It's been 13 months or so since the return of Wolverine started in the Marvel Legacy one-shot, so it's probably time to check in on how things are going. Marvel killed off Wolverine in 2014 because they had really backed themselves into a corner, with Wolverine appearing in like every Marvel comic published every week, his healing factor making him indestructible as he could regenerate from like a single cell, every major superteam adding him to their rosters, and everyone really tired of the stabby little runt. Plus, "Death of" stories are nearly as lucrative as the follow-up "Return of" stories, traditional comic book wisdom says.
Marvel kept Wolverine dead for an impressive 152 weeks, nearly three years. With the stink of decades of mismanagement washed away by some time in the grave, it was finally time in September, 2017 to begin bringing him back. Over a year later, they're still working on it. So how are they doing?
So far, Return of Wolverine seems to be establishing a few classic elements of Wolverine, some of them in weird ways. Wolverine has no recollection of his past life, so he's sort of like he was when he didn't remember his past. Thats good, because a lot of the revelations of Wolverine's history from the past twenty years or so has been pretty damn stupid. Unfortunately, Marvel can't erase our memories of, for example, Daniel Way's Origins, so while Wolverine might not remember, we still do.
Return of Wolverine also endeavors to restore Wolverine's classic uncontrollable berserker rage, which has been dulled over the years by Wolverine's Mary Sue role in the Marvel universe. If he can't control your own murderous impulses, how can he be some kind of moral beacon for the rest of the Marvel superheroes? But now they're bringing that back, but it's in the dumbest way possible: with hot claws.
In that light, we can look at Return of Wolverine #1 as establishing the new blank slate Wolverine, literally looking through locked cells in his mind and letting out the best aspects of his character. And Return of Wolverine #2 concentrates on establishing the status quo of the @#$%ing hot claws.
Return of Wolverine #2
(W) Charles Soule (A) Declan Shalvey (CA) Steve McNiven
Logan is alive again – let's see if he can stay that way!
In Shops: Oct 24, 2018
The issue starts out with Wolverine and his scientist friend Ana on a boat, chasing some Soteira bad guys who have stolen Ana's son, Perren. They're heading toward a city that Soteira leader Persephone has established somewhere. Wolverine suggests that maybe Persephone has made Perren into a biological weapon and plans to use him to commit mass murder. This naturally upsets Ana, so Wolverine tries to make up for it by promising that there's totally no way he's gonna let Perren die, which seems like a bad idea, because kids die around Wolverine all the time. Usually because of him.
In any case, their chase is interrupted by Daken and Omega Red, because Daken, or his corpse, really,was captured by Soteira during the Hunt for Wolverine event, and Omega Red… well, actually, he's doing just fine over in Weapon X. Well, batting .500 on inter-book continuity is actually above average for Marvel. Besides, maybe it's a different Omega Red.
So a battle breaks out, with Ana quickly dispatching Omega Red with a harpoon through his head. Wolverine takes on Daken, and he even seems to recognize Daken, or rather recognize that he should recognize him. To end the fight, Wolverine's claws get hot, and he slices one of the fuel lines on the boat, ignites it with his claws, and incinerates Daken. Then, caught up in his new hot claws berserker rage, Wolverine lunges at Ana and nearly stabs her in the face before stopping just an inch from her head and letting his claws cool back down.
Afterward, Wolverine describes the experience:
Despite him almost killing her, Ana is surprisingly cool with all of this, and she even decides she should thank him with some boat sex, but Wolverine isn't having it, and anyway, they've arrived at their destination, Soteira's city. One more page before the end of the issue shows Jean Grey, who has been using Cerebro, telling Kitty Pryde she's found Wolverine. The next issue teaser shows ol' Hot Claws taking on an X-Men team of Jean, Iceman, Storm, Kitty, and Nightcrawler.
So despite Marvel working on Wolverine's return for over a year, beginning with the Marvel Legacy One-Shot, into the Where's Wolverine post-credits scenes in various books, into the four Hunt for Wolverine miniseries and two one-shots, and now into Return of Wolverine (and maybe even more after that), they still seem to be trying to figure out how to move the character into the position they want him to be in going forward.
