|By Zach Patterson||Friday, 25 Feb 2011|
I stopped bothering with Wolverine comics when he lost his nose and became order generic viagra a feral monkey sporting a bandanna in the 90’s. I have my limits, and X-Men books were rapidly going down the shitter at that point, so I hopped off. However, after reading Origin a few years ago and giving Old Man Logan a chance, I thought a new series starting clean would be a good chance to see where Wolverine stands. Well, a LOT has changed since the swingin’ 90’s. Wolverine now has a definitive back story. He remembers all of his past. He’s got two children. He’s now on approximately 12 different super teams. He has a nose. So while I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw 3 different ongoing Wolverine books on the shelf in early 2010, having all 3 end in short order and relaunch just a flagship #1 gave me a good chance to hop on and see how one of my old favorites was faring these days.
Well, first of all, I’m not sure this series was really a fantastic jumping on point because there were a lot of plot threads that I was unaware of. The series also had a free Marvel history of Wolverine summary book put out before it, as well another book that served as a preview in The Road To Hell one-shot. So there was a little bit of a competency requirement before picking it up beyond me having bought most of the first 100 comics or so in his solo series 15 years ago. The first issue dropped me in cold with characters I wasn’t really familiar with, aside from Logan himself. However, I got caught up quick enough and the series quickly sets the stage for the plot of this arc: “Wolverine Goes To Hell”. I kinda rolled my eyes a little bit, in part because I think this story has been done to death in other comics, but I did like the fact that writer Jason Aaron added a few twists to the standard Hell story. For one, Wolverine didn’t physically go to Hell. His body was left on Earth with a demon inhabitant that is running wild posing as Wolverine. This leads to a lot of destruction and Wolverine being the bad guy scenes, which are pretty entertaining. His trip to Hell also includes the almost obligatory “face your victims/enemies” throughout the arc where Logan is tortured and gored by all the people he’s slayed or done wrong in the past. What I liked about this was that there were also allies in Hell that help him, like that lovable rascal Puck.
Aaron also uses the Hell storyline to provide some emotional depth and closure in some pretty good scenes with his former lover, Mariko, and his deadbeat father, Thomas. In fact, probably one of the brightest parts of this story is that Aaron uses Hell to give Wolverine a chance to look back on his life and he/we can judge him as a man that is mostly good, but certainly has a checkered and bloody past. Aaron has been writing Wolverine awhile now and it’s clear that he has a good handle on Logan’s voice, and he really seems to want him to move forward as a character. Logan has more depth here than I can remember from my extend period collecting Wolverine previously.
Unfortunately, I did have some problems with this arc. Namely, for an arc about a demonic Wolverine going wild on Earth, Logan’s soul going to Hell, then taking down the devil, essentially taking over his place as ruler of Hell, and starting a civil war amongst the damned and demons, it’s a little underwhelming. A lot of characters show up during this, but don’t do a whole lot. While we get to see a lot of fallen Wolverine enemies, most of them don’t get a whole lot of ‘face time’, or when they do, like Sabretooth, I wasn’t really satisfied with the confrontations. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of beating up Wolverine, but not a whole lot of great all-out action sequences where Logan just lets loose on these assholes. I’m not sure if Renato Guedes art was to blame for this or not, but I liked his work well enough. Though nothing unique, it is detailed and has a nice grizzled look to it. But I found myself not getting all hot under the collar for any of the big battles. They felt a little “eh”. I also was not a fan at all of Satan’s creature design. A generic purple monster with a big
sword felt really bland, and certainly not a creature to be feared as ruler of a realm of eternal suffering.
Additionally, I felt almost all of the Earth sequences with demonic Wolverine fell a little flat until it got to Utopia. Logan’s new girlfriend Melita may be a very interesting character, but her characterization here was incredibly bland and made her just seem like some normal office chick who got dragged into this mess for no particular reason. Doesn’t seem like Logan would date this chick at all. Of course, I haven’t read any previous stories with her in it, but I’m not really crazy about the character right now. Additionally, we get Mystique and the Ghost Riders showing up. While I was fine with Mystique, the Ghost Riders were pretty much pointless for most of the story until the last issue, and they seemed to be in there just because Aaron used to write Ghost Rider and liked the characters. The story luckily gets a lot better when his body reaches Utopia and faces off with the X-Men and becomes a one man wrecking crew. Unfortunately, the story
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arc may have ended with a great sequence of Wolverine literally clawing his way out of Hell, but it didn’t really “end”, per se, since issue 5 ends on a cliffhanger that directly leads into the next issue, so my feelings here are pretty mixed about this whole series. - Zach
Verdict: An underwhelming “face your past…IN HELL” tale that is greatly aided by Aaron’s clear and steady hand of Logan as a character and his past. Neither truly great or really bad, it sits as merely a decent first arc of the new series, with some promising plot seeds that may bear some tasty fruit down the line. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jae Lee absolutely knocked the covers out of the park. Beautiful stuff.