The first month of Wolverines started slow, but showed plenty of potential and improved with each issue. The second month started off well with a delightfully insane Mr. Sinister sequence, complete with plenty of cameos and an awesome Storm moment. The third month of Wolverines on the other hand is a complete detour from the main story and earned plenty of complaints on the internet. Is it worth the harsh criticism?
Being Marvel’s first ongoing weekly series, Wolverines faced a fairly large challenge from the start. Normally when DC does a weekly series, they have between four and six writers behind it, while Wolverines only has two: Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes. Soule handles the odd numbered issues and Fawkes writes the even numbers. Without further to do, here’s the third month of Wolverines summed up.
Wolverines 8 brought in Fang, a bit of an obscure character in the Marvel Universe, and he fought all the Wolverines before taking Daken away for an “adventure”. Issue 9 is mostly that adventure, with Fang teaching Daken a form of a lesson by sending a Frost Giant after him. The frost giant tries to kill Daken after Fang tells him that Daken is the giant’s father. When he points out that Daken has been plaguing Wolverine for years for no good reason, it’s a harsh lesson that seems to hit Wolverine’s evil son, but it does little to affect his violent attitude. It’s a decent issue if you like Daken, but if you’re like me and you don’t care about him at all, this issue is pointless.
The art by Peter Nguyen is alright. It’s a simple look, but the background details help tell the story. The bar in Fantomelle’s scene is complete with a variety of patrons and alcoholic drinks. Her grin while failing to flirt with the bartender in an adorable way is cute. Unfortunately, some of the character details are inconsistent, like Daken appearing younger in some panels than in others.
Wolverines 10 is kind of the same, but for Sabretooth instead. Fang takes him to a space ship housing a genocidal alien race, where they easily take the bridge. Fang explains that the fleet surrounding the ship is all that’s left of the alien race and lets Creed decide whether to kill the rest of them or not. Although inverted, Creed feels pressured into eliminating everyone and immediately feels remorse for his choice. It’s an interesting study, showing that even though Sabretooth’s attitude is changed, his violent nature can still take control. No wonder he comes back to the Wolverines layer looking devastated. Again it’s a decent issue if you like Sabretooth, and it explains more about exactly how the Inversion is affecting him. Jonathan Marks handles art and it’s good, just not in my personal taste.
Wolverines 11 is X-23’s focus issue, and in terms of quality, it’s easily the best of this month’s issues. I’m not just saying that because X-23 is my favourite X-Men character by the way. Of all the issues between 8 and 12, it’s the only one with actual story development. Not only does it explore the long-term effects of Wolverine’s death on X-23, but it reveals exactly what Fang’s deal is and what he’s looking for. The two of them connect in fascinating ways, and Fang gives X-23 a sample of her trigger scent. That alone could lead to so many different kinds of stories. The fact that Fang actually tries to help X-23 feels nice, and shows that he cares enough about Wolverine to respect those he loved. Also, the flashback of drunk Wolverine is hilarious.
Ariela Kristantina handles art, and it’s good for the most part. Wolverine’s flashback is complete with the special machine on Logan’s back that helps him get drunk and the machine looks awesome. The panel where he “snikts himself” is both painful looking and hilarious. Laura’s body language and facial expressions perfectly showcase her wide range of emotions, whether it’s her suspicion early in their conversation, her anger when he reveals the trigger scent or the moment of realization when Fang asks why she’s hanging around with monsters. There are a couple panels where character proportions or the shapes of their faces feel off though.
Before I talk about issue 12, let’s talk about two other plotlines that slowly build during Wolverines 9 through 11. Fantomelle steals various Wolverine artifacts for a mysterious buyer, and it’s a fun spending time with the most enjoyable original character in this series. Meanwhile, there’s a developing relationship between Lady Deathstrike and Shogun, but it may not be exactly what Shogun thinks it is. The story develops both Shogun and Deathstrike a bit but I wouldn’t call it anything special.
Wolverines 12 finally finishes this overly long story arc, combining Fang’s story with Shogun’s. The Fang/Shogun stuff is mostly flashing back to Death of Wolverine 4, but playing it through Shogun’s perspective. It amounts to an indirect exploration of Wolverine’s attitude toward life and how Fang carries similar attitudes. It’s alright, but unless you like Shogun it’s kind of pointless. Fantomelle’s pages save this issue when it reveals her mysterious buyer. Without spoiling it, the buyer’s identity isn’t a huge surprise but it’s awesome.
Ario Anindito’s art is decent. Most of the panels don’t have a complete background, but the ones that do show an interesting looking planet. What works is the detail on each character. Most notably, the scratches in Shogun’s armor stay there for the entire issue. What doesn’t’ work is that during the fight scenes, some of the characters’ poses look stiff or otherwise unnatural.
Overall, this is easily the weakest month of Wolverines so far. While the character exploration works, I there probably could have been better ways to explore all of it. Daken didn’t seem to learn much, so his issue is kind of pointless. Sabretooth’s violent nature has revealed itself before so it could have taken someone else’s example to reveal his lesson to him, perhaps X-23’s heroic nature? For X-23, the question of why she’s hanging out with monsters would have been just as effective if she spent some time with the X-Men after Sinister’s lab, if not more dramatically effective. And Shogun only overcoming Ogun’s influence with Fang’s help feels like a cop-out.
Hopefully next month’s issues will bring the series back on track, because the Mr. Sinister story arc is much more fun than a retconned Fang hanging out with one character at a time. That said, Wolverines 11 is worth picking up if you like X-23, and issues 9 and 10 might be worth it for fans of Daken and Sabretooth respectively. And of course if you read all of them anyway, you might as well read issue 12 to finish the storyline.