It’s almost a shame I’m reviewing issue #2 of this series, because that means I’ve already missed the boat on the inevitable “more like worst there is!” jokes. Ah well.
It’s fair to say that this issue does represent an improvement, but only because last issue was about as satirically awful as a “mature readers” comic has even been, with gratuitous nudity, violence, swearing, and Wolverine in a Tuxedo t-shirt. As it is, Huston gets around to explaining Logan’s behavior last issue (well, some of it) and moving the plot forward.
It was clear at the time that something was out of the ordinary, but as a reader, I question the logic of leaving so much of that implicit until the second issue (and certainly, of making it so incoherent in the first one). After getting an infodump from Beast, Logan goes in search of the guy responsible for his funny turn on the dance floor, and ends up fighting a variety of disturbed z-list villains for his troubles.
For a while, I found Beast’s appearance a bit out-of-place, and I wasn’t sure why. Then it hit me: it’s because Beast quit the X-Men, quite vocally, and largely due to Wolverine’s violent actions. Even if he was around, it’s debatable that he’d offer unconditional help to Wolverine right now anyway. This would have been the perfect time to slot in Dr. Nemesis, or Dr. Rao, or any of the other doctors that are actually hanging around on Utopia. It does lead to one of the more genuinely amusing dialogue exchanges in the issue, but all that does is suggest that Huston has been massively miscast on this supposedly “edgy” book.
This is made doubly clear during the more gory sequences, in which Huston appears to be aiming for Clive Barker, and is instead landing somewhere around “black metal album cover.” Moments that should be shocking or disturbing just feel embarrassing. There’s often a dreamlike quality to the action, not because it’s subtly unnerving, but because it doesn’t seem to make any logical sense. We can assume some of that might be down to Ryp’s storytelling abilities, though – for example, the scene where a guy leaps at Wolverine and, in the space of one panel (which they spend face-to-face) Logan cuts off all four of the man’s limbs, in one go, while apparently pinned beneath him. I can’t figure out how that move would occur in physical space. Evidently, it hasn’t bothered Ryp.
It’s a shame, really, because Ryp’s artwork is actually very stylized and unique, in good ways. The dense detail and over-rendering give it a hyper-real quality that actually services the material he’s working with, and the individual fundamentals – figures and in-panel motion – are strong. The double-page spread of Wolverine’s neuroses is fantastic. It’s just the storytelling that occasionally stumbles.
All in all, “Wolverine: The Best There Is” does little to convince me that a secondary Wolverine title needs to exist. I can almost buy the idea of giving him a mature-labelled series, but if this is the best use that can be made of the freedom to have Wolverine be a little more violent, then honestly, I’d rather not see it at all.