“Savage Wolverine” #1 by Frank Cho is a good book. The front cover sells a pulpy strange vibe of sexiness and design. The actual narrative isn’t truly delivered in this issue, but the tone certainly is. In some ways, this book is successfully a little new and unique for Wolverine, with the main hiccup coming from the use of Shanna the She-Devil. Other than that, “Savage Wolverine” #1 is a cool book with a great start to an action-packed narrative.
Frank Cho and colorist Jason Keith work very well together to deliver a glistening product that feels pretty as well as functional — with the exception of Shanna the She-Devil. Amidst the technological feat of the helicarrier and the toe to neck uniforms of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents is Shanna in her jungle bikini outfit. She looks ridiculous, like an anachronism — not only because of her prehistoric roots, but her representation of the misogynistic ’60s. Shanna was created amidst a plan to lure in female readers and she failed abysmally. Looking at her again today, it’s easy to see why.
Aside from Shanna’s anachronistic presence, there is another problem with how Cho often depicts her in the issue. When contained to small panels, which Cho expertly uses to deliver plenty of bang on the page, Shanna looks normal, but once she’s given room to dominate a page — like when she lunges out to stab Wolverine — the problem comes forward. Let’s just say, politely, that her anatomy is rendered incorrectly and could even be seen as body type offensive in places. Many readers may not mind the depiction, but it was a major negative sticking point for me and greatly affected my overall view of the book.
Beyond the glaring problem of Shanna’s representation in this comic, there is a cool narrative hiding away. Wolverine in the Savage Land tracking some S.H.I.E.L.D. mission gone awry and attacked by reapers is a fine way to spend an afternoon. This is like a modern take on a Burroughs novel but with more spandex in it. It’s high fun and Cho delivers enough action mixed into the story to make this an engaging first issue. However, this book is incredibly violent. It might not become gory but it still depicts Wolverine openly decapitating and murdering Neanderthal soldiers. I wasn’t expecting this level of violence, which threw me for a moment. There are also a few discrepancies with Wolverine’s character as he feels far too at ease with this violence and his sensory skills are questionably applied.
“Savage Wolverine” #1 is the sort of comic that scores drastically different in a variety of columns and ends up with a score that reflects neither end. I truly enjoyed this story, and I’m hooked to know more of what happens next, but I’m uncertain I can get past Cho’s depiction of Shanna. If you’ve been longing for the days of the swimsuit edition comics of Marvel, then you can jump all over this. Otherwise, you’re either going to find this issue distracting or offensive. In the end for me, there isn’t enough to get over the one glaring problem this book has. A shame really because the ‘savage’ and the ‘Wolverine’ aspects of the book are top notch, it’s just what comes in between that ruins the recipe.