X-Force Special: Ain't No Dog
Tonight, Wolverine flies solo-dressed in black and operating off the grid. And when the night is through, there will be mountains of corpses, and no one to answer to. Plus, follow Warpath on a new journey, as he learns what it really means to go home again.
The X-Force: Ain’t No Dog special finds Wolverine in a rather dark place psychologically, and while he may feel comfortable in this role of slicing down baddies, you can’t help but wonder about the distinction between good and bad in an issue like this. There isn’t much for a superhero in this story, but if you want to see Wolvie being the best there is at what he does, this is a great issue to sink your teeth into.
The setup is simple, Wolverine has a bad man held hostage and with inside information from Cyclops, he’s managed to stay alive in the trap he sprung to reach the man. The bulk of the story centers around the brutal violence that ensues, with Wolverine chopping down body after body of berserkers set to free the man who is restrained to just an occasional mumble. From Wolverine’s confessions of “Jeezus I love this” while killing to the internal monologue he has justifying his actions, readers will notice this is a dark vision of Wolverine who isn’t burdened with the weight of his actions very much. There are no children to be saved or people to inspire, just good ol’ fashioned brutality.
Wolverine has been treated like a weapon for a lot of his existence, and this issue shows that really hasn’t changed all that much. Cyclops’ inside information ultimately comes off as a bit manipulative when we discover he has sent Wolverine there to retrieve the chip inside this man’s head and doesn’t care how he does it. He essentially pointed Wolverine in the right direction and pulled the trigger, and the mountain of bodies that comes a result shows that Wolverine can still get lost in that dynamic.
While X-Force Special: Ain’t No Dog #1 does explore a darker side of the character, there are some questionable narrative decisions that occur. The entire story boils down to a quick few panels at the end describing everything after going through pages of slaughtering with little to no context. It feels like a missed opportunity to develop the story into something more fleshed out, and if not, then we’ve also missed out on a great chance to really dig into the psyche of Wolverine amidst the carnage. It’s fun, but it’s surface level entertainment.
The issue works primarily on the strength of the blood-soaked visuals from Palo and Loughridge simply because there isn’t much depth of plot. The heavy shadows and vibrant reds poured into every page gives the issue a unique aesthetic and helps it to be more memorable than the story may suggest. It’s great fun to see Wolverine in this position, unleashed and without anyone to answer to, and the creative team takes advantage of this circumstance with plenty of powerful visuals. While Piekoes doesn’t really have much heavy lifting with such minimal dialogue, the letters in the effects do help to elevate the issue.
We finish the special one-shot with a diversion from Wolverine and a deep look into Warpath’s internal struggle as he confronts a bear in the woods. The duality between hunters and killers is a theme that gets right to the heart of who Warpath is, and the creative team mostly manages to tell a compelling story. Some of the artwork is a bit uninspiring, but it gets the job done. It’s particularly interesting when contrasted with the Wolverine story that really emphasizes the hunter-nature of the character and the impacts it can have.
Ultimately, X-Force Special: Ain’t No Dog #1 is a one-shot that will surely entertain those looking to kick back with a blood good time. There may not be much heart involved, but I’m guessing that’s not really what this story is getting at either, and that’s okay. Sometimes you just want to see Wolverine take out a whole group of fanatics in the most violent way possible while screaming “Jeezus I love this!”
There may not be much heart involved, but I'm guessing that's not really what this story is getting at either, and that's okay. Sometimes you just want to see Wolverine take out a whole group of fanatics in the most violent way possible while screaming "Jeezus I love this!", and that's exactly what X-Force Special: Ain't No Dog #1 delivers.
X-Force Special: Ain’t No Dog (2008) #1: Whose Hands Are Clean?
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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