Wolverine #5 is a great example of sticking with a comic’s story arc all the way through. When the idea of Wolverine going to hell first came about, I wasn’t a fan. I figured it would be another tired run of the Devil saying how badly he would torture Logan (aka Wolverine) and Wolverine talking tough.
What I didn’t expect was a layered story not only involving Wolverine’s sins, but also his past and the first man he ever killed. Wolverine #5 opens with Logan facing his long dead father, and the tensions are high. I sat wondering if this was going to be a long dialog or some kind of battle to the death. It’s always a good start when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Writer Jason Aaron hits the unexpected body blow by having Wolverine’s father tell him how proud he is. How Logan went from a sniveling little boy to a full blown killer, somebody that does the family legacy proud. It’s seems to be the first time Logan is truly rattled since he arrived in hell. Meanwhile Logan’s body, possessed by a demon, is battling it out with Ghost Rider and Mystique, who are trying to drag the possessed Wolverine body into a church to be exorcised, and all of this is just the set up. By the time Wolverine Goes To Hell concludes there’s been a fistfight with demons, the appearance of Alpha Flight’s Puck, a devastating moment between Logan and Mariko’s soul, not to mention an appearance by the X-Men, which pushes into the next arc.
This is exactly how a Wolverine comic should read; these are the kinds of gritty, violent, unyielding stories that have been missing from the Wolverine canon for years. So many try to be smarter than the material but Aaron gets inside it, he surrounds himself with what the core of Wolverine truly is and builds off of that. It’s not that Aaron mimics or imitates, but more that he applies the history of Wolverine to the stories he’s writing.
One of the key scenes that demonstrates just how well Aaron understands the character is the opening page, the monologue that Logan runs through is some of the best writing done for Wolverine in recent memory. I also loved how Aaron handled the final confrontation between Wolverine and his father involving the sword that is given to the ruler of hell.
Complimenting Aaron’s story is the art from Renato Guedes. This is a classic seventies style of art combined with a more modern sensibility. Even though it’s obvious the work here is for 21st century comics, a lot of how Guedes draws, especially the human form, would be at home in comics of the late seventies. The forms here are all anatomically spot on, but with an obvious nod to comics in the physiques and action. Guedes is leaving the series as of next month and I’m hoping the new artist Jefte Palo doesn’t drop the ball, especially when next issue’s title is “Wolverine Vs The X-Men”. Wolverine #5 is a powerful ending to a solid first arc for the character. It proves that not matter how badly handled Wolverine is, all it takes is the addition of a great writer and artist to put the best there is back on top again.
Here is a look at the cover art: