Last night I talked a little bit about how difficult it can be to catch up on some series in trade when the publisher publishes particular stories in multiple titles, collects them under different names or does something weird with the number, like having two consecutive collections of Batman Inc both labeled "Volume 1."
Here's another series I've had trouble following: Writer Jason Aaron's Wolverine comics. He wrote an arc of a comic called Wolverine (Collected as Wolverine: Get Mystique. Then he got his own Wolverine series, a new book entitled Wolverine: Weapon X. That lasted 16 issues, and I want to say it generated about three trade collections. Then, after Weapon X was canceled, he wrote a brand-new volume of a series simply entitled Wolverine.
Figuring out what titles Jason Aaron wrote and what order to read them in can be a bit tricky; certainly more tricky than figuring out the reading order of, say, Eiichiro Oda's One Piece, which are all entitled One Piece and assigned volume numbers on the spine. I was trying to read Aaron's Wolverine comics in trade for a while, but eventually gave up, occasionally coming across one in a library and picking it up if it looks unfamiliar to me.
Like Wolverine: Goodbye, Chinatown, the small print of which tells me includes issues #17-#20 of the rebooted Wolverine series which, come to think of it, was just recently rebooted again.
As difficult as it may be to figure these books out—despite this being part of a run of story arcs written by Jason Aaron and despite the fact that it continues sub-plots from previous issues and leaves other unresolved for future issues, there is no volume number—I enjoyed this. Like most of the Wolverine comics by Aaron I've read, like most of the Marvel comics by Aaron I've read, it was fast-paced, quick-witted, snappily-dialogued and plotted on the ridiculous side, with Wolverine playing straight man to the lunatic world of the Marvel Universe.
It probably didn't hurt any that the title story, which accounts for three-fourths of the contents of this book, prominently featured characters and concepts familiar from Jeff Parker's Agents of Atlas comics.
Here's where I really started enjoying the trade:
Wolvie is preparing to leave San Francisco, where he and the other X-Men have been based for a few years, to head back East and found a school (So this takes place after the events of Schism, but before the launch of Aaron's Wolverine and The X-Men series), and wants to bid farewell to his girlfriend and collect the money he has saved up.
But that money has been stolen, and to get it back he has to live up to his responsibilities as The Black Dragon, the secret kingpin of the Chinatown underworld ("Did I forget to mention that I'm secretly the kingpin of the Chinatown underworld?"), and that means investigating the kung fu crime wave that the local turf war has engendered.
It is, like so much of Aaron's Marvel writing, pretty insane, but it's also a lot of fun and very funny. Gorilla Man may be one of the last characters one would think to pair Wolverine up with, but Aaron finds an awful lot of similarities between the two so that they play off one another nicely, and artist Ron Garney even hammers those parallels home in his posing of the two hairy, teeth-gritting brawlers.
Garney doesn't draw the one issue that appears in this trade that isn't part of the title story. That's drawn by Renato Guedes, and finds Wolverine in New York City just in time to catch a whiff (literally; he smells it) of a meeting between a Japanese yakuza boss and Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk, a meeting interrupted by some amusingly weird bounty hunter characters that apparently appeared in another Wolverine story I haven't run across yet (And who reminded me of the two guys who look sorta like Yosemite Sam in the old Looney Tunes short Along Came Daffy; it's watchable here, for the time being).
This particular story is a little straighter to, as it's more plot-driven and involves more familiar plot elements for Wolverine comics...and modern Marvel comics in general.