It’s hard to be a Wolverine fan these days, with the character dead and all. Sure, we have an awesome Old Man Logan series, but he’s from a twisted alternate dimension and just not the same. That’s why it’s nice to see Marvel put out collections like Wolverine by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection Vol. 2. This series captures a tumultuous time for Wolverine when his memories were restored and he was on a quest to come to grips with what he has done.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Continuing the blistering run of Daniel Way – with a blockbuster assist by Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi! Wolverine has been completely shattered by recent revelations, and must now ask himself some hard questions. Can he continue on his quest? Should he? He finally remembers who he was, but who – and what – is he now? The answers involve Madripoor, Jubilee, old foes Cyber and Omega Red, and the deadly debut of Daken – the son that Wolverine never knew he had! Learn Wolverine’s secret history with Black Widow…and gasp as a savage showdown with Sabretooth draws the manipulative mastermind Romulus out of the shadows! Plus, ask “what if?” tragedy turned Logan away from the path of Wolverine – and on to that of an even more punishing vigilante!
Why does this matter?
This is a prime time in Wolverine’s history when his identity was being revisited and new wrinkles were introduced post-House of M when his memories were restored. That includes the search for Daken and the quest to end Sabretooth for all the crap he put him through over the centuries.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Someone needs to put a coat on.
Daniel Way writes most of this volume (hence the title) with Jeph Loeb rounding out Wolverine issues #50 through #55. Much of this book is actually Wolverine: Origins #6 through #15, with an annual issue and a “What If” thrown in for good measure. The flow of the book works quite well and seeing as how I enjoyed it without reading volume one it’s a rather self-contained arc even though it’s part of Wolverine’s bigger journey of discovery. Everyone’s favorite character to hate, Romulus (do you remember him?), is teased heavily in this volume and seems to be the driving force for who has been dictating Wolverine’s life. There’s Sabretooth too, of course, but a mystery underneath it all involves Romulus. As the story progresses Way drops little hints about Logan’s past that reveal what he was up to over the centuries like how he came up with “I’m the best at what I do” or and how he isn’t actually human. There are some neat ideas throughout that make Wolverine feel almost legendary and for much of it, Logan can barely come to grips with this newfound knowledge.
It’s works like this that remind us Wolverine could be a really cool TV show that could last 20 seasons. There’s always some new location to put him in, some new timeline where we learn he was up to something. It’s also neat to see how at different times in his history he didn’t even know he had claws or they didn’t have metal on them. The character went through a lot of changes in part because he had his memory wiped (which you learn about in this volume). Way has a good ability to capture the character via dialogue, but also keep the comic grooving at a good pace that’s not too fast or too slow. It always feels like an adventure you want to be part of due to some new revelation or to see how Wolverine reacts to a situation.
The art by Steve Dillon is very good at doing a lot with a little. His style is simpler than most and he tends to use fewer panels per page. How he draws Wolverine in the costume (or out of it) is somehow riveting as he captures the humanity of the character. There’s also a truism proven with his style about how less is more. It’s shockingly obvious after reading this, but at a glance, it might look too simple and boring. Instead, he draws your attention and using fewer panels forces your imagination to work.
Way’s stories also weave in classic Wolverine villains like Omega Red, Cyber, and Dum Dum Dugan. Cyber gets a surprising amount of page time and he’s woven into Logan’s past in a much more robust way than I remembered. Sure, basically rewriting a character’s past is touchy, but Way makes it believable and interesting. Logan has basically lived a dramatic life with wickedly dramatic relationships (and lost a hell of a lot of girlfriends).
Loeb’s story is all about Wolverine ready and willing to put Sabretooth down for good. Each issue has a new locale to beat Sabretooth in and reveals a little bit more about their checkered past. It’s in this six issue run that Loeb reveals Sabretooth, Wolverine, and a few surprise characters are all evolved from wolves, unlike homo sapiens. It’s an interesting way to explain why they’re so feral–explains the hair too–but also to have their lineage tie all the way back to the dawn of man. This story gives Wolverine an archetype sort of role that makes him feel even more special. Love or hate this idea, it certainly is an original one. It’s also illustrated by Simone Bianchi in gloriously beautiful pages. His style is lifelike and quite good at capturing a moment in time as if it’s in stone.
Find your son!
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s no denying Loeb’s story, while good, doesn’t really jive with what Way was doing. The art is changed, but so is the mission as it strays from Daken. The Romulus angle is still approached, but it’s a bit jarring to cut to this story.
The “What If” and Annual stories are also sort of tacked on to this volume. They’re nice slice of life stories focused on Logan, but you’ll wanna get back to the Wolverine: Origin story.
Outside of this, the main story by Way can feel slow as it uses flashes of reveals to help keep your attention. Essentially it’s all about Logan saving Jubilee, then dealing with Cyber and his big reveals, and then an ending that doesn’t reach a conclusion. Logan is after a special metal that can stop his powers from working and it seems to be going somewhere and then just stops cutting next to Loeb’s story. It also slowly builds towards Daken, which won’t really be tackled till the next volume.
Is It Good?
I had a lot of fun reading this collection; Way and Dillon approached Wolverine in a very meaningful and cool way. The character reveals are fun and enlightening while Logan seems more human than ever. Stuck with all his memories, the character is forced to do things he never knew he needed to do. That leads this narrative on a journey that’s a surprise.