Thursday, March 02, 2006

This is a hijacking! Take this blog to Canada!

Unfortunately, women have not sent us any pictures of themselves dressed as Wonder Woman lately, which presents a serious crisis for this blog. However, I will continue keeping the blog going, as it does give me the opportunity to discuss other matters of vital importance, such as how many Canadian Super Soldiers there were before Wolverine.

Wolverine was Marvel's first openly Canadian superhero. He enjoys hockey, knows Michael J. Fox, and is governed as a parliamentary democracy. Paradoxically, he is also arguably the most popular comic book superhero of all time and appears in over five monthly series in addition to guest appearances in just about every comic Marvel publishes. I am led to believe that his past is shrouded in mystery. I wouldn't know. It's entirely possible that his whole history has been explained - broken down into fifteen minute increments - in the thousands of comics in which he has appeared. Who can keep track? What I do know is that he was created as part of a "Super Soldier" program, similar to the one that created Captain America.

The story goes that during World War II, in addition to developing bigger and better weapons, the U.S. Army was also trying to develop bigger and better soldiers - ones who wouldn't have to be taken off the battle field every time they get shot (I mean, honestly, how annoying is that?). Finally, they hit upon a serum that would make an ordinary soldier stronger and more durable

and with a much gaudier costume. Obviously, bright primary colours were sorely lacking from our fighting boys' uniforms. So it was that in 1941, Captain America was introduced, written and drawn by the legendary and inimicable Jack Kirby and some other guy that nobody cares about. Of course, by "inimicable," I do not mean to imply that his drawing style isn't constantly imitated. While not technically dressed as Wonder Woman, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Captain America was a client of her tailor.

The original Super Soldier Program was a great success. As you can see, in Captain America's first month of service, he managed to punch Adolf Hitler right in the face. Unfortunately, he failed to capture or detain the Fuhrer, thus allowing the war to continue for another four years. This may help explain why he was never promoted above Captain.

Work sort of dried up for the Captain after the war ended, but he was brought back in the early sixties to lead The Avengers. There, he fought alongside such luminaries as the Mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk. Some of the more observant among you may have noticed that Captain America is a soldier in the United States Army, whereas the Hulk is relentlessly pursued by the same army and may wonder whether this is sort of a conflict of interest. The answer is, "When one of the members of a superhero team is a Norse deity, the political affiliations of the gamma-irradiated monster are far from the least plausible thing in this comic."

However, the Hulk's politics did come into play in 1974, when Swamp Thing creator Len Wein took over writing the Hulk's comics. Wein noticed that for the last decade Hulk had faced off again and again against the United States military, and since they had failed to stop him, Len decided to take the series in a new direction: North. Len decided to have the Hulk wander into Canada, where he would have new adventures, fighting Canadian monsters and the Canadian military and Canadian superheroes. The possibilities were endless! That is, until Len remembered that there weren't any Canadian superheroes. Or is that just what they wanted him to think? Maybe the Canadian army had secretly been training their own Super Soldiers who just hadn't done anything important enough to get into a comic yet. After doing a little research to see if Canada actually had its own army (apparently it does), Len set about writing a story that would change comics history forever.

So it was that The Incredible Hulk fought against a Canadian government agent codenamed Weapon X. Sounds ominous, doesn't it? "Hey," you're thinking, "isn't 'The Wolverine' his codename? Or did he have weird hippie parents who actually named him 'The Wolverine'?" No, you, his real name is Logan and the codename that he uses in his Official Canadian Government Business is Weapon X. The Wolverine is a nickname he earned for being short, furry, and Canadian. As a sidenote, Hugh Jackman was an odd choice to play Logan in the X-Men movie, because he is neither short nor furry. He's not even Canadian! However, I forgive him, because he's so dreamy. As another sidenote, notice how the comic cover describes Wolverine as "The World's First and Greatest Canadian Super Hero." Some may say that it's easy to be the greatest before any others have been created, but I say that doesn't make the description any less accurate.

Although Wolverine was the only Canadian agent who claimed he could take down the Hulk by himself, and thus was the only one who made it into the comic, it could be assumed that they had at least 23 other operatives (Weapons A-W), but we would have to wait until some other time to meet them, because in an absolutely shocking and inexplicable turn of events, the five-foot canuck got his ass handed to him by the unstoppable rampaging behemoth, and by the next issue, Hulk was back in the States.

