The arrival of a new Wolverine film is the perfect excuse for Marvel to put out yet another new Wolverine series. After all, if you count, Wolverine, Wolverine: Origins and Wolverine: First Class, he’s only got three to his name – and one of those is an all-ages, out-of-continuity book, so it doesn’t count. Plus, in his heyday, Spider-Man had four books, and Wolverine’s about as popular these days, so it’s at least as justifiable, right?
Now, in fairness, there is actually a niche in the Wolverine market that could reasonably be filled. The Wolverine solo title has been tied up in a “series of miniseries” mentality for years, leaving the character with no personal arc to speak of and no supporting cast of his own, which generally leaves him acting like a guest star in his own title. Wolverine: Origins, on the other hand, is mostly concerned with one giant story about conspiracies and Wolverine’s son, and is generally very backwards-looking. Wolverine, as much as I hate to admit it, needs a real starring role somewhere. If they’re going to put him back on that track, they might as well do it in a new series.
And this is where Wolverine: Weapon X comes in. The decision to reunite writer Jason Aaron and artist Ron Garney is a smart one. The pair previously collaborated on a Wolverine arc called “Get Mystique” which was one of the best Wolverine arcs in years – so not only does the series have a definite niche to fill, it also has a solid creative team. Despite initially seeming like a good idea, the book is two for two in the “reasons for it to exist” stakes.
In the first issue, Aaron immediately sets about building up Wolverine’s world, establishing that the story is set in San Francisco (making this title firmly peripheral to the rest of the X-line) and introducing him to a reporter character who might be the first new member of the solo supporting cast that Logan has desperately lacked over the years.
The rest of the book deals, not unexpectedly, with the Weapon X program.
Using both Weapon X and the character of Maverick as a starting point places this book in the same category as last year’s Invincible Iron Man – it’s a moviegoer-friendly launch, though one that’s set in the current comics continuity. And a good job it does of filling that role too. Come into this book cold, and you’ll experience a crash course in Wolverine that’ll leave you fully aware of who he is and what he does by the end of it. He’s a hero, but not a very nice one, and he’s been messed around by the government in the past. Fine. We got it. If you’ve never read a Wolverine comic before, you’ll be catered for brilliantly.
However – there is one problem that the quality of Aaron’s writing and Garney’s art can’t assuage. As much as I can sympathise with – even get enthusiastic about – the editorial need for a new Wolverine book, I can’t bring myself to want to read past issue one of Wolverine: Weapon X.
And why? Because it’s Wolverine. Again. And Weapon X. Again. The character’s been doing this dance over and over for years now. Is there really nothing new that can be done with him? If anyone can do it, Aaron and Garney can, but for now I’m just left wondering where the originality that flowed through “Get Mystique” has gone. For all its promise, this really is everything that fans feared it would be – it’s just another Wolverine book. And we’ve already got plenty of those.
James writes Alternate Cover every Monday at Den Of Geek. His previous column can be found here.