For the first couple decades after his introduction, Wolverine was one of the best characters in the X-Men universe. Deeply flawed and plagued by demons, but also incredibly loyal and always struggling against his nature to do the right thing. But around the time Marvel had Wolverine join the Avengers, he mostly lost any real flaws, became essentially invincible and indestructible thanks to his healing factor, was beloved and respected by pretty much every character in the Marvel Universe, sanctimoniously lectured Cyclops about endangering kids during the Schism, and turned on his family in the X-Men to side with the Avengers in Avengers vs. X-Men. So by the time he was finally killed off in Death of Wolverine, all we could think was: good riddance!
But Wolverine is back now. Is he back to his old ways? Well, it's probably not a good sign that 4 out of the 5 X-Books that hit stores last week starred the furry little runt.
Let's recap what happened in them.
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities, but with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
Uncanny X-Men #12
(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A/CA) Salvador Larroca
After the devastating events of "X-Men Disassembled," it falls to Cyclops to rebuild the X-Men in the face of overwhelming hatred. Thankfully, he's not the only X-Man to have just returned from oblivion. Scott and Logan are together again, and they are mutantkind's only hope. Writer Matthew Rosenberg and returning superstar X-Artist Salvador Larroca lead the X-Men into their darkest hour…and beyond!
In Shops: Feb 20, 2019
Uncanny X-Men #12 opens with the quote "Every ending has a beginning." Wasn't the last X-Men story an ending too? Is every X-Men story an ending?
Wolverine patches up his buddy Cyclops from injuries received last issue and provides some supportive advice to Scott. The two decide to track X-Men who weren't transported to the Age of X-Man alternate universe, who are being held by General Callahan at a ONE facility. They abduct a ONE agent and attempt to infiltrate the ONE base, but things go sideways quickly and Wolverine gets shot a bunch of times before Cyclops blasts everyone. They fight some sentinels, but something is different about them. It turns out they're mutants inside sentinel shells. They rescue Strong Guy, Dani Moonstar, and Karma, who are also infected with a techno-organic virus from Warlock (this happened in the New Mutants: Dead Souls mini-series).
Inside, they rescue more mutant prisoners: a green girl (unknown for now), Magik and Rahne (who are infected by the Warlock virus too but not as badly as the others because of their shapechanging powers — yes, a bit of a stretch for Magik), three Jamie Madrox duplicates, and Havok, who tells Cyclops he wish he had died instead of him. As they fight their way out, it turns out one of the dupes had a bomb implanted in his stomach. He blows up, but Strong Guy absorbs the blast, protecting everyone else but dying in the process. The issue ends with Callahan realizing the X-Men are back.
Despite our recent distaste for Wolverine, Wolverine and Cyclops on a team-up always makes for a great dynamic, and that actually makes Logan kind of likable here. After last week's mega-sized issue, it feels like this one went by a little too fast, also due to the nature of modern comics decompression. Strong Guy's sudden death, and with little fanfare, was reminiscent of Warlock's death during X-Tinction Agenda. Surely he'll back at some point. Maybe sooner, rather than later.
Total Wolverines: 1
Return of Wolverine #5
(W) Charles Soule (A/CA) Steve McNiven
Now that Logan has risen…how far can he fall?
In Shops: Feb 20, 2019
It's the final issue of Return of Wolverine, and the titular Wolverine has traveled to Persephone's satellite base to confront her. When he arrives, she explains that she's collected the brightest minds from around the world on the Satellite to execute her plan to take the human race to the next level. That plan: kill everyone on Earth with an electromagnetic pulse (but for brains), then bring them all back to life under her control. Persephone also explains how she used her powers to control the dead Wolverine, but his healing factor must have kicked in and brought him back to life for real (it's magic: they don't have to explain it). She wants Wolverine to join her and leave the pain of his old life behind.
Wolverine isn't having any of this, so Persephone decides to kill him again, releasing poison gas into the room he's in. Wolverine jumps out a window on the Satellite (what?), climbs around the outside to a hatch, and lets himself back in. He finds the humans who Persephone brought to the Satellite and convinces them to shut down Persephone's space weapons. But the Satellite itself is also a weapon capable of killing millions of people, and Persephone, none too pleased with Wolverine's antics, sets the weapon on (with a dramatic countdown, of course). Wolverine heads downstairs to the Satellite's core, re-murdering a bunch of Persephone's guards along the way.
When the stabbing gets tough to keep up with, Wolverine decides to release all the imprisoned Wolverines inside his own psyche except for the berserker one, which brings all of his memories back. Now he's fully Wolverine again. He destroys the Satellite, which crashes down to earth. Wolverine is burned up by reentry but survives, showing his healing factor is working at ridiculous levels again. He's rescued by a boat and heads to the Xavier Institute in New York City, for a story which will be directly continued in Wolverine Infinity Watch, which is the next comic we're going to recap.
