Today we got the sad news that comic book legend Len Wein passed away at the age of 69. Len was most well know for co-creating The Swamp Thing, X-Men’s Colossus, Storm, Night Crawler oh and another character you might know… yeah, just a guy called ‘Wolverine’.
Those are some serious heavyweights. He worked closely with the likes of Berni Wrightson & Alan Moore as well on The Watchmen. He made an incredible footprint in the world of comics, thanks Len for all of the amazing adventures you’ve taken us all on…RIP
Over the years we all have enjoyed and sometimes hated the giant “epic” multi title crossovers and mini-series that are so damn popular these days. However some of my personal favorite comic book stories are short and sweet. They often times have nothing to do with the major story arc you’re currently reading in that title and especially back in the 70’s & 80’s these self contained stories that had a beginning and end to them all in one book were sometimes more heavy hitting than any crossover could ever be. So I’ll be showcasing some of my favorites and the first one that came to mind might be my favorite of them all.
Flash back to 1986 when X-Men #205 hit the shelves. This issue is easily one of the best Wolverine stories of all time, and it’s all in just one issue. A brilliant epic crafted by Chris Claremont and Barry Windsor Smith remains one of the darkest and most brutal issues of X-men to date. Let me clarify that this was during a time when Wolverine was rarely seen in solo adventures and the character was still deeply mysterious.
The story was called “Wounded Wolf” and featured Lady Deathstrike’s first appearance as a super freaky ass cyborg as well as her three Reaver mercenary minions. It also featured Katie Powers from the mutant kid team ‘Power Pack’ who during a snow storm encounters Wolverine who’s beaten to a pulp, covered in blood and nearly naked. Soon the two of them are both on the run from Lady Deathstrike and her cyborgs who’re out for bloody revenge. It reminds of a Wolverine movie storyboard Ridley Scott might have anticipated directing in the 80’s. Continue reading
Holy Hell! I’ve got to make some time here to give some props to Hugh Jackman’s “last” run as Wolverine! I know everyone and their mom, dad & parakeet are talking about how great this movie is and yeah I agree it’s a glorious final chapter. They finally took the gloves off and let Wolverine be Wolverine. I find it funny how damn long it takes Hollywood to figure out what us comic book fanatics knew way back in the year 2000. We want our Wolverine to be a savage lil’ a-hole and you just can’t really do it with a PG-13 rating. So as you know by now obviously Logan is bloody, gritty and tonally different than any of the other movies. It’s a no BS affair, it’s personal and it has real heart. There are no giant CG robots or even a weak ass version of Sabretooth anywhere in sight. Nope Wolverine here is a cussin’, drinkin’, pissed off SOB and it’s great to finally see him the way he was more or less supposed to be all along. Sure he’s older and weaker here but hey I’ll take what I can get dammit!
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier is amazing and so is Dafne Keen’s X-23. They both nearly steal the thunder from Logan time and time again throughout the movie. By now you’ve likely heard it ALL and probably seen the movie. It’s great and I’ll see it again, soon. BUT, yes there is a but here and it needs to be addressed (SPOILERS AHEAD). My biggest problem with ‘Logan’ was it’s villain/villains. That’s not to say I didn’t dig Donald Pierce and his Reavers, they were forgettably fine but let’s be honest they could have been AMAZING. When I heard that they were going up against Wolverine in this final flick I was fucking thrilled. The Reavers could have and should have been a seriously scary force to be reckoned with.
Sure Donald Pierce had a dinky lil’ cybernetic hand but he could have been a lot more like his counterpart from the comics with four cybernetic limbs & superhuman strength. They failed to make him a truly deadly opponent and the rest of The Reavers should have been modeled after the legendary comic book team. Imagine the original Reavers with an even deadlier Lady Deathstrike back again looking more like comic book counterpart. It should have been Logan and co taking on serious threats more similar to ‘The Terminator’. That would have been amazing. They missed an opportunity to really bring us the psychotic cyborgs we deserved to see. They gave us a lot of throwaway soldiers for him and x-23 to mow down sure, but none of them served any other purpose than just that.
