Friday, April 24, 2009

WOLVERINE #121 - #122, February 1998 – March 1998

Not Dead Yet, 3 of 4

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo & Gerry Alanguilan (inkers), Jason Wright (colors), Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: As Wolverine escapes the city, he’s attacked by assassins with adamantium bullets. He claws through them and heads deeper into the woods, hoping to find McLeish. A flashback to Hong Kong shows Wolverine saying goodbye to his girlfriend, Ai-Chia. She refuses to touch him, knowing now that he’s as much of a killer as McLeish. In the present, Wolverine passes a recording of McLeish’s voice. In the trees, he discovers the body of Ai-Chia. Wolverine explodes in anger, promising to give McLeish his animal side.

Review: Wow, this really is padded. It’s hard not to notice how slowly the story’s going when almost every page only has three or four panels, or is a splash page. The flashback with Ai-Chia is interesting, since it least raises the question of why Wolverine would go drinking with someone like McLeish in the first place. He doesn’t have much of a defense outside of his claim that they were a part of a similar lifestyle. This bothered me the first time I read the issue, but the final chapter does make an effort to redeem Wolverine (albeit in a rather predictable way). Since the plot is so thin, the art is left to carry a lot of the issue. Yu certainly excels at drawing things like motorcycles and guns, so at the very least it’s a nice looking book.

Not Dead Yet, 4 of 4

Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo (inker), Jason Wright (colors), Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Wolverine follows McLeish’s trail to a small village, where every citizen is dead. He’s confronted by a young man who claims to be McLeish’s son. He says that McLeish died years ago, and he was the one who mimicked his voice on the recordings. Wolverine kills him, and walks deeper into the house. He tells McLeish to show himself. A feeble McLeish emerges, revealing his revenge plan that’s been ten years in the making. When he lunges at Wolverine, he’s quickly killed. Wolverine disposes of the body, wondering if he really isn’t any different than McLeish.

Review: More slow-motion storytelling. It’s not that this is a bad premise for a storyline, since it does manage to say a few things about Wolverine’s character and it suits Yu’s art style, but there’s no way this should’ve ran for four issues. To his credit, Ellis does add a few twists to the story. After McLeish tells Wolverine that everything he’s heard tonight is a lie (which means the man who attacked him earlier wasn’t McLeish’s son), Wolverine responds that he actually did know McLeish’s son, and killed him years earlier. After McLeish is dead, Wolverine admits that he was lying, also. He killed him with “lies and fear”, which is exactly what McLeish wanted to do to Wolverine. The idea that Wolverine is just as ruthless as any other killer isn’t a new one, but it does at least turn the climax a little more than just an action scene. I like the use of the fake son during the opening scene, since he provides a plausible explanation for the previous events of the story, shortly before Ellis goes for the more conventional comic book revelation that McLeish actually is alive. The final twist is the revelation that Wolverine was working undercover for the Canadian government the entire time he was close to McLeish. It’s not that big of a surprise, but I prefer it over the implication in the earlier issues that he just liked hanging around the old killer. As a climax, this is readable enough, but it suffers from the same decompression that marred the previous issues.

1 comment:

Bibs said...

This is slow story telling indeed. I've read the whole 4-part arc in around 30 mins.

BTW, I think the man Wolverine kills before McLeish is actually the son of the triad member on the boat in the flashback scenes. He's looks exactly like him and he actually says his father was a member of the triad.

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