torsdag den 26. april 2012

Strip-mining Wolverine

How he got the adamantium bones and the false memory-implants.

In 1988, Wolverine received his own ongoing series while still appearing in Uncanny X-Men. “I’m not surprised (Wolverine) became so popular because he is a really cool guy,” former X-Men artist John Byrne told Back Issue #4. “I wish he hadn’t gotten his own series. I think he’s kind of like a lot of Marvel characters – I always think of the Vision, who’s another really cool character, but who’s mostly cool because he’s in a group of people who aren’t like him. And Wolverine is the same – he’s in a group of people who aren’t like him, and therefore he’s really cool. But if you take him out of that environment, then there’s no checks, no balances, nothing for him to bounce off. Then you just have a homicidal maniac running around killing people.”

“If I’d had my way, there would have been no ongoing series at all, but instead an annual mini-series with a defined beginning, middle and end,” X-Men writer Chris Claremont agreed to “The problem with an ongoing title is that you must provide perpetual grist for the mill. With a solo character, it’s only a matter of time before the temptation becomes irresistible to strip-mine those aspects of his history and character which make him so interesting and mysterious in the first place.”

“A retailer recently told me, “If the audience wants 25 Wolverine series, give them 25 Wolverine series. Stuff the product down their throat like a goose, until they pop,”” Claremont recalled in Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. “This doesn’t work because to me – I wanted to keep the work vital, I wanted to keep the creators interested and I wanted to keep the audience interested, but also I wanted to keep as much of the structural integrity of the canon as possible. This isn’t possible when you have Wolverine appearing regularly in X-Men, his own series and Marvel Comics Presents, plus guest-starring in Secret Defenders, whatever. I mean, for a guy who is fundamentally a loner, he gets around.”

Landau, Luckman & Lake
Claremont introduced the villains Roughouse and Bloodscream in Wolverine vol.2 #4 in 1989. By their speech patterns, it was obvious that they were from Asgard, yet subsequent writer Archie Goodwin established Roughouse as a human in Wolverine vol.2 #17-23 from 1989-1990, and in Wolverine vol.2 #78 from 1994 Larry Hama established Bloodscream as a vampire from the Medieval Age. Years later, in the 2008 Iron Man: Director Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Annual #1 written by Christos N. Gage, they were back to being Asgardians.

Claremont then introduced the company Landau, Luckman & Lake in Wolverine vol.2 #5 in 1989. The local expediter, Chang, had a picture of Wolverine and himself from the 19th century hanging on the wall in the Madripoor office.

Wolverine and Jubilee visited Landau, Luckman & Lake’s Hong Kong office in Uncanny X-Men #257 in 1990 where the local expediter, Rose Wu, also had a picture of Wolverine and herself on the wall, but this one was apparently taken in the future.

In Wolverine vol.2 #97 in 1996, subsequent writer Larry Hama interpreted the pictures as Landau, Luckman & Lake being an interdimensional company with doorways to other dimensions in each office. In Wolverine vol.2 #97, he also suggested that Rose Wu was a shapeshifer. Writer Howard Mackie filled in the story behind the pictures in the 1996 Logan: Path Of The Warlord one-shot.

In Wolverine vol.2 #5, Wolverine had ordered a costume from Chang for “a colleague,” who turned out to be Psylocke, who started wearing the costume in Uncanny X-Men #232 in 1988. It was revealed that the costume wasn’t of earthly origins when it was used to defeat Bloodscream. The origin of the costume remains unrevealed.

“As it stands now there are plans to bring Jean Grey in for an issue to do a “Casablanca”-type story,” editor Bob Harras revealed in Marvel Age #78. “We also have plans for Archangel to battle Wolverine. It’s, basically, anyone we can get to Madripoor.”

Those stories never appeared, however, as Chris Claremont left the series in 1989 with issue #10.



Weapon X

When the X-Men met X-Factor during the 1989 Inferno crossover, the former X-Man Angel had been transformed into Archangel by the villain Apocalypse. In Uncanny X-Men #242, Wolverine subconsciously recognized Apocalypse’s scent on Archangel, which brought forth memories of pain in Wolverine.

