The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Wolverine’, ‘G.I. Joe: Origins’ and ‘Uncanny X-Men’

For yesterday’s Pull List Comic Reviews, go here. Otherwise, read on for today’s.

Wolverine #74 – Marvel – $2.99

Score: 7.0

wolverine-74-coverWolverine #74, the final issue before the series becomes Dark Wolverine and focuses on Wolverine’s son Daken, concludes the two stories started in the previous issue. The first is a story about an old biker friend of Wolverine’s by the name of Horrorshow who has asked a favor of Wolverine, to find and help his son who is believed to have killed members of Horrorshow’s biker club and set the wheels in motion for a war between two gangs. While other leaders of the gang pressure Horrorshow in to declaring war, Wolverine appears back at the bar to let his friend know that his son is dead.

Obviously not happy about this news, Horrorshow takes his anger out on Wolverine. As Wolverine is knocked unconscious from the attack which he doesn’t defend himself, a flashback ensues showing what happened between Wolverine and Horrorshow’s son. Though not a critical tale to Wolverine’s mythos, this story has some very interesting aspects as it lets the reader in on so much of his emotional state. While he has fought tooth and nail with his son Daken in Wolverine: Origins, this is the first time that Wolverine has ever really be able to voice his feelings about the situation.

Specifically, his thoughts on the redemption of others are covered rather bluntly in the issue. Daniel Way does a good job in this aside story for Wolverine. It’s nice to see him somewhat out of his “normal” element as he now appears in so many books where he is always surrounded by cataclysmic confrontations with megalomaniac super villains. Here, Wolverine gets to act human and have real emotions and reactions.

He doesn’t need to act on his animalistic instincts. He gets to actually be Logan. Tommy Lee Edwards’ art is something that can go either way for the reader. The same style as the Marvel: 1985 miniseries, it comes across in a very sketch-like style, very similar to what you’d see in courtroom sketches. It’s not something that does it for me but it is also not something that detracts from the story either. The dark theme of the story is actually helped by the shadowy lack of detail at times.

The second story, the conclusion of “A Mile in My Moccasins” plays off the commentary that many fans and critics have about Wolverine appearing to be everywhere at once in the Marvel world. One day he is with the New Avengers, the next he’s with the X-Men and then the next he is leading a covert team in X-Force. Apparently we readers aren’t the only one to notice this as Spider-Man sees this happening, and being one of Wolverine’s teammates takes it upon himself to have an intervention with Logan.

After a confrontation between the two that is interrupted by an attempted robbery at the bar they meet up in, Wolverine shows Spider-Man that he has heard everything he has been told that night, again allowing for a look inside Wolverine (metaphorical of course, this isn’t one of the issues where he is ripped in half). Wolverine explains for the first time why he does what he does, why he runs himself ragged.

Again, this issue deals with the theme of redemption but instead of his take on the redemption of others, Wolverine lets the reader in on his thoughts of his own. Writer Jason Aaron and artist Adam Kubert do a great job with the always awkward interaction between Spider-Man and Wolverine. Kind of the big brother always looking after the unwanted little brother in most instances, this time it becomes the little brother trying to step up and watch out for the one who is usually protecting him.

Between the uneasy advice Spider-Man tries to give to Wolverine’s uncomfortable body language, the relationship between the two long term friends feels very genuine in this issue, something not all creative teams have been able to capture as well. This story actually forsakes all fight scenes, having them play out off page and focuses purely on the characters and the relationship between the two.

It will be interesting to see what happens next month when the series becomes Dark Wolverine. While Daken has proven to be a somewhat interesting character, there hasn’t been much buzz for readers clamoring for him to get his own series. This would also mark Marvel’s only current ongoing series with a solo villain as the main character.

It seems odd that they’d change a current successful series to do so as well, instead putting Wolverine as the main character of his two spin-off titles, Wolverine: Origins and Wolverine: Weapon X. Regardless, it has become a dark place in the Marvel world with more villains coming to the forefront. Hopefully Daken will be able to take the reins from his father and run with the momentum he has been given.

Uncanny X-Men #511 – Marvel – $2.99

Score: 8.0

uncanny-x-men-511It’s interesting to note that lately, many of Marvel’s top titles have been the ones with the lower price point. While many of the $3.99 books try to pack in “bonus” content to justify their higher price tag, the most popular and better written books still come for $2.99 and are often the better sellers too. This happens to be one of those stellar $2.99 issues with Matt Fraction teaming with Greg Land and Terry Dodson to complete their sisterhood story arc.

