“Wolverine” #305 offered up one small promise that was enough to hook me: art by Paul Pelletier. Of course, the Jim Cheung cover didn’t hurt any.
Wolverine has been through Hell (literally) lately. Not only has he been in every other Marvel comic published, but he has gone through some major character evolution. He’s been asked to choose between being an Avenger or an X-Man. He’s become the Headmaster of a school for the gifted and had to walk away from one of his most trusted comrades due to a philosophical disagreement. Naturally, it has come time for a writer to climb into Wolverine’s noggin and start knocking things over again.
Cullen Bunn does just that in this issue. With a series of grisly murders pointing to Wolverine as the prime suspect, Logan has taken himself off the board to try and figure out what’s going on, who’s messing with him and where he can find that unlucky son of a gun. Bunn puts Wolverine in a situation that encourages the X-Man to use his claws, his instincts and his heightened senses in addition to a thorough amount of introspection through caption boxes to introduce the reader to Wolverine as Bunn sees him. That Wolverine is the restrained wild man, a beast of a man haunted by his past yet hopeful for the future.
The aforementioned Pelletier art not only lives up to expectations, but far exceeds them, filling the pages with energetic, detailed art that features the compact Canadian mutant in all of his “doing what he does best” glory. The story itself features a compendium of flashbacks that Pelletier, inker David Meikis and colorist Rain Beredo masterfully separate from the present day tales they weave through. Bunn offers Pelletier shape-shifting brain monstrosities which the artist draws to horrific perfection. They certainly are not a prescribed Wolverine foe, but this installment is anything but prescribed.
In particular regard to Wolverine’s appearance, Pelletier makes him barrel-chested and more squat than he has been depicted since Hugh Jackman became so closely associated with the character. It’s a nice throwback to the glory days of X-Men comics, but with the modernized sensibility that John Cassaday put into the costume. Furthermore, Pelletier draws the wings on Wolverine’s mask as short-tipped and reasonable, Logan’s hair underneath is closer to the look Jackman sports in the movie and the claws are more like scalpels than pointy sticks. Cumulatively, it’s a great look for Wolverine. Pelletier also marvelously depicts certain members of the staff of the Jean Grey School in less than ten panels, imbuing the faculty with diversity beyond what other artists have shown. The connection between this title and “Wolverine & the X-Men” isn’t overbearing, but it does form a nice bit of connectivity between the two.
I haven’t been excited about a solo Wolverine book since — well, ever. I’ve enjoyed issues here and there and read runs intermittently as driven by the creative teams. This run certainly has all the makings of being another one of the runs I stick with due to talent on the title. “Wolverine” #305 is a tidy point for entering the mythology of Marvel’s most famous mutant and it appears as though Bunn and Pelletier are set to make the experience memorable. Personally, I’m hoping this title becomes one of the titles Marvel ships out more than once a month, that is how much I’m looking forward to it.