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Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #10 – Cyclops Comes Calling

Wolverine and the X-Men #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Chris Bachalo [Penciler/Colorist]; Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, and Victor Olazaba [Inkers]

The events of Avengers Vs. X-Men had to hit home at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning sooner or later, and when Cyclops comes calling, boy do they ever.

Taking place between Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 and 3, Wolverine and the X-Men #10 provides some additional insight into what happened between the storming of Utopia and Captain America organizing teams of Avengers to search the planet for Hope Summers (and ultimately betraying Wolverine by throwing him out of a Quinjet).

To sum it up, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magik show up at the Jean Grey School and insult everyone there so they can recruit additional X-Men to their side.

Perhaps more interesting than the main plot, Genesis finally figures out who Apocalypse is (but remains unaware that he is a clone/reincarnation of the villain) and Angel finally realizes that he isn’t an angel, but a mutant who used to be known as Warren Worthington.  Genesis and Angel are also quickly forming a bond, which will be interesting to see play out in the months to come considering Angel was once Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death and replacement prior to losing his memory and gaining his new abilities.

With this issue, Jason Aaron has crafted a tie-in issue that doesn’t exist solely as an extension of the event it’s a part of and continues to develop stand-alone plot threads.  Additionally, some of these plot threads are likely to have an impact on the event as a whole–namely the entry of Gladiator and the Shi’ar Death Commandoes, who have dealt with the Phoenix and the X-Men before, into the fray.

Chris Bachalo’s art in this issue also transitions much more smoothly between panels, feeling much more in line with his earlier work on the book and his stellar art on the 2010 Amazing Spider-Man “Shed” arc.

This isn’t a perfect issue, but it’s still a damn fun ride.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10 

Review: Wolverine #306 – The Doctor Is In

Wolverine #306
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Paul Pelletier [Penciler], David Meikis with Cam Smith [Inkers], Rain Beredo [Colorist]

Wolverine tracks down Dr. Rot as a federal manhunt, believing Logan responsible for a nationwide killing spree, closes in on him.

The Feds search for answers at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning, where Kitty Pryde and Rachel Grey are still trying to find answers themselves. Later, pressing Logan’s ex-girlfriend Melita Garner for information in New York, she finally mentions Dr. Rot. Meanwhile, Wolverine is tracking the sadistic doctor down using files from Dunwich, uncovering more grisly scenes and disturbing individuals along the way.

Cullen Bunn continues a solid first arc on Wolverine, fleshing out Dr. Rot’s past–something that wasn’t really covered during Jason Aaron’s introduction of the villain in Wolverine: Weapon X #6-9. Rot is a villain who works because he gets inside Logan’s head and takes advantage of the worst parts of him, so it’s interesting to start to see a little bit of what makes him tick. Like last issue, it’s good to see the Jean Grey School continue to have a presence in this book, as well.

Rounded out by the same high-quality art that keeps the ultra-violence popping off the pages, this is another stellar issue of Wolverine for Bunn to add to his list of achievements. After being introduced to his work with these last two issues of Wolverine, his assist to Rick Remender on Venom, and the Free Comic Book Day preview of his Spider-Man: Season One graphic novel, here’s hoping Marvel keeps him around for a while.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

Review: Uncanny X-Force #25 – Final Execution Begins!

Uncanny X-Force #25
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Mike McKone, Dean White [Color Art]

The latest Uncanny X-Men story arc, “Final Execution,” kicks off with the team in a state of upheaval.

Psylocke, having processed the toll being on a mutant kill squad is taking on her psyche, is leaving the team after “satisfying her curiosity” with a one-night stand with Fantomex. Fantomex, on the other hand, is leaving because no more Warren [See last year’s epic “Dark Angel Saga”] means no more money–and he’s probably sulking over being spurned by Psylocke.

Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious figure at the Jean Grey School targeting Genesis, the reformed clone of Apocalypse, and Deadpool has gone down while on a mission–which is a big deal following Deadpool #54, where Wade [YOU SHOULD READ Deadpool #54 AND FIND OUT INSTEAD OF LETTING ME SPOIL IT].

