Credits: Doug Moench (writer), Michael Outkiewicz (penciler), Jimmy Palmiotti (inker), Comicraft’s Emerson Miranda (letters), Mark McNabb w/Dennis Calero & Atomic Paintbrush (colors)
Summary: Mariko Yashida is visited by a relative who claims to have been revived after a thousand years in suspended animation. He alleges a demon that will destroy the world is being released from a temple in Thailand. When Mariko asks him to investigate, Wolverine travels with Silver Samurai to Thailand. They discover that Clan Yashida’s ancestors were responsible for unleashing the Doombringer demon, and that another tribe froze the temple in time to prevent its release. Rebel members of Clan Yashida are now using technology to recreate the earthquake that released their ancestor and free the Doombringer. When the demon is released, Wolverine and Silver Samurai narrowly defeat it. Silver Samurai agrees to keep Clan Yashida’s role in the Doombringer’s emergence a secret from Mariko.
Continuity Notes: Mariko is still alive, Wolverine is in Madripoor using his “Patch” identity, Silver Samurai has the Honor Sword, and Wolverine is wearing his brown costume. Clearly, this story takes place in the past, although there isn’t a footnote that ever indicates that.
Production Notes: This is a $5.99 prestige format book with cardstock cover.
I Love the ‘90s: Wolverine refers to the people who believe the world will end when the calendar hits the year 2000.
Review: Marvel just couldn’t let go of those overpriced Wolverine one-shots. Here, we have a story clearly set in the past, written by a writer who barely did any work for Marvel in the ‘90s, and drawn in a style that’s broadly consistent with John Buscema’s look from the early issues of Wolverine. If the comic didn’t have computer lettering by Comicraft, I’d say it sat in the drawer for almost ten years before being published. I think the script was probably that old, but the lettering is clearly new, and I couldn’t guess when Outkiewicz did the artwork. The cover looks like it was signed in 1997, so maybe it’s just a coincidence that the one-shot was drawn in a traditional style and avoids any ‘90s excesses.
Moench does have some insight into Wolverine’s personality, and he incorporates the long-ignored romance with Mariko into the story, so this doesn’t feel like blatant filler. I believe this is the only story that actually expresses some frustration on Wolverine’s part over Mariko’s heightened sense of responsibility. He can’t bring himself to agree with the idea that she’s personally responsible for all of Clan Yashida’s sins, so he refuses to let her know about her family’s role in unleashing the Doombringer (the ancestor who told her about the temple didn’t reveal which side of the battle the Yashida Clan was on). Moench adds the final twist that she can see through Wolverine’s lies, but decides to keep her knowledge a secret. This might’ve added another level to their relationship, but we all know these one-shots never tie in to the ongoing continuity; plus Mariko had been dead for over five years at this point.
Outkiewicz’s art might look like a throwback to an earlier day, but he tells the story and handles the action scenes well. The imagery of the frozen temple, with the arrows hanging in the air and wounded samurai warriors standing still while blood refuses to drip from their bodies, is certainly memorable. Moench closes the story by drawing a parallel between the frozen temple and the immobile state of Wolverine and Mariko’s relationship, which works the “real” justification of their separation (Marvel probably didn’t want Wolverine to get married) into an actual plot point. While none of this really justifies the luxurious format, it’s still an enjoyable read. I can’t believe Marvel still pumps out Wolverine one-shots, even if they’re no longer “prestige,” when they haven’t reprinted all of the original ones yet. You could pair three or four of them together and get a decent-sized trade paperback.