Basement Arc #3

This run of comics are so fucking exhausting to read. Also the shit that happens is so twisted and absurd that I had to add more panel caps to this one because I just straight up feel like people would say I was lying about what happened otherwise.

So Wolverine lobotomizes Sabretooth, possibly unintentionally, when Sabretooth goads him into attempting to kill him. What happens after that?

  • Sabretooth is rendered non-verbal, with the apparent intellect of a child or animal
  • The X-men convert Sabretooth’s prison into a virtual jungle, where he naps in the grass and plays with butterflies like a cat.
  • Tabitha Smith, aka Boomer (later Boom-Boom) is the only one to take pity on or show interest in the now-docile Sabretooth while everyone else regards him with a mix of contempt and suspicion. Every time Tabitha suggests Sabretooth might be different now, or worthy of any kind of positive emotion someone yells at her about how wrong and stupid she is.
  • Caliban breaks in and attempts to murder Sabretooth, who doesn’t fight back at all. Cable convinces Caliban not to kill him, but Caliban promises to kill him when he’s not helpless.
  • Tabitha feeds Sabretooth (like an animal), provides physical affection, spends time with him, and talks with him. Cable tells her to stop, but she continues in secret.
  • Wolverine smells that Tabitha has been close to Sabretooth, and he breaks into her room and night while she is sleeping, and looms over her while mostly naked. He threatens her with his claws, and tells her that someday he’s going to kill Sabretooth.
  • The X-men put Sabretooth on a literal actual chain leash and walk him around the yard like a dog. Wolverine threatens him again.
  • Sabretooth starts to heal and is able to talk again. He tells Tabitha that he never lived in the jungle and wants to know why they’ve made the prison they have him in jungle themed. She plays around with the danger room settings, and changes the area to reflect the outside of the institute. She and Sabretooth go for a walk, but he gets upset when Wolverine appears (either the real one or a danger room hologram, it’s not made clear.)
  • The X-men dress Sabretooth in his uniform, and perform medical tests on him in their laboratory. They determine that the massive brain trauma he experienced is healing but the lobotomy might or might not be permanent.
  • Tabitha gets nervous when she sees Sabretooth chasing bunny rabbits in his simulated jungle.
  • Gambit torments Sabretooth with (probably fake) simulated holograms of people he has killed. He surrounds Sabretooth with taunting phantoms until Sabretooth lashes out at one of them, and then tells him he wants Sabretooth to remember. He accuses Sabretooth of murdering Birdie (which is verifiably untrue) and gets mad when Sabretooth attacks him over it. Gambit starts choking him and telling him he’s not allowed to forget any of it.
  • Subsequent to the incident with Gambit where Sabretooth got upset and attacked him after being taunted, Storm locks Sabretooth in a tiny barred cage.
  • Beast talks to Xavier, tells him that he feels Sabretooth is basically pure evil and that the problem is more simple than he thinks, possibly suggesting that Sabretooth should be killed.
  • Tabitha’s teammates stage a literal Intervention on her, in a issue of X-Force titled ‘Intervention’. They insist that she has a “problem” and she has to “own up.” “take responsibility or face the consequences”. The problem they’re doing the intervention for is literally treating sabretooth like a human being and thinking he’s worth a second chance. She points out that a lot of them have done evil things and gotten second chances, but everyone insists that she’s an idiot for not seeing that it’s somehow completely different. They tell her if she doesn’t do what they want and never go near Sabretooth again that they will completely cut ties with her and chuck her off the team.

I honestly have a hard time wrapping my head around any of this. The intervention kind of broke my brain. The absolute certainty that everyone has that Sabretooth is completely evil and doesn’t deserve even a drop of pity is astounding. Even more astounding is the disgusting and condescending way that everyone treats Tabitha for even thinking for a moment that Sabretooth is worth pity or compassion.

Wolervine’s night time visit to threaten Tabitha while he’s mostly naked is nothing short of fucked up.

Also walking Sabretooth on a literal leash like an animal is just what the fuck. From the perspective of fiction what were the authors thinking here? I genuinely don’t know how this read in 1995 but it seems messed up to me on just such a basic level.

