Monday, February 05, 2007

WOLVERINE #142 Marvel Comics, 1999

Man, remember when Wolverine had bone claws? That was stoopid.

I can’t recall the issue due to lack of caring, but some time during the Time of Great Darkness known as the Nineties, Magneto used his magnetic powers to rip out the adamantium metal that reinforces Wolverine’s skeleton. For what seemed like years, everyone’s favorite mutant madman went into battle without his unbreakable bones. On the plus side, Wolverine weighed 100 lbs less and he could now get through airport security.

The thing that I could never figure out (and I’m sure somebody will educate me) was the bone claw thing. WTF? I have all those old Marvel handbooks and I’ve seen Elliot Brown’s cross section of Wolverine’s skeleton, which clearly show that Wolverine’s claws were artificially grafted on by the same evil Canadians who gave him his shiny skeleton. The claws are clearly mechanical, not natural. So whattup with the bone claws? Somebody’s got some ‘splaining to do.

Anyway, this issue of Wolverine takes place during the bone claw era, and features Wolverine teaming up with the Canadian super group Alpha Flight* for the 900th time. There’s very little set-up: Wolverine and Co. bust into an A.I.M. facility trying to rescue Alpha Flight founder Mac Hudson, whose cyborg ass is the subject of some typically cruel A.I.M. experiments. For those who don’t know, A.I.M. is a high-tech organized crime syndicate dedicated to Bad Science whose members dress like evil beekeepers. If A.I.M. shows up in your comic, you have a pretty fair chance of MODOK making an appearance as well. I’m not even going to bother explaining the radness that is MODOK – just go here and here and you should be up to speed.

This issue was written by Erik “Savage Dragon” Larsen and Eric Stephenson with art by then-newcomer Leinil Francis Yu, the Filipino sensation who will be taking over the penciling chores on Bendis’ Avengers soon.

Yu’s art is serviceable in this issue but his visual storytelling is a little klunky. I’m not crazy about his interpretation of A.I.M. goons, either – they look a little too steampunk or something to me. Regardless, one can glimpse The Radness in Yu’s work in this issue. Nowadays the guy can do no wrong in my book.

The fanboy in me appreciates the classic Alpha Flight line-up in this book, as seen in the splash page (above). Let’s see, there’s Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch, Puck, Heather Hudson, and what looks like a Whilce Portacio drawing but is supposed to be Shaman or somebody. Oooh, and look! Pretty purple lasers!

I love/hate Puck, Alpha Flight’s resident dwarf acrobat, but what the hell…? Yu’s version of Puck looks like one of the Mario Bros. in a gimp suit. That’s a little too fetishy for me, thanks.

The weird thing about this comic is Heather Hudson, who once led Alpha Flight as Vindicator and now goes by the codename Brick Haus. As originally created by John Byrne, Heather Hudson was a rarity in comics: a strong female character with a slender, realistic physique. Somehow over the years she morphed from Normal Gal into Miss Boom Chika Boom.

Apparently the powers that be at Marvel thought that Ms Hudson was showing a little too much décolletage on the cover, so they employed the time-honored technique known as the De-Nudifying Effect. Showing too much skin? Just color those Power Girls and voila! Instant moral acceptability.

Of course, the De-Nudifying Effect is not used inside the book itself, just the cover. Here’s a completely non-gratuitous shot of Heather in the clutches of some A.I.M. pervs who are absolutely chuffed that they were scheduled for this shift.

Alpha Flight are captured with remarkable ease by A.I.M. and M.O.D.O.K., but Wolverine manages to evade captivity and slash a few throats along the way. In the end, M.O.D.O.K. unveils his secret Wolverine-killing weapon, and… to be continued.

Sadly, I did not get the next issue. Can anybody tell me if Wolverine survived? I’ve been waiting eight frickin’ years to find out if he made it or not.

*Not to be confused with Swedish super group ABBA, which Wolverine never belonged to, as far as I know.


Anonymous said...

The bone claws never made any damn sense. Even though the claws had always been established as purely adamantium, that was never the part that annoyed me -- the real thing is, how the hell can you cut anything with bone claws?

