Thursday, August 16, 2012

Logan, Love, Marriage & Mind Control...

In early 1998, Marvel's then editor in chief Bob Harrass approached Chris Claremont with the request to write a story arc on Wolverine, the series he helped launch in the 1987. The timing couldn't be better, considering Claremont's debut would start with the big anniversary issue # 125.

Most fans figured Claremont would use the opportunity to restore Wolverine's status quo, maybe even restore the adamantium that was ripped out by Magneto at the end of 1993's Fatal Attractions crossover. To his credit, Chris intentionally did the unexpected, unfortunately his three issue storyline was, well, haphazard at best. The anniversary issue starts out with Jubilee running from some bad guys in a scene that mirrors Kitty Pryde's escape from the Hellfire Club in Uncanny X-men # 129.

Jubes was rescued from that particular horror by, well, just guess...

Yup, that's Shadowcat and Lockheed... Looking ever so spiffy in green. But what's caused her sudden change in appearance? And for that matter, why was Jubilee being chased by those Hellfire Club goons, who by the way looked like X-women in outfits similar to Kitty's?

Bless Claremont's gift for exposition. The rather psychotic terrorist Viper, also fond of dressing in green leather, is revealed to be the big bad. Desperately trying to get at Wolverine, Viper used a special mind control poison (because that's what poisons do apparently) to recruit some of Wolverine's closest female friends and associates. Viper had managed to claim Psylocke, Rogue, Tyger Tiger, Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde and Yukio. Jubilee was about to join their ranks, if Kitty hadn't broken free from Viper's conditioning to save her.

Five of their colleagues however, weren't quite so lucky... And neither was Wolverine once the green squad tracked him down.

So why was Viper after Wolverine in the first place? Well, he once sorta promised Viper his hand in marriage in return for her aid. Its rather reassuring to know the lady might be a psychotic, mass murdering maniac, but she sure ain't forgetful!

Wolverine reluctantly obeyed his sense of honor and agreed to marry Viper, but their wedded bliss was cut short by Sabretooth who showed up to kill Logan's better half.

In a nice tip of the hat to a Wolvie wedding that that never was, Claremont has Sabretooth swear he'd kill any mate 'the runt' would ever take. Back in the early 80s, Claremont and Byrne had planned to have Wolverine and his lady love Mariko Yashida tie the knot... Only to have Sabretooth appear as the villain who ripped her apart.

And by 1998, the crazed mutant was about to fulfill his destiny after all. Yet, as the end of the second issue fast approached, even Victor Creed proved to be a mere accomplice to the real bad guy because well... Hey, why *DID* we shovel out that extra dough for gatefold covers that tell everyone what they need to know?

Yep, in the third and final chapter everyone got kidnapped and mind controlled by the Hand, leading to delicious scenes like these...

All the pain they caused Wolverine and Kitty had a remarkable effect on the erstwhile Shadowcat as she appeared like a latter day Psylocke...

But the Hand wasn't just planning on mind controlling Viper. They had a few more of those sensory depravation tanks lying around so why not stick a few more of Wolverine's women in there. In skintight outfits of course, mind control or not, there's always room for some eye candy.

In the end, all the heroes broke free to fight another day and Claremont bowed out after this three issue stint... While leaving the Wolverine/Viper marriage stand and revealing the Hand had reinforced Sabretooth's claws and skeleton with adamantium, making him a truly tough foe.

Alas, these story elements were quickly reversed by future writers who had the happy couple break up because, well, one's a sociopath with odd hair, a bad temper and connections to terrorist groups bent on imposing their views on a world that hates and fears them... and the other is Viper.*

* With sincerest apologies to Craig Ferguson

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