Welcome to the column formerly known as X-Men: Bland Design! As it turns out, even when we say nice things about X-Men comics, when the column is titled “Bland Design,” it apparently bums people out. And we don’t want to bum people out about the X-Men. We love the X-Men!
[You can skip to below the Weapon H cover if you’ve read this intro in one of this week’s other columns.]
The X-Men have long been neglected by Marvel as a result of Ike Perlmutter‘s war with Fox over the X-Men and Fantastic Four movie rights, and X-fans have long-suffered as a result. We’ve seen Cyclops’s character assassinated over and over again. We saw the fascist Avengers invade the X-Men’s sovereign country and try to imprison a teenage Hope Summers on the moon for crimes she might commit in the future under the influence of a bird-themed cosmic death god and somehow end up portrayed as the heroes in the abysmal Avengers vs. X-Men super-mega-crossover event. We saw Marvel try to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans, who literally nobody cares about. It was a dark time.
But with the Disney/Fox merger looming, the X-Men are finally able to rise once more to their rightful place as Marvel’s most important franchise. It’s a new day for the X-Men, and it’s time to let the healing begin.
So welcome to the first week of our rebooted weekly recap column, where we can all agree it’s time for some…
The concept of X-ual Healing is simple. We read all the X-books Marvel publishes in a given week and we tell you what happens in them. Along the way, we’ll fill in the blanks on some history or additional explanation where required and possible. We’ll also point out when the comic does the sort of things we think comics should be doing to be more accessible to new readers: properly introducing characters and explaining how their powers work, providing links to back issues when previous stories are referenced, and generally providing a satisfying experience in a single issue for the outrageously high price Marvel charges for comics. If the comic fails to do those things, we’ll point that out too.
We’ve been collecting and reading X-Men comics since the 1980s, and we’ve read pretty much every one Marvel has published, many of them multiple times, but it’s been a while. To refresh our memory, since starting this column, we’ve been rereading the X-books beginning with Giant-Size X-Men #1 on Marvel Unlimited (switching to paper where there are gaps). We’re currently up to Inferno, in case you were wondering. Marvel Unlimited is well worth the subscription price for the X-Men comics alone, but we recommend you utilize a reading order guide to keep up with all the spinoffs and mini-series. And if you just can’t get enough X-Men, and you’d like to dive into some theories on classic X-Men comics, you might be interested in checking out the Chris Claremont‘s X-Men section on the Fanfix blog.
So that’s how this all works. If you’re a longtime X-Men reader, you can follow along, let us know if we missed anything, and post your thoughts on the issue in the comments. If you’re new to the X-Men, hopefully this column helps you figure out what’s going on in the X-Men’s 60 years of complicated continuity. If nothing else, we hope you get a few laughs.
Now, let’s get on with the show…
WEAPON H #2
GREG PAK (W) • CORY SMITH (A)
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Variant Cover by SKAN
VENOM 30TH VARIANT COVER BY TBA
AWOL Part 2
Hiding out in the Canadian wilderness from greedy corporate warmongers, Clay (A.K.A. WEAPON H) searches for peace and solitude…
But a series of grisly murders in a local mining town stand in his way!
GUEST-STARRING THE MASTER OF MYSTIC ARTS, DOCTOR STRANGE!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Wendigo is a (usually) Canadian monster, created by a curse, that affects people who consume human flesh in the Northern wilderness, who in addition to being unkillable and savage, likes to shout “WEEENNNDDDDIIIGGGOOOO!!!” Weapon H is a combination of the Hulk and Wolverine, both of whom have a history with the Wendigo, so Wendigo was a natural choice of antagonist for the first story arc of Weapon H’s solo book. Evil energy corporation Roxxon is conducting Wendigo-related experiments up there, and last issue, a Roxxon Cyborg named banks fed human jerky to scientists in order provoke a Wendigo outbreak. Weapon H was just trying to chill in the woods when he stumbled on their plot and reluctantly got involved.
