Welcome back to X-ual Healing, the weekly recap column where we obsessively read every X-Men and X-Men-adjacent comic that Marvel publishes, tell you what happens, provide additional context where necessary, and examine whether the comic makes good use of the long and convoluted history of the X-Men by referencing it in a way that’s accessible to new readers, because we here at X-ual Healing love the X-Men, and we want everyone else to love them too.
The X-Men are returning to their rightful place of prominence after a decade of insults and neglect by a Marvel editorial that feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, which means it’s finally time for X-fans to enjoy some…
If you need to know more on the premise of this column, check out the longer explanation here.
Now, let’s dive right into…
THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE #1
Charles Soule (W) • David Marquez (A)
Cover by Steve McNiven
BLACK AND WHITE VARIANT COVER BY STEVE MCNIVEN
VARIANT COVER BY ELIZABETH TORQUE
VARIANT COVER BY MIKE DEODATO
REMASTERD WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY ADAM KUBERT
BLACK AND WHITE REMASTERED WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY ADAM KUBERT
YOUNG GUNS VARIANT COVER BY MARCO CHECCHETTO
TEASER VARIANT COVER BY ADAM KUBERT
BLANK VARIANT COVER ALSO AVAILABLE
The RETURN OF WOLVERINE begins here, providing the first piece of a mystery that will leave no corner of the Marvel Universe untouched. Just as the X-Men have finally come to terms with Logan’s death, they learn a terrible secret. Old wounds will be re-opened, truths questioned, and an epic quest begun. The earliest clues to the mystery of Wolverine’s return are laid down here… who will solve it first?
56 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ …$5.99
Ah, Wolverine. It was so nice when you were (kinda) dead. We say “kinda” because, even while Marvel’s favorite Mary Sue was encased in adamantium for a remarkable (by Marvel standards) 154 weeks, we still had multiple Wolverines running around the X-books, including, but not limited to, Old Man Logan, a time-displaced dystopian future version of Wolverine, All-New Wolverine, the female clone of Wolverine formerly and soon-to-be-known as X-23, Honey Badger, a clone of All-New Wolverine, Jonathan, an actual wolverine, Daken, the son of Wolverine, and Jimmy Hudson, the son of Ultimate Universe Wolverine. And that’s not even getting into quasi-Wolverines like most of the members of Weapon X, or Weapon H, who is part Wolverine and part Hulk. So, suffice to say when it comes to the return of Wolverine: how can we have missed him when he wasn’t really gone?
Even so, it was nice to have a break from Wolverine starring on multiple superhero teams, sanctimoniously preaching his anti-Cyclops garbage, and guest-appearing in twenty books per month. But now he’s back, and Hunt for Wolverine is going to tell us how and why (the answer to both is money).
Hunt for Wolverine #1 features two stories because we have a lot of lost Wolverine time to catch up on. The first story opens in Alberta, Canada, where a group of Reavers — cybernetically enhanced humans who hate mutants, especially Wolverines (can we subscribe to that newsletter?) — are seeking, and have found, Wolverine’s adamantium-encased corpse.
Because we like to keep track of this sort of thing in X-ual Healing, let’s see if the book manages to actually name all of these Reavers. The leader is Donald Pierce, named (by his last name) on the first page. Pierce refers to one Reaver with a mangled face, a mullet, and a metal body as Pretty Boy. X-pository dialogue on page two names a mask-wearing Reaver as Cylla, a Reaver with a bunch of tubes coming out of her neck as Star, and a Reaver who appears by holographic or psychic projection as Shine. These two are collectively known as Starshine. Cylla calls out the final Reaver, with a four-legged robotic lower half, as Bonebreaker. Bonebreaker and Pretty Boy are OG Reavers. In any case, all the characters were named. Well done.
Bonebreaker touches Wolverine’s claw, learning it’s still razor-sharp. Pierce reveals that the Reavers have been paid to locate Wolverine, probably by editorial after seeing the line-wide sales slump since he “died.” They want to sell both the corpse of Wolverine and the adamantium he’s encased in. The Reavers are broke because, as supervillains, they always lose. They need this money to pay for more cybernetic upgrades. As they try to hoist away their prize, they hear a noise that sounds like “bamf,” the sound Nightcrawler makes when he teleports. Starshine reports that the Reavers have “company.”
