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New X-Men Wolverine

by yo go re

Grant Morrison may have a few chronic faults as a writer, but there was one thing he definitely did right on his New X-Men run: he recognized that Wolverine, as a character, is pretty crappy; that he is better served by staying in the background than by being right in the reader's face.

Of course, it's almost impossible to have a Marvel Universe team book without Logan gracing its pages, so Morrison couldn't very well just leave Wolverine out entirely. In Morrison's world, he represents everything that's wrong with the X-Men.

When Morrison and Frank Quitely took over the book, the costumes were redesigned right along with the plots, putting the X-Men in movie-inspired street clothes. One of those designs made it into action figure form, as part of the short-lived X-Men Classics line. Of course, it was Wolverine.

The figure is 5⅝" tall, perfect for the hairy little fireplug. There's a reason that the remnants of this cancelled line can so easily get shuffled into Marvel Legends: the articulation is pretty standard for ToyBiz these days. Wolverine moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, fingers, torso, waist, hips, knees, shins, ankles and toes.

Quitely's X-Uniforms were definitely influenced by the movie gear, but looked less "tactical" and more "practical." The black leather was broken up by stylized yellow X's that served both as a graphic element and as nice branding: if the X-Men were looking for social acceptance, then they needed to be easily identified. The X logos were their golden arches, their Nike swoosh.

Wolverine, of course, is wearing his New X-Men outfit: black leather pants, black shoes and his leather jacket - no shirt. The jacket is removable, which is nice: you can have bareback Logan running around, sexing up the ladies. The torso is the same one that would later be used for Weapon X Wolverine, but the arms and head are different. Since he's a hirsute little guy, Logan has tiny hairs painted on his exposed skin. It's not as extensive as George the Animal Steele, but it's the same idea. The only thing missing are the dog tags around his neck - one more example of ideas lifted directly from the movie.

As an artist, Frank Quitely is a master of composition and layout, and his figural work is impressive - from the neck down. Apparently the man has never seen a person, only heard them described, because he cannot draw a human face to save his soul. Everyone is a mess of lumps and bulges, their skin stretched over a series of 15 cheekbones and three jaws. Imagine what it would be like if Rob Liefeld drew everything the way he normally does, but then had impressive, photo-realistic renderings of his characters' faces sitting on top. It would be disconcerting, to say the least.

Thankfully, while ToyBiz used Quitely's designs for this figure, Phil Ramirez's sculpt is not based on the artwork. Logan's head is fairly normal, so he looks good with the rest of your figures. Of course, if they had sculpted him in Quitely's style, you could always pretend he'd been run over by a truck or stepped on by a Sentinel, I suppose.

Rather than bases, the X-Men Classics line offers action features. Fortunately, in New X-Men Wolverine's case, they didn't put anything in the figure, instead giving him a little breakapart Sentinel to fight. One of the new killer robots unleashed by Cassandra Nova, the little guy is actually pretty cute: it's got the typical Sentinel-shaped head, but its "face" is just a pair of camera lenses. Creepy!

Instead of a usual body, the Wild Sentinel has a snake-like spine attaching its torso to a wheeled base. This design did appear in issue #114 of the comic, but the scale was different: if you look at its "arms," they're actually tank turrets, which clues us in to the fact that this Sentinel should be about 10 times larger than it is. Poor little guy

Though Wolverine was probably supposed to look like a badass in his New X-Men duds, he really looked more like a homeless matador, so it's probably good that he's back in a costume now. Still, this is a decent figure of Logan, and one in a costume we haven't seen before. The micro-Sentinel is a nice plus, and certainly a lot better than it could have been.

-- 02/07/05

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