Right off the bat, I just can’t help but wonder how the pitch meetings went down for this. Did editorial decide they wanted a Wolverine title with an adjective first? Although I assume the Savage Land aspect is only for the first arc, because that idea can’t go on forever, it also makes me curious about Frank Cho’s involvement. Cho is well-known for sword & sorcery/boobs & bronze type stuff like Red Sonya and Jungle Girl. There’s also his association with Shanna, the She-Devil to consider. Cho is obviously all over the pre-historic jungle world concept, so did they approach him because he’s the best person to execute this idea, or was he available for the job and happened to bring these characteristic leanings and inclinations with him? The snarky letters page doesn’t really clear up my questions, but I can handle a little mystery for now, speaking of which. . . .
I’ve written before about how central to the character Wolverine’s memory loss is, and ever since they fully restored his memories they’ve been trying to chip away at them again. Their first real shot was through his history with nemesis Romulus, and then again through the machinations of Dr. Rot. I guess that’s just part of the cyclical nature of comic book storytelling, and Savage Wolverine also tinkers with the trope. Wolverine wakes up in the Savage Land with no idea how he got there, but is immediately presented with survival situations to overcome before he can start truly tying to piece it all back together. Cho gives Wolverine a noir inner monologue (think Sin City style) which I think really suits the character. I’ve always likened Marv to Wolverine, and I think his story in the Sin City movie is a perfect blueprint for how a Wolverine solo movie should go down. While we’re on the topic of movies. . . .
The whole thing can easily be compared to the situation the main characters face in the somewhat recent movie sequel Predators. Wolverine and his co-star Shanna are the alpha male and alpha female counterparts who have to survive together in and hopefully even somehow escape from a nasty jungle environment in which everything is trying to kill them. The action is all rendered here in a precise and detailed manner. Cho’s exceptionally clean visual art style brings elegance to the savagery, and refinement to the animal. The character design in this issue allows for trademarks such as Wolverine’s claws and mask to be emphasized but not exaggerated, and Marvel NOW! has left his costume relatively unscathed. When I was first presented with the initial premise for the Savage Wolverine book I cringed and thought it sounded incredibly gimmicky, but they’ve embraced the idea with a restraint that has made the final product fun without being obnoxiously goofy. It remains to be seen what if any emotional core will be reached through this adventure, but Savage Wolverine #1 was a solid start to the journey.