Who's in this issue?
One of the strangest Wolverine stories that I have read in quite awhile. I have no idea as to where the idea of having Wolverine in a story featuring corruption within the Church and the Vatican came from ... makes me wonder whether part of it had to do with the corruption scandal that had been going on recently about the Vatican church and its priest doing illegal (and immoral) activities with minors ... but this story was definitely one I wasn't expecting to be reading about. Throughout the years, I never really considered Wolverine as one who associated with the members of the church on a personal level (discounting Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler, of course), so I am not familiar with Father Braun at all.
In any case, some of the aspects in this story was too strange to me. First of all: why would a priest be carrying a sword with him in public? Second, do we really expect that a single speaker on the Brooklyn bridge has the ability to brainwash the entire city's population through a process called E.L.V.E.S. (extra-low frequency vibration emaniations)? Granted, it is mentioned that the use of the bridge was to amplify the signal, but still, I find that hard to believe as being achievable. And third: what's up with this woman interrogator and the clothing she wears? Do we expect to believe that she's actually a part of the church? Sure, she is shown as part of the "corrupt" part of the church, but still, she looks more like someone you'd associate with, say, the military than as a member of the church (one of them "madam officers"). Sheesh.
This book felt as if it was a huge deviation from what had been happening lately with Wolverine, especially with the last issue involving memories of his "Origin" and the red-haired woman we now know to be Rose. Therefore, all signs seem to indicate that this brief 2-part issue will be one of those "filler" stories where we'll meet these characters only once, and then they'll be shelved in the "forgettable" bin of characters. I'll give credit to the writer, though, for bringing something different, and to the penciler and inker, who does a great job in creating a more weathered-down Wolverine, though that strange background graphic on the right center panel on page 11 looks extremely out of place. Still, don't expect much to come out of this brief story arc.
Rating (from 1 dot (not recommended) to 5 dot (highly recommended)
"The Shadow Pulpit, Book 1 of 2"
IN THIS ISSUE:
Logan meets with Father Braun in Greenwich Village to discuss some urgent business at hand. Logan, plagued with something that was messing with his head, listens to the priest as the priest reveals to Logan his belief that the pope was in trouble, and that a corrupt faction of the Vatican's "power elite" had plans to "...unsurp the papcy and implement its [their] own sinister agenda". Furthermore, he believes that the person behind all of this was his own mentor, Cardinal Panzer. Father Braun goes on to tell Logan that one of his counterparts, Father Davidson, had uncovered a conspiracy within the church to brainwash the entire population of New York City, and that he had been murdered as a result the night before.
Sensing something was amiss (as if the "walls had ears", Logan and Father Braun continues their conversation outside. Father Braun tells Logan that he believes Cardinal Panzer's ultimate plan is to convert everyone in New York City to their church, against their free will, through the aid of a device called E.L.V.E.S. (extra-low frequency vibration emanations) which would emit brain wave patterns continuously over a long time to brainwash people. As their conversation continues, Logan senses something wrong. He turns, and leaps towards the startled preacher with his claws extended, only to leap past the preacher towards a white-costumed figure in the background, wielding a sword. The priest recognizes this figure as "Dogma, bishop of assassins - the enlightened soul". As Dogma and Logan continue trading blows, Logan manages to run a set of his claws into Dogma's lower arm, only to have Dogma's skin grow around Logan's skin, and he kicks Logan to the ground. Father Braun, with sword drawn, attempts to aid Logan, only to be taken down. Dogma stabs Logan in the back with his own sword, glowing white hot. The preacher rushes to Logan's aid by tackling Dogma, only to be taken down by Dogma. Logan recovers long enough to run a set of his claws through Dogma. With the sound of sirens approaching, Dogma flees. Father Braun drags a wounded Logan (still with the sword in his back) back to the bar where he pulls the sword out from Logan's back.
Recovering from the wound, Logan realizes that the source of his headache was a result of the E.L.V.E.S messing with his senses and his body trying to treat it as an infection. Knowing now what to listen for, he and the priest attempt to find the source of the signal.
Using his senses, Logan leads Father Braun and himself right to the Brooklyn Bridge. The priest finds the speaker box that was eminating the source of the waves, and attempts to dislodge and retain it as evidence to the Pope about Cardinal Panzer's plot. From behind, three figures climb down from a helicopter. Two attempt to apprehend the preacher, while the third, Dogma, attempts to take down Logan once again. Unfortunately for Dogma this time, Logan manages to avoid his attack this time and yells to Father Braun to watch himself. The priest dodges the attack of one of his captors, and proceedes to knock the speaker into the river, thus stopping the signal. Unfortunately for him, the other figure captures him in a net. Meanwhile, Logan has some type of liquid spit into his face by Dogma, which blinds him. With one swift kick, Logan is sent splashing into the Hudson river.
Three days later, at the Vatican, Cardinal Panzer is seen speaking with Cardinal Parente. Cardinal Parente had concerns about Father Braun, who in a locked dungeon one mile below the Vatican was being beaten and interrogated by a woman, demanding to find out from the lady who the man that Dogma had killed was. And somewhere else in Rome, inside a van, two armed men have guns drawn, pointed at Logan's head at point blank range, ready to shoot at any sign of movement from Logan.