Marvel, the next time you promise a five-issue miniseries of Steve McNiven aping Barry Windsor Smith's style, you 'd better make sure it's for the whole 5 issues, not just 2 out of 5.
Total Wolverines: 1, unless you count all the Wolverines inside Wolverine's head, in which case, at least 17 seen on panel, but more implied.
Wolverine Infinity Watch #1
(W) Gerry Duggan (A) Andy MacDonald (CA) Giuseppe Camuncoli
Wolverine has finally returned, disentwined from the evil clutches of Soteira…but hang on, didn't he have an Infinity Stone? How did THAT happen?! And wasn't he popping up all over the place for a little while? The answers you seek are finally revealed as Logan goes cosmic alongside everyone's favorite god of lies and stories, Loki Laufeyson!
In Shops: Feb 20, 2019
Fresh off the ending of Return of Wolverine #5, Wolverine visits the Xavier Institute in New York City where he's greeted by Jean Grey in a tube top. But something doesn't smell right, so Wolverine does what he does best and stabs Jean with his claws.
It turns out that's not really Jean. It's Loki. Thankfully Wolverine found out before anything too awkward happened. Also, the mansion is in rubble, destroyed during the events of X-Men Disassembled. Loki is pissed at Wolverine because Wolverine didn't listen to him at the beginning of Infinity Countdown/Infinity War. Wolverine doesn't remember any of this though.
Just then, Phoenix Wolverine, the cosmic Wolverine from the far future imbued with the power of the Phoenix Force as seen in the pages of Thor, shows up. The next several pages consist of recapping the events of that super-mega-crossover event, which we're not going to get into here because @#$% that. What you need to know is that, at the end, the Infinity Stones became sentient and merged with beings, one of whom is a guy named Hector Bautista here on Earth who has merged with the Time Stone. Hector recently used his newfound time-control powers to escape prison, where he was on Death Row.
Loki tells Wolverine he's going to need to go protect Hector because comic bad guys from all over the universe are going to show up and try to take the stone. After trying to pawn it off on the Guardians of the Galaxy or the Fantastic Four, Wolverine eventually sets off for Texas to find Hector. Meanwhile, Warbringer, a Chitauri warrior, arrives in New York City and learns where the time stone is. He heads for Texas as well as the issue ends, but this neverending Wolverine return told in a series of mini-series seemingly never will.
The only good thing we can say about this series is at least it's no longer holding up Wolverine's actual return, as that's being seen in Uncanny X-Men right now. Because otherwise, the constant shameless dragging out of that event, which started with the Marvel Legacy One-Shot, led into two Hunt for Wolverine one-shots and four mini-series, then into Return of Wolverine, and now into this, is totally ridiculous and a perfect of example of everything we've disliked about Wolverine for the past ten to fifteen years. And on the bright side: the current version appearing in Uncanny is easily the least obnoxious he's been in years.
Total Wolverines: 2
(W) Greg Pak (A) Ario Anindito (CA) Greg Land, D'Armata, Frank
THE CLASH YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR!
At last! It's Weapon H versus his predecessors-Wolverine and the Hulk! Once, the Weapon X program sought to recreate the world's two greatest hunters. They ended up with Weapon H, a man of Adamantium claws and gamma-juiced blood. Now, Wolverine and the Hulk are back in action – and coming after the dangerous creation made in their name!
In Shops: Feb 20, 2019
This mini-series continuing the story of the recently ended Weapon X starts off with Shadow Base Agent Castillo visiting The Leader in prison. He wants help tracking down and killing The Hulk. He hands the Leader some documents containing the latest recaps of Hulk comics, but Leader rolls them up and stabs Castillo in the face. He then kills a guard who comes rushing into the room and uses his cell phone to escape.
Meanwhile, Weapon H and his family are chilling in Pennsylvania, enjoying finally being free of government organizations and/or Roxxon trying to control them. But then he sneezes. Weapon H and his wife, Sonia, recognize this is a bad sign, since his Hulkverine healing factor should prevent him from getting sick. The execute a backup plan they devised earlier to protect Sonia and the kids in case Weapon H ever loses control. Sonia and the kids take off for parts unknown while Weapon H sorts things out.
Weapon H heads out into the woods where he runs into Bruce Banner, who hypocritically accuses him of being a danger to society. Banner notices that Weapon H is sick and offers to help him, but one of them is a Hulk and one of them is both a Hulk and a Wolverine, so naturally a fight breaks out instead. As the brawl continues, the Leader is revealed to be watching them as Shadow Base agents close in on him.
However, this was all part of Leader's plan. He infected Weapon H with a virus that affects Gamma powers and then tricked Banner into going after Weapon H, ensuring a fight would break out and Weapon H would transfer the virus into the Hulk, which he does when Hulk uses his new Gamma draining powers on Weapon H. After this, Weapon H is able to win the fight, at which point Leader shows up and tells Weapon H to kill the Hulk before Hulk kills his family. The Leader, it seems, knows about Weapon H and Sonia's backup plan.