In 1991 Barry Windsor-Smith wrote and drew a Weapon X serial in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84. “Wolverine’s adamantium heritage had never been explored, so I aimed at that device,” Windsor-Smith told Wizard Tribute To Wolverine. “After I created several Weapon X stories, I had a conversation with Chris Claremont in which he told me that he had always intended for Apocalypse to be the villain behind the adamantium experiment. For no reason other than courtesy to Chris, I devised the situation where the professor in the story was taking his orders from a higher-up. Despite this hindrance to my plot, I felt it best to give Chris the chance to eventually fulfill his wish to have Apocalypse be the real villain behind the adamantium experiment. Chris never got the chance to do his ultimate origin for Wolverine, but know that whenever the professor is being belittled by the guy at the other end of the phone in Weapon X, it’s Apocalypse.”

In the 1990 Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure one-shot written by Walter Simonson, Wolverine found an old adamantium skull in one of Apocalypse’s old lairs, but subsequently other writers have ignored the hints to Apocalypse’s involvement in the Weapon X project.

“To me, Wolverine should have no official origin,” Claremont told “Pieces of his life should forever remain a closed book. As for the rest, every writer has their take on the character, and their stories reflect that. What I did with Wolverine was what saw print. What I would have done remains in storage for another day, should I get the chance to write him long-term again.”


Wolverine and Shadowcat

Chris Claremont told Back Issue #4 about his thoughts concerning Wolverine’s mentoring role with Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat): “The Kitty role is part of a larger, panoramic tapestry that had X-Men: True Friends #1-3 (1999) come out when it was supposed to, in the late ‘80s or the very early ‘90s. It would have put all this into a lot more of a context. The whole relationship between Kitty and Logan (Wolverine) is more complicated and far-reaching than had been suspected up until that point.”

“Kitty was someone that Logan took under his wing because he knows things about her that she doesn’t know. Even then I was playing with the idea that there is a linkage between them that goes back well before she was born. If you accept as part of the canon the timeline structured out by True Friends, Logan’s thought about Kitty since the 1930s. Then you have to ask yourself, “Is the fact that the X-Men went to Deerfield in X-Men #129 (1980) an accident? Whose idea was it to go seek her out? Was it Charley, using Cerebro, or did Wolverine whisper something in his ear? If she’s part of the team because he set it up, what’s going on? Where is this going to lead?””

“Then if you factor in the whole Days of Future Past myth, all sorts of interesting implications come popping up. Again, that’s me doing my grand design with a specific character.”

When X-Men: True Friends, which is set before Weapon X, finally came out in the late ‘90s, it had Wolverine using his claws, but in 1993 Wolverine writer Larry Hama established in Wolverine vol.2 #75 that Wolverine didn’t know that he had natural claws prior to the Weapon X project.

“The characters moved off in different directions, they got acquired by different writers and different books, and the things that I had intended got shuffled away in the mist,” Claremont told Back Issue #4.

False memories

In Wolverine vol.2 #50 from 1992, written by Larry Hama, Wolverine learned that many of his memories were implants given to him during the Weapon X project. “Well, that’s one of the fortunate things about Wolverine,” Byrne opinionated in Back Issue #4. “It’s like the Doctor Doom robots that I set up so any stupid Doctor Doom story immediately becomes about a robot. Any stupid Wolverine flashback immediately becomes an implanted memory.”

Byrne had not liked Claremont’s handling of Doctor Doom in Uncanny X-Men #145-147 in 1981, so in Fantastic Four #258 in 1983 he invalidated the story by establishing that the X-Men had only dealt with a Doombot, rather than the real Doctor Doom.

“(I like) Larry Hama’s take on Wolverine,” Claremont revealed in Back Issue #4. “It wasn’t what I would have done, but I liked reading it a lot. Larry Hama and Marc Silvestri (in Wolverine vol.2 #31-43, 45, 46, 48-53 and 55-57 from 1990-1992).”

“And, of course, the beauty is what they have done is to basically say everything you know about his past is a lie,” Claremont added in Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. “Therefore, most of the stories you have been reading for the past 20 years are a lie. But, of course, the stories we are telling you now could be a lie.”

However, the memory implants were burned out of Wolverine’s brain in Wolverine vol.2 #68 in 1993, so only the flashbacks to his past printed before that issue could be called into question.

