Famous panels: WolverinePosted: 05/23/2014
So to summarize my ongoing series, I came across Comic Book Resource’s list of The 70 Most Iconic Panels in Marvel History about a year ago. Every few months, I like to pick one of the panels and explain the stories behind it. Think of it as a comic book version of Behind the Music, just with no music whatsoever. In honor of Wolverine’s starring role in the new movie opening today, I picked Most Iconic Panel #4 that came from Uncanny X-Men #132, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne:
And truthfully, this panel (and the subsequent comic) has been analyzed by many people and websites far smarter and more credible than I am. But like Wolverine says, it’s my turn. And also like Wolverine, I’m writing this in a sewer.
The Hellfire Club, a secret organization of billionaires and other high society folks who enjoy pummeling X-Men — as some rich folks enjoy yachting or fine caviar, these socialites instead prefer to wreck superheroes — attacked our heroes and destroyed them. A bad guy’s credibility depends on an initial success.
So Wolverine had been in the X-Men for about 30 issues at this point. It hadn’t been a terribly successful run for him, to the point that his destiny lied nearly in cut-from-the-team obscurity. Until this issue. He propelled to stardom because of this issue. The Hellfire Club, a shadowy group with the worst facial hair in comics, just took down the whole X-Men with gloating ease. Well, one man survived. One man’s willing to take on the entire bad guy team by himself.
Full disclosure: Wolverine never actually solos the Hellfire Club. Not even close. Actually, he gets his butt kicked almost immediately upon reaching them. But the lead up ranks among one of the great Wolverine moments, just for the sheer pants-wetting honesty he delivers to the poor henchmen who cross his path. Though he first has to slash some of them up.
Besides his natural musky odor of beer sweat and unwashed back hair, you figure the added sewer drenching would cause the henchmen to gag as soon as they walked in the room, much less allow Wolverine to ambush the squad. And I know they’re all going to die, but the Hellfire Club’s wealth and status must be the Google of companies to hench for. They spend all day in air-conditioned mansions eating hor d’oeuvres, listening to Beethoven, and working with bosses who don’t mind doing their own dirty work. Or growing mutton chops, apparently.
For the last baddie, Wolverine asks him the most important question the dude has ever been asked. Even more important than, “Are you sure this is a good career choice?”
On a related note, Jean Grey premieres as Dark Phoenix in this same arc. She’s the redhead in the dominatrix outfit on the far left. Still, only Wolverine would bust into the room wearing henchmen like scarves, giving the X-Men that vital distraction to begin round two. I love that little man.
You can buy the book for the rest of the story. It’s worth it.
On Monday, we’ll look into the Kitty Pryde vs. Emma Frost fight from Astonishing X-Men. Not just because it’s totally great and I can’t stop talking about it, but it’s an arc about the Hellfire Club attacking the X-Men, leaving only a battered Kitty Pryde capable of saving the entire team from certain death. A familiar plot, right? Very familiar: