The Revolution has been all that impressed with Jeph Loeb’s run on Wolverine to this point. And I’m a little surprised by that fact. Usually, I enjoy Jeph Loeb’s work. But, I just haven’t been able to get into what Loeb is doing on this title. Maybe Wolverine # 52 can get me hooked on this story arc. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: We begin with a flashback to a battle scene in the mold of Frank Miller’s 300. The leader of the army tells his men that the soldier with the highest kill total gets the spoils. We see a two Lupine in the army. One looks similar to Wolverine and the other look similar to Sabertooth. These two Lupine kick ass during the battle.
At the end of the battle, the two Lupine stand before the leader. The leader tells them that their kill totals are equal. The Wolverine looking Lupine suddenly cuts the head off the Sabertooth looking Lupine and tells the leader to count again.
We then snap back to the present to Black Panther’s palace in Wakanda. Sabertooth is chained up. Storm and Black Panther tell Wolverine that they having something to show him that was just discovered in a nearby archeological dig.
Suddenly, Sabertooth breaks free of the chains binding him. Sabertooth kills two of Black Panther’s guards and then makes a run for it. Black Panther tells Logan to stay. Black Panther says he will handle Sabertooth.
We see Sabertooth escaping the city and running into the jungle. Sabertooth stumbles across the archeological dig that Storm was talking about earlier. Suddenly, Black Panther catches up to Sabertooth and the two men start brawling.
We cut back to the palace where Wolverine tells Storm that she has to get him out there. That Sabertooth is going to kill Black Panther. Storm flies Wolverine out to the archeological dig. We see Sabertooth holding Black Panther by his throat. Wolverine comes streaking in and cuts off Sabertooth’s hand holding Black Panther’s throat.
We then flashback to what appears to be the Tokugawa era of Japan. A man in the shadows who is speaking Japanese, but has an Italian accent tells Logan that he will spare Logan’s life if Logan will kill the man who has been killing his hookers.
We see Sabertooth about to kill a Geisha girl. Logan appears and tells Sabertooth to let go of the girl. This is the first time Logan laid eyes on Sabertooth. Sabertooth tells Logan that he has no idea who he is dealing with. Logan notices that Sabertooth doesn’t smell like any animal that he has ever met. Logan thinks that Sabertooth smells like him.
Logan chops off Sabertooth’s hand that was holding the girl. Sabertooth comments that he has no idea why Logan has stuck his nose into Sabertooth’s business. Sabertooth re-attaches his hand and tells Logan that Sabertooth owes him plenty of payback.
We zip back to the present with Sabertooth saying that he has made good on his promise to get payback on Logan. That Sabertooth killed Silver Fox, Psylocke and sweet Jenny. Sabertooth then says that he is now going to kill Storm.
Wolverine and Sabertooth square off to brawl again when Storm tells them to stop. Black Panther and Storm tell Logan and Sabertooth to look at the bones in this archeological dig. Wolverine sees skeletons that aren’t exactly men. That they remind Wolverine of his dream of the Lupine.
The Good: Wolverine #52 was a very ordinary read. However, there were some enjoyable elements to this issue. Loeb certainly delivered an action packed issue. We got tons of brawling through out this issue. And all of this fighting along with the quick scene changes makes this issue a fast read.
I like how Loeb handles Wolverine’s character. Loeb serves up a proper sounding external voice for Wolverine. Loeb gives a Wolverine that isn’t too over the top and vanilla in personality like what Way gives us on Wolverine: Origins. Loeb goes with a version of Wolverine much more like how Claremont used to write him.
Loeb also delivers a delightfully evil Sabertooth. Loeb makes the reader love to hate Sabertooth’s character. I am not really a big Sabertooth fan. The character has never really appealed to me that much. However, Loeb is doing a good job getting me to like Sabertooth more than I ever have.
I dig Bianchi’s artwork. I do find it just a bit inconsistent with some of his smaller panels being a little weak looking. However, overall, Bianchi crafts a fine looking issue. I like Bianchi’s heavy painted style of art. Bianchi certainly pack plenty of emotion into his artwork and that is important for a primal character like Wolverine.
The Bad: Wolverine #52 was just a pedestrian issue. Loeb has failed to hook me on this story arc. Now, part of why I haven’t gotten into this story arc is that I have a philosophical difference with Marvel Comics on the direction for Wolverine’s character. I maintain that it is a massive mistake to give Wolverine his memories back.
For me, the magic of Wolverine’s character is the mystery surrounding his background. We know nothing about his origin. We don’t know how long he has lived. We don’t even know his true name.
The strong appeal of Wolverine’s character was very much like that of the “Man With No Name” that Clint Eastwood played in “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For A Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and “The Stranger” that Clint Eastwood played in “Pale Rider” and “High Plains Drifter.”
The allure of Eastwood’s character in all those movies was not just that he was a serious bad ass who kicks butt. It was that his character was a complete enigma. We know nothing about this character at all. The mystery surrounding his character transforms him into an iconic character rather than a normal human being.
Wolverine used to have that appeal and allure. Wolverine was more of an icon than a person. A force of nature rather than a man. Now? Now, Wolverine is just another guy. The more we learn about his past the more Wolverine just becomes another person. As each layer of his mysterious past is peeled back Wolverine becomes a bit less attractive and the reader has less fascination with his character.
Since I’m not a fan of learning more about Wolverine’s past, you can figure that I’m not a fan of this Lupine story arc. I don’t want to know even more about who and what Wolverine is. I don’t want the mystery behind Logan’s and Creed’s eternal feud. It isn’t necessary.
And on top of it all, I just find the entire Lupine story arc to be a bit goofy and cheesy. So Wolverine and Creed are not descendents of some strange prehistoric cat-like human race? Uggh. You have to be kidding me. Nothing about that even remotely interests me.
Loeb has also failed to properly pace and plot this story arc. This story arc has seemed to lack focus and direction. It seems like we have gotten nothing but three issues of Sabertooth and Wolverine constantly fighting with some flashback scenes sprinkled in the story to break up Sabertooth and Wolverine’s brawl.
This issue is poorly constructed and has a disjointed feel to it. That is largely due to the poor transitions between the various scenes. Plus, it feels like Loeb has taken too long to set up this story arc. We are three issues into this story arc and I feel like Loeb is finally letting the reader know where he is heading with this story. Issues #50-52 could have easily been combined into two issues. I enjoy quality set up to a story arc as much as anyone. However, Loeb has just moved too slowly with this story arc.
And what is the deal with Black Panther and Storm? Are they not showing up in every Marvel title on the market? We see them over in Fantastic Four as the replacement members for Reed and Sue. Now we get them over here in Wolverine. Honestly, I don’t see where they fit into either title. It felt terribly forced over on Fantastic Four and it feels just as forced on Wolverine.
I’m not too sure why Marvel is determined to shove Black Panther and Storm down our collective throat. I hate the marriage between the two characters. It makes no sense and doesn’t work for me. Personally, a marriage between Storm and Wolverine makes way more sense than the marriage between Black Panther and Storm. I hope that Marvel splits these two characters up soon.
Overall: Wolverine #52 was extremely ordinary. I dig Loeb and I really expect more from him than what he has given us so far on this title. Hopefully, Loeb can get this story arc going in the next couple of issues. Even as unimpressive as this story arc has been, Wolverine is still a vastly superior title compared to Wolverine: Origins. I’m not quite ready to recommend going to your local comic book shop and buying this title.