It has been a while since Marvel gave us a Wolverine solo title. But, the time is right with Wolverine being resurrected, Disney purchasing Fox and regaining the rights to the X-Men franchise, and Hickman successfully restarting the X-Men comic book franchise. We have gone nearly six long years without a real Wolverine title. It is damn overdue. The hype and expectations for Wolverine #1 are sky-high. Hopefully, Benjamin Percy can deliver the goods with Wolverine #1. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Benjamin Percy
Pencils: Adam Kubert & Viktor Bogdanovic
Colors: Frank Martin & Matthew Wilson
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Wolverine regaining consciousness and being all beaten up and badly damaged from a battle. Wolverine remembers that he is somewhere in Alaska with his X-Men teammates Jean, Domino, and Kid Omega. Wolverine heals up from his injuries. Wolverine talks about how many different ways he has been nearly killed. Wolverine talks about all the different names he has gone by in the past. Wolverine then thinks how nothing compares to the hurt he feels right now for having just killed his teammates.
Wolverine notices a set of footprints leading off into the snow. Wolverine pops his claws and follows the trail.
We shift to five days earlier on Krakoa with Wolverine playing a game of hide and seek with some children. The kids cannot find Wolverine so they ask Jean Grey to find him for them. Jean uses her powers to pull Wolverine out of the tree where he was hiding.
Jean says that she needs to talk to Wolverine. Logan says that he is always here for Jean. Jean says that Logan needs to go to Hellfire Bay where Kitty is waiting for him.
We shift to Wolverine arriving at Hellfire Bay. Kitty is annoyed that Wolverine forgot to show up and pick up the liquor that she got for him. Kitty and Logan then board the vessel and sit at a table and have a drink together.
Kitty says that Logan seems happy on Krakoa. That Logan is surrounded by people he loves and has a true sense of purpose in protecting the mutants on Krakoa. Logan says that Kitty brought him here for a reason. Logan asks what trouble does Kitty needs his help handling. (Note that Percy has Logan using the name “Kitty” and not “Kate.” Good job.)
Kitty says that someone is mysteriously stealing petals from the Krakoan plants being grown in their farms on Mars and the Savage Land. Kitty says that they do not know what the thieves are doing with the stolen product.
We zip to Baltimore. Agent Bannister (Think the Dude from The Big Lebowski) from the C.I.A. appears on a crime scene. It is a drug lab where a bunch of drug dealers making some exotic drug have all killed themselves. Bannister looks at the new drug and says that it is floral and that it is like pollen.
We get a one-page informational insert on the Order of X. We learn that the Order of the X is a cult with no definitive leader or practice or text or belief system. It is basically humans who view mutants as divine. These humans camp out at Krakoan gateways waiting for a mutant to appear. If a mutant does appear then the humans worship them like a god. Some humans disrobe and offer themselves to the mutants hoping to have a child with the X-gene. (This sounds exactly like the hippy-dippy stuff that you could see a segment of people in America doing.) Some of the members of The Order of X take it to extremes and believe that sacrificing and consuming a mutant is the path to a higher plane.
We shift to four days ago on Krakoa. Sage meets with Logan to five him intel to find the people who are stealing the Krakoan petals. Sage tracks the air quality that is monitored by various government agencies to find out any locations of usually high volumes of pollen. Sage then tracks down a particular location in Russia. (Of course.)
We see Wolverine summoning a strike team including Kid Omega, Domino, and Jean Grey. Jean tells Logan to be careful and to keep his claws popped and his friends close. Jean holds Wolverine’s hand. (Gross.) Gateway then teleports the strike team to Russia.
We hop back to Baltimore. Bannister is at a hospital visiting his sick daughter who appears to be suffering from some form of cancer. Bannister says that his daughter is on a waiting list for the antibody petals from Krakoa. Bannister says that some bad guys are stealing those petals and using them to make bad stuff. Bannister says that this is making him very mad.
We get a one-page informational insert about Bloodwork. That there are four blood groups: A, B, AB, and O. Then there are RhD positive and RhD negative. Wolverine’s blood is unique. However, Wolverine’s blood resembles blood infected by a vampire.
The differences are that Wolverine’s body is a vault for his blood and once it leaves him its powers deteriorate. A vampire’s blood, after it leaves the body, continues to be malignant and virulent. Also, Wolverine’s blood does not deteriorate when exposed to ultraviolet light, unlike vampire blood.
