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The Fifth Color | The sum of Wolverine’s parts

by  in Comic News Comment
The Fifth Color | The sum of Wolverine’s parts

Wolverines is such a cheesy book.

The idea that fans would clamor for a book chock-full of weird Wolverine lore and characters who are effectively talking to each other about Wolverine and going through his motions almost seems like Mary Sue fan fiction, that “Enough about me, what do you think about me?” kind of egotism. It’s a very ’90s kind of book where Wolverine could head off on globe-trotting adventures and run into cyborgs and beat up Yakuza while lamenting his melodramatic past. Only it doesn’t actually have Wolverine in it. All the same stuff is happening, but just without the lead character. It’s kind of like having your “sales-boosting death” cake and eating your weekly series, too.

So why can’t I stop reading it?

I was willing to give the first issue a try, and Wolverines has remained on my pull list — despite my side-eye every Wednesday. I don’t even experience that weird “Wait, didn’t I already get this?’ feeling that most weekly series give me. The book is making me want to know what happens next.

Wolverine is the best at what he does, and what he does is be mysterious. It’s one of many reasons why he can fit into a variety of roles and situations as times and tastes change. “Who is Wolverine?” is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer, but there’s still a lot of information on the subject. The miniseries Origin wasn’t even really an “origin story,” as we typically think of them. Spider-Man gets bitten by a radioactive spider, loses his uncle and decides to be responsible; everything he does after has echoes of that turning point, no matter how many other turning points he reaches. Origin just gave us a series of events that might explain Logan’s inclination toward caring for redheads, but not much else motivation-wise.

As I’ve said before, Wolverine just makes himself up out of the parts he needs to play. He’s been everything from an action-hero lone wolf to a youth mentor and headmaster of a school, and steeped himself in rich genres (seedy dockside brawler, samurai pastiche, etc.). Luke Cage is a man of his environment; Wolverine is a guy who showed up here and is going to stab some fools. Or maybe he won’t! Who knows! It’s mysterious!

We know a lot about Wolverine, but readers still don’t have many answers, thus discussing the character is kind of fascinating and exciting. And so we have Wolverines, written by Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes, and illustrated by Nick Bradshaw, Walden Wong, Alisson Borges, Ariela Kristantina and Juan Doe.

WARNING: Spoilers for Wolverines, so grab your copies and read along!

Who are our “Wolverines”? There are some classic Wolvie favorites like Sabretooth and the obvious Daken and X-23. There’s Mystique and Lady Deathstrike, who’ve had shared some formative stories with Logan. There are the guys from the Weapon X Program miniseries, Neuro and Shogun. And then there’s Fantomelle, who I’m still unsure about, as she seems little too close to Fantomex in power design. Did I mention that not only does Shogun physically appear to be Logan, but is also possessed by the consciousness of Logan’s demon-masked mentor Ogun? This series wants to take a full base run of all of Wolverine’s crazy canon.

So far they’re dealing with some power changes and loss, something Wolverine handled on the regular with losing his adamantium or his healing factor whenever thee story required him to be vulnerable.  They’ve also fought Mister Sinister — an excellent villain for such a genetically manipulated bunch of characters — who’s seeking the adamantium-laced corpse of Wolverine, and they’re now on some soul-searching stories with the former Shi’ar Guardsman Fang, who’ss acting as a sort of Q-like being to show the Wolverines what Logan really thought of them.

The ghost of Wolverine haunts this book, big time, as the cast has done everything but stop the action completely to roundtable their feelings and theories about the dead man. Each character of our title represents one aspect or another of Wolverine, whether that’s his savage nature, his cunning, his dark past in Japan, the mental control the Weapon X project used on him, or his legacy through the eyes of a young girl trying to learn the lessons he passed down. In trying to pin down something that Wolverine represents, it’s the idea that instinct is a tool, whether controlled or running free. All of these characters seem to share that idea.

In a way, Wolverine is kind of like Batman: They both have supporting casts that are just as intriguing as the hero they help or hinder. Their rogues’ galleries are at their most interesting when directly opposed to the hero; the Joker on his own is kind of a random psychopath, but when facing Batman, they create a larger and more complex story that informs on both of their characters.

Nightwing is a product of Batman, and wouldn’t be the same without him. Likewise, X-23 is who she is because of Logan’s DNA and from what wisdom he tried to impart upon her. Sabretooth is a violent psychopath, but in direct opposition to Wolverine, they become two sides of a feral coin. Whether by design or accident, Marvel seems to have improved upon one of its most popular characters by taking him out of the picture entirely. The idea of Wolverine, what he can be, what he represents and brings out of others, is what drives his stories than a “snikt!” from the man himself.

Wolverines is unapologetic in diving into those themes and ideas and using them to bring new depth to a character who isn’t even there.

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