Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WOLVERINE #78 – February 1994

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), Mark Farmer & Mike Sellers (inkers), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colors)

Bloodscream and Cylla track Wolverine in the Northern Alberta woods. Wolverine heads to the mountains so he can track their scent better, while Bloodscream tells Cylla about his past. He was once a pirate whose life was saved by a necromancer’s potion. He must feed off of living blood to survive, and nothing can kill him except for “metal not made by man.” Fearing that the potion will wear off, Bloodscream searches for Wolverine’s blood because he saw that he didn’t age over the course of fifty years. Wolverine reflects on the Clan Yashida’s Honor Sword, said to be hammered from meteorite iron. He uses the sword’s magnetic charge to find north during a snowstorm. When Bloodscream and Cylla finally get close to Wolverine, Bloodscream steals Cylla’s life essence to prepare himself for Wolverine. Wolverine slices Bloodscream with the Honor Sword, apparently killing him.

Continuity Notes
Bloodscream is given an origin in this issue, and he begins speaking with a Shakespearean accent, which I don’t remember from his initial appearances. He also transforms into some type of monster during the final pages, which I don’t really understand.

Production Notes
The first few pages of this issue are surrounded by a lot of white space. This may be intentional to mirror the snowy setting, but on some pages, it just looks like the art wasn’t reproduced large enough. On page seven, when the old man drops his pipe, most of the pipe is cut off, even though there’s over an inch of gutter space on the bottom of the page.

I had totally forgotten that this entire issue builds up to one single sword stroke. It’s an interesting approach to an action comic, and since I don’t remember feeling cheated by it as a thirteen year old, I’d say it’s pretty effective. The goal of the issue seems to be creating a contrast between Wolverine and Bloodscream while both of their narratives play out. Bloodscream is motivated by his quest for eternal life, while Wolverine has accepted his inevitable fate. Bloodscream is ruthless, murdering his own partner to gain health, while Wolverine’s compassion for a wounded, mad wolf is highlighted. Wolverine still has to kill the animal, putting it out of its misery and taking its pelt for warmth, emphasizing his own survival instinct. Wolverine’s willing to do what it takes to survive, but he also realizes that death is inevitable and refuses to cross the same lines Bloodscream does. Like a lot of Hama’s issues, this issue isn’t very plot heavy, but it attempts to define the characters by the situations they’re placed in.

I liked Adam Kubert’s art a lot during this time, and it still holds up. He’s drawing in a heavily detailed style that reminds me of Jim Lee, but it’s looser and more open for expression. He can handle the action very well, but he’s also great at drawing all of the real world elements like snow-topped trees, old country diners, and a Harley Davidson. The characterization on Wolverine’s face on the final page is also well done. Kubert’s one of the artists who figured out how to adapt to the visual changes the Image founders brought to comics, without sacrificing the fundamentals of good drawing.

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