But is it working? We're not so sure. First of all, what is the point of all of this? Is Marvel trying to give us "back to basics" Wolverine, or move the character forward? Or are they trying to eat their cake and have it too?
Success here will depend on what Marvel does with Wolverine once they're finally finished bringing him back (which, let's face it, could take until 2020 the way things are going). But with the way they've been dragging out his return, Marvel runs the risk of having everyone sick of Wolverine all over again before he's even officially back. Honestly, we're already kind of sick of him. And it didn't help that the entire time he was gone, we had the older alternate-universe version of him in Old Man Logan, which did take a "back to basics" kind of approach that was at least enjoyable in a hard-boiled kind of way. But still, how can we miss Wolverine if he never really goes away?
So what do you think? Is Wolverine's return working for you, or should he have stayed dead? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Now, let's look at the other three X-books that came out this week.
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.
X-Men Black: Juggernaut
(W) Robbie Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson (A) Shawn Crystal (CA) J. Scott Campbell
Nothing can stop the Juggernaut…
…until now. What has finally stopped Cain Marko in his tracks? You'll have to see to believe, but we can promise you it's gonna involve nothing but punching for the Juggernaut! PLUS: Part 4 of X-MEN BLACK: APOCALYPSE!
In Shops: Oct 24, 2018
X-Men Black Juggernaut consists mainly of a long battle between Juggernaut and Cyttorak, the deity who supplies him with his unstoppable power. The power mainly takes place in Cain Marko's memories, beginning with an assault on the X-Mansion back in the day, fighting Professor X and the original X-Men. Almost immediately, Juggie can tell someone is messing with his head. He thinks it's Charles, but we learn that he's actually being held by Cyttorak cult members at Cyttorak's temple.
Inside his mind, Marko meets his inner child, who tries to explain that it isn't from Cyttorak that Juggernaut gets his true power, but from his own rage at his crappy childhood. The kid wants him to let that rage free. He does, and he shatters the bonds that were holding him in Cyttorak's temple. Cyttorak appears to congratulate Juggernaut on being worth of his power after all, but Juggie is pissed now and he attacks Cyttorak. Juggie wins that battle, but Cyttorak just laughs, telling him he's passed the test and can go about bringing chaos to the world like Cyttorak wants.
Juggernaut has other ideas though. His inner child follows him out of the temple and reminds him that there are seven other gods in the Octessence — Balthakk, Farallah, Ikonn, Krakkan, Raggadorr, Valtorr and Watoomb — and all of them have gems like Cyttorak's that can grant the bearer their power. So presumably we can expect a godlike Juggernaut imbued with the powers of the entire Oxtessence challenging the X-Men at some point in the near future. Which sounds good to us.
In the Apocalypse backup story, Apocalypse, devolved to a monkey, is being kept in a cage by the futuristic beings who captured him last issue. They're performing some kind of experiment on other monkeys, and when Apocalypse tries an escape attempt, they strap him to the table as well. However, Apocalypse reaches out and grabs the guy experimenting on him and takes over his body. It turns out, this whole world apparently evolved from Apocalypse's own experiments, and the experimenter was the same guy Apocalypse originally lent his regenerative powers to back in chapter one. So it took a while, but, Apocalypse completed his original goal, and now he has his new, super-powered clone body, and we'll find out what he plans to do with it in next week's final X-Men Black issue.
But if we're being honest, he will probably masturbate. What? That wouldn't be the first thing you'd want to do with a brand new body? Maybe that will happen off panel, between the issues, but it's definitely happening. What do you think Apocalypse thinks about when he's masturbating? Clearly this creative team needs to do a follow-up mini-series exploring this question.
X-Men Red #9
(W) Tom Taylor (A) Roge Antonia (CA) Jenny Frison
• Following the shocking events of X-MEN RED #8, it's time for Jean to finally confront her demon head-on.
• Jean Grey and Cassandra Nova… The showdown begins here!
