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Underrated: Wolverine Stories

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Wolverine Stories.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past, both at Graphic Policy and Ramblings Of A Comics Fan that were it not for Wolverine then there is a very good chance I would never have picked up a comic book. Whether it was X-Men: The Animated Series, Wolverine Unleashed #8 or even just regular old Wolverine #118, the one common thread that brought me in to each of these things was the clawed Canadian mutant.  Over time I would  come to realize that Wolverine is so much more than just a violent claw-fisted mutant, and so this Underrated will (hopefully) shine a light on some of the stories featuring Wolverine that may not be thought of as highly as others. With Logan hitting theaters, I felt that now would be a good time to look at some of Wolverine’s more underrated stories.

Tales such as The Japan Adventure, Weapon X and Old Man Logan are thought of in many ways as classic stories, and while some of the tales he’s featured in are somewhat terrible, there are some very underrated gems out there, and these are the ones I wanted to look at today, focusing on a handful of my favourites.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comics are all currently being published in an ongoing series. Secondly, I’ve got eclectic taste so these may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

  • wolverine-119-coverNot Dead Yet (Wolverine Vol. 2 #119-123)
    This is quite possibly one of my favourite Wolverine stories. Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu, the story is set during the time Wolverine had no adamantium in his body, it is told both in the present and the past by use of flashbacks. Wolverine is being hunted by one of the best, a man who has planned for years to be able to take down the nearly unkillable Canadian mutant with adamantium bones, but what he doesn’t know is that Wolverine‘s bones are no longer coated with the metal, and Logan is suddenly much more vulnerable than he used to be.  I keep coming back to this story every few years, and I have mentioned it several times on this blog, too.  It’s available in trade paperback format, and I highly suggest you pick it up.
  • Bloodlust (Wolverine: Bloodlust one shot)
    A one shot by Alan Davis, this is an absolutely beautifully constructed comic that explores the internal conflict of Wolverine‘s soul;  a recurring theme in many of the comics he has appeared in. Davis asks whether Logan is more of a man or beast at his very core, and delves deeply into Wolverine’s psyche to do so. But the question isn’t as simple as it first seems, and Alan Davis is at his very best here when he combines Logan‘s internal dialogue with the backdrop on the final few pages. For a more detailed review you can check out this link, but suffice it to say that this is easily one one my most treasured comic book stories.
  •  Wolverine 43Wolverine #43
    I reviewed this when I reread it a year or so ago (the curious can find that here) for a another feature. Although it wasn’t as great as I remembered it being, this is still a really interesting story as we get to see Wolverine engage with his more noble animal side when confronting a run of the mill, all too believable, villain.
  • Wolverine And The X-Men Volume #1 (collects issues #1-4)
    Although there are numerous story arcs within the first full volume of this series, and I feel that I could honestly include the entire forty two issues from the first series, if you’re going to read the entire series then you should start here. Another Jason Aaron story, with numerous talented artists, this series was one of the best on the racks every week during it’s original run. Juxtaposing brilliantly with the equally amazing Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender, this series focused on the one X-Man least suited to running a school does exactly that, frequently with disastrously hilarious results. There’s a lot more heart in this series than you’d initially expect, and it’s well worth tracking down the entire run.Uncanny_X-Force_Apocalypse_Solution_Vol_1_1.jpg
  • The Apocalypse Solution (Uncanny X-Force #1-#6)
    Rick Remender
    opens his seminal run on Uncanny X-Force (and if you can read the whole run, please do) with a story that finds X-Force, led by Wolverine, tasked to take out the reborn Apocalypse. This is the story that sets the tone for the entire series, and without giving anything away, is absolutely worth your time. Gritty, dark, and violent, this is a series that deals with the dark underbelly of the X-Men, and shows just how far they’re willing to go to protect mutant kind.

There we have it – a mere handful of underrated Wolverine stories. There are so many more stories featuring the Canadian mutant that are worth reading, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually. In the mean time, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

From The Vault: Wolverine: Bloodlust

wolverine_bloodlust_vol_1_1We all have comics that stand out to us for one reason or another. Whether it’s because of an emotional connection, or whether the comic spoke to your very core, all that should matter to you is that that specific comic is important to you. During my recent adventure digging through my long boxes, and (finally) setting up an inventory system so that I can keep track of the comics I own. In the process of doing that, I came across a comic that I hadn’t read in more than ten years; Wolverine: Bloodlust.

The comic was published in November of 1990, but I first read it close to seven years later where I found the second part of the story in the British reprint magazine Wolverine: Unleashed #8. Although only the second half of the story, the impact that the second half had on my young self cannot be understated.

When those final few pages had concluded, I remember my twelve year old self sitting there being stunned. This was a story that really highlighted Wolverine‘s struggle with his inner beast, and for me to read it at such a formative stage in my comic book reading is something that I only really appreciated recently just how great a job this story does of highlighting the conflicted nature of Logan‘s soul. 

I will always look upon this story with rose tinted glasses, but even with those removed this remains a cracking tale.

