13th Oct2021

Wolverine Wednesday #47

by Ian Wells

Wolverine #17

Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artist: Adam Kubert | Colourists: Frank Martin & Espen Grundetjern | Letters: Cory Petit

This issue is the definition of rollercoaster ride. From cover to cover it takes the reader on a ride to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This can be applied to both the story itself and my own enjoyment of it. The issue opens on one such high for the tone of the story and the visuals. I think it is interesting that Grundetjern for this issue is assisting Martin on colouring duties, but only for the first two pages. He beautifully captures the green hues of Krakoas ‘tiki bar’ on the lagoon. I like how the issue started. The previous two issues were action and attitude heavy so to start with a talking showdown between Wolverine and Solem was a brave move that paid off. Back when the later was first introduced I commented on how I liked how Percy wrote his dialogue. You can tell he is a talker, before a fighter. I am curious to see if this was kept consisted in his other appearances. The stakes would be higher between Wolverine and Solem for the reader if they have read all of X of Swords. The story does have some call backs to larger X-Men universe connectivity, particularly set around the fall out of X of Swords. Rather than Wolverine vs Solem the story acts more as a conclusion to Wolverine vs Blackmore from the previous two issues. The plot is a very basic double cross and plays out as expected once all the pieces are in place. The main face off between Wolverine and Blackmore is made rather enjoyable by Kubert. The main crux of the confrontation takes place over four pages. With the constant chopping and changing of panel shape and size over these four pages Kubert dictates the flow of the action brilliantly to the reader. Looking back over his work on this series so far his panel layouts are definitely more experimental than what he was producing on Wolverine in the early 90’s. Something else I picked up on from Kubert in this issue which I have never noticed from him before and that is his cartooning ability. In this issue there are 3 examples of comedic cartooning, usually revolving around someone taking a whack to the head. Because it is done in the background or in a long shot as opposed to close up it doesn’t detract from the tone of the art of seriousness of the story. The cover is great, especially using the title as the whole of the background. I think it would be fair to say the story after the cover doesn’t quite deliver on the same level of dynamism of the cover. But then again this is not a new trend in comics. One problem with these short story arcs (yes I have praised them so far) is that at times they can meander and then come to an abrupt conclusion. I don’t know if the significance of Solem and telepathy was set up elsewhere in the X-verse or whether it was just dropped into this issue to get to the end? SO while we do get a conclusion to the ‘B’ plot, the ‘A’ plot lives to fight another day. Wolverine vs Solem is far from over. I opened by saying the issue was a journey of highs and lows. After the mediocre conclusion we get a set up for future story arc with an amazing cliff hanger. Of course having seen future solicitations and knowing how the story arcs have been constructed so far I have know idea when this the results if this cliff hanger will come to fruition, which adds to the excitement. Think of it as a plot thread that gives with one hand and takes away with the other. Maybe I am missing something in larger X-Men connectivity or overlooking something really obvious but at this moment I really have no idea where it could be heading!

Top 5 Wolverine Villains

After my rant last month about Solem not cracking Wolverine’s top nemesis list in the near future I thought it would be fun to count down my top 5 villains for “the best there is at what he does”.

5. The Hand

After Daredevil and Elektra, Wolverine has probably had the most throw downs with these deadly ninjas. It is a rivalry that goes right back to Wolverine’s first outing as a solo comic star and one that will keep popping up thanks to his ties to Japan and Clan Yashida. There have been many great renditions of Wolverine clawing his way through hoards of Hand ninjas. Notable stories after the first mini include Mark Miller and John Romita Jr’s modern classic ‘Enemy of The State.’ Topping the list for me is without doubt Uncanny X-Men #268. Wolverine and Captain America team up to take down The Hand in Madripoor. Nuff Said!

4. Mr X

The newest creation on the list and one from my all time favourite run on Wolverine. That being Frank Tieri and Sean Chen from the early 2000s. A lot of mystery surrounded his introduction into Wolverine’s life (#159-#161.) Fittingly the story is titled ‘The best there is’ Mr X is backed up by reliable muscle in the shape of Blok and T ‘n’ A. The mystery of the character is backed up by a sadistic origin story. Despite only having a handful of appearances, each time he has pushed Wolverine to his limit. The cover to #159 is witness to this. The pair would next face off in the Bloodsport contest, Madripoor’s underground fight contest as depicted in Wolverine #167-#169.

3. Lady Deathstrike

Nothing stokes a rivalry more than making it very personal. Yuriko Oyama’s father Lord Darkwind (cool name) is the man responsible for creating the process in which adamantium can be bond to the skeleton. Therefore she believes what Logan has, is in fact her birth right. So ever since they first faced off she has sworn to strip it from him. She is a character that has gone through may changes since her first appearance in Daredevil #197. Aligning herself with The Reavers was a move that made her more evil and formidable. Despite in her perception of not having what is hers, each time they meet she is more than a match for Wolverine, especially with her cybernetic enhancements.Wolverine #35-#37 features the early days of the pairs feud. Also featuring everyones favourite Alpha Flighter Puck and world famous author Ernest Hemingway!

2. Cyber

Cyber has perhaps dealt Wolverine one of his biggest blows (at a time when he hadn’t died in the comics) when he famously shattered his bone claws (#79) after having the adamantium stripped from him previously by Magneto. At the time this was Wolverine’s equivalent of having his back broken like Batman at the hands of Bane. Like Mr X he is a character that has had only a few appearances but each time he has struck the fear of good into Wolverine. Which is why he makes it to number 2 on the list. In the Wolverine: Origins series they retconned his past to give him more of a connection to Logan. For me it missed the mark and he works better with all the mystery around. The mystery around him and the levels of fear he induces in Wolverine go back to his debut in Marvel Comics Presents #85. The story is of course best remembered for Sam Kieth delivering his ‘A’ game on art duties.

1. Sabretooth

What can I say? I am a sucker for the classics. I think it undoubtedly for me all goes back to the episode of X-Men the animated series ‘Cold Comfort’ where the two fought in Alaska. This episode was adapted in the comic series X-Men Adventures #6 and this was one of my first ever convention purchases. When I was collecting my Wolverine back issues I would always be excited by a Sabretooth appearance, especially if he wasn’t on the cover and it was a surprise he turned up. I think what makes the rivalry work is the two side of the same coin angle. I always loved seeing the old Team X flashbacks and discovering how the partnership soured. Would I have been a fan if Chris Claremont had got his wish and had Sabretooth be revealed as Wolverine’s father? It is hard to say, though by the time I started collecting it would have already be set in stone. There are so many great match ups between the two. Wolverine #64 sees an uneasy alliance as they hunt down secrets to the Weapon X project. #90 sees the pair duke it out at Xaviers mansion, a issue that would be homaged in the animated series. A favourite of mine is the two parter in #41-#42. As the pair fight in the sewers of NYC. It also features Cable and Elsie Dee and is actually a good 90’s comic. Of course top of the tree is Wolverine #10. Everything about the two’s feud comes from here and is still called back whenever the meet time and time again.

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