Insane in the Brain opens with Wolverine in a straightjacket in a padded cell having an unconventional form of therapy via loudspeaker. There’s no direct connection to the previous Adamantium Men, so readers can pick this up and sink into the mystery of why Wolverine’s now a resident of an insane asylum being questioned about his past and seemingly having no memory of it.

Jason Aaron spends the entire first chapter with Wolverine wandering around the hellhole he now finds himself in, knowing there’s something wrong, but seemingly without the memory of who he is enabling him to change the situation. There is something wrong. It’s seen in the surroundings so deliberately  unappealingly supplied by Yanick Paquette and the faked medicine dished out to the patients.

A subdued Wolverine unable to deal with what are basic threats by his standards is unsettling, and the glimpses at what goes on as the insane Doctor Rotwell carries out sadistically mad experiments are even more disturbing, adult level horror. It’s inevitable that Wolverine will regain his memory, the question is just when and how.

Paquette is no mere pair of hands on the artwork. He grasps the idea of the lunatics taking over the asylum and really runs with it. Wolverine’s fellow inmates are sorry, fearful specimens, and the building shows years of use, holes and scratches in the walls, others covered with scribbles.

Halfway through Aaron reveals how Wolverine came to be in the asylum, and how it is he remains there, which is as nutty as a cow eating a boiled egg for breakfast with a lawnmower. However, the lurid pulp origins run away with Aaron, and the deeper in he heads the more it just becomes an excuse for a gorefest, and that’ll be fine for some.

Insane in the Brain is really horrible. Imaginatively so, well produced and spliced with dark humour, but horrible nonetheless. Imagine yourself in Wolverine’s situation, or indeed that of others seen and it’s the stuff of literal nightmares, and as such it’s not for everyone. Thrill to a gory horror story, though, and this is for you.

There’s unfinished business in the end, picked up by Aaron in later Wolverine outings. Before this collection ends, though, there’s a touching look at Logan’s previous relationships when he’s on the cusp of starting a new one. C.P. Smith’s art is illustrative, prioritising the image, but it works for the type of story this is.

Tomorrow Dies Today is next, or both can be found in the second volume of Wolverine by Jason Aaron: The Complete Collection.