Graphic Novel Review: Wolverine: Payback
15:22 22 August 2014
Newly mortal X-Man Logan turns super-villain...
Now into its sixth volume, the clawed Canadian’s solo series seems to win a relaunch for no reason other than the wind has changed these days, with this latest effort actually little more than the continuation of a storyline which began with the previous run.
After an intelligent alien virus wiped out Logan’s healing factor, the X-Man is unable to use his deadly claws and has been forced to accept his own mortality. Having had the last of his mojo beaten out of him by old foe Sabretooth, he has apparently quit the hero game and signed up with a low level criminal, teaching the ropes to a team of super-powered rookies.
Wearing an armoured costume which comes complete with its own claws, he is forced to reassess his previous reckless attitude and take a step back when it comes to confrontations, but has also alienated his former comrades in the X-Men and Avengers. The only thing he refuses to do is kill an innocent, but seems more than happy to shoot an undercover SHIELD agent point-blank in the head after discovering his betrayal.
With four issues spent setting up this new status quo, and the possibilities for a new, “bad” Wolverine only just starting to develop, it’s something of a disappointment to then discover that he is in fact actually working for SHIELD himself, and the agent he apparently killed was nothing more than a Life-Model Decoy (a remarkably realistic android lifeform). Ho-hum.
It seems that the recent events in his life have given Wolverine the credibility to take on this deep cover assignment, with the aim of using it as a stepping stone to join the ranks of Sabretooth’s organisation and find out exactly what they’re up to…
But as the Marvel publicity leviathan has made no effort to hide, we’re also leading up to Logan biting the big one in the forthcoming ‘Death of Wolverine’ event, which will take him off the table for the foreseeable future (but being comics, no way is this a permanent situation), and suggests this whole story arc is heading for a fatal conclusion not too far down the line.
That said, it’s a great instalment in this multi-part epic, and doesn’t feel like it’s treading water in the least, with the revelation that Logan’s new role is a smoke-screen really coming out of the blue, something you might not have expected in today’s spoiler-rich marketplace.
NB. Scribe Paul Cornell has been doing an amazing job with the character since the start of Volume 5, giving him a depth of personality which has been lacking for years and actually making some significant plot developments. So why on Earth has Marvel decided to take him off the book just when this story-line is reaching its conclusion with the main character’s death? An absolute kick in the teeth to a great writer, and indicative of the way the big two comics publishers treat their talent these days.