Oh good! Another Wolverine project. Just what everyone wants, apparently. Except it’s written by Brian K. “Buffy, Lost, Y: the Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways, Ultimate X-Men, Pride of Baghdad” Vaughan. That has to be worth a look.
When there’s a movie approaching, Marvel’s practise has been to throw a massive number of tie-ins featuring the characters at the wall and hope they sell in the bookstore market. Of course, even without a movie, Marvel’s practise has been to put Wolverine in about every book they can squeeze his unbreakable Adamantium bollocks into. That Shamrock proposal isn’t going anywhere but the bin, but if you could somehow make it into a Shamrock and Wolverine proposal, you might well be onto something. With a Wolverine movie approaching, there’s plenty to suggest 2008-2009 are going to be even more full of Wolverine than we previously thought. After all, everyone knows that Wolverine is a completely awesome character.
Or, well, is he? Despite appearances, it’s very difficult to write a decent Wolverine story. His popularity means that he frequently ends up shoved in a generic tough-guy role, satisfying the basic need to have a heroic protagonist for villains to fight. It’s actually increasingly difficult to find a Wolverine story where you couldn’t easily replace him as the lead.
Vaughan’s Logan, however, looks like it’s going to be a properWolverine story. Awaking in a Japanee POW camp at the tail end of World War 2, Logan and an American soldier fight their way out. When they escape, they encounter a Japanese woman. The crazed American soldier wants to kill her, but Logan, ever the honourable fighter, prevents him. To thank him, she invites him into her home (while the American looks on suspiciously) and then they get horizontal, because Wolverine is one of the few Marvel characters allowed to have sex, especially in Marvel Knights imprint books.
Risso’s artwork has some idiosyncratic tendencies towards slightly over-represented character acting which makes some, especially the American soldier, look a tad cartoonish at times – his current style isn’t a million miles away from Kyle Hotz or John McCrea. There is fantastic use of stark shadows (particularly obvious in the B&W version) though, and Risso draws some incredibly peaceful looking Japanese countryside (although credit sure goes to Dean White’s colouring for that – aforementioned B&W version should is for Sin City fetishists only). To Vaughan’s credit, he’s found a story that fits Wolverine perfectly – one suspects this would’ve made a great issue of Wolverine: Origins.
While, minus the scenes from the present, this would’ve worked as a nice standalone issue, there’s clearly more going on. The appearance of a flaming skeleton in the opening scene and the suggestion that they’re currently in Hiroshima makes me fairly certain I can see where this is going, but nonetheless, it seems worth finding out, especially if you’re after a Wolverine story that doesn’t depend on superheroics.