Jeph Loeb has been responsible for some of Marvel’s most critically-bashed comics over the last few years, so it comes with great pleasure to announce “Wolverine” #310, produced in collaboration with artist Simone Bianchi, is actually one of the best comics the writer has produced in a while. It may sound like faint praise, but technically speaking, it’s on another level. Notably, it’s utterly free of the bad characterisation and poor logic of Loeb’s “Ultimatum” and “Hulk” stories, and actually seems to have a plot — but it’s still nothing special.
In stark contrast to the average writing, Simone Bianchi’s art is frequently gorgeous, with inventive layouts and supremely detailed flourishes in every panel. Even the muddy coloring and clarity problems that negatively affect his earliest Marvel work have been ironed out in this issue. Characters pop off the page, action is easy to follow and it all looks brilliant.
The problem, however, is that the story he’s being asked to draw. Unfortunately for a story entitled “Sabretooth Reborn,” the appeal of Sabretooth’s return has been undercut by the character’s recent appearances elsewhere prior to the publication of this issue. This issue also relies on the reader caring about the return of Romulus, a villain who never had anything even resembling a point.
Furthermore, Loeb fails to sell him as much of a threat. The writer states he’s a shadowy manipulator, but given no real evidence of it. Before Romulus can land more than a few punches, he gets blind-sided by an entirely new character, collapses out of view and disappears for the remainder of the issue — hardly the actions of a villain worth worrying about.
The final page implication is also a spectacularly uninventive twist in Sabretooth’s resurrection story and not one that justifies such a long wait. Indeed, it raises more questions than it answers, but not in the good “tell me more” way of the best revelations. Rather, it creates plot holes the rest of the arc will now have to fill in order to make this a satisfying misdirection.
Still, as comics go, it’s merely unimpressive rather than particularly bad. It’s unlikely to make new readers care, but if you’ve been following the story of Romulus over the last few years, then at least it seems that you’re about to get some kind of resolution — and then we need never speak of him again.