Comic Comments: Goodbye Chinatown

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 17

This starts a whole new saga in the Wolverine series. The story covers Wolverine Volume 4, Issues 17-19. The kick off saga made up of multiple arcs came to a close in the last issue. This arc sets the stage to kick off the Wolverine and the X-Men title where he becomes headmaster reopening Xavier’s school in Westchester.

As always it takes a village to make a comic and I want to give them credit for it. Here’s this team: Jason Aaron, Writer; Ron Garney, Art; Jason Keith, Color Art; Ron Garney with Jason Keith, Cover Art; VC’s Cory Petit, Letterer; Jared K. Fletcher, Designer; Jody Leheup, Assistant Editor; Jeanine Schaefer, Editor; Nick Low, Group Editor; Axel Alonso, Editor In Chief; Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer; Dan Buckley, Publisher; and Alan Fine, Executive Producer.

All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique. No more than three pages total from any one issue is reproduced.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 18

This story violates my ‘jump-the-shark’ rule for MY X-Men. No aliens, no magic, no supernatural stuff are allowed in my favorite X-Men stories. You might like that stuff in YOUR X-MEN and more power to you, glad there are arcs for both of us.  I can take these things in other titles where they fit but they don’t fit in my X-Men or for that matter when I read Batman. This story brings me so many violations I had to put it away for months and talk myself up to reading it. The pretty art helped lure me to tolerate it. Also I decided to take it laughingly – NOT seriously.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 19

That said, the only thing that was value to me in this arc was James’s announcement of his new purpose – to start a school and not lose any more kids. He’s out to get all the money he’s stashed all around the world over his years of wandering to put into this dream. He’ll reopen it in Westchester NY where Xavier’s school was. In doing this James also saves one of his favorite bars, Harry’s Hideaway, from bankruptcy with his tab alone.

What I don’t like is the meat of the whole arc between that takes place between those events. For those who did, GREAT!  I’m happy for you. But I found it just too fantastical. James gets Indiana Jones’s boy companion from the Temple of Doom. He also acquires a talking gorilla private investigator partner while physically going underground in San Francisco to battle the opium drug trade to get his money back. You see, there are HUGE (the size of Australia) opium fields under the earth manned by slaves who have real dragons as beasts of burden. Lost you too huh? Wait until you see them get the talkative Sumo wrestler and all three men get swallowed by dragons to go undercover in da bellies!

The fun part of this whole thing was the banter between James, Gorilla, and Sumo.  The battle was boring and stupid because of where it was and it involved magic.  I didn’t care beyond James getting his money.  I was like Porter in Payback just get the money and it’ll be over. I did enjoy how Melita managed to make the move to New York to be with her man. That was just a side framing story to the whole nonsense in the underground opium fields. In the end – good wins and surfaces (again literally) in Westchester in time to save Harry’s Hideaway from closure.  James is all set to start his school. So anything that saves a bar, a relationship, and a school can’t be a total waste of three issues can it?

As for the art I have praise. I think the covers are pretty. It’s a whole new team since the big saga has wrapped. I really like the formatting of them. The elements are put together to catch the eye. The first one is the start of a big journey from rogue lone wolf team member to headmaster of a school with real adult worries like financing the school and such. Dragon one is interesting and I laughed at turning the title character on his head for his cover. All in all they are what I want in a cover – reflects the story while catching the eye.

The interior art is also pretty. I enjoyed it and wished it was there to tell me a more serious story. At times it’s a bit too sketchy for me but that’s being really nit-picky. Even nit-pickier is when that damn underbite shows up for James. Other than that I’d put this up as art I’d like to see again.

Next arc is a war between Japanese crime families in the arc of two titles and five books, And Then There Was a War/Back In Japan, Wolverine Vol. 4 Issues 20, 300-303.  Yeah we’ll chat about that whole issue numbering thing later, really WTF Marvel? Along with why can’t the dead just stay dead?

