Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Wolverine: Wolverine Vs. The X-Men

While given its own, distinct title and it's own (unnumbered) collection, this is essentially the second half of the "Wolverine Goes To Hell" storyline which I expected to find in Wolverine Goes To Hell (what I got instead was a back-up story that filled out the volume).

Where did we leave Wolvie? Well, Mystique, Melita, Hellstrom and the two Ghost Riders had seemingly just exorcised his demon-possessed body and his soul had just climbed out of hell to reclaim it, when X-Men Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto and Namor showed up to kick Wolverine's ass.

Writer Jason Aaron picks up where he left off, although now he's got a new artist collaborator: Daniel Acuna, whose painterly, heavily-referenced style looks better, looser and more organic in there than anywhere I've seen it previously. I'm still not a huge fan, but I do think this is the best it's ever looked—it actually reminded me a bit of Stuart Immonen's nineties work, only with painted-looking covers.
Apparently to keep the fighting going, the exorcism didn't go off all that perfectly, and while Wolverine's soul and/or mind are now back in his brain, so too are all the demons possessing him, so he has to fight it out with them in his head while the X-Men deal with his body.

The newer, colder, crueler, badder Cyclops of course has a contingency plan for killing Wolverine if it ever comes to him—Magneto sucks out his adamantium, Namor rips off his head—but that doesn't take into account Wolverine's new hell-based powers, like fire-claws, flame breath and the ability to force choke dudes at a distance.

The three issues that comprise the storyline are mainly one big, long fight scene, with Wolverine fighting a small contingent of X-Men (Plan B involves the always welcome Dr. Nemesis and Fantomex), while Emma and Melita lead a small band of X-women (Kitty, Robue and Jubilee) inside Wolverine's mind to help him and his memories of himself and loved ones sword fight the demons in their to death.

You can probably guess how it all ends.

Two more single issues are collected in this volume.
The first is the next issue of Wolverine, in which the once again alive and himself goes after Mystique and whoever she was working with to put him through the proceeding story arcs' worth of punishment, and a cool and absurd new Jason Aaron villain—a Mr. Lord Deathstrike—who also wants to kill Mystique.

The final issue is Wolverine #5.1, which has nothing to do with anything, really, which is probably why it's stuck in the back of the volume as it is (Even though it was published before the other four issues, which are Wolverine #6-9). The ".1" issues were designed—or at least sold—as good jumping-on point issues, generally kicking off a storyline.

Aaron's script, entitled "Happy," is about 50% Wolverine 101, and 50% comic relief, with Wolverine's girlfriend Melita planning a surprise party attended by Wolvie's fellow X-Men and Avengers, and Wolverine getting distracted by a trail of blood that leads him to those two guys with bone weapons from the second storyline collected in Wolverine: Goodbye, China Town (So even though I read that book first before Goes To Hell and Vs. The X-Men, I guess it actually comes after these two, in reading order; again, labeling the volumes with volume numbers might help a bit).
(I like that these guys have the superpower of super-whittling)

It's got nice, sharp artwork by artist Jefte Palo, which is in stark contrast to that of Acuna, but aesthetically closer to the work of Ron Garney, whose art I think works best with Aaron's Wolverine comics. There's a pretty nice Paolo Rivera cover to that particular issue, as well.
It's a nice little done-in-one, but it does feel awfully out-of-place here as it breaks the momentum of the previously storyline, in which Wolverine is hotly in pursuit of "The Red Right Hand," those that set him up for the events of the previous two storylines. Not unilke the way the back-up story "Scorched Earth" broke the momentum at the end of Goes To Hell.


I'm not entirely convinced that Wolverine, even with souped-up hell powers, would be able to take Namor, though, especially under water, which is where they fight (Drowning is one of the few ways that Wolverine can really be killed, isn't it...?)

Namor flying punches Wolverine way up into the sky, then dives underwater with him, strangling him and...Wolverine wins. Somehow.
It's kept ambiguous, by happening off-panel, not unlike Wolverine's completely impossible defeat of Lobo in DC Vs. Marvel Comics.

No comments: