Okay so I haven’t really read X-Men since Chris Claremont took over in X-Men #100 waaay back there, so I am (once again) firmly out of the loop on this. Last I read Wolverine had just gotten married to Viper or some such nonsense. I’ve read him in Avengers and I read just enough of New X-Men to know I hated it and enough of Astonishing X-Men to know I liked it. But, as stated, I am out of the loop.
The issue starts with a good recap, which I appreciate, and I find I recognize most of the names. The ones I don’t recognize it takes the time to explain to me. We then open on an all-out battle between Wolverine, Sabretooth, and a bunch of ninja and I learn that this is actually part 8 of a story-arc.
Usually a 300th issue would mark the beginning or end of a storyline, so I kind of expected to be flipping a coin at whether or not I was at the start of a story or not, but that last thing I expected was “Part 8.” I’m glad that the writer/editor isn’t structuring the story around these arbitrary numerical milestones anymore. Good for you, Marvel. Wolverine’s daughter calls out to his and Sabretooth gets the upper hand for an instant, at which point Wolverine lays the most awesome of beat-downs on him and tells him that the reason he’ll never win is he has nothing worth fighting for.Wolverine then attacks his daughter’s boyfriend (I assume it’s him and not the Silver Samurai, their costumes look similar but different) and his daughter protests. Not sure if Wolverine doesn’t know who he is, is in a rage and would attack anything, or if just plain looking for an excuse to put it to the guy nailing his daughter. Time will tell I’m sure. Hey, I was right: this is the new Silver Samurai… and we’re now at Chapter Nine. Huh. Guess it doesn’t go by issues. And it looks like Wolverine either didn’t recognize the guy or doesn’t realize he’s dating his daughter.I feel like the art just got horrible…and yes, flipping back to the credits page, there is a different artist for Chapters 9 and 10. And he’s really, really cartoony and does not blend well with the others. But at the same time we’ve switched from ninja fight indoors to superhero fight outdoors, so the tone shift matches to style shift at least. Not sure if that was planned. If the artist change was needed, I applaud them for at least using it to their best advantage.
The Samurai has some impressive armor but Wolverine still takes him down pretty easily, healing back his hair the fastest I’ve ever seen. How did it know to grow back the exact same length as it was before? Does his hair have some pre-set length and style programmed into it that the healing factor just diverts back to every time? Getting haircuts must be frustrating.
Wolverine and his daughter get away, leaving the Samurai, who now Wolverine suddenly wants to save because his daughter is crying A LOT. I’m really not sure what to make of Wolverine’s characterization here. Anyway, we switched to a hospital where Wolverine unplugs a man in a coma only to reveal that he wasn’t in a coma. He was faking it the whole time, fooling even the nurses. They then fight without moving until the coma guy announces that Wolverine killed him. Were they fighting mentally, or is this some made-up ninja garbage? I don’t know. Meanwhile, the Samurai is getting tortured by The Hand as they put bugs in his skin. It’s just as creepy as it sounds.
Wolverine (now in costume) is outside and preparing to go in, but he is about to be ambushed by Sabretooth, Mystique and… the creepiest bunch of minions ever. Just look:Okay, let’s get to the grade, because this one is harder than Action Comics was.
Did I like this story? Yes and no. I feel like at its core it’s something I could enjoy, but the hit-and-miss characterization of the main character was hard to ignore. If he’d wanted to kill the boyfriend: fine. If he’d wanted to save him: fine. But switching from one to the other for no reason I can see is just weird. I’m not going to give a point.
The art is hard to grade, because I do like the art except for Chapters 9 & 10, when the weird cartoon artist took over. I’m think I’m still giving a point though because, no matter how it happened, the art change did get worked into the story, to the point to where it took me a minute to register it.
As a new reader coming in this story (or at least, this issue of it) works. The recap at the beginning is helpful, but the action speaks for itself and it satisfying. Point.
Wolverine is one of those characters easy to come back to even years later, so I managed to slip right back in without being lost. Yeah, another point. There are a few things going against this book that just prevent me from giving it my coveted seal of approval ;). It’s readable and any Wolverine fan should enjoy it, but would definitely be better taken with the rest of the story.
Back in Japan by Jason Aaron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“It’s readable and any Wolverine fan should enjoy it, but would definitely be better taken with the rest of the story.”