Wolverine and vampire blood belong to the same group, but a different type. One positive and one negative. Wolverine’s blood and vampire blood are neither A, B, AB, or O. Wolverine’s blood and vampire blood is E for endless.
We shift to three days ago in Russia. We see a gather of the Order of X. Gateway, Wolverine, Jean, Kid Omega, and Domino teleport onto the scene. The Order of X cultists begin to drink a drug made from the Krakoan petals. The crowd worships the mutants and Kid Omega begins to crowd surf.
Suddenly, the cultists attack Kid Omega. Wolverine tells his team to maim and not kill the humans unless the humans don’t give them any choice but to kill them. (We are 23 pages into the issue and finally going to get some action! Yay!)
Our mutants take down the cultists. (Well….that was only a page,,,damn.) Suddenly, all of the cultists begin to catch on fire and die. Jean says that it is the pollen from the Krakoan petals that is in the drug that killed the cultists.
We zip to one day ago in Moscow. Logan enters a bar and asks a Russian mob boss what he knows about the drugs that were sold to the Order of X members. Wolverine pops his claws and threatens the mob boss. Wolverine asks where the mob boss got the Krakoan flowers.
The mob boss says that the Pale Girl from the Flower Cartel met with them and sold them petals to make the drugs. The woman took 80% of the profit. The mob boss thought it was a bad deal so they stole petals from a hospital in Slovenia to make the drugs and to keep all of the money. The Pale Girl was unhappy and used her telepathic powers to make the mob boss burn his left eye. Therefore, the mob boss now has psionic dampeners to protect themselves from the Pale Girl.
We shift to earlier today in Krakoa. Beast tells Wolverine that they are monitoring all forms of media for this new drug. Beast says that the Pollen seems to be new and is causing a new drug war. Wolverine says that the nation of Krakoa is to blame.
We zip to C.I.A. headquarters where Bannister says that the Flower Cartel is eliminating all competition. Bannister says that they need to go pose as buyers and go to the Flower Cartel directly.
We zip back to the present day in Alaska. Wolverine is following the trail of footsteps in the snow. Suddenly, we see the Pale Girl in front of Wolverine. Wolverine pops his claws and says that the Pale Girl made him kill his X-Men teammates.
The Pale Girl fades away into nothing. We then see Bannister and his fellow C.I.A. agents arriving on the scene. Bannister asks Wolverine, “Who the hell are you?” (…..Is this a joke? An experienced C.I.A. agent operating in the 616 Universe is not going to recognize arguably the most famous X-Man of all-time?! Really?) Wolverine answers that he has been wondering the same thing. End of the first story.
The second story begins with Wolverine on Krakoa thinking about how the island is always changing. That some view it as a safe haven. But, that kind of thinking will get mutants killed. That all mutants have been welcome to live on Krakoa. Old friends and old enemies. From Magneto to Apocalypse. Wolverine has a hard time trusting old enemies.
We see a badly wounded Omega Red walking through a Krakoan gateway and asking for sanctuary. Wolverine goes to attack Omega Red but Magneto appears and uses his powers to stop Wolverine in mid-air. Magneto says that Omega Red is welcome in Krakoa just like every other mutant. Magneto throws Wolverine through the Krakoan gateway and tells him to see what kind of mess Omega Red had gotten into.
We see Wolverine on the other side of the Krakoan gateway and in Paris. Wolverine finds a wrecked car that is full of corpses in the trunk. Suddenly, one of the bodies springs to life and the person says that Wolverine is “like him.” The person then dies. Wolverine says that he is nothing like “him.” Wolverine thinks how Omega Red reminds him of his own worst self.
We zip back to Krakoa. We see Magneto telling Dr. Reyes to make sure Omega Red enjoys a full recovery. Wolverine then appears on the scene and says that Omega Red is sick down to the marrow and there is no cure for him. Wolverine says that Omega Red is a pure psycho. Magneto replies that some have said that about both he and Wolverine. Magneto says that if Omega Red kills anyone on Krakoa then they can resurrect the killed mutant and then swiftly punish Omega Red.
Wolverine tells Magneto that Omega Red left behind a car with a trunk full of murdered people. Magento says that they do not know the full story. That Omega Red will remain in a holding cell until fully healed and debriefed. Magento says that it is Wolverine’s job to find out what Omega Red has done and to clean it up.
We slide to Wolverine visiting Omega Red in his holding cell. Omega Red says that he did not kill the people in Paris. Omega Red says that Wolverine should go to King’s Oubliette in Paris for the answers to who killed those people.
