After months of build up that include lead-in mini-series under the Hunt For Wolverine title it is time for the original Wolverine, Logan, to return. This is something that fans have been waiting for since Marvel killed Wolverine a few years ago. Now I’ll be honest I am coming into Return of Wolverine not having read any of the lead up Hunt For Wolverine comics. There were far too many of them to keep up. So I am entering Return Of Wolverine fresh with the only thing I know is that it will finally bring Logan back into the spotlight. Given that this series is written by Charles Soule, who is in the middle of an excellent run on Daredevil, and drawn by Steve McNiven, one of Marvel’s best, cinematic artists, I have high hopes for this event. Let’s see how this X-Men event begins by checking out Return Of Wolverine #1.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Laura Martin
Story Rating: 1 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Wolverine wakes up bloodied and his costume ripped up in the middle of a lab with dead guards around him. A heavily beaten up scientist can’t believe Wolverine is there. Wolverine asks what is going on. The guy reveals his name as Bernard Delacroix and that he was brought in by Soteira to work on de-extinction cloning.
Bernard goes on to say once he found out what he said he stop working with for the company, which caused everything that just happened. Bernard begs Wolverine to remember who he is and to go after Soteira and Persephone and end them in order to save the world.
Wolverine is confused about how he is supposed to save the world. Bernard says Wolverine has done so in the past. Bernard then begs Wolverine to end his life.
Suddenly a bomb hits the ground. The explosion sends Wolverine flying and kills Bernard.
A tiger then attacks Wolverine. As he holds off the Tiger Wolverine remembers someone telling him she loves him. A mammoth tackles the tiger of Wolverine and continues running off.
While he stumbles out of the lab Wolverine sees different versions of himself, all of who tell Wolverine to go after Soteira and be the hero he once was.
Once outside Wolverine spots Soteira soldiers and chases after them on a motorcycle.
After sometime Wolverine makes it to a campsite where Soteira soldiers arrive and burn down even though the residents beg them not to.
Seeing the death and destruction Soteira is committing Wolverine rides right into the campsite. One of the Soteira snipers is able to cause Wolverine to crash and hit his head on the ground.
Inside Wolverine’s mind Logan is with a woman who shows him the various versions of himself that are locked up in cages. The woman says that no one in the cages, that also include a mohawk Storm, Weapon X, Sabertooth, blue and yellow costume Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike, can escape unless Wolverine lets them out.
Wolverine wonders if he can open a wall with three mysterious dots on it. The woman says Wolverine doesn’t want to know what is behind it.
Wolverine asks the woman who she is. She reveals her name is PErsephone and she brought Wolverine back to life.
Suddenly a woman named Ana wakes Wolverine up and tells him that he needs to after Soteira as they have her son. Wolverine is still confused about who he is. Wolverine is still confused and states that while most of his wounds are healed there is one on his side that is not.
While walking to a nearby warehouse Ana states that Wolverine can trace the tiniest scene and kill who he is hunting, including Soteira. Wolverine wonders what Soteira is. Ana states Soteira are an organization who brought scientists to the camp to work on their projects.
Wolverine questions Ana on how she knows all this and why Soteira took her son. Ana reveals that she worked at the camp and when Soteira cam to destroy the facility they injected her son with something from the labs. Wolverine realizes that they are using Ana’s son as an incubator to grow something inside him.
Ana injects Wolverine with something that heals the wound on his side. Wolverine then promises to get Ana’s son back. Ana wonders if that means Wolverine will kill Soteira. Wolverine wonders how she knows about him. Ana states because through stories she’s heard she knows Wolverine as someone famous.
Ana explains that one of the stories she heard about is when a man wearing armor attacked her city was going wild Wolverine appeared and killed the guy out in order to save everyone.
After putting on his new black and red costume, Wolverine wonders if being a killer makes him a hero. Ana says its that Wolverine saves people that makes him a hero.
Inside his head Wolverine opens the cage with the version of himself wearing the yellow and blue costume.
Wolverine asks Ana if she knows someone named Persephone. Ana says Persephone runs Soteira and describes her as the devil. Wolverine agrees and takes out his claws ready to kill Persephone. End of issue.
The Good: It’s never good when as the consumer you are as confused as the character who lost their memory about what is going. That is unfortunately exactly what went on throughout Return of Wolverine #1. Even though this issue was supposed to welcome back one of the iconic Marvel characters there was never a moment that felt welcoming to Wolverine or the reader.
