The current story arc in Wolverine has Logan tracking down his new natural sworn enemy, Solem. It has an old-school vibe, features colorful Arakkii characters, and pirates. What more could you want from a Wolverine story? A little close to finding Solem, this latest issue reveals not only Solem’s origin but adds further context to how dangerous he can be.
This issue opens on Arakko — a place we haven’t seen much of since it was featured in X of Swords — where Sevyr Blackmore first meets a very young Solem. He attempts to strike him down, but his adamantium skin prevents the blade from doing damage. So begins a life of servanthood to Blackmore, but also lessons in becoming a killer, thief, and even a lover. Ben Percy weaves a fantastic journey of Solem for the reader to follow that feels plucked out of Conan the Barbarian.
The story within the story narrative works since Wolverine is attempting to find Solem and is willing to listen to Blackmore tell his tale. Broken up with a bit of a fight between the two, readers are given a full backstory up until recent days when Solem once goes back into hiding. Similar to the last issue, we’re getting a bit more insight into Arakkii behavior on Earth, but also a sense that mutants from that land are much more brutal and vicious.
It is still hard to care about Solem. We’re told what he’s been doing since childhood and given a general sense of how he’s learned to be a good pirate, but there’s not much in the way of closer character examination. Maybe that’s for a later date, but what we’re given is more of a visual proof he’s very good at fighting and hardened from years of being a pirate.
Though most of this issue is about Solem, Wolverine gets to tear it up in an incredible double page that you’ll need to turn vertically to fully take in. Adam Kubert is an incredible storyteller, be it Wolverine standing on a pile of Arakki bodies or the quieter and slower-paced start of Solem’s life as a prisoner and eventually a pirate.
There are fun ideas throughout the book that help mix things up. Take a market scene from a birds-eye view with circles pinpointing Solem making his way around and doing different sorts of things. Another long panel draws the eye from the sky down to the boat Logan and Blackmore are in creating a sense of peace that leads directly into five panels of the two conversing. Kubert is very good at pushing in on a character speaking, or the action when needed.
Frank Martin colors this issue with a subdued grit that suits the pirate life, the casino that pops up, and the colorful details in Blackmore’s goons. The final scene with Wolverine on the moon mostly cast in shadow does just enough to convey his brown costume and the bright ball that is Earth in the background.
Wolverine #15 picks up where the last issue left off, and has readers by the throat from the very first panel detailing the life of Solem. Its only weakness may be that we still barely know Solem even though he’s the focus of this issue. Wolverine #15 shows us a formidable foe and now it’s a matter of finding out who he is to complete the picture.
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