“I decided that (Wolverine’s origin) was a story that should never be told,” Claremont continued in Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. “I feel that the drive to explain every split second of every character’s existence is absurd. Where’s the mystery? Where’s the fun if you nail it all down?”

“To me, it was like he should be a man of mystery whose past you infer. There will be all sorts of little clues that you could perhaps list in order to build a comprehensive overview of what his past is. If someone wanted to go write a scholarly paper on who is Wolverine and where did he come from, you could take all these benchmarks and deduce from this that he is A, B, C and D.”

Stories yet to be told

In Wolverine vol.2 #62 from 1992, Larry Hama unveiled a list of “the original Weapon X Project team” that included the codename Wildcat. However, that character never appeared anywhere.

Then, in Wolverine #80 from 1994, Larry Hama introduced molecular biologist Dr. Jaime Munoz who believed that it was possible to develop a bonding process for Adamantium based on a tissue sample from Wolverine. He asked for former Weapon X subjects to step forward to facilitate a breakthrough in Osteopedics. He also warned Wolverine that he had identified an unstable chain of Nucleoproteins in the tissue sample. It was a defect in Wolverine’s DNA that might cause him problems in the future. However, Wolverine never approached Dr. Munoz and the subject of the DNA defect was never touched upon again.

“The problem I have with Logan is I don’t see very much that’s new,” Claremont stated in Back Issue #4. “I see a lot of people running over the track over and over again. I don’t see much of an evolution of the character. I don’t see much that tells me something new in terms of insights or perceptions or what have you that we didn’t have years ago. That would be my hope if I ever got to write him on a consistent basis again, to try and play with the shadings and gradations of the character to see if I could come up with some insights, some perceptions, some revelations which are small but integral, which change how you look at him.”

“In terms of the X-Men, nothing in the mix of characters really suggested themselves as being gay,” Claremont told “I had a story with Wolverine where that could be explored. I never got around to writing it.”

Asked on his online Cordially Chris forum if he had any story ideas for Logan’s mother, Claremont answered, “As a matter of fact, yes.”

Kim A.: Chris Claremont On Wolverine,, 2001
William Christensen and Mark Seifert: From Gofer To Comic Great, Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty, July 1993
Cordially Chris,, 28 October 2008
Eric Fein: Bob Harras Interview, Marvel Age #78, September 1989
Peter Sanderson: Pro 2 Pro – Claremont And Byrne: Wolverine At 30, Back Issue #4, June 2004
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview,, 1995
Wizard Tribute To Wolverine, 1996

torsdag den 12. april 2012

Cosmic comedy with Excalibur

But the Phoenix mini-series didn’t make it to print, Colossus didn’t make the team, and Nightcrawler’s Captains Courageous team wasn’t assembled.

On the letters page in Uncanny X-Men #208 in 1986 it was announced: “Rachel (Summers)’ going to need all the friendship and support and affection she can get, not simply in the X-Men but also in the upcoming Phoenix Limited Series we have planned for later this year, which Chris Claremont will be writing and Rick Leonardi pencilling. We think it’ll be something as different and special as the lady herself.”

However, the Phoenix mini-series never appeared, although it remained in the works until Chris Claremont left Marvel in 1991. “In (Uncanny) X-Men #209 (1986), she was spirited away by Spiral to Mojo’s world and something awful happened, which is going to be explained in a Special Format mini-series,” artist Alan Davis told Amazing Heroes #193. “I don’t know if Chris has finished writing it yet.”

“(The Mutant Massacre crossover) was supposed to lead into a mini-series which would tell the story of what happened between Rachel’s disappearance from the X-Men in issue #209 and her reappearance in the Excalibur special edition (in 1988),” Claremont told Comics Focus #1. “This was supposed to tie into Longshot’s presence in the X-Men and his departure from that book to star in his own ongoing series. Except, for various reasons, the mini-series never got finished and the Longshot series never got launched, so suddenly you’re left with dangles that weren’t intentional but are there nonetheless.”

“Plots come and go for all sorts of reasons. Threads dangle for all sorts of reasons. The writer assumes that there will always be time to tie them up in neat little knots – things that are meant to come to fruition fifty issues down the line will happen. I always assumed I’d be around to do it: Unfortunately, I wasn’t.”

