09th Aug2023

Wolverine Wednesday #64

by Ian Wells

Wolverine #35

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

The longest story arc in the series so far finally reaches its conclusion. It has been a long, but mostly enjoyable road to get here so will the final chapter deliver on the build-up? My reviews aren’t usually spoiler heavy, but I have a fair bit to say about this issue and I think dancing around the spoilers will make it a longer read. So from this point forward, there will be spoilers as it will make it easier to break things down. But first let’s kick off with the cover and I want to shout out Lenil Yu as I haven’t done so enough. He has been providing some beautiful all-out action covers for the entirety of this arc. He has always drawn a great Wolverine (more on that later). For this final issue in the arc he delivers an image of such promise. Another really cool detail of the cover is in its subtitle. Rather than going with the obvious of ‘Weapons of X Finale’ or other such cliches, it turns it into part of the story ‘The end of Beast and The Weapons of X…?’ It has been cool seeing the old Wolverine font back on the cover for these past few months. The issue begins with a three-page sequence of Beast telling Bannister a joke. It really is a juxtaposition to the rest of the story. As it not only starts on a light-hearted note, the emphasis on the moment is backed up by the presence of so much blue on the page that it’s like a light before the darkness. After this opening we get to my biggest complaint. That being the cast list on the credits page. Seeing who would be popping up in such a big finale before they actually show up took some of the suspense away from those moments. As Percy is writing both this and X-Force perhaps it was obvious to some they would show up. I always enjoy the connectivity with X-Force it is never too much that you feel out of the loop. There was also a good moment of character development for Sage. It is quite a big moment and if you are reading X-Force and not Wolverine you may feel a little shortchanged in a few issues time. Let’s take Jose Ryp before we get into the meat of the story. He has just gone from strength to strength with each issue. Early on in the run I would comment on how his spy/talking head pages weren’t as strong as Kubert’s. It has now got to a point where he has made them his own, he is different from Kubert not worse. Before this arc what I know Ryp for was highly detailed, bloody violence. That has been present in every issue and is dialled up to 11 for the finale. He should get praise just for making the sentient base/skeleton hybrid work. Here he takes it even further by introducing escape pods! One thing that I have noticed more and more with each issue is his cartooning. This time around we have X-Force laying siege to the base/skeleton. It is presented as a cutaway, as we see multiple versions of the team members move through the levels. I have probably explained it horribly, but I adore it! Going back to that opening sequence with the bright blues, it is perfectly offset by D’Armata’s colour choices for when Wolverine enters the fray. There are two schools of thought when it comes to reviewing comics. The first is what I do here on an issue-by-issue basis. The second is that you should wait till a story arcs conclusion before doing so. This issue is a great example as to why neither argument is right or wrong. What Percy delivers here has strengths and weaknesses for both. As a single issue again he delivers an enjoyable, action-packed story from cover to cover. The problem comes when you ask if it delivers a satisfying conclusion. In the context of how Percy has constructed his run on Wolverine so far, again, you would have to say yes. That said he typically leaves it on an open-ended cliffhanger, which would be picked up again a few issues down the line. But the way this story arc and this issue were spoken about it felt final. So in that regard, I would have to say it doesn’t deliver. Final Spoiler Warning… Beast doesn’t die. But this is where it gets fun because after reading it and feeling a little anti-climactic I started to overthink things. The reason I felt this arc would have a clear black-and-white final outcome is because ‘Fall of X’ is closer with each day. Many online are predicting the end of the Krakoan Era at the end of the event. If that is the case then all of the consequences of Beasts actions go away with it. I would hate to think the outcome has been affected by editorial pushback. If the Krakoan Era ends, is there already someone saying I need Beast in a few months for the new status quo? Percy has done such a great job carving out this dark path for Beast to traverse, but now what? Can he ever return to the friendly furry? There is also the case to make that perhaps Wolverine burying his claws in his skull was a point of no return! Of course, the obvious thing to say is that perhaps everyone is wrong, the Krakoan Era continues and Percy delivers Beast on a platter when the dust settles on ‘Fall of X.’ Perhaps Beast escaping in the manner he did ties directly into the upcoming event? Taking everything into consideration I certainly don’t hate it, but it is hard to say I loved it. At best it is a very solid story, a story I would enjoy each time I revisited it.

The Best Threads

So just over 3 weeks ago I was lying on a beach, enjoying the sun with a good book and occasionally checking The Ashes cricket score. Then all of a sudden the internet exploded! Ryan Reynolds had dropped a picture from the set of Deadpool 3. It features him as the titular hero side by side with the returning Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but that’s not all. Jackman was decked out in the famous yellow and blue! Some are calling it the greatest picture to ever hit the internet! Anyway, this is just a long way of saying it got me thinking about  Wolverine’s best looks from comics past and who was the best at drawing them. These are in no particular order as I flip/flop between what I prefer.

