Wolverine Month: Inner Fury

I’m back with the Wolverine month I’ve said existed, but no one has acknowledged except me. (Truth be told, every month is Wolverine month in my heart.) I frequent Half-Price Books, which is great for finding weird and rare stuff at affordable prices. I happened upon Wolverine: Inner Fury. As far as I can tell, the Wolverine ongoing series did not have annuals (oversized issues released once a year in addition to the regular issues), but rather a Wolverine graphic novel was released every year. One of those was the Jungle Adventure, which I wrote about here. These were chances for different writers and artist to work on a Wolverine story when they might not normally.

This one-shot is written by D.G. Chinchester. I’ve never heard of this guy, a quick Google turned up that he wrote Daredevil after Ann Nocenti. Based on this, that seems like a good fit. There’s some cool stuff in here.

The artist, however, I have heard of. He’s the main reason I wanted to read this. Bill Sienkiewicz (not said like it’s spelled). He’s one of the best stylists in the industry. His art varies in both medium and style to fit the story. In gritty superhero stuff like this, it’s a sketchy violent style where the concept of what he’s showing seems more real than what he’s actually drawing. The man’s a monster. Just, dude, if you haven’t seen his stuff, Google it right now.

Anyway, the book itself starts out in a Hydra lab with an experiment in nanomachines being supervised by a deformed little man dangling from the ceiling with a nutrient tank around his head. His body is of no use, I don’t know whether or not his limbs even work, but he’s there, suspended. The scientists and lackeys around him call him “The Whale” even as he thinks of himself as a “Shark.” I should point out this is because his nose looks like a fin.

A scientist points out that some of the inventory has gone missing.

Before I go into the next scene, I want to talk about the design for the Hydra agents. They’re these black…things, seeming incorporeal in some panels, blending in with the shadows and on others they seem robot and super solid. It’s neither here nor there, it just looks cool.

Okay, so back to the action. So it turns out they’re not really in a lab. They’re being transported inside of a truck. The “lab” seemed cramped and the panels boxed us and the characters in. This is why. The Whale sets off the nanomachines and causes the truck to crash. Two Hydra agents, the leaders of this project overlook the crash. One is a man who berates his partner, unseen, but their shadow/silhouette is in the shape of a full-figured woman. The shadowed leader shoots the man as he says he’s going to pin the failure all on them.

Cut to Chicago, covered in one of our famous snowstorms. Wolverine is here, as he puts it, for his own murder. S.H.I.E.L.D. let him know about a communique that had been dropped off with his name on it. Both he and Nick Fury knew it was a trap, but Logan says that whoever wants to lead him on is the one that’s really trapped. Knowing Wolverine, the reader is inclined to agree.

So he goes to Chicago and he’s attacked by some generic bad dudes.They have face masks similar to the ones the Hydra people wore, but that might just be because Sienkiewicz was in the mood to design a particular thing. One of them gets a pretty solid hit into Logan, but after healing, he makes quick work of them. Then steps out a short man with a pointy nose and an enormous flowy head of hair, another one, who calls himself “Big”. Big is a bounty hunter, who was hired to kill the guys Logan just did. He offers Logan a cut, but Logan just heads off to a bar.

Needing to unwind, he’s a couple beers in and chatting up a PYT. She says she doesn’t usually like older men as they tend to be more…domesticated.

That’s what she says.

Anyway, Logan, despite being literally older than this lady’s grandmother, takes offense to this and asks why she thinks he’s old. She points out his grey hairs. Logan doesn’t remember having any, so she strokes it to prove it to him. But when she touches it, she bleeds. Big then walks in and suggests Logan stop *ahem* fraternizing as she could get hurt more as his condition worsens. Logan angrily asks Big what he means.

The stout man refers to Logan’s hair follicles and fingernails, of which the Adamantium in Logan’s body seems to be getting out. This is interesting because it this is, as far as I know, the first time the “Logan gets Adamantium removed” plot beat happens. It more famously appears in the “Fatal Attractions” X-Men storyline, in which Logan’s claws are revealed to grow from bone and part of his mutation.

Big tells Logan about the nanomachines and how they’ve ruined the lives of his clients. The machines have hacked Wolverine’s healing factor (which is portrayed in the book, but not here as cartoon white blood cells with eyes) is rejecting the Adamantium from his body, registering it as a harmful substance. As his condition visibly worsens, he convinces Logan to join forces and take down The Shark.