Anyways, this all culminates in a sort-of return of a long-dead X-villain.

Overall, this is a great start to Rick Remender’s latest major X-Force story arc. With a title like “Final Execution,” there are a lot of inferences that can be made. The way things have developed with all the characters on the team, as well as the people around them, will surely only help to further speculation about what that title refers to.

Regardless, Rick Remender has crafted an excellent first part to this storyline with an art team that rivals the work on any other issues of the book, and the two back-up stories are a nice look at Remender’s earlier work with artist Jerome Opeña on stories starring Wolverine and Deadpool, respectively.

STORY: 9.5/10
ART: 9.5/10

Review: Deadpool #54 – Deadpool is Dead, Long Live Deadpool

Deadpool #54
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Ale Garza [Penciler], Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

Deadpool finally gets what he wanted, but does he still want it and is it too late to go back?

After setting off a massive goose chase for a serum that could allegedly negate mutant powers, Deadpool is finally “cured” of his healing factor–but not before some of the most dangerous people in the world find out that he was always aware that the serum only works on him. The serum, as it turns out, is made from DNA samples taken from a lock of Wade’s childhood hair. It even has some unexpected side-effects that are likely to have a huge impact on the character going forward–but I won’t spoil that here.

By altering the character in several ways, Daniel Way has shown his willingness to take a risk and step outside of the traditional Deadpool formula. Deadpool’s new status quo makes a ton of new stories possible, which will hopefully (I’ve got my fingers crossed) allow Daniel Way to stay on the book for another 50 issues.

Despite what certain people around here have to say about me never having anything bad to say about Deadpool, I stand by my belief that this book has been one of the most consistently fun, leave-your-brain-at-the-door reads on my pull list since I started picking it up four years ago. For anyone willing to put aside their “everything should be super serious and full of meaning” comic book elitism, now is as good a time as any to jump on.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

Uncanny X-Force #24 – Meltdown!

Uncanny X-Force #24
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Phil Noto, Dean White [Colors]

During last year’s “Dark Angel Saga,” the Age of Apocalypse’s evil version of Iceman escaped into Earth-616 (i.e. the mainstream Marvel Universe).  This was the primary reason for that reality’s Nightcrawler joining X-Force.

In Uncanny X-Force #24, he finally gets his revenge on his former friend and teammate.

While Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Deadpool head to Madripoor to take care of AoA Iceman, Fantomex and Psylocke attend the Otherworld funeral of Psylocke’s brother, Jamie Braddock.  Here, we see Fantomex’s more human side during a brief conversation with Psylocke’s other brother, Brian (AKA Captain Britain), and learn that in order to save Fantomex during the Otherworld saga, Psylocke gave up her ability to feel sorrow or remorse.

Back in Madripoor, the fight comes down to Nightcrawler and Iceman–no powers or weapons, just two former friends fighting to the death.  Rick Remender really drives home the emotional impact of this battle via Nightcrawler’s thoughts and the banter between the two.  Additionally, Remender continues to bring some of the best Deadpool antics outside of Daniel Way’s Deadpool solo series and provides a huge leap in the Fantomex-Psylocke relationship, as well as building upon the father-son dynamic between Fantomex and Apocalypse child clone Genesis.

Phil Noto and Dean White’s art in this issue is vibrant and detailed, perhaps even my favorite art on this series thus far.  The transitions between panels are extremely fluid and easy to follow, keeping the action moving at a steady pace.

This one-and-done issue is a must-buy for fans of the series and new readers interested in the title alike.

STORY:  9.5/10
ART:  9.5/10 

 

Review: Avenging Spider-Man #5 – Captain America, Art School Student

Avenging Spider-Man #5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan [Inker], Sunny Gho [Color Art]

The latest issue of Zeb Wells’ Spider-Man team-up book sees Spider-Man pairing off with Captain America–because, well, they’re both Avengers and that’s kind of the point of this book.  Also, both characters have movies coming out in the next few months.

