The start of a new story arc in Savage Wolverine, issue #21 jumps to the battlements of France in World War I in 1918. Wolverine, having been around at that point for almost 40 years (by most accounts of his birth) fits right into the setting and sets up what should be another intriguing story from this line.
Savage Wolverine reminds me a lot of the 90’s book X-Men Unlimited, but cooler because it just deals with Wolverine. I only make this parallel because both comics dealt with the stories between the stories. If you collected the X-Men line, or you have collected any of Wolverine’s solo titles, you know the adventures that they’ve been on, and their implications on the Marvel Universe as a whole. But what of the down time these characters have? Or the adventures that don’t necessarily impact the greater story, but are still something the characters faced? That was what X-Men Unlimited dealt with and that is what Savage Wolverine deals with.
Since the series began we have been privy to Wolverine in the Savage Land in the present (2013 at the time), to a romp on an alien planet sometime earlier than that, and even an adventure in Canada in the 1930’s. This entire line has been a look into the auxiliary stories that pepper the tumultuous life of Logan.
This story is centered around The Great War, and we see Wolverine thrust into conflict as a Canadian soldier. He has, of course, famously fought in World War II alongside Captain America, but this precedes that. John Arcudi does a decent job of giving us the man we know in situations like this; rash, questioning authority and charging headlong into battle. While some points in Logan’s memories he was so mind controlled he forgot about his claws, this is not one of those times. His entire regiment not only knows about his claws and penchant for not dying from bullet wounds, but also utilizes him to lead raids with those strategies in mind. He is paired in his unit with a crippled soldier who exhibits a form of telepathy, mirroring the Charles Xavier/Wolverine dynamic, but with Wolverine in charge instead for this instance. The script is fun and does a good job of setting the scene of war and also an adventure to be hashed out in subsequent issues.
The art is also done well, as Joe Quinones uses the colors usually associated with the time period. Muted browns, brass, blacks and greens give the entire book a period feel, and the few times Wolverine allows his savagery to come out, the pages are splashed with a red hue to convey the idea even further. The old school feel is also apparent in the pacing of the panels, with cuts to silhouettes to floating heads to full characters to full scenes.
The ‘Best There Is’:
The pace and feel of the comic overall is really nice. The script paired with the color scheme gives the reader a warm feeling of nostalgia, even though they weren’t alive during the early 1900’s. It’s also nice to see Wolverine use his claws (bone claws to boot) out in the open.
So many times from his memories does he forget about his powers because of brainwashing, or conditioning, or both. When he charges down the Germans with his claws popped in front of his regiment it makes for a welcomed and powerful image. Also the cyclical way this issue works is real nice when you go from the first page to the last.
The ‘Isn’t Very Nice’:
In my honest opinion, this story almost seems trite and done before. The benefit of the doubt one hundred percent goes to this being the first chapter of this arc, and honestly I am not sure where it might go. The inclusion of a telepath, a crippled one at that, is mirroring the X-Men dynamic but almost in a “do you get what we are doing?” kind of way. Also, the tried but true characterization of Logan being brash with commanding officers and jumping headfirst into the briar patch has been done ad nauseum. But, again, I have my guesses as to where this story will go, but only by reading the next issue will I be vindicated or pleasantly surprised.
Regardless of this specific story, this series has been a real fun one to collect and read. Obviously in part because of my affinity towards Wolverine, but also because it isn’t so deeply rooted in his struggles, or the events that plague the Marvel Universe on the whole. These stories all stand alone, and give the reader a new angle to look at this character. I personally hope that this line continues after his inevitable death that is so rapidly approaching in his main line. I am actually looking forward to the next issue as well, because even if the story of Wolverine in the army has been done six ways to Sunday, I am always ready for a seventh.
CBH Score: 3.6 out of 5. For a story about war, I wanted more blood.