In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the strange way the story of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X came to be
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and fifty-eighth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions.
Barry Windsor-Smith just wrote and drew the first two chapters of Weapon X without telling anyone at Marvel what he was doing
One of the most famous comic book stories involving Wolverine happened in one of the most unlikely places, because while Wolverine was the main feature of Marvel Comics Presents when the twice-a-month comic book anthology debuted in 1988 and had regained the lead after a 28-issue attempt to derail other X-Men characters (like Colossus, Cyclops, Excalibur, and Havok), you would have to go back to the original story arc by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, and possibly a 1991 team-up with Ghost Rider (which would later co-title the series with Wolverine in a flip book format) by Howard Mackie and Mark Texeiera who really felt like they were anything but inventory story level stories (despite the involvement of GREAT creators, like Marv Wolfman and a second pass from Buscema).
So when suddenly Marvel Comics Presents #72 in 1991 had a new series from legendary comic book creator, Barry Windsor-Smith, it was a big surprise…
When this series turned out to be a story called “Weapon X”, which told of Wolverine’s origin (or at least how he came to have his adamantium skeleton), people were REALLY shocked!
The amazing thing about the story, however, is that it was a bit of a surprise for Marvel itself!
A GOOD surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.
After temporarily leaving the comics world in the 1970s, Windsor-Smith (he had added his mother’s surname to his name to change from Barry Smith to Barry Windsor-Smith), returned to comics in 1983 and to Marvel Comics proper in 1984. , making two parts of a famous Weird X-Men story titled “LifeDeath” and an iconic Wolverine highlight story in Weird X-Men #205, titled “Wounded Wolf”.
Windsor-Smith then did a few more single numbers from x-men over the next two years, about one a year. By the time he finished, the associate editor of these Weird X-Men problems, Terry Kavanagh (Windsor-Smith remembered he was the associate editor of “LifeDeath”, which might be true, but if so, he wasn’t listed in the comic as being the associate editor, while on later issues of Windsor-Smith), had become editor of Marvel Comics Presents, and he told Windsor-Smith that he would obviously like Windsor-Smith to want to do a short story for the show. Obviously, this piqued Windsor-Smith’s interest, even though Kavanagh didn’t know it at the time.
In an interview with Will Murray in cartoon scene #18, Windsor-Smith explained the storyline’s origins: “It happened in the weirdest way. Wolverine, or the character Logan, has more interest in me than Captain America or something like that. I I can relate to this character better than some of the other characters in the Marvel Universe. He’s got these stupid spikes coming out of his hands, but he’s not flying. And he’s got a little more character than the usual superhero type.
He continued: “It was just an idea that came to me. I thought about doing a short story about Wolverine, just for something to do. How the hell did this guy do obtain those funny spikes coming out of his hands? So, I drew some stories. I didn’t bother to tell anyone at Marvel. I just assumed they would like to post them. I reported them to the editor of Marvel Comics PresentsTerry Kavanagh.”
Obviously Kavanagh was very happy about it and told Windsor-Smith that they would happily publish the comic book story (I mean, duh, right?), but Windsor-Smith joked “I think the truth is that no one at Marvel thought I was going to to end so they didn’t want say anything. Terry was stunned when I called him and said, ‘Well, that’s it. It is done. What’s next?” Amusingly, Windsor-Smith had spent so much time finishing the thing, his art style changed a lot as the story progressed, and since he made the story in the mess (apart from those first two chapters), it was a very interesting look for the story.
Of course, the interesting side effect of Windsor-Smith doing the story on his own was that he didn’t bother to coordinate it with his former Uncanny X-Men collaborator Chris Claremont, but as I have pointed out in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, he finally worked something out with Claremont where the mysterious voice BEHIND the Weapon X project could still be whatever Claremont wanted it to be, and Claremont was apparently okay with that approach to things (Claremont at the time was planning on it being Apocalypse, but never got around to making that canon).
Thanks to Wll Murray and Barry Windsor-Smith for the information!
SOME MORE LEGENDS OF ENTERTAINMENT!
Check out some entertainment legends from Legends Revealed:
1. Was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye originally written as a cheap sequel to Star Wars?
2. Why did “Woodstock” songwriter Joni Mitchell skip going to Woodstock?
3. Which original Grey’s Anatomy actor was added to the show’s pilot via CGI?
4. Was the famous satanist Anton LaVey the technical adviser to Rosemary’s Baby?
PART TWO COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 2 of the legends of this episode!