At the beginning of the issue, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman are in Avengers Mansion reading a reprint of an old comic strip in the Daily Bugle.  The comic strip, it turns out, was drawn by a pre-super soldier serum Captain America, who, as it turns out, wasn’t just scrawny and weak–he was an art school kid.  The Avengers are all joking around about the comic having “liberty bonds” in every sentence (Hey, it was World War II, you know?) and Cap himself walks in right as Spider-Man sticks his foot in his mouth.

Captain America tells the Avengers that they’re going to round up the rest of the Serpent Society, who were causing trouble in the last issue of Avenging Spider-Man (and who also caused trouble this week in Avengers vs. X-Men #0, because they are omnipresent or something).

Anyways, realizing that both he and Captain America were nerds, Spider-Man calls dibs on teaming with Captain America and then annoys him with his trademark banter.  Ultimately, the two have a bonding experience later in the issue, which I guess is different from when they were pretty close friends during Spider-Man’s time living in Avengers Tower prior to 2006’s “Civil War” story.  Back then (during Straczynski’s “The Other” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man), they were sparring partners and Captain America taught Spider-Man how to catch a bullet with his bare hands instead of just dodging it, because Captain America can do that, too.  For the record, neither of them ever really spend much time catching bullets with their bare hands, but that’s beside the point.

Wells does a great job here of furthering the idea that Spider-Man can’t help but be a pain in the ass to his fellow heroes, as has been the case since he first became a member of the Avengers.  Unlike other writers who handle Spider-Man in an Avengers setting, though, Spider-Man isn’t just written as a wise-cracking idiot here.  As much as he annoys the others, you an see that they acknowledge what he contributes to the team and that there’s a certain level of respect for him–although in the case of characters like Wolverine and Captain America, their respect has long been established).  That Wells also manages to add something more to the Captain America mythos with the art school comic strip is icing on the cake.

The art in this issue strikes a nice balance between realistic and traditional, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho on more books.  My only real complaint here would be that Spider-Man seems to have gotten a bit shorter, only coming up to Captain America’s shoulder in one panel (Spider-Woman, by comparison, appears just a few inches shorter than Cap on the same page).  It just kind of makes Spider-Man look like a little kid by comparison, when he’s actually around his mid-20s–not to mention it makes me wonder just how short Wolverine is supposed to be, since he’s shorter than Spider-Man.

Regardless, Avenging Spider-Man continues to be fun and, so far, offers a lot of easy jumping-on points for new readers who might be uncomfortable just diving right into the character’s flagship book.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

 

Review: Uncanny X-Force #23 – Someone gets their head skinned…

Uncanny X-Force #23
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini, with color art by Dean White and Greg Tocchini

X-Force’s Otherworld adventure concludes with a bit of a twist in this week’s Uncanny X-Force #23.

As you may recall, Captain Britain (Psylocke’s brother) and the Captain Britain Corps abducted Fantomex and Psylocke, taking them back to the mythical realm of Otherworld.  By my calculations, Otherworld is home to all British people in the Marvel Universe–or something.

Anyways, the Captain Britain Corps intended to put Fantomex on trial for killing the child reincarnation of Apocalypse (way back in Uncanny X-Force‘s first story arc).  Before the Corps could wipe Fantomex from existence, Psylocke–who is also Lady Britain when she’s in Otherworld–escaped with him.  Unbeknownst to either of them, Wolverine, Deadpool, and Nightcrawler (the one from the Age of Apocalypse timeline) had come to Otherworld to rescue them before getting pulled into stopping a siege on the Tower Omniverse.

The Tower Omniverse is a tower in Otherworld with doors to all realities in the Marvel multiverse, and a character known only as the “Goat Monk” wanted to spread his dark magic across all of existence.  Oh, and a former barrister and Weapon Plus experiment known as the Skinless Man, or Weapon III, showed up to exact a personal vendetta against Fantomex, who is also Weapon XIII.  He ended up skinning Fantomex’s head.