Until then enjoy the spoilery panels/pages comments after the jump.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 17

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 17

I was getting into the story here. James announces to Melita what he’s decided to do and she’s supportive as any good woman is of her man. Even kid side kick recognizes she’s good for him and a keeper. James is off to claim his money from being the Black Dragon his secret identity as kingpin of the Chinatown underworld. Silly me here I thought it was crime! No it’s an UNDER world literally. That’s where it jumps the shark for me.  If it’s continued down the path of real crime and money claiming it like Porter did I’d love this arc as much as I loved Law of the Jungle arc (Wolverine Vol. 2, Issues 181-186 check it out beautiful interior art by Sean Chen, my type of story by Frank Tieri). But no, we went crazy… by the time I hit this next posted page I had to put the title away for a few months and have that self talk.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 17

Here we are chatting up a gorilla while fighting Opium dragons underground in Chinatown.

Yes I had to tell myself to get back to the story. I liked how the character had grown. I liked that he was in a stable relationship. I liked that he wanted to start a school. I liked the art. I knew that there would be arcs that weren’t my cup of tea. So I picked up the issues and told myself to take it as a joke, to laugh at it and find something to enjoy despite it going so far against my grain.

And I did find something to enjoy – I enjoyed the banter. It’s fun, cheesy 80’s action film dialogue. That I could enjoy! I could giggle at the bad jokes and ribbing. That’s what I did.

***put in for format just wait until I take my WordPress class this will be FLAWLESS***

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 18

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 18

The banter only got better when they added the hungry lost tattooed Sumo guy. Yes we now have a PI gorilla, Sumo guy, and James out to get his money back from the literally underground Opium trade. How to do that you ask?

Well you gotta go into the belly of the beast, yes again literally. The 1980s quipping action team gets themselves swallowed by three real dragons to sneak in and steal the money back.  Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up.

So how did they get out you ask.  Did they kill the hapless beasts?  Well no…

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 19

They took a tip from the ProAna boards and made them puke. Oh I know puke jokes are so juvenile but what can I say given the scenario we find ourselves in? Let’s just roll with it shall we? They sneak into the strong hold get puked up and then fight the bad guys. They win the day, get the money, AND surface across country next to one of James’s favorite bars. The arrival of the victorious action team saves the humble drinking hole from the awful economy and who is there to buy James a beer? None other than his beloved Melita.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 19

They must have ridden far and for a long time to make it from San Francisco to Westchester in the belly of those beasts. Also there was enough time for Melita to accept the New York job and make her move there. Wow thank goodness underworld opium dragons have slow digestive systems.

Also look at that top panel there. The one where the giant slightly nauseated dragon is sticking his head up behind our hero in the parking lot of Harry’s. Yeah that one. There’s that horrid underbite again! That’s a bad habit James! Stop thrusting your lower jaw forward! Oh and start using condoms… Just bits of my personal advice to you.

I have say I give a hats off to Harry who doesn’t seem a bit flustered  to have queasy dragons, talking gorillas, lost hungry Sumo guys, Indy’s Temple of Doom side kick, and Headmaster Howlett pop up out of his parking lot. Hopefully they paid to fix the lot too.

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 19

Now back to serious panels I like.  First off James summerizes what he’s been through lately.  I think that’s the best short summary of the first 16 issues of this volume I’ve read.  Oh the guy that’s punching him has magical soul punches.  To James they are nothing compared to what his soul has been through going to hell, being possessed, killing five of his kids, and yes Melita strengthens his soul.  He’s endure worse pain and gotten stronger so a mere magic punch ain’t nothin’ to him.

Oh and that damn under bite is back… stop that James!

Wolverine Volume 4 Issue 19

Here we learn Melita is making the move with her man. She will now be working at the Daily Bugle. Damn nice that one of her admirers who likes cold beer and smells like dragon vomit sent her resume to them.

Aww, all is well that ends well. The stage is set to start the new Headmaster James “Logan” Howlett era. Until next time!

3 thoughts on “Comic Comments: Goodbye Chinatown

  1. Pingback: Comic Comments – One More Round | Mary Louise Eklund

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