Wolverine by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection Vol. 3 features several arcs from the titular writer’s long run on the character, and includes guest appearances from Captain America, Bucky, Deadpool, and Wolverine’s own son, Daken. Most of the arcs tie together fairly organically, and there are recurring themes even when one plot thread doesn’t directly lead to the next. With all that said, is it good?
The first arc in the collection is entitled “Our War,” and it’s the most mediocre of the bunch. Published not long after the original Civil War and the death of Captain America (Steve Rogers), the arc consists of Wolverine looking back on the characters’ first meeting back in World War II. There’s a lot of commentary on how much Logan respected Cap right from the beginning, but it’s not very touching. “Our War” is one of those stories where the writer’s goals are apparent but not actually accomplished successfully. Rather than a poignant snapshot of a man reminiscing about a dead friend, what we get is a few flat and emotionless issues of Logan looking at a memorial statue. Steve Dillon’s art helps things a bit with some strong visual characterization, but it’s not enough to make the arc any more memorable.
The book’s second arc is titled “The Deep End” and it’s significantly more enjoyable than the first one. Deadpool guest stars in what is mostly a bloody action romp, and it’s a lot of fun. Wade continuously has delusions in which Wolverine seems fearful or otherwise acts unusually, just to be brought back to reality when the real Wolverine resumes kicking his ass. Even in his right mind, Deadpool provides solid comedy by getting the upper hand on Logan in a variety of ridiculous ways, to include hiding a bomb inside of cooked poultry. Dillon provides the artwork for this arc as well. He does a good job with pacing and conveying the flow of the fight, but the characters’ facial expressions suffer a bit from not seeming to match their context.
There are several more arcs after those two but they largely blur together as almost all of them center around Wolverine’s attempts to help his son, Daken, and set him on a more moral path. This struggle is the source of some of the volume’s greatest moments, as Way makes Logan easier to empathize with than he ever is in the volume’s first half. Of particular note is a portion of the story in which Logan enlists Professor X’s help, and the two argue over their own past immoral actions. Unfortunately, this interesting conflict is gotten rid of after a handful of issues, and the plot unravels into a series of predictable betrayals. The reader can always trust that the various characters can’t be trusted, and so the plot twists never catch one off guard. The visuals don’t help much either as various artists shuffle on and off the book. Each one delivers functional enough work, but none of their styles are unique or dynamic enough to command much attention.
Overall, Wolverine by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection Vol. 3 is a bit of a disappointment. It’s not bad, and it has moments of greatness, but those moments are overshadowed by a generic first arc and an overly predictable second half. With that said, there are some really interesting character dynamics present in the volume’s best moments, and I learned more about Daken’s backstory, so I don’t regret reading it. If you’re not a major Wolverine or Daken fan, though, I can’t recommend buying this.