Spoiler Review of Savage Wolverine #13
In Origin II, Wolverine runs with a pack of wolves. Here, it’s elephants. This issue starts with a flashback, taking us on one of Wolverine’s many visits to the wildlife of Africa, where he has an early encounter with kraven the Hunter. He defends his tribe, but still there is loss, and more to come. Fast forward to the present day, and animal poaching is decimating his adoptive animal family. Even worse, his old friend and current ruler of Madripoor Tyger Tiger is the head of a vicious operation that literally cuts the faces off of still breathing, unanesthetized animals. In the past he’s always had an understanding with the bosses of his home away from home – they keep away from the really sickening crimes, and they can keep their empires. There was no such agreement to be made with the likes of Viper and Daken though, so what Tyger inherited was a rock and a hard place. To maintain her rule she must either allow this lucrative but despicable trade to continue, or return the island country to the old ways of slavery and child prostitution. You have to know going in that this isn’t the type of battle he can win, Wolverine won’t single-handedly rid the world of poachers. He kills a few though, and destroys their inventory, also taking the time to return some of the remains to their native lands. He teaches Tyger a bit of a lesson too, in one of the best ways he knows how, through suffering and mutilation. Not of her though, of himself, as he forces her hand to tear off his own face with his claws. Now at least, she sees the horror firsthand.
Comic book fans generally appreciate continuity, so seeing what happens when Wolverine can’t actually be everywhere at once is a plus. It’s hard to have a satisfying end to stories like this, where you can’t just punch the bad guy in the face and call it a day, but it’s heartwarming at the end to see how his students have been following the situation. They take it upon themselves to re-appropriate food and supplies to give to the hunters-of-the-bad-hunters we met last issue, so we know the good fight goes on. Wolverine fans will appreciate this story more than anyone. It focuses on the spiritual, natural side of Logan the animal. Wolverine represents the best of both man and animal. Left to his own devices, devoid of outside interference, he would have lived out his existence in the wild. Much like the Native American cultures which he shares many values of, he would hunt and kill only for survival, living in harmony with the land. He’s the eternal idealized caveman, the apex of anarcho-primitivism. This is Wolverine more than anything else, even when the world demands the caged beast, poked and prodded and spurred to brutality. Reading this issue reminds me of my favorite Wolverine quote of all time, from the ’97 Annual:
S’funny. All these years I thought my anger and berserker rages were the animal side of my nature that I had to fight in order to remain human. But watching Volk run off with the pack of wolves made me remember that animals kill only for survival. They don’t kill out of anger or vengeance. Maybe what I’ve really been fighting is my human nature. The cruelest, most unnatural beast on the face of the earth, the one most likely to destroy everything – is man.
My rating: 4/5 – it’s not an industry shattering forever changing the name of the game comic, but you won’t find a better kind of Wolverine story.
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