“Savage Wolverine” #6 is the first instalment of a long-anticipated story by writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Madureira, re-teaming following their fantastic debut collaboration on “Avenging Spider-Man” in 2011. Originally pegged as an arc in that book, the story’s teaming of Spider-Man, Wolverine and Elektra is just as home in this title — possibly even more so given that the focus of this issue is on the premier Canadian superhero himself.
Visually, it’s everything readers expect of a Joe Mad book. The art is the reason to buy it, and although Madureira’s style can be divisive, there’s little question that the storytelling fundamentals are fantastic. It’s not just anime-inspired in appearance, but in framing, expression and technique, with all the energy that implies. It almost doesn’t need the words. Madureira’s art brings out the essence of the characters in so many ways.
However, it does help that Zeb Wells is around to knock out a script that can compete with such visuals. He’s shown time and again that he’s one of the best Spider-Man writers around, but his Wolverine and Elektra are just as good. There’s a fantastic treatment of Wolverine in the opening pages, in particular. It’s proof of how much skill there is that just as art doesn’t need a script, the script almost doesn’t need the art — you can tell who’s speaking almost purely from the words they’ve chosen.
Clearly, Wells and Madureira are a near-flawless pairing, never at odds with one another. Although the story itself appears to be a reasonably nondescript team-up, it doesn’t especially suffer because of that. Instead, it feels like it’s demonstrating how good superhero comics should be from month to month, even if there isn’t an event or major status-quo change going on. It’s almost entirely out of its time (Peter Parker fans, here’s your chance to see him alive again! In the recent past!), but that just lets readers focus on accepting it as an entertaining story first and foremost.
In all fairness, there are things that might turn people off. The issue’s mixture of Elektra, Bullseye, the Kingpin, Japanese villains and Wolverine doesn’t exactly break new ground, and Spider-Man disappears halfway through. The final page reveal doesn’t quite land, because it’s more heavily reliant on visuals than position as a story beat — and despite how dynamic the artwork looks, there isn’t actually a lot of action. Those looking for a big fight scene will have to come back next issue. Still, with craft like this, that’s not a problem, because there’s a very good chance that you’ll want to.