Ron Garney gave the opening arc on “Wolverine: Weapon X” a gritty sheen that served the story of mercs and killers and sharks and suits quite well. But Yanick Paquette is a different kind of artist. He’s got that whole cheesecake thing going on in the way he draws his female figures, and it made him a perfect fit for “Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer” and the stuff he did with Peter Hogan for America’s Best Comics. He’d be ideal for a “Wonder Woman” book, or “She-Hulk,” with his curvaceous but strong women.
Yet here he is, drawing a comic set in a bloody asylum, with brains in jars hooked up to machines, violence all around, and Wolverine completely losing his mind, dirty and sweaty, and grim. And this may be his best work yet. He captures the grit and the pain and the terror and yet he gives it all a sickeningly slick look that makes it all the more horrific. And even when he cranks up the cheese, like when Psylocke appears at the door of Logan’s lady reporter friend, it’s used to contrast with the horror, with the discordant bits on the other pages. And the little things, like using horizontal and vertical panel borders in the “sane” sections and the shards-of-glass style panel borders for the “insane” sections, help Paquette tell much of the story visually. Vibrantly, gruesomely so.
This is Jason Aaron’s best Wolverine arc so far, either on this title or the main series. It’s Aaron cutting loose into the madness that Wolverine always keeps bottled up. This isn’t the feral Wolverine, either; We’ve seen that many times before. This is the caged animal, frightened, off-balance, clawing at whatever stands in his way. And the villainous Dr. Rot might make a great recurring character for this series, if he survives this final issue of his story. I won’t spoil the ending, but it does offer some hope for more strangeness in Wolverine’s future. Terrible, terrible strangeness.
The plot of this issue, then? It’s a prison break, of sorts, with Psylocke and Nightcrawler bamfing in to save the day. Or bamfing in to perform psychic surgery on the giant melded brains in jars, while Dr. Rot tries the strangle Logan with the very intestines that Logan has sliced from Dr. Rot’s belly. You know, the usual.
I said it was horrifying and gruesome, and I don’t use those terms lightly.
But that’s what makes “Wolverine: Weapon X” #9 so good. It doesn’t pretend that it’s a superhero comic about a guy who used to kill but doesn’t really want to be a bad guy. It’s not Care Bear Wolverine with the sordid past. It’s a comic about a terrible man who has had to do terrible things. And it’s about a maniac who does things that are even worse, like carrying around a giant nutcracker to open skulls and pull out brains for his experiments. It ain’t for kids, gang. And you won’t see a Power Pack team-up anytime soon.
Jason Aaron is not-so-quitely carving out a Wolverine run for the ages here. And it demands a look.