine, should get some excited. But seeing him show up just as X-23 and Daken find Wolverine’s body should require a fresh pair of panties.

It turns out Sinister was the one that hired the Wrecking Crew. He likes to work smart and not hard. That means getting asshole henchmen like the Wrecking Crew to do some of the dirty work so that he can claim his prize and carry himself in ways that would make a pimp cry tears of joy. He’s at the top of a very short list of characters who can use Wolverine’s body for more than just a pretty conversation piece in a Japanese massage parlor. That makes his arrival the perfect, “Fuck yeah!” moment in this comic.

It’s still not enough for Sinister to just show up and laugh his ass off while his enemies and fans collectively shit themselves. He has to go the extra mile because he’s fucking Sinister, both in name and in action. So rather than start small by desecrating Wolverine’s body with non-alcoholic beer or balls of Cyclops’ pubic hair, he rips Daken’s arm off and rips an eye out. Let me say that again just so it’s understood. Sinister ripped off Daken’s arm and tore out one of his eyes. And he did it with a smile that would make Freddy Kruger himself tremble. It’s as awesome and brutal as it sounds. Now why would he need to do this? Does he really need a reason? He’s fucking Sinister. Like Chuck Norris, his badass name is the only reason he needs.

X-23 does her best to wipe that grin off Sinister’s face, but she might as well be giving an ethics lesson to Gordon Gecko. He ends up tossing her aside like a used condom at a brothel and leaves with both Wolverine’s body and Daken’s dismembered body parts. It’s brutal, but he still finds a way to do it like a motherfucking boss. He leaves behind a very bloody and very uncomfortable Daken. It’s at this point X-23 reveals Daken doesn’t have his healing factor so this isn’t exactly something he can walk off. Even so, I’ll still bet this sort of thing gives Daken a boner somehow.

This issue hit the ground running, throwing all these Wolverine-esque characters into the fire in the same way I throw hot sauce on a plate of chicken wings. It should’ve become a mindless slaughter, as many of Wolverine’s battles often do. But that didn’t happen here. There was actually a concerted effort at giving each character depth and mixing some personal moments into the expected slaughter. Sure, it got gratuitous once guys started losing eyes and limbs. That may be inappropriate in a My Little Pony comic, but it works perfectly in a Wolverine-inspired story.

This issue felt like a genuine, sincere continuation of Wolverine’s legacy. He may be dead (or as dead as anyone can be in comics these days), but his story is still continuing. And it’s continuing in a compelling way. He’s got friends and enemies looking to continue his battles and it’s actually presented in a way that feels exciting, intriguing, and fun. How can it not be when it involves Daken getting a limb ripped off? The pacing is a little erratic, but not to the point where it has to be read sober. That’s why I give Wolverines #1 gets an 8 out of 10. I still miss Wolverine. But if his death means there are still those prepared to carry out his legacy of brutality and depravity, then I think it’s safe to say Wolverine can rest in peace…or at least for as long as Marvel allows him to rest.


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