Monday, March 14, 2005

Wolverine (vol. III) 20 - 25

There was so much hype surrounding this Wolverine arc that I almost decided not to read it simply because hyped up projects from Marvel are usually horribly contrived, really dumb, or a combination of the two. I've also never been a huge Millar or Romita, Jr. fan so that also was a turnoff for me, but since I had preordered the issues blindly (I kept forgetting to drop the title, but I finally remembered to with issue 26) I wasn't going to just let these issues sit. I didn't spend money on them for nothing.

Oddly enough, even though this is in Wolverine's solo title and he would naturally have the biggest role in the story, it really didn't turn out that way. Sure, Wolverine was the crux of the entire story, but most of the focus was on Millar finding ways to include all kinds of guest stars and integrate them into Wolverine's mad rampage throughout the Marvel universe. Frankly, I'm glad that the focus wasn't always on Wolverine because I'm really tired of the character in general.

So Wolverine is captured by Hydra, supposedly killed and brought back to life, and is then programmed to be Hydra's personal killing machine. After his programming, Wolverine starts his violent assault on the various superheroes that Hydra thinks they could use to help their causes. There's appearances by Elektra, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Nick Fury, Baron Strucker, some guy named Gorgon, and small appearances by Iron Man, Captain America, and a few others.

As an action based arc, it succeeds, but what really got on my nerves was Wolverine's inner monologue where his consciousness was supposedly battling the Hydra programming. It always came off somewhat forced and felt very lame. The dialogue between characters was basic Millar--curt, snarky, and sharp. A big focus of the story was on Elektra and Nick Fury, which I really enjoyed because they are both characters that I wished had larger exposure in the Marvel Universe.

Now as for the big character death that Marvel kept hyping... it was really, really dumb and completely forced. So Northstar gets Wolvie's claws to the chest and bites the big one. Woop-dee-do. Did anyone really care about Northstar anyways? Yeah, he was somewhat high profile because he was a gay superhero, and I'm sure many homosexual supporters will see this as Millar's slamming of the homosexual community, but I really don't think it matters. Northstar's death has about as much impact as if it was Jubilee or Sleepwalker or the Jack of Hearts or any other grade C or below character dying. For all the hype, it was really dumb.

In the art department, Romita, Jr. was supposed to bring back the gritty and dark tone of Wolverine comics from the past, but I just find his work underdeveloped, blocky, and not all that good. It is not terrible, but it's far from being the second coming of Christ, which is seems to equate to in some people's minds. It works, I suppose, but I'd rather see a ton of other artists doing Wolverine before Romita, Jr. On second thought, though, I'm glad that Romita, Jr. is on Wolverine because that's one less title I like reading that he has a chance of being on.

In the end, this arc definitely didn't live up to all the hype, but as a purely action oriented romp through the Marvel universe, it's a decent read. It's not going to be a memorable story in any way, but it's a good way to waste a few minutes while you're sitting on the john taking a dookie.

Art: 3.25
Story: 3
Overall: 3

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