The real threat here was X-24, a villain that to me felt as about exciting as “Deadpool” from X-men Origins: Wolverine. I was really disappointed to see a Hugh Jackman ‘clone’ as the big bad muscle of the movie. That was a serious mis-step in my opinion. I only say this because we could have gotten any number of amazing Wolverine villains in his place. Imagine for a second that their secret weapon was Omega Red?! Or Cyber? Daken? Razorfist? Heck even a bigger badder version of Sabretooth would have been welcome.
My point being we really didn’t need any of them, we already had Donald Pierce and The Reavers. They could have supplied us with all sorts of frightening cybernetic mayhem. Instead they went the overused “fight your clone / fight yourself” route. Ahhh well what can I say, I am a picky comic book bastard. It just irritates me that they got so close to me having to just shut the fuck up and admit perfection. At least they finally got ol’ Wolvie right. It took them seventeen years to figure it all out and I’m damn glad they did. This is clearly a groundbreaking movie that’ll change the way comic book movies are made from this point on. Don’t get me wrong I give ‘Logan’ a solid A-, but in the future though let’s give the same care to the villains as we do to the heroes cuz a hero’s only as good as his villain! Oh yeah one more thing I highly doubt this is the last time we’ll see Mr. Jackman in the role of Logan, this movie is a box office smash and we all know money talks…why stop now anyway when you finally figured it all out?!!
Marvel Comics Presents was a cool anthology series from 1988 that really kickstarted the first Wolverine solo series that same year. This started one of my favorite eras of the character where he took the nickname “Patch” and hung out on the mythical island of Madripoor for some truly grand adventure.
Marvel Comics Presents #1 features the start of the ‘Save The Tiger’ storyline, which is pretty awesome and has some great artwork by John Buscema and features Wolverine going up against the classic Shang-Chi villain Razorfirst. The series featured four, eight page stories from four different superheroes Wolverine remaining at the forefront for most of it’s run.
This particular cover was always a favorite of mine, features some awesome artwork by Walt Simonson and has Wolverine, Shang-Chi, a gigantic Man-Thing and the Silver Surfer. It’s a full cover front and back. What a great cast and an epic cover from a great era!
Rob Liefeld has gotten a TON of shit over the years for his highly critiqued artwork filled with bad perspective, highly exaggerated body parts, weird looking feet ect. etc. etc. Yeah we all have seen the criticisms of the guy, who at one point was basically a “rockstar” comic book artist in the 1990’s. I’ve never been a fan of his artwork, in fact a lot of his 90’s stuff (and many other artists from that era) has always made me cringe. Putting all of that aside, the guy had and still does have a ton of people who are big fans of his style. The dude is legendary whether you like it or not, so that leads me to do a little digging and give Liefeld some credit when he does some good work. All of his artwork isn’t all bad right? Well I’m going to use my ‘Comic Book Cover of the Week’ posts to showcase some of, in my opinion, Liefeld’s “hits”. Here’s a cover by him that I always thought was actually pretty good. I especially like the way Liefeld drew Sabretooth, nice and evil looking in New Mutants #91. Liefeld doesn’t do anything too outrageous here (there may be a missing chin), I think on this one he actually did a pretty decent job. He keeps everyone’s feet nice and hidden as well….What do you think?
