While I am not a fan of his work, one thing that stands out as a highlight with Jeph Loeb’s work is his ability to write to the strengths of his artists. This is most likely why so many popular artists enjoy working with him – he appears to tailor his work to their artistic personalities, making it most likely a lot funner working with Loeb than with a writer less in sync with their work. To wit, think of how dull it must have been for David Finch, who loves to draw action scenes, to draw Ultimate X-Men and New Avengers for Brian Michael Bendis, where most of the stories involved a good deal of talking heads.
In Wolverine #50, Loeb writes to the strengths of his artist, Simone Bianchi, and the ensuing comic, while not particularly good, is at least quite pleasant to look at.
One of the typical cliched storyline in Wolverine comics was that Wolverine would remember something that was blocked out in his memories, and we’d have a little bit of info about his past. House of M cleared that whole thing right up, but Loeb does an interesting trick in this issue to open up that avenue once again, asking the question, “How do you process memory? Would you be able to tell a memory from a dream if you got all your memories all charging back at once?” He uses this trick to investigate “The Lupine,” a fairly silly group of sabretooth-looking creatures that Logan has been dreaming about. Loeb fits in some amusing dialogue for Logan in the dreams, though.
Anyhow, the main gist of the story is that Wolverine comes to the X-Mansion to have it out with Sabretooth, who is currently a member of Rogue’s team of X-Men. Wolverine and Rogue have a nice little moment, and then the action begins – which takes up most of the rest of the story, twelve pages in all. Here is where Bianchi shines, as most other artists with the same photo realistic style of Bianchi tend not to be able to handle sequential work well, while Bianchi handles it quite easily, only getting a “too posed” look once or twice in the comic. Still, there is a great deal of impressive sequential work during the fight sequence. There is very little writing, but plenty of impressive sequential work!
We get a flashback to the Silver Fox days mixed in, with a nice character bit regarding Logan and his own personal guilt.
Then we’re back to the fight, and some cryptic questions regarding Sabretooth – HOW IS HE CONNECTED TO WOLVERINE? I MUST KNOW! I DON’T CARE IF IT TAKES FOUR ISSUES, I MUST KNOW! IT IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
The backup story by Ed McGuinness, making his Marvel sequential debut under his new exclusive deal, is silly, but it is meant to be that way, as it depicts Wolverine’s first appearance, facing the Hulk, only it is from Wolverine’s perspective, looking back upon it today – so we get a lot of meta jokes, like Wolverine making fun of his dialogue back then (“We had writers at Department H who told me what to say”). Then there is a real turn for the bizarre, which really looks like it was just Loeb allowing McGuinness to draw a certain cool recent Hulk/Wolverine scene. Very strange. But it was a fun little story.
All in all, there was not enough meat in the main story for me to recommend it, but the backup story was fun, and Bianchi’s art was quite impressive. I did not dig the writing in this comic, but I can certainly see it selling quite well, and that is a somewhat impressive aspect of Loeb’s work as well, he seems to know what will sell to an audience.
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