Review by Frank Plowright
After becoming comfortable writing Wolverine the approach Jason Aaron took was to weave Wolverine into a succession of stories different in genre and tone, which begins here and continues in The Complete Collection Vol. 4. What we have here is the comedy SF teaming of Spider-Man and Wolverine, the horror of Wolverine in Hell, and the superhero slambang, respectively available separately as Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine, Wolverine Goes to Hell, and Wolverine vs. the X-Men. Alternatively, the entire content is also available in oversized hardcover as the Wolverine Goes to Hell Omnibus.
The teaming with Spider-Man isn’t as fulfilling as might be expected, although that’s somewhat disguised by the spectacular Adam Kubert art. There’s no faulting Aaron’s ambition as Spider-Man and Wolverine go skipping through alternate realities, changing as they go, but for all the ideas on show so well presented by Kubert, it’s an exercise rather than a story. That’s confirmed by the half-hearted reasoning supplied at the end.
Wolverine’s trip to Hell is one of his most highly regarded arcs, and while its certainly decent enough, the high reputation is questionable. It opens with an unusually reflective Wolverine finding himself in Hell, which manifests as a succession of attacks by the enemies he’s killed. The twist is that something has taken control of his body on Earth and is killing his friends. The desperation level set, Wolverine has to escape before too much damage is done, as artist Renato Guedes supplies a suitably gloomy and savage atmosphere and immense detail on the cannon fodder. For all the savagery, and the possible vicarious delight in it, the plot is by the numbers, with the only mystery being how Wolverine might escape. A nice extra is the inclusion of short stories by assorted artists showing how some of those Wolverine meets ended up in Hell.
Wolverine’s murderous spree has convinced the X-Men he’s a danger, and that it’s their responsibility to sort him out, which provides the final story. While he claims to have been possessed and is now restored, the X-Men aren’t going to be fooled, so he’s placed in the situation of having to fight his friends. Aaron enjoys populating the story with Marvel’s most arrogant creations, whose dialogue is a treat, and more seriously examines the assorted facets of Wolverine’s personality as he keeps the X-Men at bay while trying not to harm them. There’s a surprising solution and the whole is expansively illustrated by Daniel Acuña for what’s the most enjoyable story here despite being the most traditional.
Conceptually, this has a higher percentage of wacky ideas than Aaron’s other Wolverine work, but it’s not as satisfying.