26th Jun2024

Wolverine Wednesday #76

by Ian Wells

Weapon X-Men #4

Writer: Christos Gage | Artist: Yildiray Cinar | Colourist: Nolan Woodard | Letters: Clayton Cowles

I don’t want to come down too harshly on this as I have really enjoyed the series and even called it my sleeper hit of 2024. I think the best way to sum up this issue and the story’s ending is to say it was anti-climactic. Most annoying of all was how it seemed to throw out all the ingredients which had brought all the enjoyment in the previous three issues. Gone is the world-building of a new universe for our heroes to protect. The argument could be made adding one in the finale would have taken too much storytelling real estate. But as I said it was such a big part of the enjoyment, with the little nostalgia hits. They are essentially fighting on a blank canvas in this issue. Gage did stick with having the issue open with a recap of the character’s origin which takes centre stage. This time around it was Old Man Logan. His origin story does tie seamlessly into the events that this issue opens up on, so that was a good piece of storytelling. I’m sure I have used this analogy before in the pages of Wolverine Wednesday, here we go again! I feel this issue suffers from the same fate that turned me off of Moffat/Tennant ear Dr. Who. And that is a story that builds to a crescendo with plenty of intriguing points along the way before having a blink of an eye resolution. In this case, issues 1 through 3 were the building to a crescendo element and this final issue was The Doctor talking fast and waving his sonic screwdriver around to resolve everything! Don’t get me wrong I am all for a cerebral outcome to a conflict. But with what had gone before and when you have four Wolverines to play with a punchy, punchy, stabby, stabby, more bombastic finale would have been more suitable. As if to back up all my points the proof is in the pudding as they say. At the back of the issue Gage’s editor-style continuity notes are even lacking this time because there isn’t much depth to draw on. There is a nice silver lining at the end of this and that is every character gets a moment to ride off into the sunset. Well kind of all of them. Zombie Wolverine of course draws the short straw of the comedic ending.

Deadpool & Wolverine: WWIII #2

Writer: Joe Kelly | Artist: Adam Kubert | Colourist: Frank Martin | Letters: Joe Sabino

I am going to come across as really negative this week if I were to do my usual style of review for this issue. In short, I am not fully invested in the story which is bad for a three-parter and I don’t really see the point of it. However, the things I disliked and the things I liked about this issue did bring up some thoughts about certain aspects of the Marvel comic marketplace at the moment. As I said in my review for #1 we were always going to get a Wolverine/Deadpool miniseries to tie in with the release of the movie. We even have Wolverine in the yellow and blue costume like the movie even though he hasn’t worn that for years in the comics. Over the years I have heard a lot of people in the industry say that getting comics into cinemas would be a good move. There are many reasons why I don’t think this would take off as some people predict. This issue is the counterargument to that. Imagine next after coming out of a screen of Deadpool and Wolverine this comic is on a rack outside. A newcomer to comics, even someone just new to Deadpool or Wolverine comics is going to pick this up, on top of the price of a cinema ticket and find inside Deadpool not in costume and not making one joke. Potentially this experience could turn them immediately off of comics as it is not a like-for-like translation from what they are seeing on the screen and what is on the page. I appreciate that Kelly has to tell a story. He is doing some interesting things here by studying Deadpool and his relationship with Wolverine. But let’s not kid ourselves. This comic only exists to be part of the MCU cash grab. If this comic is to help cross-pollinate the movie and comics fan base then do something in that vein. You have three issues, get in and out. Do things that people would expect and use villains people will instantly recognise. A lot of talk online recently has been about how easy a Blade movie is to get right. The same can be said about Wolverine and Deadpool in comics. They are two icons who are known for doing certain things! Do that! Adam Kubert’s amazing art is the only reason to buy this comic. On a personal level, I have never understood people who just buy comics for the art, especially with prices how they are. I know it is a visual medium but they tell stories and that’s why the words are there. Kubert is one of the best to have picked up a pencil, especially when it comes to Wolverine. It is amazing how he is doing so much, with such an average story. This brings me to my next point. There has been a recent trend at Marvel of doing miniseries that take place between issues of old classics. We had Wolverine: Patch and Daredevil: Black recently. With this spate of mini-series the selling point has always been bringing back the original writers. Why not bring back the artists too? There is an upcoming Wolverine mini that takes place in the ‘Outback Era’ Chris Claremont is writing, why not get Marc Silvestri back too? I would rather have one really great mini-series every two years rather than a handful of average ones every year!

