House of M: World of M featuring Wolverine (2006)

[ Listening to BBC Radio Scotland Currently: Listening to BBC Radio Scotland ]

Quote:
“You gave him the one thing that he could not live without: you gave him back his war.”

 

This book is a bit of an odds and sods collection of House of M related stories. The main story is from Wolverine 33 -35 and was written by Daniel Way with art from Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira. The book also contains three single issue stories from Black Panther 7, The Pulse 10 and Captain America 10.

The main story features Sebastian Shaw, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., interviewing Mystique after Logan literally jumps ship from a helicarrier. He is concerned about Logan’s loyalty especially after a recent terrorist incident in which a sentinel was stolen by Logan’s old colleague Nick Fury and Logan himself disappeared. The story features Wolverine only in the flashbacks as the interview proceeds and examines further the mutant oppression of the human population and the spiky relationship between Fury and the mutant squad he is tasked to train.

The main story is good but only features Wolverine as a background character in his own book. It does explore, along with the other stories in the books, some of the prejudices of the formerly suppressed mutant majority. The Black Panther story expressly addresses the prejudices of the ruling regime towards other mutants – for instance the ruling classes tend to be white and human looking with the more extreme looking mutants not having a look in. The quality in the book shines through in the last two stories that were written by the great Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. Bendis’ story again features the oppression of humans in the mutant controlled workplace and the censorship the press. It features a confrontation between journalist Kat Farrell and the anguished Hawkeye who has just had his memories of his death restored to him. The Captain America story features the sad decline of the formerly feted hero as he struggles to find his place in the increasingly mutant dominated world order. So a mixed bag but an interesting read exploring some of the background to the House of M universe.

The New Avengers: Break Out (2005)

 

Quote:
“Why wouldn’t you be wearing underwear?”
“I chafe.””I want off the team.”

Collecting the first six issues of the ongoing New Avengers series, this book was written by Marvel mainstay Brian Michael Bendis with pencils by Canadian artist David Finch. Bendis has had long runs on many of Marvel’s top books including Daredevil, The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man and has written the lead story on a number of Marvel’s crossover events including House of M. I have come across Fincher’s art before on Volume 2 of Moon Knight.

Luke Cage and SHIELD agent Jessica Drew are accompanying Matt Murdock on a visit to Sentry on the super secure penal facility the Raft when a jail break, carried out by Electro, occurs. Captain America, Spider-man and Iron Man are attracted to the spectacle and are soon joining the others in trying to contain the prisoners as best they can. In the aftermath, Captain America suggests putting together a new Avengers team to investigate the purpose of the break out and help recapture the 40 plus prisoners who managed to escape. In the course of their investigations they are led to the Savage Land, meeting up with Wolverine along the way, and run into illegal, covert SHIELD operations there.

I liked this book a lot. It had a bit of something for everyone – epic battles between heroes and villains, comedic moments between the fledgling team, intrigue and possible institutionally approved illegal activity and conspiracy theories. The book brings the team together and ends at the conclusion of their man hunt for the villain whose escape was being concealed by the mass breakout but it left plenty of loose ends to examine in further issues. I have already placed my order for volume 2 and look forward to more of the same.

Wolverine: Logan (2009)

 

Quote:
That broad of yours. She … she once told me you were the only man on this island with … with an ounce of mercy. Whatever happened to that guy?

 

This book collects issues 1-3 of Wolverine: Logan by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Eduardo Risso. I know Vaughan primarily from his excellent work on Y: The Last Man and I have also read a couple of volumes of Ex Machina. Risso is rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists for work on 100 Bullets, Vampire Boy and currently Spaceman.

Wolverine journeys to Japan with his memories newly restored to him. While there he has to confront the ghosts of his past from 1945 as well those that linger in the present. In the 1945 story line, Logan wakes up in a cell with an American named Warren in a Japanese PoW camp. Together they escape but soon part ways over a disagreement over whether or not to kill a civilian woman they come across. Warren returns to kill Logan and the woman and is found to have similar abilities to Logan in that he seemingly cannot be killed. But before Logan can exact vengeance for the death of his lover, the Americans arrive to bomb the nearby city.

This is a great book but with one slight qualm. I am a bit uneasy that the background of this book is the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. While there is nothing particularly distasteful in the story it only seems to added to, firstly, show that Wolverine can survive a nuclear explosion and, secondly, to create a powered opponent for him to smack down in the present at the end of the book. It is this second aspect that is particularly shabby to me as the character, Warren, while not portrayed in the best light in the 1945 sequence is just as much a product of his circumstances and nature as Wolverine himself. Maybe if they had more space to examine Warren and Logan as two sides of the same coin then maybe I would have had accepted it more.

