After wishing for it over the past two years, my beloved Wolverine finally got a new creative team. Most importantly, Cullen Bunn replaced “writer” Jason Aaron, which gave me high hopes for the new direction. Sadly, the new team stumbles in their debut. Wolverine #305 is bizarre because it feels so out of place. Granted, the story and villain are B-Movie cliché, but that’s not the main problem. A Wolverine solo story doesn’t work the way it used to. Our hero was a lone wolf, now he’s plugged into almost everything in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine was always in every issue Marvel could spit out, but now he’s central to them.
Let’s get the story problems out of the way. #305 opens with two cops standing over three mutilated bodies. Apparently, this killing spree has been going on for weeks and the cops are stumped. Cue a little boy who saw the latest murders from his window. The boy draws a picture of what he saw and, of course, it’s Wolverine. Jump to Wolverine in a bar. He’s getting hit on by the sexy waitress and fighting off flashes of seeing her mutilated corpse. Wolverine explains through his inner monologue that somebody has been controlling him and he knows who it is. That’s the first problem, Bunn uses way too much exposition.
Wolverine visits an old sanitarium he used to be locked up in. Apparently, this new villain once ran things here and he’s a bit of a madman. After battling some mutant brain monsters, Wolverine heads off to find his mark, not knowing that the villain is watching him. Back at the Jean Grey School, the feds have descended to try and find Logan (aka Wolverine) for questioning. This entire story reads like a bad late night horror movie on cable. The hero being controlled, the cops put on his trail from the little kid witness, the crazy villain who wears a human skin apron and performs surgery and bloody mutilations while assisted by his buxom and scarred “nurse”. The sanitarium angle, the monsters, the good man against impossible odds, its all way too contrived for my taste.
The lackluster story aside, the real problem is Marvel trying to milk Wolverine at both ends. In one series, he’s a concerned father figure trying to run a school and keep kids from killing and hurting each other. He’s also a card-carrying member of the Avengers who is in the middle of the entire Avengers Vs. X-Men battle. Wolverine #305 just ignores all of that to try and keep milking his loner/rebel side, and it doesn’t work. This issue should have told a deeper story within either the Jean Grey School or Avengers Vs. X-Men. If Marvel is going to keep Logan as an integral part of their bigger stories, they can’t have him running off for solo adventures, especially ones this derivative.
Paul Pelletier’s art is the star of issue #305. I love how he draws Wolverine, I also love his hybrid of modern and '70s-style comic book art. His work has a dirty feel to it, like a dark, violent horror story. Pelletier has a great handle on what makes action leap off a page and his detail work is extraordinary. I’m hoping as the issues wear on that Bunn’s writing will catch up to Pelletier’s pencils. For now, I’m just happy Jason Aaron is gone.
(5 Art, 2 Story)