Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Graphic Novels - Wolverine

This week, we've looked at two things that involve Wolverine: the best he is at what he does...and what he does isn't really nice blah blah blah. The first thing was the "atrocity" known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This second thing is a four-issue miniseries that involves Wolverine in Japan. It's called....Wolverine. I came across this story in the library a while ago. I eventually found an older reprint of the miniseries at McKay's. How is it? Well, I'll save that for later.

The story is done by Chris Claremont. Claremont, of course, was "the writer" of X-Men for about two decades. I've covered a lot of his stuff here before. The artist is some dude named Frank Miller...yes, the Frank Miller. This was during his hey-day of Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns and before he apparently lost it all (see The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All-Star Batman and Robin, The Spirit, and other things for examples). On second thought, don't see the Spirit! Anyway, let's see if Claremont and Miller do it good.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Frank Miller

Part One: I'm Wolverine
We start out with Wolverine in the Canadian Rockies hunting down a crazed, poisoned bear. After he kills it, he goes after the hunter who accidently led it on its deadly rampage, but he doesn't kill the idiot hunter. We then see him on a trip to Japan. Apparently, Mariko Yashida, his long-distance girlfriend, has cut off contact with him and he keeps getting blocked by her folk from talking to her. When he reaches Japan, he meets with an old friend, Asano. Asano gives Logan some startling news: Mariko's married. By the way, I love the look on Logan's face.

I know that look. The difference between Logan and I is that I say a few expletives and move on with life.

We find out that her father, Shingen, has returned and has basically made this pairing happen. Mariko is honor-bound to uphold this relationship. Logan ,of course, calls "BS" on the whole thing and suits up in the awesome brown and tan suit to see what's going on. He sneaks on to her property and finds her roughed up. Her husband, Norboru, is pretty much an a-hole, so she got hit a bit. She's peeved at Wolverine for being here and Wolverine is peeved at her husband for doing this. She tells him why she has to stay with him. The husband shows up and Logan does the sensible thing and tries to kill him. Mariko stops him from doing it. Saddened, Logan relents and leaves, but he is then knocked out by some poisoned shurikens.

He wakes up and we see Mariko's father, Shingen. Shingen decides to show Mariko what kind of man Logan is by sparring with wooden swords. They fight and Logan is not on the winning side. He's still groggy from the poison and it's been years since he's used a sword. Also, the old man cheats. Finally having enough, Logan pulls out the claws on Shingen. Unfortunately, all this does is make Mariko see that Logan has no honor and isn't worthy of her. Shingen then mops the floor with Logan. He's then thrown on the streets. He almost gets mugged by a couple of guys when a woman kills them. The woman then takes Logan for herself.

Part Two: Debt and Obligations
Issue Two starts out with the woman forcing Wolverine to wake up. They're in a room and they're surrounded by The Hand, a bunch of ninja assassins. I guess the The Foot Clan was off in NYC facing the Turtles or something. Wolverine and the woman, whose name is Yukio, face off against the ninjas. Logan is impressed with Yukio's style. Unbeknownst to him, she's thinking they'll kill him. The Hand loses and the two get out of there.

They head to Logan's place and they learn a bit more about each other. She's in league with a crimelord and it's not a good relationship. Things almost get steamy between the two, but Logan starts to think of Mariko and stops. Yukio is peeved of course because she really wants him. She leaves and heads to the crimlord's  place...Shingen's palace. Apparently, she is an assassin and works for him. Their relationship is volatile but they talk about placing a hit on another Japanese crimelord and Wolverine.

Logan, I think she's a keeper!

Later, Yukio and Wolverine head to take care of this crimelord at a play. We find out that Mariko and her husband are there as well. All is going swell until Wolverine realizes that the actors are hired assassins and they try to kill Mariko. Wolverine swings in to action and takes on the assassins. Meanwhile, the crimelord and his wife escape to their car which is blown up by Yukio. After Wolverine has killed these guys, he's shocked to learn that Mariko has seen it all. She leaves and Logan is left alone in his pity. Off to the side, Yukio sees this and is really happy.

Part Three: Loss
We start out the issue with a drunken Logan and Yukio having a night on the town. As they leave, they bump into Asano. He asks Logan to help him on a case involving a new crimelord, but Logan tells him to shove it and they go their separate ways. As they walk, the Hand watches them. They have a little fun with speeding trains and all of that, but Logan eventually nods off. He has a horrible nightmare about the events of the last two issues. While he's sleeping, Yukio is surrounded by the Hand. They chide her for not killing Logan, but they also tell her that she has one more chance to end him. Instead of that, Yukio kills the Hand members. When she tries to wake Logan up, he utters "Mariko." Peeved, she kicks him and leaves the area.

