Wolverine #2 is a confusing book. Like the first issue in the famous canuck’s new solo series, it feels like it’s split into two, with an opening that excites and an issue that doesn’t.
Adam Kubert (artist), Frank Martin (colorist), Tom Mueller (designer), Benjamin Percy (writer), Cory Petit (letterer)
March 25, 2020
Though Wolverine #1 was an 80-page special which featured two stories, Wolverine #2 is a standard 22-page book which makes the confusing choice of following the lesser of the two stories from the first issue. Fans who were desperate to know more about Wolverine’s vampiric/vampire-curing blood will have to wait as that outrageous but entertaining storyline is nowhere to be seen here. Instead, we follow the questionable and dated X-Men war on drugs plotline that will apparently be the focus of this ongoing series.
Though I have so far not been wowed by this series, the first three pages of this issue are brilliant. Kubert and Martin bring a style to the shocking intro that feels fresh and vibrant. The first page has a space and vastness to it which feels refreshing after the often text-heavy first issue and the follow-up double page spread shows a mastery of multiple panels that’s actually quite exciting. Also as a huge fan of Bishop it’s fun to see him pop up here even if it is as a part of this Robocop 2-esque plot about a new drug made from Krakoan flowers. Zombie Kate Pryde added an interesting new horror-tinged flavor to the weird X-Men-as-narcs plotline.
“A pretty smile can hide an ugly word… …and a devil’s face can hide a big bleeding heart.” These two captions started off the post-title page and well… it didn’t get better. As we once again see Wolverine killing his friends in the X-Men (for the second time in two issues), Percy attempts to give him a Blade Runner “Tears in Rain” style monologue and it definitely did not add anything to Kubert and Martin’s art for this reviewer. Though I have seen Wolverine kill his friends many, many times over the years, there is at least a movement and motion in these pages which is a little kinetic and it feels like the emotional impact of them would have been far greater without Wolverine waxing lyrical about steakhouses and stalagmites.
Speaking of emotional impact, guess who didn’t really kill all his friends?? That’s right, it’s Wolverine, who has apparently just been having bad dreams and is being healed in Krakoa. But also actually HE DID kill his friends he was just dreaming about when he really did kill them. And if that wasn’t enough surprises for you it turns out that awesome opening was also probably just a dream. It’s incredibly unclear. The twists. The turns. As you can imagine Scott isn’t too happy that Wolverine killed their polyamorous wife again, so that’s one Canadian hero who isn’t getting laid until Jean is out of the egg at the Hatchery.
After Scott and Wolverine face down at the Hatchery, things get a little more incoherent. Maybe this book isn’t for me. I have little to no interest in a dense Wolverine noir-light where he’s basically a Canadian Donny Brasco but who it turns out is double crossing the cops (X-Men) rather than the drug dealers. From his red eyes and the apparent influence of the mysterious “Pale Woman”–like all women in this series, she is mysterious as we spend little to no time with her–Wolverine is probably under the influence of someone evil… how shocking.
Marvel Comics, Wolverine #2 written by Benjamin Percy, art by Adam Kubert and Frank Martin, Letters by Cory Petit.
If this is the norm for Big Two comics now–beautiful art tied to dark and dreary “real world” stories, some kind of post-post-post Watchmen trend–then can we possibly get an alt-world line where we get to focus on character? Wolverine has always been one of the most interesting X-Men because he’s cranky, kind, and loves his fellow mutants. Dad-verine can still have adventures. Heck, he can still kill people, but hasn’t he spent enough time as the weapon of other more powerful people? I for one have definitely seen that story play out far too often.
Also, honestly… an X-Men war on drug storyline?? What year is this???? I was hoping the second issue might reveal some subversion of this overwrought and often problematic trope but alas that whole situation still seems to be chugging along as the main narrative of this book. Who knows what will happen in Wolverine #3. Maybe we’ll learn more about his blood? Or maybe we’ll be reminded how dangerous drugs and where they come from–the island of Krakoa which was recently made a haven for the oppressed–truly are? Cool.