Essential Wolverine Vol. 7

First Published: June 2013

Contents: Wolverine #129 (October 1998) to #148 (March 2000); and Hulk #8 (November 1999)

Key Creator Credits: Todd DeZago, Fabian Nicieza, Erik Larsen, Eric Stephenson, Leinil Francis Yu, Cary Nord, Jeff Matsuda, Mike Miller, Roger Cruz, Ron Garney, and others

Story Continues From: Essential Wolverine Vol. 6

Overview: Over the years, Wolverine has faced every foe possible, from Magneto to Apocalypse to Sabretooth. He’s even clashed with the mainstream villains like Dr. Doom. But leave it to his, the final Essential Wolverine collection, for Wolverine to go up against the ultimate force in the Marvel Universe – Galactus!

Following the standard Wolverine vs. Sabretooth story that we are quite familiar with already, Wolverine gets caught up in an intergalactic tale. He gets kidnapped via a mutant who can control minds. Wolverine regains control to find himself mixed up with the Collector. With an assist from the Starjammers, Wolverine stops the Collector but finds he must now protect the various captives on the ship from Galactus. Wolverine learns that some battles cannot be won and that getting everyone out alive is the best victory you can hope for in this situation.

Next up are a series of one-shot team-up issues, featuring the likes of Cable, Nightcrawler, Jubilee and Alpha Flight. It’s really surprising to me, given how insanely popular Wolverine became during this era, that Marvel never gave him his own team-up book, much like Spider-Man and the Thing had in the 1970s and 1980s.

Finally, as part of the character’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Wolverine is finally reunited with his adamantium skeleton and claws. Professor Xavier has been forced to disband the X-Men when they find that Apocalypse has planted a fake Wolverine on their team. In all actuality, the real Wolverine finds himself as one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, Death. Unfortunately, too much of the storyline is not reprinted here, so I’m going to need to check out the reprint collection of The Twelve to get a full idea of what is going on in this story.

The final issue is part of the Ages of Apocalypse storyline, featuring a reunion of the All-New Fantastic Four (Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk and Ghost Rider), which was first introduced in Walt Simonson’s memorable run on Fantastic Four. It’s a fun mash-up of characters, and one that I wish Marvel would find a way to revisit again someday.

What makes this Essential?: Why does this have to happen to me? Just when I really start to enjoy the Wolverine line of books, the Essential line comes to an end. I wasn’t reading the Wolverine title (or the X-Men books) in this era, so this was my first read of all of these issues. These are more interesting stories, especially those that do not get caught up in the current X-event.

If you like this volume, try: the 2017 Logan movie. This may be Hugh Jackman’s best take on Wolverine in any of the X-Men and Wolverine movies over the last 20 years. Borrowing heavily from Old Man Logan, the film takes place sometime in the future, where most of the mutants have been killed off. Logan finds himself as Xavier’s caretaker, trying to help the Professor keep his abilities in check as dementia takes over his mind. A new mutant, Laura Kinney, appears on the scene, created from Logan’s DNA, making her Wolverine’s daughter. He agrees to take Laura to Eden, a safe place for mutants, only to discover that it’s a mythical place from a comic book. They are hunted by the Reavers, who are relentless in their pursuit of the mutants. Logan eventually finds Eden but must sacrifice himself to stop the Reavers and give the kids a chance to escape. This was a tremendous movie, doing well with both critics and the box-office returns.

Essential X-Men Vol. 11

xmen11First Published: January 2013

Contents: Uncanny X-Men #273 (February 1991) to #280 (September 1991); Uncanny X-Men Annual #15 (1991); X-Men #1 (October 1991) to #3 (December 1991); X-Factor #69 (August 1991) and #70 (September 1991); X-Factor Annual #6 (1991); New Mutants Annual #7 (1991); and New Warriors Annual #1 (1991)

Key Creator Credits: Chris Claremont, Jim Lee, Fabian Nicieza, Peter David, Paul Smith, Andy Kubert, Tom Raney, Whilce Portacio, and others

Key First Appearances: Acolytes (Fabian Cortez, Delgado, Anne-Marie Cortez, Chrome)

Story Continues From: Essential X-Men Vol. 10

Overview: This is the end, beautiful friends! Over the last 15 years of reprinted stories, we have seen X-Men come and go from the mansion in Westchester, New York. We have buried teammates, and seen many resurrected, as well as welcome new heroes to the family. The villains have gotten deadlier, whether they are shooting lasers or leading congressional sub-committees. But the goal remains the same, to find a way for humans and mutants to live together in the same world. This is Essential X-Men Vol. 11.

This collection starts out with the crazy adventures we have come to expect from the X-Men. We get Rogue, Magneto, and Nick Fury heading to the Savage Land. We’ve got the rest of the X-Men heading to deep space to stop the War Skrulls. Seriously, we knew the Skrulls were war-inclined for years, but now these War Skrulls take it to a new level!

Next up is the summer crossover event that went between the Annuals – Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and New Warriors. A.I.M. is looking to resurrect Proteus, the mutant son of Moira MacTaggert. A rag-tag team of heroes (i.e., those not good enough to go on the mission into space) must ban together to stop A.I.M. and Proteus.

Upon their return to Earth, the X-Men find that the Shadow King, the ne’er-do-well that has been lurking around in their minds for years, has taken over all of the inhabitants of Muir Island. The X-Men give their all to stop the Shadow King, with Xavier making a final stand with his son Legion in a coma.

The book concludes with the first three issues of the adjectiveless X-Men title. With Jim Lee on art and with the benefit of five different covers, Chris Claremont pens the best-selling comic book in the modern era. Really, after all the ups and downs of the past 15 years, Claremont is bringing things back to how he found them when he first took over the X-Men scripting duties. The original X-Men have returned to the team, the mansion has been rebuilt (AGAIN!) and Magneto has returned to his evil ways. It’s been often said that a comic book writer should leave the title as they found it. Claremont found a way to make things right as he left the mansion…. for now.

What makes this Essential?: This is a great way to wrap up Chris Claremont’s 17-year run with the Marvel mutants. Picking up from their introduction in Giant-Size X-Men #1 back in 1975, Claremont helped turn around the X-Men from a doormat title into one of Marvel’s most important (and most profitable) franchises of all time.

By the time this Essential comes to an end, Claremont is ready to step away from the mutant books. Under his guidance, he turned the Uncanny X-Men comic around from a bi-monthly title into two different ongoing monthly titles, along with multiple spin-off titles (New Mutants/X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine, and others). A new generation of comic book creators, who grew up reading Claremont’s books, were in place ready to take over the reigns of the books.

Footnotes: Uncanny X-Men #280, Uncanny X-Men Annual #15, and X-Factor #69 and #70 are also reprinted in Essential X-Factor Vol. 5.

If you like this volume, try: the Comic Geek Speak podcast look at the X-Men in the Chromium Age. Yes, I am part of my own podcast (Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER!) and would love for you to check it out and follow me there. But the guys over at CGS have been doing the podcast thing for over 10 years now. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. CGS has been doing detailed looks at titles or characters over a period of time, such as the X-Men. With the podcast referenced above, they take a detailed look at the X-Men in the early 1990s. There is so much information in these podcasts. Bookmark their website and use it as a reference like I do.