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Weapon X

X-Men Legends
by yo go re

I, too, like to spend my free time naked, screaming, and covered in Game Boys.

The Weapon X program experiments on humans and mutants alike, including Wolverine, who undergoes a brutal process that bonds Adamantium to his skeleton.

Famously, when Wolverine debuted in 1974, he was a teenager with claws in his gloves and no powers beyond "natural-born speed, strength, and savagery." The claws were made internal two years later, and the fact that his bones were metal came about in 1979, but it seemed like those had been given to him by his employers in Canada's Department H - until a 1980 story showed that he already had them before he was recruited. The mystery deepens! Finally, in 1991, Marvel Comics Presents published the 13-part "Weapon X" story, which showed (part of) the truth behind the process. And also raised more questions, because what would an X-book be without dangling plot threads?

ToyBiz made a Weapon X Wolverine in Marvel Legends Series 7, but that was 15 years ago - this is hardly a case of double-dipping. The figure uses the same short body sculpt as Brown Costume Wolverine, logically, though here it's painted mostly pink to represent his skin. "Mostly," because he's wearing dark brown trunks. That's certainly not true to the comics! Let Logan be naked, you cowards! Sculpt his horngus! He does at least have bare feet, which will be fun when he's running around in the snow. They've also painted hair on his chest, arms, and shins, which is honestly the only place Barry Windsor-Smith drew it. And don't worry, by the time Logan was wearing this get-up, he no longer had short metal spikes poking out of him.

What he did have was a leather harness around his shoulders and a thick belt with several 10-pound battery packs hanging from it. When ToyBiz did Weapon X, the batteries were separate pieces that plugged into the toy's waist; here, they're molded on the belt so no remolding of the actual body was necessary. Translucent red tubes run from them to his wristbands and his helmet. The choice to make them red feels like a nod to the KB Toys exclusive variant that changed the original 1992 figure's tech from green to red. And of course, we also get the removable claws if you want his hands to be plain.

The helmet on this toy looks just like the one in the art. "Weapon X" was not a well-written story by any stretch - it was popular because it was the first "official" reveal of Wolverine's origin, and because BWS had very stylish, moody art. For instance: this helmet is introduced as a way to pull in radio signals that would allow the scientists behind Experiment-X to pilot him remotely via implants in his nervous system? But then maybe it's some kind of virtual reality headset instead? Except the false reality keeps going after he takes the helmet off? It's best not to think about it and enjoy the visual. Naked Wolvie, wearing badass headgear (that, it shouldn't surprise you, was created by the same guy who redesigned the Hellfire Club Guards into Reavers).

We also get a second head, unmasked and mouth open. The hair is thicker and shaggier than the typical Logan we're used to, but still not as big and wild as it was in the comic. The expression on the face is... interesting. Have you ever seen that thing where you can make the portrait on a dollar bill smile or frown by folding it in a certain way and then tilting it? This kind of does the same thing: look at the sculpt from one angle, and he looks angry; look at it from another, and he's scared. That's probably not intentional (just an effect of the too-big forehead), but it does suit the story. Without the helmet on, however, you'll have to find something to do with the tube that normally plugs into its side - that can only be disconnected from the helmet, not the battery.

Mr. Logan comes with the right leg of Caliban, this series' Build-A-Figure.

Like a bad fanfic, "Weapon X" feels like it was written one installment at a time, with no plan for the future other than "here comes a deadline, we need something to publish." It has chapters where nothing seems to happen, major events are glossed over badly, and it repeats itself not out of a sense of intentional narrative structure, but just... because. And while the visuals may be entirely disconnected from the text, it is a memorable visual - there's a reason the movies appropriated it wholesale, after all - and it makes for a distinct toy.

-- 05/25/19

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