“Death of Wolverine” #2 continues Charles Soule and Steve McNiven’s solid sendoff for Logan. Though the storyline isn’t particularly inventive, and some scenes suffer from a lack of context, the elements that are working well outnumber those that aren’t. With detailed art from McNiven and Leisten and a taut script from Soule, “Death of Wolverine” is effective and graceful despite its problems.
Whereas the first issue explored Logan’s roots in Canada and the wilderness, issue #2 takes him to Madripoor, where he ends up face-to-face with rivals and friends from the past, such as Viper, Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. The inclusion of these characters is appreciated, but they all appear quite suddenly. What are they doing in Madripoor? Why did Sabretooth’s circumstances change so dramatically? How did Lady Deathstrike get into Viper’s lair? Soule provides only some answers, and even those are cursory. On some level, I understand that those answers aren’t as important in an event book like this, but the mechanics of story should still hold some sway. It lessens the impact of these appearances by making them feel a bit too convenient and abrupt.
Still, Soule’s script is otherwise neat. This issue is wordier than its predecessor, but Soule isn’t afraid to let things get quiet when he needs to. The narration via Logan’s senses doesn’t yet feel gimmicky, though a fair amount of credit for that goes to letterer Chris Eliopoulos. The ‘senses’ words — “Sweat”, “grave dirt” “cyanide” — are positioned to build tension and suspense, rather than to clutter the page. (Eliopoulos also handles a glimpse inside the information overload of an Iron Man helmet with aplomb.)
The artwork is strong and detailed, and it’s also clear that the creative team put some thought into Logan’s post-invincibility fighting style. Without his healing factor, Logan needs to be more precise and cautious; he can’t barrel into the fight without hesitation. The team really drives this change home in this issue’s two fights — first with Viper’s ninjas, and then with Sabretooth. The ninjas are dispatched in two silent 3×4 pages, where the only sound effects are for Logan dropping his backpack and his sunglasses. Most of the panels are zoomed in on precisely placed punches or efficiently used elbows. When McNiven and Leisen do offer a wider perspective, the tiny scene feels tactical rather than dramatic. Justin Ponsor’s greens and brown-greys further emphasize that this is not a brawl; it’s a calculated execution.
With Sabretooth, the fight is obviously, expectedly messier. There’s more blood, explosions and “Rrragh!” effects, but Logan is still doing more dodging and thinking than attacking. There’s even a splash page that highlights Logan’s previous fights with Sabretooth, emphasizing the contrast between then and now. It was inevitable that “Death of Wolverine” would need a Sabretooth scene, and while this isn’t the most satisfying denouement for their rivalry, it hits all the necessary points.
Thus far, “Death of Wolverine” is turning out to be a thoughtful finale for Logan. It isn’t doing anything unexpected or imaginative, but the team pays respectful attention to the character’s storied past. In its deliberate and careful treatment of a well-loved character, “Death of Wolverine” isn’t going to enrage or drive away any readers — though its price tag still might.