In the Excalibur Special Edition, Phoenix returned from Mojo’s world without the capacity to tell her true memories from the false memories she had gotten in his world of entertainment. It wasn’t a big mystery what had happened to her, though, as it was mentioned - and repeated in Excalibur #1 and X-Men Annual #12 in 1988 - that Mojo had made her a star in his world, and that she had escaped from being kept as his slave.

Hello, Excalibur

“It’s no secret that I’ve been wanting to work with Alan Davis for some considerable time,” Claremont told Amazing Heroes #134. “Basically, in the past what I wanted him for is to draw the X-Men.”

“I like working with Chris (Claremont) very much,” Alan Davis stated in Amazing Heroes #193. “But the difficulty is, if you go on to a book like X-Men, you’re just another new artist on the X-Men, and unless you somehow make a tremendous splash you’re selling yourself into a slavery of working on something where you can’t really do too much because the formula is tested and so successful.”

“The first I knew of Excalibur was when Chris phoned and instead of asking, did I want to draw the X-Men, said Marvel is doing another X-book and it’s going to be set in England and Captain Britain is in it,” Davis recalled in Modern Masters Volume One. “Now Chris was one of the creators of Captain Britain so he obviously had an interest in him. So I don’t know whether Captain Britain was included in the group to encourage me.”

“Usually, when you move on to an existing book, you’re following a regime, and by starting on Excalibur with issue #1, I was able to put a lot of myself into it,” Davis explained in Comics Scene #30. “I liked the characters, and it was nice to be in on something since its inception.”

 “I began figuring what could I do with the X-Men who weren’t going to be in the (1988) Fall Of The Mutants (crossover), like Kitty (Pryde) and Nightcrawler,” Claremont told Amazing Heroes #134, “because I knew if I didn’t do anything with them, other people would leap forward like rabid wolves to heist them. Alan (Davis) and I had been talking over the idea of doing something together – a graphic novel, a series, or some such. And then basically the concept of Excalibur evolved, and we decided on a team, which would be Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Nightcrawler, Captain Britain, his girlfriend Meggan, Phoenix, and someone new whom we’d invent (Widget).”

”Originally, Colossus was also intended to be a member of Excalibur. However, Colossus ended up rejoining the X-Men for the basic reason that the X-Men didn’t have a big, muscular strongman, and as the Excalibur concept grew along, and Captain Britain came into it, we already had a strongman in Excalibur – we didn’t need two. And the X-Men needed one, so we tossed Colossus back.”

Goodbye, Excalibur

“When we originally started, (editor) Ann Nocenti christened Excalibur “a cosmic comedy,”” Alan Davis told Comics Scene #30. “That was something that really surprised me, because what I had originally agreed to do was basically the X-Men in Europe, and suddenly it was a cosmic comedy. I was told it was because my artwork was so comedic, and while it wasn’t my decision, there was a definite intention to put more humor into Excalibur. There’s always a punchline on the cover, or a humorous incident.”

Alan Davis decided to leave Excalibur with issue #17 in 1989, “Mainly because we were working right up against the deadline all the time and there was no way of getting out of that situation. That was affecting the quality and the look of the book,” Davis explained in Amazing Heroes #193. “I had a great time working with Chris (Claremont) and working on Excalibur was heaven-sent, making it a really difficult decision to give it up. (…) I agreed to do the two fill-ins on Excalibur (#23-24 in 1990).”

Ten issues later, Chris Claremont also gave up Excalibur. “Part of the reason I dropped Excalibur was that X-Men (vol.2) was on the horizon and we wanted to start the new book in somewhat less than the extreme deadline situation we always seemed to find ourselves in on Uncanny X-Men,” Claremont explained in Comics Interview #98. “Also, at the time, I felt Excalibur wasn’t any fun anymore. It had gotten to the point where there was no postive synergistic mix between myself and the people I was working with as pencillers. Rather than perpetuating a book that wasn’t zinging, it was easier to just remove myself from the situation and focus my energies on X-Men.”

With Claremont’s departure, the story announced for 1991 in Marvel Age Preview #1 ended up not happening: “Excalibur goes bi-weekly for the summer, and Nightcrawler forms the Captains Courageous, gathering the Captain Britains from across the multiverse.”

