Greetings from the Odinson,
There is no denying the popularity of Wolverine, but he is not the same character he used to be. When he very first exploded onto the scene in Incredible Hulk #181 (his first full appearance), Wolverine was a feisty little tough guy that was not afraid to throw down with not only the mighty Hulk, but with the Hulk and the Green Goliath’s erstwhile sparring partner, the cannibalistic Wendigo, at the same time. Later it would be revealed that Wolverine is a mutant and in Giant-Size X-Men #1 he joined the ranks of the All-New, All Different X-Men in order to save the original team, and the title itself from cancellation. From the very beginning this man simply known as Logan was a loose cannon. Because he suffered from berserker rages during battles, he was just as likely to slash one of his teammates as he was an enemy. He was dangerous. And even his allies feared him.
For nearly three decades (from 1974-2001) Wolverine’s life was a mystery. His mysterious past only being revealed in very small windows that seemed to just add more and more layers to this truly complex character. We already knew that Logan was a Canadian, but in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #109 and 120-121 we learn that before joining the X-Men, Wolverine actually was a member of Alpha Flight, Canada’s premiere super team. The Japan Adventure revealed that he had spent extensive time in the past in the Land of the Rising Sun, and Kitty Pryde and Wolverine expanded on this revealing that Logan had actually studied under the tutelage of Ogun, a deadly assassin and demon sorcerer. In Wolverine #10, we see a younger Logan being tormented by Sabretooth and establishing the longest running and bloodiest feud in the Marvel Universe. In Uncanny X-Men #268, we learn that not only is Wolverine much older than he appears but that he actually fought alongside Captain America in a covert operation during the harrowing days of World War II. The Weapon X story finally reveals how Logan received his unique Adamantium skeleton, but this tale also raises even more questions about his mysterious past. And, in Mutant Genesis we learn that Logan actually served in an international co-ops unit side-by-side with Sabretooth during the height of the Cold War, thus adding even more layers to the mystery that is his past.
This is part of what made this character so great, a bad boy with a mysterious past. Sometimes it’s better not knowing everything there is know about a character. They are just cooler when there is an air of mystery. Now in the wake of Wolverine: The Origin and the Wolverine: Origins series there are very few secrets left to tell. I say the ole Canucklehead has lost some of his mystique. More importantly, he’s lost some of his edge. Back when Wolverine first came on the scene in the ‘70s and ‘80s he was dangerous and feared. Now, in the pages of Wolverine and the X-Men, he’s the headmaster of a school crying out loud. The ultimate bad boy loner is now the father figure/mentor for the next generation of mutant heroes. Though commendable, and some readers may like seeing the softer side of the most dangerous man alive, but give me the berserker. Give me the character that keeps other characters and the reader on their toes because nobody, including himself, knows what he will do next. This brings me to my next point…
Does a character like Wolverine work better as a villain?
Now hear me out on this one. In the Early ‘90s, legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont, before he left the franchise he helped make number one for nearly twenty years, had a story plotted out where Wolverine would be killed by Lady Deathstrike and brought back to life by the Hand and go on to become the X-Men’s greatest foe for a yearlong storyarc that would illustrate why this character was so important to the franchise. He and John Byrne (the masterminds behind the greatest run on X-Men in history) talk about this unused tale and other stories they never got to tell in the Wizard Wolverine Special Edition.
Though Claremont never got to do this story, Wolverine as a villain has been done, several times, and because of the nature of the character, Wolverine as a villain really isn’t that much of a stretch. He makes a great bad guy. In The Shattering, Wolverine is killed in battle by Death, a Horseman of the mutant terrorist Apocalypse. Death is a seemingly unstoppable foe and the X-Men, having lost their toughest ally, don’t know if they can defeat him. Then, in The Twelve, it gets even worse, as the unstoppable foe the X-Men have been fighting is revealed to be none other than Wolverine himself. Brainwashed and given his unbreakable Adamantium back by Apocalypse, Wolverine had become the X-Men’s most dangerous adversary. But if Death is actually Wolverine, then who was the Wolverine that Death killed? This was a good story that brought the mystery and danger back to the character. And it set the stage for a decade of stories that would beg the question: Does a character like Wolverine work better as a villain?
