For this review, we're doing a compare-n-contrast kind o' thing, with the latest Wolverine #174, and an older issue that dealt with a similar subject, #87.
Synopsis, #174: If you've been following the story, you know that this is part 2 of 3 of the arc titled "The Logan Files". This is a complicated arc that is tying together some recent events in Wolverine and leading up to a major arc for this summer, both in his book and series of 5 one-shots called Weapon X: The Draft. Someone has done their homework, and they posses a thick file with many answers to the questions Logan has been asking himself all his life. This arc has many a baddie, a corrupt SHIELD agent named Jackson (whom we met back when Logan & Hank were locked up in prison), "Mr. Director" of Weapon X, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, others still, and surely more to come.
Last ish, our hero discovered his healing factor was on the fritz (due to Weapon X's latest toy being fired at Logan, see last ish) and that someone was targeting his loved ones, all in an effort to get to him. #174 opens with a very touching scene at Mariko's grave, a place that Logan visits every year on the anniversary of her death. He has no time to pay homage to her as he usually does, which makes his visit all the more poignant. We learn through flashbacks, that Nightcrawler was attacked and hurt, and nearly drowned. Heather & Mac Hudson (and their unborn child) were nearly blown from the sky when their plane crashed. Worst of all, Yukio and Amiko were attacked, leaving Yukio very badly injured and Amiko kidnapped.
Logan goes to see Yukio in the hospital, she is feeling guilty for Amiko's kidnapping and also doesn't want her 'sometime lover' Logan to see her the way she is. She tells Logan that Amiko was taken by Lady D. and Omega Red. A note was cut into her back (grisly stuff) saying "Want Amiko alive? Bellagio Hotel, NV. OR + L.D." Yukio's spine was injured so severely she tells him she may not be able to walk again, and she requests that he kill her if that is the case. This shocks Logan, of course, but she tells him if he doesn't do it she can always find someone who will. He leaves, pretty shook up, and not able to get Yukio's request out of his head.
The scene shifts to the mountainous hideaway of the Weapon X Compound. Kane (is he the newest Deathlok?) is working for "Mr. Director", and he tells him that Sabretooth was the one that broke into their system. We notice in dark profile that the Director has blue eyes and severely chopped up ears, but we never really see his face. Kane reports that Sabes embezzled money and stole a number of sensitive files, the "Logan Files" among them. Kane asks what they are when the cocky Agent Jackson shows up and tells him to quit asking, as he'll never be told. Jackson comes down hard on our main bad guy, ranting about how Sabretooth could have never been trusted, and now his grand plan is all messed up. Bad Guy slaps Jackson across the face, and we skip to・
Logan in a plane on the way to Nevada, his head is swirling with thoughts. He lands, right in front of the hotel, and barrels on in. He's in the casino, and he can't use his nose to sniff them out (mutant powers gone). No problem, as Omega latches onto him with one of his nasty tentacles and drags him back. A massive fight ensues, with all parties putting the smack down, but hard. Logan has borrowed one of the Guardian's suits for help, but he's got OR's death spores and LD's claws to contend with, all without his healing factor・
Back to Jackson, all pissed off that he got slapped. He moves to attack the Director, and Kane intercedes. The man tells Kane to let him go. We see in profile that he is horribly scarred, at least on one side of his face. He allows Jackson to try and fight back, but he can't. Jackson gets an entire chair smashed across his face for his troubles. He's also told he was fitted with a chip that prohibits aggression towards a superior "during his last physical". He's tossed in the brig, and the Director orders a team to go find Sabes. Kane informs him that Sabes locked them out of using the transporters, too. And, the big kitty has been using the transporters to hop from place to place as he sees fit. Kane will know the next time he hops ・and they'll have him.
Back to the fight, Logan leads them into a Cirque Du Soleil performance to gain some confusion advantage. It's a fantastic fight, but Logan is outmatched and he knows it. In one great scene, LD is following him as he climbs up one of those curtains used during a circus act. She stabs him through the foot, but he flips upside down like a performer, and slices off her part of the curtain. He says "Give my regards to the floor, RoboTramp!" as she falls. Not what you see everyday at the circus. Logan fights to what he thinks is the end, apologizing to Amiko in his heart as he assumes he is drowning. Then he wakes up, where a very pimp-like (check out those duds! man o man!) Victor creed is sitting before him, holding tight to Amiko, whose hands are tied and she is in tears. And that's it!
And here's an oldie, but a goodie, Wolverine #87! Just for a recap for those hunting through their comic collection, or an FYI for all newbies starting their collection, this issue was written by Larry Hama. Adam Kubert manned the pencils, Farmer, Green, Townsend, Rubinstein were the inkers, Pat Brosseau dealt with lettering, Marie Javins did the colors, Bob Harras was the editor, and Tom DeFalco was the Editor in Chief.
