Wow, I actually read a Wolverine comic right? It’s definitely a rare event as he’s the kind of character who tends to have comics that are super violent or just not good. Luckily, this was from the classic days and it covers the rather legendary arc that has been adapted into a TV show as well as a movie. It’s very interesting to see the original version after all this time although I can safely say that the anime probably handled it better than the other two versions. Unfortunately, there are a few wrenches thrown into the mix that stop this from being the good comic that it should have been.
Wolverine made it home after a tough mission of stopping poachers when he finds out that his girlfriend has been married to someone. It’s a marriage of honor so Mariko does not want to back out of it even though her husband is basically a villain who attacks her whenever he feels like it. Wolverine decides that he’ll enter it and he heads over to save her. It’ll be tougher than he thought as Wolverine is poisoned, beaten, and forced to retreat. Can he break through the defenses and save Mariko with the help of a mysterious assassin named Yukio?
There is also an aftermath which is included where the X-Men arrive to witness the marriage between Wolverine and Mariko. Unfortunately, there are still some past demons to attend too as Viper and the Silver Samurai decide to destroy Wolverine and Mariko. Storm’s begun to lose control of her powers and the other X-Men are poisoned so they are of no help. Can Wolverine don the costume once more to take out these villains? The graphic novel ends at a rather interesting point so we don’t really see the conclusion to this story.
By “interesting point” I’m basically saying that it’s a very sad, but ironic ending that was unexpected. I was impressed at the collection ending here to be honest as it’s the complete opposite of the ending that you would have expected. The whole comic Wolverine is trying to prove that he is worthy to be with Mariko. He tries to prove that he is a human and not an animal. You expect a Cinderella ending as they get together and everything is happy. Well, let’s just say that things don’t quite end like that.
If you like the X-Men, then you’ll probably be disappointed by the fact that none of them look very good. As I mentioned, they were all poisoned almost immediately upon appearing so only Storm and Rogue really got to do anything. The rest of them were basically played and toyed with so they didn’t look like the heroes that you would typically expect. Cyclops is slowly figuring out that his girlfriend may know more than she’s letting on, but I’m pretty sure that he figures it out too late and the situation ends up blowing up. He did a pretty poor job of letting her know about his friends though, but she did a good job of handling it well.
I’m not sure what’s going on with Storm, but now I have finally learned where she first got the Mohawk design. I hope that there is a good reason for her losing control of her abilities and not just that she didn’t keep her emotions in check. It should be something better than that I’d hope. While she couldn’t control the weather too well, she still did good in the fight, which was certainly nice to see. At least some of the X-Men could pull their weight! Rogue wasn’t so good here. Her power was certainly nice to have, but a laser blast being able to nearly destroy her? Yeah…I’m not so sure about that and Wolverine could have healed her in a less dramatic way. That just felt forced into the story for the lolz.
The art was quite good for this comic although I would expect nothing less from the classic X-Men days. It feels like the 90’s show and there is a certain sense of grand scale here that makes it distinct from the average comic. The fight scenes are actually quite long and really drawn well. I haven’t seen action scenes last this long for street level battles in quite a while and it’s safe to say that they would probably be shorter in a modern comic. Between the good writing and the solid art, the comic did very well on a technical level.
Unfortunately, the comic fell into the animal violence trap that I always warned against. Wolverine is forced to kill a bear since it was dying slowly from poison that had infected it. The Bear also got quite a few victims before being stopped. No matter what the reason, seeing Wolverine take down a bear crippled the score. There’s also a dead dog that appears later for no discernible reason. The plot of Mariko being attacked by her husband was also a dark theme that really had no place here. The comic could have just said that she didn’t like him and Wolverine would have still been ready to help. That would have been a much better change if you ask me.
Yukio was not as cool as she was in the anime. To an extent, it’s neat how she doesn’t fear death and is always ready to tackle really bad odds. On the other hand, she was portrayed like Black Cat, but an even more sinister one. Taking out Wolverine’s friend wasn’t cool, but she basically just shrugged it off since it didn’t really matter to her. After the main arc, she showed some promise as a rival who will appear once in a while. As long as she is a rival to Wolverine as a warrior and not still going after his heart, then she may be all right. Until then, I can’t say that I’m a fan.
Mariko also wasn’t that good as she believes that following honor is everything even at the expense of her safety. She made quite a few bad decisions as the comic went on and never became a likable character. Shingen made for a pretty tough boss and he was a decent villain. He pretends to care for Mariko, but this is clearly not the case as he is really just fighting to try and make himself look better. As Mariko says later on, he basically gave up his right to the family name as he became nothing more than a common criminal.
As for Wolverine, this definitely feels like the real version of the character. He spares the villains sometimes and just uses the claws on others. He gets the job done no matter the cost and will ultimately help his friends. Does this necessarily make him a hero? No, but if he’s on your side then you can trust that you’ll be all right. He takes care of his own and is a nice guy. People are just always pushing his buttons. It’s good that he has a healing factor and such strong bones though since he takes a whole lot of punishment in this collection. Next to Cyclops, he’s definitely my favorite X-Men member and it’s easy to see why he has so many fans. He’s a very likable and charismatic character who can easily hold his own series.
Overall, Wolverine was certainly an interesting read. I feel like the collection should have had an actual name rather than just being called Wolverine, but it is what it is. If not for the animal violence and the Mariko subplot, this would have definitely been your average 7. As it stands, those mistakes are enough for me to lower the score and recommend that you read Superman Unchained instead for a story of how true heroes overcome adversity. This is probably Frank Miller’s best work though and Chris has definitely had quite a good history with his various Uncanny X-Men stories. If you don’t mind the Bear scene, then this is probably the definitive Wolverine story for sure. There’s a reason why everyone likes to adapt this story after all. It’s just really fitting for Wolverine and gave him a lot of character development as he finally surpassed his bestial instincts.