Wolverine wasn't always a solo act...and when a mutant name from Logan's time on Team X surfaces on the desk on Krakoan intelligence, Wolverine is sent to investigate, what will he find? An old friend or a new deadly enemy?
What’s that saying? Inside you there are two wolves? That thought crossed my mind more than once when I read this issue. It’s Wolverine issue #8 but this issue also marks it as the 350th issue of Wolverine’s solo series career by legacy numbering and as such Marvel has put out an oversized issue featuring a prelude story and then the main story.
So back to those wolves…if you are expecting some ’90s fanboy era throwback heavy-duty blood and guts throw down issue with a massive dose of nostalgia you would be wrong… sort of. The nostalgia is there but instead of being this heavy-handed homage to the ’90s era, Percy takes that legacy and makes it several connective threads in the issue while telling a much more modern and in my opinion smarter Wolverine story suited to the new era. There’s a lot going on in this issue and if you haven’t been following the run you will miss some small details although the team has made several efforts in the text and data pages to get everyone up to speed.
The prologue story takes us to the garden of CIA agent Jeffrey Bannister as Wolverine shows up to get intel from him. The two share a beer and exchange war stories which flesh out the character of Bannister and examine the nature of soldiers as pawns and willing participants with blood on their hands, in Bannister’s story because of being kept in the dark intelligence-wise, in Logan’s case, it’s a much darker story and exhibits a willingness to kill innocent people on orders. There is a very deliberate callback to the story of the time Logan, Maverick, and Sabretooth went after the Carbonadium synthesizer in Jim Lee’s early adjectiveless X-Men run, this seems even more relevant when the second story opens with Wolverine and company confronting Omega Red but we will get to that shortly. This is what I like about Percy’s run on both this series and X-Force, he manages to tie things back to things he has seeded through the entire series in a way that is not ham-fisted and fits into the advancing storyline or in this instance multiple storylines and the next story in the issue including the mysterious X desk closing out the prologue of the issue with an ominous last panel. Bogdanovic and Wilson are solid on art and colors and in particular, I think Bogdanovic manages to physically capture the tired soldier vibe as the two old warriors tell their stories and drink beer as well as drawing parallels between the flashback Team X mission scenes in this issue with the ones in X-Men #6… even the use of the orange/yellow coloring is a subtle deft tie back and I like that.
We then jump from a prologue to the opener of the main story which sees a bunch of mystery mercenaries break into a black ops facility and then to an interlude… a fun one though, as Percy takes time to let us know that he hasn’t forgotten the whole Omega Red/ Dracula plotline by having the Wolverine and some of his “children” lure Omega Red into a trap. The most interesting things about the confrontation with Arkady (aside from seeing Gabby who we love seeing on page any time) is how Wolverine allows members of his “pack” if you like to be involved (I’m hoping when Laura gets back from the Vault, Percy actually spends some time on the difference in “parenting” dynamics between the two Wolverines regarding Gabby) and also how it’s Arkady who seems the more reasonable in the verbal exchange that follows (NOTE: reading the last issue of X-Force frames this whole exchange in a very different light. highly recommend you do). Percy doesn’t allow it to advance past a few verbal barbs as he moves us on to the main plot of the story.
It gets very CSI James Bond-esque (I am reminded of the first arc from this run also that title is very James Bond, cue the theme tune) as Beast and Sage with the help of some very cool tech (of course Beast would give it a sinister name like the Shadow Room) point to what seems Logan’s former Team X teammate: Agent Zero aka Maverick being involved in the break-in at the Black ops site! We then get an explanation of just how Beast is keeping tabs on things including mercenaries (another tie back to a previous X-Force issue) and how he is gathering intelligence (using a tech made by Forge. ANOTHER callback ) to keep track of Krakoa’s enemies and Wolverine is sent after an intelligence source that will help them get to Maverick.
Dazzler gets a shoutout in this issue in an interesting way (that’s a hell of an alarm system) as Wolverine tracks down the rather reluctant intelligence source (a mercenary who Beast has blackmailed using a dog, yes you heard me correctly) who is assassinated but not before pointing Logan in the direction of the black market for Mutant Merch. Again Percy reminds us of how the advent of Krakoa and the new status quo has in fact been responsible for the creation and demand for mutant merch and artifacts. The last part of the story Percy gets to play with another piece of Wolverine nostalgia: the Patch personality as Wolverine heads for the island of Madripoor.
Adam Kubert and colorist Antonia Fabela are in the art driving seat for the main story. It’s very hard for me to be critical of Kubert, who is such a master of his craft at this point as he manages to pack in a large amount of movement and dynamics without major splashes into his allotted pages with a Tetris-like paneling system that manages to pack so much in on every single page while being perfectly easy to follow. Fabela is not a name that rings any bells but the coloring is solid and complimentary to Kubert’s details in images never overpowering it at any point while VC’s Petit is conscious of the image at all times with good lettering placement.
Kubert’s cover, while a touch misleading, is a brilliant exercise in nostalgia-baiting – which is not a bad thing as the story inside pays attention to the nostalgia but in a modern and engaging context.
So about those two wolves... Wolverine #8 is a cleverly crafted 36-page setup piece that will not feed the standard '90s nostalgia wolf inside a lot of Wolverine fans (of a certain age lol) in the way that you think it will. This isn't some claws slashing, guns blazing mindless throwdown action piece, but a cleverly crafted thriller of a story that adroitly uses multiple past storylines, new ideas AND nostalgia to set up a smart, well thought out modern Wolverine action mystery that is always conscious of the past, as well as the new status quo and that's the wolf this story feeds. Read it twice.
WOLVERINE #8 (LGY 350): The Past Never Dies
Writing - 9.5/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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