Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Great Comic Book Covers

Paul Smith has always had a strong sense of design, and his covers have always stood out accordingly. The original piece, with Wolverine and Rogue against a black background, was strong enough that Adam Hughes could revisit the motif a decade later to similarly gratifying results. Although we've gotten used to the pin-up style covers over the last decade and a half, at the time the original issue was published the solid black and simple figures would have stood out against a flock of busy, garish, ugly covers.

Unless I'm mistaken this story was one of the first X-Men storylines after Rogue joined the X-Men, back when a new character joining the team was a slightly novel idea and not merely exhausting. Her first costume is still her best costume, with the sleek green catsuit not only serving as effective shorthand for her powers but also the supposedly stealthful nature of her character (remember that?). This was before she was a tomboy sex-kitten, back when she was rocking the hot schoolmarm look.

As for the story itself, I'll be damned if I remember anything much. I believe the X-Men were in Japan? Was this the Wolverine's wedding storyline? You have to wonder just what the editors were thinking when they said OK to Chris Claremont's interminable digressions into Japanese mob culture (or rather, Japanese mob culture as extrapolated by a white dude in his forties who saw a couple of Yakuza movies). At some point all the extraneous elements in Wolverine's origin just became so much gilding the lily -- alright, he's mysterious and dangerous and has a background with the Canadian special forces. But, er, let's make him a samurai, too! Because that worked well in Miller's Daredevil, and there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. And while we're at it we'll make him and Indian warrior and then we'll put him into a thinly veiled Terry and the Pirates proxy and then we'll have him fight alongside Ernest Hemingway in the Spanish Civil War . . . I think Wolverine as a ninja is pretty much the definition of a character "jumping the shark".

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