I don’t dislike Wolverine. In fact before I got into comics, he was my favourite of the X-men characters (thanks to the movies). Over time though, I’ve grown tired of him showing up everywhere. He’s on too many teams, including multiple X-Men teams, several Avengers teams and at any given time, he has at least one solo title (sometimes several). I need a break from the X-Men franchises most popular character, and with the Death of Wolverine, it appears that I’ll get that break.
Charles Soule’s Death of Wolverine 1 opens with several splash pages and very little narration, allowing the artist to tell the story. He’s waiting in the Canadian Wilderness, fighting every single mercenary sent his way. With dead bodies piling up, it’s obvious that he’s been fighting for a while and has grown tired both physically and mentally. The comic flashes back to him speaking with Mr. Fantastic about his non-existent healing factor and how he faces several additional health risks. This scene helps set up the comic’s overall hopeless feel.
The rest of the comic is Wolverine fighting Nuke and using ambush tactics on his thugs. It’s a brutal fight, even if Wolverine doesn’t pop his claws. The entire comic has a brutal feeling to it, both through the hopeless nature of the dialogue and the realistic and detailed artwork. There aren’t any real surprises, other than perhaps a minor one on the last page cliffhanger.
The art is very impressive; in fact it’s probably the best part of this comic. The opening pages say a lot about Wolverine’s mindset, surroundings and even carry a bit of symbolic value with the rising sun signifying the beginning for both this series and the last day of Wolverine’s life. The detail is impressive, both in Wolverine’s bloodied body and torn clothing, and the environments. Nuke is equally impressive, with the American flag painted on his face and his muscular body with a bit of a beer belly. After he discovers the corpses of course, he’s obviously afraid but tries to hide it when fighting wolverine … at first. The fight flows smoothly, with a good sense of progression and good use of wet hair and water flying around.
What really makes this issue worth it isn’t the main story itself, but the special features. There’s a 5-page interview with Len Wein, Wolverine’s co-creator. There are notes from both Charles Soul (writer) and Steve McNiven (artist) about their thought process on some of the bigger images and moments in the comic. There’s more behind the scenes detail in this one comic than in most of Marvel’s trade paperbacks.
For Wolverine fans, this is a must have. It’s written to make it easy for new readers to jump in, while it’s brutal enough to kick off Wolverine’s death mini-series. The bonus material is all interesting and really bumps up this issue’s value. For non-fans though, it’s mostly just a setup issue. I’m sure things will grow more intense next week, but for now I’d suggest that if you’re not a Wolverine fan, wait and see how this mini-series turns out.