I mean, I'm sure they're great for steak, and I guess you can stab people with them (always a plus for Wolverine). But the minute you'd have to cut through a door or the hood of a Jeep or one of the many, many other things Wolverine slashed at on a monthly basis, you'd be fucked.

Vincent said...

Speaking of bone claws, didn't Wolverine undergo secondary mutation that made him even more hairy, resulting in the X-Men having to buy liquid plumber by the fuck-ton?

Anonymous said...

In the next issue...
Wolverine dies and is never on any team or on any comic book covers ever again. Marvel takes a long time to move on, but eventually goes looking for a new cash cow. Lobo turns down their offer and Marvel decides that the only logical course of action is to have a huge multi-issue crossover event all-year, every-year.

Mike Podgor said...

Wolverine's bone claws are there because someone at Marvel was like, "What? You took away Wolverine's claws? BASTARD! Let's fix that with a massive nonsensical ret-con!"

CalvinPitt said...

The one good thing about the bone claws was they'd get broken frequently, so you'd get to see Logan fighting with these dinky little claws that barely extended past his knuckles. Hilarious for me, embarassing for him.

And I think the issue the metal was ripped out was X-Men #25, and it led to Xavier mind-wiping Magneto, which was later credited as the origin for Onslaught.

God, that storyline just kept kicking us in the nuts, didn't it?

Mike Haseloff said...

You mean you don't remember X-Men #25?! What a convenient segue! :-D

Y'know, bone claws probably weren't all bad. He would've saved a tonne on cleaning... Eh? Eh?

Alright... I was just here to spam... I'll show myself out...

John Chidley-Hill said...

It was X-Men 25 where the adamantium was ripped out of Wolvy's... well... everything. It came out every open wound and orifice, including his eyeballs.

And immediately after (same issue) Professor Xavier mind-wiped Magneto as retribution. That issue was BANANAS.

Anonymous said...

I think the thing with the bone claws is that:

1.) They'd always been there.
2.) The admantium covered them.
3.) They didn't have any way to see past the admantium and never realized that there was bone underneath.

I think...

Mr A. P. Salmond, esq. said...

That bone claw thing was always ass-backwards. I could never understand why they didn't just say that the bone claws were created as a result of his healing factor, trying to compensate for what it now regarded as a part of him.

The Tensor said...

I agree that the bone claws were capital-L Lame. However, the removal of Wolverine's adamantium, including the little ports in the backs of his hands, did allow the following memorable scene in Wolverine #75:

[Logan messily pops his claws from his bandaged hand.]
Jubilee [looking disturbed]: How can your hands heal if you keep--?
Wolverine: I pop 'em out a few times a day now. Keeps the channel open. Like pierced ears.
Jubilee: So it stopped hurting?
Wolverine: Nope.
Jubilee: Oh.

This in turn became a cool moment in the first X-Men movie:

[about his claws]
Rogue: When they come out... does it hurt?
Wolverine: Every time.

So I guess every cloud has a silver lining. Even clouds that introduce stupid bone claws.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the bone claws were nothing but an all-expense paid trip to Fucktardia. Wolverine's writers send him there a lot. I hope he's earning miles at least. The claws had always been drawn as narrow blades, and then suddenly they were round, which is pretty damn hard to cut with.

Crap--one exception to that always up there would have been in his original much lamer incarnation in Hulk. (Issues #181/182 maybe?) Anyway, they were a lot more round (and lame) then, and later continuity always ignored that, just like they ignored the cute floppy (lame) ears on Wolverine's costume.

The guy knows Forge and a dozen other Marvel gadgeteers, for god's sake--like he couldn't have had somebody build him some gauntlets with retractable claws if the fanboys and/or the writers absolutely couldn't live without them. And it's not as if he had no combat skills or experience to get by on without the adamantium, not to mention a really kick-ass healing factor.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall, 100% but I think the healing factor went buh-bye with the adamantium.

Or was that a different story?
Where the adamantium was killing him because he lost the healing factor?

Maybe it was a bit of both.

As for the bone claws, yeah... they were supposedly always there (but due to his frequent mind-fucks, he never knew were there (until the ultra-awesome -read: sucktacular- "ORIGIN" told us that fey, Canadian hillbillie "James HOWLett" had them).