We cut to Wolverine in Paris outside of a bar. A woman hands Wolverine some flowers. Wolverine pushes away the flowers. The woman warns Wolverine to not go into the bar. Wolverine goes ahead and enters the bar.
Wolverine sits down and gets a drink of absinthe. Wolverine sips his drink as everyone in the bar circles around him. All of the people have eyes that glow red. Wolverine then passes out from the poison in his drink.
We see Wolverine waking up as his healing factor burns away the poison from his drink. Wolverine is tied up in the middle of the bar. Everyone in the bar is a vampire. The vampires stab Wolverine’s neck with a tap so they can drain him of his blood and drink it.
Suddenly, Wolverine breaks free and begins killing the vampires who are close to him. (Wait!! Action!! It is our second page of action in 48 pages!!) The woman with the flowers from outside of the bar enters the scene. She pulls out an ultraviolet light gun and begins blasting vampires and killing them. The woman kills all of the vampires. (Damn. All we got was a total of one and a half pages of fighting.) The woman says that she gave Wolverine dog roses outside of the bar to make sure he was not a vampire. Vampires hate dog roses as much as they do garlic.
We zip back to Krakoa at Omega Red’s holding cell. Wolverine appears and asks Omega Red if he was trying to get Wolverine killed in the Oubliette. Omega Red says that the bodies in the trunk of his car were people who had been bitten by vampires and trapped deep in the catacombs until their transformation into vampires was complete. That those people were already dead. Wolverine says that Omega Red lives off of death. That Omega Red might as well be a vampire himself.
Omega Red says that maybe he has changed. Omega Red says that Wolverine is the one who kept the Carbonadium synthesizer from him for all these years. That Wolverine is who has made Omega Red a killer. Wolverine says that Omega Red will always be a murderer.
Omega Red says that he has been surviving by consuming animals. Not people. Omega Red says that he heard that Krakoa provides whatever sustenance is necessary. That maybe Omega Red can thrive here.
Omega Red then tells Wolverine about the story of St. Julian who was destined to kill his parents. That it is a story of dark inevitability. But, the story has an unexpected ending and if Wolverine wants to learn more then he should get back to Paris.
We slide over to a morgue in Paris. A doctor is doing an autopsy on a person. The person suddenly wakes up as a vampire and attacks the doctor. The vampire then leaves.
We hop back to Paris and see Wolverine meeting with the woman from the bar fight. The woman introduces herself as Louise. Louise is from an ancient order called the Nightguard who is devoted to fighting the Vampire Nation.
Louise and Wolverine head off into the catacombs underneath Paris. They fall through a trap door. In mid-air, Wolverine positions his body under Louise so that he falls on the spikes below and Louise remains unhurt. A bunch of vampires attacks our heroes. Louise and Wolverine spring to action. (Fight! Yes!) But, the fighting immediately stops. (Damn. Just a couple of panels.)
We see that the vampires have captured Louise and tell Wolverine to stop or they will kill her. (Dammit, Louise! You are such a liability in a fight!) The vampires say that they want a taste of Wolverine’s blood. All of the vampires swarm Wolverine and feast on his blood. The vampires then all fly off leaving Wolverine and Louise behind.
Wolverine tells Louise that he will not turn into a vampire. That his healing factor will kill off the vampire enzyme. Louise says that the mutants have united, but so have the vampires. That the Vampire Nation is growing stronger. That the mutants have Charles Xavier. The vampires have Dracula. We see Dracula on his throne and receiving blood transfusions.
We shift to Omega Red stepping through a Krakoan gateway. It is the daytime. Dracula is standing there. Omega Red says that the plan must have worked since Dracula is out in the sunlight. Omega Red says that he delivered Logan for Dracula. Now it is time for Dracula to do his part.
Dracula hands Omega Red the Carbonadium synthesizer. Omega Red will now no longer need to kill to live. Dracula then reveals that there is a detonator inside of the Carbonadium synthesizer. This means act Omega Red remains in Dracula’s service. That the mutants shall not interfere with the plans of the Vampire Nation. Dracula tells Omega Red to join the mutants but to obey Dracula.
We get a one-page informational insert about Pollen. The Flower Cartel makes the drug called Pollen. That various government agencies like the FBI, DEA, and CIA all believe that the Hellfire Trading Company may be behind the black market for Krakoan drugs. That the Flower Cartel has proposed a meeting with Bannister deep in Alaska. End of issue.
