Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wolverine #3 Cover Art (November 1982)

Logan suffers no end of emotional and physical punishment in the first two issues of the Wolverine limited series and the third issue finds him at a low point on every conceivable level. Frank Miller does a remarkable job of expressing Logan's state of being on the cover of this issue that marks both a nadir and turning point in the pivotal Wolverine story.

Source: Kraalo Archives, ComicLink

Wolverine #3 (November 1982)

Title: Loss
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: November 1982
Release Date: July 1982
Synopsis: After enduring no end of emotional and physical punishment over the prior two issues, Logan cuts loose and blows off steam as he and Yukio cut a swath through Tokyo’s seedy bars. The issue starts with Logan sparing with a former Sumo wrestler in a bar room brawl than ends with his opponent being flung through the window onto the street. Outside Logan meets his old friend and former colleague Asano Kimura who is currently a member of Japan’s Secret Service.  Asano prevails upon Logan to stop drowning his sorrows and to help him stop an a villain who has taken over the entire Japanese underworld. In a tense exchange with his old friend, Logan declines to help and takes off with Yukio.

The couple stagger off into the streets as the ninjas of the Hand lie in wait.  The splash page features a fantastic aerial view with group of ninjas on the rooftops overlooking Wolverine and Yukio, proving that no one can draw ninjas like Frank Miller! As he and Yukio walk into a rail yard, Logan is dead drunk and collapses onto the tracks with Yukio in his arms. Despite his drunken stupor, Logan feels a faint vibration on the tracks and dives to safety with Yukio in the nick of time as the Bullet Train flies past. Completely surprised, Logan yells at Yukio, wondering what the hell she was thinking playing chicken with the bullet train. She replies that she wishes to live life to its fullest and, when she dies, she wishes to die spectacularly.

Logan passes out on the tracks and he dreams of himself as a samurai warrior in ancient times fighting to win the hand of his beloved Mariko. He finds the gates of her home barred and the walls lined with archers who tell him that he is not welcome. The warrior attacks against impossible odds and pays a terrible price in the vicious battle. Nearly dead, the warrior is brought before Mariko who says “My love is for a man. Not a beast clad in human form who knows nothing of honor, or duty, or any of the beliefs that I hold most dear.” She then knocks an arrow and shoots him dead, sending him back into the abyss out of which he struggled so long ago. “I sleep. I…dream. I dream. I…weep.” Logan’s tortured soul suffers.

While Logan sleeps, Yukio is cornered by the Hand ninjas who relay Yashida Shingen’s orders to kill Wolverine or suffer the consequences. Yukio pretends to agree and manages to kill all five of the ninjas with her trademark throwing blades. With the threat addressed for the moment, Yukio tries to wake Logan from his drunken sleep, but to her dismay, he mutters “Mariko,” so she kicks him to the ground and stalks off.  Yukio returns to their hotel where she wrestles with her impossible situation: She loves a man who she knows will always love another.  And she is now so far at odds with her employer Shingen that she may have passed the point of no return. As she ponders these issues, the door tentatively opens and she reacts instinctively.

Logan returns to his hotel, looking to make up with Yukio, who he rightly assumes is furious at him for uttering Mariko’s name, and also wanting to determine why the Hand is still interested in Yukio after the death of Katsuyori.  Logan enters his room and stops immediately as he spots a corpse on the floor – his friend Asano with one of Yukio’s knives in his neck. He doesn’t rush to judgement, thinking that Asano’s death may have been an accident born of surprise. But when Logan examines the blade, he comes to a chilling conclusion: The poison on the blade is the same nerve toxin that he fell victim to in Shingen Yashida’s palace. Yukio works for Shingen and has been lying to him from the start. setting him up as her pawn and victim.