Synopsis: For the wee hours of the night, Lowtown Madripoor is pretty much deserted except for two figures: Wolverine and Gambit. Logan questions Remy for coming along with him to Madripoor, and Remy replies by saying he needs to talk to Logan about the whole Sabretooth staying at the mansion bid. Logan doesn't want anything to do with it. Thinking to change the subject, Logan warns Remy that the Princess Bar is a pretty rowdy place. Problem is, everything's quiet and the two men believe that there's an ambush set up inside. Being the battle ready men that they are, they dive through the front window only to face・
A surprise 'Welcome Back・party the group had planned for Logan. Dully embarrassed for the moment, the duo brush themselves off. Logan goes to introduce Remy to the local ladies, but it looks like Remy doesn't need any help in that department. As he says 'I'm no etranger 'round here, Logan--Leastways not to les belles de la nuit!・Already the Rajun' Cajun has a gaggle of females surrounding him. Logan is shoved away by Rose to go mingle with his friends. There's a happy party atmosphere going on and soon Tyger Tiger pulls him to the dance floor. While they're dancing, two Hand ninjas decide to take care of Logan once and for all. Wolverine winds up wiping the floor with them, all in step with Tyger, ending with a flourish and a dip. Logan decides to leave once he realizes that the two ninjas were dead way before they crashed through the skylight. He and Gambit run up to the !roof to investigate, Logan can't believe what his nose is telling him about the identity of the guy on the roof. The scene cuts to a flashback to Team X's heyday when Wolverine, Sabretooth and Maverick worked together. They're caught in a tight spot, their operation going sour. Creed winds up getting shot, Logan throws him over his shoulder as they make a run for it. Maverick wants to leave Creed for dead, but Logan won't hear of it. 'We're a team, and we bring back out own.・The two men run towards a bridge when Creed regains consciousness and blows the bridge away, forcing the others to turn around and fire on whoever is following them. Massive carnage follows.
Logan brings himself back to the present, having told the story to Remy. Surprisingly, he has some things to say about Sabretooth, but it all winds down to the fact that Creed is not a team player and Logan thinks Charles is crazy for letting Creed stay. Gambit follows up with a how-would-you-know-about-being- a-team-player? bid which gets under Logan's skin since he left the X-Men after losing his Adamantium. He's about to tell LeBeau something when he senses that they're going to be ambushed. The two follow and they finally get to see that it's Maverick. Logan doesn't want Remy involved, even though it's clear that Maverick wants Logan dead. Then something hits him. Maverick wasn't trying to kill Logan, he was trying to get Logan to kill him instead. The two friends stare the other down, then Maverick removes his metal face plate, showing Logan and Remy the effects of the middle stages of Legacy Virus. He wants !Logan to kill him before the final stages happen, before he couldn't move anymore. He wanted a 'warrior's death・and to be 'Sent to Valhalla by somebody I respected.・ Logan will have none of it. 'What am I? A Viking funeral director? You wanna go out like a man? You gotta take the walk into darkness just the same as if you was goin' to the hardware store.・He goes on to say that Maverick shouldn't just drop out of life and is interrupted when Maverick counters with 'Yes? Like you've been doing, Logan? Perhaps you should be taking your own advice.・With that, he turns around and leaves. Remy tries to get Logan not to take Maverick's comments personally, but that's exactly what Maverick had meant to do. He meant for Logan to wake up and start thinking about the life he left behind and not to quit just because he lost his Adamantium, just like he won't quit now that he has the Legacy Virus.
Ice: To start out, let's see what these two have in common. For one, both have Logan minus a healing factor and enhanced senses. Or at least without the kind he used to have. Issue 87 took place after Magneto ripped all the metal out of Wolvie's body, and his senses got shot to pieces afterwards. He himself claims that his sniffer isn't what it used to be. Now in issue 174, Logan talks about how with his senses reduced to that of a normal person, he can't see the hand that the guy at the poker table is hiding, hear the cheesy come-on lines the guy at the bar is telling the woman, or smell the cigarette the old lady at the slot machine along the way is smoking.
Both of them show Logan's unwavering determination as well. Even without his powers, Logan keeps on truckin' with all the wounds Lady D and Omega Red give him, just to find his foster daughter. In #87, he tells Maverick that even if he does shoot him, Logan will still come after him. 'I can take half a dozen shots before I go down to my knees, but you know that won't stop me. I'd just crawl. And when I couldn't crawl no more, I'd just slither along like some mean ol' diamondback till I was lookin' ya dead in the eye.・
And both of them have someone asking for Logan to take their life. Maverick in #87 wants Logan to kill him because he is dying of Legacy already, Yukio in #174 wants him to kill her because of the damage to her spinal cord. She may never be able to walk again, and in her line of work, plus the prideful woman that she is, it is inexcusable. Both would be acts of mercy on Logan's part. Both requests come from people that he considers friends and that respect him deeply. And both requests cause him emotional stress.
Yezra: What I found kind of interesting about the two was how differently he reacted to the same horrible, burdensome request. Yes, they both put him in distress, but with the man he was pissed off ・he was all "Get over it! Be a man! Go out fighting and on your feet!" With the woman he was shocked, saddened, and "Don't even say that!" Yet, in the past, it was a woman that he actually did that for. I'm not sure, but I don't think Logan has ever done that for anyone but Mariko. I'm thinking, just maybe, he might be considering Yukio's request. And I honestly can't figure out how I feel about that. It's Logan's strength of character that has people asking things like that of him. If he wasn't that 'mean ol' diamondback', crawling to the last・ well, would you ask that of someone who is notorious for giving up? So, here we have a guy that refuses to give up, but his friends ask him to help them do just that. It's hard enough to read・I can't imagine writing it and making it come off well.
