Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wolverine #1-#4: "Not Very Nice"

And so we come, at long last, to the first of many X-Men spin-offs †, the Wolverine mini-series, by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. Four issues, cover-dated September to December 1982.

I've gone through this era of Uncanny before, but this was completely new to me. It is an important piece in building the lore of Wolverine, and is going to form the basis of the 2013 Wolverine film.

Wolverine's letters to Mariko are bouncing, and he goes to Japan to investigate. He finds she's been married off, and is drawn into a web of intrigue. Significantly, this is the first X-Men comic to feature no traditional comic book villains (i.e. no robots, demons, mutants, etc) - just regular ninjas.

The series is narrated by Wolverine. We get the "I am the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice" quote coined here, and definite confirmation that his mutant power is the healing thing. And he's been around the block a few times, as his friendship with Asano indicates. But this is not quite the 1990s Man of Mystery Wolverine. He's not been mindwiped, for one - when he contrasts Mariko's dynastic pedigree to his own, he knows who his father is, even if he doesn't tell us.

The resolution is a combination of KILL ALL THE NINJAS! (the body count exceeds X-Men's total in 19 years, probably) but more improtantly Wolverine realising he's not an animal, that he can strive to be better than that. But then, we've never really seen Wolverine as an animal. From almost his very introduction into this series, he's been railing against his imagined confines - remember him touching the deer in #109?

The art is fantastic in this, and only the colouring gives away its age. It's far more confident in using the art to tell the story than Uncanny was in this era. Beat panels, entire silent sequences (the fight in issue #4, punctuated by a Snikt), and it absolutely manages to invoke an atmosphere, even a mood - not something I'd ever have accused Uncanny of managing. Otherwise, there's general toning down of Claremont's typical wordiness (Wolverine is narrating, after all). This is way ahead of what Uncanny was doing at the time, and I'm looking forward to see it catch up.

† I exclude Dazzler here, since she was a pre-existing concept that was inserted into X-Men to launch from, rather than deriving organically from tales of X.

No comments:

Post a Comment