Monday, June 27, 2011

Trades I Waited For (Pt 2): Wolverine: Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today

Nothing in comics is ever simple, is it? I pretty much live and breathe the damn things, and I still have to spend time on the Internet trying to figure out which trades to read in which order if I want to follow a particular character, storyline or creative team.

Take the Jason Aaron/Ron Garney team on Wolverine for example. Not Wolverine, the comic book series, which the Aaron at least now works on, but the character Wolverine. Aaron and Garney actually started a new Wolverine book called Wolverine: Weapon X in 2009, which was, at the time, the third Wolverine monthly. But after 16 issues of that, Marvel canceled the title and moved Aaron and Garney to plain old Wolverine.

So, naturally, if you wanted to read Aaron’s Wolverine comics, you have to look for volumes of two different series (so far!) with Aaron's byline on the spine, and maybe two sets of volume numbers.

God only knows how civilians ever figure this shit out, and why they bother to read “graphic novels” with double-colon titles like Wolverine: Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today.

Me? I read it because I read the similarly double-coloned Wolverine: Weapon X: The Adamantium Men, thought it was a blast and wanted to read more comics like it. (Looking to see if I wrote a review of that on EDILW or not, I stumbled upon a review for the Aaron/Garney Wolverine: Get Mystique trade instead. That was a story arc from Wolverine, so I guess to follow Aaron’s run you’d go one volume of a Wolverine trade, then three of Wolverine: Weapon X trades and then back to a plain old Wolverine series…?).

This is the third and final arc of the short-lived Aaron/Garney Weapon X: Wolverine series; I skipped the second one (Insane in the Brain) after a quick flip-through, because Wolverine in an off-brand Arkham Asylum (I believe Aaron even called it the Dunwich Sanatorium) wasn’t really of interest.

The title story is five issues long, and comprises the bulk of this volume. It’s a strange story in that it’s not really a Wolverine story, although it begins with him and he plays a fairly big role in the conclusion; it’s actually a Deathlok story.

Actually, it’s a Terminator story, only Marvelized to use the publisher’s cyborg from the future instead of the ones from the successful film franchise.

I was kind of shocked at how Terminator-like the actual proceedings really were, as it seemed to go far beyond simple homage or even an extensive parody; it’s simply a riff on a conceit from a very famous and very popular movie that I assume everyone who reads this trade will be quite familiar with, and have a hard time not thinking about constantly.

Here’s the basic plot: Deathloks from the future time-travel back to the present in order to wipe out their enemies before they can become a threat, this includes snuffing out a silly superhero on his first night on the job, taking down various Marvel characters and killing a woman who will eventually help lead the resistance, before she even knows she will. Wolverine will play a role fighting against the Deathloks in the future, after he’s lost both hands and thus is no longer able to shave himself or change clothes, forcing him to grow a silly beard spend the rest of his unnaturally long life wearing his yellow X-Men costume.Therefore, a woman who is having voices form the future beamed back to her seeks out the younger, two-handed Wolverine to warn him that Deathloks are killing folks, and he’ll need the help of The (New, I think) Avengers to fight them.

So that happens for a whole lot of issues, and Aaron offers up some drama regarding the main Deathlok’s struggle against his own programming and some fun or funny scenes(I kinda liked the one where Spider-Man teases The Thing for a panel) but it’s mostly just Deathlok-fighting. Cool Deathlok fighting, to be sure, but Deathlok fighting nonetheless. (Man, I sure have typed the world “Deathlok” an awful lot today).

There are two more stories included in the volume. One is a nicely done done-in-one by Aaron and guest artist Davide Gianfelice, in which Wolverine reflects on the death of his friend Nightcrawler, whom we know was Wolverine’s friend (even if we know fuck-all about the X-Men) because he appeared in the first issue collected here.

It’s a pretty good story; tightly constructed, no scene, panel or dialogue wasted, and the character learns a lesson or two throughout the proceedings.

It’s also really funny, and I assume much of the humor was intentional.

I’m not sure about this bit here though:The contrast between “giving people hope” and having a four-fingered Alien hand sticking out of your chest is just too loud for me to do anything other than snort at (Presumably if one reads the actual comic in which Nightcrawler dies, there’s a little more gravity to it).

Just as Wolverine is asking God for a sign, and angel appears to him–but it’s not an angel, it’s just his pal, Angel, who looks like an angel. He tells Wolvie about the reading of Nightcrawler’s will, and how Nightcrawler left a special task for Wolverine to complete in the event of his death—he was to deliver a big, heavy, expensive grand piano to a virtually impossible to reach church on top of a tall mountain in the middle of an impenetarable jungle.

