When the Marvel NOW! initiative was launched it was going to inevitably relaunch most of the Marvel line of books, and it did. We all knew that everyone’s favorite Canadian mutant with claws would be among the pack, but I didn’t think he would get 2 all-new books. The first one released, Savage Wolverine, was a definite fun romp largely due to Frank Cho’s story and art. At that time, I didn’t know who would take over another Wolverine title, or who would even be doing it. So, when I finally saw the announcement of a new Wolverine title, I was like… “Meh.” But then they announced who was doing it and my attitude changed in an instant.
Now, for those about to read this, there are some spoilers near the end but nothing about the plot itself – just some moments that I found really enhanced the story in one way or another. If you don’t want to read about those until you read the issue, do not read the 2nd last paragraph of this review.
Paul Cornell has been a long-time favorite writer. I would like to think I would give any title he writes a chance to entice me into picking it up regularly. When he started with DC’s Demon Knights, I was quite skeptical about the concept but instantly had it as one of my favorite books of the DC relaunch. He launched Saucer Country under the Vertigo imprint recently as well and that series just came to an end; it also was on my regular pull list. Then word he was going to do Wolverine came and now I had to give a Wolverine solo book a try. From the first page of #1, I was hooked. This was a story where you can jump right in and, holy crap, did it have all the elements of a great story: action, adventure, and (one thing we don’t see enough of from Logan) humanity. This issue showed Logan attempting to get to the core of what had happened in the first few issues and solve that problem, with help from his new sidekick/best buddy Nick Fury. No, not the classic Nick, but the Nick Fury that premiered recently in the pages of Battle Scars and is the son of classic Nick. Now, even though I’m not the biggest fan of that arc as that brings us closed to the Marvel movie universe, Nick is treated as a decent character here. He’s not too overbearing or arrogant (as I’ve seen in other releases); no, maybe it’s the fact that he respects Logan… or just downright fears him. But I like how Cornell has depicted Fury here – he’s not his father, but I get the feeling that he will be learning a lot about working with the superhuman community from Logan, one of the few heroes who will get down and dirty when he has to, and Nick respects that. But there’s also the humorous elements of this series that I absolutely loved – I’ll get to those in a minute.
Alan Davis’ art is also one of the reasons for picking up this book. He’s also been a long-time favorite artist of mine, especially back when he did a few Uncanny X-Men issues and then his entire run on Excalibur. He seems to have a huge fondness for Marvel’s mutant community and to see him taking on Wolverine without the rest of them is great. The futuristic tech that Logan is up against is drawn quite well by Davis; he has a knack for looking at some of the more “out-there” kind of things, making them unique and alien, but not making them TOO campy. (It’s gotta look somewhat campy – that’s part of the charm.) Even though Nick is a relatively new character and is (somewhat) based on Samuel L. Jackson (who was the original inspiration for the Ultimate universe version of Nick Fury), he manages to get some of the visual cues of Sam Jackson on certain panels and angles. Very few artists can make a character look like their actor counterpart successfully, so if Marvel is going to go in the direction of creating a stronger synchronization between the comics and the live-action universe, then you may as well go all-out and make that connection. Whether by intent or not, Davis managed to meet that need here.
I mentioned the humor in this issue and Cornell has a way of putting just that right touch into the stories, sometimes just with the introduction of a character. We saw a few other friends of Wolverine who were helping him out. One of them was a character long-missing from the Marvel Universe, Ann-Marie Hoag. Who was she, you may ask? Does anyone recall a series called Damage Control? She is the CEO of the insurance company that cleaned up after superhuman attacks. I think the last time I personally saw her in anything was the aftermath of World War Hulk as that is my last recollection of Damage Control even being mentioned. And I love the fact that Cornell has brought her into the story. Additionally, a little touch of Wolverine pointing out the obvious to a still-learning Nick Fury of why he didn’t take the mystery back to the Jean Grey school or to the Avengers. Not only did Cornell actually acknowledge the fact that Wolverine is on both teams, he was able to explain why this story is taking place away from both of them. Usually, there’s just a story where Logan is doing what he does because he works better alone; the commentary throughout that entire page shows that Logan is a team player but he picks which team he uses to help him in a way that makes absolute sense.
Can you tell this was one of my favorite reads of the week? To engage me, the story needs to draw me in or needs to be fun or needs to be something unique; then the art needs to complement that on top of everything else. That is my personal criteria for an engaging book. And this issue succeeded in that. It also made me not mind the new Nick Fury a little (still not thrilled but I think the correct writer could do something with him – and that seems to have happened here). I recommend giving this new Wolverine series a look-see as I think you’ll like what you find within its pages.