09th Dec2020

Wolverine Wednesday #39

by Ian Wells

Wolverine #6

Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic | Colourist: Matthew Wilson | Letters: Cory Petit

Right away I found it very annoying this didn’t pick up immediately with the rainbow bridge reveal of last issue. That all probably happened in a different comic. Wolverine #6 is after all part 3 of a 22 part story taking place over how many series? Despite all this baggage the issue works both as part of a larger story and more importantly as a Wolverine story. To top all that off I actually found it very accessible having not read any other X of Swords tie-ins. The issue follows to stories. The first of which is Wolverine and his quest for Muramasa. The second thread follows War and Pestilence of Four Horsemen of Apocolypse fame as they reaquiant themselves and introduce the readers to new villain Solem. Of the two I actually prefered the second non Wolverine centric story elements. I have to confess having missed the set up for the Wolverine/Muramasa stuff I’m not actually sure how much of it was metaphorical or just some sort of trip. It is kind of odd that I prefered the newer stuff over the Wolverine story thread. I mean it is characters who are all new to me and are talking about stuff that has already happened else where in the cross-over. They may as well be speaking martian to me. The story still hits all the right beats to be both interesting and entertaing despite all thew new stuff being thrown around. Solem as a villain gave me vibes of The Pantheon seen in the TMNT ongoing a few years back. I think it was the long drawn out, poetic speeches. Some of the nuggest dropped in this issue make me more inclined to pick up X of Swords when it gets the trade paperback release. It had a good overall tone and vibes. Of course that could all go south during a twenty two issue story! Essentially from reading this issue X of Swords is Game of Thrones for Hickman’s X-Men. Again this issue comes with text pages. Three this time and again the add nothing to the story. Interestingly though one of them did make mention of Mariko still being the Scarlet Samuari, a dangling plot thread from Ed Brisson’s run on Old Man Logan. Be cool to see if Percy follows up on this. The art is the stand out winner. The issue launches with a kick-ass fight between Wolverine and Silver Samurai and doesn’t let it from there. Solem is a visually appealing character and with his design I would say you can easily place him within current X-Men continuity. But his look also has elements of Apocolypse, thus making him tied to a grander fiction. With the two story threads it gives Bogdanovic and Wilson chance to offer up two very distinct styles. Throw in the Wolverine segment having some flashbacks and the art team throw in a third colour palllet for it. Even in the talking head parts there is enough variation in panels to keep the story moving at a good pace and play to the grand scale of the story. So a solid start to an impending epic…. On to issue 7.

Wolverine #7

Writers: Benjamin Percy & Gerry Duggan | Artist: Joshua Cassara | Letters: Cory Petit

It would be unfair to say this isn’t a strong issue. It has some drawbacks. Mainly it isn’t as accessible as #6. a lot of that is down to the fact it is now part 16 of a 22 part epic. Secondly the action is nowhere near as well paced as the last issue and lastly Wolverine feels like a tertiary character in his own book. Okay I might be being over critical on that last one. He appears much sooner than I remembered from my first read. He just doesn’t do a lot! Of course we don’t pick up with him where we left him in the previous issue. All of that set up before has been dealth with in another part of the cross-over. Whether we agree with them or not event comics are going to happen. I just feel the editors need to step in more when an event comic crosses into a solo on going series. Any issuse from an event still needs to stand on its own in this example as a Wolverine story from cover to cover. In an event like this I feel like the text pages could actually serve more of a purpose than they are doing. Wolverine #7 begins with Magik entering into her battle pairing. A pairing that was no doubt revealed earlier in the event in a totally different comic. It is not even like the result of the battle has a knock on effect for Wolverine. It is simply a case of getting all the pieces into place. I am always skeptical when a writer is co-written and there is no break down of who wrote what. Duggan is the current scribe on Marauders, but there is no Marauders action in this issue. I have ignored all spoilers for X of Swords. One of the major ones revolved around this issue and I can say it was very anti climactic. We all read the articles teasing Solem as Wolverine’s big new bad. He is so underplayed in this issue it is unreal. Now I don’t know how much air play he has had else where in the cross-over but at this stage I can’t really see him displacing Sabertooth or Cyber as a top Wolverine foe. The basic premise of X of Swords is Krakoa vs Arakko in a series of duals orchestrated by Saturnyne. Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t those duals be the main focus of the story? I know we can’t just have fighty fighty comics for twenty two issues but the fact that three duals come to a conclusion within 20 odd pages of story tells you a lot in my opinion. So while the story was a bit of a let down after the early promise of #6 it is all kind of made up for with the amazing art of Cassara who is reteaming with Percy along with their X-Force work. There is a lot going on that makes the issue sing. From the beautiful opening with Magik to some old school cosmic Marvel inspired pages Cassara hits the mark. There is a page early in the story which is just brilliant. It involves Wolverine sinking into sand on a hafl splash page. The three panels proceeding it each have more and more missing like grains of sand have been eroded away. Like I said there is a lot going on my minimal artistic understanding can not do justice with words. All in all the two issues of Wolverine that have tied into X of Swords have been rather entertaining. Wolverine #7 made me slightly less inclined to check out the whole story at a later date, but I am not completely off the idea. So at the end of the day you could argue they have served thier purpose. I for one though am looking forward to a new year and #8… Did someone say Maverick?

