Wolverine: Older, Grimmer, Clintier
A quick recap for those of you in need; writer Mark Miller and superstar artist Steve McNiven craft an 8 issue tail set in Wolverine’s future. Series runs late. Series wraps up in ‘Giant Sized’ final issue. And here we are, all covered in recap.
Hang on, despite coating you in sticky recap I didn’t mention the premise, did I? In essence it’s a future Western, with a now pacifist Wolverine coming out of retirement for one last job to get the money he needs to keep the local Hulk Gang off his families collective backs. This all occurs fifty or so years from now where the bad guys have won, Nazi lollipop the Red Skull runs the USA and all TV channels only show reruns of My Two Dads and Blossom.
The preceding seven issues have seen Logan make his way across the USA with an old comrade in arms, running across various remnants and perversions of the Marvel Universe we know and spend too much money on. After various misadventures we learn why Wolverine has sheathed his claws for good, see him complete his mission (in a manner of speaking) and finally make his way home with the money to pay off his oppressors.
Which of course leaves this issue so if that had all worked out well we probably wouldn’t need this Giant Sized! conclusion. Given that the redemptive western vibe you would have to be a bit of a dope not to predict that in Wolverine’s absence the Hulk gang have provided a pretty good reason for him to finally, finally, 7 bloody issues later, pop his death cutlery.
So Wolverine bows out (or does he?) as he began in a violent throw down with the Hulk and his various offspring. The reason for the Hulk’s switch to villainy is dealt with in a rather dismissive manner so that we can get on with some fantastically rendered violence.
And that’s pretty much what this issue is all about – Steve McNiven displaying Wolverine in all his gory glory as he rips through an army of junior Hulks before coming face to face with the real deal. In some ways this seems a bit un-ambitious, especially for a five dollar comic but this conclusion has been building for 7 issues now and the end result is suitably cathartic.
Whilst the art play the primary role here (also true of the extras) there is a nice moment of dialogue when the Hulk finally emerges and some requisite closing reflection after the dust settles which closes out the story nicely, although the final image hammers home the themes of the series in a thoroughly predictable fashion.
And that is the reasons I struggle with this series. Whilst a dystopian future spin on the Marvel Universe is usually fun, the tale that has been woven within this future is too easy to anticipate. Wolverine is a pacifist and goes on one last mission. You know it will end in redemptive violence and you know you will find out why he has sheathed his murder scissors. Yes there are some distractions along the way, but the key story beats are telegraphed from the start.
This doesn’t ruin the story by any stretch; anticipation can be as compelling as mystery. And when the key events happen they are well handled, and a journey with McNiven through a ravaged Marvel Universe is nothing to be sniffed at. What’s more – while the story runs as expected, its still Wolverine played by/playing Clint Eastwood and if you are a fan of Logan it’s hard not to fall for that.
So in the end, my real struggle is that I find myself liking this despite the fact it never truly surprises as a story. I guess I just like little guys with knives that come out of their hands who fight big green monsters in the future. It’s certainly not the best Wolverine tale ever told, but if you are a fan of the hairy little bugger, this isn’t a bad way to while away the time.
At least until your own predictable future comes true.