They go to fight some dudes who they think know the Whale/Shark’s location. He has to watch himself in the scrap, something he’s not used to. Usually, his healing factor patches him up as they go, but now his healing factor is working overtime to expel the Adamantium.

A guy comes from behind and is going to shank Logan, but he grows Adamantium spines out of his back like a deadly Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s kinda great. The people are defeated and Logan and Big head off to find another lead. AND BOY, do they head off in style. Big has a personal hovercraft. It fits two people, but it’s clearly made for just him.It’s this tall thing vaguely shaped like the capital letter “I” with a big bulbous light on the top of the front, where Big peeks his head out of. And it’s got a mechanical arm on the side and Logan has to kind of squat inside and it’s great.

They keep looking and eventually crash in a hotel room, where the full extent of what is happening to Logan becomes clear. He’s sprawled out on the couch, Adamantium sticking out from every opening in his body. He still manages to fall asleep on the couch and dreams a terrible and violent dream.

He’s on a ship and they’re hunting the Shark/Whale/Metaphor. It’s Moby Dick. It’s just straight up Moby Dick. Wolverine to the Ahab, The Whale to the…Whale. Yeah. The Whale/Whale attack the ship, only Logan, never having seen him, assumes he’s this giant hulking monster who fights him, but his Adamantium betrays him during the duel and before the Whale/Whale can kill him, he chides Logan for not sticking to Melville’s metaphor. I’m loving that these “not annuals” are basically just the villains critiquing media. At least in my head they are.

They arrive at The Whale/Shark’s base and fight their way inside. At this point, Logan is Edward Scissorhands’ final Pokemon evolution. The Shark/Whale is inside and Logan doesn’t quite believe it. He threatens The suspended scientist, but he doesn’t have a cure and is terrified by Big.

The silhouette is revealed as Big on his hovercraft. It was his magnificent hair, the lights on his device providing the outline of the uh..bulbs. Turns out that Big was the Hydra leader after his stolen tech.Which then makes the deformed man the Shark/Whale/Patsy. The Shark/Whale was after his freedom, both from Hydra and to experiment in public. He needed Logan’s help to track the defector down, so using the nanomachines that The Whale/Shark was told were missing earlier to infect Logan, giving him motivation.

Logan tries to fight Big, but he’s pretty easily beaten down again and again. Big breaks open the Whale’s tank and he falls to the floor. Some wiring is broken and with a spark, a fire begins to spread in the lab. After taking care of his target, Big comes at Logan with a chainsaw that was just lying around I guess.

Logan realizes the one way to shock his body into resetting is to kill himself. So he puts his claws up to the bottom of his head and pops them. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the shock or because the machines were there. I don’t know. But it works and he makes *ahem* short work of Big. Wolverine throws the Shark/Whale/Fish into a bucket and carries him as he retreats into the snowy woods, the lab going up in a blaze behind him.

I wish I had a scanner so I could show you guys this stuff. It’s top-notch work and one of the most visually interesting books I’ve read in a long while. I spent at least double the amount of time I usually do reading to look over the art. HIGHEST possible recommendation for the art. The writing is fine and I enjoyed the dream sequence, but I bought this for Sienkiewicz’s art and I was proven even more right than I initially thought.

So You Want to Read Old Man Logan and the X-Men (Comixology Sale Edition)

This article is part of Wolverine month, something I just decided is happening. So, I’ll be putting up a few articles about Wolverine.

Comixology is having a massive amount of sales now. Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Superman, Image 25, but In this installment of so you want to read, I’m going to be talking about the Old Man Logan, Wolverine and X-Men sales currently going on. They’re broken into sections on Comixology’s site, so for sake of expediency, I’m going to focus on those sections and what I recommend from each of them. Also, obviously both Comixology and I are trying to cash in on the movie. Only I’m doing this because I love you.

I previously covered the Ghostbusters stuff here though, so check that out if you’re interested.

These sales end March 6th, so hurry if you’re interested, but if you want to consider, you have a day and a half.

Due to the sheer volume of stuff on sale, I’m going to be a bit more rapid-fire than in previous installments. The stuff in bold are my top picks!

