The first volume of this 2020 Wolverine series introduced an oddball CIA agent named Jeff Bannister, and the opening pages here revisit him as he and Wolverine discuss what they have on their respective consciences. It ties into memory lapses Wolverine’s been having and since he was mindwiped so often back in the day, back in the day also becomes an issue. As was the case in Vol. 1, Benjamin Percy seems to be heading in the direction of well trodden ground that some might consider requires no further exploration, yet Percy surprises by taking the journey somewhere different. He returns a high profile mutant of the 1990s who’s now all-but forgotten, and ties that into the idea that US secret agencies are never going to allow a mutant nation. It’s an interesting extrapolation of real world politics spliced with enough action keep everyone satisfied.

By his own high standards, Adam Kubert’s art on Vol. 1 disappointed. There was nothing wrong with the art, just that it lacked that certain ooomph factor Kubert usually has. Pleasingly, that’s back here, with Kubert’s pages looking far more interesting, the work of someone who is a cut above. He draws most of this collection, with Viktor Bogdanovic providing a short piece to start, and Scot Eaton’s professionalism finishes things off tidily over the final chapters.

The big plot ending the previous volume was the problem of vampires, and that old enemy Omega Red appeared to be colluding with them. Readers know that to be true, but Wolverine’s suspicions are easily deflected, postponing the reckoning we might have assumed was due. Led by Dracula, what the vampires want is to circumvent their weakness during daylight, and they feel Wolverine’s blood might be the answer to that problem. Without the Alaskan setting of the previous volume the vampire problem devolves into a standard stab and slash story for a little too long, despite the introduction of an interesting new character. Percy eventually springs a big surprise, then leaves it hanging. It’s a strange choice. Instead of what readers want to see, he just jumps to the mop up. A better variation would have been less generic vampire action earlier and greater attention to the ending.

A final chapter shifts the attention to complicated nature of a truce affecting Krakoa, the living island the X-Men occupy. It’s an interesting idea of political deceit bogged down in too much that seems irrelevant. Again, Percy’s ideas are interesting, but there are better ways to convey the concepts.

A cliffhanger leads into Vol. 3, but the so far the quality here is heading in the wrong direction.