In the early 90s, Byrne was in a transitional period. He had already worked with the most important superheroes Marvel (and DC) had to offer, he had already won all the industry awards, and he had the recognition of the critics and the fans. But around this time Byrne decided to embrace a new artistic style, and his work on Wolverine certainly reflects that change. A well-known comic book historian has explained that “John Byrne's artwork began to noticeably decline by the early to mid 90s. His work became sketchier and cruder, and relied way too heavily on computer graphics to create backgrounds. All his characters began to resemble one another. […] His style that was so distinctive and energetic in the 70s and 80s just degenerated into looking sloppy”.
Despite Byrne’s transition to a different style, Marvel decided to pair him up with legendary writer and editor Archie Goodwin. The result of their collaboration was a 7-issue arc that begun in “Basics!” (originally published in Wolverine #17, November 1989). In the opening sequence we find Logan in the Australian outback chasing a wild boar; after killing the animal and devouring his raw entrails, a soothing rain appears out of nowhere. Storm, using her powers to control the weather, has created a rain to clean and pacify his teammate. Logan decides to get away from the X-Men, at least temporarily, thus relocating to Madripoor, in the Pacific Rim.
Archie Goodwin was very pleased to work with John Byrne, the “man who did a lot to define the character of Wolverine” and the excitement of both creators is more than evident in their first issue. In “All At Sea” (Wolverine # 18, December 1989), Logan tries to rescue Roughouse, one of his enemies, from the sinister Geist. In “Heroes and Villains” (Wolverine # 19, December 1989), Logan arrives to Tierra Verde, a country located in Central America. There he runs into La Bandera, a young mutant with the ability to inspire others. She leads a group of rebels with the intention of overthrowing Caridad, the country’s cruel dictator and also one of the world’s most notorious drug lords.
In “Miracles” (Wolverine # 20, January 1990) and “Battleground” (Wolverine # 21, February 1990) Goodwin reveals more information about Geist, an expert survivor, a man who has always supported the cruelest leaders of the 20th century, including Adolf Hitler during WWII. In “Outburst!” (Wolverine # 22, March 1990) Logan, La Bandera and their allies fight against the Spore, a bacterial infection that comes from another galaxy and that has contaminated Caridad’s vast supplies of cocaine.
Byrne’s covers are absolutely impressive, minimalistic at times but always with a very strong sense of design. However, the interior art is quite different: “I'm trying to do Wolverine much more loosely –much more, oh, spontaneously, I guess would be a good word for it [...] I'm trying to catch the action of the character very much right from the start. So it's a much bolder, slashing kind of line that I'm using –kind of a mutant hybrid between what I used to use for breakdowns and what I currently do for full pencils so that I can maintain the spontaneity that I want the pencils to have”, affirmed Byrne in an interview. Inker Klaus Janson provides a certain aggressiveness to the pencils, and it all seems to work just fine for this particular sort of story.
“Endings” (Wolverine # 23, April 1990) is my favorite issue of the bunch. The revolution is over. La Bandera has defeated Caridad, the dictator of Tierra Verde; however, she immediately realizes how hard it can be dealing with political issues. Logan tells her that winning a revolution is the easy part, the hard part comes later. Roughouse decides to stay in Tierra Verde and help rebuild the country. And Logan returns to Madripoor, feeling guilty for letting Geist run away. In the final pages, we see Geist living comfortably in the United States. Geist had been a Nazi officer in a concentration camp in which Magneto had been imprisoned; for the lord of magnetism, war crimes can never be forgiven, so he finds Geist, ambushes him, and acts like judge, jury and executioner.
Hoy en día, Wolverine es quizás el mutante más popular en todo el Universo Marvel, pero esto no siempre fue así. De hecho, décadas atrás, cuando Wolverine fue presentado por primera vez como un nuevo miembro de los X-Men, muchos lectores se quejaron de lo desagradable que era como personaje. Hizo falta el esfuerzo combinado de Chris Claremont y John Byrne para cambiar las cosas; y gracias a este equipo creativo Wolverine pronto ascendería a la prominencia, convirtiéndose en el primer X-Men en tener su propia serie mensual.
|Wolverine & Storm|
|Magneto versus Geist|