This doesn't sit well with Weapon H, who tries to kill the Leader. Leader runs, setting off some grenades that infect Weapon H with the Gamma virus, forcing him to change back to plain Wolverine form. He still chases the Leader, but he's stopped by Wolverine, who shows up, annoyed at the gimmick infringement. This will be continued next issue.
We'll just say here what we said about pretty much every issue of Weapon H. The concept is absolute garbage, the most gimmicky gimmick ever, but the execution is so good we just can't bring ourselves to hate it. Whether that's a credit to the creative team or an indictment of our own personality, we'll leave to you to decide.
Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #1
(W) Seanan McGuire (A) Juan Frigeri (CA) Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki, Federico Blee
ENTER THE AGE OF X-MAN!
• From the Munich circus to Hollywood Boulevard, Nightcrawler is starring in his own solo series!
• Kurt Wagner is the biggest celebrity slash super hero since Dwayne Johnson!
• Juggling Kurt's responsibilities as one of the X-Men and a slate of summer blockbusters would be tough without the best support staff in the business: Stunt coordinator Magma! Personal trainer Kylun! And of course, his leading lady Meggan!
• But there's something rotten in Tinseltown…
In Shops: Feb 20, 2019
Our final issue of the week doesn't have any Wolverines. It's Amazing Nightcrawler, the next mini-series in the Age of X-Man line. The issue begins by giving us a look at a day in the life of the titular Nightcrawler. He films a movie scene with his co-star, Meggan, fighting vampire-like mutants under the control of a villain played by Callisto. We get to see the team that runs the studio Nightcrawler and Meggan make movies for, Studio X, which includes Celeste and Irma Cuckoo as producers, Magma as Stunt Coordinator, Kylun as Personal Trainer, and what we're pretty sure is a new character, a mutant named Scope, who uses his environment projection powers to make the movie sets. After a long and demanding day of work, Kurt calls home to X-Sanctuary and talks to Jean Grey as we learn that Kurt doesn't get to return home to the X-Men as often as he'd like because of his work.
Later that night, Kurt and Meggan attend a banquet, but before heading inside, Kurt hears a mutant crying. It's a young girl who really wanted to attend the event, so Kurt adds her to his entourage. At the banquet, some fans of Nightcrawler's talk disparagingly about the Cuckoo sisters who are "flaunting their familial relationship." In Age of X-Man, no one is supposed to be emotionally attached to anyone, love is a crime, and mutants are born in hatcheries. Magma tells off the fans, but Nightcrawler uses his charm to ease tensions.
After the dinner, Meggan comes onto Kurt and Kurt is into it, so they have sex. That's a crime in the Age of X-Man, usually punishable by a good mind-wiping, so things are not off to a great start for these two as the issue ends.
This comic, as well as next week's X-Tremists, have been the two Age of X-Man books we've looked forward to the most, because they're both written by promising new X-books writers Seanan McGuire and Leah Williams respectively. These two are clearly being groomed for big roles in the future of the X-books, so it's exciting to get in on the ground floor and see what we have to look forward to in the future.
Amazing Nightcrawler does a great job of capturing the love that the various characters in the X-Men Universe have for each other, whether it's Nightcrawler and Meggan's romantic affair, Nightcrawler and Jean's friendship, the Cuckoos' sisterhood and Magma sticking up for them, and even Nightcrawler finding a crying girl and performing a grand gesture to make her day. Even in an alternate universe, the love behind these characters shines through. Unfortunately, it's illegal and stuff, so…
Amazing Nightcrawler #1 captured a classic X-Men element, so we're awarding it the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the week. Of course, it also helps that this was the only X-book this week that didn't star at least one Wolverine.
Elsewhere: Chris Claremont got some respect in an article on The Conversation, which comes with an endorsement from Neil Gaiman. Everything they say about Claremont being ahead of his time, transforming the nature of comics storytellying, and influencing entertainment as a whole for decades is, of course, absolutely on point. Why won't Marvel let him write an ongoing comic again?
It is great to see Chris Claremont getting his dues. Modern tv owes so much to him. https://t.co/RAHygwVunl
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) February 23, 2019
Also, we learned this week that Jordan White will be taking the #XMenMonday hashtag to Adventures in Poor Taste as an EX-X-XCLUSIVE weekly Q&A (and some perpetually grumpy folks took our sarcastic article "complianing" about it super seriously). All the best to AiPT, one of the only comics sites we actually like. We're positive Chris Hassan will do an excellent job running this one as he has the site's past X-Men content… especially if he's kind enough to pass on a question or two from us once in a while.
Such as that Claremont one above.
And that's all for this week, folks. See you back next weekend for X-Force, X-Tremists, Black Panther vs. Deadpool, and Marvel Comics Presents.
Read more X-ual Healing here: