“Wolverine: Switchback” is two stories under one cover, and the back-up story by Gregg Hurwitz is pretty good. (I’ll start with that one, because the main story — the story of the “switchback” itself — will get most of my attention.) Hurwitz is joined by artist Juan Doe, who’s animation/graphic design style complements the viciously humorous tone of the story quite well. There’s very little to the action story, as it’s just Wolverine unleashing on some vicious criminals, but it sure looks nice. It’s the kind of idiosyncratic look that I’d like to see more of in mainstream superhero comics.
But it’s the lead story that really makes this issue worth the price of admission.
I’m not familiar with the work of Joseph Clark or Das Pastoras, but I like their approach in this comic. Pastoras uses a fully-painted style that I can best describe as Richard Corben meets Frank Quitely meets pastel colors. Some of the faces get a bit wonky (especially Logan’s face from certain angles), but the lush backgrounds and clean compositions make up for any anatomical strangeness. Pastoras’s style meshes perfectly with the western-themed story by Clark. In essence, it’s a wild west tale with a modern spin.
Clark and Pastoras give us the story of a malicious sheriff who doesn’t much take to strangers rolling through his town. It’s a story as old as literature — think Polyphemos in “The Odyssey,” the prototypical example of poor hospitality — and we’ve certainly seen Wolverine butting heads with authority figures in the past. But Clark and Pastoras tell the story with their own original voice, giving us a Logan who isn’t quick to enter into a berserker rage. Their Logan slowly uncovers the details of the deaths at the “switchback,” a particularly harsh hairpin-turn. He knows who’s responsible almost immediately, and he provides a slow-burn revenge, letting the corrupt sheriff set up his own downfall.
Pretty much all of these Wolverine specials (and it seems that we’ve seen a lot of them in the past year) tell the same kind of story: Wolverine finds out about some bad stuff going on, he pops out his claws, and he takes care of business. “Wolverine: Switchback” isn’t any different, but at least it looks great, and the subtle details of the story make it a cut, or a snickety-snikt, above the rest.