"Wolverine: Origins" has had an odd time of late, struggling to include co-star Daken even though his profile has been raised above the book’s level. Recently, Way let the character go in favor of finally introducing Romulus, the villain Wolverine has been locked in a Machiavellian struggle with for his entire life. Or so we’re told.
Of course, after receiving a beating from Romulus last issue, our favorite claw-based hero plans to take him down properly. It’d help the story if Romulus made a compelling villain, but let’s not get too upset about the character’s rather generic and unfathomable motivations right now, because this issue’s villain is really someone else entirely: Skaar, the son of Hulk.
The meeting between Wolverine and Banner is particularly amusing for those who know the pair’s history, and Wolverine slapping Bruce around a bit before realizing that he won’t become the Hulk anymore makes for a faintly slapstick scene. Unfortunately, it’s not clear why Wolverine wants Banner (or rather, The Hulk) to help him. It’s frequently a problem for this book that the matters which drive the characters are kept hidden from the readership, which makes things hard to engage with. Admittedly, the book is based on mysteries, but these aren’t the kind of mysteries you can solve, they’re just facts that are artificially held back partly, one expects, because they’ve not actually been figured out yet.
Still, following a fight with Banner and Skaar, Wolverine winds up encountering a pair of rather stock characters -- the helpful country-guy and his wayward son. This makes him falls into a stock plot where the latter disobeys the former, getting Wolverine into trouble. We’ve seen this exact situation a thousand times, particular in the case of Wolverine and the Hulk, so without a twist, the plotting comes over as mechanical and uninspired.
At least the artwork for the issue is good, and that raises the book slightly higher than the rather dull writing in the second half suggests it deserves. Braithwaite’s pages are energetic and dynamic, and he does facial expressions better than most, which makes the emotional weight of the story work in a way that the dialogue alone can’t.
Unfortunately, after the rather climatic-feeling reveals of last issue, this one can’t help but feel a bit limp. The Wolverine/Banner/Skaar scenes are perhaps worth a look, but otherwise it’s destined to become a rather unremarkable comic.