Wolverine is a man with a laundry list of former lovers, most of whom one could describe as scorned. Wolverine Annual #1 adds another name to Logan's "little black book" as part of Marvel's "Acts of Evil" event, which sees heroes battle villains that they don't usually fight. While the story is solid and most of the art here works well, especially early in the issue, the familiarity of the story may not jibe with some readers. There is a very "been here, done that," vibe to Wolverine Annual #1, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The tone of this issue's story feels both current, and like a hodgepodge of comics from yesteryear. At its worst, it can feel like an exercise in manufactured nostalgia, but at its best Wolverine Annual #1 speaks in a shorthand to readers who are familiar with the tragic life of a semi-immortal man trying to find peace. This comic tries to tow the line as best it can, and for the most part, it pulls it off. Most Wolverine fans should find something to latch onto here.
The story centers around Logan reconnecting with a lost-lover he had a fling with in 1938. Of course, the romance wasn't as ideal as you'd might think, as an unlikely Avengers villain plagues Logan's chance to find love.
Jody Houser (Faith) clearly has a strong handle on the character of Wolverine. All hints Logan's life of trauma are played close to the vest. Her script treats Wolverine as the stoic, mysterious figure he was once was before the era of Marvel Comics Presents' "Weapon X" and the miniseries, Origin revealed all of his secrets. Houser is reaching into her repertoire of classic Logan tropes and capitalizes on them with loving affection.
The more taciturn approach to the character works like gangbusters and hearkens back to the Claremont-era of Uncanny X-Men. Even current running gags like the push-and-pull relationship between our titular hero and Spider-Man are worked in to add another layer to the world, making Houser's script feel like a greatest hits album to some degree.
Having Geraldo Borges (Adventure Comics) on art duty is always wonderful to see, but some of his character work isn't quite up to snuff this time around. The early pages of Wolverine Annual #1, which feature Spider-Man and Logan taking on a group of glass monsters is visually exciting, especially when we see the aftermath of Wolverine's devil-may-care attitude about getting up close and personal with enemies literally made of glass.
Unfortunately, the madcap tone, which is often undercut by some gnarly imagery, doesn't last. The romantic portions of this issue are illustrated well enough but are pretty boring to look at. Borges doesn't flex the same artistic muscles for static shots as he does with the action set pieces. Regardless, the book is handsome, overall, even if it houses more than a few strange artistic choices.
Overall, Wolverine Annual #1 is a fine read. It's not going to set the world ablaze or necessarily be anyone's favorite Wolverine story. But not every Logan comic has to be Claremont and Miller's Wolverine or Barry Windsor Smith's Weapon X. Sometimes you just need the hallmarks of the character presented in a tight, effective package that works.. And despite all its flaws, Wolverine Annual #1 does exactly that.