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Wolverine & Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection (1989, August)

July 23, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). A big comic today. Size-wise. Not really all that notable as an X-Men comic. Anyway, by Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin (who is an asshole, let us not forget that), Richard Ory, Barb Rausch, and Ken Bruzenak, “The Scorpio Connection.”

The Scorpio Connection

Pretty effective cover.

An Australian Aboriginal is in Machu Picchu. He’s a spy. With an Australian Aboriginal character, of course there’s narration about the Dreamtime. That was pretty much all anyone knew about the Aboriginals back then. Anyway, he’s in Machu Picchu with a SHIELD team, under the cover of being archaeologists. Someone attacks the team and kills them all. He leaves behind a badge with a scorpion on it. I wonder who this mysterious villain could be? Anyway, I want to show you how Chaykin draws a black guy:

The Scorpio Connection

Is this weird to anyone else?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Does anyone want to tell me this is fine? Or does anyone agree that that’s a weird way to draw a black man? Like I said, it might just be me. Regardless, the story cuts to Manhattan, and a SHIELD facility, where some dude is asking out Contessa Valentina Allegra. And Dum-Dum Dugan is spotting Nick Fury on a weight machine.

The Scorpio Connection

Dugan’s being helpful.

On their way out, Dugan muses that he figured Nick and Val would stay together, and Nick says he never made the time, and eventually, it was just too late. And seeing kids pass by, he thinks it’s too late for a lot of things. Aw, he’s feeling old and sad. At home, he feels regret for never having a family, and for failing his brother, Jake. Then he gets a call.

Meanwhile, Arcade’s captured the X-Men for another round in Murderworld, and they smash through to him, but he explodes. Then another Arcade robot lets him know that the dude from the intro is dead. Back at SHIELD HQ, Fury is briefed on the dead agents, and the Scorpio clue. Fury storms out to handle the case personally. You see, Scorpio was his brother, Jake. And Jake’s supposed to be dead. Nick goes to hi favourite bar for a drink, a martini, and Logan shows up to ask about Nanjiwarra’s death. Fury agrees to bring Logan into the investigation, if only to keep him from interfering.

Cut to Andros, in the Aegean. A couple women are talking to a guy named Mikel, who’s waiting for a yacht. Their flirting is interrupted by an older woman’s arrival, as she drags Mikel away. On their yacht, she asks Mikel how his mission went, and he calls her mom. Twist! And Mikel is Scorpio! He’s also kind of an angsty douche. He flips out and smashes up an empty dock, and says he wants the whole thing to be finished. He wants to kill the man who killed his father: Nick Fury. So this Scorpio is Nick’s nephew! Twist!

A helicopter approaches Machu Picchu, with Logan aboard, and he thinks back to a mission from his time in Canadian Intelligence. The mission had taken him to Australia’s Tanami Desert, and he got shot up by a helicopter, and while the bullets didn’t kill him, dehydration almost did until Nanjiwarra found him and saved him.

The Scorpio Connection

And Logan isn’t American.

That is a very Canadian moment. Even dying in a desert, his top priority is to not be mistaken for American. It’s just instinctive. Anyway, they hike through the desert, and eventually find a bush outpost with some beer. Nanjiwarra talked a bit about anti-Aboriginal discrimination in Australia, so Logan hooked him up with SHIELD. And now he’s dead, on a SHIELD mission. Logan finds a scent to follow, back to a private airstrip, run by a terrorist organization called Swift Sword, who Scorpio is working with.

Cut to Venice, and a SHIELD base, which gets attacked by Scorpio. Luckily, Fury’s there. They fight, and fall into a canal, and after revealing himself as Nick’s nephew, Scorpio escapes. Over in Istanbul, Logan’s following a mining executive affiliated with Swift Sword. The guy goes into a casino, and gets killed hy guys working for Amber D’Alexis, Mikel’s mom. Before Logan can get to her, Scorpio returns, and starts blasting at him. Luckily, Nick Fury shows up in time to save his life. And then he launches into a story about his past. Back when he was in the CIA, he went to Macao, where he met Amber D’Alexis, an orphan who grew up on the streets, and learned to survive by any means, and to thrive as a businesswoman. She also met Jake Fury, and they started dating, which Nick disapproved of. So he moved in on Amber, himself, in order to get the proof he needed to have her arrested. Jake blamed Nick and became Scorpio to get revenge.

