Wolverine’s friendship with S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho Nick Fury (white version) extended back to World War II, both of them long lived for different reasons, and this collection gathers three of their professional encounters during the 1980s.

Originally released as an oversized graphic novel titled The Scorpio Connection, the first of these disappoints despite the creative talents of Archie Goodwin and Howard Chaykin, neither approaching their best work on the spy thriller. Scorpio is a threat from Fury’s past that he considered laid to rest, indicating that it’s perhaps a ghost behind a new terrorist organisation that’s wiped out a full S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, including someone Wolverine considered a friend. There are a few clever touches to Goodwin’s plot marking him as a decent writer, and he throws in a few surprises at the end. Some might not stand the test of time, and we’re left with a going through the motions plot. While the work of Chaykin’s assistants provides ornate backgrounds, his Wolverine figures are angular and awkward.

Bloody Choices was also first released as an oversized graphic novel, better to display John Buscema’s art. By his high standards, however, it’s perfunctory, but his Wolverine has a life lacking in Chaykin’s work. Tom DeFalco’s plot exploits the desire to punish the guilty balanced against some criminals being of use to security agencies. It’s far from perfect, but the plot works, if predictably.

Scorpio Rising picks up on The Scorpio Connection, with Chaykin writing this time, giving Wolverine a sardonic narrative voice and providing the best plot in the book. Unfortunately, it’s allied with the weakest art (sample page). Shawn McManus was either in a great hurry, uninterested, or is just better suited to other types of story where where visual hyperbole works better. At stake is the short-lived freedom of a small country recently released from the yoke of Soviet occupation, but on which other tyrants have desires. It’s never really explained why, but the pace carries the story along without knowing that.

As all three books were originally intended for older audiences, there’s no disguising Wolverine slashing and eviscerating with his claws, nor that Bullfinch in Bloody Choices is a paedophile. All three stories, however, have dated aspects and unless you’re determined to collect Wolverine’s team-ups with Nick Fury your money’s better spent elsewhere.