It’s almost impossible to remember a time when Weapon X wasn’t part of Wolverine’s back story. It’s become pretty ubiquitous, featured prominently in the X-Men movies and cartoons. After watching the “Hulk vs. Wolverine” dvd (see “…consumed all new #37″), where it yet again plays a role, it really spurred me on to break out the old Marvel Comics Presents (issues #72 - 84) where the “Weapon X” story originally appeared.
I was never, and really I’m still not much of a Wolverine fan. I find the character all right, but at this stage he’s gotten pretty convoluted, or at least his back story has. He’s a pretty good character, but unlike, say, Batman, he’s got little versatility. But if any part of Wolverine’s origin deserves to stick, the Weapon X story is it. Rereading Barry Windsor Smith’s 13-part opus, it truly is a great piece of comic bookery. It takes advantage of all the strengths of comic book storytelling and weaves an immeasurably fascinating tale about the torturous process of turning a virtually unknown mutant named Logan, grafting adamantium to his skeleton and brainwasking him to make him a controllable, if still savage, weapon.
I enjoyed Smith’s work on the story back in 1991 when I first read it, but I don’t think I ever truly appreciated how talented an artist he is. Each panel is brilliant, each illustration so masterfully calculated, and his omnipresence on the story (writer/artist/letter) makes it if not personal, then at least uniquely envisioned. I’m sure at that time, within the less than notorious “Marvel Comics Presents” Smith had near autonomy in creating it and it’s truly and concretely focussed.
While I briefly glimpsed at the back-up stories that accompanied “Weapon X” in the title, and despite some interesting names, none of them were really anything worth mentioning (a couple really disappointing Steve Ditko stories, and an unfortunately dry Shanna story by Gerard Jones and Paul Gulacy were most notable). I can happily dispose of these comics, but getting a trade of “Weapon X” is mandatory.