Old Man Logan:

In a separate sale from the rest, is the Old Man Logan sale. It’s all of the graphic novels with the character, plus the tangentially related Wolverine: The End and some X-23 stuff.  

Old Man Logan: The story that inspired the movie, kind of. It’s a fun read, really cinematic. Is it my top pick? No, but it’s important to establish the character and world of Old Man Logan. It’s also a blast. Alternately, you could listen to my podcast.

X-23: The Killing Dream: Written by Marjorie Liu with art by Will Conrad, this is Laura Kinney’s solo series. After all of the violence in her life, she tries and fails, to be a normal teen. A demonically possessed Wolverine attacks the Xaiver School and only Laura can stop him! And then she sets out to find herself and runs Into Gambit!

Old Man Logan (2016 series): Available are two volumes (vol. 1 Berzeker and vol. 2 Bordertown) of the most recent series with the character. They’re gorgeously illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. I highly recommend this for the art alone, but thankfully the writing by Jeff Lemire, has a lot of great character moments. Also available is vol. 0 Warzones!, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Sorrentino, although I don’t suggest it unless you have a grasp of the Secret Wars storyline (or are willing to Wikipedia it.) Art is still worth it though.

 

Wolverine/X-Men sale

There are a bunch of categories and books to look at, so I’m going through them as the website does.

Wolverine: This section is dedicated to Wolverine solo books. Who would’ve guessed?

Wolverine by Claremont and Miller: Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont (Dark Phoenix Saga, God Loves, Man Kills, Days of Future Past) and industry icon Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, 300) team on this story that sends Logan to Japan. Featuring honor! Dishonor! Ninjas! It’s a great read that introduced a lot of defining features of Wolverine. This also served as the basis to The Wolverine, Logan’s second solo film. No silly robot fights here though!

Enemy of the State: By Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Logan gets programmed by the newly formed Hydra/Hand terrorist-ninja merger and their leader, the stone-eyed Gorgon sends Logan to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. and kill as many superheroes as he can. It’s a really fun book and reads surprisingly fast for there being twelve issues contained in here. Like Batman: Hush, it’s a great book for people just getting into superhero comics, letting you know who the character is and what his place is in the world.

There’s also a book called Wolverine: Logan by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso, that I haven’t read, but I can basically recommend anything by Vaughan and still sleep soundly.

 

Classic X-Men:

Claremont: This is the Section I know the most about. I’m a huge fan of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which makes up almost all of my selections here.

Proteus: Moira Mc Taggert’s son Kevin is a mutant with reality shifting powers, the X-Men head to Scotland to help Moira get him back under control. It ends tragically and is one of the defining moments of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run. There is absolutely fantastic character stuff in this story and outlandish visuals.

Dark Phoenix Saga: Widely considered the best X-Men storyline, Jean Grey’s cosmic power overwhelms her and her teammates have to stop her from losing control. Obviously, she does, because we need a story, and her last stand is absolutely gut wrenching as the X-Men, even after the evil she committed, all risk their lives for hers. Contains X-Men #137, the greatest single issue of X-Men ever.

Days of Future Past: Contains the stories immediately after the Dark Phoenix Saga, including Days of Future Past, which inspired the movie of the same name. Also, includes Kitty Pryde joining the team and the return of Alpha Flight!

Asgardian Wars: The Asgardian Wars collections is actually composed of two stories, the X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries drawn by Paul Smith, in which Loki bestows upon mortals abilities of the gods, but at a cost; and two annuals drawn by Art Adams, where the New Mutants get transported to Asgard and the X-Men head there to save them.

Lifedeath: Barry Windsor-Smith draws the titular story, the two-part “Lifedeath”. These are the definitive Storm stories and some of the most beautiful X-Men comics ever. Storm comes to terms with losing her powers and defining herself outside of them. Also included is the Wolverine story “Wounded Wolf”, by BWS.

Ghosts: Claremont in top form, the duel between Cyclops and Storm for leadership of the X-Men, the attack of Nimrod: The Sentinel of the future, the birth of Cylclops’ son, and the Trial of Magneto in the classic X-Men #200.

