Since they both released today and they’re both written by Charles Soule, I’m reviewing both Wolverines 1 and Weapon X Program 5 in the same post.
It’s amusing that, even after Wolverine’s death, Marvel is still putting his name in the titles of comics. But when you really think about it, Marvel’s first weekly ongoing series, Wolverines, has a lot of potential. It’s a team of characters who don’t get along, but they’re forced to work together thanks to some rather extraordinary circumstances. They all have some sort of a connection to Wolverine one way or another, be it a teenaged female clone like X-23, an evil son like Daken, the life-long rivals Sabertooth and Mystique, the vengeful Lady Deathstrike or all the lab rats experimented on by Dr. Cornelius, the same man who gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. It’s a way to explore Wolverine through what you could call incomplete reflections of him, yet most of them are compelling characters in their own right. Because Wolverines 1 is the bigger release of the two, let’s talk about that one first.
The comic kicks off with a fight scene in the very lab where Wolverine died. Shogun’s team is fighting the wrecking crew while both sides search for something buried in the rubble. The action itself feels rushed at times, with barely enough time to show how it’s progressing, but it’s otherwise fun and appropriately chaotic. Most of the writing focuses on catching up new readers with what happened in the Weapon X Program and Logan Legacy minis, so the main story is only introduced. Apart from the rather brutal cliffhanger ending and the appearance of a major X-Men villain, not much else happens in this comic.
What makes this comic work is the team dynamics. Both Sabertooth and Mystique have confrontations with the Lab Rats, while X-23 shows concern for both Endo’s haunted emotions and the safety of her brother/nephew/ whatever her relationship with Daken is (his healing factor was disabled in Logan Legacy 7 by Syphon). The conversation between Skel and Deathstrike is hilarious in his misunderstanding of her uneasy relationship with Wolverine. Everyone is written in character and Soule demonstrates a strong understanding of their individual voices.
The art is mostly handled by Nick Bradshaw, with Allison Borges taking over for pages 18 and 19. Bradshaw’s art isn’t necessarily bad, but the overall cartoonish feel clashes with the dark, violent nature of the comic. On the upside there’s a lot of background detail in the destroyed lab, with crunched concrete, bent pips, loose wires and leaking water. Facial expressions sometimes do a good job at conveying expressions, but other times characters appear bored, most obvious in the fight scene between Sabertooth, Shogun, Deathstrike, Skel and the Wrecking Crew. It also contradicts the Weapon X Program series on several occasions, with Endo’s hair being light brown instead of nearly black, and Nero’s head keeps changing shape. The one panel where Sabertooth says “Would you believe I’ve changed” is great though, with a smile somewhere between genuine and fake.
Borges’s art isn’t as detailed, but it looks much better and the comic probably would have been stronger if she drew the whole thing. The lighting when the villain shows up emphasizes his raw power, and both character’s poses and facial expression do a great job at emphasising … I won’t spoil it even if covers for upcoming issues have.
While it’s dark and fun, Wolverines 1 isn’t the greatest way to start Marvel’s first weekly ongoing. The storytelling works and the characterization is good, but it’s bogged down with a sizeable backstory and the art feels out of place. This series has plenty of potential but it’s not good enough to recommend yet, especially for $4 a week. If you’re interested in picking up a series about a bunch of killers forced to work together despite their differences, at least pay attention to this series because it could very well become amazing in the future.
Weapon X Program 5 is a great conclusion to what is otherwise a decent mini-series. The rest of the series, while fun, never had high stakes. The experiments easily overpowered those who pursued them on more than one occasion, and the more emotional scenes didn’t really start until issue 3. Today’s conclusion shows that the Wolverines story could be much bigger than we expect while giving us lots of action, all of it chaotic and fun. The only downside is that besides the other experiments being very angry at Neuro for his actions in this issue, there isn’t much room for character development.
The art by Angel Unzeuta and Iban Coello is fantastic. Both characters and environments have plenty of detail, with a wide-variety of new characters and looks for each of them. The action flows smooth and makes good use of unique angles to emphasize both Shogun’s efficiency and the bloody aftermath. They also make great use of lighting, whether it’s the sun glistening off the ocean water or reflecting off the clear Neuro’s bald head.
If you’ve enjoyed the Weapon X Program miniseries so far, this is the best issue even if it purely leads straight into Wolverines. The only significant problem is that it should have released before Logan Legacy 7 or at least on the same week since the plot slowly builds up to that comic’s spoilers. If you haven’t read either mini-series yet and you intend to, it’s better to read Weapon X Program before Logan Legacy. This mini isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on in Wolverines, but it’s worth reading if you’re interested in a bunch of lab rats working together to survive.
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I found both comics very bland. I hate Bradshaw’s art at the best of times, and it does a serious disservice to Wolverines, but even aside from that, I find myself not particularly caring about these comics. Maybe it’s my own dislike of Wolverine, but I think it’s just kinda bland as a whole. Though I’m usually on board with Sinister being up to shenanigans, so there’s that, at least.