The next event would almost prove to be the end of the Marvel Universe. Enemy of the State not only reestablished Wolverine as the most dangerous man alive, but it is, hands down, the best Wolverine tale of the last twenty years. Writer Mark Millar introduces the ultimate adversary for Logan in the form of Gorgon, a super strong, super fast, telepathic assassin with the ability to murder anyone he makes eye contact with. In the opening scenes of this tale, Gorgon actually kills Wolverine. Then the Hand uses black magic to bring Logan back to life in service of the dark side. Wolverine becomes the ultimate super villain and cuts a swath of terror and destruction across the globe as he sets out to murder the super heroes of the Marvel U. This storyline establishes two things. One, just how dangerous a guy like Wolverine would be if he were a bad guy. And two, just how fortunate and important it is to the rest of the world that Wolverine is a good guy. John Romita, Jr.’s art on this project is some of his best. This tale really illustrates Wolverine as being the best there is, as he takes on a foe who just might be even deadlier than he is.
The plot of Enemy of the State may sound a little familiar. Chris Claremont may not have gotten the chance to tell his Wolverine-as-a-villain story but Marvel sure did, twice, and they weren’t done yet.
In Wolverine vs. the X-Men, once again the ole Canucklehead perishes, but this time, his spirit goes to Hades, while back on Earth, a demon presence has taken control of his body and begins to terrorize Logan’s friends and allies. This certainly isn’t the first time Wolverine has turned against his allies and in light of that, this time Cyclops is ready for him. With Magneto, the mutant Master of Magnetism, and Prince Namor, the Savage Sub-Mariner, at his side, Cyclops sets out to beat the unbeatable foe. During the Dark Angel Saga, a Wolverine led X-Force, in order to save the soul of a friend, venture to the world of Age of Apocalypse. Here they face the dark legacy of a mutant tyrant and come face-to-face with a deadly, yet familiar, adversary, a certain clawed mutant that may go on to become one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest arch villains. Follow the development of this twist in the pages of the Age of Apocalypse series starting this spring.
If you need more examples of just how bad the ultimate bad boy can be, check out What If…? (1989-1998 2nd Series) #24 featuring the tale "What If Wolverine Had Become the Lord of Vampires?" This is a horror story that picks up on plot points from when the Children of the Atom faced off with Dracula in Uncanny X-Men #159 and Annual #6. Also, in the pages of What If: Wolverine – Enemy of the State, see what would have happened in the Marvel Universe if Wolverine had remained the world’s deadliest villain.
There’s a reason why this theme (Wolverine as a villain) keeps getting revisited over and over. The modern day Wolverine has lost his edge. Logan of 1985 would kick the snot out of Logan of 2012 if he saw what a cupcake he’s turned into. Turning Wolverine into a villain gives the character his edge back. It makes him dangerous again, unpredictable. The way he was in the beginning when Wolverine was the coolest and most dangerous character in comics. This last decade has left me wondering…
Does a character like Wolverine work better as a villain?
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: February 2012
February 24, 2012 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
It's 2012 and the Mayan Calendar Ends...the Odinson Discusses some Possible Dark Futures that May Await
February 17, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Back in the eighties, when writers, artists and filmmakers looked into the future they saw a bleak outcome. Some called it “Millennium Fever.” The turn of the century was nigh and every generation thinks that they will be the last. This was reflected in our comics, television shows, books, and movies. The funny thing about some of these doom-and-gloom predictions is that the dark future that waited for us was never that far off.
Thundarr the Barbarian, a fantastic sci-fi cartoon from the early ‘80s, featured just such a dystopian future. In the year 1994 a runaway planet passes between the Earth and the moon and causes all sorts of havoc on our planet. Earthquakes, tsunami, and fierce storms ravage the planet and mankind is cast in ruin. 2,000 years later, Earth is reborn. But this is a strange new world inhabited by mutants and a warring feudal society ruled by malevolent wizards and demon sorcerers. Yet 1994 came and went, and luckily there was no runaway planet to destroy our way of life.
Master of Horror John Carpenter painted a bleak picture in his film Escape from New York. This film was released in 1981 but according to the storyline the crime rate in America would rise 400% by 1988, just seven years from the time we were watching this movie. And in 1997, Manhattan Island would be turned into the largest maximum security prison in the world. It is surrounded by a 50-foot wall which was electrified and manned with high power guns, and the water surrounding the island was mined. All the country’s criminals are kept here. No one has ever escaped and no one that is not a prisoner ever goes inside, even guards. Yet, 1988 and 1997 came and went, and luckily the crime rate has not risen 400%.
