Everything surrounding the death and eventual return of Wolverine has been bonkers. In comic books, resurrecting dead heroes requires readers to offer up a heavy dose of suspending disbelief. After all, we're talking about characters who fight intergalactic threats while wearing tights, so most of us are in agreement that a little bit of weirdness comes with the territory. But what has been happening with Wolverine is on a whole different level, and Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 is a prime example of everything weird and terrible about the return of everyone's favorite Canadian superhero (sorry, Deadpool).
Full disclosure: I love Wolverine (I have a tattoo of the guy, for crying out loud), and he's been my favorite superhero since I was nine years old when I was first introduced to him on X-Men: The Animated Series. I recall, very vividly, hounding my family to buy me the hero's Toy Biz action figure, with the brown and tan costume and spring-loaded claws that popped out with a flick little plastic switches. He even came with a ring which doubled as his mask. Shortly after finally (FINALLY) getting this action figure, he sat in his box for months, collecting dust -- I was too afraid to open the package. Eventually, he came out to play and get into fights with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures (he always won, by the way), and my younger brother, who was five at the time, lost that mask ring. The meltdown I had was on a catastrophic level; it was as if I had lost my wedding band. So when I preface this review with a long anecdote about a chintzy piece of plastic, it's to illustrate the fact that I've been ride or die for Logan for decades.
This deep love for a character can be poison for some comic fans, but while I haven't always been pleased as punch by some storylines or revelations surrounding Wolverine, my love for him has never wavered. When writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven put Logan down "for good" in Death of Wolverine, I had mixed emotions, but I took the emotional hit and trudged along, knowing full well that this was anything but permanent. However, I never thought his return would be mired in so much cosmic gobbledygook, and so Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 is a tough sell. Instead of pushing things back to the norm of Logan either being a gruff nomad or a prominent member of the X-Men, the cosmic craziness keeps getting pushed further and further to the forefront.
Writer Gerry Duggan (Deadpool) isn't doing bad work, but the canvas on which he is painting is over-sized and unwieldy. The issue starts out pretty solid, with Wolverine coming back to the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. There is some wonderful poetic narration, which feels very much in tune with the character, and it's all illustrated in gorgeous widescreen panels by artist Andy MacDonald and colorist Jordie Bellaire.
Those first few pages actually quelled my anxiety about a comic that sports a cover featuring the ridiculous image of Wolverine's claws popping out of the Infinity Gauntlet. And then... the rest of the issue happens. What ensues next plays out like a recap of all the insane Infinity Stone-related happenings that has played out in pages of Infinity Wars and its related titles. In fact, there are so many editor notes referencing other issues, this comic can't really stand on its own two legs. Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 feels more like a collection of footnotes more than it does a cohesive narrative.
If you've been invested in the story of Wovlerine's return so far, then this issue will help move things along and might be a satisfying epilogue to that series. Most of the line work by MacDonald is pretty great, and Bellaire's colors pop when they need to, so on an aesthetic level, the issue is solid. The story, of course, is a bit of a slave to the bigger crazy narrative, which is a shame. That, combined with the turns this issue takes, won't necessarily earn new reader interest. As a result, Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 is a mess, but it's a mess in a sea of an even bigger and messier event.