Best Shots Review: WEAPON X #1 The 'Antithesis' Of A WOLVERINE Story (5/10)

"Weapon X #1" preview
Credit: Greg Land (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Greg Land (Marvel Comics)

Weapon X #1
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Frank D’Armata
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Credit: Greg Land (Marvel Comics)

If Logan stood as a reminder that superhero stories, and specifically Wolverine stories, could be moving and emotionally resounding, then Greg Pak and Greg Land’s Weapon X stands almost as its antithesis. Now obviously, their specific goals as pieces of art are a bit different but the general goal remains the same: tell a good story. And it’s not clear that’s what Pak and Land are doing here. Pak’s story never really gets going and Land’s visuals are as pedestrian as we’ve come to expect from him in recent years. Weapon X might be the first true dud of "ResurrXion," which is alarming considering it stars, arguably, the most popular X-Man.

When you think Wolverine, it’s almost impossible not to think of his trademark claws. And when you think about Wolvie’s toughest foes, they’ve usually got claws, too. So Greg Pak puts together a roster that’s three parts claw bearers and two parts of an old X-Force line-up. In theory, that sounds like a lot of fun. But Pak can’t even get through the “getting the team together” part of his plot in this issue. Considering that the conceit is so simple, (“mysterious organization looking to create perfect weapons hunts down a specific group of mutants”) it’d be nice if the pacing was a little bit quicker. Old Man Logan isn’t a great point of view character and a less-powered version of Wolverine is just kind of a drag. Sandwiched between a couple of fight sequences with no stakes or imagination, we’re treated to page turning scenes such as Wolverine... using a computer in a library? Yeah. It’s really riveting stuff.

Credit: Greg Land (Marvel Comics)

There is some mystery and intrigue being built. We don’t know who this organization is. We don’t know why they want these five specific mutants. There’s a lot we don’t know. But that’s not a lot for readers to sink their teeth into. Mysteries are essential to Wolverine but as more and more of his have been revealed,it’s taken the edge off the character.

Land doesn’t do Pak any favors. The artist is known for his speed but his style is about as bland as can be. At best, Jay Leisten’s inks turn Land’s pencils into something of an homage to Mike Deodato Jr. but only in scenes where the light is lower, allowing for shadows to take over. Without the darkness to lean on, it’s easy to find the art wanting. Land’s expression work, especially with female characters, is cringeworthy. His fight choreography is tedious. And while a couple of layouts have an inkling of imagination to them (such as a series of slanted panels during a fight scene that features a lot of claws), they still aren’t always effective. The result is a book that looks sloppy and rushed rather than a top tier title in a line that’s getting an important relaunch.

Credit: Greg Land (Marvel Comics)

Weapon X feels like it should be the popcorn movie title of the new X-line but it never gets out of it’s own way enough to be fun or interesting. And that strikes me as a little bit strange. Pak has delivered that type of story before with Wolverine’s first nemesis, the Hulk. He’s also done a lot more thoughtful work in the pages of Action Comics. So far Weapon X doesn’t feel like it’s keying in on any of Pak’s strengths, instead lurching through the motions of well-worn conceit. Pairing Pak with Land is the opposite of what most readers were hoping for when they heard the X-line was getting a relaunch. Land has been good in the past but it’s been years since he’s made challenging, meaningful art. Comics is a visual medium, first and foremost. This is just an uninspired effort all around.

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