Page 45 Review by Stephen
"I deserve to be known for something other than helping to make a killer unkillable."
There you go, that's your clue.
The very first thing one asks oneself when presented with a title like this is, "How will he die?" Will it be a deathly dull slugathon signifying nothing like THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN? Will it be an ingenious, plot-driven slight of hand like THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA? Or - saints preserve us - will there be something apposite about the final furlong and finishing line?
Yes. Yes, there is and the pull quote above only adds to the irony so well done, Charles Soule!
Steve McNiven you may know as Mark Millar's artist on WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN, NEMESIS and Marvel's CIVIL WAR, all of which come with the highest recommendation to superhero fans, the first one being my favourite Wolverine book to date. Obviously to become an old man he'll need to last a lot longer than this title implies which should probably have been Looting Logan For All He's Worth Although It'll Be Pretty Damn Lucrative When We Bring Him Back Too but they saved that for the multiple follow-ups.
It's Steve's art that impresses, increasingly so with each project he graces, and the opening double-page spread may not be the flashiest you've ever seen but its composition is impeccable: those man's shoulders are very broad indeed. The second chapter's - set in a club's private booth - is in some ways a reflection of the first's but just wait until you flip open the third's, set in Tokyo's Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. Lord, I love me some Acers - I've half a dozen in my own back garden - and what colour artist Justin Ponsor brings to bear on the water garden's vertical reflections, contrasting beautifully with the bright green, horizontal, lily-pad flats, is a shimmering marvel.
Logan has lost his healing factor, the one thing that helped him survive the most comprehensive filing in dental history during WEAPON X.
As the book opens he's sat on a battered porch clutching his Mom's sick note so he can skip P.E. and mooch around a mall, but both he and his claws are covered in blood. This is bad news because, as Reed Richards explains, without his restorative powers
"You're a prime candidate for heavy metal-related leukemia. If you don't get endocarditis from all the bacteria you pull into yourself every time you use your claws."
So far neither Stark nor McCoy nor now Reed Richards have been able to revive Wolverine's healing factor so staying out of brawls until they do is Logan's best bet. Unfortunately the second word gets out that Small, Dark And Hirsute is vulnerable to damage, brawls are going to be unavoidable.
Word gets out.
It's not long enough for Soule to soak this in history but it certain dips its toes in all the right waters, though not every fellow swimmer is exactly who they seem. It's also not long enough for me to divulge much more without giving too many games away but, as I said, the final few pages will certainly make you nod your head and wonder how he'll get out of that one.
Process pieces are fascinating, and in the last dozen or so pages - after 2,375 variant covers - Steve McNiven takes you through pages as they evolve and shows you a few he simply binned because the composition wasn't right. He pays tribute to Barry Windsor-Smith's work and ably shows how he's incorporated that double-barrelled influence.
There's also an extensive interview with Wolverine's co-creator Len Wein who pays tribute to Dave Cockrum and explains that the name came from Roy Thomas and how he lined Logan up in case the X-Men - cancelled due to poor sales - were ever revived from their hiatus.