Spider-man and Wolverine: two characters I loved as a kid. I even remember owning a comic in which they encountered one another – the memory of which caused to pick up this book. It turned out to have value far beyond nostalgia, however.
Astonishing Spider-man & Wolverine #1 (of 6)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Mark Morales w/ Dexter Vines
Colours: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Rob Steen
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
We open this issue with Peter Parker… in the time of the dinosaurs! He’s built himself a telescope, and has just observed an asteroid – the one that will wipe out the dinosaurs – heading towards Earth. Peter warns to Logan – Wolverine – who is also in this time period and has become the head of a tribe of ‘ape folk’. We then learn how the pair got sent back in time: whilst they both attempted to stop the same bank robbery a crook stole, and then dropped, a bag of mysterious glowing diamonds. Upon hitting the ground, their glow intensified and Spider-man and Wolverine found themselves amongst dinosaurs. The ramblings of a man Wolverine was chasing beforehand suggest that the event was planned. As the asteroid continues towards Earth, bearing glowing diamonds, Logan detects and grapples with a strange humanoid figure. Our heroes are then transported to the future once again, but Wolverine’s living with ape people seems to have had an effect on the time-line, as they find an apocalyptic wasteland and an unfriendly man riding a robot T-Rex.
This book defied my expectations. I was overjoyed to find some imagination put into a plot that so easily could have been, ‘Spider-man and Wolverine must team up to defeat the evil villain of the week!’ Instead I got an intriguing story, putting forward several mysteries that will hopefully come to fruition later in this mini-series.
I do, however, have a huge problem with one element of the story: Wolverine leading ape people. Or, rather, the ape people themselves. Parker and Logan have travelled back to the latest Cretaceous period: the last days of the dinosaurs. The gap between that period and the time when any sort of apes would have walked the Earth is about 60 million years. There were no large mammals in the Cretaceous – certainly nothing resembling apes. Yet we see in this book that the ‘ape people’ even have a language. Not only did I find this inaccuracy difficult to get past, I also feel that it presents a missed opportunity: with our two heroes in the time of dinosaurs, why do said beasts barely make an appearance? Perhaps we could have seen Logan as a lone hunter, living off of the wild. Not only could they have taken better advantage of the setting, they could also have avoided mutilating history.
Apart from that glaring error, however, the writing was generally enjoyable. I especially like how Peter Parker is written: his classic jokey attitude is still present, but it has obviously been weathered by a long period spent alone on a pre-historic Earth and, at times, his jokes seem painfully sad in light of his situation. There are also a couple of funny moments in the book – the villain robbing the bank is deliberately ridiculous – and these juxtapose nicely with the more serious moments between Logan and Peter (I’m hoping that their relationship will be explored more thoroughly throughout the series).
Another point in this book’s favour is that it is very easy to pick up: I follow neither Spider-man nor Wolverine separately but on reading this book I was able to understand it without any problems.
I Suppose it’s not Everyday You Get to Draw Giant Eyes and Robot Dinosaurs in the Same Book
Peter is as well drawn as he is written, and looks to have aged an appropriate number of years. I like that he’s still wearing the tattered remnants of his costume – this contrasts with Wolverine who has ‘gone native’, wearing nothing but an animal skin to hide his nether regions. The costume choices fit the characters: Peter still holds a faint hope of returning home, whereas Logan has given up. The art also contains a lot of little touches that help make it memorable: Peter looks genuinely frightened in the last moments before the asteroid hits, and once he and Logan are in the present again Peter lifts his hands from his face to reveal that he has been crying. The robot T-Rex at the end also looks very cool.
The actual panels were also noticeable in this issue; they change from being straight-edged in the flashback present day sequence to being slightly wavy and jagged in the pre-historic and altered-present parts – once again, a little touch that distinguishes the art.There is also a bonus pin-up gallery at the back of the book that includes various pieces of art depicting Spider-man and Wolverine. A range of styles are showcased, some more enjoyable than others, but the gallery’s inclusion is a nice extra, and I can’t turn my nose up at more content.
This book features a wrap-around cover, showing Spider-man web-slinging his way between some skyscrapers whilst Wolverine seems to be pouncing on him. This cover is drawn well-enough – despite Wolverine’s expression being a bit over-the-top – and the more I look at it the more I enjoy it. It may, on fist glance, appear to be a rather generic shot of the pair travelling together (at least, that’s what I thought at first), but on closer inspection one sees that they are, in fact, about to fight and thus it highlights the animosity between the two, whilst also suggesting that this is not another run-of-the-mill team-up story. On the other hand, it doesn’t reveal much about the contents of the book, nor is it particularly eye-catching on that first glance. But then perhaps it’s not meant to be – I think it’s a subtle cover, and one that works well.
Negative Comets Aside
Overall, I’m definitely prepared to recommend this book. The plot is interesting and defies expectations; the characters are well-written and the art is memorable. The ape people still annoy me, but I enjoyed the issue despite them, which is a testament to its quality. I see this as something that both avid Marvel readers and occasional ones can enjoy, and as such I’m happy to give it four stars out of five.