After surviving Paul Cornell’s “Killable” storyarc from the Alan Davis-drawn Marvel NOW! series, Wolverine returns with a new purpose and a new volume of his own title in “Wolverine” #1, featuring art by Ryan Stegman and inker Mark Morales, colors from David Curiel and lettering from Cory Petit. From the first page to the last, the creative team flips Logan’s world upside down in front of the readers, providing plenty of familiar scenery along the way, but never becoming predictable or boring. For new readers hoping to catch on the adventures of Wolverine after discovering the character through one of Hugh Jackman’s vehicles — well, this isn’t your father’s Wolverine.
It also doesn’t feel much like a Wolverine comic book, despite the gruff, hard-edged lead character strutting through the pages of this issue. Part of that, for now, is that the “new purpose” mentioned earlier isn’t strongly defined. Instead, Cornell dumps Wolverine and the readers into a new situation and begins teasing readers with snippets from the recent past, presumably between the end of the previous volume and this iteration of “Wolverine” #1. I know Cornell is building a world and telling a long-range tale here, with a forecasted and much-touted payoff, but this first issue really misses the chance to sell the reader on any of these characters, new or long-established, and reduces Wolverine to an uninspiring cardboard cutout carrying his name and a mildly similar physical resemblance.
The mildly similar resemblance rests on the strength of “Wolverine” #1. While his compromised healing factor has Wolverine to make some wardrobe choices he would rather not, Ryan Stegman has managed to keep those choices sleek and familiar for readers. With rich, solid, crisp inking from Mark Morales, lavishly textured coloring from David Curiel and consistent lettering from Cory Petit, “Wolverine” #1 looks slick and sharp. Readers flipping through this are certain to be impressed and those hooked into buying it are getting a visual match for their money. Sure, Stegman makes some weird visual choices, like Logan’s almost floppy mop top and Wolverine’s hoody seemingly coming from the Hobgoblin spring collection with the wispy tuft jutting from the tip of the hood. It’s a look that is only accomplished in comics and cartoons, but strikes me as an odd visual choice in a book where the lead character’s machismo is being called into question.
Teaming with new allies Pinch, Lost Boy and Fuel, Wolverine is working for a man calling himself the Offer and working towards — well, we really have no idea by the end of this issue. Wolverine was having trouble keeping his Avengers membership from being revoked and this issue isn’t going to help his cause. “Wolverine” #1 is a different take on Wolverine, to be sure, but there’s nothing here that really hooks me. Cornell has provided a decent mystery, but not a great introduction to an instantly recognizable character or his new surroundings. With a deluge of new releases in this latest wave of All-New Marvel NOW! books, the publisher has become its own worst enemy and newer titles are going to need to be more convincing to win newer readers and keep them coming back. The big reveal on the final page of “Wolverine” #1 isn’t enough to ensure I’ll be counting down the days until the next issue, but it is enough to guarantee I’ll at least flip through the next one when I see it on the stands.