06th May2020

Wolverine Wednesday #34

by Ian Wells

In the early days of this pandemic we find ourselves all in the idea flew around Twitter of doing a modern take on the Marvel/DC Amalgam of the mid 90’s. Just to put some commentary on to this idea, I’m sure it was suggested with the best intentions and it certainly got people talking online. In my opinion I don’t think such a project would help in a big a way as predicted. You see time and time again comic shop owners saying ‘event’ comics don’t bring a surge of new costumers. Why would this be different, especially when you add in the doubts over the industries future. Anyway enough negativity. All the posts about a Marvel/DC Amalgam made me dive into my long boxes and dig out two Wolverine-centric issues to talk about here.

Legends of Dark Claw #1

Writer: Larry Hama | Artist: Jim Balent | Inker: Ray McCarthy | Colourist: Pat Garrahy | Letters: Bill Oakley

As you would expect if you didn’t read the Amalgam comics at the time and go back to them now they haven’t aged well. They came out in 1996 and are very much a product of their time. I was nine years old when this issue came out and if I had been reading comics at the time I probably would have loved this! Larry Hama takes up the writing duties which is a good choice as he had wrapped up a long run, defining run on Wolverine in recent years. Despite him being a good choice it does feel at times this issue is trying to be too edgy, when you think he should have a good control over the character. Particulary when the amalgamation is not a 50/50 split. There is way more Wolverine in Dark Claw than there is Batman. This just highlights the time the issue came out even more. DC were not popular, Image had put Marvel and DC in their place and Wolverine is the closet to an Image character at the ‘Big Two.’ Combining The Huntress with Carol Danvers seems an odd choice when you look at the trajectory of the latter since the 90’s. I suppose it is just an opportunity for Jim Balent to be Jim Balent and draw an blonde in a figure hugging costume. Just looking at the art work heavily roots this book in the 90’s if you didn’t know already. The issue opens with a pretty cool splash page, the two pages latter is a double page splash just in case that first one didn’t grab you hard enough. Even though it is a Batman/Wolverine combo there is definitely a Faust vibe to the characters look. Its like PG Faust! As expected the story is all over the place for a 90’s comic. The plot is a very generic Joker plot with a band saving the President finale. For a character made up of Wolverine and Batman way to much of this story takes place in the day time! This issue does strongly reek of what it is. A cry for attention. Image Comics had Marvel and DC running scared, the latter had already tried to match their new rivals by killing Superman. Now as comics often teach us two heroes were teaming up to face a shared enemy. All though no one really won in the end. All the good stuff in this issue comes from the letters page. One letter is addressed to ‘Slicers and Dicers’ reference to a line from Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight Returns. As creators they had to produce these below par comics, but as comics fans themselves the creators were able to have a little fun with the letters page. Busting balls to show again the sign of the times when this issue came out. One letter calls for Dark Claw to replace his sidekick Sparrow (Robin/Jubilee) with and I quote “A FURIOUSLY ENHANCED BABE.” Another letter congratulates the creators on delivering a good story that can be read as opposed to a comic that should be bagged and boarded immediately in mint condition! In conclusion I would say avoid this issue at all costs, but without we wouldn’t have got something a bit more special a year later…

Dark Claw Adventures #1

Wrtier/Breakdowns: Ty Templeton | Finishes: Rich Burchett | Colourist: Linda Madley | Letters: Tim Harkins

Again while this is a product of its time and it is still Marvel and DC trying anything to even the playing field with Image, this issue is way more fun to look back at and reread. I think that is because the nostalgia element of pleasing Wolverine, Batman and Batman The Animated Series fans makes it way more enjoyable. Right from the ouset when we get Dark Claw undercover as Patch Malone as a reader you realise a lot more thought has gone into this than the previous years effort. Larry Hama is a talented writer so it makes you wonder how much editorial input from both companies affected the final outcome of the stories. Templeton and Burchett had worked on Batman Adventures second volume two years before this so their mindset of being dialed into how BTAS stories work was on point. This does actually feel like it could be a a BTAS episode. The split between Batman/Wolverine is way more even than previous. Admittedly Ra’s A Pocalypse is more than a little cheesy, but he is only used in flashback so we don’t dwell on him too long. Taking center stage as the antagonist is the amalgam of Talia Al Ghul and Lady Deathstrike. All in all she is a much more rounded villain compared to the Joker/Sabretooth in the Legends of Dark Claw issue. Because this is a comic based on another comic that was based on animated show the art work benefits from this. Where as the previous Dark Claw offering suffered from being a product of its time the art is  this issue is unlike anything else on offer from Marvel and DC at the time. The panel layouts are more inventive, the tone is lighter and because of this it is more sequential than the Balent issue. A comic should be able to be followed with out any dialogue and this issues accomplishes that. There is a fun sequence at the beginning where he mentions not being able to kill his foes (because its based on a cartoon) he then realises they are cyborgs so immediately we get the ‘Snikt!’  reveal. Again thought like the previous Dark Claw issue all the fun stuff is in the letters column. We get mentions of a potential Dark Claw animated movie, illusions to larger continuity with mention of past stories like the Dark Claw ‘Elsewhat If?’ issue and the ‘Ten Nights of Omega.’ Omega Beast is mentioned and I assume he is an amalgam of Omega Red and KGBeast the two premier Soviet foes of Wolverine and Batman respectively. Lastly we get the preview title for next issue ‘Secret of The Waiting Phoenix Saga.’ Man I really wish Dark Claw adventures was a thing. A twelve issue maxi series at least. I’m not saying it will save the industry but it will be a fun read, especially if you got this creative team on board. I wonder how many ideas they spit balled? Let them free on it and lets find out.

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