Yellow/Blue Tiger Stripe: It’s the classic, the gold standard. If like me you grew up on the animated series it is the first look you know and the one you most associate with him.  Twenty-three years ago there was a joke in the first X-Men film about wearing yellow spandex! Fast forward to Deadpool 3 and that is exactly what we are getting. Who are the go-to artists for this look? Just as a caveat it is easy for me to say Adam Kubert and Marc Silvestri for every every costume that is coming up. Kubert is killing it on Wolverine now in the tan and brown look, but in his younger days he worked on the title when Wolverine was dressed in yellow and blue. Likewise Silvestri was on the original Wolverine ongoing for some time but, but has also drawn kick ass renditions in the tan and brown in the pages of X-Men. John Byrne and Dave Cockrum are the quintessential artists when it comes to Wolverine in the yellow and blue during the Uncanny X-Men era. Lenil Yu is another artist who worked on the ongoing back in the day but also drew a cool Wolverine in the pages of New Avengers. Variations on the yellow and blue of course include the OG look complete with the whiskers, created by John Romita and drawn in his first appearance by Herb Trimpe. Later in Wolverine lore John Romita Jr would reenvision the costume for a modern audience in the pages of the Enemy of The State story arc. This would then lead to John Cassaday’s redesign for Astonishing X-Men. Variations and hybrids between these two looks stuck for quite some time in the modern era.

Tan and Brown: As much as I love the yellow and blue, as I have got older I tend to lean to the tan and brown. We will call it a 60/40 split. It is a simple, yet brilliant design from John Byrne. For someone like me who had no comics knowledge prior to the animated series I didn’t even know it existed, So I have to confess it has been a slow burn to get to where I am now. I think everybody has to admit it is a much sleeker look and way more suited to the tone of the character. I remember how stoked I was when Wolverine Origins launched. It signalled the first time Wolverine would have two separate ongoings and the clear distinction was made; the main title would be yellow and blue, Origins would be tan and brown. I think it speaks volumes that in today’s culture of instant recognition that since Wolverine returned to life first in Uncanny and now in the Krakoan Era he has stuck with this vintage look. Even though Byrne created this look I don’t strongly associate him with it much. You certainly can’t count out Frank Miller for showing it off brilliantly in the first Wolverine mini-series with his cinematic pacing. Alan Davis had a notable spell depicting Wolverine in the tand brown in some brutal face-offs with Sabretooth during the Mutant Massacre story arc. Then there are also industry icons like Howard Chaykin and John Buscema who have killed it when showing off Wolverine in this costume.

X-Force Black and Silver: Again it is a simple and effective design and again it is a design that perfectly suited the tone of the series, as well as the make-up of the team dynamic. During the original Kyle/Yost/Crain X-Force run it all became even more feral when everyone was depicted with red eyes in their respective masks. As well as being a favourite Wolverine costume it was also a strong look on X-23 and she carried the black and silver colour scheme for some years after that series. Deadpool as well has been known to revisit those colours. Clayton Crain designed it so he gets top billing for memorable artists, just writing this makes me want to revisit that series. Simeone Bianchi worked on some mini-series that featured both the OG lineup and the Uncanny X-Force lineup. The series Sex + Violence is the equivalent of a popcorn flick for X-Men comics. In the latter Uncanny days, Jerome Opena and Phil Noto made their own kick-ass contributions alongside the far-flung storytelling of Rick Remender. On the subject of team costumes, Wolverine is no stranger to standing in line. Chris Claremont and Jim Lee returned the X-Men to their early roots in the 90’sand had them all decked out in a yellow and blue uniform. Of course, with Lee drawing him Wolverine wore it best. Then there are his Team X days, which saw him, Maverick and Sabretooth in matching duds. Silvestri would be responsible for a lot of these appearances and Kubert has recently drawn it in recent flashbacks. Perhaps lesser known for drawing this costume are EIC Joe Quesada on an Origins cover and legend Steve Dillon on Origins interiors.

Where’s Wolvie?

  • Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (Contest of Chaos tie-in) – Stephanie Phillips/Albert Foche
  • Dark X-Men #1 (Albert is a team member) – Steve Foxe/Jonas Scharf
  • Deadpool: Badder Blood #3 – Rob Leifeld/Chad Bowers
  • Ghostrider #17 (Weapons of Vengeance crossover) – Benjamin Percy/Geoff Shaw
  • Ghostrider/Wolverine: Weapons of Vengeance Alpha #1 – Benjamin Percy/Geoff Shaw
  • Giant-size X-Men #1 Facsimilie – Len Wein/Dave Cockrum
  • Storm #4 (Cover Appearance) – Alan Davis/Ann Nocenti/Geraldo Borges
  • Wolverine# 36 (Weapons of Vengeance crossover) -Benjamin Percy/Geoff Shaw
  • X-Force #44 – Benjamin Percy/Robert Gill
  • X-Men #25 (Cover Appearance) – Josh Cassara/Gerry Duggan/Stefano Caselli

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