And I hate seeing him without his enhanced senses, arrgh!
#87 was from the blue & yellow spandex Wolvie period, and the style was so very pure comic book: extreme foreshortening, lots of close-to-far scenes mixed in on the same page. The colors are less rich than the newer issue, but the inkwork was far more intense. The art is as frenetic as the story. Today's Wolverine is very different. The panels are clean, less confusing, and it reads more like a movie storyboard than a comic. The colors are much nicer, but the inkwork is toned down. There are not a lot of extreme layouts here, the panels are very easy to follow, but that also means they are not as visually challenging. In all, I like the newer art better ・not because of the differences in the way Logan is portrayed, but in the overall style. That double-page money shot, where Logan is kneeling at Mariko's grave ・it was just beautiful!
As far as Wolvie himself, they each have their own appeal. He looks older and wilder in #87, all that crazy hair and a larger build. Today he's black leather, younger-looking, and for whatever reason they conveniently leave out the points in his hair. He isn't as muscle bound, which visually makes him look a little taller. I like them both・but sometimes I feel like I am reading about two different characters. How about who he is working with? Alpha Flight in the newer comic is more of a family to Logan, each member has different skills and personalities. You can tell Logan cares about them in a way he does not about very many people. Gambit and Logan did a lot more arguing in Uncanny and X-Men, their relationship was pretty uneasy. But when he guested in Wolverine, they were far more at ease with each other, and thinking and fighting in a similar fashion. I've always enjoyed Wolvie & Gambit together, when they were away from the other heroes. To be honest, he's on his own now in the new story, but I'd like to see Gambit help Logan out with this one. He'd be the perfect silent partner to help get Amiko back. #174's story promises to be a very good one, but #87 had that feel-good camaraderie. He is a lone wolf in the new story and I feel pretty bad for him.
Ice: The camaraderie thing is great, and I'd like to see somebody help Wolvie out with the Amiko kidnapping issue, but I think he's going to be on his own with that. I absolutely hate how he's getting thrown through the meat grinder in #174. But that last page with Creed! Can anyone say polyester lives! Heee, Victor the gigolo. Now that's a great mental image! It's almost as great as seeing Logan dancing with Tyger Tiger a la Fred Astaire. We never get to see him cut a rug and it was just great.
I agree with the artwork. #87 was classic comic book: the overlapping panels, heavy use of inks, big muscled men in full, shiny body armor and tall, lanky men in brightly colored spandex, the works. I have to say I like the newer look, the lighter use of ink and pencils show Logan as still a shortie, but not a short lil bunch of muscles. The economical use of line creates an easier to read strength in Logan, there's not these bunches of muscle that say 'Ooh, look at me! I'm big and bulky, therefore I'm strong!・ The newer art gives a more subtle approach to things. Another thing I love about the different pencilers is that Chen tends to focus more on faces. The different expressions for each of the characters are great and I haven't seen Logan look as intense and, well, normal looking in a long while. It's not to say that I don't like Kubert, I adore his work, but there's just something about Logan's new look here that gets to me. As for the covers, I have to say #174 won my pick. It was hard, with #87 sporting a yummy Gambit with all that gorgeous hair plus a snarling Logan, but the total feral thing going on with #174 with the blood splatters on his face and the heavy use of inks (this is an example of the few times I like heavy inks, when they emphasize something), plus just the whole look and the menacing glare in his eyes・t gave me goosebumps when I opened my mail and saw it lying there.
Plot wise, I think both of them are wonderful. The whole reunion with old cronies in #87 was cool, as was the flashback with Creed and the scenes with Maverick. #174 was mostly fightin' with Omega Red and Lady Deathstrike, but it had it's quiet moments, like in the beginning at Markio's grave and at Yukio's bedside.
Shots that made the comics their money's worth for me had to be in #87, even though it had nothing to do with Logan, the scene where Gambit is covered with six lovely 'belles de la nuit・and lipstick kisses over his face. Makes me giggle every time I see it. Conversations that were worth the back issue price was the speech that Logan gave Maverick that essentially said 'Buck up an' quit yer cryin'. I ain't helpin' ya die. Be a man, dammit!・and Maverick retorting with how Logan should be taking his own advice. For issue #174, the visual and the conversational gems for me were on the same page. The wide range of emotions that flitted over Logan's face from rage to quiet listening with anger still boiling on the surface to utter shock and despair were priceless. Then the look on Yukio's face when she asks him to kill her. She knows it the coward's way out, but she still asks. It looks as if it pains her to put such a request on Logan's shoulders, but she'll still do it. Their conversation tugs at the tear ducts a bit, and that's what makes it memorable. Logan telling her that he'll think about it is essentially telling him that he will if push comes to shove. He won't like it, but he'll honor her request. If anything, that is what gets the veteran reader's attention: Logan's firm sense of honor.