“Wolverine and Jubilee” #4 is the final strong entry for what has been a strong and completely surprising mini-series from Kathryn Immonen and Phil Noto.
Wolverine, down in the bowels of Chernobyl, has killed a crazy vampire/accountant and has opened a direct line to Jubilee in her bizarre otherworldly prison. The two have a hilarious discussion about trying to get her out, while she actively explores her prison, to mixed results. Meanwhile, Rockslide gets jumped into prison in an effort to find Jubilee, and when Wolverine ends up there as well, they all have to escape together, and they do so in fine teamwork-y fashion that includes killing a dragon. What could be better?
Kathryn Immonen is a writer whose work I really like, but often her superhero work loses me somewhere between beginning and end. Too many smart characters with funny dialogue, too much magic, too many things in general that overwhelm and ultimately unravel the story. But there is none of that here, in what is Immonen's strongest and most interesting superhero work to date. Though it’s the funny in Immonen’s work that frequently captivates me and brings me back for more, here it’s the great character work she does. While the book (and series) is plenty funny, what Immonen has really done here is to both brilliantly rehabilitate the Jubilee character, and to make me believe in the beauty of her relationship with Wolverine, something frequently suggested, but rarely experienced so wonderfully. The story is emotionally resonant in a way that left me honestly moved. The only flaw in the issue, and the series for that matter, is that I’m not entirely sure I understand where Jubilee was trapped, or what significance it has. But I didn’t feel in the end that it mattered; I was there for the characters and relationships, and maybe a few laughs, which is exactly what I got.
Phil Noto is a dream on this series. I have simply run out of words to explain his excellence as an artist, and more relevant to this series in particular, what a perfect flawless team he and Immonen make. Noto's clean, clear, lovely work perfectly complements Immonen's funny and emotional character work. His expressions simply convey things that Immonen’s words need him to, and his clarity as a storyteller ensures that Immonen's jokes and bits of brilliance are never lost or confusing to the reader. In this pairing, Immonen seems to be exhibiting a restraint I've never seen in her superhero writing work that benefits the story tremendously when paired with an artist of Noto’s character. It’s a perfect writer/artist pairing we see all too rarely in comics. Though no fault of Noto’s -- since he was inexplicably not doing covers for this series -- the one downside visually to the series were the covers, which left little to be desired, with the exception of a wonderful Oliver Coipel variant for issue #1.
This is the kind of mini-series that has you wishing it was ongoing. A perfect merging of writer and artist, character and story, and each strong issue has added up to a wonderful cohesive whole. “Wolverine and Jubilee” is the best mini-series I’ve read this year. It’s also a wonderful promise of Immonen as a true powerhouse in superhero comics, and a the promise of a rehabilitated Jubilee, a character I haven't cared about in a very long time, but am seriously interested in now.