Monday, May 19, 2008

Wolverine Origins #25

Ever wondered if Deadpool had the wherewithal to take down a big-time player like Wolverine in a straight-up brawl? Well, even if you didn't, the answer is... yes, he does. Since a shadowy figure hired the crimson-clad mercenary to take Logan out a few months back, the two have been engaged in a knock down drag-out that's stretched from one side of San Francisco to the other. When the dust settled, Deadpool stood victorious... or rather, potentially so. On the verge of victory, the assassin strapped Logan with a variety of weights, suspended above a tank of water. But before he could pull the lever and cement his victory, Daken, Wolverine's crazed son, assaulted the merc with a mouth. Evidently growing impatient, Daken had swooped in, lopped off one of the mercenary's hands and dumped his father into the drink personally.

If the details of that introduction didn't give it away, Daniel Way's storytelling is pretty complex. Oddly so, considering at the end of the day this issue boils down to little more than a superpowered orgy of violence and a series of bad puns. But while Way's writing is unwieldy in concept, its execution is actually very light, quick reading... and that makes for an odd combination. While the writer's knack for brevity allows the fight scenes to really bounce around the page, it also makes the story's big, dramatic revelations very difficult to follow. That latter weakness is really evident at the end of the issue, in particular. Way hits his readers with half a dozen rapid-fire flashbacks at the peak of the issue's physical conflict, which results in a jarring, disorienting conclusion. It's like sitting in the passenger seat while the driver steers his car full-speed into a brick wall.

The story also suffers from the physical immunity of its cast. Between Wolverine, Daken and Deadpool, you've got three guys who seemingly cannot be killed, and that removes a lot of the drama from the issue's bloody fistfights. If Deadpool can lose a hand and keep right on battling without missing a beat, why should any of his foes' physical threats mean anything at all? There's some great action here, but it feels empty because in the back of your mind, you know that nothing irreversible can happen to anyone involved.

Artist Steve Dillon is still plugging away at Origins, the book he helped launch just over two years ago, and continues to be a weird fit for mainstream superheroics. I've been a fan of Dillon's work since he emerged with Garth Ennis on Hellblazer and later Preacher, but his style just isn't suited to the torn spandex and rippling muscles of a regular Marvel monthly. Dillon's greatest strength is his ability to bring emotion and personality to his characters, and on that front he doesn't disappoint here. When Logan faces off with his son at the issue's climax, you can read the bittersweet heartache on the old man's face. Dillon's fantastic at exploring an average person's reactions to spectacular circumstances, but when he's handed a set of emotionless, cold-blooded killers, that job becomes much more difficult. Marvel is misusing this artistic talent by trying to crowd him into a Wolverine book, when he's much better suited to a more relatable, pedestrian story.

Daniel Way's clash between father and son would've been an enjoyable read without the endless list of shocking revelations that he tried to tack onto its conclusion. He's excellent at dictating a fast-paced action sequence, but far too often overreaches his own boundaries in trying to introduce an unnecessary extra level to his storytelling. As an all-out battle between father, son and hired killer, this would've made for a quick, entertaining fluff piece. As that same battle, crammed together with a set of tangled, interwoven back-stories, it becomes something less. Dillon and Way are two pieces of quality talent who don't feel at home on this book, which is bizarre because they're the team that launched it. Flip through this, if just to enjoy the action scenes, but try to avoid reading too much into those last few pages.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 5

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