09th Nov2022

Wolverine Wednesday #56

by Ian Wells

Wolverine #25

Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artist: Federico Vicentini | Colourist: Frank D’Armata | Letters: Cory Petit

For me this missed the mark and was a complete turnaround from last issue. It read like Percy didn’t want to tie into the AXE event any more than he did last time out. The story from beginning to end felt very much like a case of let’s get it over with and move on. Where it falls short is not drawing the reader into the event and not making it AXE accessible. As a reader, you get the impression this issue has no overall bearing on the events going on in the main AXE books. So why not just allow Percy not to tie in or just do a one-shot tie-in? A lot of things happen it seems without any real consequence as the story rips through a sequence of set pieces and ends with an anti-climax. The only positive to come from the story is the further development in the relationship between Wolverine and Solem. It seems there are long-term plans for the elements and characters introduced during X of Swords and Percy has free reign to shape Solem as he sees fit. I appreciate how he is striving to make him a unique Wolverine foe the likes of which we have not seen before and having them form an uneasy alliance for two issues really allowed to see him in a new light. I do wonder though when the ‘Krakoan Age’ stuff starts to dry up and a new direction is given the green light how much will remain? And that applies to the whole X line not just the Wolverine series. Like would Percy even stay beyond that point? If he did then you would assume Solem can still play a role too. Vicentini’s art was the star of the show. I continue to love his more animated style, there is definitely a time and place for a softer looking Wolverine and it worked for this story. The combination of the animated style and the colour palette was a huge attraction for this book. The Arctic setting really leapt off the page with some of the colour choices. In particularly the purple hues to the sky were the perfect compliment to the action. The design for the Hell-bride is a really cool design, a very modern contemporary look that fights in well with the overall aesthetic of current X-Men continuity. What really stood out for me most of all in Vicentini’s art was how he depicts Solem, he really is a graceful purposeful character. What highlights it most is when Solem and Wolverine are side by side in action. You get a real sense in the difference in stature and weight between to the two characters. This of course reads on the page as the two having different movement, with Solem being a fluid, flexible and graceful fighter.

So not all is completely lost with this issue as there is a 25th issue celebratory back up story. The title is ‘Bar Brawl’ and as soon as you read that you know you are in for a good time. Add in the all star art team, Benjamin Percy making an appearance as a disgruntled bar keep and you are in for 10 pages of pure joy. It is the perfect subject matter for a short story, after all how many times has a Wolverine story started in a bar? If no one has ever read a Wolverine comic before and they pick this up these 10 pages give a perfect overview of the character and the type of adventures he goes. The story jumps through eras, costumes and genres with little time for the reader to catch their breath. For longer term readers it acts as a sort of between the panels story. Just from the snippets you get of Team X and Wolverine’s time with the Avengers it leaves it to the readers imagination to dream up what those two teams bar life is like! For good measure Percy even throws in a new character who you immediately want to know more about. Having the different artists for every page really helps the story zip along, it says to the reader don’t get to comfortable in this setting as we are changing things up on the very next page. This short story is a triumph and again shows the simplest idea is often the best and it further shows Percy excellent understanding and handling of such an iconic character.

Wolverine #26

Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artist: Juan Jose Ryp | Colourist: Frank D’Armata | Letters: Cory Petit

It was really refreshing to read #25 and #26 back to back. If like me you didn’t enjoy the former, the latter certainly is a return to the familiar and in my opinion better story. This issue hits all the beats from the series that I have enjoyed over its entire run. I have said before how I have enjoyed the addition of Jeff Bannister to the lore. It makes perfect sense for this new era of X-Men to have their own CIA and it makes even more perfect sense that Wolverine would know someone in the real CIA to assist him. In a way Jeff Bannister grounds the series in the real world, as he highlights Wolverine’s chameleon like ability to move between mutant life and the human world. Now this issue kicks off an arc entitled ‘The Beast Agenda.’ Firstly this appealed to me because it follows the Robert Ludlum formula for titling a novel. Definite pronoun + proper name + abstract noun. It is also funny timing that I caught up on the X-Force trades as this issue came out. Percy’s handling of Beast is something I have remarked on every time he makes an appearance, so I will talk about it later in my X-Force trades round up. Like I said it was really cool to be back into the swing of things in this issue it was just a really comforting reading experience with yet again an amazing cliff hanger. Even from the title of the arc I don’t think anyone would have predicted the left turn the cliff hanger takes you on. This issue is a really great showcase for how Percy has constructed his stories over the 26 issues. I already mentioned how Jeff Bannister is back and he really is front and center, with Wolverine more like a sidekick. We then spend some time seeing how Wolverine operates in the team dynamic of X-Force and lastly we are reintroduced to Legacy House. All these elements come together so seamlessly, creating a really organic reading experience. I like it to the rewarding feeling you get from committing to a long TV series or sticking with a dense novel. Juan Jose Ryp comes on art duties for this issue and I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled at seeing his name on the cover. Previously I have seen his art and not enjoyed it, but it has since grown on me. My first thought is that his style wasn’t a good fit for the genre of story and there are some elements in the issue where I feel I am justified in that thought, but I am definitely a bigger fan after this issue. The issue kicks off with three consecutive splash pages and if you weren’t sure about Ryp going in, seeing these three pages you immediately know what he is all about. And these pages really do show off what he does well, along with a larger fight sequence later in the issue. His style has a certain energy to it and the colours really bring the action to live. Where his style doesn’t sit so well with me is in the talking head pages. Up close his characters lack a little something compared to how Kubert has been dealing with them, especially in the characters with human features. Anything left field in appearance and he raises his game and brings something exciting to the table. But of course in this genre there are more than a few talking head pages, it is just a case of him finding a balance. #26 is a really solid issue to kick off a new arc. I also feel like it would be a good jumping on point for someone who has been reading X-Force and wanted more of the same. Perhaps continuity is a little too dense for a complete new reader but someone familiar with the world and the tone will slide in easily.

