Wolverine #1 (1988, November)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m skipping work today, because I don’t feel well. Bleh. I can’t afford to take days off, but there’s no way I’d be able to stand for any extended period of time. I’m having trouble with just existing for an extended period of time. Anyway, this issue is very important, as it’s all downhill from here. By Claremont, John Buscema, Williamson, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Sword Quest.”
So, yeah, this is the debut of Wolverine’s ongoing series. I just want to make clear what’s going on here. In one month, he’s in four separate series. He was in the two issues of UXM from this month. He was in the Meltdown mini with Havok. He was still in his own feature in Marvel Comics Presents. And he was in his own solo title. Four series. This is very much the beginning of Wolverine’s omnipresence. The guy would end up being everywhere. And November 1988 was the month where that began. But, on to this comic!
A pilot is being held by some pirates, who we can tell are bad guys because the narration says that they rape women they capture. The pirate leader beheads the pilot, then he and his men get to work on the women. Logan arrives on the island, and gets to work doing what he does best. Taking out guards, sneaking through the camp, killing a guy who’s about to kill a woman. He heads to another hut, where he finds a friend, who’s almost dead. The pirate leader and his cronies show up. And we get our first full glimpse of Logan in this issue.
Logan figures on around 100 pirates, as he tears into them. He gets shot by an Uzi, but it just makes him mad. Which, I don’t know. Even bullet wounds used to at least slow him down, but even now, his healing factor has gotten a lot stronger than it used to be. As he fights, we learn a little about why he’s there. The guy he was there for, Nobura Kojima, is Mariko’s personal secretary.
Eventually, Wolverine’s killed all the pirates, except for the leader. He takes a woman as a hostage, and gets onto a boat to escape. But a stewardess had snuck onto the boat, in hiding, with a gun. Go, stewardess lady. Pretty badass. Logan goes back to Kojima, and learns the pirates were hired by the Cult of the Black Blade, who are looking for the Muramasa Sword. Couriers from America are bringing it to Madripoor. He doesn’t get the names.
So Logan heads to the Madripoor airport to stalk the airport, waiting for the couriers. And who should arrive? Lindsay McCabe! Jessica Drew’s actress friend/roommate/subtextual lover! The X-Men lived with Lindsay and Jessica during their brief stay in San Francisco, around UXM #206. Yay for her return! I like Lindsay. She’s a really fun character. One of those characters who’s always cheerful and always enjoying herself and getting everyone around her to enjoy themselves. She’s great. Anyway, Logan follows her back to her Hightown hotel, where she’s harassed by some people: Two guys and a girl. They demand to know where the sword is. Logan busts in to kick their asses, while noting they’re professionals, not some local thugs. He figures they belong to the Cult. The fight leads to the easy high point of the issue:
“I have the lamp!” That is amazing. I love Lindsay so much! There’s also this moment right after:
And then we find out that Jessica is on her way to meet someone she thinks is Kojima, with the sword. Dun-dun-duuuun!
This is pretty good. There’s some nice “Wolverine being a badass” stuff in the fight with the pirates, for the people who enjoy that stuff. For my part, I tend to not be overly interested in “badass Wolverine” stuff, but I know a lot of people eat it up. So, those people should enjoy the pirate fight. I will say that the whole thing feels to me like a precursor of the ’90s obsession with gritty anti-heroes. Because as he’s killing the pirates, he talks about giving what he’s given – “Come at me with a sword. I’ll meet you with a sword. You want mercy. Show a little first.” It’s the whole “do unto others as they do unto you” mindset of ’90s comics. The focus on vengeance over justice. It’s something I’m not a fan of. I don’t think I was ever really a fan of that stuff. I always preferred my superheroes aspirational, rather than being the violent revenge fantasies of the likes of Wolverine and the Punisher.
Regardless! The issue does become far more enjoyable for me once Lindsay shows up. Because Lindsay’s great. I love her. Everyone loves Lindsay McCabe. She’s the best. She’s actually a really good choice of supporting character for Wolverine, too – someone who’s bright and cheerful and talkative, to play off his sullen grumpiness. It’s a fun contrast, and gets better.
The art isn’t really a style that appeals to me. John Buscema was getting pretty up there in age. He was 60 when this came out. I don’t know if it’s that, or if he was just changing his style to match the times, or what, but his work in this period doesn’t appeal to me as much as his earlier work. It’s also possible that Williamson’s inks just didn’t work with Buscema’s lines – I don’t know much about art, I’ll admit. Though I checked another comic around that time that he inked himself, and another inked by Bill Sienkewicz, and, yeah. My problem is with Buscema’s lines. Especially his faces. He draws faces in a weird way that I don’t like. It is personal taste, though.
So, on the whole, this is a well-done issue, but one I have reservations about.