Credits: D.G. Chichester (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz (art), Michael Heisler (letters), Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (colors)
Summary: Wolverine learns from Nick Fury that Hydra has targeted him. Soon, Wolverine is attacked by Hydra agents, who slice into his adamantium bones with a nanotech-infested sword. He’s rescued by a bounty hunter named Big, who’s been trailing Hydra. As the nanotech virus infects Wolverine, his healing factor fades away and his body begins to reject the adamantium. Big accompanies him on a mission to find the Whale, a defected Hydra scientist who might be able to help. After finally locating the Whale, Wolverine learns that Big is actually a Hydra agent who’s used him to track down the rogue scientist. Near death, Wolverine thrusts his claws into his own brain, which forces his immune system to reboot. He recovers as Big tries to dispose of his body with a chainsaw. When the chainsaw hits adamantium, Big dies in the ensuing accident.
Production Note: This is a $5.95, forty-eight page prestige format one-shot.
Review: This is what happens when the prestige books get artistic. The summary listed above is a charitable approximation of what appears to be happening in the book, as the creators seem determined to make the entire comic as impenetrable as possible. Along with the basic story of Hydra duping Wolverine into tracking down a turncoat scientist, the creators throw in the shadow of a voluptuous woman assigned to kill the Whale (who turns out to be Big, whose little hovercraft casts a shadow that resembles Christina Hendricks’ figure), dream sequences that cast Wolverine as Captain Ahab, and endless pages of scientists spouting tech-babble at one another. The fight scenes are also nearly impossible to make out, and Whale and Big are given such similar designs (tiny men with big, pointy noses), it’s hard to tell them apart at first. I seem to recall Chichester pulling similar stunts on Daredevil, particularly in the issues Scott McDaniel drew. I can respect the desire to create something higher than an easy read, but confusion for confusion’s sake is just annoying. I also wonder if the byzantine storytelling was partially motivated by a need to cover the lackluster plot. Big’s the one who leads Wolverine on the mission to find Whale, yet the story points out that Wolverine’s enhanced senses aren’t working well due to the nannite infection, so it’s not as if Wolverine’s in a condition to be tracking anyone anyway. Why exactly was Wolverine involved in this mess in the first place?