14th Jun2017

Wolverine Wednesday #1

by Ian Wells

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Welcome to the first instalment of Wolverine Wednesday. Your monthly guide through the world of Wolverine based comics. My main focus will be on the solo adventures of Logan and Laura but I will drop in reviews of other trade paperbacks, mini series and one shots related to the Logan family tree. Kicking things off this month I will get you up to speed on Old Man Logan before a new creative team takes charge with #25. I’ll also be talking the jump on friendly events of All-New Wolverine #19 and the beginning of the new Weapon X ongoing.

Old Man Logan: The story so far…

With the events of the event Secret Wars coming to an end in 2016 timelines and realities in the Marvel Universe were drastically altered. It served as an opening to bring everyone’s favourite alternate version of Wolverine into current continuity. Over the course of their 24 issue run writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino have delivered the most consistent run on the character for some time. In my opinion these issues can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge to the original Old Man Logan story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. (Wolverine vol.2 #66-#72). Another big, big plus about the series so far is that Lemire has mainly kept his story arcs to 4 issues. He is not stretching it out for the 6 issues like a lot of comics these days. The opening story arc is titled ‘Berserker’ and is a simple Logan adapting to his new surroundings whilst plotting to stop the events of his future from happening. Of course nothing is like Logan expects it to be and Lemire highlights this by having Logan interact with the current incarnations of characters that appeared in Millar’s story. So you have Amadeus Cho Hulk and Kate Bishop Hawkeye. Best of all is the #4 confrontation between Logan and an aged Steve Rogers. Both have trouble accepting each other. Issues #5-#7 involve a classic Wolverine trope. Him going on a road trip to find himself. Lemire does a great job adding to the story created by Millar by fleshing out some of the story that would have happened off panel. Jeff Lemire has a strong background in independent comics and it helps give Old Man Logan a Mad Max “independent movie” vibe.

Coincidently Lemire worked on Green Arrow before moving to Marvel and his run on this series has something in common with the Arrow TV series. Logan learns lessons in the present that have ramifications on his future and vice versa, much like the flashbacks in Arrow. Andrea Sorrentino wasn’t an artist I was familiar with before reading this. Now I’m a fan. He has produced some mind blowing stuff. It enhances the story and adds to the dark tone. Old Man Logan is not a happy X-Men tale where everything gets wrapped up nicely. It is at times depressing. His style is scratchy, rough around the edges. Then when the action starts… Bam! He uses the whole page and rarely follows boring panel formations. The series was coloured by Marcelo Maiolo and when Sorrentino goes Bam! Maiolo hits you with hues of red rage.

The next arc which ran from #9-#13 and was titled ‘The Last Ronin’ felt a little grander in scale. Again Lemire doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel. Logan and ninjas is another classic trope that works and fans like to see. Some shorter arcs follow which I always like after a big arc before stepping into another epic. These shortr arcs are a little lighter in tone and allow for Logan to interact with some familiar faces. Puck, Sasquatch and Jubilee are welcome in the pages of a Wolverine story anytime. Art on these issues was supplied by Filipe Andrade. While he is a capable understudy for Sorrentino and keeps the tone constent he lacks those explosive moments.  Jeff Lemire wrapped up his run on Old Man Logan with a story arc titles ‘Past Lives’ (#21-#24). It was a shame Andrea Sorrentino wasn’t able to complete the journey with him, but he did supply four kick ass covers! Art for this arc is by Eric Ngyuyen. Again like Andrade he is a brilliant back up, fits the tone of the story well but lacks those explosive moments. That said I would happily read anything he supplies art on. While I said Old Man Logan has been at times dark and depressing ‘Past Lives’ delivers on fun. It is a high octane adventure through Logan’s life. Lemire does well to stay away from visiting the obvious places but touches on plenty of meaningful moments of nostalgia.

I wasn’t convinced bringing Old Man Logan into current continuity would be provide much scope for story telling. I was wrong! It has worked to the comics advantage that the movie Logan was such a success because new fans coming to comics from that see the same character instead of the yellow spandex clad canuck. This finale story by Jeff Lemire is a brilliant way to wrap up his near two year run on the series. The last two issues inparticular tug at the heart strings and then everything gets wrapped up. Contradicting my previous statement but it works here. Lemire has told his story, wrapped it all up and left a clean slate for Ed Brisson and Mike Dedato Jr. to take the reigns.

All New Wolverine #19

Like Old Man Logan, All New Wolverine launched after the events of Secret Wars. Like Old Man Logan it has been a consistent read through its eighteen previous issues. Tom Taylor has embraced putting Laura into the blue and yellow, putting her front and center and integrating her more into the Marvel Universe as a whole. The series may have benefitted more from having a regular artist rather than rotating, but the chances aren’t drastic enough to distract from the story. #19 has been assigned as jump on friendly for new readers. Leonard Kirk takes over art duties and I hope he can stick around. I can’t understand why they have opted for a new black and grey costume. When the series began it was about Laura taking the Wolverine mantle and being more than capable of filling the role. Gabby a clone of Laura introduced in Taylor’s first arc now has a costume too and here one claw is in its way cute.

The story that starts in this issue is titled ‘Immune.’ I got a little worried as I read that and the story about an alien virus unfolded. The run on Wolverine that culminated in his death began in very similar fashion. I don’t want to criticize anyone who worked on that run, but it is my least favourite period for Wolverine. Thankfully this arc seems a million times better after one issue. Big positive it is only 3 issues long. So you have a clear set up, middle and a resolution. All New Wolverine #19 delivers plenty of action, moments of humour supplied by Gabby and sets up a nice little mystery. Tom Taylor has told solid stories in his previous eighteen issues and shows no signs of slowing up. Laura is certainly developing as a character under his pen. Heres to Taylor and Kirk taking her on a long roller coaster of a ride.

Weapon X #1

Due to an administrative error on my part I missed #2. So next month will be a bumper review of #2-#3. Over the years and often to my disappointment I have collected everything with Weapon X in the title. Needless to say I was excited about the announcement of a new series by Greg Pak and Greg Land. You have to hand it to the Weapon X program. They adapt to survive. They haven’t rested on trying to make another Wolverine, they embrace new technology. The MO has gone from creating weapons to wiping out mutant kind. Right off the bat the first thing I noticed about this issue was the corner logo on the cover. You have the cast of the book charging into the point of an X. It is very reminiscent of the opening credits to X-Men: The Animated Series. So right away I’m in a happy place.

Pak doesn’t waste time with much set up in this opening issue. It’s action, action, action. Questions and motivations can come later. If you have read the news articles on this series you already know the team line up. But only two of them are present in this opening issue. I believe the roster will be fluid and grow as the series develops. There are hints to the characters to come in the background of one panel but you will still have to read to see why and when they turn up. This first issue is mainly Logan fighting Weapon X’s new threat which takes the form of deadly robots with mutant enhancements. We are left with the tease that Logan will be teaming with Sabertooth to face this threat. It will be great to see how that unfolds. While Weapon X has been billed as an ongoing you have to wonder if it will end up being a maxi series. I mean once the robots are defeated does the team stay together like X-Men? We shall see…

That’s it from me this month. I have been your adamantium aficionado Ian Wells.

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