New Comics on Pause: X-Men Week Edition – Wolverine (1982)
Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Frank Miller with Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s X-Men week here at Outright Geekery. We’re teaming up with our friends over at CBI to celebrate Marvel Comic’s famous Mutants. Now, even before I started reading comics regularly, I’ve always been more of a fan of DC Comics. Luckily, out of all of the Marvel characters, I’m most familiar with Professor Xavier’s team of gifted youngsters. Finding an X-Men comic to review proved to be a daunting task, especially since comic book stores are closed due to the Corona virus. As I searched through the available titles on Hoopla, I noticed a cover that had both Wolverine and ninjas. Already intrigued I clicked on it to find that it was written by Chris Claremont (a name I recognized) and drawn by Frank Miller! I thank my lucky stars that I stumbled upon this title, because Wolverine was a very exciting read.
Read Wolverine (1982) at comiXology
Wolverine by Claremont and Miller is the first mini-series starring the character. After a mission in his home nation of Canada, Wolverine hears the woman he loves has married another man. He travels to Japan to confront her only to become entangled with Japanese gangsters and ninja assassins. This mini-series also marks the first appearance of Yukio, who goes on to become a recurring character in X-Men titles, and has even been featured in the movies The Wolverine and Deadpool 2. Yukio quickly becomes a second love interest for Wolverine, adding to his conflict in more ways than one. Plus, she seems to be the one who inspires Storm to rock a Mohawk. This would have made Yukio endearing to me, even if she wasn’t also a master assassin with skills on par with Wolverine’s.
Before reading this comic my only real experience with Wolverine has been Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character in the movies. Outside of the clumsy love triangle with Cyclops and Jean Gray (or the borderline inappropriate sexual overtones with Rogue) seen in Singer’s films, I’ve never viewed Wolverine as a romantic character. So to read a story focused on his love for a woman added a whole new and unexpected dimension to the character. Claremont and Miller set out to redefine Wolverine when they wrote this series. The most striking detail of this book is that by the end of the story Wolverine ends up redefining himself. The creative team doesn’t try to tack on new or different details to the character. Instead they keep the classic backstory, but allow Wolverine to develop into their vision of the character through the course of the narrative.
Miller’s art, as always, is on point. His signature use of shadowing and silhouette lend themselves well to the multitude of samurai inspired fights featured throughout the story. I really liked all of the close-ups of Wolverine’s face. It was nice to see the character express emotions beyond annoyance and anger. One thing I found interesting: In the introduction at the beginning of the book, Claremont talks about how he and Miller came up with the idea for the mini-series. Claremont credits Miller as saying that he, “wasn’t much interested in drawing the adventures of a beserker psycho-killer.” I found the irony in this statement to be quite humorous. Around the time this mini-series was published, Miller was drawing/writing Daredevil. His Bullseye is a relentless psycho-killer, who doesn’t let a brain tumor or a broken back stop his vendetta against Daredevil. From there, it seems that Miller has written and drawn an endless stream of beserker and/or psychotic character. Notable examples include: the leader of the Mutants in Dark Knight Returns and Marv from Sin City. Shoot, while you can’t really call them berserkers, Kevin and the Yellow Bastard are two of the most terrifying psychopaths in all of comics. After reading this comic, I was left wondering if working on Wolverine inspired Miller to write some of his most well known characters and stories.
Wolverine by Claremont and Miller is an awesome mini-series that goes on to define the titular character for generations. The story is full of great action scenes and is heavily influenced by samurai culture. Miller’s signature art style brings Claremont’s writing to life. Visually, there are times that you’ll swear you’re watching a classic samurai movie. Except with the added bonus of the story starring Wolverine. A knowledge of the history of the X-Men is not needed to enjoy this comic. Although it does go on to influence story-lines in the X-Men series, one of which is collected in this trade paperback, this is a stand alone tale. Read for the first time or revisit this mini-series and help us celebrate X-Men week with the folks over at CBI.