I mean, I guess.
Scot Eaton (Artist), JP Mayer (Inker), Tom Muller (Design), Benjamin Percy (Writer), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Matthew Wilson (Colorist)
April 14, 2021
There’s a version of me who, if you told her that Wolverine would be going wild on a bunch of vampire covens on an eventual path to Dracula, would be ecstatic. I love vampires, like I LOVE vampires. I watched every season of The Vampire Diaries AND The Originals! I watched True Blood! I literally was part of an online vampire roleplay community for years!
Cut to last week. I read this issue in full, then did my usual bit of setting it aside while I thought about what to say. Except, I didn’t. I completely forgot this issue existed. Kayleigh, our perfect reviews editor, checked in with me last night about it, and I had forgotten it so completely that I had to reread it this morning, because not one bit of it stuck in my mind. On review (heh), I think I’ve figured out the reason for it. The story isn’t invested in itself—the first several pages involve Wolverine tracking covens to exterminate vampires, like I said, but then it’s followed by a data page—before the title page even—that details he’s just doing this over and over. I almost feel like it’s something a montage of panels would’ve handled better; give us some art to associate with that instead of just a weary laconic bit of text. The story doesn’t feel invested in its title character’s exploits, and that’s the way the issue starts.
Back on Krakoa, Omega Red stumbles around and briefly terrorizes some mutant children, not in the “evil supervillain” way, but instead in the “why is this strange large man yelling” way (okay, a little in the “evil supervillain” way), before leaving through a gate to reconnect with Dracula, in a follow up to a plot point from X-Force back in…December. In my review of that, I specifically mentioned the sheer amount of plates that Percy is spinning right now between the two books, and while that’s impressive, it might be time to let one or two of them fall. It’s frustrating to see a plot point like this Omega Red one left hanging for four months while other things happen—it would be one thing if it were the resolution of an arc with some rest time and then the start of a new one, but it doesn’t feel that way; instead it feels like a cliffhanger left so long that all the immediacy is gone. The same is true of the issue’s other guest star, Louise of the Parisian Nightguard, who we haven’t seen since…what, the backup stories from the beginning of this run? It’s true that a good book goes back and revisits characters to establish relationships over time, but again, there has to be a sense for the ebb and flow of story involved, and the trouble is that none of these stories are ebbing—none of them are making room for one another.
It doesn’t help that for the last several issues, Wolverine has lacked a coherent visual identity. We’ve gone from Victor Bogdanovic to Adam Kubert, and now to Scot Eaton. Eaton’s work feels rough, sketchy, but not really in an appealing way here; character faces change shape from one panel to the next, mouths droop in strange ways. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not as good as the sort of art we’ve come to expect on the X-line lately. It’s helped though by colorist Matt Wilson, who is unreservedly an expert in his craft, and lends the book tones that fit the moods of each scene he applies them too, as well as helping to adhere the identity of the book to that of X-Force and its similarly sublime color work.
I continue to struggle with Wolverine. I don’t think it’s a bad book, but I question its necessity, and whether it splits Percy’s focus from X-Force too much. But the flipside of that is how many of X-Force‘s plots run off into this book; clearly they need somewhere to go. The real question is, should they go into a second book, or should a sterner editorial hand send them right to the cutting room floor?