Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic, Frank Martin and Matt Wilson
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Weighing in at triple the size of a standard Marvel comic book, there’s no disputing that Wolverine #1 is working to give you plenty of bang for your buck, especially with artists like Adam Kubert and Viktor Bogdanovic delivering some sensational visuals — but just as Logan feels unsettled in the greater confines of Krakoa, one can’t help but feel like writer Benjamin Percy is searching for the right direction for the X-Men’s resident berserker. Wolverine is a warrior adrift in peacetime, and while Percy has positioned him nicely in the context of his ongoing X-Force series, Logan’s newly reborn solo series still feels like it’s warming up.
With clones, children, and old men filling in for the Ol’ Canucklehead since his untimely demise back in 2014, it’s easy to forget what makes Logan the real deal - but for the most part, Percy’s story doesn’t really delve into Wolverine as a character, particularly since it’s been so long since he’s headlined a series of his own. But as a result, both of Percy’s plot-heavy stories can drag at times - there’s little that feels intrinsic to Wolverine as a character, and not only does the hazy high concepts mean there’s little to illuminate who Logan is following his rebirth and the creation of Krakoa, but it means the enemies he faces never get enough development to pose a threat.
The first story, in many ways, feels like a spinoff of Percy’s X-Force series, as Logan leads his black ops team on a brutal mission to track down synthetic Krakoan pollen - but even with the expanded page count, the story moves in fits and starts, as Percy tries to weave in exposition, boilerplate investigative techniques, and a brand-new mind-controlling villain that feels a little less than inspired. And surprisingly, it’s a little bit of an uneven showing from Adam Kubert, as well - while he makes the grisly image of the butchered X-Force look particularly harrowing, he struggles with some of Percy’s denser pages, with a scene of Logan putting heads together with Sage suffering under some strange, circular layouts.
Yet I’d argue that while it’s still imperfect, Percy makes a much better showing with his second story, drawn impeccably by Viktor Bogdanovic. For my money, I think this series is going to catapult Bogdanovic’s career the same way that Superior Spider-Man and Venom did for Ryan Stegman - this is some career-making artwork here, as Bogdanovic takes some visual vocabulary from Batman and translates its nicely into Wolverine’s berserker rage. It also helps that Percy introduces some more familiar villains to welcome Logan back to the land of the living - given Sabretooth’s incarceration in the pages of House of X, it’s a smart move on Percy’s part to reposition Omega Red as Wolverine’s moral opposite. (And the way that Bogdanovic portrays him? Superb.)
That said, I do think that Percy gilds the lily a bit, since Omega Red winds up not being the central villain of the story - and in that regard, we still hit that same hurdle of what makes this a distinctly Wolverine story? Moreso than the opening story, Percy uses those Hickman-era text pages to give us at least a tenuous link between Wolverine and his off-kilter villain, but admittedly, it feels like a bit of a reach. Without spoiling anything, you can’t blame Percy for using a villain that at least has some connection to the X-Men, but out of all the villains they’ve ever faced, this one in particular has always felt like the hardest sell.
Given the embarrassment of riches on the art front, enhanced by a whopping 60 pages of story, Wolverine #1 is a solid start for this new X-title - but given how long the classic Wolverine has been on the continuity bench, it’s easy to feel like “solid” isn’t enough. Given how deliberate the directions of many of the Dawn of X series have been, Wolverine doesn’t soar to the levels of the flagship X-Men title, or even Percy’s superlative work over on X-Force. With the A-list art teams working on this book, there’s plenty of margin for a shaky narrative, but I’m hoping with future installments, the writing steps up to give Kubert and Bogdanovic a story worthy of their immense talents.