Review by Ian Keogh
The Adamantium Men begins with gangsters in Colombia being killed by someone hidden in shadows, but with three deadly claws on each hand. As they’re glowing green only the novice reader will for a second believe Wolverine’s responsible, and that’s not Jason Aaron’s intention. He switches to a cathartic Wolverine scene of wrong’uns plain underestimating what they’re dealing with and suffering the consequences. It’s a bread and butter scene for a Wolverine story, but you want your writer to pull it off with style, which Aaron does, additionally casually slipping in someone who’ll have later relevance.
Wolverine and Maverick, who’s also relevant, were created by an off the books government torture chamber called Weapon X, and it seems the organisation’s files have been sold on the black market to a company intent on creating their own adamantium-impregnated human weapons.
Aaron has a good handle on Wolverine. His Wolverine has been around the block a few times, so is calculating and plays to his strengths. The narrative captions have the necessary weight and his character is convincingly tough without dropping into the Wolverine parody sometimes seen. That’s helped by some thoughtful art by the under-rated Ron Garney with whom Aaron would subsequently work on Men of Wrath. Garney takes action cinema as a template for his storytelling and supplies the energy and pace associated with it. There’s no scaling back on the violence, which given who Wolverine comes up against isn’t the same as human massacre, but it’s nonetheless disturbing. However, the art’s not as satisfying as it might be due to the colour choices made by Jason Keith, which can be too bright.
With the corporate slimeballs Aaron does slip into cliché, but they’re only seen in small doses as counterpoints to Wolverine’s exploits in Colombia. Aaron extrapolates that no matter how horrible something is there’ll always be someone willing to exploit it in the name of freedom or profit. A scene near the end featuring sharks would in other circumstances be overplayed, but it’s toned down by the thoughtful revelation about what Wolverine fears, which isn’t sharks. There’s a good kick in the teeth ending as well, leading to Insane in the Brain.
There’s a back-up strip that appears a satirical dig at the amount of titles Wolverine appears in, just running through a couple of weeks in Wolverine’s life showing no gaps in the schedule. There is a bigger point, though, made by Spider-Man of all people. It’s filler, but nice to have as an extra and Adam Kubert sure put a lot of effort into all those packed panels.
This isn’t Aaron’s first Wolverine work, but it’s near enough, and it’s a confident start explaining as well as anything why there are four volumes of Wolverine by Jason Aaron: The Complete Collection. This appears in Vol. 1.