X-Men Vignettes #25 (1988)
“Just Don’t Look in Its Eyes”
Writer – Ann Nocenti
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #25 (September, 1988)
I was considering starting off today on a snarkier-than-normal note… because, honestly — these pre-rambles are starting to just flow together, ya know? But… ehh, I’ll just tamp whatever it is that’s on my mind down, so we can get into our third-Claremontless Vignette.
I think when we covered the Jo Duffy “fill-in” Vignettes, I mentioned that she wrote as though she’d been bitten by a radioactive Chris Claremont. Well, if that’s the case, Ann Nocenti must’ve been bitten by two!
Let’s do it!
We open with Wolverine on a side-mission for Central… not to be confused with Control. He’s in his blue ‘n yellows, and he’s about to dynamite a building… barracks… bunkers… who the hell knows? If I’m not mistaken, it looks like he’s killing people though, which I’m not sure is the best look. I think his ultimate goal here is to destroy data and secret information… but, we’re seeing some poor fellows sleeping in bunks as well. Oh well. Anyway, after complaining-in-Claremontian about how short’a fuse Central uses on their boom-sticks, our hero lights the thing — and blows up the joint. Ya know, he wasn’t kidding about the short-fuse… he’s actually caught up in the blast, and thrown into a nearby snowdrift… flamin’ and nekkid (name of your porno).
While Wolvie regains his druthers, we zoom out and see that there’s a hunter in the distance. While our man is worried about all sort of beastie that he might run into in the snow-covered plains, he doesn’t even consider that be might come across a hunter’s sights. Now, the Hunter… is kind of an a-hole. Considering this is an Ann Nocenti story, I’m honestly surprised his little intro doesn’t come with his voting record and how much he (doesn’t) pay in taxes.
As he peers around the area… he winds up setting his crosshairs on something truly spectacular indeed. Something he’s planning to kill.
The next several pages of this truly essential story feature Wolverine realizing that he’s being tailed… because, heightened senses, ya see. We also get a bit of insight to truly ingratiate us to the hunter. He’s a product of his upbringing… who initially didn’t seem to be all that interested in the “sport” of hunting. F’r instance, he recalls killing his first deer… and thinks about its sad and trusting eyes — before correcting himself, calling the deer stupid… and nothing more than meat. To further drive the point home that the Hunter and Wolverine see things differently (as if that’s even needed), they both see the same eagle flying overhead. The Hunter sees it as a target, Logan sees it as beautiful.
Then — as the cover suggests, Wolverine is attacked by a bear… which he spends a couple of pages fighting and ultimately killing. Here’s another difference between our man and the Hunter — he feels bad about having to “put down” the bear… as, it’s, ya know — just a bear, doing bear things. Wonder how those fellas sleeping in the bunks of that building Logan just blew up feel (err, felt) about that?
As our man walks, slump-shouldered, away from the bear he’d just slaughtered — he can feel the Hunter’s presence. Our baddie has decided to trade his rifle for a bow and arrow… because, sure, why not? He takes aim at Logan… and lets loose an arrow — which, our hero catches (???) and throws back at the Hunter, which such force it goes right through his left knee? Wha? That’s something Wolverine can do? Okay. From here — oh, wait — we must be outta pages, because the story just stops.
So… okay. I get what Nocenti’s going for here. Hell, I pretty much always know what Nocenti’s going for in her stories — they just don’t often connect with me the way they’re probably supposed to.
This feels like it’s supposed to be some sort of parable or commentary on the nature of man vs. beast — and how man places themselves above the various “lesser-critters” in the wild. How underestimating, selling short, or just plain not appreciating such a critter might lead to your undoing — which, appears to be the case for our new friend, who we’ll call A. Hole Hunter. Not to be confused with an actual A-hole Hunter, cuz that’s a whole different comic book.
It’s… well, it’s not great. Feels like we wasted a lot of time and effort to get to whatever point Nocenti was trying to make here — so much so that the story just stops cuz we’re outta pages. Like, did we really need the opening bit with Wolverine blowing up that building? Did we need to learn the Hunter’s backstory? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it allowed Bolton to give us some great visuals — but, as a story, it’s kind of a dud.
Was Wolverine blowing up and killing Central’s targets supposed to offer up some sort of juxtapositional comparison with him regretfully killing that hungry bear? I mean, it’s not the most novel bit of writing to suggest that humans are a blight — unless, of course, you’ve just discovered “creative writing”… and you’re in eighth grade. Is that what this is? I dunno. Is it some triteness about nature vs. nurture? The Hunter does talk about how he was raised to think of animals as less than majestic… and ultimately, just “meat”. Dunno.
I suppose we might assume that after this story end… er, stops… the Hunter is killed by whatever manner of beastie is left stalking the area? Post-blast, Logan suggests he might run afoul of a bobcat or something — maybe he’s just evening the playing field here? Again… I dunno.
Finally, should we even bother talking about Wolverine catching a friggin’ arrow and hurling it back — so hard that it embeds itself in the Hunter’s knee? Nah, let’s not.
Overall — this was pretty to look at.
Oh, by the way — Claremont’s gonna be gone until #29… which, if I’m not mistaken will be his last Vignette. We’re primarily in Nocenti-Land now. Hope we surv– oh, nevermind.