 

Mutant Massacre: The first of a series of crossovers where Claremont is joined by writer Louise Simonson. The underground mutant society the Morlocks, who are too ugly to fit into normal society are attacked in the sewers. They’re slaughtered. The remaining Morlocks make it to the X-Mansion and the X-Men head down to check for survivors, they’re ambushed by the sadistic Marauders. It’s violent, vicious, and very, very good. This has the classic issue that pits Psylocke on her own against Sabertooth.

Fall of the Mutants: One of the most impactful X-crossovers ever. Even though it’s not really a crossover. Thematically tied together by each team dealing with major loss and failure. The X-Men face the Adversary, manipulating them for some time and make the ultimate sacrifice. The New Mutants encounter their first loss when one of the kids is gunned down. X-Factor battles the mighty Apocalypse and a fallen member of their own.

Inferno+Crossovers: Cyclops’ ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, becomes the Goblyn Queen and unleashes the demonic forces of Limbo on New York, warping the city into a Hellscape. To save the world, X-Men and X-Factor join forces for the first time since the teams split. Illyana Rasputin, Magik of the New Mutants and ruler of Limbo struggles with her dark side as she fights to reclaim her domain or lose herself trying. Great art by Brett Blevins, Marc Silvestri, and Walter Simonson, it is blockbuster superhero action at it’s finest and balanced perfectly with the emotional tension building for years. Also available is a book of crossovers, how the rest of the Marvel universe dealt with the transformation of Manhattan.

X-tinction Agenda: The last of the Claremont/Simonson crossovers, The New Mutants are abducted by the nation of Genosha, a utopia that achieved through the mental and biological manipulation mutants into a docile slave race. The X-Men, X-Factor, and Cable have to commit international terrorism to save the kids. Little do they know their old enemy Cameron Hodge has taken over the country and is manipulation its arsenal, both mechanical and biological to his own means. It’s a truly upsetting story dealing with class, treatment of minorities, and US/international relations. The last truly great story of Claremont’s original run.

Mutant Genesis: This is the story after which Claremont left the X-Men and Marvel for a long time. It’s not the most cohesive work, you can definitely tell there’s some narrative disjointment with Claremont and superstar artist Jim Lee. Even though it can be janky, the art is great and filled with a fantastic energy. It makes you want to rip the pages out and hang them on your wall, but you can’t because it’s digital. Duh. Also available in Mutant Genesis 2.0, a version with modern coloring techniques. I don’t really like it, but whatever floats your giant asteroid base.

Post-Claremont: I’m sure there’s other good stuff here, I just haven’t read a lot of it. Fatal Attractions and Second Coming are popular stories. X-Termination is really good, but only if you’ve read Uncanny X-Force and X-Treme X-Men.

Battle of the Atom: A newer story and maybe a little confusing, but you’ll catch on quickly enough. The X-Men of the future arrive in the present demanding that the original five X-Men (brought forward in time), be sent back to the past, for if they stay something catastrophic happens and the world hates mutant more than ever. Jean Grey and Cyclops go on the run, things aren’t quite what they seem, another team of X-men show up with contradicting reports… The fiftieth-anniversary story pays tribute to past stories like Days of Future Past while opening up possibilities for the future.

 

Wolverine Team-Ups:

Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine: Wolverine and Spider-Man are the oddest couple as the twosome are sent careening through time and space. It’s a surprisingly touching character study for a story that involves Wolverine leading a tribe of cavemen. By Jason Aaron (Mighty Thor, Southern Bastards) and Adam Kubert (Renew Your Vows, X-Men).

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine: Claremont and Al Milgrom (Spectacular Spider-Man) The youngest X-Man goes to Japan to save her father and is assaulted by Ogun, lord of ninjas. Ogun brainwashes her into becoming an intangible assassin. Logan doesn’t take to this kindly. He heads off to Japan to save his teenage sidekick.

Wolverine and Jubilee: Jubilee has turned into a vampire. She’s adjusting, but how well is open to interpretation. She’s framed for a series of murders and her and Logan must prove her innocence.

 

X-Men Team-Ups:

X-Men/Spider-Man: This series offering vignettes of four times Spider-Man has teamed up with the X-Men and the mysterious force manipulating both of their pasts. Also, a classic Spidey/X-Men team-up.