Back in the Byrne days, they were always drawn as semi-circles.

Rounded on top, flattened on the bottom, where they would slide out his hand.

I recall the issue where he pops them into a control panel to fritz out the Danger Room's shut-off switch, so that Colossus wouldn't have an "out" and would man-up a bit.

The shapes cut into the panel were semi-circles.

Woah... air's awfully thin here at the top of Nerd Mountain.
I'd better get down.


joncormier said...

Please tell me when she started going by Bric Haus, it's because she married a guy whose last name was Schidt. Because that makes a bad idea actually kind of funny in a cheap pun kind of way.

apk said...

Long time lurker, first time writer. Love the show.

That being said, can anyone explain why Wolverine even TRIED to pop his claws in Wolverine #75, being that he knew that his adamantium had been taken, but that he didn't know that he had bone claws?

Maybe it's just because the storyline happened right around the time that I got started with comics, but I've got a lot of fond memories of "Fatal Attractions".

Anonymous said...

The bone claws were the zenith of 90s-era X-related tomfoolery. Along with the Acolytes, the Upstarts, and Exodus. Just better to pretend none of it happened and move on with life.

Okay, who else thought that the Black Widow was helping out Wolverine and Alpha Flight, until Dave pointed out it was Heather Hudson? Damn, Heather, why'd you hafta raid Natasha's wardrobe like that? I was all like, "Sweet, the Canadians are reaching across the Beiring Strait to shake hands with their Northern-Hemisphere sister! Way to give a shout-out to cross-cultural love, Marvel!" Then Dave burst my bubble, and I was all like, "Why'd Heather Hudson ditch her badass red-and-white costume with the cool-ass red goggles for one of the Black Widow's leftover jumpsuits? That is ill, yo!"

Props for using the classic Alpha Flight lineup. I was NOT down with Windshear, Wildheart, Diamond Lil, Reflux, Radium, Mauve Mountie, Shaman-Girl, and all those other tools they tried to shove down our throats later on. There are exceptions, of course, I do love me some Box. That dude was 75 tons of mechanical WHOOP-ASS. He was like Optimus Prime with a Canadian accent. But where's Snowbird? Dude, if some freaky Arctic-goddess chick is gonna have my back, it had best be one that can turn into a polar bear and maul herself some AIM bad guys. Word.

Anonymous said...

The reason Wolverine decided to pop his claws in # 75 was pure instinct, I suppose. He was fighting in the Dangerroom against some metallic goons and needed an edge. So he willed his claws to come out on a subconscious level, because he wasn't used to not having them after decades of *SNIKT*-ing. Just like amputees and phantom limbs, I guess... It did make for a great visual, tho... And kudos to the guys who came up with the *SCHLUK* soundeffect the new boneclaws made.

Also: Wolverine didn't lose his healing factor after Magneto pulled out his adamantium, but it did get severly taxed and took a while to recover.

In fact, when it did return, it was revealed the adamantium presence in Logan's body had retarted the development of his mutant abilities (keen animal like senses and above average healing). I guess even that makes sense, cos an iron skeleton tends to be rather poisonous (a fact we saw several times when Wolverine loses his powers: the first time in Genosha and during the High Evolutionary brouhaha late in Davis' Uncanny run, for instance).

Anyhoo, because of all this Wolverine went into feral overdrive for a while, living in the woods and wearing a bandana... Ah, the 90s, how you spoiled us with rich comicy goodness!

Edward Liu said...

I just thank all that is good and holy that Dave's teaser from yesterday involving Wolverine, AIM, and the de-nudifying effect didn't go where I was afraid it would go.

Heather Hudson was always one of the more realistic women in the MU, with a believable physique and even eyeglasses. Oddly, this realism probably made her even more attractive to young-hormonal-teenaged Ed. Good thing they got rid of all that.

My approach to continuity that I don't like is to ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. This is why Wolverine is still just Logan and not "James Howlett" and those claws were always adamantium to me. Dammit.

West said...

1) IMO, the bone claws were awesome, even as a retcon of sorts. ("Of sorts" because the hydraulic springs that "popped" his claws could've been there due to the added weight and size of an adamantium coating.)