Wolverine #49

Writers: Benjamin Percy & Victor LaValle | Artist: Geoff Shaw | Colourist: Alex Sinclair | Letters: Cory Petit

I have to admit with us being in the very final stages of this arc now I wasn’t expecting this approach to the pacing in the penultimate issue. I know every issue I have shown support for the formula Percy and LaValle have set out so far. But a Sabretooth-centred story at this pace, acting more as a character piece got me off guard this near the end. As an example the arc opened with two fast-paced issues, so I assumed all the pieces were in place for a two-issue action-packed ending. One big positive of this issue is that it very much reads like a reward for people who have stuck with LaValle and his Sabretooth/Exiles story from the first miniseries, to the second, to this moment. There were a lot of callbacks to those two series scattered throughout. Having Cypher show up was a full-circle moment back to Sabretooth #1. Another big upside of this issue focusing on other elements is that it drew away from using Bad Seed too much. Personally, I don’t really see the point of him. He is a very standard scene-chewing maniacal villain. With Wolverine featuring very little here we don’t get to see too much of the Adamantium armour, which if you are like me and not 100% sold on it is a good thing. Although even I have to admit Lenil Yu makes it look totally bad ass on the cover. I even like the old-school word balloon on the cover announcing the armour! Overall the Sabretooth elements were very solid, whereas everything else seemed a little scattergun. This is very unusual as this story has felt very meticulously planned till this point. The best way to describe it is as a series of scenes with no real flow. Geoff Shaw draws a Sabretooth up there with the very best. What makes his rendering of him stand out in this issue is that it is not action-heavy yet his Sabretooth is still an imposing figure on the page. A lot of it is done by making the eyes dead and dark like a shark and then some hatching around the face. There is a great splash page that homages Buscema and Sienkiewicz on Wolverine #10 when this rivalry first started. In some other flashbacks to classic Sabretooth moments, Shaw portrays these in a more comic book, animated style and the colours by Sinclair are bolder. I may not like Bad Seed as a villain but there is no denying Shaw makes him look like a formidable foe on the page. Throughout the issue perhaps as I said personally I was a little disappointed by the direction. By the end, the pieces are definitely in place for more of what I was expecting. So I will put this down as a very small miss step in the calm before the storm.

Wolverine #50

Writers: Benjamin Percy. Victor LaValle & Larry Hama | Artists: Geoff Shaw, Cory Smith, Daniel Picciotto, Javi Fernandez | Inker: Oren Junior | Colourists: Alex Sinclair, Yen Nitro & Matt Hollingsworth | Letters: Cory Petit

This is it! The end of the Sabretooth War. The end of Wolverine in the Krakoan Era. The end of Benjamin Percy’s 50-issue run. All of this in an oversized special! The two big questions going into this were; was it worth the hype? Was it worth the wait? There were a few very minor negatives and there were mainly personal things. The biggest being that there were two or three plot points that weren’t addressed at all. This felt odd because not only is this arc over, but the X-Men are getting a major reset at the end of the summer so they will probably never be addressed. I suppose the main negative is that I can’t really answer my two questions. Of course, I would say no story arc needs to be 10 issues, but I would say 8 out of 10 held my attention and left me wanting the next instalment. As a finale I believe this very much delivered as an endgame to what was set out in the opening act. It delivers on the blood lust. Readers want Wolverine and Sabretooth going toe-to-toe and this gets brutal and bloody. Two major positives that turn around two negatives from previous issues is that Bad Seed is out of the way early. To me his motivations were never truly fleshed out. Secondly, the armour is off Wolverine early doors too. It felt important to have Wolverine back in the brown and tan for one final battle. It was especially fitting in one panel towards the end when he pulls his mask back on in heroic fashion for the last time under Percy’s watch. I think it would be unfair to call this issue a prolonged fight scene. The story hits 95% of the beats it needs to hit without detracting from or slowing the pace of an absolute slobber knocker between two classic foes. Smith’s art on the previously mentioned brutal and blood face-off is a sequence of five stunning pages. The panels are orchestrated like Wolverine’s clawed attack dissecting his opponent. Then there is an amazing snarling Wolverine splash page for the fatal blow. For this issue we get Smith and Shaw side by side and it feels like both saved their best for last. As there are a lot of cool moments towards the end of the issue it does feel things are stacked in Smith’s favour. Seeing them side by side you do get to see a clear distinction in panel layouts. For one final time, I get to say Smith gives me serious Chaykin vibes. There is a great bit of storytelling done in panels which show Sabretooth in control of Wolverine in ‘The Pit’ but when The tide turns Sabretooth gets isolated on the page in an open panel with a black background. Sabretooth War was a success because it didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Like I said previously readers expect certain things from certain characters. The end of the story really hit home the big difference between the two. That being Sabretooth is a loner and Wolverine has a family unit with his teammates. Part of the oversized issue is two short stories at the end. First we have Larry Hama’s return to Wolverine. It was a fun, high-octane story. I did find it very different in tone to anything he has done on Wolverine in the past. Oddly it felt like a story from another era. It had a very Silver Age tone to it all, especially in the speech patterns of the characters. I was a little unsure when and where in Wolverine’s long life this was meant to be. But really I suppose in this context it wasn’t important. It was a nostalgia kick having Hama back even if the story wasn’t anything special. The second of the two was by the man of the moment, Mr Benjamin Percy. Even though he has just wrapped up Sabretooth War these 8 pages felt more like a personal goodbye from Percy to Wolverine. It read like a number of cool intros to any number of Wolverine issues. It touched on some key moments in Wolverine’s life with a strong focus on those moments from the past fifty issues. It ends in a way so perfect for the character as he is about to enter a seedy-looking bar.

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