Who's in this issue?
To quote one of the helpers at the comic book store that I buy my comics from: "There is a reason why they bag comics nowadays", and frankly, he's right. There is more to it than just bagging a comic book with a CD. The comic book isn't good enough for someone to pick up and read it because the reader may change his/her mind from purchasing the book after reading what's inside. The cover artwork isn't one of the best cover artworks I've seen in this issue, and this Zaran character is a forgettable character who's not anywhere near Wolverine's level. And, ten bucks say that you won't be seeing this crimelord, Shinji Kizaki, anytime soon, or whether again at all. Realistically speaking: if you're a major crimelord of the Far East, how can you not recognize Wolverine as a legitimate enemy when Matsuo Tsurayaba and Viper, both extremely influential figures of the criminal underworld in the Far East, know just how much of a threat Wolverine is? Shinji is a forgettable character, and definitely don't be looking for him to be reappearing anytime soon.
To the writer's credit, Joe Pauett did try his best to bring a good story to this title which, traditionally, has featured a lot of all-out fights between Wolverine and ninjas. The idea was good: a loved one is captured, and Wolverine's job is to rescue this person close to him. However, this is getting to be ... well ... boring. Sure, the fights were good, and Zaran had his moments, but honestly, if Wolverine can beat a raptor with ease, what chance does Zaran have? Zaran may be a master hunter, but he sure isn't a good strategic fighter. His prey simply runs away and may fight back, but his prey doesn't strategically plan out its counterattack. Henceforth, he was facing a losing battle from the moment that Amiko had been captured. Furthermore, two unresolved issues from the past (again) did not surface: when Amiko was brainwashed by Yohei and Pale Flower back in Wolverine #107 - 109 into believing that Logan had killed her mother, and the huge glaring gap of how Amiko could've been so easily captured when she and Yukio was still under the protection of the Silver Samurai, and Yukio not putting up a fight to prevent Amiko's capture. Sure, this latter issue is a minor thing, but every little minor detail that adds up becomes a very glaring major issue.
As for the artwork inside, it definitely has its moments of up and down. Some decent shots of Wolverine fighting, and a nice costume design for Zaran, but there really isn't anything that particularly stands out about the artwork except that there is a huge anime-flavor to it (take one look at Wolverine's huge boots if you want to know what I mean). Although ... I have to point out again ... at moments, the creators forgot that Logan is 5'3", and in many scenes, it seemed that they forgot his short stature, and drew him as if he was over 6' in height. *sigh* This is probably the most overlooked aspect of Wolverine by almost any artist who ever had the privelage of drawing him: his height. Keeping his proportion down to 5'3" is what makes Wolverine who he is. And in this issue, there were definitely many scenes where this was not noted (see pg. 6, 21, 22, 24, maybe 28 (depending how tall Amiko is)) 30). Some more developed fighting scenes would definitely have been nicer: case in point, the very short fight between Wolverine and the raptor, and Wolverine versus the ninjas near the end.
Yes, I guess I am quite picky, but hey, I want to get my money's worth out of a comic book when I buy one, and these last few months just hasn't hit home yet. When will we get a regular penciler and a regular writer for this title? It's getting to be very cumbersome having to see different creative teams come in every story arc, having to rewrite the entire title to a completely different tone that the previous creative team had set for the title. I'm a big fan of continuity, and different creative teams do not project that "continuity" feeling to a title at all.
Rating (from 1 dot (not recommended) to 5 dot (highly recommended)
IN THIS ISSUE:
Somewhere in the South China Sea, a lone helicopter hovers over a private island. Wolverine leaps out of the helicopter, and descends upon the island with the aid of a parachute. As he descends down, he recalls the letter that Yukio, a friend of his in Japan, had read about the kidnapping of his adopted daughter, Amiko, and how the letter instructed Wolverine to come alone to the island.
Upon landing onto the island, Wolverine is attacked by a Raptor, which Wolverine recognizes by scent as one of those who had come from the Savage Lands in Antarctica. He quickly subdues the raptor, and enters the lone residence, unchecked by any resistance. Making his way through the compound, he finds Amiko within an underground jail complex. From behind, Logan is hit in the neck with a blowdart containing a mixture of a poison and a paralysis chemical. Stepping out of the shadows, the assailant reveals himself, calling himself Zaran. He considered himself to be "a hunter ... a trapper ... a master of the art of weaponry". He revealed how in the past, he was feared throughout the entire world because of his perfect record of never failing a mission until he lost against a MI6 agent named Shang-chi. As a result, he lost many contracts. To redeem his clients' faith, he planned on killing Wolverine in a game of hunter vs. prey. He makes a deal with Logan to release him and Amiko, and give Logan the antidote to the poison, if he survives the night as prey and Zaran being the hunter. If Zaran wins, Logan would be dead, and Zaran wins back his reputation as a feared hunter.
Later that night, the hunt begins with Logan given a 10-minute head start. Somewhere in the forest, Wolverine, still slowed from the poison within his body, is hit with a narrow into his arm. However, Zaran makes a noise after stepping on a twig, and Logan quickly locates Zaran and destroys Zaran's bow with a slice of his claw. Logan attacks again, only to have Zaran run a long, sharp dagger through the side of Wolverine's body. Logan reels back while Zaran, wounded by Logan's attack, makes a getaway. Logan pulls out the daggar, and follows the trail of blood that Zaran had left behind. He finds the end of the trail of blood with Zaran nowhere in site. With the poison now filted out of his body (thanks to his healing factor), Wolverine's senses quickly locates Zaran's scent behind him, and manages to dodge Zaran's attack with a spear. Logan destroys Zaran's spear with another swipe of his claws, and proceeds to attack Zaran again. Armed with a pair of daggars, Zaran was no match for Logan, as Logan easily runs his claw through Zaran's midsection, injuring Zaran severely.
Logan senses the presence of people watching him, and tells them to come out. A crimelord, Shinji Kizaki, and his band of ninjas reveals themselves. Shinji comments how Zaran had used this test to prove to Shinji that he would be worthy to serve in Shinji's employment, and how Zaran was a fool to fight without honor by kidnapping an innocent girl and poisoning his opponent beforehand. As per agreed, Shinji handed over the antidote to the poison and Amiko over to Logan. As they leave, Shinji comments how although Zaran failed in his attempt to impress him, Shinji did recognize Logan as a legitimate threat, and had his ninjas fire arrows towards Logan and Amiko to kill them both. Logan shields Amiko from the shower of arrows, and manages to flee. Leaving Amiko at a safe spot, Logan returns and quickly takes out Shinji's band of ninjas. He was about to kill Shinji until Amiko steps in to stop him, saying that Logan was an honorable samurai, and to kill someone who was "old and defeated ..." was not right because "there is no honor in killing what is already dead."
The helicopter that took Logan to the island arrives, and whisks Logan and Amiko away. Zaran reappears, and takes aim at the helicopter, planning to shoot it down because "my honor is again lost to me". Shinji steps in to stop Zaran, telling him that if Zaran were to shoot, they would both be dead. However, now that they are both more familiar with Wolverine, they would try to learn more about him ... his strengths, his weaknesses, and his motivations ... and soon, they would have the tools to see to it that Wolverine dies.