Two issues into the "Insane in the Brain" arc, and "Wolverine: Weapon X" seems like a completely different comic than it was just a few issues back. This arc almost seems like it might have been Jason Aaron's original pitch for this series -- something weird, full of horrific moments, something disorienting and powerful. It's almost as if Marvel editorial said, "let's hold off on the bizarre for a little while. Write something about Wolverine vs. the military-industrial-complex for the opening arc. Something that fans of the movie would enjoy."
I know my speculation has no basis in reality, but that's how the first arc felt. It felt like a simple, straightforward (if well-told), completely accessible Wolverine story. Of course, it makes sense for a series to begin in such a way.
But "Insane in the Brain" is the Jason Aaron of "Ghost Rider," the Jason Aaron of "Scalped." This is what we've been waiting for.
Beginning last issue, Wolverine has found himself strangely imprisoned in an asylum. It's a nightmarish "Cuckoo's Nest" scenario, if Ken Kesey's novel had been made into a movie by Stephen King and Sam Raimi. His memories are gone -- a nice reversal of the "I remember everything" status quo of "Wolverine Origins" -- and the "doctor" running the asylum is a maniac who conducts terrible experiments on his patients.
Two gangsters show up looking to draft an insane loner-type who can help them get rid of a little attorney general who's in their way, and they get caught up mad Dr. Rottwell's vicious medical procedures. One of them ends up on the operating table, the other, well, let's just say that a patient with two chainsaws grafted to his arms is the best at what he does.
Meanwhile, Rottwell provokes Wolverine to unleash his bestial fury, for reasons we do not yet understand. Like Logan, we are completely disoriented, caught up in an awkward, terrible series of events from which there's no escape.
Yanick Paquette does a great job on the pencils here, and though he's perhaps best known for some of his cheesecake work on "Bulleteer" or "Terra Obscura," he's quite good at creating vicious, unsettling imagery. His Wolverine is visibly tormented, and his Dr. Rottwell, often shown in extreme close-ups on just his mouth, is suitably creepy.
If Aaron is constructing a Joker in Dr. Rottwell for the "Batman" Wolverine, then he couldn't ask for a better collaborator than Paquette.
Seven issues in, and this is the kind of "Wolverine: Weapon X" issue that we've been waiting for. It's not for the faint of heart. It's not for readers who thought the movie was the best version of Wolverine ever. It's for those of us looking for an offbeat, disconcerting Wolverine story. One that is a bit different from your normal superhero tale.