In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
Q & A 25: What’s your favorite Wolverine moment?
This is easy. I love Logan for one main reason: Jean Grey. Logan and Jean are my X-Men One True Pairing. I never ever never want them to be happy ever after, or even together, but as far as unrequited love stories go theirs is one of my favourites. I compiled a list of favorite Logan and Jean moments a couple years ago. While I am a fan of the bittersweet side of their not-quite-romance, the majority of those moments take place under DIRE CIRCUMSTANCE. The tragedy of Logan and Jean’s relationship is the key element for me. Phoenix must die in order to be reborn and Logan is the one who can kill her. And so he does over and over and over. And the idea of someone strong enough to handle that — that is one hundred percent my favorite Wolverine moment. Every single time.
Hugh Jackman and Anna Paquin made me the nerd I am today. Note that I’m not saying they made me a nerd. I was obviously wired to be one of those and in the (extremely unlikely) event that you require evidence of that: the only reason I saw the first X-Men movie in 2000 is that it got a good review in the New Yorker. I was a movie buff, and one with a bit of a weakness for a memorable leading man — whether that meant Cary Grant or Bruce Willis — but it never occurred to me I could be a fan of superheroes. I didn’t hate them, they just weren’t a thing I ever thought about. I sat down to watch X-Men because I had been told it presented an interesting allegory about how our society dealt with difference, and also because, hopefully, some things would explode in cool ways. (I said I was a nerd, I didn’t say I was a snob).
And then Wolverine happened. Suddenly I was watching this angry, half-naked man fighting in a cage in a bar in the Canadian wilderness, with an animalistic snarl on his face. I didn’t know anything about this guy, whether he was going to be a villain or a hero, or some combination of the two. But hey — cage fighting, shirtless. How could this be bad? The scene that captured my imagination, though, was the one after that. Wolverine found Rogue, the sympathetic runaway who was scared of her own powers, stowed away in his truck and — with a look on his face that told us this was against his better judgment — invited her to ride along. Because this was a superhero movie, it only took a few minutes before they are attacked by (duh) supervillains. But in those few minutes, I got to know Wolverine and Rogue — Logan and Marie — as two equally lost souls, in turn defensive, and prickly, then cautiously, almost silently, warm with each other. It was the first time it struck me that superhero stories could really be stories about people as much as they were about powers, and it was the strength of their friendship that carried me through the movie. It was also a pretty damn good introduction to Wolverine, and as much as I enjoy many of his appearances in comics, that will always be the Logan I love best.
As I sit on my Wolverine bedsheets in a room with at least 6 Wolverine action figures (mostly gifts), I wonder when, exactly, I became a Wolverine fan. And while I’m sure I could give several deep and thoughtful answers about storylines that showed me the character’s heart and loyalty and inner conflict, my mind returns, inexorably, to one moment:
“I’m the best at what I do. And what I do… is so terribly pretty!”
I owe Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men many things, but not least among them is my appreciation for Wolverine as a character who, despite his seriousness, can be mocked with more glee and cleverness than I’ve seen accomplished with any other character. Whedon’s transformation of Logan into his 10-year-old self — “Percy Dovetonsils,” as it were — was a pitch-perfect example of how this mockery functions. Sure, the words themselves are funny — Logan’s “prayer” in a tree would be amusing in any character’s mouth, because Whedon has such a gift for dialogue. But they wouldn’t work nearly as well if we didn’t know what a departure they are for the berserker bruiser we all know and love. The contrast of Logan’s scenes as a scared little boy with his usual personality creates the humor, and also shows the absurdity of how much Logan has changed from his poncy 19th century childhood, as revealed in the Origin miniseries. Now, I’m probably the only person in the world who loves Origin (and it was actually Whedon’s comic that made me pick it up to begin with), but there’s a strong argument to be made that it takes itself a bit too seriously. Whedon takes the piss out of it, and simultaneously reminds us that comics don’t have to be dumbed-down to be good, giggle-inducing fun.
The Wolverine I love more than anything is the guy who says “pun’kin.” The mentor, the teacher. The one who says “darlin’,” and likes to terrify the new students just a little, for fun. The Wolverine I love isn’t Wolverine, he’s Logan. And to one little girl, he’s Mr. Logan.
In Uncanny X-Men #195, Logan meets Katie Power for the first time. Her brothers and sister have been kidnapped by the Morlocks, a rescue party comprised of my four favorite X-Men ever, Rachel Summers, Logan, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde, sets out, shenanigans ensue, the Power kids are rescued and restored. It’s in this story that Logan tells Katie, “The hardest part about growing up, Katie, is understanding — accepting — that every action is a mix of both good and bad. It ain’t nice sometimes, but that’s the way of things.” (It occurs to me, reading this issue, that I may have discovered the source of my persistent use and abuse of the em-dash in writing. Another thing to attribute to Claremont. And to my favorite letterer ever, Tom Orzechowski.) Ten issues later, in Uncanny X-Men #205, Logan is badly hurt. He’s alone and is not in control of his mind. He’s an animal. And it’s Katie Power who wraps him in a blanket, Katie who walks him to cover in a snowstorm, Katie who gives him time until he can recover enough to fight Lady Deathstrike (in her first appearance!) and her cyborg Wolverine-killers. Katie is, it must be noted, terrified throughout this. But she believes in Logan’s heroism despite his animal behavior. And Logan, when he recovers his mind, is grateful for her trust.
What I love about this Logan — what I love about all his mentoring relationships, with Kitty and Rogue and Jubilee and Hisako — is that it’s not one-sided. Logan isn’t the one who knows everything, the one to always save the day. No, sometimes he needs saving. Sometimes he needs the teenage girl he’s been training to come save his ass, to save the day. To save the planet. It’s a mentoring relationship that doesn’t stifle. The protege doesn’t need to break away from Logan in order to grow. No, he wants, he demands that they live up to their potential while he can see them. Logan wants to make the world wider for the kids, the girls, he mentors. He wants to prepare them for the worst yet not frighten them. Logan wants his students to be as strong and confident and powerful as he knows they can be. And they, in turn, don’t want to let him down. They want to be the hero he makes them see. But not every lesson is one of butt-kicking and combat. Halfway through Uncanny X-Men #205, Logan recovers his mind. And he asks Katie Power to do something incredibly hard. We don’t hear his request and he spends the next six pages or so ripping Deathstrike and her men to pieces. On the final page of the issue Logan returns to where he left Katie. To where he had asked her to cover her eyes and ears and not peek. She did it, too. Trusted him. And didn’t see or hear the berserk carnage Logan inflicted on those trying to kill him. It’s these moments that reveal Logan for the incredibly gifted, intuitive mentor that he is. Katie is far too young to see the fight. But she’s old enough, and brave enough, to follow a difficult instruction in a combat situation. She’s old enough to trust Logan, and strong enough for Logan to trust her to do as he asked. Trust begets trust, strength begets strength, and both Katie and Logan are better people for what they have given each other.
This is my Logan. This is my Wolverine. And it’s my favorite moment.
So what about you? What’s your favorite Wolverine moment?