Sometimes I wonder if we’ve been lucky or if these dystopian visions of the future are just too far fetched to come to past. Maybe it was the pressure of living under the threat of nuclear war. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union had everyone on edge and left some wondering who would drop the bombs first. I remember in grade school doing drills in case the bombs started to fall. Dark stuff I know, but that’s just part of what we had to live with. And the world of entertainment was not about to let us forget it. Films like Mad Max, Road Warrior, Steel Dawn, Solarbabies, Robocop and comics like Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Starriors and The Dark Knight Returns did not paint a pretty picture of the days to come. In the dark future of The Running Man, people are so poor that they are willing to risk their lives on a reality TV show where they are hunted down by professional killers. Even cartoons got in on the act with dystopian-depicting-yarns like The Spiral Zone, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.
Our favorite heroes also have a knack for dodging dystopian futures. In Days of Future Past, when the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique assassinate a senator, mutants and mankind go to war. That is when comic fans see a not-too-distant-future where the United States is under martial law and an army of Omega Class Sentinels patrol the country and hunt down all mutants. Most mutants are killed, but some live out their miserable last days in concentration camps. Only a handful of X-Men remain free to oppose this, and even they are not long for the world. It’s a dark future that can only be avoided by the future Kitty Pryde’s consciousness being sent back in time to her younger self so that she can prevent the senator’s assassination.
The World’s Greatest Heroes also dodged the dystopian bullet. In the classic JLA adventure by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, Rock of Ages, time-displaced Leaguers witness a not-too-distant-future where Darkseid has conquered planet Earth. The world’s heroes are either captured or dead, and the Dark God’s Anti-Life Equation has enslaved mankind. Only a handful of Leaguers remain to mount a rebellion, but they are severely outnumbered and outgunned. This dystopian future was narrowly avoided in the pages of Final Crisis.
In Terminator, Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor about a dystopian future where Skynet, a self aware super computer, declares war on mankind and tries to eradicate it. In the early part of the 21st Century, Skynet first tries to use the world’s nuclear arsenal to do the job. This would become known as Judgment Day. When some humans are left alive to rebel, Skynet turns to using hunter/killer robots called Terminators. This is similar to the plot in The Matrix. Except instead of hunting down humans for eradication, the machine overlords of this dark future grow and harvest humans in fields like food for energy. They keep mankind in check by enslaving their minds in a virtual reality that reflects our own present day. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, mankind’s first contact with extraterrestrial life is almost thwarted by a malfunctioning A.I. called HAL 9000.
I haven’t even touched on the futures of I, Robot, Blade Runner, and The Planet of the Apes. Just more dystopian fun to look forward to. And as a man, Y: The Last Man doesn’t sound like a future I want to see either. Oh, yeah, and the ancient Mayan calendar runs out this year. Some people are predicting major changes, whatever that means. So, could 2012 be the last year of life as we know it?
Growing up in the eighties, whether by nuclear winter, celestial cataclysm, economic crisis, or a machine uprising, the future seemed very bleak indeed. But guess what, the future has come to pass. For most of these scenarios, what was once a dark future has already come and gone, and mankind is still here and still going strong. That is unless this world is all an illusion and we are all now stuck inside The Matrix.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
February 10, 2012 · No Comments
Happy Valentines Day from the Odinson,
Romance is in the air. As in the real world, romance plays a huge part in the worlds of sci-fi/fantasy and fiction. From the moment Princess Leia called Han Solo a scruffy-looking nerf herder, the sparks were flying and the hottest couple in a galaxy far, far away was born. So what makes a good romance? Passion, excitement, caring, loyalty, understanding, love…
There has to be a fire, an unquenchable need between two people to be together. Take Bella and Edward for instance. In the Twilight Saga these two are drawn to each other like magnets. Obstacle after obstacle arises but nothing is going to keep them apart. Not revenge-seeking vampires, hunky werewolf boys, not even death can separate these two. Love can be tragic. Take Bruce Banner and Betty Ross for instance. These two were born to love each other but Banner must be careful, for every time his emotions bubble to the surface he transforms into the monster the world has come to know as the Hulk. The Hulk is a creature fueled by rage, thus making him a danger to those around him. So until Banner can find a cure for his “Hulk problem,” he cannot be with the woman he loves. Cue the sad piano music. Cupid also has a funny sense of humor. The Marvel Universe’s embodiment of Death is madly in love with the Merc with a Mouth, but due to his extreme healing powers, Deadpool cannot die, thus preventing these two lovebirds from ever being together. On the flip side of that morbid coin, Thanos the Mad Titan loves Death so much that he is willing to annihilate half the population in existence in order to win her favor (see Infinity Gauntlet).
Love and the promise of romance will make a man do almost anything. Do you think Link would face the dangers of the quest for the Triforce or Mario would take on the minions of Bowser if Princess Zelda and Princess Toadstool weren’t worth it? Love can overcome the power of the Matrix. Or it can topple the walls of Troy. Just ask the mighty King Kong how far one will go for love.
