Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wolverine Vs. Mortality—Making Our Favorite Canadian “Killable”

If there’s anything we can say about Wolverine—besides him being the best at what he does, which apparently means being in nine billion different comics per any given month—it’s that the guy can take a beating without really missing a beat.

I mean, we’ve seen him shot, stabbed, burned, forced to watch Rosie O’Donnell shower, you name it (so I made that Rosie one up, sue me) and nothing’s been able to stop him.  And it’s all been thanks to his handy dandy mutant healing factor.  It’s retarded his aging, it's sealed up his wounds, helped grow back his flesh, and probably kept his hair doing that thing it’s been doing all these years.  In a scrap, surrounded by dozens of ninjas, Wolverine never really had to think about charging in headfirst because, really, what was the worst that could happen?

Ahhhh!!  Think of a happy place!  Think of a happy place!

But now writer Paul Cornell has thrown a big old monkey wrench into Wolverine’s life in the form of the six part Killable, which just kicked off in last month’s Wolverine #8.  Throughout the first few issues of his new ongoing series, Wolverine faced off against a sentient virus from the Microverse that was capable of inhabiting and controlling the bodies of others and wants nothing more that to supplant humanity.

In going toe to toe with the foe, which made him a poet though he didn’t know it, Wolverine suffered a catastrophic consequence—the virus stole his healing factor away.

Now, we’ve seen Wolverine in some binds before, sometimes even with his healing factor being diminished or removed.

Things like this are going to have to be a LOT less commonplace…

Two of the most notable examples, perhaps, were from way back in the aftermath of X-Men #25, in which Magneto forcibly removed the adamantium from his bones, thereby severely taxing his healing abilities, and during a brief storyline in Uncanny X-Men #379-380 and X-Men #99, where Mr. Sinister tricked the High Evolutionary into shutting off all mutant powers on the planet.

It was bad enough in the first instance, but the second one was actually much worse because what made Wolverine such a prime candidate for the Weapon X Program was that his healing factor allowed him to combat the prolonged effects of adamantium exposure; without it, the metal on his bones was poisoning his bloodstream and he was pretty much on death row in a very short time (even though this was ignored during X-Tinction Agenda, when his healing factor was gone and it wasn’t poisoning but rather getting his ass kicked by Archangel that he had to worry about).

Oh, that whacky Sinister, always pulling those practical jokes on the X-Men, what a card!

Admittedly, when I first heard of the story, I was skeptical, especially since I was unsure if Cornell was familiar with what happened last time Wolvie lost his mutant powers and I wondered how it would be addressed.  Thankfully, Cornell confronted it immediately and had Hank Beast McCoy whip something up that would negate the poisoning, though he was unable to restore the healing factor so easily and, for now, that’s Wolverine’s new status quo.

Is it going to last?  I can’t imagine it will.  But I hope it’s something that lasts for more than a few issues just because of the sheer amount of new ground they can cover with a character who’s become so predictable in his actions.  No longer will he be able to just run into a burning building without regard for his physical health.  Drinking with Charlie Sheen is also likely out of the question as alcohol is going to put him down a lot faster.  And doing things like taking on a veritable army singlehandedly?  Yeah, that’s not going to happen either.

But, hey, he’s got this going for him, so it can’t be all that bad…

So, we’re going to get a Wolverine that’s going to be placed in the unfamiliar position of needing to rely on others.  It echoes a bit the first appearances of Jubilee where she saved him from the hands of Donald Pierce and the Reavers, who had beaten Wolverine into Canadian bacon and put his healing factor into overload.  But who will he turn to, and how will it affect things like his ability to teach and protect the students at the Jean Grey School?  Moreover, what’s going to happen when word gets out to his enemies?  You think Mystique and Sabretooth aren’t licking their lips—or each other’s, let’s be honest—right about now?

And perhaps the best thing about it is that this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a case of something big happening in one character’s book and then never being addressed in any of his other haunts, as we see too often in comics.  Rather, his new affliction is going to at least carry over into the other X-Men books, even playing an important role in the Battle of the Atom crossover beginning this month, so regardless of how long it lasts, there’s no question it’s being treated as a big deal beyond just the pages of his solo title.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about this one; so far Killable, and what’s lead up to it, has been surprisingly enjoyable and while I abhorred Cornell’s Action Comics run and dropped his Knight and Squire miniseries two issues in, I’m finding myself oddly enthralled with his take on Wolverine.

Marvel’s quintessential badass is now mortal and has a target or thirty on his back—who’s going to take the shot?

Anyone else hearing him telling us to “put ’em up” like the Cowardly Lion..?

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