Wolverine: Get Mystique collects a 2008 four-issue arc from Marvel’s Wolverine title, by the creative team of Jason Aaaron and Ron Garney. I believe it’s their first collaboration on the character, although certainly not their last. The following year, they launched Wolverine: Weapon X, a third (or fourth, if you count First Class) Wolverine ongoing monthly, which I can only assume is a really great Wolverine comic book—it’s one that I really, really enjoyed reading anyway, which isn’t my usual reaction to Wolverine comics.
The story arc apparently deals with the fallout of a plot point in a big X-cross-over story, although I only know this because there’s a scene of Cyclops and Wolverine talking about the need to get Mystique in retaliation for her betrayal that begins with a little editorial box noting “See X-Men #207, ‘Messiah Complex, Part 13’ —Editor.”
Not that that is at all important. The title quite clearly explains the premise of the story. It’s about Wolverine, out to get Mystique. Perhaps some more history with the characters and what’s going on at the moment of time the story was produced in enhances the experience, but it doesn’t really need enhancement.
Mystique screwed over the X-Men, and it falls on Wolverine, the X-person who kills bad guys, to find her, catch her and kill her. Since her super-power is the ability to change shape, she’s pretty good and running away, and since Wolverine’s superpowers include being able to sniff her out, to recover from any wound and to more or less forever, he’s pretty good at getting those who don’t want to be gotten, giving the story a pretty dramatic sense of inevitability—it’s less a matter of if, and more of a matter of when and how.
Inevitably should suck some of the drama out of a premise, but few writers working in super-comics today are as adept at Aaron when it comes to thinking up particularly creative, inspired mayhem, and he keeps the chase-fight-chase-fight formula of the story remarkably fresh throughout.
Crafty and apparently free of scruples, Mystique uses her shape-shifting powers not to trick Wolverine, but to trick others into fighting Wolverine for her. In one instance, she appears as a nun, surrounds herself with actual war orphans and leaves it to Wolverine to figure out how to stab a nun to death in front of her orphans and a U.S. army base full of armed witnesses.
More satisfyingly, Mystique—well, Aaron–managed to trick me as a reader on at least one occasion, and that is just one of several reversals in the story, which ultimately creates a pretty thrilling tension. Everything says it’s going to end this way, and it does, but did you expect this to happen? Or this?
And like that.
I’ve really grown quite fond of Ron Garney’s artwork over the years, and here he’s handling both pencils and inks. He boasts old-school comics story-telling chops, and just enough of an expressive, exaggerated style to give a sheen of melodrama and superheroics to his subject matter which is, here, mostly violence, people about to engage in violence, and people recovering from violence.
It’s worth noting that Wolverine’s is the only spandex costume in the piece—well, Cyclops wears one, but he’s only in the book for two pages—so Garney is working with very real-world settings and costumes, through a variety of time periods and locations. The book begins in 1921 Mexico, and follows two threads—Wolverine and Mystique’s first relationship traveling around 1920s America, and their current conflict, which takes them from Iran to Afghanistan to Iraq.
He does a fine job with all the shifts, and manages to pull off Aaron’s most over-the-top moments in a way that sells them without watering them down.
It’s a really fun, really exciting Wolverine story, and for all intents and purposes could be labeled Wolverine: Weapon X Vol. 0, for how well it compliments the Aaron/Garney work that followed it.
Question time! I've got two of 'em for the X-Men x-perts in the reading audience after reading this.
1.) As I mentioned, this story opens in 1921, which is apparently when Wolverine first met Mystique. So Wolverine's not the only mutant that's been alive for generations before Professor X founded the X-Men, I take it? How does that work exactly, and doesn't it kind of muck up the X-Men mythology a bit? I always thought that the X-gene/mutation/whatever was activated by humanity's experiments with atomic energy, and thus mutants were a product of the Cold War, and didn't really exist before that, with a few notable exceptions (Namor, if he's a "mutant" in the same way the X-folks are mutants, and Wolverine, after Origincame out anyway...of course, Apocalypse has been around a while too, huh?)
2.) In the scene where Cyclops asks Wolverine to go after Mystique, the former tells the latter, "You understand, I'm not asking you to bring her in, right? Not breathing, at least." Isn't that pretty unusual for Cyclops? It was always my understanding—and I could be totally wrong about this—that what set Wolvie apart from the rest of the X-Men was that he was willing to kill his opponents, something the rest of the gang frowned upon and tried to reign in/put a stop to. Cyclops essentially putting a hit out on a villain is sort of a big departure for the character, isn't it?