Girls’ School from Hell

Claremont’s final Excalibur story was “Girls’ School from Hell” in Excalibur #32-34 from 1990-1991 – a story that was originally scheduled for Excalibur #7 in 1989 according to Marvel Age #72, and which was to preceed the Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem special edition: “Even in England, Kitty’s education can’t be neglected, so the Excalibur team sends her off to a private girls’ school. But Kitty’s in for a shock when the school turns out not to be what she expected! Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Alan Davis.”

““The Girls’ School from Hell” would have worked really well with Alan (Davis),” Claremont told Comics Interview #98. “I thought, when we set out to do it, that it would work as well with Ron Wagner, based on the work I saw on Nth Man – it just didn’t work. What I was looking for, what (editor) Terry Kavanagh and I were hoping for, didn’t gel. It’s no fault of Ron’s, it’s no fault of ours; it’s just one of those things.”

The two Excalibur Special Editions promised in Excalibur #22 in 1990 became the 1999 X-Men: True Friends mini-series instead.

Of Claremont’s abandoned Excalibur plots, one remained unresolved. In Excalibur #21 in 1990, Jamie Braddock turned the head of London’s criminal underworld, Vixen, into a fox and she was last seen as such in Excalibur #27 in 1990. Presumably, she is still a fox.

In Excalibur #32 in 1990, Sat-yr-9’s henchman Nigel Frobisher had become the new Vixen, but whatever plans he had remained unfulfilled, because the subsequent writer, Alan Davis, killed him off in Excalibur #56 in 1992.

Shadowcat: The new Saturnyne?

“I phoned Chris Claremont and asked him if he would have any problems with my going back to the book, because almost immediately after he left, they offered it to me,” Alan Davis told Comics Scene #30. “I didn’t want it to look like there was foul play. That’s not what actually happened, and I didn’t want it to appear that way.”

“When I took over on Excalibur, there was a definite brief that there were too many loose ends hanging and (editor) Terry (Kavanagh) wanted them tied up,” Davis admitted in Modern Masters Volume One. “Fortunately I was able to manage to tie the loose ends up so that many people thought that was the way Chris (Claremont) had planned it all along.”

There was one plotline that Davis initially left for Claremont himself to resolve. “From issue #5 (1989) of Excalibur we’d been building up a subplot where we had Sat-yr-9, Doc Croc, the Vixen, and Jamie Braddock coming together for a climactic battle, which still hasn’t happened, although Chris Claremont is planning on doing that in a special series at some point in the future,” Davis revealed in Marvel Age #100. When Claremont left Marvel before doing the series, Davis used Sat-yr-9, Vixen and Jamie Braddock anyway. In Excalibur #55-56 in 1992, the heroes learned that Sat-yr-9 had killed Captain Britain’s old girldfriend, Courtney Ross, and had posed as her since Excalibur #5. However, Davis didn’t reveal why Sat-yr-9 had taken a special interest in Kitty Pryde, whom she had befriended in Excalibur #21 in 1990 and had spoiled with an amazing birthday celebration in Excalibur #24 the same year.

“From what I gather in terms of the current X-Men, it’s not part of the mix,” Claremont told “The key to (the X-Men) was always to deal with (the characters) in terms of how they interacted with the real world – that they were a part of the real world, that they lived in the real world, that they had a future in the real world. That at some point Storm might well marry Forge and go on living happily ever after – or not. That Nightcrawler and Amanda (Sefton) had a future. That Kitty would or would not become the new Saturnyne. All these elements were there.”

Les Chester: Alan Davis, Amazing Heroes #193, August 1991
Comics Focus #1, June 1996
Tom DeFalco: Comics Creators On X-Men, April 2006
Marvel Age #72, March 1989
Marvel Age Preview #1, 1990
Joe Nazzaro: Punchlines, Comics Scene vol.2 #30, December 1992
Eric Nolen-Weathington: Modern Masters Volume One: Alan Davis, April 2003
Patrick Daniel O’Neill: Chris Claremont, Comics Interview #98, 1991
Peter Sanderson: Alan Davis On Excalibur, Marvel Age #100, May 1991
Peter Sanderson: High Caliber, Amazing Heroes #134, February 1988
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview,, 1995