Graphic Novel Review: Savage Wolverine: Wrath

06:50 15 July 2014

Savage Wolverine: Wrath

Savage Wolverine: Wrath

Archant

Top creators put their own spin on the X-Man

(Panini Books)

Following a similar format to the late, lamented Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight book, which presented tales from the long career of the caped crusader, Savage Wolverine appears to be a similar vehicle for the clawed Canuck, offering a variety of creators scope to present their own relatively continuity-free stories about the X-Man.

As with any format of this nature, the stories can be very hit-and-miss depending who is at the helm, and the quality has certainly fluctuated over the previous two volumes, a trend which certainly continues here.

The first story hangs on hammering home a message about poaching animals into extinction, and features the unlikely scenario of Logan maintaining a friendship with an African elephant for the best part of a century. Also drawing on his time undercover on the criminal island of Madripoor, it’s far too unsubtle to succeed, and feels in a way like public service broadcasting via comics. Still, the art is nice, which is ironic as this two-parter is actually written by someone better known for his illustrative talents, Phil Jimenez, who here takes on both duties.

Much more successful is a Depression era gangster epic set in the dying days of Prohibition written and drawn by Richard J Isanove.

It finds Logan honouring a debt to an old comrade from WWI who is killed by mobsters when he refuses to give them a cut of his contrabrand. Having vowed to protect his army buddy’s family at any cost, the man who will become Wolverine finds himself mixed up with corrupt cops, vicious hoodlums and a surrogate family of his own.

It’s powerful stuff, and plays on the historical aspects perfectly, using the period to influence the story rather than just as a backdrop. The artwork is richly atmospheric, and does a particularly good job of capturing the devastating power of a dustbowl sandstorm, with plenty of brown hues mixed into the palette.

There’s obviously a lot of scope for stories from the long life of James “Logan” Howlett, especially in view of the forthcoming Death of Wolverine storyline which promises to kill off the character in the modern day Marvel Universe (albeit temporarily, as nobody expects him to permanently disappear).

The success or failure of this series in the long term will rest on the talent pool used, and whether they are given enough editorial guidance to produce a story worthy of this format, rather than a hack job which is little more than a waste of good paper.

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