Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wolverine Trade Review

With The Wolverine DVD/Blu-Ray releasing on December 3, 2013 we thought it would be the perfect time to review the graphic novel that the movie is roughly based off of.

Wolverine by Claremont & Miller
This graphic novel collects Wolverine #1-4 and Uncanny X-Men #172-173. The fact that it's actually two different books combined into one story is what makes this book so unique. Wolverine #1-4 were written by famed 80s X-Men writer, Chris Claremont, and penciled by the legendary writer/artist, Frank Miller, of such works as Daredevil Born Again, The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, and 300. The rest of the book was from Uncanny X-Men #172-173 which was also written by Claremont but penciled by Paul Smith.
These guys do some of the best work of their careers in this book. Claremont and Miller deliver something that had never been done before with Wolverine. He's more calm, calculating, and probably more lethal in his new sense of clarity. You really see the hunter in him. Miller and Smith illustrate Wolverine in his classic brown and orange suit which is quite the sight and personally one of my favorites especially when he's on his own. Miller makes you feel like nobody has ever drawn Logan like this before and wish that he never stops. I can honestly say that I wish Miller drew all Wolverine comics. He creates images that will soon not leave your mind. All the covers for each issue would be the most perfect posters because they're such epic, iconic images. Very few comics make me want to get the individual classic issues but this is one of them just because I love those covers and the art so much. The paneling structure and character designs are brilliant. There's so much detail in every face, character, panel, and page. Claremont creates a deep character driven story unlike any other.
If not the most defining Wolverine story, this is definitely one of the most character defining arcs for Wolverine of all time. Instead of just being a berserker, Logan becomes a very relatable, understanding, human character. It may be obvious that he's human but I use that word because there's a strong sense of Wolverine barely being more than an animal at the beginning of this book. By the end of this story though he's a man who finds and recovers his honor but with a heavy and broken heart. It's an interesting thing to find yourself reading this thinking, I've never seen Wolverine like this before. To a lot of us he's just the unstoppable, adamantium bone-laced, clawed, super sensed, fast healing mutant but in this book he's depicted as man. A man with wants, desires, a dark past, finding love, losing it, earning his honor, and almost finding solace.


Whether you've seen the film or not I can say that they start almost exactly the same, with Wolverine hunting an injured and poisoned bear gone berserk. Now thinking about it it's very symbolic that Logan puts the berserk animal to rest as he does that to do himself in this story. Logan goes back to Japan only to find that the woman he loves, Mariko Yashida, is married to another man. Her husband is abusive but she was forced into marriage with him by her father who has recently reappeared. Logan fights for his love but he is disgraced by her father, Shingen Yashida, in battle. Found beaten and broken Yukio helps him get his honor back but there's more to their relationship than meets the eye. Later the X-Men show up and join Wolverine to take on Silver Samurai and Viper.

Now to speak of my qualms with this graphic novel and to do some compare and contrast to the movie. Because of the fact that this book and arc is a combination of two different books they're written quite differently. Each part are well done and written for what they are but they don't mesh as well as they could. The first two thirds or so are so different from the last part of the story. In that instance the book is very similar to the movie. As ridiculous as the Wolverine #1-4 parts can get they pale in comparison to the over the top heroics and events of the Uncanny #172-173 section of the comic book. Besides these minor issues there wasn't much to complain about. It was nice to see the X-Men help their fellow mutant but thematically it was definitely different from the rest of the book.
That's why I feel odd about this book. It was weird to see that Frank Miller was doing the art and not the writing which he did a superb job at mind you. I also say that I feel odd about this book because it's so different from the movie and has so many things in common as well yet they're not all as obvious as you'd think. Some things were done better in the movie and certain things were better in the book. 

What it all comes down to though is the great character work both visually and emotionally. Claremont and Miller create an epic, iconic, character defining story. This is unquestionably one of the greatest Wolverine stories in existence. If you're a Wolverine fan this is a must have and even if you’re not it's still a great read as this is Logan as you've never seen him before.
Verdict: BUY

You can pick up these comics at Age Of Comics or

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