I don't think I'd be too out of line by saying that Wolverine is the most popular Marvel character of all time, if not he's a close second to Spider-Man. That in mind, it's no surprise that he gets two comic books all to himself as a part of Marvel NOW! The first is Frank Cho's Savage Wolverine, which is a more exploitation kind of comic but is enough fun that it's kept me reading, and the second title is simply just Wolverine.
It's been said by many that Savage Wolverine is the kind of 'lowest common denominator' for the character and features just over the top violence and sexuality in favor of a compelling character piece which many theorized Wolverine would be. To some extent they're correct, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't like Savage Wolverine's debut more.
I will applaud writer Paul Cornell for the way he chose to frame this story. While so many comics in the Marvel NOW! initiative have stuck to an “introduce the characters” and “show the ending of the story first” kind of structure, Cornell goes the other way. He knows you know who Wolverine is so he doesn't bother holding your hand through the debut. Sure, allusions are made to Logan's origins, but they're not outright retold like some comics have done.
Cornell is crafting a story here that keeps you interested from the start and maintains a level of mystery that we don't get very often in "Wolverine" comics. It also poses a lot of moral questions for Wolverine which might end up being more interesting to see play out than the actual plot. Don't get me wrong, the story seems like it could be cool, and there's plenty of mayhem in the first issue that it seems hard for them to top it, but I have my doubts it will keep me as interested as seeing how Logan responds to it all.
Artist Alan Davis does a fine job with the pencils for the issue, his splashes in particular are really cool, but I can't help but feel that the art in the book is somewhat lacking. It sets a tone throughout that is just a little bland and doesn't go out of its way to stand apart from other "Wolverine" stories (except for the smoldering effect that the antagonist's ray gun has on Logan's body). As the story entered its final act, we got a better immersion into the world as Logan takes to the streets of New York, but overall it sticks to a really safe route stylistically.
Wolverine isn't the be-all-end-all of "Wolverine" comics, but it is certainly trying to craft its own unique story for the character's mythology. As far as debut issues go, this isn't going to rock your world, but it could end up being a really neat arc for the character.
Rating: 7 / 10