It’s Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Firestar, and Kitty Pryde, all named by the narration boxes. The narrator, we should note, is not named until the end of the issue, but conteXt clues imply it is one of the X-Men. The narrator refers to a secret that the Reavers are unaware of, cueing a flashback to “just after the Death of Wolverine,” the event comic in which Wolverine was originally “killed.” Reed Richards is speaking to the X-Men (Cyclops, Storm, Colussus, and Beast) as everyone rehashes their X-guilt over Logan “dying.” Even in Flashbacks, the other X-Men are dicks to Cyclops. The X-Men feel bad about leaving Wolverine’s body in a tomb, but Colossus has another idea…
We cut back to the cabin, where the Reavers are fighting the X-Men. Cylla is using a device called a “molecular rearranger” to attempt to get through the adamantium shell and acquire a DNA sample from Wolverine. Why not just get that from one of his living clones, or on eBay, since so much of it seems to be floating around the Marvel Universe? Narration briefly explains that Kitty’s phasing powers ruin electronics (and implies Kitty is the narrator) as Kitty phases to wreck Pretty Boy. Colossus rips Bonebreaker to pieces. Starshine reveals herselves to be the Reaver’s ship, and attacks. Inside, Pierce and Cylla get the Wolverine shell open only to find there’s nothing inside. Kitty makes short work of them as Pierce asks the obvious question…
Flashback time again. It turns out that Kitty used her phasing powers to pull Wolverine out of the adamantium shell, and the X-men buried him. We’re treated to a secret funeral for Wolverine. Beast confirms that Wolverine is definitely, totally dead, like 154 weeks dead at minimum. Doop is there, and has some touching final words for the little runt.
Back in Canada, the X-Men call in Alpha Flight to arrest the Reavers. Firestar tells Snowbird that Starshine escaped. We now return to the present, the time of the narrator, who is indeed Kitty. She’s sitting at Wolverine’s real grave and recapping the events while drinking a beer, which is sweet and reminds the reader of the relationship these two had in the teams early days and how it’s grown. After pouring the rest of her beer onto the grave, Kitty hears a noise in the nearby woods and comes to a realization. She puts her ear to the ground at Logan’s grave and calls herself an idiot.
Somewhere else, we see Wolverine murder a businessman. Kitty gathers the X-Men from earlier, plus Beast, minus Firstar, as they try to figure out whether Wolverine came back to life, or whether someone stole his body. They vow to find Wolverine. Sounds like the sort of thing that can only be handled in multiple spinoff mini-series. The story ends here.
Which brings us to our second story, which opens with Tony Stark tinkering with his armor in a lab. He’s visited by Kitty Pryde, who messes up his electronics by phasing into his lab. How rude! Thankfully, Stark’s automated systems repair the damage right away. Kitty tells Tony that Wolverine’s body has gone missing, recounting the events of the previous story. He also makes a douchey remark about how the Avengers need to clean up the X-Men’s messes all the time…
Unfortunately, Kitty doesn’t remind Tony that it was the Avengers who, during the awful Avengers vs. X-Men super-mega-crossover event, invaded sovereign nation and attempted to imprison an innocent teenage Hope Summers on the moon for crimes she might commit in the future under the influence of a bird-themed cosmic death god, sparking a conflict that saw Tony Stark himself shoot the Phoenix Force with a laser, splitting it into five separate Phoenix forces that then possessed the X-Men, who used the power to turn Earth into a paradise. Yeah, the X-Men are really the bad guys there. **** off, Tony!
Anyway Tony, thanks Kitty for letting him know first, but Kitty reveals she actually told someone else before him, which leads to a flashback to Kitty and Daredevil on a New York City rooftop at night. Kitty makes up a flimsy reason why the X-Men need Daredevil’s help to investigate (Jamie Madrox isn’t around until he too returns in a mini-series this Summer, and apparently no other mutant knows how to investigate things). Daredevil is happy to sign up.
Back at the lab, Tony is jealous. He also points out that, since one of the Reavers escaped, word is likely spreading that Wolverine is alive. That’s our cue to cut to Japan, where Starshine is informing Lady Deathstrike that Wolverine lives. Starshine calls Deathstrike a Reaver (what about the Weapon X book?), and asks her to rescue Pierce and the other Reavers, but Deathstrike says she’s going after Logan instead.
Back at the lab, Tony agrees to put together a team to find Logan. Specifically, the New Avengers team (that’ll teach Bendis to leave Marvel to write Superman).
Later, at Wolverine’s cabin in Alberta, Canada, Rogue, Psylocke, Kitty, Storm, Jubilee, and teenage Jean Grey (wait, wasn’t she turned into a Poison? Perhaps we’ll learn more in Venomized, also out this week). The X-Women decide to begin searching in Madripoor, sans Jean Grey, who was only involved in this scene to remind us about Wolverine’s lusting over her adult counterpart. And that wraps up the comic.
No, we’re not glad to see Wolverine back, but his editorially-mandated return is not this comic’s fault. The comic itself was fun, handled the basics like introducing characters and their powers (even if it doesn’t explain how inconsistencies fit in with the current storylines in X-Men Blue or Weapon X), and recalls Wolverine’s various relationships with other Marvel characters before he became intolerably overexposed (as opposed to tolerably overexposed as he was for decades prior). So personal bias aside, we’ll begrudgingly call this one good. Is it $5.99 good? No comic is $5.99 good. But that’s an argument for another day.
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