Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WOLVERINE: KILLING - September 1993

: John Ney Rieber (writer), Kent Williams (artist), Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (colors), Bill Oakley (letters)

Summary: Wolverine responds to a subconscious prompt that sends him to Tibet. The psychic who sent the message, Tane, is reluctantly obeying the wishes of Nirissa, who wants her grandchildren to inherit Wolverine’s healing factor. Tane loves Nirissa’s daughter, Serra, but must obey her command. When Serra discovers she’s to be bred like an animal, she runs away into the elements. After arriving in Tibet, Wolverine rescues Serra and takes her back home. When he discovers the life Serra lives in captivity, he agrees to travel outside of the mountains with her. Tane spies on them, and when he suspects Wolverine and Serra have true feelings for each other, he confronts Wolverine. In the battle, Wolverine spares Tane's life, proving he isn't what Tane thought he was.

Production Notes: This is a forty-eight page, $5.95 bookshelf format one-shot.

Review: Wolverine: Killing might be best known as one of the rare occasions Marvel was crazy enough to let Kent Williams draw Wolverine. This is an interpretation that makes Bill Sienkiewicz look conservative and restrained. I can live with his everyday Logan in a wifebeater, but that bizarre rendition of Wolverine’s cowl is something I’ll never understand. (I suspect Williams is the artist behind that memorable ad for the X-Men Sega Genesis game. This was certainly an...interesting way to go.)

Luckily, Wolverine is sans costume for much of this story, a story that covers much of the ground you expect these prestige format one-shots to cover. Wolverine’s uneasy about city life, but also with his bestial nature, outsiders want his powers, he discovers a new love interest (mysteriously Anglo in appearance even though the story is set in Tibet), he reflects on the nuances between an animal and man killing, and there’s some vague talk about the importance of survival…Wolverine’s animal instincts will never allow him to give up, while the “civilized” Nirissa is obsessed with the survival of her bloodline.

If you accept the plot as trippy dream logic and don’t ask too many questions, it’s a perfectly serviceable Wolverine story. Once you get into the “who, what, where, when, and how” you’re faced with mystery people from a mystery tribe luring Wolverine to Tibet through mysterious means because they mysteriously know of his healing factor. Plus, there’s an old man who picks a fight with Wolverine on his way to Tibet for no discernible reason, but that’s okay because Wolverine learns a lesson about changing the world in the process. Recognizing that this isn’t supposed to be the most literal story in history, I’m willing to accept it on its merits. I like the setting of Tibet, and John Ney Rieber’s philosophical divergences help to create a certain mood without violating the core of Wolverine’s character. It’s certainly a more rewarding experience than the previous year’s “artistic” Wolverine one-shot.

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