There are many, many great couples in the history of fiction. Tarzan and Jane, Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, Mickey and Minnie Mouse… Here are the Odinson’s favorite romances.
Superman and Lois Lane – He is the Last Son of Krypton and the world’s greatest super hero. She is a award-wining investigative star reporter for the Daily Planet, the most renowned newspaper in the city of Metropolis. Doing whatever it takes to get the scoop on a story, she has a knack for getting into trouble, and he has a knack for saving her life. He’s a farmboy from Smallville U.S.A. and she’s a big city girl with street smarts coming out of her ears. For years and years she was known as Superman’s Girlfriend. That was until the day they tied the knot (see The Wedding and Beyond). Now, in the wake of DC Comics: The New 52, the Man of Steel and Lois Lane are no longer married and the future is wide-open. Will these two find each other again, or is one of the biggest romances of the 20th Century truly over?
Spider-Man and Mary Jane – He was the nerdy introverted science genius that got picked on in high school and she was the outgoing party girl and most popular girl in school. They grew up as neighbors and became close friends. He is a masked super hero that saves the city on a regular basis and she knows his biggest secret. For years they seemed to never be on the same track as far as romance is concerned, then one day it all fell into place. It took the death of a friend and the harrowing events of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine to make Peter Park realize that he needed MJ in his life. So, in Amazing Spider-Man #290, he proposed to her. And in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 they were married. For years she was the rock in his life. Then, during Civil War, when in a moment of what can only be described as dumb, Peter Parker revealed to the world that he was in fact Spider-Man. It did not take long for those close to him to come under fire. Aunt May was gunned down and in order to save her life, Peter and MJ, in an ill-conceived deal with Mephisto, were forced to give up that which is most important to them…their love (see One More Day). Much like Superman and Lois Lane, now Spider-Man and Mary Jane are single and exploring other avenues. But there will come a day when they do find each once again for that’s the power of true love.
Buffy and Angel – This is a match that could only happen on the Hellmouth. She is the vampire slayer. He is a vampire. Angel is cursed with a soul. This makes him feel guilt for all the horrible acts he committed for over a century as a soulless monster. Even worse, if Angel were to feel a moment of true happiness he would lose his soul again and revert to the monstrous fiend he once was. This being a world created by Joss Whedon, Buffy and Angel fall in love and he obtains that moment of true happiness in her arms and reverts back into Angelus, becoming one of Buffy’s most dangerous villains. In order to save the world, Buffy must kill the man she loves and send him to hell. Shakespeare’s got nothing on a good Whedon tragedy. Angel has since returned from hell, soul intact, but he is forced to leave Sunnydale and the woman he loves behind for fear of him losing his soul again.
There are two moments in these star-crossed lovers’ history that really encapsulate their tragic romance for me. At the end of Episode 7: Angel of Season 1 of BtVS Angel and Buffy kiss and he has just the slightest look of pain on his face. She asks him if it hurts. He tells her a little. The camera pans back slightly to reveal that the cross she wears around her neck has burned an imprint into his chest. This is a beautiful, albeit sad, metaphor for why these two people should not be together. The second moment is in Season 1 of Angel Episode 8: I will Remember You. Angel becomes human and for the first time ever he and Buffy can be together as a man and woman without the fear of any curse. But her destiny as the slayer and his as a Champion of mankind is more important to the world than their love. So Angel makes a sacrifice to the Powers that Be and time is rewound 24 hours to before his change. The heart-breaking thing is that only Angel remembers that one perfect day they spent together. These poor kids can’t seem to catch a break.
Cyclops and Jean Grey – He started out as a skinny shy kid that grew to become the confident and capable leader of an entire race. She was a star student that one day became arguably the most powerful force in the universe. So powerful was their love for each other that they shared a psychic link. When Jean was possessed by the Phoenix Force she succumbed to its power and became the greatest threat the Marvel U has ever known. And she sacrificed her life in order to save the galaxy (see the classic Dark Phoenix Saga). Cyclops would fall in love with a woman that turned out to be a clone of Jean Grey and they had a son together. Their son would grow up to become the man called Cable. Later it was discovered that Jean was still alive (see Return of Jean Grey). Scott and Jean soon rekindled their romance and even got married in X-Men #30. But the good times were not meant to last as the maniac Xorn, disguised as Magneto, murdered Jean Grey, and Scott was forced to deal with the loss of the woman he loved a second time (see New X-Men by Grant Morrison Vol. 7). Cyclops has found solace in the arms of Emma Frost but with the approach of the Phoenix Force in the pages of AVX….
