Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws II

As the roman numerals after the title indicates, this is the sequel to the 2006 miniseries of the same title, first serialized last year. Unsurprisingly, I did not like it as much as I liked the original, in large part because so much of what I liked about the original was the way it surprised me: My general unfamiliarity with what a skilled comics artist Joe Linsner was, how much fun Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's script turned out to be, the fact that they managed to find a new character without a long history of Wolverine team-ups to play off the character with a sort of superhero screwball comedy rapport, the nature of the Kraven appearances and the true villain behind the plot. That plot, too, was a lot more straightforward, or standalone: It was essentially just Wolverine in The Black Cat in "The Most Dangerous Game."

This three-issue sequel picks up immediately after the events of that miniseries, with the title characters finishing the date they started at the end of the previous one; they save the restaurant from a robbery, eat dinner, totally do it.

The villains are still stranded in the Savage Land, where they were left to die buy dinosaur ingestion, but manage to escape and cause problems for our heroes by, rather randomly, finding an alien spaceship from the future, and using a time-travel doohickey from it to send Wolvie and Black Cat into the pages of Amazing Adventures #18
through #39
or thereabouts.

As a sequel, it is therefore a very strange one, in that rather than featuring the titular team-up front-and-center, they themselves team-up with the cast of another, long defunct Marvel comics feature (which does get revived here and there rather regularly, I suppose), in Killraven and his running crew.
The plotting is fine, but the chemistry of the leads has mostly evaporated after the consummation of all their flirtation, and much of their exchanges amount to little more than leering at one another, alluding back to that time at the beginning when they totally did it and how they are eager to do it again.

What it does have going for it is Linsner's superb art, which has to be the main reason anyone reading this book is reading it in the first place. As I stated in the review of the previous volume, he is a perfect superhero comic book artist, and his many virtues in that arena are on display throughout.

Our heroes are costume-less, due to the fact that they came right from a date, so Black Cat spends the majority of book in her evening gown (plus a domino mask she keeps in her handbag), while Wolvie is naked from the waist up.
Once again Linsner demonstrates facility with the female form, drawing breasts that actually look and move like human breasts (whey, they even have nipples, something I wasn't sure women in the DC Universe or Marvel Universe actually had, like women here on Earth-Prime do!). And their sometimes pervy dialogue aside, Linsner manages to bring a old-school pin-up sense of flirtiness and fun to his drawings of sexy ladies, rather than the sort of creepy, exploitive quality that dominates so many superhero books; you know, that quality that makes you feel a little queasy while you're reading, worrying if everything is okay with the artist in his personal life and/or how his childhood was, and sort of hoping no one looks over your shoulder and asks what you're reading (I don't know about you, but I'd feel more comfortable being seen on a park bench reading something with a cover like this
or this
than, oh, I don't know, this
There's a scene where the characters have to swim through (mildly) acidic water to get to their destination, and when presented with an opportunity to draw Black Cat's dress eaten away by acid, barely even trims it:
(Killraven, who is under the acid-water longest, having become entangled in a robot eel monster, has almost zero damage to his clothes, but then I guess he's mostly wearing metal anyway.
As with the first volume, the best part is not only Linsner's art, but the subtleties in it (in the above panel, for example, note the look on his girlfriend's face as she regards Black Cat regarding K.R.), and there's a scene I feel forced to call bullshit on.

In the first volume, it was Wolverine hurling Black Cat into a helicopter flying above as if she were a baseball (he doesn't even need two hands!), here it's Black Cat catching a 300-pound Wolverine after he falls to the ground after being hurtled into the air by an explosion...
...and not being squished. Not only is that full-grown, all-muscle man, but the dude has a metal skeleton!

The collection also includes a 2001 Killraven one-shot, entitled "Killraven: 2020," which was both written and illustrated by Linsner (which explains its presence here).

It's...nothing special really, although the art is pretty (a little too pretty, when it comes to Killraven's long, shampoo commercial-perfect locks), and its presence here does allow one to get a sense how the artist's work has evolved over the last ten years or so.


Before I call it a post, here's two more scans of neat little scenes that I think are pretty illustrative of the charms of Linsner's work on these Claws comics.

First, here's Wolverine trading high fives with Killraven:
I, like just about anyone else who reads superhero comics, have read a lot of comics with Wolverine in them. And yet I don't think I've ever seen a scene like that. What's noteworthy is that it's just some action in the background...something Linsner draws while Black Cat and one of the future ladies have a conversation about their superhero love interests.

Even when it's more-or-less standard genre chore stuff, the artwork makes it worth reading.

And second, here's Wolverine having a standard superhero conversation with the time-traveling alien lady...while totally checking out Black Cat's butt:
You know, I can't recall seeing Wolvie ogling a lady like that least, not while making that face.

1 comment:

Nick Ahlhelm said...

Pretty sure Black Cat there is actually a reference to the Domino Lady of all things... which is a weird choice for a Wolverine & Black Cat team with Killraven story.