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Marvel Comics Presents #1-3 (1988, September)

August 5, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Before I get started, I wanted to note that, over on Twitter, Kelly Sue DeConnick is pushing a #VisibleWomen campaign. She did it a few months ago, and she’s doing it again, in order to promote visibility of women working in comics. It’s worth checking out, as there’s a lot of great comic creators listed.

Anyway! Today will be a little different from usual – I’ll be talking about three issues in one post. I should explain. Marvel Comics Presents was a bi-weekly anthology series. (The original plan had been to make it weekly, but it was decided, haha, no.) It launched in 1988, and lasted until 1995. Each issue was 32 pages, and consisted of four 8-page stories. They tried to have a mix of popular and lesser-known characters. For a while, the X-Men dominated the book, and then more it became more specifically Wolverine, but later on, it was taken over by Ghost Rider. The stories would vary in length – each issue would have a done-in-one, but otherwise, stories were typically anywhere from 2-5 issues. They tended to stagger the continuing stories, so that, if an issue had the end of a 5-part story, it would have part 3 of a 4-part story, and part 1 of another 5-part story. That way, readers had an incentive to pick up every issue. So, with all that explained, let’s get into it.

By Claremont, John Buscema, Klaus Janson, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Save the Tiger (Part 1 of 10) – The Good Guy.”

The Good Guy

I’m not sure that claw glow makes sense.

Wolverine is in Madripoor, which is like Singapore, but worse. (In fact, it’s located south of Singapore.) He talks about how dangerous Madripoor is, especially Lowtown, which like a jungle. He heads to The Princess Bar, where a guy named O’Donnell is getting beaten up by some thugs, for opposing their boss. Wolverine quickly takes out all but one of them, with the last grabbing a hostage. The guy calls him a Yankee, and Wolverine’s narration notes he’s Canadian. Which always amuses me. I honestly wish he’d said it out loud, because he’s never more Canadian than when he corrects people who call him American. It is absolutely something we do. It’s Pavlovian with us. Anyway, Wolverine terrifies the last guy into running away. O’Donnell thanks him, as does the woman Wolverine saved, Sapphire. Wolverine says he’s looking for information, and was sent by Dave Chapel to find the Tiger.

This part of the story is just introducing Wolverine. His powers and his personality. He beats up some thugs to show that he has unbreakable bones, a healing factor, great fighting ability, and a bad attitude. His narration shows him as intelligent but rough. So, basically, it’s Claremont’s Wolverine. We get a brief introduction to the setting of Madripoor, which will become a big part of Wolverine’s stories for a while, and remains a noteworthy recurring location in Marvel even now. But it’s a location kinda custom-designed for Wolverine – it’s rough, violent, full of intrigues for him to screw around with. It’s very much intended as a Noir setting. The Princess Bar is only briefly seen in this part, but it’s basically Rick’s Café Américain from Casablanca, with O’Donnell being a fill-in for Rick. Anyway, this first part doesn’t have a lot going on, but it’s just enough to be intriguing.

By the same team, Part 2 – “The Bad Guy.”

The Bad Guy!

The glint of light is much more believable here.

The thugs from last issue are being chastised by their boss, Mr. Roche. He’s classy. He wears a white suit with an ascot, and he uses a cigarette holder. One that’s a reasonable length, too, not too long. Anyway, the guys beg his forgiveness, and he says they can keep working for him if they can defeat his new enforcer: Razorfist.

Marvel Comics Presents #2

Yep.

Razorfist. Such a goofy character. He originated as a Shang-Chi opponent. And he worked reasonably well for that. But he’s still silly. He’s a guy who lost his hands so he replaced them with blades. But there are so many questions. “How does he go to the bathroom?” is top on that list. I mean, I’m assuming he has someone help him with a lot of the stuff he can’t do without hands. But does he have someone to help him pee, as well? That’s a question we never get answered. I like to think, yes, he does. He has an assistant who does almost everything for him, including helping him pee. Regardless, Razorfist makes quick work of the thugs, then we cut to Wolverine, in The Princess Bar, with a bunch of guns pointed at his head. He explains that he found Chapel in the desert, dying of exposure and from wounds inflicted by torture, and was asked to bring back a pendant with a cameo showing the woman the bar was named after. Then Wolverine spots someone, and gives chase, and it turns out to be Jessan Hoan, the Singaporean banker they rescued from the Reavers.

This part of the story introduces the villain, who seems pretty cool. Roche is a decent villain. Classy and calm, giving the impression that he’s smart and knows what he’s doing. Razorfist is, uh . . . yeah, he’s as ridiculous as he sounds. He’s a guy with blades for hands. It’s silly. And it honestly ends up feeling a little out of place in this story. It’s very much a Noir story being developed, and Razorfist is a little too fantastic. This story also re-introduces our old friend, Jessan Hoan, from aaalllll the way back to 4 months ago, from Uncanny X-Men #229. It makes me wonder if Claremont had this story in mind when he wrote that one. Regardless, she becomes very much an important character to Wolverine’s stories for a few years.

And, Part 3, “The Gals.”

The Gals

Her face looks weird with her lips covered like this.

We get a flashback to UXM #229, to explain who Jessan is and where she comes from. Once we’re caught up, it turns out that, in those few months, she’s changed a lot. She’s picked up some fighting skills, and because Wolverine’s not expecting it, she actually manages to trip him into the path of an oncoming truck. He gets up, and she runs him back down with a stolen motorcycle as she makes her escape. He decides to let her go, and then Sapphire, from the bar, comes to flirt with him. Something about her scent makes him wary, but she kisses him, and starts draining his life away from him. He breaks away and tries to escape, but Razorfist ambushes him.

This third part is where the story really gets interesting. Jessan Hoan shows how different she is from when she was last seen, and is actually pretty badass. She’s got skills, and even takes down Wolverine, which he finds hilarious. It’s good he can laugh at himself. Sapphire Styx reveals herself as working for Roche, and as a kinda-vampire.

Buscema’s art is fine. I prefer John Buscema’s art over Sal Buscema’s, though I’ve seen better art from John. There’s some really weird faces. A panel of Wolverine laughing looks more like yawning. A truck that hits Wolverine breaks down into a pile of what looks like dust or something. There’s other stuff, as well, I find weird and distracting. So, yeah, I can’t say I’m a fan of the art in this story. Though, of course, the colours are great. But considering it’s Glynis Oliver, that goes without saying.

By the way, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but X-Factor appeared in Strange Tales #18, in a Cloak and Dagger story, by Terry Austin, Dan Lawlis, Kevin Nowlan and Ken Bruzenak. Dagger gets possessed by a shadowy force that corrupts her. The woman responsible, Night, works for Mr. Jip, and once Dagger’s corrupted, Night calls X-Factor to report an evil mutant on the rampage. Bobby, Hank and Jean go to deal with it. The story takes place before the Infectia story, so Hank’s still dumb. It’s not much of an appearance, but it leads into the first issue of a Cloak & Dagger ongoing.

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