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Wolverine #9 (1989, July)

June 11, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I watched Dr. Strange last night. You can find my livetweet on my Twitter. Today, by Peter David, Gene Colan, Mark Chiarello, and Bill Oakley, “Promises To Keep.”

Promises To Keep

A very Colan cover.

So hey, the legendary Gene Colan did the line art for this issue. Pencils and inks. Colan, of course, is probably most famous for co-creating Daredevil. Of course, he had a long and distinguished career, and created or co-created a ton of famous characters. For example, Falcon and Blade. Two of Marvel’s most notable black characters. He was a huge name in comics. But! This issue also has Peter David filling in on writing, which is notable, because he’ll soon take the series over.

So! Some tough-looking guys are at a run-down looking motel in the woods, asking for a cabin. They’re nervous. They get to their rented cabin, and one of the guys, Van Slyke, says they’re not being followed any more. Just in time to hear a “snikt.” Claws pound through the wall, and Van Slyke is killed.

Wolverine #9

Yeah, this is a horror story.

The guys go to bed, and one of them dreams. The gang was out camping, and talking about the “moves” some woman had. One guy kills a deer and runs to check on it, and screams as he dies. And a voice warns them all to run.

Malone wakes up screaming, and checks on Rollins, who was supposed to be on watch, but is now under a sheet. Logan pops out from under it and asks if Malone remembers Iraq. Then he smashes out a window and disappears. The remains thugs follow him, and think back to the Iraq Fiasco.

Wolverine #9

I like gjuy admitting he was stoned a lot.

Taking over an American embassy was bad enough. But Bruno? Ooh. Turns out there was a woman there he took a liking to. But she didn’t like him. So he grabbed her and a few others, lined them up outside, and made to shoot them. But with empty clips. Scaring them. They played the game for days. And Bruno apparently did other stuff with her, too. Then, on Day 13, some commandos stormed the embassy and killed the merc band, with only a few escaping, including Bruno. And Bruno realizes the guy hunting them was there. Then, back in the present, they find a canoe. Or a kayak. I don’t know how to tell them apart.

Wolverine #9

What a polite interaction.

But, with this being a horror story, a hand pops out of the water and slices the canoe apart, and kills one more dude. Leaving just Malone and Bruno, with Bruno freaking out. He figures that maybe if he kills Malone, the stalker will let him live. So Malone kills Bruno. And then he runs, and finds himself at a waterfall, facing Logan. Logan explains that there were some Canadians at the American embassy Bruno’s boys took, so he was sent in with Delta Force. The nun Malone had been harassing was one of the Canadians. During the rescue, she took a bullet in the crossfire, the only civilian casualty. Logan found her, and she asked him to make Malone suffer for what he did to her. Malone didn’t kill her, but he broke her spirit. Malone decides he’d rather kill himself than let Logan do it. Which Logan’s satisfied with, too.

This issue’s . . . odd. Like I said above, it’s basically a horror story. It’s very much a throwback to the crime and horror comics of the ’50s and ’60s, which Colan did a lot of. I’ll confess to not being a fan of Colan’s art style. The man was a legend, and definitely had a unique style, but it’s just not a style that appealed to me. A bit too blobby, a bit too stylized. Weird faces, weird poses. It is a good fit for a horror story, though. He does a great job at tone. And the weirdness of his style sets the reader more on edge. It’s a creepy style. The story is done really well. Malone’s gang is established as bad guys right off the start, so the reader feels good as they get picked off. And Logan is one hell of a horror monster, using his claws and his stealth to mess with them. The way he just pops up when the guys least expect it is straight out of a horror movie.

Peter David’s known for the comedy in his writing. Wordplay, bad puns, pop culture references, all sorts of gags. He doesn’t bring that here. He plays this script deadly serious. There’s a couple jokes at the start, with the guy the gang rents a cabin from. But after that, there’s really not much in the way of jokes. Which is odd, from a Peter David script, but again, it’s what the story requires. David’s always been a smart writer, so he knew Colan’s strengths as an artist, and he very much played into those strengths.

This isn’t a classic issue or anything. It’s just a flashback that’s never mentioned again. But it’s notable for being, as far as I can tell, the only X-work Gene Colan ever did. And, hell, it’s notable for being Gene Colan. I don’t like his style, but still, Gene Frigging Colan. And this is also notable as Peter David’s first X-work.

I should have mentioned this in the last UXM review, but What If? #1 featured the X-Men. By Roy Thomas, Ron Wilson, Mike Gustovich, Tom Vincent, and Mike Heisler, “What If the Avengers Had Lost the Evolutionary War?” The High Evolutionary manages to detonate his genetic bomb, sending particles around the world. That includes Australia. The X-Men teleport to Santa Monica, California, to meet the West Coast Avengers and investigate. Captain America explains the situation. Everyone starts glowing, and Wolverine’s adamantium claws grow, and don’t hurt his hands coming out. The others all sense that their powers have evolved. The regular people have their heads start growing, which has long been shorthand for human evolution, for some reason. It also makes the people change their minds about mutants, and decide to revere them. Other superheroes are affected in various ways. Even Dr. Doom’s heroic now. A whole bunch of super-people meet to figure out what to do, and they decide a leader is needed, and Wolverine is the one they choose. (So hey, I guess this fits in this post, after all.) The super-people decide to leave Earth, and journey the stars. There, they’re attacked by aliens. The supers kick their asses. Then they go kill Galactus. Then they take over Death and attack Eternity, combining mutants, Death and Eternity into one being. Then they go create a new universe. It’s a weird comic. And I don’t like it. I don’t like these kinds of What If issues, that are mostly just exposition. “So then this happens. And then this happens. And then this happens.” No real characterization. This one’s more annoying than most. Bland art, too. The whole thing feels like a ’70s throwback, in all the wrong ways.

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