In theory, an over-the-top Wolverine comic that revels in a little bit of the old ultraviolent sounds like a great idea. Of Marvel’s heroes, Wolverine lends himself to a big, nasty violent comic that’s full of blood and gore and messed up stuff happening on every page. In practice, it’s a dreadful bore. Charlie Huston writes the title almost as if the mandate was “What would a Garth Ennis Wolverine comic be like?” except without grasping Ennis’ style of writing beyond the most superficial elements. A deformed child? A strange villain? Offbeat bad guys? All there, none of it working to cohere into an entertaining comic.
If you read the opening pages of the comic without actually reading the dialogue, it’s so much better. Pages of a blood-covered Wolverine slaughtering his way through some bad guys that can’t actually die as drawn by Juan Jose Ryp? That sounds pretty awesome. Ryp’s hyper-detailed art is suited to something so over-the-top and graphic, building off similar scenes he drew at Avatar. He’s so suited to kinetic ultraviolence that the rest of the issue being quiet and dialogue-driven is a shame, taking away the only entertaining part of the comic.
Making your way through Huston’s dialogue is a chore. You may find your mind wandering and an inability to follow what’s going on, because he overwrites the dialogue, thinking that it adds ‘character’ and ‘personality’ to the speaker when it, instead, makes for bad dialogue. The main villain of this arc, Windsor, is a case of trying too hard. His motives are in conflict with his nature, as he delivers a long-winded monologue for Wolverine’s benefit making it absolutely, positively, one hundred percent crystal clear that he’s not a good guy. He’s a villain. And he knows it. Instead of a grand revelation, a shot against the standard ‘villain that doesn’t see himself as a villain’ style of writing, it comes off as pathetic posturing.
What’s worse is that Huston populates the story with a group of wacky henchmen, all bad guys that can’t die, and tries to present them as a dysfunctional, eclectic group to provide both comic relief and that threat of unpredictability, like any of them could rebel against Windsor at any moment and take the story in an unexpected direction. Except, like with his dialogue for Windsor, all of these bad guys speak in forced, obvious statements that reek of effort. They’re crazy! They’re eeeeeeeeevil! And you must get that right away and with every single thing they say! There’s not a hint of subtlety to be found in this comic and, sure, it’s funny — but not ‘laughing with,’ it’s definitely ‘laughing at.’
Reading “Wolverine: The Best There Is” #3 is like reading a checklist of the superficial elements of Garth Ennis’s bibliography, but none of the depth or wit that manages to hold together the stupid bits. The idea of an over-the-top Wolverine comic drawn by Juan Jose Ryp was enough to keep me on board for a few issues, but Huston’s overwrought writing kills any sense of entertainment this comic has.