Comic book death is often referred to as a revolving door, so it’s not much of a surprise that Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi brought Sabretooth back from the dead in the current “Wolverine” storyline. “Wolverine” #311 is the second part of “Sabretooth Reborn” (the title making it not much of a surprise when he was revealed to still be alive last month), and unfortunately there seems to be little actual meat to the plot so far.
The main reason to read “Wolverine” #311 is for Bianchi’s pencils, which swirl and flow around the page. Moments like a flaming Sabretooth work because of how Bianchi, inker Mark Morales and the four colorists attached to “Wolverine” #311 bring that scene to life. The flame flows and explodes off of Sabretooth’s body with a level of energy that isn’t normally present for such a small scene.
Bianchi’s pencils are at their most eye-popping once the mysterious red-headed woman returns halfway through the issue. Her hair moves like it’s in a different form of matter than actually solid; it feels like a liquid or gas as it swirls around her, and it’s hard to tear your gaze away from the page. If it was revealed at the end of the issue that this mystery woman was in fact the Inhuman Medusa’s long-lost sister I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye. (Also, can someone please convince Bianchi to draw an “Inhumans” mini-series?)
That’s not to say that Bianchi’s art is perfect. Panel backgrounds drop out on a regular basis and there’s occasionally some less than impressive storytelling — like the first page, which focuses on body parts but ends up looking slightly silly rather than menacing. All in all, though, it’s fun to look at.
Loeb’s story still feels weak, like he was told to bring back Sabretooth but not that his heart was in it. The reveal from last issue that Sabretooth was being cloned over and over again (although the awkward phrase “DNA replicant” is tossed around instead of the more succinct word clone) had felt like a cheap way around the situation, and nothing is added to the mix this month. Instead it’s an extended fight with dozens of Sabretooth DNA replicants, and a last-page reveal on the red-headed woman’s identity. It’s also a reminder that this is a sequel to a long-running and almost universally-reviled storyline of Loeb’s with villain Romulus. While one can only hope that this storyline will kill off Romulus once and for all, this is a story called “Sabretooth Reborn.” In other words, there’s no reason why Romulus won’t promptly come back from the dead, too.
“Wolverine” #311 has some snazzy visuals courtesy Bianchi; where else can you get Wolverine in the cockpit of a plane while half a dozen Sabretooth arms crash in through the glass around him? In terms of a story with any real substance, though, you’d best look elsewhere.