In October 2014, Marvel did the unthinkable. Facing dwindling sales and a desire to downplay the role of mutants in the 616, they killed the X-franchise’s most popular character in the Death of Wolverine series by Charles Soule. In that time, we saw the emergence of Old Man Logan as a mainstay in the X-books, and his cloned “daughter” Laura Kinney taking on her progenitor’s moniker in her own ongoing series. As such, it never really felt like Wolverine was really gone, even if his replacements were very different in their own ways. Well here we are, nearly four years later, and the bigwigs at Marvel have tasked Soule with undoing his most heinous murder in a scrawling epic storyline that kicks off with the one-shot Hunt for Wolverine. Now if you’re like me, you were a little underwhelmed with how the Death of Wolverine mini wrapped up, but while there are a few questionable choices made in this issue, Hunt for Wolverine should get people pretty amped for the return of the OG James Howlett to the Marvel universe.
Our story opens with the Reavers (who are still a thing despite all of them dying like five or six times over at this point) attempting to steal the adamantium-encased corpse of Wolverine from his remote tomb in the wilds of Alberta, Canada. Once on the scene they’re beset by a group of what Kitty Pryde calls “A-List X-Men,” which I wouldn’t have issue with if the squad didn’t include Firestar. While Firestar is a pretty powerful character she wasn’t even A-list among Spider-Man’s Amazing Friends, and she was barely ever an X-Man, having really only served as a teacher at the Logan-lead Jean Grey School. So come on, Kitty. Have some self respect. Anyway, though the X-Men make short work of the Reavers, Skullbuster and Pierce manage to crack open the adamantium pile that used to be the best there is at what it does to find it empty! Turns out Kitty and her “A-List squad” (+1) had secretly phased Wolvie’s body from his adamantium sarcophagus and buried it in a discreet, unmarked grave somewhere in the vast expanses of Canada. Unfortunately for them, however, Logan’s body is not actually in the grave!
What follows is a series of vignettes wherein Kitty reaches out to several of Wolverine’s past associates (including Daredevil for some reason) for help in searching for the missing mutant. The good guys aren’t the only ones watching for the wayward Wolvie, however, as Lady Deathstrike is also on the hunt for Wolverine…funny that. This issue sets into motion four mini series that will launch in May and tell the tale of Wolverine…at least the one that’s not being told in the Infinity Countdown. It’s a little circuitous, and feels needless, but if you’re going to bring Wolverine back to life, this isn’t a bad way to start. Soule’s scripting is mostly great, and the artwork from David Marquez and Paulo Siquiera really tells a strong visual story.
The issues I have are fairly nitpicky, but they have definitely stuck with me. I’ve already mentioned the bit about Pierce being alive and Firestar’s graduation to the main roster, but I also have to take a moment to complain about Kitty simply phasing Logan’s body through the adamantium shell in which he was encased. I know it’s stupid to complain about the physics in a comic book, but exactly how the hell is she able to get his body — including his claws, which were extended at the time of his death — through an encasement that was harder than steel? Furthermore, dude was covered in liquid hot metal that eventually hardened on his skin. Yet when Kitty pulls him out of the statue, his skin is almost entirely intact; he even has hair! You can’t say that his healing factor is responsible either, because he didn’t have the factor when he died and it’s not like it would have kicked in after he was encased in air-tight liquid metal.
Similarly nitpicky: Why does Kitty go to Daredevil to help in her search? I guess he and Wolvie have crossed paths before, but dude isn’t a detective. He isn’t a tracker. He’s a lawyer and a ninja who operates out of a fairly small neighborhood of midtown Manhattan. Knowing, as we do, that Wolverine’s somehow caught up in some intergalactic nonsense, what good is it going to do to have a former work acquaintance search the area between 34th and 59th street?
Still, as a sort of one shot meant to launch four mini series en route to the return of one of the company’s most popular properties, this isn’t bad. The artwork is ubiquitously strong, there’s great action pieces and the story is interesting. We don’t get a lot of background on what actually happened to (comparatively young man) Logan, but given the fact that this issue is launching 4 separate minis set in disparate parts of the Marvel Universe, that is to be expected. Personally, I’m really only interested in the Mystery in Madripoor series from Jim Zub and Thony Silas, but this issue could definitely stoke one’s interest in the Soule-led Weapons Lost.