A year later, when writer Chris Claremont assembled a new team of X-Men, he had Wolverine quit Department K (the secret Canadian government agency for whom he was working (secret Canadian government agencies only get one letter)) to join them. I'm guessing that Claremont was counting on the comedy of a young Rick Moranis on television's SCTV to incite the public's demand for short Canadians. Unfortunately, Rick Moranis wouldn't join the cast of SCTV for another five years, and in that time, the character of Wolverine failed to catch on. However, Canadian comic book artist John Byrne was intrigued by the idea of the Canadian military's clandestine super-powered operatives, so in 1978, he and Claremont revealed the original Canadian Super Soldier, Weapon Alpha.

He looks pretty much how you'd expect Canada's version of Captain America to look. I'm fairly sure he was another client of Captain America and Wonder Woman's tailor who was trying to establish a "desecration of national emblems" motif.

In the early 80's, when the comedy of a young Rick Moranis on SCTV sparked Canadamania, John Byrne introduced a whole team composed of superheroes that the Canadian government had been hiding called "Alpha Flight." There was also a back-up Canadian superteam called "Beta Flight" and the Canadian supertrainees were in "Gamma Flight" (there was probably a Delta Flight in there, too). They were all overseen by Department H.

It makes a person wonder about the nomenclature of Canadian government agents. By a person, of course, I mean me and nobody else, because if anyone else thought about it, it would be more than a person. Anyway, why was Weapon Alpha named for a Greek letter, when Weapon X's name was an English letter? The obvious answer occured to me - all of the Canadian agents and agencies could have been Greek letters. Departments H and K could have actually been "eta" and "kappa." As for Weapon X, he may have been named for the Greek letter "chi" rather than the English "eks." So, since X is the 22nd Greek letter, that would mean that there were only 21 Canadian super soldiers before Wolverine. Granted, I came up with this when I was about 11, but I have yet to hear a better explanation.

I've read a bit of Alpha Flight, mostly because I love Scott Lobdell, no matter what anyone else says. They just don't understand our love. Anyway, in Lobdell's first issue on the series, he introduced Weapon Omega, at which point I thought the Canadian military couldn't create any more super soldiers, because what would they call them? However, little did I know that in a comic that I hadn't read, they had already introduced a new Weapon X named Garrison Kane.

That means that they were reusing letters. So, really, all we know is that at the time Wolverine was created, there were at least 21 active Canadian super soldiers. For those of you keeping track, it was over 15 years between when Wolverine quit Department K and when Kane showed up. You may wonder why it took so long to replace him. Actually, it would later be revealed that there were a few Weapons X between Logan and Kane, including Deadpool (right) and some people that I don't really care about. So there's no official word on how many Canadian Super Soldiers there were before Wolverine, but no discussion of the topic can be complete without the complete-fucking-moron's perspective, and to get it, we turn, as usual, to Grant Morrison's New X-Men.

The problem with Grant Morrison's comics is that there are so many things wrong with them that I have no idea where to begin explaining. Remember when he said that the Joker was too sane - implying that the best way to cope with the absurdities of twentieth century life is to dress up in a purple suit and kill people? How do you even start to articulate why that's stupid?

Anyway, according to unbelievable imbecile Grant Morrison, the Super Soldiers were not named for letters at all, they were numbered using Roman numerals. Thus, Wolverine was really Weapon 10 and Weapon Omega was really... um... Well, it seems he didn't mention Weapon Omega. How strange.

I hope I can trust you all to think of your own list of reasons why this is idiotic. Honestly, when Steffan first told me that the X-Men - that is, the 10-Men (led by Prof. 100har50es 10a51er) - were fighting Weapon XI, I thought he was just making a bad joke. No, Grant Morrison thought he was really fucking clever for coming up with that. His next incredible insight into Wolverine's character was, "If you turn the letter X sideways, it's a plus sign!" I spent the next two hours crying.

What makes it worse is that in New X-Men, Mr. Morrison reveals that Weapon I was... (get ready for this) ...Captain America! I sort of see how he would come up with that. After all, Captain America and Wolverine were both Super Soldiers created by the government, so it would make perfect sense that they were created by the same government program. I guess nobody took the time to explain to Grant the small detail that Canada and America have different governments. I have to wonder if the editor actually bothered to read any of Morrison's work, or if he just curled into a fetal position every time a script arrived at his office (I can't really blame him if he did, though - that's what I'd do). The trouble is that at this point, calling Grant Morrison retarded can no longer be considered a cute hyperbole, and that puts me in an awkward position, because MAKING FUN OF THE HANDICAPPED IS NOT COOL! So I'd like to take this moment to take back some of the mean things I have said about Grant Morrison and to applaud Marvel Comics for their brave and open-minded hiring practices.


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