Wolverine: Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em (2014) April Fool’s Review

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Writer

Garth Ennis

Artist

Gabriele Dell’Otto

The issue begins with a splash page depiction of Armageddon showing Logan in a final showdown with Legion. This is apparently the result of an X Force operation gone horribly wrong. As Legion is incinerating Logan’s flesh and mind wiping his brain, Legion says, “Freud says once you experience a trauma you’re doomed to repeat it. Why do you keep coming back to life, Logan?” Jerome Otto cleverly fades the close up of Wolverine’s corpse and Legion out to a dark monochrome. Logan wakes up in a cell with who is quickly revealed to be the red-headed Typhoid Mary. After watching a feral Logan spring back to life, Wolverine’s claws pop out and leap for Mary before we can only assume Typhoid sets Wolverine on fire, for the panel shows only a close up of her eyes sparkling with fire and a scream coming from Wolverine. Otto and Ennis do an interesting job of using parallelism by showing the same awakening scene happen again. Except this time we see the close up of Mary’s eyes before Wolverine pops his claws. Instead of leaping towards her, he asks her where they are who she is and more importantly who he is. We discover this same scenario has been happening for weeks while his body has been healing.

As the story progresses, we learn that Logan’s memory only lasts as long as he is awake, and any recollections from the past are at best fading dreams or a sense of Deja vu. After Mary makes a remark about how people can’t remember their dreams in color, it begins to make sense why Ennis and Otto chose to let most of the story remain colorless except for fire and blood. Although Logan can’t remember his past, he can remember how to do the one thing he does best and they decide to use their skills together in order to escape their prison. There’s a beautiful and violent scene which perfectly illustrates this approach. As Wolverine quickly snkts and kills many guards with trained precision, Typhoid Mary begins dancing, singing, and wrapping the screaming guards in blankets of fire. Blood drips and splashes from one panel to the next sequential panel, while Mary’s burning chaos are wide blazing panels. Even the pacing of the panels shows the dichotomy between their killing rhythm. Logan’s being three slices of panels followed by Typhoid’s stretched blazing panel interconnected with Mary’s burning lyrics singing across the tops. It isn’t until Logan smells the singed hair and sizzling fat of the guards does he pause his rage to witness Typhoid Mary’s blood lust. The following splash page is practically glowing and dripping from their fire and carnage. What is also interesting about this fight is the finesse of Wolverine’s attacks and defense. Wolverine doesn’t have the option to lay unconscious from a sentinel blast and a few seconds later jump right back into the fight. Because being knocked unconscious would erase Logan’s memory, Logan no longer has the option of running at bullets and using himself as a meat shield. Instead, we’re seeing the primal as well as the trained instincts of an immortal warrior.

Although the story doesn’t have any extra layers of plot or drama, it’s stripped down make your escape has always been the most suitable for Wolverine. Unlike many other incarnations of Wolverine, this story does not apologize for Logan’s killer instinct. With the narrative and dialogues, we learn this is a story about different aspects of killers. There’s Legion who is the Righteous Killer and always believes it’s a justified or merciful kill. Or there’s Mary. Because of her abusive and tragic past, Typhoid Mary became a sociopath for catharsis and defense. Then, there’s Logan who is a Darwinian soldier who survives by drawing first blood. It isn’t nice, but Logan’s the best at it.

Furthermore, Ennis’ Max series with Punisher and Fury, Ennis has proven that he knows what grit and grime can be found underneath the killers trigger, and that’s why this issue is the antithesis of what Wolverine had become over the last decade or two. Because of Wolverine’s popularity, he has been shoved into every corner of Marvel Universe. Now, not only does Logan have a past, but also it’s a messy one. Although it was nice House of M allowed writers to dive into unexplored aspects of Wolverine, it’s about time for the genie to be put back in the bottle. Instead of turning him into some Pseudo Xavier or Nick Fury, it would be nice for writers to remember the original Wolverine archetype, the immortal unknown soldier who is the best at what he does. Hopefully, much like what Born did for Punisher, this new Wolverine one-shot could hopefully re-calibrate Wolverine for future writers.

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