This is a five book arc taking Wolverine Volume 4 Issues 10-14. The story is powerful and actually is a catalyst for changes in James Howlett’s life. I have to say I greatly enjoyed it and STRONGLY hope Marvel doesn’t undo it.
The credits are as follows: Jason Aaron, Writer; Renato Guedes, Pencils; Jose Wilson Magalhaes, Inks; Matthew Wilson, Colors; Jae Lee and June Chung, Cover Art; VC’s Cory Petit, Letterer, Jared K Fletcher, Designer; Jody Leheup, Assistant Editor; Jeanine Schaefer Editor; Nick Lowe, Group Editor, Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief; Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer; Dan Buckley, Publisher; and Alan Fine, Executive Producer.
All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique. No more than three pages total from any one issue is reproduced.
Before we get into the story let’s talk art. The cover team is the same one that’s been doing the issues since the start of the run. It’s nice in that it gives the title a cohesiveness while this large arc is working itself out. Issue 10’s cover is the worst of the bunch. Usually my complaint is the depiction of the faces but on that issue it is Wolverine’s chicken legs. He’s got spindly looking legs to me. I don’t know if it’s the shading messing with my eye or what, but it’s bad. Also the guy on our left, hanging from Wolverines right there – why does he have on an ice skate? The guy on top forgot his dentures that day. It just doesn’t do a thing for me, nothing except make me think I don’t like it. If you love it fine and more power to ya, this one isn’t one I’d put on my decent cover list. But issue 14 is a different story. Despite the fact in the whole arc James NEVER wears his X-Men uniform I think 14 sums up the point of the story very well. It reflects the contents, the coloring is lovely, the anatomy is great, and the face isn’t pinched it’s in emotional agony a good representation of this arc. It would go on my list of great covers.
Now something I loved – the interior art. Really! I loved this stuff it’s good, it goes with the story very well and helped tell the story. I liked it. I can’t say enough good about it. I’ll gush more over some particular panels after the jump below. Beware though – they could be thought spoilery by some.
Onto the story, this follows the Mystique arc but to really get James’s motivation you’ll have to hearken all the way back to Wolverine Goes To Hell. Here his soul was sent to hell by a grassroots hate Wolverine group run by a Ross Perot look-a-like that calls itself The Red Right Hand with help from Mystique. While he was out of his body some demons from the pit of hell filled the void where James soul used to be. While controlling the body they killed and attacked people James cares about. If that wasn’t bad enough when he got back into his body he had to fight the demons out. All that pissed him off and he’s out to get revenge on the Red Right Hand for putting him through that. That’s our story.
He goes to their headquarters and takes his revenge. To get to the members he has to fight his way through the mutant team that takes orders from the group. That team calls themselves the Mauraders. Logan kills them all taking on the apparent leader of them, Gunhawk, last. When he finally gets to the group he learns that his quest for revenge was the ultimate weapon the Red Right Hand wielded against him. His revenge in the end wasn’t sweet but instead soul wrenching, his soul is the one most wrenched. He ignored Angelic Kurt’s advice to give up vengeance and pays a high price. I won’t spoil it here for you but it’s a kicker! One that changes James Howlett, hopefully, forever.
Inter cut between the battles with the various Mauraders we get the bios of the prominent members of the Red Right Hand. We learn that James killed Ross’s dad years ago. Ross’s dad wasn’t a good man and had killed an old woman among other things. But as is often the perspective Ross sees his dad as a good man and makes it his life’s purpose to kill James. He recruits others hurt by James to help him pull this off. We learn how Veil Lady, Trucker Hat, Japanese Woman, and the Boy all lost people they loved to Logan’s killing ability and how Ross recruited them.
I like this arc on many levels. One we get to see the inadvertent pain caused by superheroes. I’m sure most heroes in Marvel universe have a Trucker Hat type story out there that they might not know about. Where superhero and supervillian action harms bystanders. (Wasn’t that the catalyst for the whole Civil War/Mutant registration thing?) I’m sure ordinary people trying to help in the supers battles are harmed just like in the Boy’s story. I don’t think these are things Wolverine cornered the market on but I do think they are things that would effect that fortressed heart of his deeply.
Also I like all the growth potential here for James Howlett. He has reason to stop going on these murderous revenge marches. He has reasons for taking on responsibility for kids and seeing that they aren’t pawns of organizations like the Red Right Hand. He has reasons to grow as a character and not be stuck in the same old tired story lines rehashed and retold with slight variations like say set in San Francisco with no flashbacks. Only time will tell if Marvel finally grew up enough to move a story forward letting go of what sold well a decade or more ago.
Next are two issues that show how Logan deals with being the living one most harmed by his own revenge. How does a man who has dealt with pain by acting out his rage deal with the pain caused by that rage? What if because of his own mutation he can’t be destroyed by it, what then? Issues 15 and 16 answer that.