X-Men: S.W.O.R.D.: Abigail Brand is having a bad day. She was formerly head of S.W.O.R.D., Earth’s agency for dealing with alien threats. Now she’s second to Henry Peter Gyrich, a bureaucrat with a stick up his butt. What’s she to do when she finds a conspiracy to end all alien life on earth? Oh, and her boyfriend, the Beast, is visiting. Perfect. By fan-favorite Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Darth Vader)

 

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks: The Masterworks are series of collections (the print versions are high-quality reprints) each containing approximately ten issues. They’ll get you to the From the Ashes.. storyline, about halfway through Claremont’s run. If you bought these, you’d have the content from Proteus, Dark Phoenix Saga and the Days of Future Past collections. These are my highest recommendation in the sale, you almost certainly want to grab them.

If you only get one book from this sale, I’d suggest Volume 9. It contains both God Loves, Man Kills, one of the greatest X-Men stories and inspiration to X2 and also the Wolverine miniseries by Claremont and Miller.

 

Cyclops Vol. 1: Cyclops in space! After finding out his father is alive, a teenage Scott Summers decides to join the family business, space piracy. A coming of age tale in space dealing with a father and his son. By Greg Pak, Russell Dauterman, and Cameron Caneor. It’s one of my favorite X-Books, a perfect blend of writer, artists, and characters.

 

Nightcrawler:

Amazing X-Men vol. 1: Backstory; Nightcrawler died and went to Heaven. That’s all you need to know. He calls the X-Men to help him fight off a group of demonic pirates attacking the good place. It’s just a lot of fun, one of the lighter reads in the sale and great if you’re looking for a stand alone X-book.

Nightcrawler (2014): Claremont returns to one of his favorite characters  It’s an interesting read, seeing this classic master write in a more modern style. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun enough to be worth a read.

Other:

Magneto Testament: It’s called a Magneto story, but it’s really a book about a young Jewish boy during the holocaust. That boy may be Magneto someday, but besides a few moments, it’s not about that. It’s beautiful and haunting.

X-Men First Class: A fun all-ages series about the original X-Men. Recommend if you want to read something with the Youn’uns in your life. (Not related to the movie of the same title.

Uncanny X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis: One of two sister runs by Brian Michael Bendis, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magneto are branded terrorists by the media, but they’re just looking out for mutantkind. Join the revolution or face the man with an X on his face.

X-Treme X-Men vol. 2: Although the first series is by Claremont and I’ve heard it’s of varying quality, I haven’t read it, so I can’t suggest it. The second series however, I have read and it’s a blast. The basic rundown is this, Dazzler ends up being sent from one alternate dimension to the next, recruiting a team of X-Men from different worlds. Their mission is to destroy ten evil counterparts of Xaiver intent on ruling the multiverse. It’s only two volumes and the finale is in the X-Termination crossover, but it’s really fun and if you want to read some really weird comics, this is your jam.

X-Men Season One: One of my favorite comics ever, this is my rainy day go-to book. A day-to-day standalone story about the early days of the X-Men, as told by Jean Grey. By Dennis Hopelss (Avengers Arena, Spider-Woman) and Jaimie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers) craft one of the best interpretations of the original team and especially Jean Grey as this would become the definitive version of her going forward.

X-Men ’92: Another one of my favorite series, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek parody/homage to the most extreme era of X-Men. Two books are available, volumes 0 and 1 and both are well worth checking out. The X-Men battle Vampires! Psychics! Censorship! This is one comic you can’t miss! Or you can, I just felt Hyperbole was appropriate with the material. By Chris Sims and Chad Bowers with art by Scott Koblish (Deadpool) and Alti Firmansyah (Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde)

Worst X-Men Ever: What happens if all you want is to be special, and then you find out you have a super power. The power to blow up! Once. Might have been better off before. That’s what happens to Bailey, but when his parents are killed. He joins a team of reject trainees, and he’s the most useless of them all. A touching letter to the X-Men franchise truly as tragic as it is funny.

X-Club: Super science makes super snobs; the smartest X-Men have decided that they can science their way out of anything, but along comes a problem of their own creation because we can’t have nice things, especially if we grow it in test tubes. CURSE YOU SCIENCE!!!!

 

Top Recs:

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks 

Season One 

Worst X-Man Ever 

Inferno 

Cyclops Volume 1