Wolverine: Debt of Death #1

Story by
Art by
David Aja
Colors by
Bettie Breitweiser
Letters by
Dave Lanphear
Cover by
Marvel Comics

Do you want 34 pages of stunning David Aja artwork over a solid David Lapham script with no ads for only $3.99? Are you down with Japanese WWII robots making with guns and bombs and general mayhem? Do you like a done-in-one tale that's satisfying and standalone and easy to share with others? I'm pretty sure you all said yes, so this comic is most certainly for you.

David Aja is the true star of this issue as his art drops a clinic on how tight and awesome comic pages can be. If there is a successor to Jim Steranko working in comics today, it is Aja. There's a mindset that a page is a whole entity that permeates so many of Aja's set pieces. The flow of action and excitement that directs the reader's eye is incredibly fine tuned. Aja makes the incredible seem even more so through the sheer mastery of making it look magnificent, but also making it come together as art.

Complimenting the art team, Bettie Breitweiser shows why she is one of the most evocative colorists gracing Marvel pages right now. Even an exploding kamikaze robot holds an antique hush in its final moments. While the art shows you the mood, the colors make you feel the mood right down to your bones. The pairing of Brietweiser with Aja is surely something we'll be treated to again because it works so seamlessly here.

This is a Logan story. We might see the adamantium a handful of times, but mostly it's just flannel shirts and a calm swagger. Lapham and Aja don't try to insert the musclebound X-hero onto these pages; this is just a guy protecting the son of an old friend in this story, with a sense of honor. And he knows how to get things done. This is the Logan that always feels true, at least to me. The Logan here is more the star of a 70s crime flick than some bombastic blockbuster popcorn flick, even though he does jump from a plane at one stage. Logan feels grounded, a little more real, and the issue works around this in its simplicity.

Nick Fury makes a great addition to the tale, especially as he gives Aja some free reign to do S.H.I.E.L.D. and its technology, and yet he feels underused. Fury's side of the case meets up with Logan's interest in a satisfying way but not in a spectacular manner. This is the only letdown of the issue. The actual tale behind all the mood and tone is good. It works, but it isn't always amazing. The conclusion is downbeat, in a funny kind of way, but it doesn't overplay itself. Perhaps that is actually a strength.

"Wolverine: Debt of Death" is an extremely well put together tale that operates across smooth stylistic pages. There should be more pulp one shots of Wolverine and Nick Fury in jackets and suits working hard against a world that won't ever get any better. This is the sort of issue you'll definitely find yourself reading again in a year, and thoroughly enjoying, if you haven't already lost it amongst your friends by that stage. Support this endeavor of Marvel doing a little something different, and of David Aja getting to drop more sequentials on us. Both are always good things.

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