If it sounds like the plot of this story was a little bit cluttered, well, it kind of was.  There’s a lot to take in here, and a lot going on at one time.  This issue stays pretty much that way.  Wolverine and Deadpool attempt to kill the Goat Monk, Psylocke and Fantomex overcome the Skinless Man, and Captain Britain is forced to make a difficult decision following a big reveal on who exactly the Goat Monk is.

Despite having all of this happen in about 20 pages of story (I’m not counting ad pages in that page count), Rick Remender does still manage to throw in some good character moments.  We see the attraction between Fantomex and Psylocke teased a little bit more, Psylocke coming to grips with the fact that the right decision is not always the easiest one, and Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler’s rough exterior cracking to reveal some of the deceased mainstream Nightcrawler that longtime readers are familiar with.  Additionally, Remender continues to provide some of the best Deadpool banter not written by Daniel Way.

This hasn’t been a perfect storyline by any means, but it has its moments.  Maybe I just need to read the whole thing over again in one sitting, or maybe it carried on an issue too long, but it felt as though it jumped around a bit from time to time.  I will say that the sort  of undefined–perhaps even sometimes hazy–look that the art has works very well to convey the story’s setting, although it is somewhat inconsistently detailed.  Some panels look roughly sketched, while others show a great deal more detail.

The Otherworld adventure has been a nice breather following the “Dark Angel Saga,” but it feels like it falls a little short of the rest of the series.  With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to the next issue, featuring Age of Apocalypse Iceman, and the upcoming “Final Execution” storyline.

STORY: 7.5/10
ART: 7.5/10 

 

Review: Deadpool #52 – Still trying to die…

Deadpool #52
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Ale Garza [Penciler], Sean Parsons [Inker], Dommo Sanchez Amara [Colorist]

In his ongoing efforts to die permanently by flushing out the holder of a serum that can negate his healing factor, Deadpool staged a fake turf war between the Kingpin and Tombstone.  In the process, he’s brought Hydra Bob, his teammates on X-Force, and Wolverine’s estranged son Daken into play, as well.

Unbeknownst to Wade, however, Kingpin and Tombstone were never fooled, and the other pawns in his insane game of chess are catching on to the fact that something is amiss.

In Deadpool #52, we see Wade continuing to keep this game going as he instigates Daken and leads X-Force into a suicide raid on the Kingpin’s headquarters, where Wilson Fisk and Typhoid Mary have kidnapped Hydra Bob and are torturing him for information. The most impressive thing about the “Dead” story arc so far is that Daniel Way has managed to play these characters off of each other in a believable way, all while depicting them as accurately as any other writer has. That takes a bit of skill when dealing with this many characters in a single book.

This issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Will Deadpool get his wish? Was a certain other character depowered by the serum, as well? Is there really a commercial parachute capable of handling the Kingpin’s weight? [The answers are “I don’t know,” “That’s even harder to say,” and “Yeah, probably”–in that order. Thank me later, kids!]

If you’re a fan of this series, or even just a casual reader, this isn’t a story to sleep on. Be sure to pick up the previous two issues, too, if you haven’t already.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

 

 

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #6 – This casino’s more diverse than the Mos Eisley Cantina

Wolverine and the X-Men #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Nick Bradshaw [Pencils]; Walden Wong, Jay Leisten, Norman Lee & Cam Smith [Inks]; and Justin Ponsor & Matt Wilson [Colorists]

The Jean Grey School in financial trouble!  Kitty Pryde infested with millions of microscopic Brood!  That’s where Wolverine and the X-Men #5 left us, and where #6 picks up at.

In an attempt to solve the school’s financial troubles, Wolverine heads off to an intergalactic casino with genius mutant problem child Quentin Quire, a.k.a. Kid Omega.  The plan is to use Quentin Quire’s telepathic and telekinetic abilities to pull off an intergalactic casino con.  How space money works on Earth or why they didn’t just do this on an Earth casino, I’m not sure.  I do know, however, that this plot allowed Nick Bradshaw to draw the most diverse array of aliens in one place outside of the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars.

