Wolverine has always been one of the most popular superheroes thanks to his violent nature, mysterious past, and cool superpowers. After being dead for years, the character has been back to slicing and dicing at Marvel Comics for some time, but with the rise of the Krakoan nation, he’s been a little different. We all remember Wolverine playing with children, and we see it again early on in this week’s Wolverine #1, which seems very much not a Logan thing to do. That’s part of the draw in this new series, which aims to identify Wolverine’s perspective on things and his identity is very much present in Benjamin Percy, Adam Kubert, and Viktor Bogdanovic’s two stories in the much-anticipated first issue. Is it good?
This issue is extra-sized, packing in a lot of content (and costing $7.99) as Percy and company set up two different stories. In the first, drawn by Kubert, we open on Wolverine killing his best friends (see the preview for yourself), and the story plays with time to reveal how we got here. Percy does a good job introducing a global problem thanks to the Karkoan medicines that have become highly valuable across the globe. In the second story, Omega Red plays a part as he flees to Krakoa from a gate. There’s an interesting approach to the bitter rivalry between the two as Magneto steps in to remind Wolverine all mutants are now welcome. Problem is, when a killer like Omega Red is around, shouldn’t it be a special case where you throw them out? This story introduces an entirely different mystery which ties into Logan’s powers in an interesting way.
As we’ve seen in preview pages and bits of art from the creators on Twitter, Wolverine interacts with a handful of characters like Kate Pryde, Jean, and Quentin Quire in this issue. Possibly the most fascinating involves Magneto, which plays around with the concept of rebirth in Karkoa. Logan makes the point that you can die and be reborn, but you still have those emotional scars. It’s a good point and one that I’m sure will play into future stories. While reading this issue more than once I felt like this book could have been released earlier and been of value to understand the characters and aspects of Krakoa. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but the bigger picture of this world is coming into focus and that in itself is further proof this book is valuable to the bigger picture if you’ve loved the Dawn of X books.
Both stories get at key elements of the character that deserve further exploration. The first is how he’s part of the mutant family and plays well with others, but he can’t even trust himself a lot of the time due to being manipulated by others. In the second story, the loner hero comes out to play which shows us how he does what he thinks is right. I did find myself wondering if the book would explore the inner character more, but it’s nice to see the two stories diverge and explore the character in different ways.
The art by Kubert and Bogdanovic is fabulous in this issue with colors by Frank Martin on the Kubert first half and Matthew Wilson on colors in the second half by Bogdanovic. The book is organized as if Marvel slapped two issues together and both stories feel complete and long. Kubert plays around with layouts in interesting ways — there’s a 15-panel double page layout that’s quite cool — telling this story in a variety of ways that’s exciting. I particularly like the timing of extreme closeups that occur at opportune times. Wolverine gets a feral look when it counts, but overall he has a more measured feel in this half of the book. Bogdanovic’s style is great, especially if you’re a fan of the Greg Capullo school of heavy inks and detailed art style. Logan’s stubble is particularly impressive looking. The violence in this portion is much more extreme and that sets it apart in a thematic sort of way.
To add to the art, Cory Petit’s letters are measured and strong throughout. I enjoyed his touches when characters whisper or fly off the handle.
Overall I was impressed with this extra-long issue. Wolverine is back and he has not one, but two very big mysteries to solve. I could argue introducing two entirely different stories is a bold move in a first issue, but that might be due to the artists trading off from issue to issue. One delves into the nature of Wolverine losing control and losing his memory while the other plays around with his powers in a new and exciting way. This book emphatically reminds us Wolverine is inherently important to X-Men comics and the greater Marvel universe too. A strong first stab and crimson-hued look at the greatest loner superhero ever.