Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1 (1988, November)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list is up. But now, co-written by the Simonsons, art by Jon Muth and Kent Williams (additional colours by Sherilyn van Valkenburgh), letters by Bill Oakley, “Mexican Standoff.”
A quick note on the art: Muth and Williams each did pencils, inks and colours. Which creates a very, very strange, but very, very cool, overall look. Anyway, the book opens with a guy named Dr. Neutron talking about nuclear physics to a guy named General Meltdown. This brings us to Chernobyl. If you want to read about what happened there, here’s the Wikipedia article. Suffice it to say, Things Went Wrong. While we watch the Chernobyl operators screw up, Neutron and Meltdown talk about it while playing chess. And by the way, here’s what the art looks like for this rather extended section:
We also learn that Neutron and Meltdown had arranged the disaster so Meltdown could absorb the radiation and take over Russia to stop Glasnost. Their plan didn’t quite work, so they’re going to try again.
And now, to Mexico! And a bar fight. A Mexican dude calls Logan “Americano,” and he says he’s not American. Which remains the most Canadian thing ever. Alex calmly watches the whole thing. And here’s what these two look like in this mini:
So, you see what I was saying earlier? Logan and Alex are both clearly done by different artists, but the styles still work together really well. The two start walking back to their motel, with Alex making a comment about Logan setting back Mexican-American relations, and Logan responding that he’s Canadian so it’s not his problem. A good point! They also briefly discuss their bet that the first one to use their powers buys the drinks for the rest of the trip. And Alex gets mopey.
This is also foreshadowing! I should note this takes place after Inferno, where he nearly helped Maddie kill her own son before she died. It also takes place after an upcoming Marvel Comics Presents story where a woman he was interested in turned out to be a supervillain. He, uh, has a string of bad luck in this period. It doesn’t get better any time soon. Anyway, someone’s spying on them. The next morning, some of the dudes Logan beat up show up with guns.
They steal a gorgeous car. And the gorgeous woman it belongs to. She deals with it pretty well.
A truck drives up behind them and smashes into their back bumper, then pulls up beside them. A guy – not one of the guys from the bar – leans out with a gun. They go off-road.
The other car’s still chasing them, and now the guy rips through the roof and fires a laser at them. And there’s more dudes with lasers ahead of them. They drive across a rickety old bridge of woods planks and rope, and then it turns out the other car goddamn flies. And that’s Alex’s breaking point.
I love how Alex’s powers are depicted in this mini. His plasma bolts look spectacular. Then the woman shoots them.
Logan wakes up in a hospital, and learns he was shot with the bubonic plague. And Alex is dead. Logan digs out six assassination pellets designed to kill. One would kill a normal person. He heads to the graveyard to find Alex’s grave, but Alex isn’t in there. It’s a dummy stuffed with rocks.
This is so great. The art is gorgeous. It’s very much different from usual. This was published under the Epic imprint, which was where they did more experimental titles, and they clearly decided to be experimental here, and it works so well. Muth and Williams are both great artists. Williams, I think, is the one handling Logan, and while his style is a lot more exaggerated, it somehow doesn’t clash with Muth’s more photo-referenced style. Alex is pretty clearly designed off of James Dean, which is amusing. And it actually feels like Alex is trying to channel Dean’s tough-guy, devil-may-care attitude, as a way of shielding himself from all he’s been through. Regardless, the contrast between Logan and Alex is really cool.
The writing is great, too. The Simonsons were both top-notch writers, and they work well together, as well. Logan and Alex are both characterized well, and there’s some really good humour that sets some really good growing tension.
This issue is a great start to a great mini, one that’s definitely worth reading. Very highly recommended.