Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Today, we take a trip back to 2003 with a two-issue mini-series that replaced X-Statix on the schedule between issues 10 and 11. It’s a fun little story that I’m going to spoil. Join me.
Wolverine/Doop by Peter Milligan, Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, and Laura Allred has everyone’s favourite mutant team up with Wolverine (ha ha ha)… That’s not entirely far from the truth as Doop was a force of nature when he debuted in X-Force. A green blob who speaks in a font that requries a decoder, has unknown powers, connections to the ‘black ops’ type of mutants and is… well, awesome. His stock may have fallen since X-Statix ended (I never read the entire series, so he may be dead for all I know…), but, come on, a team-up book with Wolverine? How was this just two issues? It’s a light-hearted, fun story that’s actually quite tongue-in-cheek a lot of the time. Basically, there’s this thing called the Pink Mink. It’s a pink shawl that is also sometimes a robe or just a piece of fuzzy fabric. It’s mythic in its ties to the Pink Lady who appears when the Pink Mink is exposed to air. Or does she? Well, after the Pink Mink is stolen from some government facility, Wolverine is on the case to find it — and maybe the truth about the Pink Mink and the Pink Lady. The trail leads him to a fella by the name of the Collector who, you guessed it, collects thing. Wolverine makes short work of the Collector and his goons, but, when the Pink Mink is exposed to air, the Pink Lady appears and takes the Mink from Wolvie… who is totally head over heels gaga in love with the Lady. Of course, his government liason lady who hates him thinks that he’s having an adverse reaction to the Pink Mink (as mutants are known to do) and that the Collector took it back. But, he’s not deterred no sirree bob.
Where Doop comes in is the sudden appearance of psychosomatics in LA that have been turning up all pink and crazy like. Apparently, they’re low-level mutants that plug into the mutant zeitgeist, so one of them suddenly popping out some claws point the X-Statix in Wolverine’s direction. That means old pals Logan and Doop out on the town, on the trail of the Pink Mink together. But, it gets more interesting as both are checking to see if the other has Code-X, some sort of mutant madness, so each pretends to talk to the Pink Lady who isn’t there… to see if the other will go along with it, proving that he is the one that’s insane because the suggestion that the Pink Lady is there will not seem wrong to him. Throw in an insane mythical creature game hunter by the name of Hunter Joe and things get crazy quickly.
If you’re looking for much logic in this story, there isn’t any. Milligan raises the idea again and again that we should just go with the flow of the story and not worry too much about anything else. If the Pink Lady isn’t there, how do we see and hear her? What’s with the psychosomatics converging on Toronto — conveniently where Doop and Logan are? Why doesn’t anything really make any sense? WHO CARES! It’s absurd, bright-coloured, fun superhero comic books, people! Enjoy yourself!
As such, this post may be a bit more fragmented since I’ll be jumping around, discussing different elements with no concern for logic, chronology, or you the reader…
There are a lot of interesting choices made in the telling of this story. We never see Logan and Doop decide to team up, for one. After it’s apparent that Logan is involved with something, we jump ahead a week where the pair have been working together since the previous scene. We know they’re going to team up, so just set up why and skip the actual “Maybe we should… work together?” scene that’s tedious and pointless.
The dual scenes of Doop and Logan talking to their respective bosses about having to kill the other are great, especially since both end with the other reluctantly going off to decide if their buddy needs to be killed, each wiping a tear from his eye. That’s right, Logan wipes a tear from his eye! He’s a killing machine, but this is a drinking and fighting buddy! You never want to have to kill him because he’s got mutant rabies… You do it because you have to, but just like with Old Yeller, you cry like a little girl when it’s done. Thankfully, neither of them is insane with Code-X. With the Pink Mink involved, the rate of coincidence is higher, so the lies they make up keep coming true. Of course, at first, they think they both have Code-X… and decide that’s okay then. But, no one has Code-X, it’s all just fun coincidences!
Darwyn Cooke’s art conveys a lot of that fun, goofy feel of this book. He’d worked with Milligan on X-Force before and has a style not entirely divorced from Mike Allred, the regular artist of the book. It’s a clear, cartoony style. He doesn’t have to deal with Logan in his Wolverine costume, just a suit or that leather outfit he had at the time, which helps. I love disheveled-suit Logan and Cooke draws him very well. He always looks half in the bag and ready to gut someone. He just oozes danger and recklessness, while Doop is pure visual comedy, his face able to show any expression. Cooke’s storytelling is direct. The work here isn’t on par with stuff like The Hunter, but it’s glorious pop comic art. A panel where Logan tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol and pills is depicted by just showing his face from the nose up with a bunch of drinks and pills above his head. Or, there’s the waitress in the bar with a bandage on one eye for no reason other than Cooke decided to put a bandage on her eye. There are a lot of small touches like that.
The end of the story is rather amusing because Doop and Logan don’t actually do anything to save the day. The psychosomatics save them by swarming Hunter Joe’s lair and dispatching with him, while Doop and Logan escape with the Pink Mink/Pink Lady. This is followed by the two competing over who will get to spend the night with her… except, oh no, it’s all a mistake! Doop actually wants to spend the night with the Pink Mink, not the Pink Lady. Oh ho ho! After a night of passion, the Pink Lady wants to leave with the Mink because, if it’s locked up again, she disappears and the problem is solved when, as a result of a night of lovemaking, the Mink has reproduced asexually — so the copy can be delivered back to the government and the Pink Lady is free to live on. Doop is the man, apparently.
I honestly don’t have any real criticisms of this story. The lack of logic is purposeful and works. It’s a very breezy read, helped along by Cooke’s art. Logan and Doop kick some ass and then get laid… what more can you want?
One final note: in the letters page of issue one (since this was X-Statix‘s replacement, it had that book’s letters column), the preview for the next issue actually has the Doop font (roswell wreckage) spell out ‘shit’ for the phrase “The shit hits the fan!” with only the swear word in that font. That’s insane. I know it’s covered, but considering the ease with which it is to translate that font, I’m surprised they let that slide. Swearing in a Marvel comic rated ‘PG’! Insane!
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