Wolverine: Black, White and Blood #1

Writers: Gerry Duggan, Matthew Rosenberg & Declan Shalvey | Artists: Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara & Declan Shalvey | Colourists: Frank Martin & Declan Shalvey | Letters: Clayton Cowles

The thinking behind Wolverine: Black, White and Blood is to cherry pick moments from Wolverine’s extensive and colourful history to revisit for one off stories, with no consequences to continuity. Just fun, action heavy stories. With that premise in mind it is safe to say this first issue delivers with an A+. I would call the three stories presented in this debut issue as quintessential Wolverine type stories. The first story takes us back to the Weapon X experiments. There are many (myself included) who count Weapon X as both the definitive Wolverine origin story and a comics masterpiece. So some may see it as taboo to revisit that storyline again. With an anthology series like this you can take it with a pinch of salt. It is a ten page story that is in no way trying to add to or better the original Weapon X storyline. With the black, white and red theme the visuals are so different from what Windsor Smith offered up in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents. You can’t say Kubert is trying to copy Windsor Smith in anyway. Like I said these ten pages are their own thing. Kubert gives us two 16 panel pages, a double splash, panels that navigate up and down, panels that naivgate left to right. Next up we have an espionage romp where Wolverine teams with Nick Fury. I wasn’t sure on the timeline for this one. But it really didn’t matter. At first I thought WWII. What with Hydra and the European setting, but Wolverine is cleary in his X-Men threads. I am a huge Cold War movie and novel fan so Iam always going to gravitate towards stories like this. As far as espionage thrillers go it isn’t as intricate as a Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy. But boy is it fun. Even within the ten page limit there are enough dead ends and red herrings to keep you guessing right up until the twist ending! I sang the praises for Cassara’s art in Wolverine #7, in black and white it is even more beautiful. It is like  perfect blend between ultra detail and cartoony action. Last we have the Wolverine as a lone wolf helping out the people who can’t help themselves story. There have been numerous types of these stories down the years that often miss the mark in the longer format. The limited page count makes a story like this work in its favour. It is a simple formula of little bit of set up, the right dose of action in the middle and all wrapped up right at the end.  Shalvey’s art takes on a more animated look in the black and white and it helps the story zip along. He delivers a brilliant splash page that rivals he cover for glortious Wolverine depictions. I wonder what came first, the idea of a new Wolverine anthology series or the idea to have it black, white and blood? With each story the creative teams up the ante on the action. I can just imagine them in the old school bullpen hearing about each others stories and then going about one upping each other. By the fourth issue it is going to be crazy! On a personal note I thought it would have been amazing to see this series on old style newsprint, with the one colour printing. Just a thought.


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