Risso’s art is great again. The book contains some unused pages in black and white that are even better. He is an artist whose style is well suited to balck and white only – you can see (and buy) most of the pages from this book in black and white on his web site – including some that don’t seem to be in the collected volume. Having said that some of the coloured pages are superb – especially in the third chapter. Well worth the admission price.

The New Avengers: The Trust (2008)

 

Quote:
My name is Parker Robbins. They call me the Hood. You know, because I have a … hood.

 

This book collects New Avengers 32 to 37 and annual #2. It was written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Leinil Yu for the chapters from the ongoing comic. Bendis has written almost exclusively for Marvel and is probably best known for runs on Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-man. Leinil Yu is a Filipino artist whose work I have seen previously in Silent Dragon from Wildstorm/DC.

On returning from a mission to rescue Echo from the Hand, the New Avengers (the renegades from registration: Luke Cage, Spider-man, Wolverine, Spider-woman, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist with Echo and Clint Barton) are in subdued mood as the body of Elektra reveals that she was actually a Skrull – a race of shape shifting aliens. Suspicion is rife as no one can know who anyone else really is anymore. This is heightened after the plane crashes and Spider-woman steals the body of the dead Skrull. Meanwhile some of the second string bad guys are starting to take advantage of the disarray after the civil war and are organising under the leadership of the Hood. While investigating each other and the fate of the Skrull’s body, the New Avengers unearth a plot to unleash Deathlok against the Avengers.

Set after the Civil War crossover and leading into the Secret Invasion crossover, this book suffers for being a staging post of a much larger story. As with too many of the leading books from Marvel a knowledge of the storylines from the last few years is required to get the most out of this book. The story it tells is entertaining enough without being more than just OK. The highlight of the book for me is a panel in which Luke Cage uncovers the hide out of the bad guys and confronts the Hood while backed up by the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and other heroes including, in the background, Howard the Duck!

Wolverine Origins: Born in Blood (2007)

 

Quote:
I’ve got one secretary of state, fried to a crisp. I’ve got one cruise missile, origins unknown, sticking out of the White House lawn. I’ve got one robot samurai – origins also unknown – lying in two pieces in the hall outside the Oval Office. And in the center of this whole mess, I’ve got Wolverine running around, completely off the chain …

 

This book collects the first five issues of the Wolverine spin-off series, Wolverine Origins and follows on from the last book I read, Wolverine: Origins & Endings. It was again written by Daniel Way. The art this time was by the fabulous Steve Dillon – another artist who put in a shift on the British weekly 2000AD before moving to the American market most notably with his collaborations with Garth Ennis on Hellblazer, Preacher and Punisher.

Wolverine continues to try and hunt down the people responsible for making him the way he is but when he starts to get close to anyone who can help move further up the chain of responsibility, they are quickly taken out in a hasty scorched earth policy. After an attack on the White House, the President authorises the deployment of Nuke – a failed super-soldier experiment or an all too successful attempt to create the berserker temperament of Wolverine – to draw Wolverine out into the open. Flashbacks recall Wolverine’s involvement in the recruitment of Nuke as a child and later in his conditioning as a killing machine in the Vietnam War. In a battle with Captain America, broken up by Cyclops, Hellion and Emma Frost, Wolverine is told, by Emma, that his son still lives and comes to realise that the sins of the father are to be passed to the son.

A pretty good read that reveals some tragic and unsavoury events in Wolverine’s past as well as his role in the creation of Nuke. The art is terrific, as usual from Dillon – I particular like his version of a hard-nosed Captain America. The first five issues also featured some fabulous covers from Joe Quesada and Richard Isanove. This is the first volume in a continuing series so while the story can be read on its own quite satisfactorily, it does set up Wolverine’s continued quest for answers, revenge and now the redemption of his son that he did not know had lived.

Wolverine: Origins & Endings (2006)

 

Quote:
“Logan has regained his memory.”

“All of his memories? All of his … real memories?”

“Yes. That is correct.”

“That ain’t a good thing, girlie.”

 

This book collects Wolverine (volume 3) issues 36 – 40. It was written by a writer new to me called Daniel Way who has written a number of mini-series for Marvel featuring characters such as Venom, Sabretooth, Bullseye and the Punisher. The art was by Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira – I don’t think I have come across Saltares work before but I liked Texeira’s work on the revival of Ghost Rider in the early 90s.

