Best Shots Advance Review: Frank Cho's SAVAGE WOLVERINE #1


Savage Wolverine #1

Written by Frank Cho

Art by Frank Cho and Jason Keith

Letters by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Click here for preview

On sale Jan. 16

I'm not the biggest Wolverine fan in the world, but when word of Frank Cho's Wolverine vs. dinosaurs pulp adventure Savage Wolverine hit, I got more than a little excited. Marvel NOW! has tended to take characters and place them in far corners or strange lands and let them find adventure unencumbered by interconnectivity or continuity, and Wolverine seems like a prime candidate for some off the wall fun. And Savage Wolverine is fun, drawing primarily on Cho's art as its star. While Cho's scripting needs some work — mainly his tendency to use Wolverine's narration rather than actual dialogue or the aforementioned art to move the story — there's a primal enjoyment of seeing Wolverine run wild in the Savage Land, facing down all of its inherent dangers, including, yes, an itinerant Velociraptor.

Savage Wolverine's main draw is that it simply doesn't withhold its thrills. After the briefest of introductions to the cursed island on which the story takes place via a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives, it's all-killer no-filler as Wolverine finds himself tearing through the same island. There's not really an explanation as to how Wolverine wound up where he is, and he gives that mystery little thought as he is immediately face to face with some hungry, carnivorous thunder lizards. While it's nice when a title knows its audience enough to simply make with the dinosaur fights, some more attention on Wolverine's part to his predicament might have been in order.

There's very little about Wolverine's intentions that we aren't privy to, however, as the story is guided by an interior monologue as hard boiled as Wolvie's adamantium bones. The problem with the narration isn't the tone — Cho is clearly nurturing a pulpy, almost noirish style — but that it so often simply isn't necessary in comparison with Cho's visually informative art, which propels the story fine on its own. The narration often undercuts actual character interaction or story development — it's one thing to be told that Wolverine has discovered something and quite another to see it unfold, especially with art as strong as Cho's.

It's hard to say enough about the strength of Cho's art, bolstered by Jason Keith's bold, elucidating colors. Giving Cho Wolverine and letting him play in the Savage Land is a genius move on Marvel's part, allowing him to draw and explore just about everything that makes up his bread and butter, including Shanna, the She-Devil, whose portrayal as Wolverine's savage equal almost balances Cho's delightfully cheese-cakey rendering. The real strength of Cho's art, other than his beloved apes and babes, is its capacity for storytelling. His panels work hard to draw the eye, allowing the characters' body language and the tempo of the action to convey almost everything you need to know, making his over-the-top narrative captions ever more frustrating. 

Frank Cho's Savage Wolverine #1 doesn't quite rank with the best of Marvel NOW! so far, but it builds enough good will from Cho's gorgeous art and strong visual storytelling to make up for its over-worked narration. It's a good job that Savage Wolverine dives headlong into the action that will almost certainly warrant the price of admission, because too much time spent dwelling on getting to the party would have scuttled this issue before it even launched. Part of Wolverine's strength as a character is that, like the best pulp heroes and mystery men before him, you can almost always get a good story simply by dropping him in a new locale, and letting him be the best there is at what he does. Right now, there's enough joy in Savage Wolverine simply based on Frank Cho's fluid visual interpretation of that equation to make this book worthwhile, but he's gonna have to work hard not to crush himself under the weight of his own script.

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