The Good: Wolverine #1 was a disappointing read. It cannot be understated how much of a big deal it is that Wolverine is returning to a solo title. Wolverine remains arguably Marvel’s biggest character. It certainly is a competition between Logan and Peter Parker for the mantle of the most popular Marvel character. Marvel had not given readers a Wolverine solo title since 2014. Six years is a damn long time for Marvel’s premier character to not have a solo title.
So, without a doubt, Wolverine #1 is a massive issue. It was incumbent upon Marvel to deliver a strong read with such an important and highly anticipated issue. Unfortunately, Percy did not come out of the box with a home run smash in Wolverine #1. Instead, Benjamin Percy delivered a single with Wolverine #1. The issue is simply average. And average is not acceptable for such a massively anticipated and hyped title as important as Wolverine #1.
Still, there are plenty of positive aspects to Wolverine #1. The second story in Wolverine #1 is clearly more interesting and entertaining than the first story. Neither are incredibly exciting or creative. But, at least the second story is a solid and serviceable plot.
I love that Percy is introducing Dracula into the story. Dracula is a character that has a long history with the X-Men going all the way back to Uncanny X-Men #159 published in 1982. In that issue, Dracula attempts to take Storm as his bride. Since then, we have also gotten the X-Men: Apocalypse v. Dracula. We also got the Curse of the Mutant storyline that ran in X-Men from 2010-2011.
I dig that Percy is reaching back into X-Men continuity and utilizing Dracula in an interesting and logical manner. Dracula is a formidable adversary that should make for an interesting threat to Charles Xavier and Krakoa. And Dracula’s power upgrade of being able to operate in the sun is going to make him even more dangerous than ever.
I love the introduction of the Vampire Nation as a new external threat to Krakoa. Hickman and the rest of the writers of the various X-titles have all done an excellent job creating numerous external threats to the mutant utopia of Krakoa. Add the Vampire Nation to the growing list of external threats that includes nations hostile to Krakoa like Russia and China, Orchis, and Xeno. I love that Hickman and his fellow X-title writers are constructing numerous threats from various disparate corners of the Marvel Universe.
Percy does a good job organically weaving the Vampire Nation into the general Krakoa storyline that dominates all of the X-Titles. I love how Percy connects Wolverine and Omega Red to the Vampire Nation. Percy does this several ways. First, the informational page detailing the different types of blood and then adding in a new classification of blood, E, that represents the blood of Wolverine and Vampires. This is a creative and interesting new twist. This is some interesting world-building that helps to further connect Wolverine and the Vampire Nation.
Second, Percy connects Wolverine with the Vampire Nation by having Wolverine’s blood be compatible with Vampire blood and then using it to resuscitate Dracula. This is another cool plot wrinkle. The big reveal that Omega Red was luring Wolverine to a next of Vampires so that they could suck his blood and then transfuse that blood into Dracula is brilliant. This is a cool way to bring Dracula back and to give him a serious power upgrade as well as further connect him to Wolverine.
Third, Percy does an excellent job drawing the parallels between Omega Red and the Vampire Nation. Omega Red’s mutant powers effectively make him a vampire in that he must feed on the blood of living beings in order to survive. This helps align Omega Red closer to the Vampire Nation. This also helps make Omega Red a character who can easily walk in both the world of the mutant and the world of the vampire.
The Order of X is another cool bit of world-building by Percy. It is perfectly logical that a cult like the Order of X would exist in a world where the mutant utopia of Krakoa exists. I love how all of the writers of the various X-titles are examining the different ways in which Krakoa would impact society in general.
Percy does a solid job with the character work and the dialogue. None of it is all that amazing, but it is dependable and gets the job done. The character work and dialogue never wows the reader, but it never disappoints, either.
I was impressed with how Percy managed to make such a hardcore villain in Omega Red relatively sympathetic. The moment where Percy has Omega Red blame for Wolverine for everyone Omega Red has killed in order to survive is a powerful scene. Percy forces the reader to think about how Wolverine’s refusal to give Omega Red the Carbonadium synthesizer did effectively force Omega Red to kill people in order to survive. Percy further makes Omega Red sympathetic by having him say that he has been killing animals in order to survive rather than feasting on humans.
Percy also makes Omega Red more sympathetic with Dracula placing a detonator inside of the Carbonadium synthesize all help to make Omega Red more of a sympathetic character. The reader understands that Omega Red choosing to use the Carbonadium synthesize so that he does not have to kill people in order to survive justifies his agreeing to work with Dracula against the mutants of Krakoa. It is a tough moral dilemma that Percy places Omega Red in and one that has no easy answer. However, most readers will understand that it is more important to choose not having to commit murder in order to survive over being loyal to Krakoa.
