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REVIEW: Wolverine #300, or is that Wolverine #3000? Dude’s EVERYWHERE.

Wolverine #300
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Adam Kubert & Paul Mounts [Chapters 1, 4 & 7], Ron Garney & Jason Keith [Chapters 2 & 5], Steve Sanders & Sotocolors [Chapters 3 & 6]

Wolverine #300 doesn’t just mark the return of the series to its original numbering (assuming that’s how Marvel worked this out), it also marks the beginning of Jason Aaron’s final story arc on the book — Wolverine’s return to Japan.

Last issue (Wolverine #20), the stage was set for a war between the Yakuza and the Hand as a result of the Silver Samurai’s death way back in the “Wolverine Goes to Hell” storyline that began in the first issue of this volume of Wolverine.  Wolverine’s well-known for being an X-Man and an Avenger, but his history as a samurai (he’s like 200 years old, you know?) is something that some fans may not be up to speed on.  This super-sized issue, and the story arc in general, seem to be a great primer on that so far.  It features his Japanese love interest, his adopted Japanese daughter, the aforementioned Japanese mafia and ninjas, and the son of the Silver Samurai.

Oh, and Sabretooth is back from the dead.  How this happened has yet to be explained, but if the teasers for next issue (and 2012 in general) are any indication, there will be answers soon.

Overall, this is exactly the kind of story fans of the Ol’ Canucklehead have come to know and love.  It strikes the right balance of ultra-violence and pulp fun — see the in-flight fight between Wolverine and a plane full of ninjas in the opening pages, or Sabretooth with a jetpack, for example — rounded out with smart dialogue and solid writing.  There are really only two or three spots in the book where the story seems to jump around inexplicably (when the Yakuza approach Sabretooth in the Japanese brothel, and when Wolverine and Sabretooth are suddenly in the Hand temple after being in an underground tunnel), but considering the amount of action condensed into this issue, it’s somewhat forgivable.  Although, I did find myself checking to see if my copy was missing pages like a recent issue of Secret Avengers I purchased…

The art remains solid throughout, as well, which is surprising given the three art teams that worked on this issue.  I didn’t even realize three teams of artists worked on this issue until I looked at the credits again afterwords.  It’s almost that seamless, although the Steve Sanders and Sotocolors chapters are noticeably more polished than the others.

Like the main story, the back-up story — which presumably teases the upcoming “Sabretooth Reborn” story by Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi — also left me wanting to see what happens next.

Overall, a solid 300th issue — if it really is the actual issue 300.

STORY: 8.5/10
ART: 8.5/10 

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Review: Wolverine #17

Wolverine #17
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Ron Garney & Jason Keith

Jason Aaron’s run thus far on the relaunched Wolverine has been nothing short of what fans of the Marvel Universe’s favorite clawed berserker want.  It gives them all the claw popping ultra-violence the character’s solo series have become known for without sacrificing a more fleshed-out approach to Logan’s personality.  After all, Wolverine is not a cold-blooded killer so much as a failed samurai, or a man with a noble idea of who he wants to be and yet doesn’t realize he is already that person.

From the stories that began in Aaron’s earlier book, Wolverine: Weapon X, to today’s Wolverine #17, everything has felt streamlined and there has been a great balance between fast-paced, energetic storytelling and deeper exposition.

Having just returned from his isolation following what happened at the hands of the Red Right Hand over the course of the first dozen or so issues, Wolverine finds himself at a crossroad at the beginning of this story.  If you’ve kept up with the events in the wider X-Men universe, there was a falling out between Wolverine and Cyclops during the Schism event.  Logan, feeling it wasn’t right that Scott expected the children on the X-roster to become warriors, ultimately decided to return to Westchester, New York to restart Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (which, if you haven’t been keeping up, was destroyed during the “Messiah CompleX” crossover a few years ago).

Before he can leave San Francisco, however, Logan has a few loose ends to tie up — like letting his reporter girlfriend know that he’s leaving and ending his masquerade as Chinatown’s kingpin the Black Dragon.  Upon visiting Kung Fu Master Po’s dojo, however, he discovers the money he had stashed in a safe there has been stolen by a gang involved in a Chinatown drug war.  This is the money Logan planned to rebuild the school with.  (Yes, he has that kind of money.  He’s been around for like 200 years, you know?)

Needless to say, he’s pissed.

The pace of the issue is rather fast, feeling much shorter than it actually is.  It sets up a team-up with Gorilla Man, including some fun back-and-forth banter (not just with Gorilla Man, but with Po, as well), and introduces some elements of Chinese mysticism.  Ron Garney and Jason Keith’s art continues to fit the tone of the book well, whether Logan is slicing and dicing his way through a hail of gunfire or having a heart-to-heart with Melita.

That said, I’m not really sure how I feel about mythical elements and Wolverine being together.  I’ll be honest and admit it took me a few issues to wrap my head around “Wolverine Goes to Hell” last year.  This is only part one of the story arc, and a fun read regardless, so I’m willing to further suspend my disbelief to include those elements for the time being.

Story:  7/10
Art:  9/10 

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