Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Wolverine #61

I've just read the introduction to this book three times and have to say I legitimately have no clue what it's rambling on about. Evidently, Logan's been fighting a lifelong battle against an angel of death named Lazaer, which has extended his already-lengthy lifespan. What that means is if Wolvie gets his head lopped off or suffers some other sort of life-threatening wound, he goes all Samurai style on this creature and then returns to the mortal plane. If that sounds like a bunch of garbage, it's because it is — and such has been the tone of what I've seen of this book during Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin's run.

This arc is called "Logan Dies," and if nothing else it's delivered on that promise — more than once. The focus of this story is on death, the afterlife and how certain characters can seem to avoid it. I haven't quite worked out how yet, and should've known better than to turn to the storytelling for an explanation. Guggenheim seems content to merely dole out a series of lame, two-page fight scenes, which are then followed by a momentary break for nonsensical ramblings before returning to violence.

Even the fights don't make sense, though! In one panel, Wolverine pops his claws, charges his enemy and swiftly ducks beneath the swipe of his sword. He then lands a vicious uppercut, but his claws have mysteriously retracted. Why pop them in the first place? Presumably so he could carry on a lengthy conversation with the guy while they continued to attempt to knock each other's eyes out. I couldn't follow a minute of this, and I think I'm proud of that fact.

Howard Chaykin's artwork aims to recreate Frank Miller's classic take on the character. He works with extremely thick lines, harsh shadows and flat, underdeveloped backgrounds, and it's easy to see the influence. For all of about one page, it works. That's how long it takes for the artist to lose his patience and return to his habit of physically impossible poses, hideous layouts and downright awful musculature. I have to take the narration's word for it when Wolvie faces off with Lord Shingen Yashida on the book's big opening splash page, because the bad guy is both turned away from the camera and blocking his face with his own shoulder.

That splash page is rather telling, really, because unless Yashida's hands are twice the size of Logan's feet, there's no way those proportions are even close to correct. Never mind the awkward tripping, toppling, contorting pose Wolverine is spontaneously striking in the middle of a swordfight. It's hideous. I don't know how this guy is getting work, let alone on a presumably upper-tier book like Wolverine. It's an utter failure, and would drag the book down to the depths with it if the writing hadn't already done so.

This is garbage, complete and utter crap. I couldn't make heads or tails out of the story most of the time, and on the rare occasion that I did, I quickly wished that I hadn't. The artwork is as bad as I've ever seen in a major comic: tough to read, punishing to observe and flawed in the most basic of ways. This is bad on all fronts. Skip it. God, just skip it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 1

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