The cover to “Wolverine: The Best There Is” #1 has a big warning: “Parental Advisory! Not for kids!” with ‘not’ underlined. An early preview for this issue has almost two pages completely censored for being ‘too violent.’ And, yet, there’s something desperate and sad about the attempts to convince people that this Wolverine title is ‘extreme’ and ‘disturbing’ when so many measures are taken inside to keep it tame enough, because, obviously, a Wolverine comic can’t be too ‘mature.’ I mean, they even censor the word ‘ass.’ How ‘unsuitable’ can a comic that censors the word ‘ass’ be?
That’s where this comic becomes an oddity. In many ways, it tries to hold itself back by keeping the more overt and obvious offenses under wraps, while having no problem with a naked Wolverine slaughtering the spectators at an illegal operation where they kidnap and force mutants to fight one another. The contradiction between that and something like censoring the word ‘ass’ crop up again and again throughout the issue, creating an odd impression of a comic that wants to be a MAX title, but isn’t allowed to be. It’s a watered down version of itself and just as unsatisfying as that sounds.
The potential for a balls-to-the-wall insane Wolverine comic is here. Charlie Huston takes advantage of Juan Jose Ryp’s gloriously intricate art and ability to depict grotesque violent horrors by giving him lots of violence and strangeness to draw. If you’ve seen his work on “No Hero,” the idea of Ryp drawing a naked
Wolverine being treated like a dog before he kills everyone seems like a natural fit. He draws the fits of violence in flashes, mimicking the ‘blacked out’ nature of Logan’s mindset, the idea that what happened would come back to him only in brief flashes of memory. It’s effective and builds to the final panels in the sequence where a crazed Wolverine stands naked, covered in blood, about to kill the last one before it ends with a giant SNIKT!
That opening scene is divorced from the rest of the issue, setting the tone of massive amounts of violence being par for the course, while an equally massive amount of swearing is censored in the most annoying way possible. The issue proper centers around Logan hitchhiking his way home and winding up at a giant party. Here, Huston doesn’t get the tone of Logan’s character right. The dialogue is too casual and doesn’t sound like the character much of the time. A reason for some of his behavior is given, but not all. That it doesn’t ring true is distracting.
There’s a lot of potential in “The Best There Is” #1 to set itself apart from regular Wolverine comics the way “Deadpool MAX” has set itself apart from regular Deadpool comics, but there’s a hesitancy to pull the trigger and really let Huston and Ryp loose to create an over-the-top comic that’s legitimately not for kids. If the book could settle on a tone, it would be much more successful and entertaining. As it is, it’s a slightly above average beginning with a strong cliffhanger.