2) Animals have been cutting things with natural claws for a really long time, now.

3) The look on the face of the dude hovering over Heather's dirty pillows is hilarious - as was the commentary in the post.

4) It's always funny to see how things that were so very "cool," at one point, are so very "lame" at another - often by the same people.

Anonymous said...

Claremont, apparently, had thought of doing the bone claws before he left the X-Books, though I'm not sure if he had planned a "They were always there" retcon.

Bully said...

I ddin't have much of a logically problem with the bone claws suddenly appearing, but nobody else has pointed out the other weird psychological trauma our pal Logan went through after Magneto slurped out his adamantium with a silly straw:

Dude started to lose his nose.

Seriously: several months later his nose was gone. What's up with that?

And Dave, yes, Wolverine did survive the battle. Sadly, Heather's breast implants didn't: they were captured by M.O.D.O.K. who put each of them in their own floating chairs where they became the fight force known as B.O.D.O.K.

Anonymous said...

This is not Wolverine.

No, really. This is from the short period of time where Wolverine was replaced by a Skrull both on the X-Men regular titles and in his own title. Which allowed Marvel to "kill" him in the notoriously dreadful Astonishing X-Men v2 #3 (this was the start of the resolution of the Twelve storyline).

So, for a few months, Larsen could not really use his title character (he dropped the 1st-person narration, for example). This may explain partially the awfulness of some of those stories.
But not this one, where Alpha Flight is pushed into the wringer to bring back the "classic" team through absurd means (resolving the "two Guardians" storyline by killing stupidly the superfluous one, or implausibly bringing Snowbird from the dead).

Wolverine has never been high literature, but this was one of the title's lowest points.
Of course, it can't beat Matt Nixon's mercifully short fill-in run (you know, the one with the story where evil cardinals want to convert New-yorkers to catholicism with hi-tech elves). But it's close.

Anonymous said...

De-nudification is a scourge on society and must be stopped at all costs. The fate of the free world may very well depend on it.

Plus, I like boobies.

Anonymous said...

So... has MODOK ever actually killed someone? I mean, if he is a Machine Designed for Only Killing, there must be a pretty hefty "RoboCop" or "Commando" style body count.

Anonymous said...

According to rankopedia, Wolverine is the best comic superhero ever.

Bully said...

What does that make him at

Winterteeth said...

Does anyone recall a Warren Ellis story from around this time called "Not Dead Yet" or something? I think Yu was the penciller (maybe) but I remember it being the last good arc in that title for awhile. Am I seeing with rose colored glasses or does anyone else recall that story being good?

Unknown said...

Actually, if I remember correctly, the bone claws were originally introduced in Barry Windsor Smith's excellent Weapon X series in Marvel Comics Presents, where the adamantium claws came as quite a surprise to the people who gave Wolvie his new skeleton...

Anonymous said...

As ideas go, the bone claws were right up there with barbed-wire condoms. There's a reason why bonesaws are made out of metal, and saws that cut metal are made out of...harder metal. Not bone, strangely enough. The only people that use bone weapons are the ones that don't have access to anything better. In an emergency, sure, but otherwise Wolvie would have been better off digging his katana out of the closet.

I don't even remember where the stupid claws came from, but it doesn't really matter, because I think we can all agree that--even more so than most comic book characters--no Wolverine origin story can truly be considered canon. Sure, they'll hype the crap out of it at the time, and then a few years later they'll come up with another "secret origin" that wipes its ass with the previous ones. And Marvel will laugh and take the fanboys' money. Again.

I'm with edward liu--if Marvel doesn't even give a shit about Marvel continuity, why should I?

Anonymous said...

Check out Leinil's DeviantART account here: :D

Anonymous said...

The de-nudifying effect was liberally applied in newuniversal #1 as well.

Sina said...

Here's the stupidest thing about Wolvie's "bone claws"...*BONES ARE NOT CLAWS!!!* :P

Srsly, they're two different substances made for two different reasons...bones are calcium mineral made for structure while claws/talons/etc. are protein keratin made for hunting, climbing, grasping, etc. :) srsly...look it up, that always bugged me & I hated that no-one else bothered to take note of it :P