Wow, I just realized that these romances I’ve pointed out are all pretty tragic in one way or another. And none of them seem to have had that happy ending that we were all promised in Cinderella. When it comes to comics, why does romance and tragedy seem to walk hand-in-hand? But I submit this. Romance is also about perseverance. And won’t it be that much more triumphant when Superman and Lois Lane, Spider-Man and Mary Jane, Buffy and Angel, and Cyclops and Phoenix somehow, no matter what the odds, find their way back into each other’s arms. When is comes to love I believe Westley from The Princess Bride said it best when he said, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
February 03, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Avengers Academy #25 dealt the Odinson a blow more powerful than a right cross from the Hulk. Hybrid, an old enemy of Rom the Spaceknight, is taking the next generation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to task. Not even with the help of their instructors, Hawkeye, Tigra, and Giant Man, do the kids of Avengers Academy seem to have a chance against this extremely powerful menace. As all their attempts to subdue Hybrid fail, one after the other, the kids begin to wonder how anyone has ever defeated this monster before. Giant Man tells them of a great hero (Rom) who was able to subdue Hybrid in the past. The kids say, “Great! Let’s get him here.” And here’s the bombshell. Giant Man says they can’t because “he’s dead.”
NOOOOOOO! Have all my hopes and dreams of one day seeing the mighty Rom grace the pages of Marvel Comics been crushed?
I say thee, Nay!
As any of us know, heroes do not stay dead in the comics. If Bucky and Jason Todd can come back to life, then anyone can. Once again, Avengers Academy #25 is an example of the House of Ideas just teasing us. But the Odinson shall not lose hope and I shall continue to put out the call until the glorious return of Rom comes to pass.
Now on to the Big News of the week...
DC Comics dropped a bombshell of their own when they announced that this summer they will be unveiling a mega event project called Before Watchmen. BW will be comprised of 35 issues of Watchmen prequels in seven miniseries and a 1-shot. Wow! Now there is so much going on here I hardly know where to begin. First off, the creative teams DC has assigned to this Herculean task are amazing to say the least. It’s a Who’s Who of industry giants. These prequels include a 4-issue Dr. Manhattan series which will be helmed by J. Michael Straczynski (Superman Earth-1) and Adam Hughes (Ghost); a 6-issue Minutemen series by Darwyn Cooke (New Frontier), a 6-issue Comedian series Brian Azzarello (Joker) and J.G. Jones (Final Crisis); a 4-issue Rorschach series by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and Lee Bermejo (Joker); a 4-issue Nite Owl series by J. Michael Straczynski (Thor), Andy Kubert (Batman) and Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock); Ozymandias (6 issues) by Len Wein (Swamp Thing) and Jae Lee (Dark Tower); and Silk Spectre (4 issues) by Darwyn Cooke (Parker) and Amanda Conner (Power Girl). With names like these, at least the fanboys and girls will get their money’s worth.
Make no mistake…these creators are not taking this project lightly. They know, as well as the rest of the comics community, the gravitas a project like this is going to take. Darwyn Cooke said it best that this will be a polarizing project. There will be a group of people in support of exploring some of these stories, and there will be another group completely against this undertaking. The original creators - writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons – have both chimed in with their opinions on the matter. Gibbons, though he thinks the original should stand on its own, wishes the project success. Moore…well, Moore simply called the project “shameless.” The long feud between DC Comics and the accomplished scribe is no secret.
Personally, I’m on the fence about Before Watchmen. On the one hand, Watchmen is a masterpiece and stands on its own with a beginning, middle, and end. The material leaves very few questions unanswered. But on the other hand, these characters are really cool and it will be nice to see some of the events only talked about or alluded to during the original story, much like the opening montage of the Watchmen movie did. It showed the viewer things only talked about in the original comic. That being said, it will be hard to find the drama and emotional investment for these tales, especially when, as the reader, you already know where the journey will ultimately end for these characters.
See? I’m torn.
I think ultimately this will be a success and worth it in the end. The creative teams assembled are second to none and they know the magnitude and the responsibility of the endeavor they have taken upon themselves. They will do the material justice and prove that no characters are untouchable.
How quickly and quietly would comics have faded away into obscurity if the only people who could tell the stories of characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were their creators. Just think of all the decades of wonderful stories we would have missed out on. Hey, if Before Watchmen is no good, then the nay sayers can wag their fingers and say, “I told you so.” But if BW is good (and I think it will be), then we gain another wonderful chapter in a classic tale that redefined the medium.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell