In spreading this out over five days, I've learned that I much more enjoy writing about one comic a day as opposed to trying to cram my thoughts on five separate books into one massive post over the course of a Sunday afternoon. However, I also don't like having capsule reviews of comics by me cluttering up the blog and clipping its diversity. So I've got to figure out a different way to format my thoughts on the week's comics (if indeed I want to keep sharing them regularly), but that's something I'll ruminate on. For now...
I greatly enjoyed Jason Aaron's brief run on the primary Wolverine title earier this year. I'm also a big fan of old school martial arts flicks like "Enter the Dragon" and its brethren. Thus, by simple calculus and/or algebra, this limited series about Wolverine having a kung fu adventure in San Francisco's Chinatown written by Jason Aaron is right up my alley.
First, a word on Wolverine.
Books like this and many of the other one-shots we at Marvel have produced over the last year or so (because as assistant editor of Marvel.com I play an integral role in the production of Wolverine one-shots*) such as Wolverine: Roar and the badass Wolverine: Saudade (which I refuse to pronounce any other way except for "Wolverine Saw-Daddy" in a southern accent) have given me a new affection for a character I hadn't had much spark for in many years. That is to say that while I still appreciate and enjoy Wolverine's place on the X-Men, I think he works far better these days as a Clint Eastwood or David Carradine type wading into the middle of genre fare and playing the central tough guy of neat little self-contained stories.
This is that type of story, though not completely self-contained, as it centers around the X-Men moving to San Francisco--giving Aaron the opportunity to do a fun little scene with Nightcrawler--and Wolverine having to deal with some old issues from his past before he can get settled. Seems Logan was involved in some nasty business back around the turn of the last century in Chinatown (we only get scattered details) and now he's gotta square old debts and fight a whole bunch of kung fu masters as well as reckoning with an old girlfriend. This first issue also sets up that the area is not exactly a nice place run by nice people and Wolverine may have to do something to rectify that over the next three chapters.
When Wolverine got all his memories back a few years ago, it didn't immediately have much of a strong impact, but the long run benefit is that we get to see stories like this (and like Jason Aaron's last go around, "Get Mystique"), where Logan is given more depth via the exploration of his past sins and current attempts at reparations. The old "My life sucks because it's all a lie" Wolverine got played out pretty thoroughly sometime circa the 90's, so I find this less emo, more soul-searching version of the character to be far more appealing and much closer to the guy everybody fell in love with during the glory days.
Aaron's story set up is all classic tough guys action movie cliche, complete with the spunky but obnoxious street urchin cheering our hero on, the stock army of eccentric bad guys, and the spurned lover out for revenge, but it all works and comes off fun rather than lame because of its self-awareness. This stuff has worked for years in other mediums for a reason and Aaron knows ow to translate it successfully to comics.
There is also much to be said for artist Stephen Segovia, who I predict is going to be a big deal much sooner rather than later. I noticed the guy, who is like a cross between Leinil Francis Yu and Chris Bachalo with his own flair for action scenes and splash pages, back when he was doing the Eclipso back-ups in that Countdown to Mystery book last year and even there you could see a raw energy that was ready to explode. Here, on a book totaly suitd to his style, he just does beautiful work. Big things.
I also love the inclusion of the Sons of the Tiger, among my favorite comic characters I've never actually seen featured in any stories but have always wanted to because they sound dope. If Aaron can somehow weave Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, who is my holy grail of guys I want to see my completely irrational faith in justified via an awesome guest appearance, he will have truly created a book that caters to me in every way except somehow featuring a gratuitous Nova cameo.
I hope he reads this blog.