Review by Karl Verhoven
Wolverine follows the path taken by Batman and Grendel before him via an anthology collection of short stories by assorted creators restricted only by the brief page count and their work appearing in black, white and red. The stories occur at any juncture during Wolverine’s long life and can feature any of his identities. The assumption is that any readers will be familiar enough with Wolverine and his history to pick up events when they’re thrown into their middle.
Some writers choose to define their period, such as Gerry Duggan’s story about Logan’s days with the Weapon X project, while others are non-specific. The best-written content offers some new insight into an event, or Wolverine himself, while acknowledging that’s difficult after all these years. Chris Claremont manages it, and interestingly he’s adapted his writing style to captions. It’s pleasing to note that very few contributors fall short, making for a very readable collection, although there are some missed opportunities. Vita Ayala might have been more imaginative than supplying just another Wolverine and Sabretooth head to head, whether in the snow or not. Surprisingly there are very few Wolverine monologues, and Declan Shalvey’s variation is very good, with clipped, tense dialogue: “Somethin’s Up. Can hear a baby crying. Kid’s lucky I’ve got heightened senses like that”.
Artistically there are a fair selection of long-running crowd pleasers such as Chris Bachalo, Adam Kubert and Salvador Larroca, but it betters the writing as there are no disappointments. The sample spread features Joshua Cassara and Jorge Fornés, although any artist here could have represented the general high standard. Some, though, make better use of the red than others, while a few just leave that to a colourist. Kev Walker’s battle with Arcade is thoughtful in that respect, starting out sparingly, gradually increasing the red until it almost fills the page, then dropping back to small touches.
With a dozen selections everyone will have their own favourite, but John Ridley and Fornés combine well for a surprising challenge in Japan. Fornés uses silhouettes very effectively all the way, though, sometimes in red, giving a very stylised cinematic look to the pages, where design is also prioritised. Ridley’s ultimate challenge is a shocker even among what’s generally superior Wolverine content, and so is the outcome.
This is a very welcome innovation, all the better for being Treasury sized, and the experiment was repeated with Carnage, who seems too easy and obvious a choice.