The one good thing is that Return of Wolverine #1 features Steve McNiven’s artwork. While not as strong as his past work, McNiven gives the entire comic a cinematic feel. He especially nails down scene where there are action set pieces. The standout from this was Wolverine trying to ride right into the camp. Even though it was a quick scene McNiven packed a good amount of tension with the question if Wolverine would reach the camp or get shot off his bike.
The Bad: At no point in Return of Wolverine #1 did it feel as though Charles Soule wanted to bring in Wolverine and new fans into the story. With the attention that this series is going to get it is absolutely unacceptable that Return of Wolverine #1 is not new reader friendly. For Soule to go down the confusing route to open up this story does not help anyone. Because instead of bringing in the reader Soule immediately reminds you how confusing the X-Men Universe, especially when it comes to Wolverine.
At no point in Return of Wolverine #1 does Soule create an entry point for either long-time and new fans to get invested in the story. Instead he ends up leaving the story so vague that both Wolverine and the reader don’t actually understand what is going. This only goes to hurt how important Wolverine’s return to the Marvel Universe should be. Even when Soule does attempt to talk about what type of hero Logan is it never taps into why Wolverine is such a fan favorite.
Hurting the story even more was the fact we never actually learn what is at stake in Return of Wolverine. With how big of a story Wolverine’s return should be there should be something about it that is shown to be important to what may impact the world. That is something that is never actually established in this first issue. Instead we are just shown a random villainous organization that happens to be experimenting on cloning.
Speaking off, Soule never gets across why we should care about what Persephone and Soteira are doing outside of them being a terrorist group. Everything about the villains for Return of Wolverine just comes off as a one-note organization right down to the basic grunts wearing the same uniform. The opening speaks to that as we see how Wolverine already cut up a bunch of Soteira grunts without actually giving the reader an emotional connection to why this was important.
And while Persephone does get some screen time with Wolverine inside his head all of her scenes end up falling flat. The vagueness of the character keeps Persephone from showing what kind of personality she has. It is not until the scientist Ana that we learn that Persephone is the villain of the story. Because up until that point Persephone could’ve easily been a figment of Wolverine’s imagination and we wouldn’t have known any different.
This all makes you wonder why there wasn’t a greater attempt to build up to Wolverine’s return. Because without an actual connection to Persephone and Soteira going into the story there is no reason to care about their experiments. They just do not have the credibility to believe that they are worthy of being the antagonist of a big event like Return of Wolverine. That would’ve been something that would’ve easily resolved by giving hints that Soteira actually has a connection to the Weapon X program or some other X-Men antagonist. At least having a slight context clue hidden in the artwork would’ve helped immensely in creating that.
It was also odd to see that the Return of Wolverine #1 opened up with Logan in a completely confused state that was the entire story of this issue. Because over the last few months we have seen Wolverine make random cameos in other comics such as Marvel Legacy #1 and X-Men: Gold #30. Given that previously being previously established Soule creates a greater confusion on what is going on with Wolverine. That confusion is just unnecessary because it is not something that makes the reader care about Logan’s current plight. Instead it just makes you wonder if this story is in takes place in the past and therefore does not matter since we know where Logan ends up.
The scenes within Logan’s help does not help anything as it creates even more questions that aren’t very intriguing. Having characters like mohawk Storm, Sabertooth and Lady Deathstrike are cool visuals but don’t actually clue us into what is going on. Without having Logan interact with these characters, even if it was just one sentence, there is nothing to signal their importance. They are just random additions that could’ve easily been replaced by other X-Men characters, like Cyclops, Jean Grey and Kitty Pryde, and they would’ve had the same impact.
Though McNiven delivers some good cinematic artwork there are a few inconsistencies with his character designs. The one that stood out the most was how he drew Wolverine. As this issue progressed Wolverine went from having his typical mutton chops hair to suddenly having hair that made him look like a lion. That was jarring visual that distracted from what was intended to be a big moment at the end of issue.
Overall: Return of Wolverine #1 is a complete disappointment. At no point does Charles Soule create excitement around Logan’s return as Wolverine. Instead all he accomplishes in doing is creating a story so confusing that is hard to get into, even if you are a hardcore X-Men fan. No matter how excited you were for Wolverine’s return to the Marvel Universe this is a comic that you should avoid completely.