Friday, 15 May 2015

The Death of Wolverine (Marvel) Review

The Death of Wolverine
Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Steve McNiven

Collects: Death of Wolverine #1-4

Background information:

Wolverine has always been a killer. The adjective that has described his stories over the years has almost always been "stabby". The "snikt" sound when his made-for-stabbing claws come out is iconic. He's grim, he's angry, and most importantly; he's violent.

He's always gotten away with this, though, because his healing factor makes him virtually unstoppable. Or, at least, it did until Marvel NOW! hit the shelves. Wolverine found himself stripped of his healing powers and what followed was one of the best studies of the character we've had since Old Man Logan. Wolverine decided that he was going to really enjoy life; the fact that life was finite now made it worth something. It was strange to see a Wolverine book that felt so positive, and it was fantastic.


... And now, Marvel is killing him off.

One side of me says "fair enough." Wolverine has been in upwards of all of Marvel's books to date. It has been getting to the point where Marvel only had two options; kill Wolverine or put him in a DC book, because that's the only place he hasn't been.

Everything the world thinks about Canada vs. everything the
world thinks about America.
Another side of me rolls my eyes and grits my teeth. Since the MCU finally became popular, MarvelThe Filthy Stinkin' Muties.
has been trying as hard as possible to pretend that the X-Men don't exist; replacing them with the Inhumans, retconning Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's origins so they have nothing to do with Mutants and doing everything but changing the name of every X-Men book to

So Death of Wolverine seems to fix both perceived "problems". Someone has put a hit out on Wolverine, and now the guy has to stab everything and everyone; Viper, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Ogun and a muscled skinhead with the American flag tattooed on his face.

Okay, the first thing to note about this one is that it's a characteristically violent book. There's lots of blood, exploding hands, removed layers of skin and everything designed to make you feel slightly ill. That's not a bad thing though, you don't read a Wolverine book to see Logan talk about his feelings. It's also great to see Wolverine go through a gauntlet of old foes, each one that little bit different from the other.

Soule also does a great job at giving us real character moments. Wolverine does a lot of pondering here. That would seem out of place normally, but somehow, this introspection gets pretty even  balanced with Wolverine's thoughts of sheer savagery. Dialogue full of Wolverine's human nature get juxtaposed against prose boxes showing one to four word thoughts. On the exterior, Wolverine's getting deep and meaningful about how he doesn't want to die, but on the inside, we see that he's really just an animal who pretends at humanity. That's about as deep an assessment of Wolverine's character as we're every likely to get.

But these two points are fairly moot, because they're wrapped up in this plot that's just, well, lame.

The entire story structure in each issue is summed up by saying "go here, fight this enemy from your past, find a reason to go somewhere else." It looses it's appeal in a much shorter time than it takes for you to read that summary. What's worse, though, is that there's no feeling of raising tension here. It doesn't invest you in what happens next. I would have been happier just reading one issue than I think I would have been reading the whole book.

The best scene in the book, and it's only in issue 2.
Then there's the ending. Which by all accounts, should have been highly climatic. The reveal is a big enough surprise, but somehow Soule writes it as though he doesn't actually care. By the time that Wolverine has died, instead of thinking "there goes one of the greatest characters in the Marvel universe," what you're more likely to say is "oh... that's it... okay then."

When you kill off a character, there should be a sense of remorse. You should find yourself thinking about how great a hero he/she is. Death of Wolverine doesn't do that, and therefore only earns a two and a half out of five filthy stinkin' muties.

** 1/2

+ Nice comparison of man vs. animal.
+ About as violent as you'd want a Wolverine book to be.
- Plot structure endorses apathy.
- Ending fails to inspire.

Alternate Option: Wolverine: Three Months to Die, Book 1 and 2

More likely to inspire awe in the character, while acknowledging that Logan's going to die.

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