Marvel Comics continues to publish some of the coolest extra-sized collections under their “Treasury Edition” line and this week Wolverine: Black, White & Blood explodes onto the scene. Running 9.45 x 0.4 x 13.25 inches, this book is the only place to experience the art of Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara, Kev Walker, Declan Shalvey, Jorge Fornés, Khary Randolph, Chris Bachalo, Leonard Kirk, Paulo Siqueira, Jesus Saiz, and more in an extra-large format. In a lot of ways, these extra-large formats are the best way to experience comics much like seeing a film in the cinema.
For a series that’s more about the visual experience, this is a must-read format if you liked any of the four issues in the series’ run. That isn’t to say the writers and stories are good because they are. Writers include folks like Donny Cates, John Ridley, Steven S. DeKnight, Jed MacKay, Saladin Ahmed, Chris Claremont, Matthew Rosenberg, Vita Ayala, Gerry Duggan, and Declan Shalvey (who writes and draws his story). This is Marvel’s first attempt at cracking the format that only uses black, white, and red on its pages and it works splendidly. For a character like Wolverine who spills a lot of blood especially.
The first story by Duggan and Kubert — with colors by Frank Martin — focuses on the days when Wolverine was in Weapon X. The art takes center stage here with Kubert drawing impressive layouts, first with one sporting 36 panels, the turn of the page revealing a full double-page spread, which then with another turn of the page reveals a 20-panel layout. It’s a cool way to slow down the story, speed it up with a splash, and slow it down again. Since these scenes showcase Weapon X slicing and dicing, it’s as if the creators want to show off the surgery Weapon X can inflict on a giant beast.
Next up is Rosenberg and Cassara’s story with colors by GURU-eFX, delving into the days when Logan was Nick Fury’s agent. The story gets pretty gory — Casssara shows many different ways Wolverine can maim heads — and yet it is quite tactical. Rosenberg reveals how Wolverine can stick to a plan and he’s not all berserker rage. This story also helps convey Wolverine as a blunt weapon and can be used in very blunt ways.
The final story in the first issue is by Shalvey who explores a very cursed cabin as Logan attempts to save a baby. This story shows us a Wolverine who is a wanderer looking out for those who need help. Out in the mountains, Wolverine is alone but hears the call of someone who needs help. Soon he’s fighting off the culprits of a terrible act. There are multiple intense teeth-gritting moments that reminded me of Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character. Certainly, Wolverine must go into berserker mode, but Shalvey seems to be showing us how he must do so at times to power through.
And that’s just the first issue. In the second issue, Ayala and Greg Land bring fans lots of nostalgia as it pits Logan vs. Sabretooth. Not only that, Sabretooth wears his classic costume complete with fur collar. This story is striking thanks to the snowy setting maximizing the blood splatter that graces each page. The story is a solid one, capturing Logan’s heroic nature and inability to let an innocent die even if they’re involved with anti-mutant endeavors.
The second story by Ahmed and Walker pits Logan against Arcade. Expect some cool death traps. There’s a clever way of showing the passage of time via a fuse with a skull end that graces the bottom of each page. There are clever uses of red in this story, too, in a fun action scene worth a look. Most importantly, Ahmed does well to show how regular people living their lives can be affected by the superhero lifestyle Wolverine goes through day in and day out.
Closing out the second issue is a Patch story featuring Kate Pryde by Claremont and Larroca. This is going to make Kate Pryde fans happy as Claremont devotes as much attention to her as Wolverine. The case is made that she’s just as hardened and tough as Logan. The heavy use of captioning slows the story down, making the violence more intense. Kate and Logan fight two new villains in Madripoor. Titled “Do We Die Today”, the story certainly has an edge since both Kate and Wolverine are put to the test. Art by Larroca keeps every missed punch and slash of a claw pulse-pounding. The use of red here is used for the blood of course but also contrast as well as the night sky in Madripoor.
The second half of this book is no less great. The first story by Ridley and Fornés is called “32 Warriors and a Broken Heart” and features the Silver Samurai. Or does it? This tale is more about commitments and choices we make in life and paying for it even when you don’t see repercussions coming. The story is gorgeously rendered by Fornés and it has the perfect amount of violence and thoughtful contemplation. This is as classic as samurai stories come, and Ridley nails the general mood of Wolverine in this story. Together, the creative team has created an interesting mystery that builds towards an epic series of battles ala classic cinema. It’s excellent stuff and a reminder that some of Wolverine’s best stories are set in Japan.
Following this is an interesting take on the barfight experience thanks to Donny Cates and Chris Bachalo, MacKay and Saiz take things to Mars, Kelly Thompson and Khary Randolph feature a throwdown with a twist, Ed Brisson and Leonard Kirk kick things up with a shark fight, and DeKnight and Paulo Siqueira offer a Sauron vs. Wolverine battle. In summation: Read this for excellent fight scenes and plenty of blood-gushing action!
Wolverine: Black, White & Blood Treasury Edition is a great way to experience Wolverine as it features different sides of the character with three different styles of art. It’s about excellent action scenes with some surprisingly meaningful stories thrown in too. This doesn’t drown in blood so much as revel in it, while never losing sight of the heart of Wolverine.
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