Wolverine #900

If any book ever suggested a missed point, it’s “Wolverine” #900. The recent release of “Deadpool” #900 was a joke. And it was even quite a funny one, simultaneously jabbing at Marvel’s frequent renumbering stunts and Deadpool’s overexposure. But then it sold well. And evidently, someone thought “hey, maybe there’s something here…” So now we’ve got this, “Wolverine” #900 — the very embodiment of the thing “Deadpool” #900 was mocking.

Still, at least when leveled against that spectacular lack of self-awareness, the stories themselves can’t fail to look competent. In fairness, if this is your first ever Wolverine book, there’s a perfectly fine selection of stories in it encompassing several quintessential Wolverine genres — ninja action in Japan, superhero action with the X-Men, street level bar fights, silent hunting sequences — if you ever wanted to demonstrate Wolverine’s range as a character, this would be an excellent primer.

At the same time, that means there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before. With most stories clocking in at only a few pages, there’s not enough time to move beyond the archetypical setup and plot, and that in turn brings a depressing familiarity to them. In some cases, that’s because you just read a very similar story a few pages back.

Although the stories themselves are rarely anything special, there are a few technical details that might swing your opinion of the book. The opening short contains some of David Finch’s best-looking art in years, and following his disappointing work on “Ultimatum,” it’s a timely reminder that he actually can deliver the goods. Todd Dezago returns to the Marvel Universe proper with a short co-starring (of all people) Marrow, and as a Jubilee fan obsessive enough to buy “Nation X” just to see her, I suspect that will probably delight someone, somewhere. For me, the issue’s biggest surprise was Stephen Segovia, whose silent story with Karl Bollers displays a rather different style to his current work on “Dark Wolverine.” It’s less Leinil Yu, more Mike Deodato Jr.

If asked to pick a favorite, I’d go with Bernardin and Rowdex’s short about Logan meeting up with a strait-laced lecturer (who happens to be a power-repressing mutant) so that he can get drunk. It’s a fun twist on the standard “Wolverine goes out drinking” short, with great art and a script that manages to be thoughtful without taking itself too seriously. Logan’s got so many secret drinking buddies by now, though, that they could probably form a team. This issue even reprints a very similar (and also quite good) story from “Amazing Spider-Man Extra” where Wolverine goes out drinking with Spider-Man. That one appeared around the same time as a very similar story in “Wolverine” #74. As fun as they are, surely we can only read so many?

On the flip side, Loeb and McGuinness’ Wolverine Vs. Hulk story is, to put it bluntly, bizarre. Set as a memory/dream sequence replaying the events of “Incredible Hulk” #181, the underlying message appears to be that Silver Age comics weren’t fantastically written, before it abruptly references “Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk” (er…) then ends with Wolverine walking into the distance proclaiming “I hate Canada.” Nothing about it is remotely right.

Those two aside, the extremes of quality are largely avoided, with the middle-ground well-trodden. But then, it’s an anthology, that’s what they do. Due to the range of stories, I expect any reader will find at least one they love, but for $4.99 for one 8/12 page short isn’t really enough for me. Presumably it’s enough to entertain the legions of Wolverine fans out there, but unless you’re one of them, there’s nothing here that screams “must buy.”

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