Now this is one woman I wouldn't dare tick off.

She heads back to Logan's apartment and suits up. She notices someone coming in the apartment and she knows it's not Logan. She kills the guy who's revealed to be Asano. Logan shows up soon after and finds Asano's body. He realizes that it's Yukio's handwork. He also realizes that it was Yukio that threw those shruikens back in part one. He sees her and she leaps out o the apartment with Logan giving chase. He chases her to a garden house, and he almost kills her. At that moment, The Hand show up and attack him. Logan notices that Yukio is scared for him instead of herself. He takes the ninjas out pretty easily.

After he's done, he notices that Yukio is gone. It's here where he realizing how much he's screwed up with Mariko and Yukio. After some hard thinking, Logan has a choice: either stay the same or change. He realizes he wants to better himself...and that he wants to kick Shingen's butt. The part ends with him declaring that he is a man and that he's going to show Shingen that...Oh yeah!

Yeah, I'm saying it...I AM A MAN (punch)!!!!

Part Four: Honor
We start out with Wolverine making things hard for Shingen as he messes up his organization's operation. We see him bust up a drug deal and chase down some dude. At Shingen's place, his advisors are telling him about how much trouble Wolverine has been for business. Shingen then gets a message from Logan: some ninja masks and a note saying "Tonight." Shingen tells his advisors to summon the Hand. At his apartment, Logan prepares for his assault on Shingen's palace and recaps  how he got here. Elsewhere, Mariko prays to her ancestors on what to do. She knows her father is evil, but she's honor-bound to follow him.

Lord Shingen can feel it coming the air tonight!

Elsewhere, Yukio is trying to sneak into Shingen's palace only to be captured by ninjas. They take her to Shingen who tries to kill her. Mariko sees this and tries to stop him. As this is happening, someone calls Shingen over the radio and tells him that Wolverine is here. As Shingen is trying to get a a response, we see that all of the ninjas are dead...Logan is really that good with that crossbow.

Dang, and I thought the Foot Clan was expendable!

Norbu, Mariko's  husband, and Mariko try to leave, but Wolverine shows up. Norboro then threatens to kill Mariko. Luckily, Yukio kills the A-hole husband with her darts. She heads to Logan to give him one last kiss goodbye and then leaves. We then get an awesomely drawn fight between Logan and Shingen. The fight ends with Logan winning. Mariko comes into the room and picks up the family sword. She's honorbound to kill Logan, but she tells him that her father acted with dishonor and Logan deserves the sword. The two get back together and the story ends with the X-Men getting a wedding invitation from the two.

This fight needed some Queen music...Ooo! Here's some!

Well, that was a lot! So, is this story good? Yep, yep, and yep. This is a great Wolverine story. The story itself is pretty good. Is the story cliche? Not really. While it is about a guy who travels to a faraway land to get his girl from her awful father, there are things about it that really make it look good. We really get to see who Logan is and what he does and I like that the story is centered on him. This is why I really don't like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. We do get his origin, but I feel like there's really no development with him in the movie. Here, we get a lot of development for Logan. Throughout the story, he get torn down emotionally and mentally, but he's able to overcome those obstacles and win the day in the end.

The characters are pretty nice too. Shingen is an awesome villain for Logan to face here. Yukio is the story's wild card. She is for Logan and against Logan at the same time. I like her. The artwork in this story is gorgeous. Remember when Frank Miller's art looked comprehensible and wasn't stylized to the Nth degree? I don't, but this is still awesome. The closeups are detailed and pretty consistent. The fight scenes are pretty awesome. They flow well and don't have any dialogue. They feel like actual fights. During the duels between Logan and Shingen,  "Princes of the Universe" by Queen could fit there.

Are there any negatives? Not really. The writing is old school and has  that "Claremont Exposition," but unlike most books, there's not too much here especially during the fight scenes. I did think it was funny that Logan would always think about the following at the beginning of each issue:
  • I'm Wolverine.
  • I'm a mutant.
  • I got claws and s#$%.
  • They can cut through anything.
  • I'm a bad mofo!
All in all, it's a great story. I definitely recommend it. If you want to find out what happens to Wolverine and Mariko, check out Uncanny X-Men #172-173 for more. I don't know how much they will adapt from this in the next Wolverine movie. I know it won't be all verbatim, but I do hope they respect the story and the source material here.

Well, next time's going to be more team oriented and will involve the Master of Magnetism!!!


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