We are nearing 2022, which means we’re ever closer to Wolverine’s X-Men takeover with X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine. That doesn’t mean Ben Percy doesn’t have something to say with the character, far from it, as he and Javier Fernández tell a slice of life adventure for Wolverine in the spirit of the Old Man and the Sea. It’s Wolverine vs. a giant fish, who ya got?
Wolverine #19 is one of the prettier comics you’ll read this year, starting with the awesome cover by Adam Kubert and Frank Martin. The cover is painterly, like some kind of classic work you’d find in a museum. The interior art by Fernández and color artist Matthew Wilson doesn’t let up in quality, atmosphere, or intrigue, either. The opening page uses shadow expertly to show Wolverine lives in the outskirts of paradise while mutants sunbathe and enjoy themselves on the edge of the jungle.
Percy’s captions soon reveal the paradise comes at a cost. As the preview shows, there are species that invade and disrupt paradise life. The main conflict involves sea beasts wreaking havoc on mutants trying to enjoy the beaches of Krakoa. Leave it to Wolverine to abstain from paradise to make sure others aren’t in danger and can have a good time.
Enough can’t be said about Wilson’s colors, which play with shadow very well. There’s also a bit of mist at times, creating a heightened sense of atmosphere. Pinks in Logan’s face add to his humanity while the fish he fights has unnatural green and blue about it. Even the fish’s eyes glow a bit in the darkness of the depths of the ocean.
As Wolverine embarks on quelling the beast, Percy litters the pages with thoughtful captions in the voice of Logan. We learn he’s always awake for dawn to keep himself grounded and normal, especially in an age of mutants when gates allow them to travel at will. Cut to Wolverine manning an old school sailboat, which makes so much sense since he himself is quite old. In fact, Percy relays an interesting tale from Wolverine’s past that embodies his tortured life but he doesn’t regret it and instead wants to remember the pain.
It’s in these scenes building towards Wolverine taking on the giant fish that Percy shows us why Logan is a truly unique character. He lives for the zest of life and all that it brings. Given his ability to live forever, it’s in moments like taking on a giant fish that he feels most alive. The issue feels like a statement about who Wolverine is, but also why he’s such a passionate character.
He’s often shown to be filled with rage, but throughout the book we see him enduring, reflecting, and carrying on. On some scale he’s almost too perfect through all of this–there doesn’t seem to be much he’s not sure about, which makes it a bit too preachy, but who are we to judge a guy who is hundreds of years old?
Wolverine #19 is a good example of how a done-in-one story can tell us so much about a character. Wolverine does a lot for Krakoa, it seems, and none of it is for credit. Not only that, Percy ties the acts of Wolverine to the island of Krakoa very well, keeping our interest and making sure everything that happens matters. This is a sound reminder Wolverine lives a cathartic life and a fulfilled one that’s transcendent, heroic, and inspiring.
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