A couple of Wolverine books.
Wolverine – Noir
Written by Stuart Moore, illustrated by C. P. Smith
Now this is interesting. Jim Logan is a private detective in partnership with ox-strong but mentally challenged Dog, a childhood friend to whom he feels debt bound because of some tragedy in the past. The firm is hired by a Japanese woman to find out who is following her, but it turns out to be a trap set by another old friend from the past, the woman Logan loved and left for dead. And what a strange book this is. Logan’s being a mutant, the Wolverine of the title, seems like a side issue in a Chandleresque detective story, with those adamantium claws only coming out when he is under threat and ignored for the rest of the time, and there’s even a suggestion that they might just be knives that he carries. In fact I might argue that even the detective story is a side issue, with the real crux of the book having to do with incidents in the character’s past – his cruel and overbearing father, the sensei who trained the boy in martial arts, animosity between Logan and gardener’s son Dog, the romantic rivalry which ultimately proved the undoing of them all. And yes, on that basis, it is a strong story, one that fully engages the interest, but at the same time it’s not the sort of story I was expecting and this character is not the mutant I’m familiar with. It’s a piece that seems to exist outside of the Marvel Universe, one written simply because somebody thought it would be cool to make Logan a PI. With Smith’s dark, brooding artwork it’s an accomplished and polished performance, and certainly there’s enough on offer to reward the reading, but all the same I could have done with a bit more attention paid to those claws. As is it seems just like tagging the Wolverine name onto another property in the hope of shifting a few more copies.
Dark Wolverine – My Hero
Written by Daniel Way & Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Stephen Segovia & Giuseppe Camuncoli
Not Wolverine, but Dark Wolverine. His name is Daken and he’s Logan’s son. He has a Mohican that looks like it’s mutating, a lousy attitude, and he works for corrupt as fuck S.H.I.E.L.D. director Norman Osborn. When a video is posted on YouTube showing Daken in an unflattering light, Osborn’s idea of damage limitation and positive PR is to assemble a group of super villains and have Daken take them down, but the villains realise they’re being set up and turn the tables on our hero. In another story Daken sits down in a café with Miss Marvel and tells her a story of his past. I like the idea of the character, and he certainly has plenty of attitude, but the two stories are contradictory. The Wolverine in the first seems like a bit of a klutz, somebody who keeps messing up and gets no respect from the likes of Osborn, who half the time wants to dispense with his services using extreme prejudice. And in the second story he seems far more in charge and calculating, which made the character a lot more interesting. Overall I found the first story a bit contrived and at times confusing, while the second grabbed my interest from the start and with its low key telling, the moral choices involved, and what we learn of Daken’s past and psychology (though even here there seems room for ambiguity) made far more of an impact. Overall I think my main problem with the book was the personality of Osborn who seemed like a J. Jonah Jameson clone put in charge of national security instead of a newspaper. He was a little bit too much the raging, champing at the bit, common or garden megalomaniac for my liking, and his stereotypical presence undermined much of the rest. Some excellent artwork on show, with colour tones that are muted but don’t go quite as far into the dark side of the palette as Noir did.