Yukio appears on the scene, trying to explain. Logan’s reaction is swift as it is fierce. “You’d better kill me now, Yukio. You won’t get a second chance.” Yukio flees and Logan follows her in a fantastic chase sequence across the rooftops of Tokyo. He soon catches her and they crash throw a window into a rock garden. As the two come head to head, they are ambushed by the Hand who try to neutralize Logan’s close quarters killing skill by binding his limbs with ropes from a distance. They are no match for Logan who quickly dispatches the ninjas with a bit of help from Yukio, who escapes during the melee. The issue ends with Logan searching his soul and coming to a critical conclusion: “I’m a man, Shingen! Not a beast. A man! And that mistake is going to cost you!” To be concluded next issue in Honor.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Marvel Makes The Magic! Promo Poster (1984)

Marvel's promo posters from the 1980s bring back such fond memories of my expeditions to comic shops during the early days of my comic collecting and reading.  Most of Marvel's promo posters were dedicated to a specific event, issue or series, but occasionally there was one that just celebrated the joy of comics overall. This poster with art by Steve Leialoah certainly fits that bill with a man reading a stack of comics on his lunch hour while an interstellar conflict plays out in the window behind him. There are lots of cool details in the piece, so click on the image below to see a larger version of the remastered poster.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Wolverine #2 (October 1982)

Title: Debts And Obligations
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: October 1982
Release Date: June 1982
Synopsis: Logan awakes to the urgent cries of the woman Yukio who saved him at the end of Wolverine #1.  He finds himself in a bedroom surrounded by more than half a dozen ninjas intent on doing them harm.  Logan responds in kindand dives through the window only to find a larger cadre of ninjas waiting on the rooftops below.  Frank Miller is at his best drawing the fight scenes in this issue and the double-page spread at the beginning of this issue is nothing short of remarkable. Yukio thinks that the Hand is comprised of the world’s finest assassins, assuming that Logan will be no match for their superior numbers and skill, but he surprises her and emerges victorious.

It’s important to note that Chris Claremont’s Wolverine could be seriously harmed and would take quite a bit of time to heal from potentially mortal wounds in contrast to the way that the character is written today.  This dynamic added a layer of gravity to Logan’s fights and wounds that simply doesn’t exist today as he’s written almost like Superman with a healing factor that serves as shorthand for invulnerability. The screenwriter's decision to eliminate Logan’s healing factor in The Wolverine movie was a great move that really allowed the writers to explore the depths of his character and courage in the face of insurmountable odds and seemingly certain death.

Logan and Yukio return to Logan’s hotel where she is astounded to see that his wounds from the fight have already healed.  “A useful talent for a warrior,” she says. “I would give my soul to be like you.” Logan asks about the assassins of the Hand and Yukio explains that they serve a powerful crime lord who she fears and Logan vows to protect her. Yukio is clearly smitten by Logan, but his thoughts remain with Markio and he denies her advances. In an interlude that follows, Yukio visits Shingen Yashida in his office, revealing her true colors. Shingen instructs Yukio to kill a rival crime lord Katsuyori with Wolverine’s help and then to kill the mutant after he serves his purpose.

Yukio tells Logan that Katsuyori is the crimelord that she fears, tricking him into helping her with carry out Shingen’s plot. The pair sneak into Katsuyori’s castle to find the villain, but Logan is shocked to find Mariko and her husband sitting down with Katsuyori and his wife to watch a performance of the play 47 Ronin.  Logan realizes that the play is a trap and intervenes in the nick of time as the lead actor draws a real sword and attacks Mariko and her husband. “If you wish Mariko-Chan’s life…You’ll have to get past me to take it.” “Then, Gaijin, We shall!” “Ok, Bub -- It’s your funeral!” An amazing fight scene follows.

As Logan fights the assassins, Katsuyori and his wife flee the castle only to have their car blown up by Yukio. “Gotcha!” Logan is holding his own against the assassins, but one of them hits him perfectly from the back with a downward sword stroke that would have cut the mutant in half if not for his adamantium bones. The wound drives Logan into a berserker rage and he makes quick and brutal work of the assassins. When the dust settles, Wolverine stands as the winner, but he is stunned to see that Mariko witnessed the whole fight and a side of himself that he would never have wanted her to know. Logan’s descent into shame will be continued next issue in “Loss.”

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wolverine #1 Cover Art (September 1982)

The cover art to Wolverine #1 is a truly amazing piece of art by Frank Miller and Josef Rubinstein that sets the tone for the acclaimed limited series that redefined the mutant hero into Marvel's most popular character. Wolverine was only Marvel's second limited series after Contest of Champions that debuted in June of the same year and its success set the stage for a new creative outlet and many more great titles in the years to come.

Source: ComicArtFans Gallery of Eric Roberts
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