By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Death of Wolverine is a surprisingly quiet story. Quiet in the sense that there were so many paths it could have taken with Logan’s death. He’s an X-Men and an Avenger after all. Half the Marvel Universe could have been incorporated into a big, explosive, cosmic battle, culminating in the death of this once immortal hero.
Instead, Charles Soule, Steve McNiven and the rest of the creative team give us something more reserved, and perhaps more personal for Logan. We see traces of his larger role in the Marvel Universe. But for the most part, it’s a rather intimate affair. It’s Logan, plus some characters that have a special connection to him. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect, but it has a nice feel to it.
Having lost his healing power, Logan is now a marked man. An unknown enemy has put a price out for his capture, and now Logan finds himself vulnerable in more ways than one. In the end, Logan does pay the ultimate price for that vulnerability. But as one might expect, he doesn’t go without a fight. And that fight brings him face-to-face with more than one person from his past.
Death of Wolverine isn’t terribly inventive or surprising. But does it need to be? We already know the outcome, after all. The story is structured like a mini farewell tour for Wolverine, as his quest to find the mystery villain brings him to Canada, Madripoor, and finally a site not unlike the facility where Wolverine as we know him was created. Soule, McNiven, and the creative team seem more intent on making us ponder and appreciate the character, which is fair enough. The execution has its flaws. But I tip my hat to this piece for its intentions, as well as the amazing artwork.
McNiven is definitely in top form here. His art has a lot of detail to it, and in Logan’s case a lot of soul. In the first issue alone, McNiven does an awesome job of showing us a man who’s emotionally and physically exhausted from decades of brutality and violence. Then we move on to hopelessness, pain, depression, and then a bit of that classic Wolverine rage. Over the course of the story, he also gets to draw Logan in a variety of costumes and scenarios. We get good ol-wife beater wearin’ Logan, Logan in costume, Logan in samurai garb, and even sharp-dressed Logan. Again, paying tribute to the character and where he’s been. McNiven is able to maintain that quality over all four issues, which demonstrates just how good he really is.
Under Soule’s pen, Logan seems a bit more introspective as he ponders his own mortality. At first he seems pretty depressed and despondent about the whole thing. But by issue #3 he seems to have found some hope that this change will allow him to live a normal life away from all the fighting. During a conversation with Kitty Pryde, Logan says: “No more doing something horrible and telling myself I’ve got until the end of damn time to make up for it.” The idea that, in the face of his own mortality, Logan has guilt over what he is and what he’s done is interesting. Soule revisits that idea during the story’s climax, which is appreciated.
The story also uses different colored text boxes to illustrate Logan’s different senses. Red for pain, blue for smell, yellow for sounds, etc. The novelty does wear off gradually. But it’s a good choice given who our lead character is, and the kind of story we’re in.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in Death of Wolverine is its need for breathing room. All things considered, Soule might have overcomplicated things. The first issue moves along at an appropriate pace, both setting the table, giving us some action, and establishing Logan’s mindset. But by issue two we’re shoving different characters in front of Logan, simply for the sake of having these epic fights. But they’re so condensed that they don’t necessarily have the time to be as epic or gripping as they could have been.
Take the Wolverine/Sabretooth fight, for instance. Theoretically, the entire story could have been built around one last fight between Logan and Creed, where one of Wolverine’s arch rival finally kills him. Instead, we got a daydream sequence (shown above), followed by a fight that featured Sabretooth in an oddly submissive position courtesy of Viper. And in the end, any potential consequences brought on by the fight (most notably Logan losing his eye) are undone when Kitty Pryde pops up with a dose of “regen serum.” What’s the point of taking Logan’s healing factor away if you’re simply going to give him a miracle cure when he’s in a jam?
I also wasn’t thrilled with the way Logan actually kicks the bucket. While staying spoiler free, it’s poetic in its own way. And again, I appreciated Soule’s nod to the journey Logan has been on as a human being. But in the end, Logan essentially takes himself out, and winds up looking more like a depressed Silver Surfer (if you’ve read the book you know why) than a dead Wolverine. So not only do we not give a villain the distinction of having killed our hero, Logan winds up going out like a chump. All those decades of blood and heroism, only to die like that?
Soule and the folks at Marvel seem to have had a decent take on Wolverine’s demise, and the artists are able to give us a stellar looking Logan. But in the end the presentation got watered down, and quite needlessly in certain cases. But regardless, the end result is the same. Wolverine is off the table…for now.
Front page image and image 3 from comicbookresources.com. Image 1 from denofgeek.us. Image 2 from comicbookherald.com.
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