Things get real talky in “Savage Wolverine” #4, thanks to Frank Cho dropping Amadeus Cho (no relation) into the story to bring the readers and Shanna up to speed on where everyone is and what exactly Wolverine needs to do. Unfortunately, “talky” is not why I buy Frank Cho comic books. I’m mostly in it for the artwork that word balloons tends to cover up. No, not the cheesecake artwork of Shanna (although this issue does supply that in plenty) but the dinosaurs and other critters.
William Stout’s visual interpretations of prehistoric beasts made a distinct impression on me at a very young age. Frank Cho’s dinosaur work has always reminded me of Stout. When I saw the preview art depicting Wolverine fighting giant gorillas, and remembering this was in the Savage Land, I knew I would find some great artwork in this issue. Throw in an appearance by Man-Thing (sort of) and a surprise guest appearance on the final page and this issue delivers plenty of Cho’s art, depicting things Cho loves to draw, including Shanna. Jason Keith provides solid color work all the way throughout, making the jungles lush and green adding sharp contrast for the boldly colored Wolverine.
The art is definitely the strong suit for this book. Cho has pretty well thrown everything he wanted to draw at Wolverine and Shanna over the course of the four issues of “Savage Wolverine,” but the writing stretches a bit to connect those highlights. Cho comes up with a convenient resurrection formula, but also seems to forget that Wolverine’s mutant power is his healing factor. That builds some suspense into the story, but it also becomes a distraction. That follows a double-page spread of Amadeus Cho, Shanna and the local tribal chief talking for seventeen panels, but luckily is padded with Wolverine cutting his way through a tribe and three giant gorillas. To Cho’s benefit, however, he does add a couple funny moments into a story that is otherwise best told through his art.
Two books this week come down to fatal decisions that Wolverine has to make and of the two, this one is less successful in the argument it makes and the execution on Wolverine’s behalf. Frank Cho’s art is nice to look at and his subject matter is the very stuff comics and pulp were built around, but the story itself is thicker than it needs to be. The pages where Cho tucks the narration off to the side and lets the panels tell the story really shine and carry this book. Much as I was enamored with Stout’s artwork, but cannot recall a line of text from any of the Stout books I owned, I can see Frank Cho making a similar impression on readers of “Savage Wolverine” #4.