Wolverine is Dead No More, and Nobody is Surprised

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Return of Wolverine 1

It's a toss-up as to which Marvel "hero" has the largest body count -- The Punisher or Wolverine. But I do remember way back when Wolverine finally got his own series, some few years after the Frank Miller miniseries, that the body count was what helped sell the title. The promo poster even showed Logan -- man without a past -- standing atop a pile of bodies, claws extended and ready for more.

So it's not much of a surprise that this is what people in the Marvel Universe would know him for -- being a killing machine. But Charles Soule puts a different spin on those perspectives, with not one but two ordinary people trying to remind this new Logan that he's seen as a hero.

Yeah, I said "new Logan." I'll get to that in a minute.

Logan awakens in a fire-ravaged laboratory. He has no memories, and he's surrounded by animals that should have gone extinct millennia ago -- most prominent in the background, a sabertooth. (Holy foreshadowing, Batman!) The head doctor is still alive, despite the place being shot up and burned, and he recognizes Wolverine in his blue-and-yellow (though tattered) uniform, and prays for a quick death after putting him on the trail of Persephone and her organization that did this.

But what is this facility, and what was the scientist doing there? It's a de-extinction lab, designed to clone life from ancient DNA. And for a human being, Logan is pretty ancient, so there's a better than average shot that this Logan is a clone himself. Or maybe that's just what we're supposed to think? Or maybe we'll be allowed to think that for years only to learn that this is the real Logan and the one we saw in the X-Men for a few decades was really the clone? (No, that's a story too stupid for any comic publisher worth their salt to attempt.)

The attackers aren't done, however, tossing in a grenade for good measure before taking off in their jeep convoy -- conveniently leaving a motorcycle behind for Logan to use to follow them.

And follow them he does, all the way to some kind of detainment center which they immediately set about to destroying with fire, shooting those who flee. Wolverine arrives to stop the slaughter, and we get an enigmatic hint that one of the guards has Omega Red technology in him. But Logan ends up knocked out, and needs medical attention for a would that isn't healing like his others are (neon "Plot Point" sign here). Fortunately he gets medical attention from a lunch lady who picked up all kinds of technical know-how just by eavesdropping on all the other scientists in the cafeteria.

I wonder if I can get an MBA by serving coffee at the Starbucks near the NYSE?

This new lady tells Wolverine more of why people see him as a hero, and why he wears the blue-and-yellow outfit. Well, that's what she promises to tell him, and then tells him that it's her guess. All the while, Logan is unlocking memories, seen as a "mind castle" of cell doors behind which lay various X-Men as well as enemies. And as his memories slowly begin to return, he decides to continue the path layed out (conveniently) before him, and pursue Persephone and put an end to her plans, whatever they are.

Honestly, I'd have more easily accepted this return if they'd used Wolverine's mutant healing factor, having him regenerate from a single drop of blood, but I guess that, too, is too far-fetched of a comic book plot to try. Whatever this is, and how if fits into a universe with X-23 and Old Man Logan and whatever other variations exist on timeline-collapsed Earth Marvel, it's certain to draw fans of the old canucklehead in droves. Charles Soule (whose off to kill Daredevil after propping Logan back up) has a story to tell, but it's told in leaps of logic and convenience. I really like Steve McNiven's pencils, Jay Leisten's inks, and Laura Martin's colors, but I think that Logan's regeneration factor may have gone to his head in the end -- or rather, to his hair, as that final sot of the berserker X-Man gives him the shaggiest of mops and chops.

3.5 / 5.0