Adam Kubert’s art in the first story is okay. It is definitely not the best art that I have seen from Kubert. Viktor Bogdanovic is okay. Again, it does not do anything to particularly impress me, but it is serviceable and is slightly better than average.
The Bad: The biggest crime of Wolverine #1 is that it is boring. To be sure, Percy does a fine enough job with the technical aspects of the writing in Wolverine #1. This is a well-plotted issue. Percy effectively introduces the reader to the main character in Wolverine. Percy introduces the supporting characters in Bannister and Louise. Percy then quickly installs the main villains in the Pale Girl and Dracula. Percy even installs multiple plot-lines. We get the two main plot-lines in the Pollen drug and the Flower Cartel and Dracula and the Vampire Nation. We also get several minor plot-lines involving Omega Red and his struggles, Bannister and his daughter, Louisa, and her mission, and Wolverine and his internal struggles.
On the surface, Percy does everything that a writer is expected to do with a debut issue of a new title. The problem is that Wolverine #1 is about as exciting as a bowl of oatmeal. The entire issue lacks any creativity or intrigue that captivates the reader’s attention. There is nothing in Wolverine #1 that excites the reader and gets them fully immersed in the story. There is simply nothing unique or special about Wolverine #1 at all. The reader gets a distinct feeling that we have been here and done this before.
Wolverine #1 feels as if it was written in a rote fashion. As if Percy is mechanically going through a check-list of things a writer must accomplish with a debut issue of a superhero comic. The problem is that Percy forgot to inject any soul into the story. The reader finds themselves quickly becoming bored with Wolverine #1. Finishing this 64-page issue becomes more of a chore than a form of entertainment.
While I preferred the second story in Wolverine #1 to the first story, make no mistake, the second story is nothing that earth-shattering. The second story had some nice aspects to it and I do like Dracula and the Vampire Nation. Those are cool concepts and excellent choices for villains for Wolverines to battle. However, the second story is delivered in an unexciting and mechanical fashion.
The first story involving the Pollen and the Flower Cartel is a massive swing and a miss. This story reads like a generic police procedural that you would get on network TV. This is such uninspired writing. This story lacks much imagination or excitement. Everything with Bannister, the Pollen, and the Flower Cartel felt like unoriginal concepts that the reader has seen before numerous times.
Further, Percy employs the deaths of Kid Omega, Jean, and Domino as a source of anguish for Wolverine and the main source of conflict for the first story. However, because of the Ressurection Program on Krakoa, the reader knows that these three X-Men will immediately be reincarnated and no worse for the wear. This makes the deaths of Kid Omega, Jean, and Domino feel like false suspense. The reader knows that they will be easily reincarnated so the reader is not impacted at all by their deaths. This also robs much of the angst from Wolverine’s reaction over killing these X-Men. Sure, Wolverine can be upset, but he knows that his teammates will be brought back to life in short order.
Aside from the lack of soul or anything unique or compelling to the story, another massive defect with Wolverine #1 is the complete lack of action and fighting. This is unforgivable for a Wolverine title. Wolverine is all about the action. It is a cornerstone of this franchise. Percy delivers a 64-page issue that only has a measly six pages of action or fighting. That is awful. I have no idea what in the hell Percy was thinking with this approach to Wolverine #1. The result is one of the more boring Wolverine issues that I have read in a long time.
I was not that impressed with the character work on either Wolverine or Louisa. Percy’s Wolverine felt more like a laundry list of Wolverine’s attributes. Percy told the reader who Wolverine is rather than showed the reader who Wolverine is. The result is that Percy’s Wolverine feels a bit bland.
Louisa is even worse. Louisa is generic at best. At no point does Louisa display and unique or interesting personality. The reader has no reason at all to care about Louisa’s character.
Overall: Wolverine #1 is a slightly better than average read. Unfortunately, Wolverine #1 comes with a heavy $8.00 price tag. There is simply no way in the world I can recommend anyone spend $8.00 for a slightly above average read. That is just way too much money. The cost of Wolverine #1 will nearly get you an entire month of Netflix!
Having said that, once the cover price for Wolverine returns to the customarily inflated cost of $4.00 and if Percy kicks his story up a few notches then this might be a title worth trying.
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