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When a Wolverine comic is $5.99 with 40 pages, I expect Wolverine to be on more than 23 of them. The actual number could probably be brought lower, given that several pages only have one panel featuring the character. “Wolverine” #12, the conclusion to “One Month to Die,” has two backup tales, neither of which portrays Wolverine for more than a handful of panels.

If it wasn’t so dark, the art would stand a better chance of buoying up the issue, but Pete Woods is given the chore of making a fight between Sabretooth and Wolverine look good when neither character is in his element. Creed is restrained by his business attire and Logan is without his adamantium. Sabretooth goads Wolverine into ditching his uniform, which acts like Captain America or Iron Man losing their helmets in the Marvel Studios’ movies: the characters faces and expressions are more accessible to the reader. Unfortunately, the duo has the same expressions they’ve had every other time they’ve danced this dance. The darker palette, the awkward setting and the uncomfortable characters prove to be a bit too much for this issue to overcome. Colorist David Curiel packs in lots of dark colors and once Wolverine removes his yellow uniform and the red-clad ninjas are dispensed, “Wolverine” #12 shifts to being heavily shadowed and dull.

In fact, shadowy and dull seems to be the theme for “Wolverine” #12 as Cornell narrates part of the battle between Sabretooth and Wolverine in caption boxes. It’s an unorthodox choice that doesn’t pay off. Instead of providing an overview or enhancing the action, it slows everything down and makes Wolverine considerably less interesting in what, by all rights, should be a thrilling fight scene. The narration could add color commentary to Woods’ drawings, but the two pieces seem content to stand separate from one another and each aspect suffers for it. Furthermore, the supporting characters have more of a spotlight and more active development than Wolverine does in his own title. When Cornell does turn the focus onto Wolverine, the character does nothing to inspire the reader nor elicit the reader’s sympathy. Essentially, Wolverine becomes a spectator in his own story, which turns “Wolverine” #12 into a limp rerun of a battle seen several times before encircled by character development for a handful of supporting characters that are mismatched for the adventures of a mainstay of the Marvel Universe — especially given that he’s about to get taken off the table.

The addition of two backup tales to “Wolverine” #12 fills out the page count of the issue, but is certain to leave readers more than a little disappointed. With the “Death of Wolverine” series coming up soon, “Wolverine” #12 seems to have been relegated to a combination of marching in place and tying up loose ends that may not have needed tying up. The “Guernica” story in particular offers little to enhance the main tale, Wolverine’s backstory or his future — short though it may be. Sure, it’s quaint, but it just seems that there should be a little more of Wolverine in this comic, and “Guernica” would have been more lively with the addition of Logan, Wolverine or even Patch.

“Wolverine” #12 falls well short of any hype established for this story and actually steps aside at the last minute, allowing readers to rush headlong towards where the end of Wolverine’s adventures should be. In its place is a wait for the “Death of Wolverine” series, with a side of Wolverine fighting Sabretooth and a hostage’s life on the line. I was hoping for more, but perhaps the onus of this disappointing issue is less on Cornell and crew and more on me for not having leveled my expectations prior to purchase.