Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Joe Pimentel (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Andreani/Becton & Graphic Color Works (colors)
Summary: In the Canadian wilderness, Shaman asks Wolverine to track down a pair of armed robbers. Shaman is in the area because a dream warned him that an evil ancient spirit would soon be released. Nearby, a bickering family stumbles across the criminals in the woods. Wolverine saves the family, just as a spirit-possessed bear appears. Wolverine fights against his animal instincts and knocks the bear unconscious, rather than killing it. Shaman casts a spell and removes the bear’s evil spirit. Wolverine follows the scent of the robbers and finds them threatening the same family nearby. Wolverine subdues one of the criminals, while the emasculated father finds the courage to knock the other one unconscious. Shaman asks how the unhappy family can keep going, and Wolverine replies that he asks himself the same question every day.
Continuity Note: Wolverine is back to his more-feral appearance, apparently because this fill-in artist was given the correct reference.
Review: Tom DeFalco would occasionally show up as a fill-in writer on Wolverine during this era, and this is his first issue. It’s not as bad as I remembered it, but it is clearly filler. DeFalco tries his best to tie the story into the ongoing arc involving Wolverine’s fight against his feral instincts, which makes the issue just regular filler instead of totally pointless filler. It’s not that bad of a story, but the dialogue often sounds like something out of any generic superhero comic from the mid-70s. Casting the wife as an overbearing harpy, and not redeeming her in any way, does give the story a small amount of edge, I suppose. The art is by a young Joe Bennett, who produces a competent cartoony style on a few scenes, but many of the pages just look sloppy. It’s the type of thing I’m sure a more experienced inker could easily fix, but Marvel was still shying away from anything that might look “old fashioned” during this time period.