X-Force Trade Paperbacks Vol.2 – Vol.4 (#7-#26)

Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artists: Joshua Cassara, Jan Bazaldua, Garry Brown, Robert Gill & Martin Coccolo | Colourist: Dean White | Lettterers: Cory Petit & Joe Caramagna

So I have finally caught up on the X-Force trades. I can report Benjamin Percy is killing in the series as much as he is on Wolverine. In a nutshell X-Force is high concept story telling. It is a combination of Sci-fi, action, sprinkled with some personal Percy touches. Rather than go issue by issue I thought It would be better to do an overview of the x issues to date. I will focus on such things as how the story focuses on certain characters, the art and how it ties into events. I have previously reviewed the first trade and if I remember I largely enjoyed it so I am hoping for more of the same.

With the X-Force series Percy follows the same formula as the Wolverine with shorter story arcs. Where it does differ from the Wolverine series is that while there are shorter story arcs in some of the trades it feels more like getting two short stories making up one whole arc. In that sense it asks as a hybrid between short stories and writing for the trade. I feel some issues hold up on their own whilst others fall a little short and do very much feel part of something bigger, which would count against it if I was buying it as a monthly floppy. One factor that really works in its favour is the connective tissue with Wolverine, it makes reading the text pages as I predicted months ago obsolete. Obviously, the connectivity would work even better if you were reading the floppies as they came out. I really had to reach back into my brain to have some pieces click together after all these months. As I mentioned earlier with the Wolverine series, Percy brings the same binge-watching vibe to this series with story lines dropping in and out. Keeping it more comics related it is classic Claremont A plot, B plot, C plot. When A wraps up B becomes A and so on, with it being months, even years with plots coming to fruition. What I like most about the story that unfolds over the course of the series is that despite it being a team book large parts of it are devoted to a character study on one character. Domino takes center stage in the second arc as she deals with the fallout from the first arc. There are some good character beats that deal with how people see themselves and how they want people to see them, all very relateable stuff. It reaches a climax where she shares a rather tender moment with Colossus which you feel will pay off further down the line. Quentin Quire is next to take the lead role, previously he was a character I didn’t care much for but I enjoyed this story. Where this differs from the previous arc is you had Domino dealing with her issues but still feeling part of the team. Here Quire faces a lot of the goings on, on his own. There is some connectivity with Jean Grey, which mirrors Domino and Colossus sharing an experience before. Percy’s story strikes a good balance between sci-fi, horror and more light hearted moments in the black ops world. I think fans of Quentin Quire could read this as a solo story without infesting further into X-Force. As Percy is writing both this and Wolverine it could be Wolverine overkill. For most of the issues he feels like X-Force’s muscle and nothing more. When he is not in the series it feels natural that, that is when the adventures in his own ongoing are happening. He is the focus of #25 in a story thats has more than a few nods and winks to Point Break. Forge is so much fun in throughout the series, he is in his element as the tech guy for the team. I recently saw a YouTube video where a kid brought his first appearance and said Forge was underused, X-Force maybe the closest thing right now to him getting the limelight. A lot of the series is devoted to the dynamic between Sage and Beast. While Wolverine and Domino are the muscle, they are very much the brains. I personally would like to see Sage’s role expanded, because at times brains are needed out where the action is. Now to address Beast, oh boy! I am not usually a fan of characters having such drastic changes in personality, but I guess he couldn’t remain the ‘stars & garters’ Beast forever! He is a character who monologues a lot so readers get a great insight into his way of thinking. This plays off really well with how the other team members react to his actions. I feel Percy is delivery a slow burn with his take on Beast. The current arc in Wolverine may just be the tip of the iceberg. Could he become even more maniacal than Dark Beast?

X-Force is a really good read, if you have been reading Wolverine and want more of the same it is an easy transition to make. Percy gives everyone equal time in the spotlight, like with his work on Wolverine you feel as if every plot point will pay off somewhere down the line. Half the fun is waiting to see how and when. Being in this ‘Krakoan Era’ setting really allows him to be creative with providing X-Force with new threats. Terra Verde and gene spliced mercenaries make a welcome change to readers who think X-Men only battle Sentinels or Magneto!It is a shame I binged three trades in a week as now I have a wait to quench my X-Force needs!


Comments are closed.