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X-Men #116 (1978, December)

January 28, 2013

Hey. Sorry for the lack of updates over the weekend. I was hanging out with someone. But I’m back, with “To Save the Savage Land!”

To Save the Savage Land!

Any fire hot enough to make Colossus that red would’ve killed Banshee and Ka-Zar long ago.

Ka-Zar leads the X-Men to a mountain from which they can see Garokk’s city. Cyclops, Colossus, Banshee and Ka-Zar all get captured quickly in a sudden attack. Wolverine tells Zabu to go get Ka-Zar’s friend, Tongah, then he leads Nightcrawler and Storm to the city. They see a guard, which Wolverine deals with in a famous scene:

X-Men 116

A legend begins.

This is likely what began Wolverine’s rise in popularity. They sneak in through some sort of sewage system. Wolverine has a dino bite into his arm, and he pops his claws inside its head. He explains to Storm that he heals fast and has unbreakable bones, the first reference to either of those facts. Byrne was really pushing for Wolverine to have a bigger role, and this issue did it.

The three of them eventually find a massive amphitheatre, with the others on a distant central dais. Colossus is being burned while the others watch helpless. He wonders if he’ll melt. Nightcrawler teleports over and takes off the thing covering Cyclops’s visor, and they all break free and fight back. Garokk makes a run for it, and Cyclops follows. The two fire eyeblasts at each other, and the dome they’re on starts to come apart. It collapses, and Cyclops is saved by Banshee while Storm goes to rescue Garokk. She almost reaches him, but the fear in his eyes takes her back to her childhood of being buried alive, and that keeps her from reaching him. She escapes as the city collapses into the hole.
Two weeks later, the X-Men prepare to leave through the Savage Land’s underground river.This issue is most notable for putting Wolverine front-and-centre. This is the biggest role he’s had to date, and he uses it well. He’s deadly and dangerous, and also shows some leadership ability. His importance will continue to rise over the next few years, until he becomes one of Marvel’s most popular characters, as he is today. The introduction of the healing factor was a pretty good idea, and made him more interesting. There’s also, as usual, small but effective moments for most of the other characters, such as Cyclops hoping the others made it out as he falls to his doom, or Nightcrawler’s inner uncertainty about being able to teleport far enough being masked by outer confidence that he can do it easily. Byrne’s art also continues to be excellent.

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