I’m back with my second Wolverine month article. I wanted to take a look at some of the lesser known Wolverine graphic novels from years past. This time I’m looking at Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure. It’s written by Walter Simonson, known for the greatest run of Thor ever, and drawn by Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy. With such massive creators behind it, I don’t know why it isn’t more talked about.
The story opens with a tribal elder telling his people of the Child of Heaven. He flashes back and talks about a lighter that the tribe found and thought was a device from the gods and they put it on a big rock and worship it.
Now, this tribe is from the Savage Land, which is this jungle in the Antarctic where cavemen and dinosaurs live. Just accept it.
Wolverine lands a one man plane, grabs the lighter and uses it on a cigar. He just puffs it and is like “Okay, Nick Fury signed this lighter in case I’d stop by.“ He doesn’t really question it.
The tribe sees him as a God or at least a Child of the Gods, but some don’t believe it. Their fiercest warrior, Gahck (alternately spelled Gack sometimes, I guess) challenges Wolverine to a fight. Wolverine wins because it’s not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky.
…Why is this not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky?
Anyway, he beats Gahck and he’s made chief and he goes to hang out in a cave alone because part of being chief is having a cave. “Not bad, as far as caves go”, says Logan. I like the idea that he has just this extensive knowledge of caves and which ones are the best to live in. Like, I know that he actually does live in caves sometimes, but it’s still pretty great to imagine him looking up cave reviews on Zillow.
Gahck walks in and without the big warrior get up, Logan and the readers learn Gahck is a woman. This is important because her and Logan talk briefly and keeping up the God pretense, says he doesn’t want her as a sacrifice because the tribe sent her up as tribute in the first place.
They talk a bit and then they’re like “Let’s bone”. And they do. But not before Logan can explain what he’s doing in the Savage Land. He was mysteriously sent a ticket to a Broadway show, and according to Logan, a pretty lousy one. During intermission, he’s handed a message by a man with a terrible British accent.
The note says it’s from Jean Grey, telling him to meet her in the back alley. The note smells nothing like her. He decides to check it out anyway, what the heck? He has a few minutes before act II. He’s ambushed by a cyborg who speaks in broken English and I am making none of this up.
The cyborg explodes and Logan smells from his charred remains that “This Johnny comes from the Savage Land”. But he also smells like Logan. Specifically his pain and torment. No, really.
Cut to the present, Logan takes a more active interest in the tribe, leading their hunts and gaining their trust. He kills a dinosaur during one of the hunts and the tribe is sufficiently impressed to not only make him chief, but accept him as one of them. When Chackel, one of the tribesmen, doesn’t come back, Logan takes interest in the situation. Turns out there’s a T-Rex that comes once a year and eats members the tribe. Unusually, it leaves no remains of its victims.
Chackel’s father, doubting Logan’s godhood as he has to be explained this, stabs him in rage. Logan shrugs it off. He’s not happy about it, but he lets the man live. An elder tells him that only one man ever escaped from the T-Rex, after being taken to his “Mountain of Thunder”. Having heard enough, Logan sets out to hunt.
Facing it, it swallows him whole. The tribe is left shocked by this, but then he claws his way out of its stomach, having discovered it was a robot designed to look like a T-Rex with the purpose of capturing, not killing.
He sets off to leave the tribe, but finds out his one man plane is missing he accuses Gahck, think he doesn’t want him to leave and angered she leaves. Gahck is really upset about being accused and storms off. He has the elders point him in the direction of the “Moutain of Thunder”. He dons his X-Men uniform and sets off.
By the way, I want to say that Mignola’s T-Rex fight, along with everything else, is absolutely gnarly.
So Logan arrives at the mountain and smells pain like the cyborg’s, but before he can focus on it, a trapdoor opens and next thing he knows, he wakes tied up in a cell with Apocalypse monologuing before him. This is actually the first meeting between the two, Apocalypse had been around for a while, but had only appeared in X-Men’s sister title X-Factor.
Apocalypse has been experimenting on the cave people, making them cyborgs as assassins. He plans to do the same with Logan. Gahck shows up, having tracked Logan down and she attempts to save him. Apocalypse throws her in a cage and says after he’s done with Wolverine, she’ll be his first test.
Apocalypse turns his back and there’s a really cool page of Logan cutting the ropes on his feet, taking his boots off to get the lighter, which he kept in his boots? And then lights it and burns through the ropes on his hands.
Logan attacks Apocalypse and they fight. Over in the corner, Gahck frees Chackel, who’s fine, and they escape. Apocalypse reveals he was making the cyborgs to eliminate mutants. He’s going to protect the humans from the Mutants and help them reclaim the Earth. Now this is pretty much the oppisite of Big A’s normal game plan, which makes Logan suspicious, and rightfully so. It turns out this Apocalypse is a robot. Logan shreds it to bits.
He looks around the lab and wonders why a robot would create cyborgs or what any of this means. He then finds a skull made of Adamantium. This is interesting because at this time Chris Claremont (writer of X-Men) intended for Wolverine’s metal skeleton to have been grafted onto him by Apocalypse. That never played out, but it’s cool to see.
Just as he starts to consider what it means, a hologram of the real Apocalypse turns on and says that he built this robot to man this base while he was gone, but its programming corrupted and put it in opposition of its creator. Now, this is where it gets bonkers. Rather than deal with it himself, he decided to send Wolverine a ticket to the play, pose as a regular dude to give Logan the note that would lead him to the cyborg, which apparently Apocalypse knew was specifically targeting Logan. That way, Logan would investigate and deal with the robot for him. He thanks Logan for letting him know that he has to work on his British accent AND THEN HE STARTS CRITIQUING THE PLAY.
Apocalypse releases a gas to kill Logan, saying that he can now freely take out two enemies. Wolverine’s healing factor keeps him alive long enough to use the lighter as an explosive…somehow? He takes his aerofoil, which I guess we’re supposed to figure Gahck did take and then flew it to the mountain and left it when she got Chackel out?
The story ends with the Shaman wrapping up his telling, revealing Chackel is a cyborg, but he’s okay and Gahck and Wolverine had a kid and everyone loved-WAIT. THIS KID HAS NEVER SHOWN UP AGAIN. It’s just kind of skirted over and he’s been to the Savage Land again after this, so I don’t know if no one read this or remembers (which is possible). Or if Simonson had plans or what.
Anyway, it was a really fun book, great art, light on continuity and easily accessible. I found it at Half-Price Books for three dollars and if you can find it for around that price I totally recommend it.
This is, besides a spellcheck, completely unedited, so maybe not my best work. I do plan on going back to it and redoing sections sometime later this week.