Basement Arc #2

So the basement arc.

When last we left our pal Sabretooth, he was ‘addicted’ to psychic mind touches in order to dull the pain of his extensive trauma and abuse, so that he could stop going around randomly murdering people (and presumably continue murdering people for fun and profit).

In response to this, the X-men locked him in the basement. And when I say locked him in the basement, I mean literally locked him in a cell and put a Hannibal Lecter mask and shackles on him.

Here are some things that happen to, and around Sabretooth while he’s imprisoned.

  • Jubilee has a nightmare about Sabretooth murdering everyone, in response to which Jean Grey calls an emergency 2 am meeting where all the X-men talk about how awful and irredeemable Sabretooth is, and how trying to help him is a waste of time.
  • Jean Grey then refuses to help Sabretooth with her psychic powers and demands to know if he’s ‘strong’ enough to control himself without help.
  • An imprisoned Sabretooth helps fight several of the X-men’s enemies without any kind of coercion. (Against apocalypse-touched Caliban, and Phalanx).

And that’s when the first suicide attempt happens.

And the lobotomy. Yep. The lobotomy.

Wolverine (1988) #90

  • Wolverine comes and harasses Sabretooth, who is watching TV, until he responds.
  • Sabretooth self harms by repeatedly throwing himself against the electric force field of his cell trying to get to Wolverine
  • *Wolverine tells Sabretooth that he wants to kill him, but he won’t, because he promised the X-men.
  • Wolverine comes back down to try to get Sabretooth to put back on the mask and shackles while in his own cell.
  • Wolverine tells Sabretooth that his abusive parents “were right” to lock him up in the basement as a child.
  • A maddened Sabretooth tries to get Wolverine to kill him. He escalates threats until Wolverine declares that he’s crossed the line.
  • Wolverine gets his claws under Sabretooth’s chin, but hesitates.
  • Sabretooth successfully taunts Wolverine into popping his claws, right into Sabretooth’s brain.

And it turns out that this action, rather than killing him, lobotomizes him. Reduces him to a peaceful, childlike, animal state.

You’d think that would make people stop keeping him locked up, saying its not worth helping him, and labeling him nothing but a threat.

Nope. It gets even worse.

Power Man and Iron Fist #66

Power Man and Iron Fist #66: The Jade Tiger
Written by: Mary Jo Duffy
Pencils by: Kerry Gammill
Date: December 1980
Cover tagline: DEATH is the only escape from…”The Jade Tiger!”

Issue Summary

-We open on Colleen Wing and Misty Knight having tracked down a horde of stolen treasures for their private eye business. They are looking specifically for the Jade Tiger to return it to a client. Some gangsters ambush them, but the girls beat them handily.

-As Misty and Colleen are about to leave, Constrictor and Sabretooth appear in the room. Constrictor makes the introductions, calling them partners and noting that they have already met Sabretooth.

-Sabretooth attacks Misty Knight saying that he wants to “polish her off fast” so he can “talk over old times” with Colleen.

-After Colleen defends Misty from Sabretooth, Constrictor attacks her, reminding her that Sabretooth “has a partner.”

-During the fight, Misty gets locked in the safe, and Colleen goes out the window. Sabretooth urges Constrictor to go after Colleen with him, but Constrictor says they shouldn’t bother because it’s not what they were paid to do, which is guard the warehouse.

-Unbeknownst to Colleen and Misty it turns out they’ve actually been hired to steal the Jade Tiger for a villain. Which technically makes Constrictor and Sabretooth on the right side of the law in this situation.

-Colleen finds Iron Fist and Power Man and leads them back to the warehouse. They take out the mook guards and rescue Misty from the vault before she asphyxiates.

-Constrictor takes out Colleen and fights Power Man.

-Sabretooth recognizes the sound of Danny’s Iron Fist attack and comes after him for a rematch.

-After turning out the lights to put Iron Fist at a disadvantage, Sabretooth knocks him to the floor with an attack from behind. He asks if he ‘meant something special’ to Misty, and says he’ll give her his heart to remember him by.

