Wolverine #41-- ADVANCE REVIEW


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Wolverine #41-- ADVANCE REVIEW


  • Words: Stuart Moore
  • Art: C. P. Smith
  • Inks: C. P. Smith
  • Colors: C. P. Smith
  • Story Title: The Package
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Apr 26, 2006

Wolverine drops into the middle of the worst place on Earth to save its future.

The Black Panther needs a favor. A neighboring country—known the world over as the worst place on Earth—is embroiled in a bloody coup, the kind that Africa, sadly, has turned into a cottage industry. The king deposed then poisoned, any hope the country has comes down to one person—the king’s infant daughter. As king himself of a sovereign nation with a strict non-interventionist policy, T’Challa can do little. But Wolverine can do a lot. Once he drops down and retrieves "The Package," he has to get to the border with the child alive. But the brutal general who’s just seized power is in his way and on his trail. And he wants the baby, too...

Quickly frankly, this is the best Wolverine story I’ve read in a long time. The format—an extended, self-contained story—is exactly what the character needs right now. No labyrinthine continuity. Nothing about recovered memories. Barely a passing reference to Wolverine’s status as an Avenger. And, best of all, none of the cartoonish posturing that’s easy and fun to write but does poor service to the most complex and troubled of Marvel’s superstars. Instead, writer Stuart Moore keeps things lean and mean with a "running the gauntlet" plot while also adding elements that enrich the narrative. There’s the shout-out to Lone Wolf and Cub, the classic epic of a masterless samurai’s travels with his infant son, as well as spy-thriller intensity and a locale that’s rife with topicality. The balance is perfect pitch—both entertaining and thought provoking. But what really makes "The Package" click is Wolverine himself. Moore casts him in the ronin mode that Claremont and Miller first explored 20 years ago, the character’s essence that unresolved tension between his capacities for viciousness and compassion and the sense that no amount of redemption will ever be enough. Moore gets it, to such an extent that for 48 pages a character who had seemed so two-dimensional—no matter how many comics I’ve seen him in lately—all of a sudden becomes what he can and should be.

Who is C. P. Smith? I didn’t know before, but I sure do now. He’s holding all the reigns in this issue—pencils, inks, and colors—and the result is as spooky as it is gorgeous. There’s the expressionism of Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz—artwork that eschews realism and detail for a dramatic, kinetic sense of mood and atmosphere. Smith renders Wolverine in silhouette and shadow, focusing on his claws, "ears," and blank eyes, light hitting his stubbled face in only one panel. The interplay of pitch black and suffused color is very Apocalypse Now, but the vibe is all in service to storytelling, the widescreen impact of Smith’s images relentlessly driving the narrative forward. And though the majority of shots are eye-level, Smith varies distances and stages panels like a cinematographer and superbly utilizes all that beautiful color to convey a sense of movement and passing time.

Yes, yes, Wolverine: Origins #1 is getting all the pub, but this month Wolverine #41 gets all the props.

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