Wolverine. This loner’s been an X-Man, an Avenger and even a member of the Fantastic Four. He became one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen and the headmaster at a school for gifted youngsters. The guy’s had the adamantium ripped from his skeleton and then reapplied to those same old bones. Is there anything the enigmatic mutant known as Logan hasn’t done? Well, in 2014, Marvel realized “die” hadn’t been checked off the list, and so the event that was Death of Wolverine was born.
The mini-series chronicling the (temporary) end of Logan’s life was only four issues long. But, this is Marvel we’re talking about–of course the publisher is going to milk the tragedy for as long as it can! As a result, Wolverine fans were treated to Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #1-5, Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #1-7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan #1–all of which are collected in Death of Wolverine: The Complete Collection.
And yes, Wolverine is currently making a very slow return to the land of the living across multiple mini-series, because he’s the best there is at what he does, and what he does is… marketing, apparently.
Now, I’ll admit, going into this trade paperback, I totally expected to read $40 worth of cash-grab comics. With each page turn, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the entertaining story unfolding before me, due entirely to the talent Marvel assembled for this epic. Such writers as Charles Soule, Tim Seeley, Gerry Duggan and artists such as Steve McNiven, Salvador Larroca and Scott Kolins all lend their talents to this collection.
Of course, you’re going to want to buy this book for mini-series from which it gets its name. A collaboration between Soule and McNiven, Death of Wolverine chronicles the final days of the legendary X-Man. With no healing factor to save him, Logan does his best to stay alive as some of his greatest enemies come out of the woodwork to bring him (alive) to Dr. Abraham Cornelius of Weapon X fame.Wolverine’s death comes quickly at the end of the mini-series, and his “final” adversary is far from his best. But, I also don’t think anybody in the multiverse believed this would be the last time they saw Logan, so it’s OK this wasn’t the greatest final Wolverine story ever told. What makes it enjoyable is how Soule gives readers a chance to see a Logan who thinks his days are numbered. What happens when the unkillable man has to accept his mortality? Someone else might run away from it all and live out the rest of their days in peace, but that’s not Logan. He’s got a job to finish, even if it kills him. Uh, which it did.
Although Death of Wolverine is ultimately a quick read, McNiven’s realistic pencils give the story a cinematic feel. This means, if you weren’t a fan of watching the ole canucklehead bite it on the big screen in Logan, you get to see an alternate ending to the character’s life, with just as many cool visuals.
Following Logan’s death, I wondered, where could this story possibly go from here? As someone who never got excited by anything Weapon X, the thought of reading five issues of Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program, featuring a cast of new and unknown characters, did little to excite me. Once again, I enjoyed it, and once again, I found myself thanking Soule.
In this tale, we get to know a group of super-powered lab rats who’ve broken free from Weapon X’s control. Led by the enigmatic–and somehow familiar–Sharp, this team is on the hunt for answers… which leads them to the next Death of Wolverine mini-series, of course. Overall, it’s a pretty simple story (with gorgeous Larroca artwork), but still engaging due to the ongoing mystery as to who Sharp is behind his mask and Soule’s talent for creating compelling characters. If you’ve read Soule’s Inhumans stories, you know the writer has a gift for creating original characters with some serious staying power.
Less enjoyable, but still fine, are the stories featured in Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy. This anthology series is focused on the important heroes and villains in Logan’s life that are left behind: X-23, Daken, Sabretooth, Mystique and Lady Deathstrike. These are far from my favorite Marvel characters, so enjoying them was always going to be an uphill battle for me. With that said, I had fun reading Seeley’s X-23 story, which dealt with her struggle to grieve, and Kyle Higgins’ Sabretooth tale, in which Victor Creed comes to terms with living in a world without his greatest enemy.
And then, there are the one-shots, which highlight more adventures in grieving. Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan #1 shines a light on the X-Men in a post-Logan world. How do Cyclops, Colossus and Nightcrawler pay their respects to their fallen friend? By brawling with strangers, it turns out (guys, just start a fight club). To be honest, these are pretty forgettable stories that brought me back to the days of the always forgettable X-Men Unlimited series.
Far more memorable is Duggan and Kolins’ Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1, in which Logan’s fellow warriors do their best to prevent anyone from cloning Wolverine. Despite the “Death of Wolverine” in its title, it’s a pretty lighthearted story that’s made all the more fun by the Old Man Steve Rogers-Deadpool team-up.
Finally, a significant portion of this collection is dedicated to variant covers, original artwork and an interview with Wolverine’s co-creator, the late Len Wein. If you couldn’t tell, this is basically an omnibus without the hardcover, and by that, I mean this is a must-buy for any Logan lover. Speaking as a casual Wolverine fan, I’ll say it’s definitely nice to read this entire saga (which I missed the first time around) in chronological order and one easy-to-carry tome.
Plus, it’ll look nice on your bookshelf alongside the eventual Return of Wolverine: The Complete Collection.