At the end of the previous issue it was revealed that Madelyn Prior and her sisterhood had attacked the X-Men all in search of one item that Logan had been keeping hidden, a lock of Jean Grey’s hair, in hopes of using it to allow Madelyn to posses Jean’s body. This issue picks up with a cold silence between Cyclops and Wolverine as they head to where Madelyn must go to exhume Jean’s body, the ruins of the Xavier school. The remainder of the issue is a large battle happening on multiple fronts between various X-Men and the Sisterhood.

One thing that comes to mind reading the issue is the question: “When did Dazzler get to be a badass?” She most certainly wasn’t back in her disco days and she definitely wasn’t in her appearance in X-Men: Manifest Destiny. But in this issue, there’s a whole new side to Dazzler. Maybe Jim McCann will get that Dazzler miniseries after all now that he’s done with New Avengers: The Reunion. In addition, former X-Men and Exile, Psylocke is given a chance to shine in the issue as she battles for control of her body on another plane with a corrupted version of herself that had been resurrected by Madelyn and Spiral.

It feels like part of this arc was set up by Fraction to allow himself to pick and choose the members of the X-Men team he wanted to move forward with. With the X teams often going through so many roster changes, it doesn’t feel like a force and will hopefully lead to some very interesting team dynamics. Wolverine being caught with a lock of Cyclops’ dead wife’s hair.

The homosexual Northstar teaming with a former disco queen Dazzler. Even Colossus and Psylocke both dealing with having been recently resurrected. One of the most interesting dynamics comes from the interaction at the end of the issue with the somewhat menacing message Beast gives Cyclops as he prepares for an expedition with his X-Club. The two are the oldest friends still active on the X-Men team and to see them acting that way with each other is pretty shocking.

Fraction and Land are a perfect combination for the Uncanny X-Men. Each understands the characters they are working with perfectly. Even in his team profile captions, Fraction’s humor brings the reader further in to the X-Men world. Always done with utmost respect, Fraction’s commentary is conscious that the reader knows these characters and doesn’t need the same generic description for the characters.

He allows for an inside joke that real fans can appreciate while also giving some insight to newer fans at the same time. While Dodson’s almost animated style that will be seen more in the upcoming Dark X-Men story works well, Land’s artwork is so much more expressive and emotional with all the characters. He does a fantastic job making something look so good that you almost forget you are reading a comic book. This has been one of the better recent X-Men runs and will hopefully continue to build as Utopia and the Dark X-Men come ever closer in the coming months.

G.I. Joe: Origins #4 – IDW Publishing – $3.99

Score: 6.5

gi-joe-origins-coverContinuing the re-imagined origin of the G.I. Joe squad, this issue picks up with Duke, Scarlett and the rest of their team advancing on the villainous Chimera’s desert hideout. Chimera, being a twisted individual opts to let the Joes enter his facility and try to capture one instead of just taking the easy option of killing them off before they can even enter. Before the fireworks can go off, Chimera puts one of his generals in charge as he must “handle” his hostage negotiation.

What comes next is a series of quick and brutal scenes from the battle between the squad and Chimera’s forces. This is the first time this group feels less like the campy Joe’s of the 80’s cartoon and more like the other current series. In war, people die. In this issue, it finally feels like a war has begun.

All the while as this is going on, Snake Eyes has negotiated his way (without ever speaking) on to a plane that will take him to the rest of the team. If anything, this issue goes to prove just how badass Snake Eyes is as a character as he jumps out of a low flying plane with no parachute just to aid Scarlett and the others.

Despite Larry Hama’s experience writing G.I. Joe in the past, this series still lacks something the other current series have nailed down. Something still almost comes across as campy about the dynamic of the team, though with the violence of the battle and the way Chimera “handles” his hostage situation it finally feels like the series has jumped up to a more mature level. Part of what also doesn’t help the book is how Scarlett, Duke and Snake Eyes receive all the character development while Rock and Roll and the others are left as merely big guns with big muscles who were just thrown in to provide more bodies for the firefight. The lack of depth makes the interactions feel less meaningful as the reader knows so little about them.

At the same time, this issue is a step in the right direction for the series. For the first time since the first issue, it feels like something important is actually playing out instead of just setting up pieces on a chess board. The actions of the series’ key players are drastic and intense, which works great as it has been the lack of action that has held the series back. While this miniseries and G.I. Joe: Cobra are both coming to an end, only time will tell which, if either, have an effect on the current ongoing series.

In the current series, Scarlett has hinted at something that looks like it may come to pass in the final issue of G.I. Joe: Origins. Regardless, the nostalgia factor of this series, much like Transformers a few years ago, has been enough to keep the series on this reader’s pull list. Hopefully, the perseverance will pay off and the series will end with a “big bang” finish that it needs to rise from the average title it currently is.

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Be sure to check out John’s previous The Pull List reviews right here.

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