I have to give Damon Lindelof credit. For a comic that’s almost all transition, “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk” does it about as elegantly as possible. It’s an issue devoted to moving our characters out of one location and set-up, and into the endgame. By all accounts this should be boring, but Lindelof makes it a lot of fun with a combination of crazy science, an out-of-sequence narrative, and downright silliness.
Lindelof’s narration admits that the out-of-sequence turn of events is predictable in “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk,” but I actually think that Lindelof is someone who understands how to use that storytelling device. By shifting between the past and the present, Lindelof is able to dole out plot points that affect the present, but without giving away the pieces of information that everyone is hunting for and only Wolverine knows. It’s a simple but smart way to tackle the slow reveal, and it flows smoothly for the reader.
And of course, it’s hard to ignore the crazy science of “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk.” If you were able to make it through Wolverine being torn in half in the first issue and then dragging his torso towards where his legs had landed (four miles away), then you’ll be just fine with the stuff here. That said, Lindelof seems to be almost teasing the reader here, just seeing how far he can go. This is the same series that had a hamster injected with the Hulk serum, so it’s not taking itself terribly seriously. Some readers will probably be appalled with just how far Lindelof takes Wolverine’s healing factor here, but the rest of us will just laugh at the sheer ludicrousness.
I’m pleased that once the delays with the scripts were resolved that Marvel didn’t find a different artist to jump in and quickly draw the rest of the book. Leinil Francis Yu and Dave McCaig do such a beautiful job with this comic; from Wolverine wrestling a panda to tight close-ups on a character’s eyes, every panel is composed carefully and with a great deal of detail. Wolverine waking up from his dream, for instance, works so well with such a tight focus because everything he’s thinking and feeling is expressed in that single drawing of his eyes. You can see the surprise, the disorientation, and the sudden realization of his surroundings all in one. Yu has always been good with drawing texture and depth to a character’s face as well, and he hits it out of the park here. McCaig’s colors are a good match for Yu’s art, too; from the deep blue hue of Wolverine’s eyes to the shadows surrounding Nick Fury slowly receding as he steps into the foreground, McCaig manages to make his colors look not only beautiful, but natural and without any sort of fake looking glossy effect.
It may have been a long wait between issues #2 and 3, but now that the rest of the series is showing up, I dare say it was well worth the extra time spent. The Ultimate line at Marvel’s been floundering for a while now, but “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk” is a reminder of how much fun it could be, as well as the potential bound up in the titles. Good stuff, all around.