Wolverine is one of the most iconic and popular comic book characters of all time. He’s so popular that he is involved in nearly every major Marvel crossover from Infinity Gauntlet to Absolute Carnage and most recently Midnight Suns (great story by the way). Throughout the years, there has been a lot of depth added to his character. Some writers love to accent his ferocity; others like to focus on his inner pain and search for peace, some focus on his remarkable intelligence precision with black ops skills, while others focus on his gentler aspects such as empathy and compassion. It is not all that often we get to see all of the complexities of Logan on display within the same book other than in his ongoing series written by Benjamin Percy and Wolverine Black, White, and Blood which is a compilation of short stories written and drawn by numerous writers and artists with extensive and intimate experience with the ol’ Canuck including the likes of Chris Claremont, Adam Kubert, Gerry Duggan, Josuah Cassara, Greg Land, Fabian Nicieza, and many more.
Each story in this compilation only uses three colors. The basic setting and characters are drawn in black and white while blood and important items intended to capture our attention are colored in brilliant blood red. The use of red throughout really helps your eyes to focus on important details that may have been missed otherwise. It also makes the bloody fight scenes look remarkable.
Any fan of Wolverine knows his origin story inside and out. It’s been over-played as much as Batman’s. When I opened the first issue, I thought to myself, “Not again!” However, it being retold here without constraint and with new gory details made it fresh. I could see and feel the pain in Logan as if it were my first time reading the story. In addition to this story greatly highlighting what a badass Logan is, we also get to see a stark contrast between Logan and the beast he is sent after. We are faced with the age-old question of nature vs nurture.
What makes one human? Is it appearance? Language? Empathy? Shortly after we see that stark contrast between the two, we are quickly shown how wrong our early judgment could have been. There is a lot of depth among the brutality of the action-packed panels.
Science is often a critical part of comics. It is often used to explain the unexplainable even when it doesn’t quite add up. We see heroes like Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, and Reed Richards use science regularly for good. We also see when their actions backfire, often because of ego. What do the villains use science for? This story directly addresses this. Rather than cure or fix anything, all of that brilliance has been dedicated to war and suffering.
Whether this was intentional or not, it was a great lead into the second story involving a war with Hydra.
This second story also depicts the suffering that comes with loss from war. We get to see Wolverine pay his respects to those who he lost in combat. We see that he is not just some soulless killer and can feel empathy for his pain even if we ourselves have never experienced the battlefield. Also, this scene below is an excellent example of using red to point out important details beyond the blood splatter.
Wolverine isn’t always shown as being all that clever. He’s often depicted as the impatient and rash brute that wants to rush into battle and stab as many bad guys as quickly as he can. In this story Wolverine is not only being vicious but very tactical and outsmarted Hydra.
The next story starts off with a trip to Canada in search of peace. I know, I know – we’ve seen this story many times before, even on the 90s cartoon episode: Cold Comfort. We also are used to seeing his peace quickly interrupted by Sabertooth or some other villain.
However, this story takes a different approach. There is no Sabretooth, Omega Red, Blood Scream, Cyber or any of Wolverine’s other iconic villains. Instead, these villains are much more chilling in that they can be found in our world. So many of the comics I’ve been reviewing lately have highlighted corruption in our society and how their lack of ethics has brought pain and suffering to the innocent. In many cases, this has involved law enforcement. This story goes much deeper though and depicts not only the harm inflicted on innocent bystanders, but also how that corruption can hurt those closest to the offender. While having the utmost respect for virtuous police officers, I’ve always had disdain for dirty cops who violate their oath whether it be fueled by ego, hatred, lust, or greed. This story is unique in that this is the first time I can recall feeling great sorrow and pity for the dirty cop who got in way over his head. This particular story will make even the coldest of hearts feel empathy as it shows how multi-dimensional people are.
Speaking of multi-dimensional, even the bad guys who had the dirty cop on their payroll have their limits. There is a reason why those who commit crimes against children don’t fare too well in prisons. Even some of the worst have lines they do not cross.
Many are quick to pick their side and not budge. For them, you are either pro-cop or anti-cop. This story does a great job of depicting how disingenuous that kind of thinking is. For example, protecting unethical cops who abuse their authority does nothing to help those who take their oath seriously. If anything, it makes their jobs that much more dangerous and more difficult to stay clean and safe. On the other hand, lumping honest police officers in with the corrupt unfairly discredits a noble profession that works hard to serve and protect. Ultimately, we see in this story how good law enforcement officers are put in danger when criminal officers aren’t held accountable.
I went fairly in depth on a few stories here. If you like these, you will also love the rest. I mentioned Sabretooth earlier. The very next story consists of an epic battle between the two Weapon X legends.
It also continues to highlight a key element that separates Logan from the truly feral monsters: his soft spot for kids:
Another story pits Logan against an old X-Men/ Spider-Man enemy. If you are like me and enjoyed playing the old Arcade’s Revenge video game for Sega Genesis, then you’ll enjoy this story as well.
It wouldn’t be a true Wolverine compilation if it didn’t involve at least one Patch story and at least one story with either Kitty or Jubilee. Another story gives us both. Although I grew up with Jubilee being the sidekick that provided the yin to his yang in his solo stories, I appreciate getting to see an adventure with Kitty as well. If you are a Wolverine fan, you do not want to miss out on this compilation of tales that shows just how three dimensional our ol’ Canuck is.