X-Men Vignettes #26 (1988)
“So Much in Common!”
Writer/Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Art – John Bolton
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #26 (October, 1988)
Okay, here’s a weird one.
While some of the stories we’ve discussed during this project feel like they were something that would’a been slotted as the third or fourth story in an Annual that came up short a few pages… none felt quite so much like that as the one we’re about to (attempt to) discuss.
Another way in which this one is odd… if you attempt to read Classic X-Men #26 via Marvel Unlimited… all you’re going to get is 2-3 pages of the “main” story (probably the added content), and this back-up in its entirety. Very strange… usually those files are 36 or so pages… this time, however, it was only 16 or so.
Oh well, I suppose if you’re really wanting to read X-Men #120… you could just finagle your way through the very user-unfriendly interface of MU and track it down yourself, right?
Okay, so this little ditty takes place right after the X-Men return from Canada, where they had their first run-in with Alpha Flight. Well, part of it takes place then — the rest occurs in a Stampede-flavored Flashback Land, wherein John Bolton evokes the art style of… whozat guy who did that Stanley and his Monster mini I disliked so much? Phil Foglio, izzit? Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong guy — all’s I’m saying is, it’s not pleasant to look at, but adequately does the job of telling us it’s happening “elsewhen”. Anyway, in the “elsewhen”, Logan is doing a bit of competitive arm-wrestling — a racket of sorts being run by “Cracklin’ Rosa” at some dive bar in Calgary, Alberta. Just as our man is approached by a big doof called “Lefty”, who ironically (?) arm-wrestles with his right-arm, we’re snapped back to the “present” — and we’re back in Salem Center’s Harry’s Pub/Hideaway/Hideout… whatever we’re calling it today. There, Logan is sharing this story with Sean and Kurt. Worth noting, Kurt’s using his Image Inducer… which, I could’a sworn we read a whole story about him not having to use at Harry’s? Handsome tail and what-not, yes?
Anyway, Wolverine claims that Cracklin’ Rosa didn’t know about him being “special”, but still ran the racket and made a bunch of Loonies… or whatever it is that Canadians trade for goods and/or services… on his arms. Back in Flashback Land, Lefty takes his seat… and is beaten pretty quickly by our hairy hero. Lefty accuses Logan (and Rosa) of cheating — claiming that he must be drinking soda and not alcohol. Well, of course we know that it’s alcohol… and we also know why it doesn’t affect Logan’s focus or ability. Following the bout, Lefty’s buddy Turk was sicced on our man. Upon hearing the names “Lefty” and “Turk”, Sean-in-the-present recalls having arrested their boss, Vince Borelli during his time in Interpol.
At this point, Scott arrives at Harry’s to hang out with the fellas he really doesn’t seem to care for all that much. As he sits down, Banshee fills us in on a bit more of his backstory. In the wake of the death of his wife, Maeve, Sean had thrown himself into his work. He’d overheard some chatter from a jewel-thief’s son, that would bring him to the Calgary Stampede… and, as it turned out, Cracklin’ Rosa’s bar.
Sean continues, recalling his arrival at the bar, the hullabaloo and the thick Canadian accents. Sez nobody even noticed him there, since it was Stampede season, and as such, the city’d become kinda tourist-heavy. He listened in on a discussion between Borelli and (a buyer?) Arsene, which was easy to differentiate from the rest of the chatter due to the thick Euro-French twang of Arsene’s voice.
Man, this isn’t great. Anyway, Wolverine is doin’ his thang — smashing knuckles into the booth. Everyone around him is making betting — Lefty’s shows up and lays down his challenge — he’s beaten, which leads to a full-blown brouhaha. Sean recalls this fight breaking out, and says that it gave him all the distraction he needed to do what he had to. Sean-in-the-past alerts the Fez-wearing-Turk to the fact that his big buddy is currently in a jam. Turk rushes into the fracas… or away from it — I honestly couldn’t tell ya.
Then… the Mounties show up — and arrest Arsene and Borelli? Not sure why there needed to be a big ol’ distraction for any of this… but, I guess dem pages ain’t gonna fill ’emselves, right?
Meanwhile, we get another three-friggin-pages (including a full-page spread) of Wolverine pummelling ol’ Lefty. He wins, of course, which makes Cracklin’ Rosa make even more money that won’t work in a United States candy machine — no matter how many times you try!
We wrap up back at Harry’s, where Cyclops comments on how great it is to see two former loners be able to come together and be teammates he’s proud to stand alongside of. Wolverine says something about there still being “hope” for Scott yet… which, I think is supposed to be a punchline — but, if it is — it’s either not a very good one, or I’m just an idiot. Thankfully, we’ out.
Okay, so who had the “Dagwood Sandwich” on the BINGO card of “crap Chris says way too often”?
This had so many unnecessary layers — and by “so many”, I mean — there aren’t actually many — but they’re all unnecessary! I’m having flashbacks to latter-day Action Comics Daily… where you could just tell they were filling pages because they realized they had to… and not because they necessarily had any stories worth telling. Not to say it’s bad — it’s just not all that great.
Maybe that’s unfair. I dunno. It is worth noting that this is probably the first Tom Orzechowski story I’d ever read… and according to the Marvel Wiki, the only one he’d ever write (for Marvel, anyway). As a one-and-done, well — I don’t wanna say “we’ve seen worse”, because that would imply that this one was more bad than good. It was just… unnecessary… pointless… and not all that fun to cover.
It’s also a bit hard to believe that Sean and Logan were in the same place at the same time… and didn’t actually realize it until right now. Then again, this was written a couple’a years before we’d find out that Wolverine knows and has had run-ins with EVERYBODY, so I suppose I can try to suspend my disbelief a bit here.
The art, which we can usually count on to lift a lifeless story up a bit — was, ya know, half-good. When Bolton’s on… he’s on. He not only inked his own work (which he usually does), but colored it as well. For the “present day” segment, it was really good. The Foglio-esque flashbacks, however, not my cuppa tea. I assume I’m in the minority in not appreciating the “Foglio-style” — though, I always assume I’m part of a minority opinion… so, that ain’t saying much. All’s I’m saying is, the flashbacks were painful to look at… while also being a chore to read.
Not a great outing — but, I gotta admit that it’s pretty cool that a longtime X-Men letterer was able to leave a narrative mark on the lore.