Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wolverine #300

I rarely read his comic book, but I've been a Wolverine fan since his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk.

He was a short, fierce fighter with an attitude - and he was willing to take on the Hulk singlehanded (though writer Len Wein threw in the Wendigo just for fun). Not long after that, Wein used the Canadian again in the "New" X-Men - and that's where Wolverine built his reputation.

Eventually, Marvel gave him his own comic series, and this issue presumably celebrates the total of all the various series that Wolvie has starred in to arrive at #300 - an impressive run for any character.

But there's a reason why I don't read the comic from month to month - the character's backstory has become so messy and his present continuity so muddled (and the character is being used to death - the fate of popular comics characters) that I finally gave up and walked away.

But, just as I'm a sucker for an issue #1, I'm also drawn to "anniversary" issues, so I thought I'd give this a try.

Thankfully, there's not a lot of missed continuity to sort out. The story has Wolverine being summoned to Japan (where he spent quite some time in the past, pre-X-Men).

There he finds himself in the middle of a three-way battle between criminal gangs: the Yakuza, the Hand and the Clan Yashida.

The sprawling tale by writer Jason Aaron keeps things moving briskly, with some clever bits of business along the way. He brings in Sabretooth, an old foe of Wolverine's - and it feels tiresome. How many times are these two going to fight?

But that's a minor quibble - the story rips right along with only a few goofy bits of business.

The art is provided by a trio of artists - Adam Kubert, Ron Garney and Steve Sanders, each tackling different chapters, and it's outstanding. Lots of over-the-top action, some raw violence - and that's about it. Still, great work here.

My only real complaint is that the story is continued at the end - all these pages and they couldn't give us a complete story? (Although maybe it's a trend - the Fantastic Four did the same thing.)

So my final point it that, after 300 issues, Wolverine hasn't changed a bit - he's still a fierce fighter with an attitude. If you like that kind of thing, here it is.

Grade: B+


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