-Iron First clocks Sabretooth with a surprise attack and knocks him out, telling Misty that he had heard Sabretooth coming and ‘played possum’ waiting for an opportunity. Misty notes that Iron Fist beat Sabretooth with ‘an animal’s trick’.

-Power Man takes Constrictor out by swinging him by the tentacles.

-Power Man and Iron Fist agree to let Misty and Colleen give the Jade Tiger to their client, despite explicitly discussing the fact that it may genuinely belong to the warehouse owner.

Continuity

-This is the first occurrence of Sabretooth referring to someone as ‘frail’.

-Sabretooth has made his mercenary services available as a personal guard.

-Its heavily implied that Sabretooth and Constrictor have been working together and are fairly close.

-Sabretooth says that he will be able to track Iron Fist in the dark and by his smell. This is the first occurrence of that ability being referred to specifically.

Appearance

-Sabretooth retains the same costume and appearance from his debut in Iron Fist #14. 

-In this issue his pupils are not shown

-Despite the same design, Sabretooth is drawn looking a bit more brutish and feral-featured than in his first appearence. 

Personality

-Refers to Misty as a ‘frail’ (first appearance) 

-calls Colleen a racist slur.

-Sabretooth compliments Colleen’s abilities before he power attacks her.

-Unlike Constrictor, Sabretooth wants to go after Colleen to finish the fight despite it not being in the job description.

-perches on top of a statue like a cat when he comes after Iron Fist.

-he bites Iron Fist’s chest as they’re fighting, and Iron Fist comments that he’s “more animal than man.”

-turns off the lights to put Iron Fist at a disadvantage in the fight, and attacks him from behind.

-Threatens/promises to give Misty Danny’s heart as a keepsake.

Thoughts

It’s interesting and amusing to see Sabretooth technically being on the right side of the law here. He’s working a private security gig and defending his client’s property from thieves. Also interesting is that this is the first appearance of Sabretooth and Constrictor on the page together but there is implied history and Constrictor refers to Sabretooth repeatedly (and almost insistently) as his ‘partner’. 

The issue once again highlights that while Sabretooth is animalistic– biting at Danny’s chest– he’s also a clever and dirty opportunist, turning out the lights to give himself an advantage over Danny by using his heightened senses. I feel like this issue does bring more of the ‘savagery’ that Sabretooth is known for.

More of Sabretooth’s rough personality comes out in this issue as well. He calls Misty ‘frail’, (which will practically become his catch phrase later on) and uses racist language (not unusual for the time) to refer to Colleen. He’s eager to get a second round of fighting in with people who have challenged him before– Danny and Colleen– and intent on going after Colleen even when she’s escaped. However he’s not so intent to go after her that Constrictor can’t convince him to stay.

Kin Thoughts

So here I am, minding my own business doing perfectly legal security work when a bunch of super-hero adjacent assholes come and fuck me over. And the heroes just help them out and let them get away with theft. This is just the beginning of all the goddamn hypocritical behavior toward me in the Marvel universe. It’s endemic. It’s funny when it doesn’t make me want to throw up in my mouth. 

I have warm feelings toward Frank (Constrictor). I feel like there’s a deeper relationship implied in this issue that definitely did exist between us. We were partners, we’d been palling around for a while. Things got intimate. You ever kind of lose touch with somebody and you both move on with your lives, so technically they’re an “ex” but you never really ended things? I feel like that’s how things went with me and Frank. I don’t remember a lot about him or our time together but that warm feeling is there. He smelled good. Kind of spicy/peppery. Maybe an aftershave or cologne he wore. He had a nice chest; wasn’t all that hairy. Definitely had more common sense than me. 

Hope you’re well Frankie.

Iron Fist #14 debut of Sabretooth

Iron Fist #14: Snowfire
Written by: Chris Claremont
Pencils by: John Byrne
Date: August 1977

Cover tagline: White snow… white doom!

Issue Summary

-starts with Iron Fist and a lady named Colleen are wandering around in the snow pursued by mooks. They take shelter in a cabin and flashback to the day before. The two of them are in the rockies to bodyguard some guy named Hogarth

-When they land they are immediately assaulted by Sabretooth, who has some mercenaries with him.

