With his healing factor negated by a sentient virus, The Wolverine has been feeling the effects of age and abuse on his hundred-fifty-plus year old body, and now there’s a contract on his head. Is the curtains for the loose cannon of the X-Men? The book isn’t called “The Tea Party With Wolverine” now, is it? Your Major Spoilers review of The Death Of Wolverine #1 awaits!
THE DEATH OF WOLVERINE #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in The Death Of Wolverine: Thanks to a mysterious virus from the microverse, Wolverine’s mutant powers have been erased, and he has been forced to try to continue operating without the healing factor that has made him an unstoppable force. The years of wear-and-tear are starting to show, and Wolverine has finally retreated to British Columbia, heading home in preparation for the inevitable…
MEANWHILE, IN CANADIA
There’s a certain feel to a Steve McNiven production that really does make it feel like a wide-screen movie version of the regular made-for-TV garden variety comic book issues. Our story opens with a bloodied Wolverine, sitting in the burned-out remains of his cabin, where something nasty has clearly just gone down. He rises, and the metaphorical camera shifts with him, panning down the hill as he moves, and showing the bodies of dozens of mooks (some wearing the familiar garb of Hydra, The Hand and the Secret Empire). Flashbacks ensue, including a particularly brutal one where Reed Richards explains all the ways that Wolverine can now die, including the long-awaited observation that all the blood and gore he sucks into his hands when retracting his claws could give him a fatal infection, such as endocarditis. It’s a tough scene to read, made even tougher by the return to the present, to find that another group of mercs has come gunning for Wolverine, this one led by Nuke (the flag-faced cyborg from Frank Miller’s Daredevil run, so many years ago.) Charles Soule does some earnest work in making it really seem like the little guy is going to go down for the third count for reals, and it’s impressive how well the foreshadowing works, even with the expectation that comics death is as worthless as a paper breastplate.
WIT, GUILE, SWIFT & BLINDING VIOLENCE
In his weakened state, The Wolverine has to work hard to take down Nuke’s goons, leaving him head-to-head with another cyborg soldier, and their battle… is pretty gruesome, to be honest. It doesn’t end until Logan uses his adamantium reinforced skull as a bludgeon, repeatedly bashing Nuke’s face til he cries uncle, with Nuke’s own metal skull showing through his damaged skin. It’s pretty horrible, in an interesting way. The issue ends with the revelation of who put out the hit on our berzerker pal: His own ex-wife, the nefarious queen of Madripoor, The Viper. Clearly, there are some loose ends for Mr. Howlett to tie up before he shuffles off the coil and joins the mutant choir invisible in a couple of weeks. Yes, weeks, as this four-parter is a weekly series, but it seems that Soule is up to the task. Taking the one character whose whole gimmick is that he can’t die, can’t be permanently hurt, can’t even really get sick and making him die is something of an obvious inversion, but they do some good things with familiar material. This isn’t the first time he’s lost his healing powers, after all, but the script makes it clear that this time is the most serious, and uses Mister Fantastic (the voice of science, in human form) to hammer home the point that things are pretty dire for our Canucklehead. As someone who generally has an aversion to the adventures of Wolverine, it’s an issue that gets me interested, and hits a lot of interesting notes.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BETTER THAN EXPECTED
I admit to only checking in because of the big momentous changes promised by the title, and I imagine that many others probably will as well, so I’m gratified to know that this book has some real craft in it. Logan’s plight (and yes, I know his name may no longer be Logan, but I’m old, so cut me some slack) is put forward well, and the fight sequences, especially those involving a boatload of jerks, are pretty uniquely handled. The Death Of Wolverine #1 feels and reads like an important book, and while it’s not the perfect single issue tale, it’s still a well-written and well-drawn chunk of story that creates real tension for Wolverine, earning an impressive 3 out of 5 stars. Most enjoyably, his death might also mean that Wolverine’s other book ends up being just “And The X-Men”, which is pretty cool in itself, so I’m looking forward to that…