I thought Wolverine was sort of cheating at the beginning,but eventually his cheating little hover-thingees malfunciton and he’s doing this to get up the mountain:Which, okay, whatever, that’s pretty funny. Does Wolverine have super-strength now? I didn’t think so, but I’ve heard it argued on the Internet that he must in order to cut through steel doors and brick walls and such with his claws, since he would need to be able to generate the force to push his claws through all that material, no matter how sharp they were.

At any rate, the ability to tow pianos while climbing a sheer cliff wall isn’t one I normally associate with the character as much as I might, say, the aforementioned Thing or Spider-Man.

The task gives Wolvie a lot of time to think, and he does; mostly about Nightcrawler and the conversations about God and faith and Wolvie’s habit of totally killing people all the time that they’ve had over the years.

Gianfelice’s artwork is a sharp departure from Garney’s, but it’s a fine art, and even a welcome departure, as it so strongly designates a shift in story and tone. It’s fill-in art used well too, this being a one-issue story and all. His Wolverine is smaller and thinner than Garney’s, but the artist has as chunkier, bolder line, and he imbues his figures with strong emotions, not only in their facial expressions, but also in the posture and the strength with which he draws the lines they’re made out of.

I liked it a lot.

Finally, the volume also includes the one-shot Dark Reign: The List—Wolverine #1, which seems remarkably out of place. I suppose it belongs somewhere in Marvel’s collection of Aaron’s Wolverine comics, as he did indeed write it, but the story occurs well before the events of “Tomorrow Dies Today,” and it just seems tacked on (A character in "Tomorrow" apparently first appeared in The List one-shot, and briefly refers to the events in it).

It was also kind of weird to see in here simply because I had already read a trade collecting it, The List.

I liked it the first time I read it, in The List trade, and I liked it upon this second reading as well although, as I said, it seemed a strange place to find it.

5 comments:

Mark said...

If only it were so simple to follow Aaron's Wolverine run in trade! You also need "X-Men: Manifest Destiny" (not to be confused with "Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny"). It fits in between "Get Mystique" and the Weapon X books.

Akilles said...

I don`t understand why wolvie doesn`t
tell someone to give him robot fingers, or change his clothes. Maybe he just wants to show everyone how tough he is, as usual...

So...Nigthcrawler`s dead. Phuuh...
Well, his death spawned guite a nice story (meaning the one in this collection), so I guess that there really shouldn`t be so much complaining from me. So I won`t complain.

Andrei said...

Caleb,

I enjoy your blog quite a bit and find myself reading it on a near-daily basis. I totally get your ongoing frustration with publishing decisions made by Marvel and DC and how they seem to alienate new readers. And, after reading this post, yeah it's a mindfuck of a situation if you're trying to follow the adventures of Wolverine by this particular creative team. That all being said, part of what appealed to me about comics when I was a new reader is that there was so much back story to read up on and that there were confusing things like crossovers and retcons that I had to get used to in order to be up on a character's history. It was like a giant, decades-spanning puzzle that I was dying to sort out. Granted, characters didn't have so many ongoing titles and miniseries back then but stuff was still challenging and complicated to follow but it was all part of the fun.

John Foley said...

Yes, Wolverine has super-strength. It's not very clearly defined, but he does have it. I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: in issue #158 of Uncanny X-Men there's a scene where Wolverine punches Rogue through a thick concrete wall in the Pentagon. I imagine the Pentagon has pretty strong walls, plus Rogue was flying toward Wolverine at the time, and he was still recovering from having his powers drained by a Rogue kiss. In spite of these factors he punched her clean through the wall. That sounds like a pretty decent amount of strength to me.

LINK

Matt Duarte said...

I love Jason Aaron's run on Wolverine. Yeah, it was convoluted as fuck to follow through different series. As far as I can tell it goes in this order...

Wolverine (Get Mystique) > Wolverine: Manifest Destiny > Wolverine: Weapon X (3 trades) > Wolverine (1 trade out, ongoing)

Along the way was the one-shot you mentioned, and there's also Astonishing Wolverine/Spider-Man, which is loads of cracking fun. It's very much more lighthearted old school fun than Weapon X, and if you liked Spidey's appearance in this trade, you will enjoy Aaron writing him for six issues traveling through time and space.