This issue marks Gregg Hurwitz's comic book debut, and it is a good one, as he is quite lucky to be paired with an artist as good as Marcelo Frusin, who (I believe) makes his Marvel Comics debut here, with a stunning looking comic book that has a good story, although it is unfortunately a bit familiar.
Honestly, I am a bit confused. Axel Alonso edited this year's Punisher MAX Annual as well as this comic. That book just came out last week. That book ALSO featured the Marvel debut of a writer from another medium (TV's Mike Benson). So wouldn't you think Alonso would want to avoid having each Annual have basically the SAME PLOT!?!
That is not a negative for Gregg Hurwitz, as all he can do is write a good comic book, but it is just way odd to me that both Annuals would feature a crook who spends the entire issue on the run from the star of the book, who the crook knows will kill him, with each writer choosing to make their work unique by really getting in depth with the thought process and background of the crook who is on the run and marked for death.
Hurwitz differs from Benson's story slightly, in that he features an aside where he shows how Wolverine was drawn into a bank robbery that turns deadly. How Wolverine gets drawn in is actually quite sweet, as Hurwitz shows Logan getting a touch of humanity in his life, only to have that humanity snuffed out just as quickly.
Hurwitz does a strong job giving us the story of a petty crook named J. Patrick Smitty, who has been waiting his whole life, all the while convincing/deluding himself that there is still time for him to change his ways and make his life better, which comes into direct conflict with his realization that Wolverine WILL kill him eventually.
Frusin's artwork on this issue is nothing less than stunning. He shows a brighter style than he used on Hellblazer, and a slight bit more dynamic, but still maintaining all the excellent characterization work he did on Hellblazer (and Loveless), where he can convey so much with his facial work. By the by, when I went back to an old Judging Books By Their Covers to get the image of the cover, I noticed I said "This cover does not do justice to how cool his interiors will probably look." I was so right.
This comic is a great look at Wolverine from the eyes of a crook, and it even a nice look at Wolverine's attempt to somehow find beauty in a twisted world. It is a good book. I look forward to Hurwitz' Foolkiller mini-series.