So Fury and Logan head to the Aegean, to find Amber and Scorpio. They sneak into a villa, but it’s a trap. Amber’s left a recorded message, and a gas that knocks Fury out. Scorpio attacks SHIELD’s central computer centre in Atlanta, but Fury and Logan are waiting for him. Chase scene! Logan chases Scorpio up an elevator, to where Amber’s waiting in their plane. While Logan fights Scorpio, Nick captures Amber. And Amber has one last bombshell to drop.

The Scorpio Connection

What a tweest!

Nick’s distracted long enough for Amber to slip out of his grasp, but when Scorpio tries to take a shot, Logan just knocks the Scorpio Key out of his hand. Nick ends their fight by putting a bullet in Scorpio’s shoulder. Amber gets the Scorpio Key and blasts Logan, then rants at Nick while she prepares to kill Nick and Mikel. But Logan stabs her in the back and kills her. Mikel tries to escape in the plane, while Nick and Logan cling to it to try to stop him, and the plane just drops because it’s already missing an engine. So it crashes. Nick wakes up to a stalemate between Logan and Mikel, and then he reveals to Logan that David was leaking information to Swift Sword, having been turned to their side after being passed over for promotion by a prejudiced SHIELD supervisor. Logan backs down, and Mikel passes out. Logan asks if Nick is up to the task of de-programming Mikel, and Nick says he’ll have to be. And then they part.

Sooo . . . I have mixed feelings. The story’s actually pretty decent. Some cool espionage stuff, some really good interactions between Fury and Logan. Those two are usually fun together, both being grumpy old guys. Their mutual respect, and their willingness to talk about their feelings with each other, is oddly sweet. Mikel could’ve been a bit more interesting. We get a brief glimpse, with those two girls, of him wanting a normal life. But for the most part, he’s just, “Rar, vengeance, don’t hurt my mom, vengeance!” It’s kinda flat. Of course, that’s kinda the point – Amber’s basically brainwashed him to be like that – but still. It doesn’t make for the most compelling character. Amber was also kind of a generic villain, not particularly interesting. A woman seeking revenge against a man for wronging her. Nothing new, and not carried out in a particularly unique manner. There’s also no real indication that the book feels we should sympathize with her. It seems to go out of its way to paint her as just an all-around horrible person, whose death we should cheer. But, like, she kinda has a pretty good reason for hating Nick? He manipulated her, effectively raped her (he got her into bed under false pretenses, which is rape by deception, which is rape), and then had her arrested. OK, yes, she was engaged in criminal activities, so arresting her was justified. But the manipulation and sex is pretty questionable.

Anyway, while the writing was mostly OK, that brings me to the art. It’s Howard Chaykin. Now, I know he’s a legend in the industry. But I hate his art. I find it so blobby and unpleasant to look at. It’s gross to me. I’ve never liked his art, I’ve never understood the appeal, and nothing here wins me over. While I’m talking about Chaykin, though, I may as well say this: Howard Chaykin is an asshole. Divided States of Hysteria, his refusal to understand why people have had problems with it, and his smug sense of superiority about people getting offended at it, all paint him as an asshole. That special brand of straight white guy who thinks that pissing people off is how you tell your art is good. His invocation of trans panic in the first issue, combined with his apparent belief that every single trans woman ever is a sex worker (that is the only way he is capable of seeing trans women, the only way he is capable of depicting trans women, he has absolutely no conception of trans women as anything other than sex workers), and then that cover for #4, and more that I’ve read about the book on top of all that, all show that he is just an arrogant prick who has no interest in actually listening to any of the people he claims to be speaking for with his work. Howard Chaykin is just an enormous asshole, and to hell with that bastard.

Anyway, this comic was pretty much OK.

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