-Colleen immediately recognizes Sabretooth and calls him out for his reputation as a “freebooter, a modern day pirate” who will rip off anything for the right price, which Sabretooth agrees with. He tells her he’s there for her client, Hogarth, and not to make him angry or he’ll “scratch your eyes out.” He orders his mooks to lock them up, with the intention of bringing them along with the target when he leaves.

-Iron Fist beats up the mooks and takes Sabretooth by surprise. Sabretooth says he wants them brought back dead or alive.

-the flashback ends and Iron Fist takes out the mooks that are pursuing them, stealing their suits.

-Sabretooth’s keen senses see through Iron Fist’s disguise

-Sabretooth calls Iron Fist “bub” and claims he never loses. He asks his name and claims he likes to know who he’s killin’. He also says that he’s in the mood for a good fight and it’s been a long time since he’s fought anyone ‘worth the effort.

-Iron Fist specifically comments on how fast Sabretooth is and that his claws are ‘razor sharp’.

-Sabretooth deliberately lures Iron Fist outside in order to snow-blind him.

-Sabretooth taunts Iron Fist while they’re fighting. Iron Fist calls it ‘playing cat and mouse’.

-After beating him, Iron Fist claims that “if he’d had martial arts the equal of his speed and power, I doubt I could have beaten him even with my eyes.”

Continuity

-very first introduction of Sabretooth

-Sabretooth’s name is written with a hyphen on the cover, Sabre-tooth, and repeatedly, but non consistently, the same inside.

-no mention of Sabretooth specifically being a mutant.

-Sabretooth’s civilian name is not mentioned yet.

-Design traits that will become consistent; blond, orange costume with a fur ruff, large sideburns, large hands with clawed fingertips,broad shoulders, sharp teeth.

Appearance 

-Sabretooth is drawn here with bushy eyebrows and sharp teeth. He’s big, but normal, big man big, not the size of a mac truck. 

-Sabretooth is drawn with pupils here about half the time, and half without; there is a close up where he is shown with blue eyes.

-Sabretooth’s costume here is primarily orange, with black trunks. He has a fur shoulder ruff, but also fur on his costume’s forearms and lower legs. His hands are colored brown, in contrast with his face, and with the fur on the forearms it’s never made clear if the brown is meant to indicate skin tone, fur, or even clawed gloves given that no mention of him being other than human.

-He is quite clean cut and put together in this appearance, without many of the barbarian-ish traits that creep into his design later.

Personality

-Sabretooth here is ruthless, and enjoys a good fight. He is clearly violent when angry (suggesting he would scratch Colleen’s eyes out) however no specific mention is made of him being specifically bloodthirsty or murderous. However, he does agree that it’s ‘the truth’ when he’s accused of being a monster.

-Sabretooth repeatedly calls people ‘bub’, and leaves the end off of words. However he is fairly wordy and articulate, specifically referencing ‘optic nerves’ when he snow-blinds Iron Fist.

-Sabretooth fights smart, and he fights dirty, specifically luring Iron Fist out into an ambush. However, he has all the subtlety of a freight train, and is specifically untrained in martial arts. Also, while Sabretooth’s mercenaries all wield guns, Sabretooth never lays a hand on one.

Thoughts

Meeting Sabretooth in this issue gives off the impression of a ruthless and somewhat savage mercenary leader; one savvy and clever enough to be in charge of a squad whether his own or assigned to him by his employer (it’s never made clear). He is clean cut, articulate and put together, but mean, threatening, and all too happy to get his hands dirty on the job.

Kin thoughts

Not something I *specifically* remember happening at this juncture, but not unlikely for what I feel like I would have been up to in the late 70s. That would have been after the black ops and original weapon X days. At loose ends, doing various merc work and assassin jobs. I feel like the mercs here would have been union boys hired for the job and not my personal squad, but I am pretty sure I’ve been the boss off and on, so maybe. Iron Fist, Danny, feels familiar, in a ‘please let me punch him or maybe grab him by the shoulders and shake him’ kind of way.