Savage Wolverine #1
Story and Art by Frank Cho
Colors by Jason Keith
Letters by Cory Petit
$3.99 / Color
Published by Marvel Comics
As it so often happens in the wake of a blinding flash, Wolverine starts awake in a strange territory he soon surmises as the Savage Land. He retains no memory of the journey there. It’s not long before he encounters the last remnants of a doomed S.H.I.E.L.D. survey team and their guide the She-Devil called Shanna. As you may expect, dinosaurs and heavy-browed neanderthals become an issue instantly and with tremendous frequency.
Savage Wolverine is probably a misnomer. Sure it’s set in the wilds of the Savage Land, but this Frank Cho showcase doles out its carnage with discouragingly fluffy domesticity. That it doubles as a lite serving of cheesecake might’ve explained the tempered ferocity, but the curious tone is so colorless and sterile that any real appeal fails to surface. The ever-bodacious Shanna the She-Devil serves as Wolverine’s foil in this shallow, mirthless retread of, (I suppose) Romancing the Stone. Statuesque and curvy in her typically revealing animal skins, Shanna’s bombshell appearance doesn’t so much titillate as distract. As it became apparent that she’s the one bona fide instance of cheesecake in the book, both visually and tonally, I spent much of the time concerned about such unsexy things as practicality and bruising.
Cho employs relentlessly boxy layouts throughout, pages broken into an array of measured snapshots. In action sequences, each panel offers a closeup on the impact of a jab or stab. Unfortunately, the artist’s labored rendering, the bold lines and precision, detracts from the intended dynamism. It’s often quite stunning, but that pinup perfection only results in a conspicuous onslaught of grids; a stuttering slideshow in lieu of visceral movement. Logan’s frantic melee encounters with velociraptors and pterosaurs cry out for ragged edges, passioned expressions of visual hyperbole. Instead, the violence reads as not coolly clinical, but bloodless. Regardless of any plasma spurting in a given moment. This isn’t craven vice speaking either. The subject matter, even in a book published outside the MAX line, demands Wolverine present at his feral peak. Bob Barker got to him first.
That sterility extends to the writing, which sees oodles of exposition relayed in the most tired methods available. An attempt at depicting Logan’s deductive reasoning in caption boxes feels forced, veering closer to Sherlock Holmes territory. The caper itself involves the usual cursed frontiers and native shamans summoning attack dinos. There’s simply nothing to latch onto here, especially given the glut of terrific ongoings in the Marvel NOW! line, Wolverine’s pervasive appearances throughout, and a heritage of far more enticing adventures in this same locale.
Even if you’re looking for a simple plate of cheesecake, there are simply better options available.
Story: 2 / Art: 2 / Overall: 2
(Out of 5 Stars)