Regardless of where the casino is, the opportunity to put Wolverine and Quire in a one-on-one situation and continue to play Quire’s rebellious nature off of uber-badass authority figure Logan carries a ton of possibility for interesting situations, and Jason Aaron doesn’t waste the opportunity.  The payoff is great and keeps this the most “fun” of the X-books.

Meanwhile, Kitty’s situation becomes more dire as there are too many Brood inside of her for Beast and his team to handle.  To make matters worse, the S.W.O.R.D. Paramedic team is taken out by the mysterious alien guy from the previous issue.  Who this guy is remains a mystery, as well as why he keeps regular-sized Brood on a leash and what exactly he has to do with Kitty’s infestation, but he does have sinister intentions for Broo, the Jean Grey School’s Brood student.  (By the way, I’m still not sure how he ended up at the school.  He was just kind of there when the book started.  Anyone want to fill me in?)

Anyways, Aaron keeps this issue fast-paced and ends it with a couple of cliffhangers.  The highlight of the issue, at least for me, is hands-down integrating Krakoa in as a sort of external security system for the school. It would be easy to just ignore the living mass of land after the first story arc, but Aaron’s doing a good job of giving everyone face time when it makes sense to.  On a final note, I’m not sure why this issue had four inkers and two colorists, but the important thing is that I couldn’t tell otherwise when reading it.

Go ahead and pick this one up, along with issue #5 so you’re not just jumping into the middle of the story.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 

Review: Uncanny X-Force #22 – Who is Weapon III?

Uncanny X-Force #22
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini and Dean White [Color Art]

The pace picks back up in the third part of Rick Remender’s Otherworld odyssey as Psylocke continues her efforts to help Fantomex escape from her brothers in the Captain Britain Corps and Nightcrawler convinces Wolverine that X-Force should help the people of Otherworld fight back against the realm’s demonic invaders.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, Otherworld is a realm that serves as an in-between spot for all of the realities in the Marvel Multiverse.  Basically, that means it has all of the doorways to the mainstream Marvel Universe (i.e. Earth-616), the Ultimate Universe, the 2099 Universe, the Age of Apocalypse, the Negative Zone, etc.

Otherworld itself is something out of a Tolkien book, with dragons, castles, and sorcery.  It’s also home to the Captain Britain Corps, who see fit to punish individuals from any reality for whatever crimes they feel they should intervene in.

(Clearly, they miss a lot of them because a TON of villains are still alive, but stay with me here.)

X-Force ended up here in issue #20 after the Corps abducted Fantomex and Psylocke in the middle of the night.  They put Fantomex on trial for the assassination of the child clone of Apocalypse and sentenced him to being removed from existence.  Psylocke, however, rescued Fantomex, as the two have been involved in an increasingly complex game of cat and mouse.

Remender throws in a conversation between the two in this issue to add further confusion to where exactly Fantomex stands in the situation, and also to underscore how well Fantomex can manipulate others.  It’s an excellent character trait to draw attention to.  After all, this is a guy whose power set includes misdirection–the ability to distract others with a realistic illusion.

Unfortunately, Psylocke and Fantomex’s escape is cut short by the Skinless Man, who we find out is Weapon III and has a long history with Fantomex, a.k.a. Weapon XIII.  He’s given a sensible enough reason for being in Otherworld, and it ultimately makes even more sense that Remender continues to explore and add to the story of the Weapon Plus program given that three members of X-Force–Wolverine, Deadpool, and Fantomex–were all involved in it in some way or another.

As all of this plot is unfolding, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Deadpool are taking refuge in a village on the verge of being besieged by the hordes of a demonic goat.  Nightcrawler, who is seemingly coming around to his new teammates after leaving behind his own X-Men in the Age of Apocalypse, convinces Wolverine that they should fight to help the people of Otherworld before finding their friends.