That catches you up with the previous issue, but this one starts out not in Alaska, but in Greenwich Village in the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. This book is really trying for X-tra brownie points here in X-ual Healing, because Strange utilizes X-pository caption boxes right off the bat to introduce himself, explain who he is, and recap his recent history while editor Wil Moss tells you where to go read about it if you want to know more. Nicely done.
Strange is choosing weapons, getting ready for a trip to Alaska to investigate this whole Wendigo thing and take care of both Wendigo and Weapon H. Speaking of which, the proverbial **** is hitting the proverbial fan back in Alaska, as Weapon H throws down with Wendigo, who’s looking a little different than usual:
The decapitated head of Roxxon cyborg Banks reveals that Roxxon has invested heavily in creating what he calls “Ur-Wendigo.” He encourages the Wendigo to snack on one of the Roxxon scientists, Dr. Sterling. Hulkverine can’t have that, so he stabs it through the jawbone. As he grabs Dr. Sterling and Hulk-leaps away, Sterling asks him who he is. That’s a perfect opportunity for some introspective X-position, as some brief flashback panels explain that Weapon H, real name Clay, was a soldier, used to kill monsters and turned into a monster himself.
At a Roxxon command center in Wyoming, Roxxon execs watch the battle on surveillance camera. Wendigo takes a bite out of Hulkverine, which causes him to grow to more than five times his original size. The battle causes an avalanche that threatens a nearby logging camp. Weapon H rushes to save the lumberjacks, blocking the avalanche with a log truck before being squished by Wendigo.
Interlude: In Euless Texas, Clay’s family — a wife, a son, and a daughter — who Clay must allow to believe he is dead for their own safety, are eating at a fast food burger joint. Mom tries to talk to the kids about their dad, but they’re distracted by footage on television of the battle in Alaska. The kids think it’s cool. Being a single parent is difficult.
In Alaska, Doctor Strange shows up and shouts one of his catchphrases: “By the hoary hosts of hoggoth!” The hosts in Hoggoth were notoriously hoary. Everyone knows that. Strange pulls a Hawkeye and fires a mystical bow and arrow at Wendigo. It only makes him angrier, and he smacks Strange into the snow before turning on the lumberjacks. They are lumberjacks, and they are not okay right now.
Doctor Ella Sterling checks on Strange and fills him in on the Roxxon connection, explaining that Banks (who holds an executive position at Roxxon, an equal opportunity employer), made the team’s miner eat Wendigo jerky to transform him into a Wendigo. But Weapon H interjects to explain that’s not true. It was actually Wendigo jerky. This is a god damn double Wendigo! Strange breaks out his D&D character sheet and begins doing the calculations so he can recalibrate his magickal weapons to have a better chance of dealing damage to Wendigo squared, but Weapon H grabs Strange’s axe and leaps right inside the Wendigo’s belly, then slices him up from the inside.
That does the trick, and transforms Wendigo back to a normal-sized miner.
And then he dies as Weapon H, transformed back to human Clay, holds his hand. He’s seen and caused his fair share of death, being both a soldier and a Hulkverine. Doctor Sterling thanks Clay, but Clay is upset at being forced to kill. Strange says he can’t blame himself, but Clay transforms back into Weapon H and tells Strange to leave him alone. Strange says he’s made that mistake with friends who turn into indestructible monsters before, and he can’t make that mistake again. He uses his mystic powers to read Weapon H’s mind, looking to learn what drives him. That happens to be Clay’s wife, Sonia.
Weapon H is naturally unhappy at Strange and Sterling’s prying, and he threatens to kill them if they tell anyone about her and she gets hurt. As he leaps away, we see Banks watching. His bosses at Roxxon tell him to forget about the Ur-Wendigo project. They have a new interest now…
Holy crap, it’s the Brood!!
We admit to being skeptical when Marvel announced a Weapon H solo book spinning out of the Weapons of Mutant Destruction crossover between Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk. On paper, an amalgam of Hulk and Wolverine seems like the dumbest possible concept for a comic. But just two issues in, Weapon H is proving all doubters wrong. It’s easily one of the best X-books on the stands each month, and it has some strong competition. If you haven’t given it a try because Hulkverine sounds stupid as a concept — and it really, really does — you might want to reconsider.
Read more X-ual Healing here: