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One Hell of a Reboot

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He’s been to Madripoor, he’s been to Japan, and he’s even been to outer space. Now, Wolverine is going somewhere he’s never been before—he’s going to Hell.

It appears that some of the luster has gone off of Wolverine. His kid-friendly title, Wolverine: First Class died a silent death. The highest ranking Wolverine book, Dark Wolverine, came in at #38 on the Diamond Top 100. The most recent addition to the Wolverine franchise, Wolverine: Weapon X, has been slipping down the charts, its most recent issue logging in at #65. Granted, most other titles would have loved to have those sales, but for one of Marvel’s most popular characters, it was a cry for help.

At first blush, you might think that the loss of selling ability could be chalked up to overexposure. In addition to those titles mentioned above, Wolverine appears in at least two X-titles each month, as many or more Avengers titles, and various miniseries and guest appearances. Perhaps fans have reached their saturation point with the character.

But it could also have to do with the fact that the flagship Wolverine title had been taken over by Wolverine’s son, Daken. Wolverine: Origins might not have been as attractive to readers due to the fact that it pertained to the history of the character. And Wolverine: Weapon X had the feel of a title that was set way outside Marvel continuity.

Regardless of what happened, it was time for a change. All of the Wolverine titles were cancelled, and, this week, the new era of the Wolverine franchise will begin.

The character will retake the helm of the main title of the franchise in Wolverine #1. Daken will get his own series with Daken: Dark Wolverine #1, and the popular female clone of Wolverine will get her own ongoing series with X-23 #1. And there will be one doozy of a storyline to kick all the issues off.

A demon has taken over Wolverine’s body and has sent his soul to Hell. While the demon is running havoc in the clawed mutant’s form on Earth, Logan has to fight his way through the most vile and abhorrent villains Hell has to offer—many of whom Logan has sent here himself, to have any hope of escape.

It’s an interesting premise. Jason Aaron has had experience with Marvel’s version of Hell before in his writing Ghost Rider. One can assume that some concepts and ideas from that series will make their way into this arc. But Logan fighting his way through Hell has potential to be a defining storyline in the character’s history, one which would put the character through mental and physical torture as well.

X-23’s book will detail her attempts to step up to fill in Logan’s role as a hero as his body has fallen to demonic possession. And Daken’s book will cover his putting his plans of domination into motion as his father’s soul is at risk. There will also be a special one-shot called Wolverine: The Road to Hell that will introduce readers to the new storyline.

But for those of you who believe overexposure was the key to Wolvie’s woes, and are encouraged by the character starring in only one series this time around, I hate to burst your bubble. In December, a second title starring the character titled Wolverine: The Best There Is will begin.

It remains to be seen if the new direction for Wolverine will have any long-term results. But it should build excitement for a short time at least.

Also out this week:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36:

It’s safe to say that the comic book version of the 8th season of Buffy has been a resounding success. It has inspired many other cult TV series to expand their lives in comic book form and has given legions of fans hope their favorite TV series might continue their adventures in print form.

The time has come for the season to end. This final arc will wrap up the eighth season and will set the stage for the ninth. And since Angel was brought over during the last story, it is only fitting that Buffy’s other vampire boyfriend, Spike, is brought over with this one. Now, that the gang’s all here, we can kick up the turmoil to a fever pitch.

Joss Whedon (W), Georges Jeanty (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Veronica #202:

If you had told me five years ago that Archie Comics would be one of the most forward-thinking, risk-taking companies in the comics biz, I would have thought you were crazy. But the company has been pushing the boundaries of its publishing world and getting quite a bit of press for it. That trend continues this week.

This is the issue where the long talked about Kevin Keller makes his appearance. Keller is the first openly gay character in Archie Comics history. While gay characters in comics are nothing new, having one appear in the pages of the kid-friendly Veronica title not only shows how far gay people have come in this world but also how brave Archie Comics is in presenting life the way it is and not the way some bigot might want it to appear to be. Kudos.

Dan Parent (W/A), Archie Comics Publications, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Deadpool: Pulp #1:

Marvel’s experiments with noir versions of their characters are interesting. But it’s not like every Marvel character is a perfect fit for the format. The X-Men didn’t really pop to mind as the obvious choice for the first entry into the genre, but the Punisher and Luke Cage seemed like natural fits.

Deadpool seems to straddle the good fit/bad fit line. He is a mercenary, after all, and that could lead to great noir stories. However, he is a mutant with healing abilities and other powers, which many noir heroes don’t seem to have. Pulp heroes, on the other hand, do have some superpowers. So, leave it to Deadpool to be Marvel’s first pulp hero.
 
Mike Benson & Adam Glass (W), Laurence Campbell (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

5 Days to Die #1:

Ray Crisara is a cop on the trail of the city’s biggest drug lord. To get rid of him, the drug lord arranges a horrific car accident that kills Crisara’s wife and critically injures his daughter. Crisara was also critically injured in the accident, but was given five days to live. How will he use those five days? Will he track down the drug lord who took his life? Or spend the time with his ailing daughter? Or, can he do both?

Ray Crisara is also an aspiring actor and comic book writer, one of the many talented people I took Andy Schmidt’s Breaking into Comics class with many years ago.  Schmidt is the writer of this series, so that shows you where writers get their ideas for their character’s names. I only have one question—when am I going to get a character named after me, Andy?

Andy Schmidt (W), Chee (A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Thor: For Asgard #1:

Even though the Thor film is eight months away, that isn’t stopping Marvel from carpet bombing us with new Thor titles and miniseries. This is one of two miniseries starting this month (the other is Thor: First Thunder), in addition to the two ongoing Thor series (Thor and Thor: The Mighty Avenger). And there are more to come in the future.

I guess the idea is to have plenty of trade paperbacks and ongoing series with low numbers waiting for new fans to pick up after they leave the movie. But it seems like a bunch of overkill. Will all of these new series sell enough to make publishing them worthwhile? And aren’t there worthy non-Thor concepts passed over for this onslaught?
 
Robert Rodi (W), Simone Bianchi (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Seven-Issue Miniseries.

Freedom Fighters #1:

I was one of the few people, it seems, who liked the Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters series’. Both miniseries’ were critically lambasted, but I found them to be wacky commentary on the world of politics, the world of comic book continuity, and the world of pop culture. They weren’t the second coming of Watchmen, but they were fun.

 So, I might be one of the few who are actually excited about this new ongoing series. The team seems to be tackling hidden dangers in forgotten world history, with the first arc focusing on a never used Confederate super weapon. As a history buff and a fan of these characters, I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.
 
Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray (W), Travis Moore (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Star Wars: Blood Ties—A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett #1:

I consider myself a Star Wars fan, but I have never understood the overwhelming popularity of Boba Fett. He basically had a glorified cameo in The Empire Strikes Back before becoming Sarlaac chow in Return of the Jedi. And his back story being developed in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith only established him as the clone of the guy who was cloned to make all the Empire’s Stormtroopers. Yes, Jango Fett raised Boba as a son, which makes him a bit more special, but still…

Well, for all you Fett fans out there, here is a miniseries that sends both generations of Fetts on a mission of great importance. What dad does in the past will have an effect on his son/clone in the future. So it’s an intergenerational team-up for the legion of Fett fans.

Tom Taylor (W), Chris Scalf (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Our Army at War #1:

Every so often, you will have five Wednesday’s in a month. September is one of those months. Comic book companies have been taking advantage of this extra week to add weekly series to run during the month. Marvel has something called Heroic Age: One Month to Live and IDW has Five Days to Die.  DC’s offering doesn’t involve a time-restricted death, but it does deal with war, which causes a lot of deaths.
The company is bringing back a number of its legendary war titles this month with a series of one-shots written and drawn by some of the best creators in the business. It all starts off with this title, which features an off-beat Sgt. Rock story which spans the decades, taking place both in World War II and the War in Afghanistan.
 
Mike Marts (W), Victor Ibanez (A), DC Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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Comments

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Aug 31, 2010 at 3:56am

    I agree with the Freedom Fighters, good clean fun! Thanks for another interesting column! I enjoy these every week (even though they're a pain to design in the Frontiersman ;) )

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Aug 31, 2010 at 9:18am

    Something clearly didn't pan out with the structuring of the WOLVERINE books over the last couple of years I agree. I could certainly live with less Logan in the team books (how many X-MEN/X-FORCE/AVENGERS teams is he on now?) and perhaps this overexposure has had a knock-on effect. Jason Aaron's WEAPON X was a criminally-neglected book though and I wouldn't agree that it felt way out of continuity - the final Deathlok story arc/Terminator homage was absolutely enmeshed in Marvel history and full of guest-stars.

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Aug 31, 2010 at 9:49am

    waiting for the trade on that Deathlok wolverine thingie :)

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Aug 31, 2010 at 7:24pm

    I like the Freedom Fighters as well. My only issue with the previous minis was that some of the new characters felt like clones of the ones that were callously slaughtered in Infinite Crisis. If that was the case, what was the point of killing them? Why not just revamp/redesign the ones they had?

    As for Wolverine, he reached his oversaturation point years ago. I like the character but I kind of roll my eyes whenever he guest stars or appears in multiple solo and team books. I just have no interest in him anymore.

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