Set in the aftermath of the House of M storyline, Wolverine has gone off the grid with a full set of regained memories. This triggers a full alert in SHIELD, the military and government – especially amongst those involved in the Weapon X project. Wolverine evades detection and attacks the prime minister of Japan in order to force a showdown with the Silver Samurai and confirm some of his new memories. He also tracks down the base where he was experimented on and confirms that he had help escaping and tracks down the Winter Soldier to hear his account of past events.

Another book I was disappointed with, I’m afraid. Wolverine is one of my favourite characters and they could write almost anything and I would probably lap it up but this book is all tease with no pay off. Although Wolverine has regained his memories he doesn’t share what they are – even when confronting others to confirm details a lot of it is done via Wolverine’s internal monologue in which he is satisfied with what he hears without the reader being any the wiser. The whole storyline of the book is a set up for a spin off series, Wolverine: Origins, and does not really provide a satisfying read on its own. Luckily I have a few of the collected volumes of this series and will now have to bump them up in the reading list.

Wolverine: Old Man Logan (2010)

 

Quote:
“My name is Logan.””Sure it is.”

 

This book collects Wolverine #66 – 72 and Old Man Logan Giant-Size. It is by the same creative team behind the main Civil War book from Marvel and the recent mini-series Nemesis – Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

The story is set in a dystopian future fifty years after the bad guys decided to get co-ordinated and wipe out most of the superheroes. The United States has been split into zones each controlled by one of the leaders of the conflict. Wolverine is a broken man after his experiences and unwitting role in the victory for the bad guys. He has forsaken violence and sworn not to use his claws again. He has a wife and two children and is struggling to make ends meet on his farmstead and is behind on the rent to Banner’s offspring. A blind Hawkeye appears and offers him a job escorting him and a package to the east coast. As they set out across the blasted landscape of America, Logan finds out the fate of some of the fallen heroes and their descendents, tells the tale of his role in the heroes downfall and finds his promise to his family not to pop his claws and resort to violence tested to the limit and beyond.

I thought this was a really, really good book. The setting of a post apocalyptic future was a good one – if a bit Mad Max inspired – as is the premise that Wolverine has become a man of peace supporting his family and eking out a life as a farmer. The art is great in this book as it has to be with many silent panels and one and two page splashes. I loved the gradual reveal of the fate of some of the heroes and the discarded Mjolnir becoming a place of pilgrimage. While not quite as graphic as Nemesis there is still a surprising amount of red ink splahed about in what is a mainstream Marvel title. And the build-up to Logan finally popping his claws – you knew he had to at some point – was a delicious tease as he used all manner of other means to defend himself when under extreme attack.

Wolverine: Blood & Sorrow (2007)

This book is a collection of four standalone stories featuring Wolverine. The stories come from Wolverine #41 and #49, X-Men Unlimited #12 and Giant-Size Wolverine #1.

The first story is called The Healing and is short at 11 pages. It was written by Stuart Moore and illustrated by C.P. Smith. In it Wolverine is lying recovering from a fight and describing the pain – mental and physical – that goes with his healing process and how he copes with it.

The second story is called The Package and is by the same creative team as created the first one. Wolverine has responded to Black Panther’s request for help in extracting a package from a war torn African nation. The package turns out to be the infant daughter of the murdered president and Wolverine must extract her from the country while dodging the insurgents who are looking for her.

The third story is called House of Blood and Sorrow written by David Lapham and illustrated by David Aja. A badly injured Wolverine crash lands near a remote farm house in North Dakota while battling with a Hydra robot. The residents of the farm house – a father and daughter – are normally shunned by the local townsfolk but when they become suspicious that they are hiding something a posse is raised and infiltrated by Hydra agents looking for Wolverine.

The final story is called Better to Give … written by Rob Williams and illustrated by Laurence Campbell and Kris Justice. In this one Wolverine is doing some Christmas shopping in a department store in New York at the request of Kitty Pryde. He is trapped in the store when kidnappers dressed as Santa’s elves kidnap an heiress to a fortune. He teams up with one of her bodyguards and proceeds to spoil the plans of the kidnappers.

Being a collection of one off stories means that this is a mixed bag. All the stories are fine without necessarily achieving excellence. My favourite was probably the third as I like the art of David Aja – last seen by me on the recent revival of Iron Fist. It also has the most interesting story being part superhero story and part creeping horror story. The final story runs it a close second as it has a lot of humour mixed in with the action.