Remember when Wolverine was truly awesome?! No? Well it’s been a long while since Wolverine was a mysterious, weird looking, bar brawlin’, little runt with indestructible razor sharp claws. Now he’s Old Man Logan because X-23 is the female Wolverine. Now he’s been in a bunch of mainstream movies with a tall, hot, hunky leading man playing him. He’s been way overexposed over the years so Marvel could fully cash in on big time profits. He’s hardly a mysterious character anymore. Wolverine is much like say, the band Metallica in 2016, a watered down, bland, tired version of the badass metal band they were in the 1980’s. Wolverine however didn’t always used to be this way believe it or not way back when he was the epitome of cool. He was so damn awesome back in the 1980’s even the indie comics couldn’t come up with a character who was half as kick ass as ol’ Logan. Yep Marvel had their shit fully together and they knew it. Back in the 1980’s the X-men were something special and over the years they’ve become a gang of predictable, mega mainstream pop culture icons. Well back when Wolverine was a scary dude the X-Men was really the only place you could find this character monthly until 1989 when he finally got his own series. Here’s an example of how awesome the character was in the 80’s. Another amazing cover from the master Barry Windsor Smith….
I have been pretty open about the fact that I really don’t read any Marvel Comics anymore these days and part of the problem for me is that they just intrigue me the way they used to even a decade ago. I guess I was inspired to write my thoughts here as a bit of a response to the recent news that now Tony Stark will be retired as Iron Man soon. That’s fine by me but It seems that Marvel just can’t stop changing their classic characters races and genders. Now don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s always been an interesting concept to take a character like Iron Man even back in the 1980’s & have James Rhodes take over the suit or Bucky & The Falcon taking over the mantle of Captain America. However more recently it appears that Marvel is on a mission to change up nearly every classic character’s identity in some way shape or form. I mean the Fucking Hulk has even changed into The Totally Awesome Hulk with Amadeus Cho as the alter ego.
I totally understand that Marvel is trying go a long with current social issues by trying to incorporate more diversity into their comic books. I really do commend them for the effort but after numerous changes to the gender, race and identities of Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Wolverine and now Iron Man (there are likely more) it’s beginning to seem like Marvel has just run out of good stories for their classics. Or perhaps people indeed are really fucking bored with the traditional Marvel universe? Marvel these days seems more worried about what race and gender their classic character’s are than giving people truly intriguing stories.
I don’t mind a little change up here and there, in fact I totally dig it (heck I loved when Heather Hudson took on the role of Vindicator and lead Alpha Flight-it was a smooth, intelligent totally righteous transition) but it seems that Marvel has largely forgotten that they could simply bring more existing characters into the limelight rather than giving all of their classics a brand new identity? I think it’d be equally exciting to get some some brand new superheroes on the shelf rather than constantly changing the classics. I know times have changed and more people than ever read comics, it’s not just the stereotypical geeky men of yesteryear buying them up, so naturally they may want to rethink their strategy. I get it.
It’s actually become somewhat of a predictable move for Marvel in 2016, deciding to ditch Tony Stark and reboot a new series with a female Iron Man but (a bit odd to still call the book “The Invincible Iron Man” with a female lead, it must be because they don’t want to risk losing any money ditching the name?). I don’t think it’s really that odd of an idea for a woman to design her own Iron Man armor and start kicking ass. Though it seems like Marvel might trying a tad too hard to be relevant in 2016. We all know controversy does sell quite well…
For me there has always been a lot of pleasure in picking up a comic book and reading stories that take me away from our daily routines, media trends, political ideals, online debates and reality in general. I want as much diversity in comics as possible but it’s not feeling real genuine to me these days from the big Marvel cash machine doing anything it can to make a quick buck. I’ve heard as well the debates now heating up about the race and gender of the writers and that they’ve got to match the characters of the comic book they are writing…At some point I think all of this becomes a bit of a drag.
We’re talking about characters that were intended for kids that now have become somewhat of hot button for everyone and their mother & father to get all up in arms about. The landscape of comic books has changed quite a bit over the years and at least Marvel’s approach feels like they’re desperately trying to fit in. Perhaps it’s true people are tired of the old gang of Tony Starks and Bruce Banners. Perhaps their story has already been told and feels tired but I’m hoping Marvel will at some point settle on “who’s who” and let us all just get on with some incredible superhero stories. What do you think? Are you bored with the classic characters? Is Marvel setting bold new trends? Let me know what you think!