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REVIEW: Wolverine: The Long Night #1 is a Sharp, Taut Mystery

Story by
Art by
Marcio Takara
Colors by
Matt Milla
Letters by
VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Publisher
Marvel Comics

To say Wolverine: The Long Night is a story about Wolverine is like saying Twin Peaks is a story about Laura Palmer. Both characters are intrinsic to the overarching narrative of their respective tales, but for the most part, they're ciphers in the background who push the protagonists along through serendipitous actions and their own various states of being. (Look, Twin Peaks is super weird.) The legend of a character can sometimes outweigh the direct impact they have. The stories conjured by people who have encountered them might be exaggerated or incorrectly remembered, but they add to their mystique.

Wolverine: The Long Night #1 takes a new approach to a character who has been endlessly overexposed in pop culture by bringing him back to his roots. In this story, Logan's legacy has been homogenized to its rawest form. It's mired in violence, which has always been the case, and shrouded in mystery, like it used to be. This version of Wolverine is part benevolent protector and part boogeyman, like John Wick with claws.

Adapted from the ten-part scripted podcast of the same name, Wolverine: The Long Night focuses on two federal agents who have been called to the sleepy town of Burns, Alaska in the wake of a string of grisly murderers, some of which may have connections to the titular mutant hero.

RELATED: Wolverine: The Long Night Podcast Sequel Details Announced

How much you love Wolverine: The Long Night is dependent on your interest in hard-boiled mysteries and exploitative police procedurals. This is a detective story first and foremost. Its tone is closer to something like the first season of True Detective more than it is to a typical Wolverine adventure. The bulk of this first issue (and a lot of the the podcast) is told through eyewitness interviews conducted by Special Agents Sally Pierce and Tad Marshall as they investigate the murders. These two characters make up our avatar. We watch the mystery unfold right along with them. And despite the fact most readers would have a working knowledge of Logan and his backstory going in, it's easy to get wrapped up in the mystery as if everything we knew about the character had been cast aside. It's quite impressive, really, but even more impressive is how fresh this feels, even if you're familiar with the source material.

How this would translate from an audio-only format to the graphic medium had some fans a little worried when this series was first announced. After all, the podcast is fantastic. The production, sound design, direction, and acting are all top notch, so why introduce a visual component into the mix? Well, for the same reason books are turned into films: To add a new dimension to the storytelling (and money, of course). This is precisely what the creative team behind this issue does with the comic adaption of The Long Night, and the result is one of the better Wolverine (Logan, or otherwise) comics published in quite some time.

Writer Benjamin Percy, who also scripted the podcast, leans into the trope of the small town shook by tragedy. His characters feel real, and their accounts are often legitimately harrowing. Each character may seem a bit cookie cutter at first (the Grumpy Sheriff Who Knows More Than Lets On, the Nepotistic Deputy, the Hardened Female Detective, the Kindly, Yet Quirky Locals, etc.), but each of them are so well-written, it's easy to brush off the feeling of having seen their archetypes pop up a million times before in other mediums. Percy's script jumps off the page, with stacked captions of narration always withholding a shred of information as the accompanied illustrations show the event how it really unfolded. The devil is in the details, after all.

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While some folks who have listened to the podcast may think this is just a simple retread (and they wouldn't be entirely wrong), it's still one hell of a comic experience. Much of the script is adapted verbatim from the podcast, but Marcio Takara's art makes it worthwhile for even the most jaded readers. The line work and stark inks give each character a stoic, noir-ish vibe. The desolate backgrounds of Alaska work like gangbusters to give the sense of loneliness and isolation. Matt Milla's colors are great, too. They feel muted and limited, which is exactly what a story like this needs.

Wolverine: The Long Night #1 may not appeal to fans who have already listened to the podcast or to readers who just want to know what's up with Logan in the main Marvel continuity (spoiler: it's super weird), but we assure you it's worth taking a look. Despite knowing how this story unfolds, having the visual competent is more than a novelty, and seeing Percy's script come to life with great art is a blast. After all, it's all about the journey; not the destination... especially when that destination is in a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere.

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