On the Panel – Death Of Wolverine # 1
It should be no secret to anyone who is interested in Marvel comics that they have been planning his death for a while now. In general I’m against the announcement of such a pivotal event months in advance but I suspect that it’s the only way comics can make money nowadays. Unfortunately it makes all of these events seem a bit meaningless given that they’re telegraphed so far in advance and almost always result in the resurrection of the character not too long later. A very recent example can be found in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man. There’s an inherent problem with announcing it being that people are expecting it so the shock and surprise factor are completely gone, imagine if Marvel had announced that they were going to kill Gwen Stacy way back before her death in Amazing Spider-Man #121, the moment would have been robbed of the emotional resonance that still has people talking about it to this day. These events are normally quickly forgotten because they don’t shock anyone in the same way, lot to be said for surprise.
Any savvy comics reader will know that these changes are never going to be permanent but the trick is to tell a good story while the change is going on. I was able to forgive and even enjoy Superior Spider-Man because I never thought for a second that it would be permanent and I was able to engage with the story being told in the meantime because it was good. There were fundamental changes to the status quo that are still resonating today. With Wolverine it can be hoped that a similar sort of thing might happen. If his death is used to herald an exploration into his character and what he means to others now that he’s no longer around then that is a good use of the time. I’m not entirely sure how that could work but I think celebrating who the character was and make readers really want to see him back would be a step in the right direction. There are many fundamental changes going on at Marvel right now with a new Captain America, a female Thor and Superior Iron Man so will Death of Wolverine be one too many? I’d like to say it won’t be but I’m not convinced that any of these ideas will work the way Marvel want them too. I am interested to see how they are handled though.
Anyway, I should actually review the comic. It’s the first part of a 4 part story so the plot progression is somewhat minimal as you might expect from a first part but does it actually manage to make up for this in any meaningful way? For the most part I think it does by making the comic fairly introspective and keeping the focus tightly on Wolverine in what we know to be his final hours. One thing that really struck me is the different colour text boxes to signify his different senses -blue for smell, yellow for hearing and red for pain. Wolverine’s senses have always been a cornerstone of his character so to have them be used almost as a character within the story is brilliant. The prominence of the pain text box shows how massive a part of Logan’s life it is now that injuries can be fatal to him. I really like how often “hands” is repeated since he relies so heavily on his claws despite how much pain this is bringing him. Logan is a man so set in his ways that even a direct request not to use them isn’t something he can carry out. Showing how all of his senses react to certain stimuli is an interesting idea too, really lets the reader see how Logan experiences the world and what he focuses on when he enters an area.
I found his discussion with Reed Richards particularly interesting as well; I’m unsure if all of this has been covered before because I started reading Wolverine sans healing factor relatively late in the game but it was good to have the rules spelled out in this way for me. Seems that all he’s lost is his healing factor meaning that his senses, strength and speed are all in tact which means that he’s still able to carry around his Adamantium skeleton with no loss of mobility. It also seems that Logan’s past has left him very vulnerable now with his multiple exposures to atomic bombs leaving his skeleton mildly radioactive which makes him a prime candidate for Leukemia. There’s also simple things like bacteria entering his body every time he makes holes in his hands when using his claws. In short, everything that was never a problem for him before could easily kill him now. Usually I find depowering a character in order to make him interesting a tedious plot but this has endured for quite some time and is definitely leaving Logan vulnerable in more ways than one. I really like how respectful Reed is to Logan, telling him that the world is a better place with him in it.
There’s a nice affirmation of Logan’s character when Reed advises him to hide until he can find a solution to this problem but this isn’t something Logan can do; he’s not a man who has ever ran away from a fight and being unable to heal isn’t going to make him start. This might seem foolish but centuries of habits can be nigh impossible to change, he won’t hide from those who want to hurt him because they’ll simply go through those he cares about to get to him. That’s why he seeks out the fight himself and faces it head on. Great attention to the character in this issue.
A very strong first issue that is a bit lacking in plot but makes up for it with the character introspection. The use of the text boxes to describe Logan’s senses is a really effective device to let us see how Logan experiences the world and what information comes to him first. The characterisation is spot on with him ignoring advice from Reed Richards despite it being in his best interests as well as being unable to run away from a fight due to his own personal code of honour. So far a great way to start an exit to such an important character.