Before I begin, well… technically, AS I begin, I just realized that I’ve pretty much exclusively reviewed Marvel books. Of course, my goal is to review the entire Kirby/Lee run on Fantastic Four, but beyond that, it’s all Marvel, and most of that is X-Men. So what do we get today? More X-Men! I present to you, Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure.
As a kid, this book was very grown up to me. As an adult, less so, but there are still a few key “adult aspects” that we’ll get to. The story begins with a tribe in the Savage Land telling the story of a diminutive God who fell from the sky. The Tribe of Fire, a group of cavemen, worships Wolverine’s lighter, which is a signed gift from Nick Fury. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to sign a lighter, with a note at that, but it helps cram in more story visually. It’ll be important that it’s from Nick Fury.
A big dude name Gahck challenges Wolvie to a fight. Why, because there’s no way a god could be so short! Gahck throws a mean right hook, but Wolverine is Wolverine and even without popping his claws, he wins.
Wolverine’s prize for victory is Gahck’s luxurious cave. At least as luxurious as a cave in the Savage Land can be. The first in our “adult” moments is a visit from a big beautiful woman, yeah, it’s Gahck! She offers herself to Wolverine and there is implied… I’ll say “love making.”
The really cool thing about this story is that it’s a very Wolverine-like adventure. At his best Wolverine is a bit James Bond and a bit more Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name, this book gives you elements of both of those and the element that makes Wolverine unique, shortness. There are a few pages of “Savage Land stuff,” dinosaur hunting and so on. It’s great because it seems like the normal humdrum of a Savage Land story, but it’ll play into the plot in a different than normal way. Wolverine eventually gets eaten by the dinosaur and bursts out through its belly. I know this has probably been done before, and it’s certainly been done to death since, but for me as a kid, this was the first time I’d seen such an awesome moment.
It turns out the dinosaur isn’t really eating people, in this case, cavepeople, but is swallowing them whole for capture. Here is where the plot gets a bit convoluted, but if you’re buying the fact that all the women in the tribe are super hot and the men look like apes, then you’ll have no issue with the rest.
Apocalypse is behind it all, as the cover promised. Apocalypse is no chump and has been monitoring Wolverine since his arrival. He is up to something, but what?
I realize that earlier I failed to mention what brought Wolverine to the Savage Land, a battle with a cyborg as he takes a break from a Broadway show, our James Bond moment. Wolverine’s so spiffy, he’s even in a suit. Remember the T-Rex was also a cyborg… did I mention that? Anyway, New York, a hell of a town!
Back in Apocalypse’s lab, Wolverine escapes thanks to the help of Gahck. Wolverine destroys the cyborg tanks and then rips Apocalypse to shreds. Even Wolvie knows this doesn’t feel right.
Wolverine then finds an adamantium skull. His mind bends for a moment as does the reader. While this appears as a throwaway moment added simply for shock value, in retrospect it very much isn’t. Chris Claremont (who by the way did not write this issue, I should credit the brilliance of Walt Simonson and Mike Mignola here who did create this) originally intended for Apocalypse to be behind the whole Weapon X program and this small moment was meant to plant the seeds. It didn’t go that way as different creators went in very different directions.
Why was Apocalypse so easy to defeat? He wasn’t Apocalypse. He himself was a cyborg, built by Apocalypse to perform experiments on Savage Land cavemen. Why was he doing this? TO SAVE HUMANITY! Yes, a true villain always thinks he’s right, and this cyborg-Apocalypse is no different. He was put there in order to determine how to make normal humans into mutants, in essence saving them from their humanity. By the way, we learn all this from an Apocalypse hologram.
In our final James Bond moment, Wolverine sacrifices his beloved Nick Fury autographed lighter. The lighter is a James Bond-like super device and obliterates the lab. In the final panel, we get our last “adult moment,” we return to our opening narration and the Tribe of Fire. The cyborgs have joined the tribe, the adult moment comes when we see Gahck, a baby in her arms.
Holy crap! Is that Wolverine’s kid?! As far as I know, this kid is still out there in the Savage Land. That is a dangling plot thread that should be revisited. There is way more going on here than I remembered.