After rereading this comic (is it long enough to be called a graphic novel?) today I realized that my love for this story wasn’t just my rose tinted glasses in full effect; it really does hold up more than twenty five years after it was first published in December of 1990. The artwork has that perfect mix of fluid detail with an easy to follow visual style. Basically, it’s classic Alan Davis. While I undoubtedly love this comic for what it means to me personally, it is still a very solid comic in it’s own right. logan-vs-neuri-small.jpgThere are some great action scenes in this comic that are wonderfully illustrated; by giving a really brutal feel to the fights, with Wolverine very rarely emerging unscathed. His clothing is frequently torn to shreds and even though there’s very little actual blood depicted here, the fights feel really brutal. As you can see in the two panels above, there’s a sense of ferocity and speed here that really plays to the nature of Wolverine‘s character, and when the fights are over, the toll that they take on the X-Man is visible. Remember, this was a time before Wolverine could heal from almost any wound in a matter of a few pages.  wolverine-bloodlust-scan In the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was actually vulnerable; yeah, he could heal fast, but that was it. Within the pages of Wolverine: Bloodlust alone, there were times where he had to either ignore the damage his body had suffered, or stop to allow himself time to heal. Indeed once, had it not been for a timely intervention, the damage sustained was too much for Wolverine‘s mutant healing factor to endure.

Wolverine: Bloodlust is a comic about contrast. Not only in the way it highlights the dual nature of Wolverine‘s inner struggle between man and beast, but also the colour pallet used in the comic; for the most part the comic uses little colour; indeed the colour pallet used is quite muted, often with a more visible (I won’t say vibrant because it’s not) background colour that’s used to highlight the barely coloured foregrounds giving a remarkably striking effect.

By utilizing a lack of colour within the comic Bernie Jaye is able to effortlessly show you just how brutal the Yukon can be, and yet the pages where he does use colours to emphasize how at peace the Alshara (an Astral Plane sort of thing) is when compare to the rest of the story is wonderful. When he returns from the Alshara to more more mundane world the sense of loss from Wolverine is visible in the way in which Alan Davis draws the character. Just as the use of colour shows how wonderful the Nirvana-like Alshara is when compared to the world we live in, the last page shows the natural beauty of the Yukon in a way that brings the dual nature of the comic to a brilliant close; by using the same colour scheme as the mundane world, we see another type of beauty. The stark natural beauty of our own world, if we choose to see it.

Wolverine: Bloodlust‘s final page remains to this day one of my favourite concluding pages to any comic. It’s a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant comic.
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Comics to Enjoy This Snowy Weekend

Mister_Freeze_BTASA pretty big snowstorm is burying parts of the United States this weekend, and could force individuals to be stuck inside for at least a few days. So, the team has decided to get in to the snowy spirit and have suggestions for comics and graphic novels to enjoy during your time stuck inside.

We’re also including links if you can get the comics digitally so you can enjoy them now!

Mr. H: Not a comic book but I highly suggest you stream or watch the classic Batman the Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice” one of the best in the entire run, and it even has chicken soup. Also Batman! You can watch it on Amazon Prime right now.

250px-New_whiteout_tpbAlex: Batman: Noel – Yes, it’s a retelling of A Christmas Carol, but Lee Bermejo’s art and Barbara Ciardo’s colours just make you feel the cold. The art is just blood fantastic. That it takes place within a Gotham blizzard is just the icing on the cake. Kindle & comiXology.

Elana: Whiteout by Rucka and Lieber. You can get the Definitive Edition for the Kindle.

Alex: Wolverine: Bloodlust – I’m not going to pretend this story doesn’t hold a special place in my heart because it was the first solo Wolverine story I’d ever read, because it does, but the way Alan Davis draws the cold, yet supremely beautiful Canadian wilderness is fantastic. And the last page? Oh man.

Madison: Currently experiencing the snow you’re about to get! Lumberjanes #14 and #15 are an excellent little standalone story about a freak snow storm in the middle of summer. It’s probably not the weirdest shenanigan that the Lumberjanes have been involved in, but there story is, as usual, cute and funny with a good lesson to be learned by the end. Get it on Kindle #14 #15, or comiXology #14 #15.

Winterworld-01-pr-1-edb47Meghan: 30 Days of Night! Lots to choose from and start with volume 1 on comiXology.

Ash: Amazing Spider-Man #700.1 and #700.2. Spider-Man’s choice between responsibility and power are particularly important when NYC is buried in the snow. Get #700.1 and #700.2 on comiXology.

Javier: Chuck Dixon’s and Jorge Zaffino’s Winterworld. Oldie from the eighties. IDW collected it in a TPB about a year ago I think. Kind of like Mad Max with ice and snow. You can get it for Kindle and comiXology now.

Brett: I have to go with Snowpiercer! The world is destroyed in freeze and all of humanity that’s left is safe on a train which can never stop, or they die. You can buy volume 1 or 2 in print only it looks like. The movie is great though! You can watch that now on Amazon or on Netflix.

Almost American