This change in attitude for AoA Nightcrawler draws the first big parallel between him and his deceased Earth-616 counterpart since the differences between the two were highlighted two issues ago.  It really adds additional layers to a familiar character who isn’t really the character fans are ultimately familiar with, reminding them that while he is different due to the state of his home universe, Kurt Wagner is still Kurt Wagner at the end of the day.

Plus, it leads to a fun exchange about narcissistic personality disorder between Wolverine and Deadpool as they head off to kill the demonic goat monk thing attacking Otherworld.

Overall, another great issue in Remender’s run.  If you’re new to X-Force, I’d recommend starting a little further back in the series, but this storyline is fun and just different enough from earlier stories to keep things interesting without veering too far into left field.

And I promise I’ll never make another poor sports analogy as long as I’m writing reviews.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8.5/10 

De La Torre brings grit to Age of Apocalypse #1 5-page preview

Marvel Comics Tuesday morning released a five-page preview of Age of Apocalypse #1 written by Dave Lapham with art by Roberto De La Torre. The gritty artwork by De La Torre is amazing! Age of Apocalypse #1 will be in your local comic book store on March 7th, 2012.
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Your First Look At AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1

Marvel is proud to present your first look at Age of Apocalypse #1, from the creative team of Dave Lapham and Roberto De La Torre. Spinning out of the critically acclaimed Uncanny X-Force, the Amazing X-Men and the human resistance must fight tooth and nail to end the tyranny that has left their world ravaged! Continuing Apocalypse’s war on humanity, Weapon X leads the genocide that rains down upon this dimension, eliminating any who stand in his way.

“This new Age of Apocalypse book does the impossible – it revolutionizes an old concept without a reboot,” explains Senior Editor Nick Lowe. “If you’ve been reading Uncanny X-Force, you know where this is coming from and you’re already in. If you’re an Age of Apocalypse junkie, this builds on the alternate universe’s mythology is fascinating and troubling ways. And if you aren’t either and just want a ground-breaking, easy-entry book that will challenge everything you know about the X-Men, there hasn’t been a better jumping on point.”

Can anyone stop the evil Weapon X and who are the X-Terminated? Find out in Age of Apocalypse #1, with a cover by Humberto Ramos and Dean White that no fan can miss, hitting comic shops everywhere and the Marvel Comics app, this March!

Review: Deadpool #49, “Evil Deadpool” Concludes

Deadpool #49
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Salva Espin with Scott Koblish, Colors by Guru eFX

After several months, Daniel Way’s “Evil Deadpool” storyline concludes, revealing even more about the Merc With a Mouth’s character and setting the stage for Deadpool #50‘s “Dead” story arc.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m sure you’ve all been asking yourselves, “How can there be an ‘Evil Deadpool’ if the original Deadpool is an assassin who was originally a villain?”  [They totally weren’t asking themselves that at all, dude.]  

The explanation, of course,  is that the real Deadpool doesn’t like killing people and never really did.  He wanted to be a hero.  The Evil Deadpool, however, had no remorse when it came to flying a plane into a New York City bridge or blowing up a New Jersey taco shack.  [Eh…It’s Jersey.  That one’s forgivable.]  

SHUT UP, BLOG MANIFESTATION OF INTERNAL MONOLOGUE VOICE!

Anyways, the Evil Deadpool’s intention, it turns out, was to show Wade that no matter what he does or how many people he saves, the public will always see him for his actions as an assassin and fear him.  Wade already knows that, though, and informs his evil clone that the only thing he sees when he looks at him are all of the parts of himself that he wanted to kill everytime he’s tried to kill himself (Which, remember, is impossible because Deadpool is cursed with immortality and has a healing factor like Wolverine’s).

 The previous paragraph is basically the motive behind this entire story arc.  Does it work?  Sure.  It’s a serious plot point baked into a cake of slapstick and irreverence.  That’s how this book works, and it’s how the character works best.  It’s also why Daniel Way has successfully done 50 issues of this book.

Let’s hope Deadpool (the book and the character) are still around after “Dead.”  This is still one of the most consistently enjoyable books on the market.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10 

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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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