Wolverine: Passion Play review

Marvel Comics Presents can be and has been a weird, weird testing ground for sometimes cool, sometimes bizarre concepts that then almost immediately go away. An obvious exception to this would be the first Wolverine MCP story-arc which introduced the concept of Madripoor and all but launched the first Wolverine ongoing series, but aside from that series starting stunt, what continuity-shaking, status-quo-altering events can you remember from the first 175 issue run of Marvel Comics Presents? That’s right: fucking none.

And yes, right after writing that paragraph I remembered Weapon X. No, I will not alter the paragraph. I’m going to let my colossal stupidity stand for all of time on the world wide web, screwing me over each and every time I speak at a comic-book convention ever again. But at least I’m being honest, and let’s be fair: two relevant stories in 175 issues still isn’t a lot.

Calling Marvel Comics Presents uneven is kind of like calling Professor Stephen Hawking really bad at sprint-running: while it’s true, it’s also so obvious it kind of makes me a dick to say it. In fact it really makes me a dick saying it, I’m sorry Professor Hawking, I really loved the movie Theory of Everything.

While MCP can at best be called “good” and at worst “acceptable,” I think it was an important tool in the comics industry and one that is missing and needed today: an opportunity for young artists and writers to practice their craft without the weight of an entire issue falling on their shoulders. Take Wolverine: Passion Play, which ran through Marvel Comics Presents #s 123-130 and was some very early X-Franchise work from the man who all-but led the X-Franchise all through the 1990s, Scott Lobdell. in fact, lets take a look at this, because it is positively baffling.

Passion Play revolves around, I kid you not, Wolverine finding a mate in a similarly-created genetically-altered, feral mutant girl named Lynx. “Feral” and “girl” are actually kind of frightening together, because this serial came out not long after the real Feral Girl was discovered.

For any unaware, Feral Girl is sad case of a young girl that was found in her parent’s closet that had been denied human contact for much of her life, and was as such mostly devoid of language. She had been strapped to a potty for years. Her parents were jailed and she entered into the foster care system under the care of anthropologists who, sadly, often studied her rather than loved and cared for her. She is called “Feral Girl” as a code, because her true identity has not been released for her own privacy and protection. It is a sad case that highlights the worst of human depravity.

Lynx is also all-but devoid of language, though this may be a coincidence. The story plays out exactly like you might think: there wasn’t a lot of room in the page-limitations of Marvel Comics Presents for dynamic twists and turns. Wolverine helps free Lynx from her controllers and brings her out to the forests he once called home and releases her into the wild, wearing the costume he briefly wore for a time while in space fighting the Imperial Guard, and for some reason Marvel seems to have a fetish for and keeps trying to bring back into play. I say this because they have the same costume to X-23 for a time.

In fact, the weirdest thing reading this serial in present-day context is that Lynx and X-23 have damn-near identical back-stories and appearances. X-23 is a clone of Wolverine and Lynx isn’t, sure, but they’re both the product of Weapon-X like institutions. One just happens to be a “surrogate girlfriend” and the other “surrogate daughter.”

The weirdest thing about all this? Despite being left on a clear “we will see her again” note, Lynx was ignored by lobdell during his run on X-Men, and was only brought back up by Marvel well into the 2010s. That’s 20 real-world years later, which is one of those head-scratching moves. It’d be like someone resurrecting that “guy that was like a cross between Jack Frost and Iceman” from MCP#2 nowadays. It’d just be weird.

But none of this, none of it, makes the story weird. You know what? It’s actually half decent. Maybe even a little better than. But it is weird. It is damn, damn weird, like most of Marvel Comics Presents, and Marvel needs to bring it back.

Wolverine / Lynx: Passion Play (Marvel Comics Presents, # 123 - 130)Wolverine / Lynx: Passion Play by Scott Lobdell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“But none of this, none of it, makes the story weird. You know what? It’s actually half decent. Maybe even a little better than. But it is weird. It is damn, damn weird, like most of Marvel Comics Presents, and Marvel needs to bring it back.”

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