Review: Wolverine #9- Today Is A Victory Over Yourself Of Yesterday
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Adam Kubert
Colors by Frank Martin
Letters and Production VC’s Cory Petit
I have been told to check out Percy’s Wolverine for some time. It was billed to me as a classic feeling X-book in a sea of Dawn of X/ Reign of X titles. Now, I do find the Hickman era to be great, but I do enjoy a good Wolverine solo series. They tend to be fun visceral stories that can go into varied genres and locations. They are a blast. I am happy to say that Wolverine #9 is no exception.
The plot of the issue deals with Wolverine in his Patch guise traveling to Madripoor and visit the Legacy House, a massive black market auction house that deals in only the finest things. Wolverine is on a mission to pick up his case Foo from his black ops days. While there he attempts to rescue former teammate the mutant Maverick who has been captured and mindwiped to be placed on Auction. This of course poses a security threat to Krakoa as any mutant can go to the island with a guest. It is up to Wolverine to prevent this and save his former comrade.
Percy writes Wolverine in that classic voice with grizzled outlook and internal monolog. It is a take on the character that I am always here for and gladly read again and again. I appreciate Wolverine that has seen somethings and those things are not nice.
The interesting piece to this book is that it deals with Wolverine’s past. The current arc on Wolverine is re-examining Wolverine’s past and even his relationship with his memories. Now, Wolverine dealing with his past is around 90% of his solo stories but ever since House of M we have been reading a Wolverine that knew his full past and memories. It upended decades of mysterious history cloaked in a fog of mindwipes and scrambles. The entire Wolverine Origins series dealt with this very concept. Yet, it seems that Percy is attempting to retcon the HoM changes or at least cast doubt over them.
A large portion of the internal dialog is spent on Wolverine casting doubt on his memories and exploring how he would try to overcome and stay grounded even after the mindwipes. Maverick and Wolverine are shown to have made a pact to never become like Sabertooth despite the treatments they receive from their handlers. They went as far as creating a mantra to help pull them back from that edge.
This focus on uncertainty of the memories and emphasis on his brain being shaped and molded does bring into question of the status of Wolverine’s Memories. I welcome this change. Providing Wolverine a definitive past and origin story removed a lot of the character’s allure and made him less flexible for story telling purpose. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, mind you, but one I never was fully behind. I liked the shadowy history of Logan and less the definitive nature of James Howlett. Is this a retcon? We will have to wait and see but I am curious about the direction this is heading.
Now let’s talk about Kubert. Adam Kubert on art is not fair to all these other books. He kills it here in layouts, composition, and figure work. There is a layout device that Kubert and Percy utilizes that I really enjoyed. In key flashback scenes you get a near splash page of the moment but divided up into a Sixteen-panel grid. Throughout that grid, visually presented to move the reader’s eyes along the page, are panels of close ups and dialog that highlight smaller moments of the scene. The way the interjecting panels travel diagonally down shows the beats of scene and provide a sense of timing. It is an effective use of layouts.
We are seeing a lot of interesting things down with grid-based layouts recently in comics. This may be one of my favorite devices yet. It is visually striking and help inform the reader that they are looking at a flashback. Then there is this payoff when the past and present collide by using the diagonal (albeit flipped) of the interjections and reworking the sixteen into a hybrid of the more free-flowing layouts of the present. It is particularly good. It is a simple enough visual framing device and utilized for maximum effect. The colors by Frank Martin help with this by utilizing a more desaturated color palette to further set the past from the present. The way this book makes distinctions of the past are not brand new on their own, but they are used in such an effective way that it cannot be knocked.
Wolverine is bringing back that mysterious swagger to the character and utilizing masterclass art in the process. Wolverine #9 is a fun read and an excellent jumping-on point for new readers. The way the creative team weave the past into the present is well done and befitting a character such as Wolverine. I highly recommend checking this one out if you haven’t already.