For whatever reason, I’ve found myself agreeing with the portion of X-Men fans who hate Wolverine comics based on principle. “He’s had so much time in the spotlight,” I mimic. “He hasn’t changed in decades!” I whine. “Sooo many of them are bad,” I declare, having read almost none of them.
It was with this energy that I “gave the series a chance,” when it launched, and I lasted through X of Swords, which was the point I dropped the majority of the X-line, tired of following so many titles out of obligation.
And yet, I have returned, despite the outcry of the (internet) masses, and against my own judgement. Why? A nerd named Chris, who has continually told me that the series is good, and that I should read it.
So I did.
And it’s rad as hell.
My fondness for this volume is mostly due to the great work that Adam Kubert does in the first half of it. Kubert is effectively a legend at this point, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s putting out incredible art, but this might be some of my favorite superhero stuff across the industry right now.
I especially loved the way his issues are built on a 16-panel grid, the novelty of which feels fun. Kubert uses the book’s grid in inventive and beautiful ways, not overly adhering to it, but keeping it ever present, a quiet framework. Within that framework are a variety of layouts, from ones with four wide panels, to ones like the page below, which is a striking full-page visual along with four panels relating to the image. It isn’t novel by any means, but the execution is fantastic.
“Fun” works well as an operative word throughout the book, and I think it handles its tone much better than its sibling book X-Force does. While Wolverine never loses sight of its CIA concept, it also doesn’t unnecessarily mire itself overmuch in the ethical and moral dilemmas of such work. Punches aren’t pulled, it’s made clear that these soldiers have done some messed up sh*t, but Logan is still allowed to have a black market betting war over his hand.
Even while it’s doing all of that, though, there’s a sideways double page spread like the one below which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and I hope it’s intentionally shoved into the page fold, making him even shrimpier. Incredible.
While the story juggles the tone nicely, I’m even more impressed with its use of Krakoa in general. It would have been easy to do a by-the-numbers Wolverine book and be the best seller of the line, but this series is actually interested in using the themes of Krakoa in ways that work well with Logan’s history, and it caught me by surprise. It’s not a game changer by any means, but when other books in the line haven’t been using Krakoa in interesting ways (like X-Force), doing so in thematically relevant ways is nice.
At the heart of the book is a Logan who understands what an opportunity Krakoa is. It’s a series where Dracula wants to make a Krakoa for vampires. And Logan goes to an auction where his dismembered hand is being sold. I still don’t think the Krakoa era really has room for any solo books, but if one has to exist, I’m happy it’s this one.
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