Now for the SPOILERY bits with page or panel scans and comments after the jump:
Here we see Ross’s father and Logan’s encounter. I have to say I’m a fool for period clothing and Logan looks good in turn of the century gear. I also like how the image changed to more sepia tones from blue to tones to show it is set in the past. The panel flourishes also do that too. Again I think the art is pretty interior art. I really do like it.
Another aspect I like about this story line is no one is totally in the right. Not the Red Hand for what they did, though I get why they did it. Not Logan for going out for revenge on them for torturing him so, though I get why he did it. If only we’d heeded the angel’s call to take a higher path could this pain be avoided. Forgiveness is not for those you forgive but for you so you can move on in your life without the burden of pain and revenge on your soul. That is a lesson that neither side gets and I can only hope it is one James did learn at the end of this.
Here are Veil Woman’s father and husband respectively. Look at the notes on the wall behind them. Old fans of the Wolverine/Logan saga can have the fun of recognizing how each of those items relates to him. They do. I’d say the info behind her father is a bit more obscure but still it’s fun to puzzle over. Any one out there want to fill me in on the Marvels Project?
This page I JUST LOVED!! Here we learn that Victor Creed, Sabertooth, was a Mama’s boy. That is so funny but so true about many bullies. I have to wonder if James even knows this about his arch but now headless even in hell enemy. I’d love to know what mama had to tell about Victor and about his actions. Did she know? Did she condone what he did? Will she join him in hell after the Veiled Woman beats her to death with a hammer? There is a reason for Veiled Woman’s actions, a reason to want to take revenge on Sabertooth, but she’d have more of a reason if Wolverine hadn’t intervened and made Victor leave her alone. Which might be why she got a pang of conscious for James but it didn’t last in the heat of Ross’s revenge.
I want to say I like how we don’t know the names of these people in the Red Right Hand. They are nameless because we don’t need names to understand them as characters. Ross is an obsessed violent man that is still a boy in pain from losing his father, never growing out of the idolizing parent stage. Here we see Veil Woman is a weak woman who was submissive to her obsessed father then an obsessed husband and now to an obsessed Ross. When she has a thought of her own she’s not strong enough to embrace it and resist being manipulated.
Here are the Marauders before they became the Marauders. We don’t know who they are beyond their code names. We do learn at the very end of the book why they are important. It’s a damn good reason and well worth reading the arc to find out. (The HC was just liquidated by Marvel) I’ll chat more about who they are in the next arc because it has a big effect there. So I’ll leave this here for those who know to look at and see if they see the clues that are there before the big reveal at the end. A hint to those who don’t know that group all have something in common that makes them eligible to be in the Marauders.
Gunhawk gives James some good advice. It’s as good as Kurt’s advice to give up revenge. It would only save James from pain not others. I have to say of the Marauders I like Gunhawk the best. He’s got something that appeals to me and part of it is how he talks to Ross right before he goes out to do battle with James. The other part is that he warns James to walk away, that behind those doors is nothing but a world of hurt. Reminds me of the good college advice “nothing good ever happens after 2am.” Yeah you heard it, yeah you were out in the bars drinking after 2am, and yeah now you really know why that was such damn good advice. But you HAD to be out after 2am to get why.
Oh and here is a good place to note my one complaint about the interior art. Sometimes James’s sideburns go in a bit too far. They are lamb chops and shouldn’t grow under his eye or on his cheekbone. That’s going into the face too far to be lamb chop sideburns.
I put this in because it references two arcs I despised. The Enemy of the State arc (Wolverine Vol.3 Issues 20-25) and Agent of Shield (Wolverine Vol. 3 Issues 26-31). They were badly written re-treds of Logan’s mind being possessed by the Hand and using him to hurt those he cares about then his getting better and going out for revenge. (uh, does it sound familiar?) Except in those arcs he kills Northstar (but he got better) and there’s no real kicker at the end of the revenge like here. Oh and the art was terrible inside and out – all boxy and huge feet like those dolls toddlers get. HORRIBLE arcs that had me drop the title while they were going on because I was so disgusted. When it was over I was glad to put it back on my pull-list. If the art had been as pretty as those two pages I might have made it through purchasing the whole arc just for the interior art.
Any way, the Boy’s mother is one of the medical team that helped James recover from the possession by the Hand. In the arc he struggles with rages and through simulations of to gain control of his own decision processes. He did kill some SHIELD medical personnel during that time. It was just lost in bad writing of the arc that he’d done that. Here it addresses it and his obvious regret by secretly attending the funeral.
This is the scene of the final kicker for James. He just realized the living person who will carry the most scars from this revenge action will be himself. Gunhawk warned him that there was a world of pain in there and now he’s hit it. He’s become a member of the Red Right Hand by his own actions. There is a final sad zinger at the end of the arc that involves the boy and sums up the whole arc in one painfully poignant moment. “Mama?”
Next time we’ll look at the two issues that cover the aftermath of this arc, Wolverine No More and Wolverine Forever. Until next time!