Writer Charles Soule takes the checklist for a character's demise and discards it right in front of the reader in "Death of Wolverine" #4. Logan could have easily gone down in a blaze of glory, claws slashing all the way through whatever fiery ending Steve McNiven could draw, but instead Wolverine is allowed an honorable exit from this world. Soule and company certainly leave the back door cracked enough to let Wolverine find his way back into the land of the living, but for now, as of the conclusion of this event series, Wolverine is no more.
Amazingly, it isn't any of his greatest foes that take out the berserker Canadian. Wolverine doesn't have his life flash before his eyes. He doesn't regale his foe and the reader with the trials he's endured. He simply does what needs to be done, the same as Wolverine always has.
Soule doesn't completely forsake the story -- he does deliver Wolverine's demise (or at least his apparent demise). As readers know, comic book deaths are less than permanent, but Soule provides Wolverine with a respectful, honorable passing. Nothing greater than the hero deserved and nothing subversive to the honorable man. If nothing else, Soule affords the readership with a chance to say goodbye and to truly take inventory of what Wolverine means to each of us. He also gives Wolverine -- scruffy Canuck brawler or Hugh Jackman-wannabe -- a chance to have one last knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish.
Steve McNiven draws the claws and wounds, sparks and molten adamantium, giving each detail of Soule's story one thousand words worth of visual finesse. Every expression he draws is an expression readers are certain to have seen or even used, despite the fact that the scenarios stretch to the limits of imagination itself. Even though "Death of Wolverine" #4 lives up to its name (and throws in a few more deaths for good measure) McNiven, inker Jay Leisten and colorist Justin Ponsor make this issue beautiful. Filled with scenery from Paradise Valley, Nevada and vicious battle details, the artists truly fill this book from cover to cover.
Not unlike the silent Snake Eyes issue of "G.I. Joe" from the 1980s, the best parts of "Death of Wolverine" #4 are described through the visuals. Soule's story is there, present in every line of McNiven's art, but Eliopoulos knows when to get out of the way. Naturally, he also knows when to get in the way and the final exclamation -- truly the second-to-final -- from Wolverine that is just a caption box filled with excruciating jaggedness tells the reader all about the pain Logan is experiencing while also wordlessly saying, "Truly, you will never know what this feels like."
Wolverine's death certainly feels like it has been drawn out for a massively long time, but this issue brings closure. Soule, McNiven and company ensure that "Death of Wolverine" #4 buttons up some loose ends, shows Wolverine at his best and makes readers want just one more adventure. Yes, there are plenty of Wolverine-tinged tales coming up as Soule spearheads "The Logan Legacy" and the recently announced weekly "Wolverines," but at least Logan is given a chance to go out like a legend.