In Shops: Oct 24, 2018
X-Men Red #9 is essentially one long battle between Jean Grey and Cassandra Nova. It begins with Kitty calling Jean to let her know her time-displaced future daughter, Rachel, is being psychically controlled by Nova and is on her way to kill Jean. Jean says she's the only one who can take care of it. Jena heads to Genosha, where Nova has got Rachel on a leash like a hound. A battle ensues between Jean and Rachel, but Rachel is holding back, fighting the control.
Eventually, Cassandra Nova decides to kill Rachel, but Jean makes a deal with her: let Rachel go, and Jean will stand still and not fight back as Nova does what she wants with her. This is too good a deal for Nova to pass up, so she accepts and disintegrates Jean. However, it was a trick. Jean was actually back at Searebro the entire time, mentally projecting her image Luke Skywalker style.
Cassandra Nova was not a fan of The Last Jedi (probably prefers the Snyder Cut of Justice League), so she vows to raise an army and crush Jean. Back at HQ, Jean tells the X-Men to get ready for war.
There's only two issues left of this series, and we've been treated essentially to one single story arc for the whole book. It's a little excessively decompressed, but that's just the way comics are nowadays. Otherwise, it's been a great story, well-executed and with lots of great personal moments between the X-Men in the book, so we're sad to see it end… even if they could have reasonably wrapped this whole thing up by issue #4 and told another couple of stories before the relaunch killed it.
Even so, X-Men Red #9 is the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week.
Congratulations to the creative team!
Black Panther vs. Deadpool
(W) Daniel Kibblesmith (A) Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (CA) Cully Hamner
VIBRANIUM BULLETS AND REGROWING LIMBS – EVERYTHING YOU WANT FROM A COMIC IS HERE!
Deadpool's teamed up with, taken down or taken a beating from just about every hero in the Marvel Universe. And no way is the Black Panther going to miss out on his turn. From Late Show writer Daniel Kibblesmith comes a hilarious romp through Wakanda as Deadpool goes on the hunt for the world's most valuable resource: Vibranium! When a beloved figure of the Marvel Universe becomes collateral damage in a fight between Deadpool and the Wrecker, the heroic Deadpool sets out to obtain a fragment of Vibranium that could save the victim's life. But his unconventional methods – ranging from poaching to dismemberment – don't sit well with the King of Wakanda, and Deadpool's about to learn that you don't bring a sword to a claw fight!
In Shops: Oct 24, 2018
In Wakanda, Black Panther and his sister Shuri are celebrating Ubusku Bokufa, Wakanda's Night of the Dead, basically Wakandan Halloween. The Panther is extremely moved by a little girl cosplaying as him. Awwww! Meanwhile, in New York, Deadpool is driving a school bus as he battles The Wrecker. Deadpool wins the fight, but in the ensuing crash, Marvel mailman Willie Lumpkin, who happens to be nearby, is fatally injured by shrapnel to the heart. Deadpool, pretending to be Willie's son, Deadpool Lumpkin, demands that a doctor at the hospital save him. She says Deadpool will need vibranium to expel the shrapnel from Willie's heart. Deadpool thinks this'll be no problem, as he's basically friends with Black Panther.
So Deadpool infiltrates Wakanda and finds himself in the Panther's throne room. He wants Vibranium, but the Panther is skeptical. A fight breaks out, and Panther uses a new gun he developed, meant for healing, to blow of Deadpool's arm. The healing power of the gun prevents the arm from growing out, which is explained by Panther to mean that what grows back when Deadpool regenerates is his cancer, so the healing gun stopped the regeneration. After thoroughly kicking his ass, Panther teleports Deadpool out into the middle of nowhere. Deadpool vows that he will overthrow T'Challa and become King of Wakanda in order to get the vibranium and save Willie Lumpkin's life.
At no point in their battle did Deadpool think to explain why he needed the vibranium, by the way. Another possibility would be to just the healing gun.
Also, why does this book exist?
Next week is a big one. The last issue of X-Men Black, featuring Emma Frost and the conclusion to the Apocalypse story. The second-to-last issue of Extermination. The final issue of Old Man Logan. The final issue of Multiple Man. And What If? Magik. See you next Sunday with recaps of all of those.
Read more X-ual Healing here: