Wolverine: Savage #1

Story by
Art by
Richard Elson
Colors by
Veronica Gandini
Letters by
Dave Sharpe
Cover by
Marvel Comics

When you open this book, you might find yourself wondering about what you're reading. It starts with Wolverine fighting The Lizard, who is an odd choice of villain for Wolverine. After all, although there is a thematic similarity in both characters' "man with a monster inside him" setup, this aspect isn't actually explored at all. The Lizard seems largely chosen so that Wolverine can actually use his claws on a villain. After all, as the story notes, his extremities will grow back.

However, the battle with The Lizard unexpectedly turns out to be little more than prologue. In the course of the battle, the characters have wrecked a Japanese restaurant, and with an order to fill, the owners are in big trouble, so Logan steps up. Right where a more conventional superhero book would typically have its big action scene, this one has... several pages of Wolverine making sushi. With his claws.

It's all entertainingly barmy stuff -- not least the sound effects, which go "Slice!" "Dice!" "Julienne!" -- and I suspect your reaction to that is indicative of just how much you'd enjoy this story. The scene leads into a search for a secret ingredient, fights with sea monsters, and an encounter with a crazy castaway cook living in the aforementioned monster's stomach. Nothing about this book says "restrained." For that matter, nothing about is says "Savage," either, so unless the title's supposed to be an ironic joke, one has to wonder if Marvel had any idea what the contents would be when it was solicited.

Artistically, Elson's Wolverine is something of a departure from the character's traditional depiction, emphasizing the stocky, ugly attributes. It's a valid take, and almost welcome in an era of Hugh Jackman-inspired pretty-boy Wolverines. Elson's style manages to sell a world that features both realistic sushi kitchens and five story sea monsters just fine. While there aren't any visuals that'll particularly blow you away, it is all perfectly enjoyable.

The issue, then, is a rather odd mish-mash of styles. It's violent enough to show Wolverine using his claws on living creatures, but it's also tongue-in-cheek enough to show him doing the washing up. If you're the sort of person who avoids Marvel Adventures books because they're not in continuity, then this probably isn't for you. But if you're the sort of reader who appreciates a good story on its own merits, regardless of how it chooses to entertain you -- well, in having a sense of humor about its lead, it's instantly better than most of the other Wolverine one-shots we've seen recently.

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