Wolverine Goes to Hell
Martin Skidmore — 01-Feb-11
Deeply unimpressed as I was by Aaron’s start on Ultimate Captain America, this bargain collection of the first three issues of his Wolverine tempted me to try again. It is better, but I am still not terribly keen.
The story is confusing: after a few pages of dull conversation with Wraith, Logan is taken to Hell by means we are not shown, for reasons not revealed at all. His body is possessed by something, probably demonic, and is trying to kill the people he cares most about as some kind of punishment for him, as is some other organisation run by people who seem to be new, for some undefined reason. Mystique is trying to save the day, for reasons she declines to reveal, and she seems to be allied in ways not explained with Daimon Hellstrom and some Ghost Riders (can someone stop Marvel creating multiple versions of every successful character, please?). The bad guys seem to succeed only with killing the Silver Samurai – I’m not clear on how much Logan cares about him.
So basically what we get is scenes of various people being attacked with limited success by the possessed Wolverine’s body or generic supergoons, interspersed with Wolverine’s soul being tortured in hell. These scenes are particularly unpleasant to read, both because of the relentless nastiness, but also because of failures of nerve. I know this is a general-audience Marvel comic, but the really obvious points where the Devil (how many Hells with how many different rulers does Marvel have by now?) drops the ball and wimps out of really effective ways to torture him make this really weak, despite the attempted grimness. Why try something at all in a story if you know you can’t do it properly?
It’s impossible to make much sense of this – the Hell scenes fall flat, and just about every question is unanswered. Maybe it will be in due course, but we could do with something along the way. It’s all very well writing for trades, but skilled writers know how to keep you interested issue by issue, perhaps revealing things that just raise other questions, drip-feeding info to keep us intrigued. This does none of that, which is not good enough across three issues.
After all that negativity, I should say that it’s not all bad: the dialogue is solid enough, he gets the characters I know right, and Wolverine gets a chance to show his strength, endurance and defiance in strong ways – I thought he got Ultimate Cap very wrong, but he gets Wolverine exactly right. Other characters get good scenes too, particularly Logan’s current love interest.
The art is varied: the main stories are pencilled by Renato Guedes, who narrates the story smoothly enough, and offers some strong panels, plus making the Hell scenes feel like a distinct realm, although I wish he gave us a slightly better range of facial expressions (he does do bodies well). Each of the three issues herein also has a backup story related to the main plot: I’m very taken with Jason Latour’s extremely striking and original work on the story killing the Silver Samurai, helped a lot by the red, yellow and black colours by Rico Renzi.
This isn’t a bad comic by any means – and I’ve read plenty of those recently – but the Hell scenes fall fatally short of what they obviously needed to be, and the rest is just things happening without reasons given. You’d need to have a lot more faith in Aaron’s writing than I do to keep reading in the hope that the revelations will be satisfying enough to worth waiting for.